Canadian grocery stores are getting better (thank you President’s Choice) but the department stores definitely need to catch up when it comes to food halls. Oh, how I miss the good old days before Marks & Spencer decided to close its doors in Canada. So every time I go back to London, I hit M&S as many times as I can. Most of the time its a quick stop to grab lunch at a great deal with sandwiches starting at 1.45 pounds, so many different gourmet flavoured crisps (we call them chips) and my favourite, the sausage roll! And I love their packaging – the British are so great at their marketing! If you’re looking for some ideas for souvenirs, their biscuits, candies, etc. are fantastic as gifts…..and yes, I even bring home a couple of bags of crisps (its my weakness)! Check out some of the awesome things I found on this trip!
Second to my love for London, is my love for afternoon tea! I realize its origins are from “Royalty and High society” but its now become a great way to get together and catch up among friends, which is exactly what my friends and I like to do….only problem, there’s not a lot of great places to do that in Toronto. So whenever I travel to London, I try to at least get one afternoon tea in if not two. I found out about the Connaught Hotel after looking at my friend M’s instagram photos of having afternoon tea there. Everything looked so delicious I just had to go. I usually like to stick with traditional teas so I had the Royal Connaught Afternoon blend, a black tea. The tea was good but what I remember clearly is how delicious their Coronation chicken sandwich was! It was my first time having the chicken salad sandwich and the mild curry flavour, the creamy mayonnaise with a touch of sweetness – it was tasty! There was no shortness of food here, after the sandwiches and pastries out came the scones (raisin and plain) and then a final plate of cakes (green tea and chestnut and chocolate spicy hazelnut). So much to eat, I highly recommend going on any empty stomach!
We visited Camden Lock Market on an early Wednesday morning and of course, we planned on finding a place there to have breakfast and our most important morning coffee! Roaming through the alleys we came upon Ruby Dock Cafe. With a breakfast/brunch menu and some delicious looking baked goods displayed on the counter we couldn’t resist. I’m obsessed with anything iced (and yes, I still order iced coffees in this frigid Canadian weather!) so it was an iced latte and toasted banana bread topped with cinnamon butter – it was delicious! A perfect way to start the day! If you’re in for something lighter, the friand (a small french cake that is apparently popular in Australia) is a good choice. I didn’t know this prior to popping into Ruby Dock but it looks like the owners also own two other popular restaurants in London: Lantana Cafe and Salvation Jane. I think I need to add these onto my next visit
Its been 13 years since the last time I was at Camden Lock Market and a lot has changed! From what I remember about the market, the majority of the vendors sold goods like clothing, art, housewares, etc. Food now has a dominating presence here reflecting the increase in sophistication of the British palate. Everything from Peruvian food to Dutch pancakes to Polish pierogies! Coffee bars, cafes and chocolatiers are scattered around the market – you will even find a nitro-ice cream lab! We went first thing in the morning around 10am so most vendors were just setting up – highly recommend going for lunch during the week as long as you don’t mind crowds. If you’re on the hunt for the typical “London” souvenirs (i.e. mugs, postcards, magnets, etc.), the street from the Camden tube station leading up to the market is lined with souvenir shops – the most choice and variety I’ve seen around London! Here’s some of my favourite photos – there was so much to capture!
No, that is not a spelling error, it really is called Rock & Sole “Plaice”! Who knew when I was booking a place to stay in London that it would be around the corner from the oldest fish and chips shop. Yes, the Rock & Sole Plaice has been around since 1871 and on a late night snack run, we decided it was a perfect chance to get some traditional fish and chips. We snuck in just before close and quickly learned that the halibut was sold out. However, the menu was pretty extensive – its the first time I’ve seen scampi, skate and steak & kidney? At a fish and chips joint to boot! I went with traditional cod and chips. And if you like ketchup with your fries, you won’t find that here. Its only vinegar and/or salt for your chips! Good thing my fish and chips came in a box that was strong enough to stand up to all the vinegar I like to pour on my chips. The fish was meaty and delicious with a crispy batter coating – exactly what you would expect from a good British fish and chips shop!
The Harrods Food Hall reminds me of the department stores in Japan! What I loved about them was that each one had a food hall in the basement level of the department store, so full with ready made foods, a bakery, restaurants and food gifts! I could spend hours just roaming the aisles – well, I definitely did that here in Harrods. My favourite room was the bakery and patisserie room – you can’t pass these counters without having at least a look, the rainbow cake was calling me However, if there’s one thing the English do well, its their sausage rolls and pies. I have to admit, whenever I travel to London I grab one of these to go at least two or three times during my visit. There’s something about meat inside buttery pastry/pies that completely satisfies my hunger!
One of the biggest challenges out there is finding good healthy food on the go – key words “on the go”! As I walk around, there are so many food gems to discover in this cosmopolitan city. Across the street from our apartment, a couple of new office towers went up along with new restaurants on the ground level – one of them, Pod. The idea here is healthy food served in compostable packaging. For breakfast, its eggs in many different ways – I ordered the Energizer Scrambled Eggs with avocado, mozzarella, tomatoes and served with whole wheat toast. It was a simple meal but exactly what my body needed and it was delicious! And for a snack, the flapjack. I’ve been seeing the “flapjack” all over London, so you know I had to try it….its like a homemade granola bar, just a bit drier.