Rucksack Foodie

Eat good – Live well – Enjoy life !

First Taste In London Town

I left the shores of Ireland, a notebook brimming with half scribbled stories of even more Irish tastes and delights to be completed upon my return, only to arrive in London and experience immediate sensory overload. The diversity of inhabitants and the offerings available are boundless here and there is so much to explore in this short week.image

I landed with a game plan to squeeze in as much of London as possible in a week without liquidating my teeney tiny budget all in one day. No matter your interests it can be found in London and despite being notorious as an expensive city, if you plan ahead and refrain from impulse its actually not too fiscally painful. Such as: Pack a lunch!! The green spaces

Part of the stunning Greek marbles in the Elgin Collection to be found for FREE inside the vast British Museum.

Part of the stunning Greek marbles in the Elgin Collection to be found for FREE inside the vast British Museum.

and royal parks are endless, there are benches and walls for perching at every turn and the people watching is the best. Don’t buy single trip tickets get an Oyster Card!! For a 5£ deposit you top up this travel card with any amount you like which allows travel on the tube, trains AND buses all day and will only charge a maximum of 8£ per day! Do your research and visit all the free “stuff” first, after you realize how much wonderful and interesting bits of history and cultural there is to see and do with out an admission price you’ll be too exhausted to actually pay to see anymore! And shop off the beaten path, they call it High Street for a reason!

A small shot of this quiet market on the south of London in Brixton.

A small shot of this quiet market on the south of London in Brixton.

Starting the first morning off headed to Brixton in south London. A mostly Afro-Caribbean community, the Brixton market can be found daily a block from the Tube on Electric Ave. In two blocks I counted 6 butchers/fish mongers, numerous vegetable stalls and racks of purses, beaded tunics and hats for every mood. Some ornamental white eggplants caught my attention and found their way into my bag. Only being 9am I had an unlimited amount of options and directions for the day. I stepped off at Victoria Station and thought I might catch a glimpse of the Queen out for a morning stroll, but alas only hordes of on lookers perched upon the fountain steps and surrounding the fence. Strolling down the mall I diverged in the direction of Piccadilly and stumbled upon the small church of St. James who caters to wandering caravaners, with a Monday Food Market in it’s courtyard. A quiet enclave with stall keepers busily setting up shop for the oncoming corporate lunch crowd. Sadly the amazing smelling Paella was not yet ready, but the Argentinian empanadas were, and delicious as well!

A Must-Stop for all foodies, even the budget conscious!

A Must-Stop for all foodies, even the budget conscious!

A block away the sun began shining even more brightly and angels started singing as I approached Fortnum & Mason. A legend in the department store business and gourmand trend setting for over 300 years with their innovative and experimental culinary offerings. From an enterprising start of recycling the Queens candle wax back in 1707, over the centuries this

The butchers selections were unmatchable, with anxious anticipation of the soon to arrive Himalayan salt-aged Irish beef

The butchers selections were unmatchable, with anxious anticipation of the soon to arrive Himalayan salt-aged Irish beef

store has been the leader in innovative and experimental foods and in establishing many of the eating habits still found in the British lifestyle today. From the exotic tastes found among the spices and teas of the early trade routes, to picnic hampers in the park, to scotch eggs and dried candied fruit, to introducing tinned foods and even Heinz baked beans to the british table – Fortnum & Mason have always presented gourmet offerings while accessible to the average citizen.
A Monday morning was the most opportune time as the staff was

The staff of F&M are unmatchable in their customer service! Marco, the cheesemonger tasted me his favorites including a creamy taleggio topped with white truffle honey, so good!

The staff of F&M are unmatchable in their customer service! Marco, the cheesemonger tasted me his favorites including a creamy taleggio topped with white truffle honey, so good!

busily setting their counters but refreshed and friendly to chat with the clientele. I was amazed at the amount of fresh offerings to be found in such an elegant environment. A charcuterie counter, a cheese monger, fresh prepared terrines and salads, fresh seafood, a baker and even a butcher; all among crystal chandeliers and oak staircases. Who shopped here, anyway?? I chatted up the butcher who was preparing the days lamb roasts, and was amazed to find that despite the elegance of offerings Fortnum & Mason fresh meat prices were 20% CHEAPER than
the local street butcher. And honestly when I started price checking I was surprised at the affordability and down right “cheapness” of many of the products. After a tasty visit with Marco the jovial & informative cheese monger, another hour of exploring the 4 floors of posh home decor and lifestyle accessories, and disappointed at not getting to visit the rooftop bee hives, I ventured back out into the wiles of London. The rest of the day was spent wandering and absorbing. Covent Gardens Market with its specialty shops and street performers as well as the Monday Antique Market.

