Tag Archives: travel food

Don’t You (Forget About Breakfast)

3 Feb

As I said a while ago before I got sidetracked by those pesky French Alps, this post will be mostly to do with my breakfast. In the spirit of honesty, here is a website representation of how relevant this post will probably be for you, the reader.

But I guess if you happen to live in London, or will be visiting any time soon, this may be of some use to you if you enjoy a breakfast that is SO GOOD it makes you think “well, it’s all down hill for the rest of the day.” And I do. I’m not going to tell you the name of the place straight away, rather, what does this make you think of?

No, the place is not called ‘Simple Minds’ or even ‘Ill-fitting suit’ (though if you want to call your restaurant ‘Ill-fitting suit’ you’re welcome to it). It’s called ‘The Breakfast Club’, and when you get to the front of the queue to get in, it makes you go like this:bfcfs

That’s right, you have to queue to get breakfast! You’re probably thinking “screw that, I’m going to maccas for a double sausage mcmuffin, you stupid hipster”. And no one would blame you. But if you can force your modern, “on-demand” mind to spend a short while braving a cold London morning, I guarantee you’ll change your tune faster than a teenager with an iPod (this is a serious gripe of mine, let the song finish for god’s sake! Can I get a HELL YEAH?)

Once you actually make it inside the building and do your Judd Nelson fist pump, the decor is striking. It’s hard to explain but I guess its a classier version of the “found this crap out the back and made it into a light fitting” style I mentioned to describe ruin bars in Budapest. It’s not unpleasant though, and frankly I don’t go out to breakfast for the decor. While I’m at it, I feel I should can mention that I’m not more likely to choose a place to eat because they serve their food on chopping boards, skateboards, wobble boards, or anything else that is a kitschy substitute for a plate. Plates work. Here’s some photographic evidence:

I can't even pass this off as an 'arty' photo.

I can’t even pass this off as an ‘arty’ photo.

It may be difficult to make out, but this is a spectacular creation called the ‘Huevos Al Benny’, a very Spanish twist on regular eggs Benedict. Accompanying the usual poached eggs, English muffins and Hollandaise sauce are generous amounts of chorizo, peppers and guacamole. I’ve since been back to The Breakfast Club and had a more traditional cooked breakfast (plus a side of pancakes), but I can not go past Huevos for muchos el flavour.

If these sorts of things don’t take your fancy, the menu is extensive. Both times I’ve been I have found at least five things on the menu I’m torn between, and I haven’t been disappointed with my choices. Importantly, the coffee is good quality and well made, and the smoothies/juices provide a welcome hangover aid.

Even though it runs the risk of increasing the queue, and hence my waiting time, I should probably tell you where they are located. I must say that having visited two of their five locations (Spitalfields and Soho), they don’t feel like a chain. They still maintain personality and excellent quality in what they serve, and you can find them here.

Until next time, have a great morning.

 

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

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Sausage Rolls, Beer in Roadkill, and Attention-Grabbing Headlines

28 Oct

Here I am again! Rushing in at the last minute as the teacher calls my name, yelling “PRESENT!” I’ve realised my promise to try and post each week was about to expire and join a fast-filling basket of broken promises, missed deadlines and piked-out-on RSVPs. If you add the numerous tedious events I’ve pulled a smoke bomb from I start to look like quite the unreliable individual.

Today I’ve come to talk to you about a couple of things. The first is a wonderful, growing family of beer bars run by Scottish brewer Brewdog. You may remember I mentioned Brewdog back in my post about Glasgow. Well it seems that they have started to invade the south with bars popping up all over the place.

This one is in Camden, a very friendly 3-minute walk from Camden Town tube station. We were there because of something you may have heard of called a Groupon. If you’ve not heard of them, basically it’s a reward for knowing how to navigate the internet that allows you to get stuff cheaper than it usually is. This is even more helpful when, like in this case, it’s something you actually want.

This Groupon allowed the holders (us) to attend a two-hour beer tasting of Brewdog offerings. We were led to a secret room called the “Hop Bunker” (secret means it was behind a chain and down some stairs), where we were greeted by our host and the first tasting:

Yes, it does seem pretty pretentious but to that I say an unpretentious “up yours”.

This first beer is called ‘Punk IPA’ and without going in to tedious detail about beer, its really nice. As we were reminded a number of times by our host, Brewdog’s main aim is to let people know that there is a far superior alternative to drinking the mass-produced lagers like Fosters, Stella or Carlsberg.

As our next beers for tasting were prepared, we were also treated to a lovely surprise, since their was no mention of it on the Groupon:

This was almost as welcome as the beer.

A guy across the table and I eyed this for a long time, wondering which of us would be the first to crack. I forget which of us was first, but the edgily taken first piece of Brie gave way to a free-for-all that almost ended in lost fingers. The platter was a nice touch though, and probably necessary as the beers kept coming.

