Tag Archives: London

Eating our way through London for 192 hours!

By Lakshmi:

Can I make a confession? I’m a baby about my birthdays!  For many years now, I’ve made a resolution to not work on my birthday and fill the day surrounded by the people,  activities and food I love.  And every year I look forward to the 24 hours dedicated to me.  But this time around, I decided to extend the celebration to 192 hours. That’s right, eight days of eating my way through London with my teenaged daughter and her dear friend for company.

Now, this was going to be no random Eatathon.  I had a wish list of five places I definitely wanted to hit up on my trip.  Places where tables tend to get booked up months ahead of time. And here I was with my air tickets to London purchased barely two weeks away from D-day! OpenTable and the phone became my best friends as I wrangled my way to reservations at all five.  With those anchors set, I scoured my way through bookmarked clippings from food and travel magazines, Time Out London, and other sources to create a list of restaurants by neighborhood that served amazing meals at not too exorbitant prices.  This list was vetted by my travel companions, and the end product was a list accented with highlights and bold colors.  We were ready to forage our way through London!

The first stop on this journey was a dream come true.  NOPI, a restaurant by one of my favorite chefs, Yottam Ottolenghi.  He is the MAN who does vegetables like no other.  The flavors, the seasoning, the fresh taste, the creativity…I could just go on and on.

My excitement entering in was like a kid who had been promised a trip to a candy store for a long time and now had permission to pick out anything she wanted.  Let me walk you through a visual journey of what we ate!  If I had to pick one word to describe the meal? Divine.  Add another word? Magic!  Tell you how I felt? Like Royalty. How was the taste? It was a like a perfectly orchestrated taste festival on my tongue.  And my admiration for the creator of this culinary nirvana? Undying!

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The menu – presenting us with the agonizing tradeoffs we would be subject to!!
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Bread with the richest olive oil you could dream of
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AAhhhhh! Nothing like marinated olives with a glass of wine
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Jicama, smokey jalapeno and tomato salsa – I’m crying with happiness
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Mixed seed lavash with burnt spring onion dip – too bad we were in a place where it would be inappropriate to lick our bowl clean
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Roasted butternet squash, red onion, tahini, zatar – nowhere have I tasted squash this good
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Spiced potato cakes with a topping of parsnip chips
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Peanut and caramel icecream with chocolate sauce and peanut brittle – should I eat them separately or mix them?
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Baked chocolate ganache, plum soil, creme fraiche, the perfect backdrop for a candle

Stay tuned for our next post on this 192 hour food fueled journey through London!

Can an airport inspire poetry? Heathrow sure does!

By Rohan:
A little girl plays with her mother’s hair.
She twirls it in one arm and lets it go like a wind-up toy.

Her hazel eyes gaze into the window of a Harrods, the store’s iconic bear staring back at her.
She’s enchanted by the plush toy, hypnotized.
 
Next to the family is an older man, probably Spanish or Portuguese. 
His cardigan suggests he was once a professor but his face resembles that of an artist, a Picasso or a Neruda. 
His arms are crossed, a worn messenger bag is tucked between his feet. 
On his right arm is a bracelet. 
A memento from a grandchild or a reminder of a distant friend. A friend that might be waiting on the other end of his boarding pass.
 
Next to him, an Indian woman. 
Her intricate earrings match the pattern on her sari, her solemn eyes stare wistfully into the distance.
She’s looking for someone, thinking about someone. Her feet rest on her suitcase. Feet that show experience like rings on a tree. 
 
I’m just a fish in the ocean.
The fly on the wall.
The traveler in the airport.
 
After six hours here, I’ve stopped seeing people.
I only see stories.
They may not be true, but they’re real.
They’re screaming.
They’re everywhere.
 
For this is Heathrow, the world’s truly international airport.

Ever had Koshari? It’s flavor fusion nirvana!

By Lakshmi:

During multiple trips to London, we’ve walked by Koshari Street, this tiny, narrow restaurant in Covent Garden that serves up killer “make your own” Koshari.  Koshari (also known as Kushari or Koshary) is an Egyptian dish that originated in the 19th century.

Given we were never at Koshari Street around meal times, we always gave it a skip, promising to be back at a future date.  On this London eatathon, we headed to Koshari Street to get a taste of a dish that is rated incredibly high across TripAdvisor, TimeOut London, Yelp and more.

As we walked towards the restaurant, my two teenaged travel companions wanted to know more about this dish.  I tried to explain it to them rather unsuccessfully.

Think of it as a Chipotle bowl; it originated in Egypt and is eaten by the rich and poor.  You start with a base of rice, pasta and lentils, top it with a tomato sauce, and then layer on spices and toppings.  It left them both confused.  Rice, pasta and lentils in the same dish? That’s weird they chimed.  They did not have a choice.  I had made up my mind and they were going to not just walk in with me, but try the dish as well.

As soon as you open the door to Koshari Street, the smell of the spices draws you in.  The friendly staff patiently explain how the dish is layered and you are able to build it to suit your palate.  Out came the bowl, in went the rice, pasta and lentils.  Next a healthy dollop of tomato sauce was spooned over the carb combo.  On went the chick peas, dukkah (a spice blend), veggies and the fried onions.  Aah the amazing fried onions which added the perfect crunch to this flavor medley.  The best news?  This entire meal was under five pounds.

As I savored the first bite of crisp onions, I got a little bit of the dukkah and tomato sauce. It was a lovely melding of flavors.  Next I blended the sauce with the rice, pasta and tomatoes and dug in.  It was truly a flavor fusion nirvana worth every bit of the five hundred pence I had paid for this meal.

And what did the teenagers have to say?  While they did eat it all, they said the combination of flavors was a bit confusing to them and they would have loved it more minus the dill!

If your travels ever get you to London and you want to have a frugal meal or snack, do head down to Koshari Street.  It is a very easy, delicious way to get introduced to the world of Egyptian street food.