My first impression of British food came from watching The Two Fat Ladies while I still lived in Hong Kong. Despite being a British colony and having British influence on its culture and food, it was the TV episodes that gave me the impression of what British food would be like: rich butter, stews, game, fresh egg from the farm, the cloudy sky and green pasture…
Later, work took me to numerous trips to London where I would go out with office mates to pubs, Kebab places, Michelin starred restaurants, hotel establishments. And my impression was… rich, filling, bland food, but can’t compare to Hong Kong or New York (by then I have moved back to New York) unless it’s a really fancy restaurant. It’s also much more expensive. I know there are all these celebrity chefs from UK such as Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and I have eaten at their restaurants in the US and UK, but I always felt that the neighborhood restaurants can’t compare.
Eating in London was never something to write home about for me… until a recent trip to London.
In late April, C and I went to London for an art opening at the National Gallery with a group of people. We stayed at The Sloane Club located in Chelsea and only a few blocks away from the tube and all the shopping areas, much more convenient compare to where we would stay if we were on business trips in Canary Wharf area. The weather was beautiful, sunny, mild and never rained during our stay, plus this is not a work trip, we knew it would be a relaxing trip.
Arrived at noon, we decided to have a light lunch around the neighborhood. A short walk from the hotel, we settled upstairs at Daylesford Organic on Pimlico Road. Daylesford Organic promotes sustainable organic farming and it has a few outposts around the city with groceries, cookery and cafes. The decor is rustic, modern and minimal. I ordered a
freshly-baked tart of the day with two salads (bulgar wheat, parsley, mint, cucumber, lemon, garlic and toasted pine kernels; raw slaw with cashews and sticky soy ginger dressing) and a traditional lemonade. The food was simply prepared without too much manipulation and tasted great. It’s all in the fresh ingredients. All for 15 pounds, not bad! Besides food, this place has great potteries. They have a few shops in town but this one is tucked in a quiet corner in the village.
For dinner, we went to visit our friends and their new baby in Balham and had a nice meal at Brinkley’s Kitchen. The restaurant was pretty big with nice decorations and a large open kitchen. It’s also facing the Wandsworth Common which apparently makes it a popular spot for lunch and coffee around the neighborhood.
My dinner included:
Appetizer: Roquefort, pear, walnut and endive salad
Slow roasted pork belly with mash, rosemary roast carrots, savoy cabbage and cider glaze
Desert: Hot toffee cake with cream or ice cream
My friend recommended the slow cooked pork belly. It was indeed soft, rich, flavorful but not over done. The crackling pork rind was fun to eat! And of course no British meal should conclude without a nice pudding. This one has just hit the right spot. Rich, warm, sweet, balanced with vanilla ice cream and perfectly concluded the meal.
After dinner, we walked around the Commons and bid goodbye to our friends. The sky was clear and the air crisp. Six hours over the Atlantic ocean, we were in the Great Britain, leisurely strolled around town, enjoyed great time with old friends, over tasty food. We knew this would be a great trip!