The beers also got stronger. The ‘Punk IPA’ above was around 5%, however this was followed by an amber ale, porter, double IPA…and then it starts to get a little hazy. The details I give now can’t be verified by my memory, but I’m fairly sure the tasting ended with an 11.1% alcohol beer, followed by a beer cocktail with gin. Then there’s this photo:

His name is Steven.

The story behind this is long. But the short version is that it’s a 55% alcohol beer that is bottled then put inside taxidermied roadkill. We didn’t get to try it because it’s hideously expensive, but if you want to order it, ask for ‘End of History’. I’m not sure how often these classes run, but Brewdog should definitely be running more of them. And if you can pick it up on a Groupon for £12 each, then let the good times roll.

Today I will also be fulfilling another promise, that which concerns the world’s greatest sausage roll. If you are ever in London (and I hope that you are), the first thing you should do is definitely get a Mars Milk. Once that is done however, you need to find yourself a Ginger Pig.

These butchers use their expertise in all things meat to concoct what I don’t mind saying is the WORLD’s BEST sausage roll. My pick for the best place to get one is the Borough Market near London Bridge, as you can wander around and taste all kinds of other foods as well. If not, they also have shops in Hackney, Shepherds Bush, Marylebone and Waterloo.

I recently discovered that they make different varieties, this one is a pork and stilton (cheese):

This was fantastic as well, however I can’t go past the first time I bit in to the original pork. The meat is spiced in a way I never thought possible and is sweet, savoury and juicy. This is complimented by the golden pastry which somehow melts and crumbles at the same time.

You’re probably wondering how I can talk like this about a humble sausage roll, but that just means you need to get over here and try it for yourself. It’s well worth the flight ticket from wherever you are.

And there’s other stuff to do as well.

 

Safe travels, thanks for reading. J

Embrace the Progress! Supermarket Tourism

30 Jun

As this goes to print (it doesn’t actually get printed, I’ve just adopted the jargon of the journalism industry), I’m keenly aware that I’m in direct competition with irresistible headlines such as The Sun’s “JAWS IN CORNWALL, E.T. IN ESSEX!”

Why go on? Especially faced with such blatantly sensationalist and untrue claims. Unless they were quoting from the Retro Cinema Club’s schedules for Cornwall and Essex respectively, in which case I apologise. How embarrassing.

Whatever the case, it is my firm opinion that the world needs good  adequate amateur travel-related words that attempt to be humourous. Since I don’t see anyone else stepping up, it falls to me.

Today’s topic typically takes the form of something not that “travely”. By now we’re all aware the main reason I love travel is for the food. Now most people would probably think this is limited to cafes, restaurants, local street food, and the token loosely cultural item at McDonald’s.

Turkey’s “McTurco” is basically a regular burger with flat bread instead of burger buns. Mmmmm cultural!

But you’d be mistaken. A wise person once opened my eyes (metaphorically) to the fact that supermarkets are one of the most culturally fascinating places in any new place you visit. This is handy since you will find a supermarket or at least a convenience store in most developed places you go these days, except maybe New Zealand.*

Why do I find something so mundane, so interesting? Well, you’d think having posted myself a question on my own blog, I’d have a definitive answer ready. But I think such predictability would add much un-needed quality where its not needed.

In truth I’m not that sure why I love browsing the shelves of lurid packaging, weird shaped breads and drinks with infused flavours I associate with fabric softener. I’d like to think its because given the majority of developed-country citizens shop in such places, the supermarket gives a fascinating insight in to how they cook, eat and live.

Take for example, the scene friends and I witnessed on a trip to St. Petersburg. Rather than wasting precious shelf space on more bread, cereal, fruit, or organic pot-set yogurt, an entire aisle of a very large supermarket was devoted to vodka. And who am I to complain? When we saw the rate at which locals were loading up on pine-infused potato juice, it became clear that no one was there to stock up on pointless solids.

Like I said, I’d like to think I find foreign supermarkets so interesting for the insight into modern culture. But really, I’m afraid it probably has more to do with things like this:

If you were expecting a sophisticated and discerning palate, you’ve come to the wrong blog.

Somehow, they’ve managed to get all the flavour layers of a Mars bar in to a single liquid. Why this hasn’t reached Australia yet, I’ll never know. I could write a whole review of Mars milk now, but I might save that for when ideas run critically low.

As far as I’m concerned, new experiences are new experiences. Whether that’s getting a delicious $1 meal from a Vietnamese street vendor, writing yourself off on pine cone vodka in St. Petersburg, or simply enjoying a chocolate bar-flavoured milk drink in London. Who cares? As long as you try something different.

Thanks for reading, safe supermarket visits to you all. J

*Please, no New Zealand-related hate mail. It’s a joke. Now you can go and pick on a country smaller than you to make yourself feel better.