A Sit Down and a Nice Cup of Tea
A snapshot of my trip to London (mostly in pictures; if only the internet had smell & taste sharing abilities, this would have been the perfect meal)
The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.Rudyard Kipling
How true that is indeed. Right from touch down at London Heathrow, fascinating people and delicious meals, rail and underground journeys — picturesque views will always be forefront in my mind, but those subtle smells and tastes return to reminisce of how meaningful that time was and how much at home I felt.
My whole trip, I’d like to say was spent at home, (welcomed into other people’s homes) and it was made spectacular not just by the things I saw but the incredible people I met, who showed me things, fed me flavours and were crucial to my “understanding of a foreign country”.
Cuppa Tea? (or Coffee)
Whatever time of day or night sitting at the kitchen dining table with a spread of delectable treats was the tastiest and most interesting part of the day. From marmite, elderflower jam, Polish cold cuts, crumpets, black pudding, English muffins, croissants, G&T’s, Bramley Apples, flat peaches, succulent strawberries, not to forget, tea (or coffee for Liz) to most importantly brilliant endless conversation from history, food, the days events, solar power, the “heat” wave, and irresponsible planning — it was the best.
BLACK PUDDING: Of course necessity is the mother of invention and tradition, thus there are great blood recipes all over the world and prominent ones back home in India.
Sorpotel, a spiced curry of pork (fat+liver+blood) soured with vinegar is a Portuguese influenced dish shared by Goans and Mangaloreans alike. North Eastern India has a more ritualistic approach to blood consumption. Amin is a dish prepared by the Galo tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh. The blood of an Indian bison is ground with rice ginger and meat, stuffed into bamboo and steamed. The end product is said to be a cakey tube similar to black pudding. Aattu Ratha Poriyal from Tamil Nadu is a simple stir fried scrambled blood recipe that is swabbed up with a dosa or idli.
Feasting & Family
Weddings are spectacular events that bring forward unique cultures, customs, cuisine and conversation and meeting A LOT of new family was wonderful for me because EVERYONE loves to talk about food!
Jey&Jan are a beautiful couple and the wedding was just as spectacular with spiced up Sri Lankan curries and delicious vattalapam to end .
Not to forget delicious Sri Lankan meals at Yorkeland. Really lovely to spend time with U. Rajan & A. Irene!
The New Waterloo Dispatch
is an ambitious ceremonial interpretation of a defining moment in European history: The Battle of Waterloo, which was fought two hundred years ago on 18 June 1815.
Food for Thought
While I was doing my pre-travel research, I came across FOOD FOR THOUGHT at 31 Neal Street, Covent Garden, London. It was one of the city’s iconic vegetarian restaurants and was closing its doors on the 21st of June.
And so, Liz & I brisk walked through the city but not forgetting to take in its magnificent sights and sounds and smells
The walk was definitely worth it and the food was absolutely fine! Amidst the chirpy chatter there were a quite a few solemn sighs and my heart broke when an elderly lady put her arm on my shoulder and sadly murmured, “I’ve eaten here for nearly 20 years, it’s a sorry sight?” It’s terrible to see an institution close, especially when it has an incredible impact on our most basic necessity — Food.
When we got home that evening there was a fragrant pot on the stove. Barbara had stewed those lovely bramley apples and Liz sprinkled some elderflower in. The apples smelled wonderfully sweet and tasted deliciously tart!
Dinner with the Kumars
Delicious fajitas, straight-from-the-oven brownies and ice cream, strawberries and a nice bottle of wine were definitely the best ways to catch up with old friends. A wonderful evening talking about all sorts of things, yes food of course! Thank you to the Kumars for introducing me to Pop Brixton. As you will see later I had a delicious time there!
The following day was spent at Windsor Castle with a crazy school friend and food fiend was spectacular! The lunch at Wagamama that followed was great fun!
At Wagamama we had the Katsu Curry and the Firecracker. The feasting didn’t stop there. That night her mum cooked up some delicious Uttapam (rice and lentil pancake) with Mollaga podi (Spice powder eaten with oil also called gunpowder). That mollaga podi was the real firecracker! We watched a malyalam movie and a hindi sitcom — It was like I never left home!
Chef Cyrus Todiwala and his wife Chef Pervin started this institution in 1991 to bring across an innovative and fresh approach to Pan-Indian cuisine. I was privileged to have the opportunity to spend a day in their kitchens and it was incredible indeed. Thank you CafeSpiceNamaste for a very interesting day! I can still smell that orange B&B pudding!
Here’s a clip of Chef Cyrus talking about a really delicious last meal:
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, ate a pasty five feet long,
Bit it once, Bit it twice, Oh my Lord, it’s full of mice.
Beef and Turnip pasty sipping a chilled Ale watching the world is the best way to process after a super educative day at the Natural History Museum.
Bagatti’s Restaurant in South Croydon has been around for 24 delicious years!
BREAKFAST will always be my favourite meal. Whether its a crisp dosa, steaming hot idli’s or buttery crumpets and (Liz’s) elderflower jam.
Institute of Making
The afternoon at the festival of stuff was the most fun learning I’ve ever had! Willow weaving, making copper spoons, cyanotyping, edible tequila shot glasses, making iron, steam rolled art, free ice cream! — I could not think of a better spent summer afternoon! I was first introduced to this remarkable club through Gastropod’s (a food podcast) first episode on spoons and Zoe Laughin’s appearance where she talks about her fascinating spoon research — Tasting spoons: Assessing how the material of a spoon affects the taste of the food
Zoe is the creative director at the Institute of Making and her research and everything else this UCL Club does is brilliant.
Chinese food, Fortune Cookies, World War II walk, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Sarvana Bhavan, Biryani, Dhansak, Misti Doi, Heart & Soul, — Hanging out with these guys was the great fun indeed.
It would be a shame not to pay homage to this south indian institution. As you can see our Idli’s have been eaten, our plates are hot with crisp dosa’s, chutney and sambhar and we can’t wait for the photograph to be over with so we can dig in!
Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors
Lizzie Collingham and Thomas Seidel are such wonderful people. Dr. Elizabeth Collingham is indeed a brilliant author and her book captures all the flavours of Indian cooking inherited from its conquerors. I was so excited to meet her that I completely missed my photo-op moment, but Lizzie, we are definitely cooking curry together sometime soon!
From here, off to Oxford to attend the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery
The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery was a brilliant three days of great conversations, ideas and glorious food.
Read about the symposium here.
Back in London
Pickles Cafe in Southwark served us a traditional breakfast of bubble & squeak, the freshest tomates on toast and black pudding. But forget the food — You need to go there for wonderful stories and a good hearty laugh along with a steaming cuppa tea
Pop Brixton is a project to support local jobs, training and enterprise and will house the next generation of local food and drinks entrepreneurs, retail outlets, workspaces for local business and artists, tech enterprises and a community event space, to be enjoyed by all.
We spent an afternoon chowing down on some spanish tapas…
… and then spent a while checking out produce at Brixton Market
This was my last night in London and it couldn’t have been spent any better:
St. Johns Bread & Wine
The first time I came to know of Chef Fergus Henderson was from a MAD 2 talk
Dinner was Sublime:
Just a small note on the title.
It comes from a hilarious fantastic book (& blog http://www.nicecupofteaandasitdown.com/) that Liz shared with me. I always bumbled up the title and never could get it right. It’s a delicious read; from everything on the history of tea bags to jaffa cakes!