Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gastronomic Update

I know I've mentioned some of these things on Facebook, but I thought I'd capture my food and beverage journey to date.

A full English breakfast is HUGE!  I can't imagine eating like this every morning, but I don't mind doing it every morning while I'm here! ;)  Fruit, yogurt, cereal, juice all as starters, then hot cooked-to-order eggs, sausage, bacon, grilled tomatoes, cooked mushrooms, baked beans, toast (with fresh jams and marmalade, plus tea or coffee or milk.  This particular one is from the Red Lion Inn in Lacock.  The best one I've had so far is at the Bloomsbury B&B in York - with home made blackberry jam.

This is a Ploughman's Lunch -- although a fancier version than what the average worker expects in the pubs.  Basically, it's just hunks of cheese (the light colored wedges) raw onions, big wedges of brown bread, and a pickle.  This one also contains some raw vegetables and pickled onions.  A real blue collar version is just buttered bread, raw onions, and slabs of the local cheese.  This bread was one of the best I've ever had.  The meal is from the Brethren's Kitchen at the Lord Leycester Hospital in Warwick.

My first pint -- from the Shakespeare Pub in London right across the street from Victoria Station.  I believe it's Kronenberg.  This is a lager, which is served cold.  Other choices are:  bitter (dark) or stout (very dark).  There is also shandy (1/2 beer and 1/2 Sprite -- although they refer to the Sprite as lemonade).   The glasses are made specially for beer from the tap and come in pint and 1/2 pint sizes.  Cider, which I'm drinking this evening, generally comes in cans and is only 6% alcohol with a very definite flavor of apples.  The one I had earlier this week was called Strongbow, and the one this evening is Scrumpy Jack.

Dinner at The Grenardier Pub in London started with this wonderful salad of greens, apples, walnuts and Stilton cheese.  It was followed by a pie of chicken, mushrooms, and brie covered by a puff pastry, and with a side of mashed potatoes.

This was my first formal afternoon tea -- a Champagne Tea at the Orangery (a type of hothouse kept on big estates) of Kensington Palace.  Always served with three layers:  finger sandwiches on the bottom, a scone (to be eaten with clotted cream and jam) on the second layer, and pastries at the top.  You eat from the bottom up.  Clotted cream has the consistency of butter, but is a bit lighter in color and tastes more like a sweet cream.  It's in or on most of the desserts here.

I also had fish and chips while at Hampton Court, and I found it to be no different than what we're used to.  The chips (big french fries) are to be eaten with a sprinkle of malt vinegar, but I didn't do that.  Oddly, fish and chips here is always served with a side of peas -- usually mushy peas that are intentionally mushy.  I've also had a bakewell cake (named for the town of Bakewell where it originated) that is a bit like our pound cake.  It has a very dense, moist consistency and is sometimes layered with cream and jam.  The one I had was lemon and was absolutely wonderful.  There have also been some fabulous soups -- one was mushroom (pureed like a bisque) with chunks of bacon, and a potato/leek that was also almost like a bisque.  Both were really, really good and served with wonderful brown bread.

No steak and kidney pie yet, or kippers.  Lamb is very popular over here and there are fields of sheep everywhere, although I have not had any lamb as yet.  I also want to have a Yorkshire Pudding and something made with Treacle (which I understand is actually molasses) and a Fool (a light cream dessert whipped up with fruit).  I did have fresh figs for breakfast one morning, picked from the tree right outside the house.  They were ripe and wonderful, although I had to ask for instructions as to how to eat them.  Note:  there were many people from Australia on the tour and I saw the correct way to eat kiwi.  You just slice off the end, and eat it with a spoon as though it were a cup of ice cream.  Just dip into it while keeping the skin intact.

The cookies are called biscuits over here and they're all really good.  Potato chips are called crisps and come in a variety of interesting flavors (flame-grilled steak, oriental ribs) as well as some more well-known flavors such as cheese, salt, etc.  Yesterday, I saw one in Bloody Mary flavor.

One day, I ate at a McDonald's and the food tasted the same as in America, but the menu is considerably less varied with no grilled choices.  There are also Starbucks scattered about, and it seems to be identical to those in America.  [Note:  while we talk about being from the US, everyone here refers to us as being from America].  I was particularly thrilled to find that they had real diet Coke here, as opposed to some version that would not taste the same.  One other beverage that I really enjoyed is Elderflower Presse.  It's almost clear and slightly carbonated and is made from the elderflower.  I'm guessing that's the flower from the bush that supplies elderberries.  Anyway, it's very refreshing.

I have 10 days left (including one that will be in Paris and another at a wedding), so I'm hoping that I'll enjoy many other interesting foods and beverages.

1 comment:

  1. It all looks good. I like the Ploughman's lunch, in particular. It's gotta be kinda fun just trying the variety. Formal tea looks cool, too. I haven't made Yorkshire pudding in years. Used to when the kids were growing up; with the drippings from the roast beef. We do make popovers from tme tot ime though; they are so great.