My London Top 5
I think it goes without saying that my decision to leave London and move to New York was not because of a lack of good food. I lived and worked in London for over three years, and the “food scene” always kept me excited, full and about 10 pounds heavier than when I arrived!
I have been lucky enough to develop my career in an industry which I am so passionate about, and use my blog to write about what I love to do most – eat.
But what I think is most interesting is that I have learned new eating habits. For instance, I am now accustomed to eating smaller portion sizes (thank goodness) and I have been able to eat more real, whole foods and less of the diet/reduced fat/sugar free garbage on supermarket shelves in the US. I have been introduced to new foods, new wines, and even a new way of holding my fork.
So, over the last few years, what were my “foodie highlights” in London? From market stalls (you know I’m a sucker for street food) to dining in some of the world’s best restaurants, a few culinary delights have remained at the top of my list:
Broadway Market – This small but popular market in Hackney is my food heaven. You could make your way from beginning to end of the market in 5 minutes, but what you’ll find goes beyond the offer of other street food in London. My favourite Saturday lunches include authentic banh mi sandwiches at Banh Mi 11, delicious grilled halloumi and veggie burgers from The Veggie Table and a big helping of mushroom risotto with truffle oil right at the end of the market near London Fields. All for under £6, hot from the stove or grill, I don’t think I missed more than a handful of Saturday lunches at Broadway Market in three years.
Hawksmoor’s Lobster Roll – I admit it, I’m not a big red meat girl. I do love a good steak every now and then but I would be perfectly happy to sit in the bar at Hawksmoor in Covent Garden and gnaw on one of their salty, buttery, garlicky lobster rolls. A whole fresh lobster in a soft, white bun is hard to find in London and you’re missing a foodie trick if you haven’t tried it.
Polpo, and everything associated with it (Polpetto, Spuntino and da Polpo) – What can I say other than I freaking love this place? Sharing plates, incredible food, funky and happy staff mixed with a laid back atmosphere – it’s no wonder the queues are out the door every night of the week. Dishes like duck ragu; broad bean, pea, mint and ricotta on toast; bone marrow and beef sliders and pork shoulder pizzette make me scream with joy every time. And the best part? I’ve never paid more than £35 for all the food and booze I can handle.
Pigfest at St. John – Although some considered this night at one of the top 50 restaurants in the world a massive fail (service issues), I loved every minute of it. I ate parts of a pig that were completely new to me and was surrounded by good company (you crazy lady food bloggers, you). I also tried, and fell in love wit, the famous bone marrow and parsley on toast, which washes down perfectly with the city’s best dirty martini.
Brick Lane Bagels/Beigels – I was lucky enough to live one block from Brick Lane and could smell the intense sweet scent of the bagel bakeries on my walk to and from work. At £1.60 for a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel, available 24 hours a day, you cannot get a better ‘bang for your buck,’ as we say in the US. The salt beef bagels with spicy mustard are also to die for if you’re really starving. I wrote a post about the difference between American bagels and Brick Lane beigels a while back and it is here.
Also at the top of my food memories list while I’ve been living abroad is, of course, my week-long trip to Hanoi where I experienced the inspiration behind Pho Restaurants, eating endless amounts of Greek salad on the beaches of Santorini, making my way through something like 13 courses at the highly anticipated Viajante in Bethnal Green, and last but not least being part of something I really felt passionate about when I moved to the UK: the rise of Mexican cuisine.
This is not the end of Ravenous Libby, oh no. Just the end of the London chapter and the beginning a fabulous new one: New York, New York. Stay tuned…