Gypsy Grub

A fine food enthusiast travels the world, and her own backyard in search of the best eats.

Month: September, 2012

London on my Birthday

A birthday in London. What more could a girl ask for? It was a beautiful birthday filled with happiness and surprise in the loveliest place. Previously, I had bought myself a cake the size of my palm (in Harrods) in celebration. The detailing on it is so delicate, and it made a perfect cakey breakfast!bday LOndon (23)

After breakfast it was off to Harrods for a long and glorious day of shopping and exploring. I came across these fabulously British cupcakes, and traditional Welsh cakes.

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One of my best friend’s mothers is from Wales and makes the most perfect Welsh cakes, these did not compare with hers.bday LOndon (27)

After a tiring and successful stroll in the most famous department store in the world, I ventured to Camden Market, a place I had never visited before. I found so many different things that intrigued me and left with a full shopping bag. Before continuing the day me and my partner sat down at a creperie in the Market for a bit to eat and some tea. This crepe was simple, but oh so glorious. It was light and delicate, filled with ham, and mushrooms. Perfect tea time meal!PT LOndon (41)

After a busy morning I decided lunch had to be somewhere extravagant. Our night time festivities were going to be near Knightsbridge station, so we returned to Harrods for a sweet pick-me-up. Yes, the Harrods Ice Cream Parlor is magnificent. It is always packed with people, and for good reason. I got vanilla, cookies and crème, and hazelnut ice cream topped with whipped cream, butterscotch sauce, raspberries and a macadamia nut toffee cookie. It was very impressive both visually and to my taste buds. However, I must say the freshly sourced ice cream in Dingle was a million times better.

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After Harrods was a lovely surprise. My companion had planned a surprise night for me, I knew nothing of what the future would hold. In a way I love surprises, but I’m always a little scared I get my hopes up only to be very disappointed. The night did not disappoint.

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I walked mile after mile until we finally stood in front of The Wolseley. It is very well known in the foodie world as being a traditional established eatery. The decor inside was delicate and beautiful, and even the bathroom was lovely.

The meal started with the tiniest baguettes I had ever seen. They were about seven inches long, and two inches in diameter. They were warm and delicious!

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I chose the Quail Egg starter because I had never tried quail eggs before. They had been soft boiled and were on top of a flaky sort of crust. Everything was topped with a wonderfully rich hollandaise sauce.

bday LOndon (24) My companion ordered a fresh green asparagus and snow pea salad. It was perfectly fresh, and lightly dressed. The worst thing is when you order a salad with all of these beautiful vegetables and it comes drowned in a rich overpowering cream sauce. The salad was done absolutely perfect here.

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I also decided to get a side of green beans. They were perfectly al dente, and the nuts added an extra dimension of flavor to the dish.

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Unfortunately, our main courses were far less impressive than our starters. I ordered the special which was a white fish with potatoes on a bed of peas. The potatoes were seasoned and cooked correctly, and the peas were very good, but the fish ruined the dish. It was cold and charred on the side that was facing down.

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My companion got lamb in a bed of beans. I did not think it was appealing in any way. Honestly I was rather repulsed by it. Its a shame that The Wolseley would put out such a dish that would ruin their reputation.

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Then, of course there was dessert. My companion had fallen recently in love with a Battenberg Cake I came across in the Lake District. The cake happened to be on the menu. It was not as good as the one I had previously tried, I would not recommend it.

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For a final goodbye to my birthday I ordered something that I had heard of but never tried before. It is a tart made with a shortcrust pastry and a thick treacle filling. It has an unusual taste that can not completely be described without previous experience. It was served with some Crème Anglaise which I did not thing was the appropriate paring for the flavor profile. Resting on top of the tart was a beautiful personalized Happy Birthday message to me. It was a very sweet gesture.

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After the dinner, I was lead down windy roads until my companion stood me in front of a theater. That night I enjoyed the wonderfully entertaining musical Billy Elliot. It was a beautiful birthday I will never forget.

