Eating Well in London

Even my vacations seem to be about food.

I’m currently in London. Yes, London – home of the Olympics and some very wonderful friends! I am seeing a lot of both, and I am also eating some tasty food.

The Brits are not known for having particularly delectable cuisine. Wonderful Indian, Thai, Italian, etc., but when it comes to their own native foods we are left with things like sweet corn and tuna pizza, Scotch eggs, mushy peas and haggis.

I’m not saying it’s all bad. I love shepherd’s pie, and fish and chips (fries for Americans) can be hard to beat when you’re craving something fried, but it’s all fairly heavy, meat-and-potatoes type dishes that aren’t necessarily well suited to the lighter summer eating I find myself craving these days.

So I made it my personal goal to search out as much fresh, delicious food I could while on my trip. And whether it was beginner’s luck, or the magic haze of jet lag, I stumbled across a winner on my first morning in London.

Prince of Wales, a local pub in Putney, delivered these fish cakes to my table as part of their daily lunch special. It also came with wine, so really they had me from the beginning.

These fish cakes were not what I expected. I was anticipating something more like crab cakes – larger pieces of meat surrounded by a crispy bread crumb outside – and while I did get my crispy outside, the inside was a much more delicate, creamy texture than I expected. And I loved it.

It was cheesy and had the bright flavors of fresh herbs. If I hadn’t knowingly ordered fish cakes, I may not even have guessed it was fish due to the lack of fishy flavor that can sometimes be overpowering. Well done Prince of Wales!

Another bright spot in the culinary department was a local cookie chain called Ben’s Cookies. I sampled both the dark chocolate chunk and the triple chocolate chunk cookies and they both managed to be cakey in texture, but ooey and gooey at the same time.

I usually shy away from the fluffier, cake-like cookies, they always seem a bit dry for my taste, but the barely-baked center may be the trick to their success. I would definitely return for more.

Another thing I love about London, and European cities in general, is the abundance of baguette sandwiches. Healthy? Not particularly. Delicious? Oh yes. Check out this brie, ham and cranberry baguette from Eat, a local sandwich shop chain that specializes in “real food”, meaning locally sourced fresh ingredients when possible and all things made daily at each location. I enjoyed this by the Tower of London, along with my favorite carbonated beverage – Lemon San Pelligrino. Seriously, no highly sugared, artificially colored beverage can beat this lemony goodness.

So remember friends, when traveling to new places, don’t be afraid to hunt for the good stuff. Or to play with your food.

That’s me, helping complete an Olympic-themed Wine Gum mosaic in Hyde Park. And yes, they have wine flavored gummies here.

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