I was recently Blogger of the Week over on Love your Larder’s fantastic food blog. I had so much fun writing the post on “Around the World in 5 Foods” that I thought it would be good to do a regular feature on here – as a self-indulgent (sorry) way of combining my love of travel with my love of food, both of which have always been so tightly intertwined. What do you think readers? Along with the five foods, I’ll highlight where to find them in London.
So here’s a slightly amended re-hash of my post on Love your Larder:
China is where my travels really began, and so did my foray into blogging. It was half way through my year there in 2004 that I got a digital camera (before then I was lugging Kodak disposables around, remember those?) and a love of taking photos of food. China is also where I met my future husband (though I definitely wasn’t aware of it at the time) and learned what travelling is about – experiencing completely different cultures and soaking it up like a sponge. It wasn’t until years later that I realised just how much food was shaping my travels but my best memories from there are pretty much all based around the dinner table. It took me ages to narrow down what my favourite Chinese meal is, but it all comes down to the humble pork dumpling, something so warm and comforting on a cold winter’s day, and always enjoyed with friends.
I’m still not sure where the best dumplings in London can be found but you can buy them in the freezer section of the supermarkets in Chinatown and easily steam them yourself (I love New Loon Moon, it’s huge and they’re also really friendly). I would also recommend my friend Pei’s Chaya Teanamu Tea House in Notting Hill for a Chinese afternoon tea and My Old Place near Liverpool Street for authentic Szechuan food. If you’re after good Dim Sum, there are plenty of places in London but my favourite is Lotus Floating Restaurant at Cross Harbour, near Canary Wharf.
China is also where my obsession with tea began. Which leads me onto Japan – after years of drinking all sorts of tea, it was in Japan where I was introduced to matcha tea, something often thought of as too bitter by novices, but if you get it right it can be so smooth and velvety. Served with a tiny Japanese cake, it becomes tea heaven for me.
The best place I’ve found in London which prepares Matcha tea in front of you is the Tea Smith in Spitalfields, but you can also buy your own matcha powder from the Japan Centre on Lower Regent Street and again, online at Teanamu for around a fiver. It’s so easy and is ridiculously good for you.
I firmly believe that the world’s best food is always found in markets. Here are some tacos being made in Guadalajara, Mexico:
Talk about melt in your mouth. You only need two or three, but I’m sure I had at least four and Mr Man got up to seven… The best we’ve had in London have been at Wahaca, but there are plenty of good Mexican restaurants in this city, my actual favourite being Lupita near Charing X and Embankment tube stations (they do great things with an avocado and their cerviche is to die for). I’ve heard that Poncho8 does a pretty good burrito too (their chilli sauces are amazing, I have 3 jars of it in my cupboard~).
Last year we got married in Sri Lanka. This is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and it has food to match. You can’t get away from rice and curry, so make the most of it. It generally consists of five curries surrounding a plate of rice. You end up ridiculously full, but it takes away the indecision of only picking one. Everywhere you have it is different, apparently it even varies from village to village. The best we had was in some tree houses that we stayed in near Sigiriya where the owner employs a local villager to cook for his guests. Thinking about it still makes me ridiculously hungry. Don’t forget the tea plantations either…
Unfortunately I have yet to try Sri Lankan food in London, but I’ve heard there are some good Sri Lankan restaurants in North London and Tooting (Dosa & Chutny along with Sekara in Victoria seemed to have the biggest Twitter recommendations).
And finally, considering that this is Britain’s big year, you can’t forget High Tea. I must have had at least 10-15 in my seven years based in London, but I still think you can’t beat Knightsbridge’s Berkeley Hotel for quality and quirky combined. This is the Pret a Portea:
I also very highly recommend Beas of Bloomsbury at St Paul’s, Camellia’s Tea House in Kingly Court (off Carnaby Street) and London Review Cake Shop (opposite the British Museum) for those looking for a somewhat cheaper but still awesome cake/tea experience.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Where are your top 5 foods to be found?