Glastonbury

Glastonbury. A small intriguing town for the most interesting people on earth. What a strange, bizarre, uncomfortable, magical, dark, modern, mythical, perfect, quirky, medieval little place. It is definitely one of its kind. Here, you will come across many people on the streets in wizard garb, or who seem to be of faerie decent. They believe strongly in magic, and practice it devoutly. Not only is it a life changing experience to spend time with the locals, but the food is unbelievably fresh and excellent.

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Whilst walking along the main road I came across the Rainbow Cafe and Garden. The name alone drew me in, and I couldn’t wait to see what kind of food they served.

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All of the food was farm fresh. It was the tastiest thing I have had so far. On the left side of the plate is a beautiful, perfectly dressed spinach salad with nuts, apples, goat cheese, and grapes. On the right is a curry salad with peas, carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes. They were both absolutely exquisite.

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The flavor of this quiche is literally indescribable. It pains me to say that because I absolutely abhorre when people say that to me. The flavor of the egg, can only be described as completely enhanced. It was the quiche of all quiches, all others I had had before were now like margarine, and this quiche was the fresh butter. Like I said – indescribable.

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After an amazing lunch I stopped at a bakery dubbed Burns the Bread (run by the Burns family). There I got two things I had never tried, or even heard of before; Lardy bread, and Torsy Moorsy cake. The Lardy bread, was simple a bread made of lard. It was delicious, and slightly sweet and the lard left a rich film in your mouth. The Torsy Moorsy cake is unique to Burns the Bread. It is a one of a kind Glastonbury fruitcake made with many secret ingredients, and cheddar cheese! Both are definitely worth a try. After a long walk to the supposed burial place of King Arthur, and a brisk run up the Tor, my journey ended in a small museum where I came upon these lovely quotes about butter. I just stared, and smiled as I read them.

Rainbows End Cafe, 17b High Street – Glastonbury – Somerset – UK, BA6 9DP

Phone: 01458 833896 Email: rainbowsendcafe@gmail.com

http://www.rainbowsendcafe.com/

Burns the Bread, 14 High St, Glastonbury, Somerset. BA6 9DU

Tel no: 01458 831532  Fax: 01458 833912

http://www.burnsthebread.co.uk/index.html

First Day in London

I had a very special appointment with Le Cordon Bleu in London. As you all should know, it is my dream to be a food writer and travel the world. I feel that before one can truly write about food legitimately, they must have the right background to make informed comments. Therefore, before I pursue my degree in journalism I feel it is only sensible that I have a basic knowledge of all things culinary. To do this I feel that I must go to a Culinary School. Because of my special appointment to tour the campus, my traveling plans were switched around a bit, and I ended up having to fit a couple days in London in before I went on to Glastonbury. Of course I intended to explore London a bit more, but that will come at the very end of my adventures.

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Before catching a showing of Moonrise Kingdom, I decided I would pop in a pub to get a quick bite to eat with my friend. Surprisingly their special of the day were various Indian dishes. I was not aware of how many plates would come out when I ordered this special, but was pleasantly surprised when I got to taste so many diverse dishes!

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I cannot completely recall the names of the curries, but they were both very good. The second one here had many root vegetables incorporated in it which I quite enjoyed.

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In an attempt to maintain my “girlish figure” I ordered a side salad. It was not memorable, and completely undressed.

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This flatbread came with the special. It was lovely. I am a huge flatbread enthusiast and always order it when it is on any menu. This one specifically had mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and goat cheese.

My day in London was a very hectic one, but ended with a leisurely tour through Le Cordon Bleu campus. I ended my informative culinary day with some treats from Le Cordon Bleu’s bakery. I tried a passion fruit macaron, and a sticky whiskey flavored bun. They were gone so fast, I did not have any chance to take a picture of them! The whiskey bun was encrusted with raisins and burned of alcohol. It was oddly gelatinous and unusual. The passion fruit macaron was by far my favorite, and all the perfect components of the passion fruit were captured in this pastry. Here’s to a perfect end to a hectic day, Au Revoir!

Ironbridge Gorge

I loved Ironbridge Gorge. One of the best things about this little town is how unknown it is, so I don’t want to speak of it much. I want it all to myself. It lies along a beautiful river, with some of the most lush scenery I have ever encountered.

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I stayed at a B&B called The Library House. Although the view was lovely, and it was very close to the river, overall the accommodation was not a good one. I do not recommend the B&B for anyone. When we arrived our host was inebriated and very unprofessional. I went straight to my room, and hoped that the next day she would “come to”.

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In the morning she did seem to see the error of her ways and was kind, and very shy towards us. Despite everything she was a lovely cook and therefore my belly forgave her. Here I had a soft boiled egg with toasted soldiers (I did not learn how to properly eat this until weeks later).

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My companion got something a little more daring! Smoked salmon and egg on toast. It arrived like this, and I was a little disappointed, until…

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There was a beautiful gift inside the wrapping! It was artful and clever idea to present the breakfast this way and I appreciated it very much.

Another amazing component of the Ironbridge Gorge is also visiting Blists Hill Victorian Town. It is an enchanting old time styled town with many interactive components that will be adored by children, and adults alike. It is one of my most memorable experiences in England. Not to mention they have an exquisite fish and chippie shop! In the village there is also a running old timey bakery that sells fresh baked bread, but only accepts shillings!

You can visit their website at http://www.ironbridge.org.uk/

York

York is my third favorite place in England. The people, the environment even the trees whisper in a special way. After spending hours driving around trying to find my accommodations I had to go for a walk in the brisk air.

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All of the shops were on the verge of closing so I had to pick my priorities quickly! I stepped into a very posh looking bakery and bought this amazing orange. (Please excuse the poor quality of the photos).York (4)

The outside of the orange was a thick layer of marzipan. I love the nuttiness and texture of marzipan because it brings me back to when I was younger. Inside the marzipan layer was a delicately delicious white cake with some orange blossom infused crème. It was a lovely bakery, and a perfect little orange!

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I picked Cafe Concerto for dinner because of the alternative ambience. It was amazing inside, and the service was fantastic. Unfortunately they did not have the hibiscus champagne I was dying to try, but I got a lovely elderberry soda which satisfied my lust for the odd.York (6)

I thought it was amazingly clever they wrote their menu on blackboards (with beautiful manuscript, mind you). It meant they could always change it up, as the seasons came and went, and did not have to print out new copies for their customers.

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Dinner was divine. Quail wrapped in bacon, filled with a beautiful cheese on a bed of roasted vegetables. I am not partial to meat, but did try a bit. It was moist and flavorful, and the bacon added the perfect crunch! The roasted veggies were lovely! I highly recommend stopping by.

Café Concerto. 21 High Petergate York YO1 7EN. Tel: 01904 610478. email: coffee@cafeconcerto.biz

visit their website at http://www.cafeconcerto.biz/

The Lake District

The Lake District is one of the only places in the world that will make my heart skip a beat, and my breath falter. It has a magical air about it that makes you want to find a small cottage and retire there before you even turn twenty. The first time I came to the Lake District, I was twelve years old. My most memorable experience was walking through the uber touristy Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit exhibit. I also remembered the fish and chips being especially nice, and therefore decided to go and see if I could really trust the judgment of my twelve year old self.

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My twelve year old self had glorified the fish and chippie shop a bit. I remember it with much more fondness than it deserved. The fish was nothing spectacular, but the chips were nice and fresh. The damp weather probably didn’t do much for the crispness of the fish or chips.

yayo 201I quickly made friends once the swans realized I had the means to get fish and chips.

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After the Lake District, we quickly decided it was time to move on and explore new terrain. We stopped off at a random abandon looking pub begging that they may have decent food. I got a small very watery garden salad that is not worth even mentioning. However, my companions dish was pretty impressive for such a dull pub. The garlic mashed potatoes were very good and satisfying. Everything else was average.

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After the meal we decided to go out on a whim and treat ourselves. We ordered the dessert sampler plate which consisted of sticky toffee pudding (top left) tropical ice cream (top right) a brownie (lower left) and blueberry cheesecake. None of these tastes were very good. I love the concept of a sampler plate for anything though!