A lunch of Fortnum & Mason’s Lemon Gin Chocolate Truffles and Smugglers Sea Salt Caramels on the front wall of the British Museum then into cruise the greek and

Near hidden Chapel of the a house of St. Barnabas is Soho.

Near hidden Chapel of the a house of St. Barnabas is Soho.

mycenaean exhibit. Discovering the curious nooks and crannies along the side streets to Soho such as the almost hidden Chapel house of St. Barnabas, which appeared abandoned and no definite signs of regular worship service and where I later found out was an old writing haunt of Charles Dickens. The chapel is part of the grounds of The House of St. Barnabas, which once served as an alms house and women in need hostile, but now is a charity venue that supports outreach programs of establishing sub stainable employment for the homeless. Adventuring into the streets of Soho, i enjoyed an afternoon tea of a good warm scotch in a tiny French Bar where conversation is king and you never know what creative genius may be sitting next to you.

Entrance to London's Chinatown

Entrance to London’s Chinatown

And then on to Chinatown a true “neighborhood” where folks were greeting one another as they pass and crowds of neighbors gathered around in the street to catch up on all the latest before doing their daily shopping in the numerous packed Asian markets. I couldn’t resist sampling so I snagged a savory pork and a sweet lotus seed bun for the stroll home.
Arriving back to Richmond I cruised the local Tesco for dinner deals (their “reduced” specials can not be beat for daily shopping!!) and made my way back to the house where I prepared us a dinner of the roasted white eggplants with a puttanesca sauce over herbed

The roasted white eggplant was a stand alone, with a delicous creamy taste only highlighted by roasting with a little Maldon's salt flakes and cracked pepper

The roasted white eggplant was a stand alone, with a delicous creamy taste only highlighted by roasting with a little Maldon’s salt flakes and cracked pepper

chicken followed with a cheese course of Marco’s ( F&M’s cheesemonger) suggesting, a creamy Stilton matured inside a layer of white grapes…heavenly!
The sun had sat on my busy first day in London, stark contrast to the relaxed Irish pace I had grown accustomed to over the past couple of months. Though that hospitality and friendliness found in the Irish may not be equalled, the tastes and sights to be found in London were long awaited!

For more pictures on the day’s exploration visit The Rucksack Foodie Facebook Page

White eggplants center, at the Brixton market. I simply salted and peppered and roasted with a bit of olive oil on the pan. Simply delicious & full of vitamins!

White eggplants center, at the Brixton market. I simply salted and peppered and roasted with a bit of olive oil on the pan. Simply delicious & full of vitamins!

The smell of the Valencia Paella slow simmering was heavenly at the Piccadilly Food Market at St. James church

The smell of the Valencia Paella slow simmering was heavenly at the Piccadilly Food Market at St. James church

Altar area inside the Chapel of St. Barnabas.

Altar area inside the Chapel of St. Barnabas.

Chinatown pork buns - yum yum!

Chinatown pork buns – yum yum!

Only got on a wrong train once out of 12 trips. Not a bad first day out on London's public transit for this country girl!

Only got on a wrong train once out of 12 trips. Not a bad first day out on London’s public transit for this country girl!

No sign of her majesty The Queen, but a lovely day to stroll the royal Mall regardless

No sign of her majesty The Queen, but a lovely day to stroll the royal Mall regardless

The nights cheese course of a most wonderful creamy Stilton matured with a layer of white grapes. Thank you Marco for the wonderful recommendation !!

The nights cheese course of a most wonderful creamy Stilton matured with a layer of white grapes. Thank you Marco for the wonderful recommendation !!

4 comments on “First Taste In London Town

  1. Petra Haynes
    April 10, 2013

    Yum! Good thing I just had a wonderful late breakfast, because your descriptions of Stilton, eggplant, and pork buns made me salivate! So glad you are having such a splendid visit in London! Looking forward to seeing you next week!

  2. Pam Cresswell
    April 10, 2013

    Go see the changing of the guards at the palace! Get there early so you can stand at the gate! And Picadilly circus!

  3. Chris Bunce
    April 11, 2013

    So awesome. You make me feel like I was there!

    • Rucksack Foodie
      April 12, 2013

      Thanks Chris!! Means alot coming from a great writer like yourself!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Archives

%d bloggers like this: