Tag Archives: broadway market

Exporting the Valuable American Traditions of Turkey, Pie, and Stuffing…Your Face

Thanksgiving is without question my favorite holiday of the year.  It involves all the things I love most – family, friends, fun in the kitchen, and obscene amounts of food. Before returning back to Boston for the annual FamilyStylesFoodFestFunTime, Chris and I decided to organize a London Thanksgiving to comfort the Americans missing their annual tryptophan hit back in the States and to introduce some Brits to their FirstEverThanksgiving. Such a phenomenal opportunity to welcome foreigners to a holiday that revels in stuffing yourself beyond capacity.  Oh and we tossed a few Australians and Canadians in the mix too. I only wish we could have invited about thirty other friends, but we could barely pack the 20-odd guests into the living room already.

The menu was a classic Thanksgiving feast for the first-timers but also involved some first times for me. Like my first time brining a turkey! Apparently the ratio of one gallon of water to one cup salt and one cup sugar  is ideal to unwind the meat proteins of the turkey, allowing the flavored solution to be drawn up into the meat. Sweet. More moisture + more flavor = happy eaters. There’s nothing worse than dry turkey breast. And you can add your choice of spices, aromatics and flavorings to make things even more exciting. Here’s what I came up with based on the contents of the kitchen:

Brine For A Juicy Turkey:

1 gallon water
1 cup salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 orange, sliced
1/2  lemon, sliced
4 cloves smashed garlic
1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
about 1/2 tbsp white pepper
about 1/2 tbsp Chinese five-spice
a few sprigs of thyme

Here is Boris (named for our London mayor) or Natasha (named for Boris) in his (or her) bag of spicy salty sweet bathwater.

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Food Tours of London, One Highly Excitable Eater at a Time

London is, without a doubt, a world-class eating city. The first week I moved here, I found myself within walking distance of an organic grocery, Chinese dim sum, Turkish gözleme, Caribbean jerk, Nigerian stew, and more Vietnamese restaurants on one short block than can be found in some American cities.   You can find food in London from all cultures and countries, of all price ranges, as down-and-dirty as deep fried street food on the corner and as elevated as a Michelin-starred molecular gastronomextravaganza. Sure, there’s bad food to be found, as is the case anywhere.  But put in just the tiniest bit of effort and you’ll never have to waste stomach space on inferior edibles. And when it’s good, the food here is oh..so…orgasmically…amazingly…good.

So why does the myth still exist in the States that British food is horrible? I’ve made it my personal mission to introduce every single one of my visitors to the wonders of London eating.  I’ve been lucky enough to have over  a dozen friends and family stop by the Hackney Hostel since I moved here and the tourist itinerary doesn’t involve Westminster Abbey or the British Museum. No, the most important sights of the trip are Borough Market for  toasted cheese sandwiches, Broadway Market for cupcakes and Ghanaian food and mushroom risotto, Gwilym’s coffee cart at Columbia Road Flower Market, Tayyabs for lamb chop and curried baby pumpkin feasting, the Breakfast Club for bacon butties (and mini-discos), the Brick Lane Upmarket for octopus balls and dulce de leche filled churros…and I’ll stop now because i’m getting very hungry.  Thankfully, every single one of my visitors cares about food just about as much as I do, which is probably a main reason we’re friends in the first place.  I don’t waste time with non-excitable eaters.

My friend Lex is one of these people.  She left just last week, after five straight days of talking about food, venturing off to procure food, deciding what to eat, eating, digesting, and then talking about what to eat next. In other words, my kind of girl. Oh yeah, and we cooked Chinese food for 20 strangers in my living room.  But although I always have to show off my favorite eating spots, the best part about visitors is opportunities to try new and exciting markets, cafes, and restaurants.

One happy new find is the Bedales Wine Bar, tucked into a tiny storefront in Spitalfields Market. It’s easy to overlook with the sprawling chains like Wagamama, Giraffe, and Leon taking up massive real estate, but we ducked into this charming  little  spot to get out of the rain and were happily surprised by excellent glasses of wine, a bowl of fresh bread from St. John and a board teeming with multiple varieties of cheese, pickles, olives, and a piquant little bowl of ratatouille.

wine and cheese board in spitalfields market

Apparently you can purchase a bottle of wine and drink it there without the hefty restaurant markup…I’ll certainly return to prove that hypothesis (and eat more cheese…yum).

Another solid winner in our rapid-fire London food tour was the wooden-beamed, vintage-wallpapered, elk-skull-bedecked,  dreamy-design-geek-fantasy restaurant and bar The Elk in the Woods on Camden Passage in Islington. This miniscule  cobblestoned passageway is one of my favorite streets to show London visitors, both for its quaint historic charm and its abundance of tantalizing eateries.  We snacked on a potato and pancetta skillet with baked eggs, peppers, and tomatoes with toast…

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random london encounters over beet marinated salmon and coconut shrimp

london is an absolutely massive city. the current population of approximately 7.5 million is almost exactly 10 times the size of my former city of san francisco, practically a quaint seaside town in comparison.  these 7.5 million people richochet across 650 square miles, hurtling from the west end to the east end, from north of the river to south of the river, encountering hundreds or potentially thousands of new faces each day. you’d think it would be nearly impossible to randomly run into the same person over and over again, that the likelihood of your path crossing over another person’s london trajectory must be fairly small. and yet, how often might we see the same people over and over again without really noticing?

take, for example, my most coincidental of london acquaintances, patrice. patrice, on the right in the photo below, runs  sauce á part, a culinary company creating french-creole cuisine with pacific and mediterranean influences that caters, produces food events, and runs a stall at broadway market.

patrice from sauce apart

a few weekends ago, on a perfect sunny saturday of people-watching, canal-walking, vintage-browsing, and of course obsessive eating, i dragged a fresh-off-the-plane annie to broadway market just up the road as soon as she got to the house.  we stopped at patrice’s stall to chat and she asked how we knew each other. and all i could say was, it was just one of those random london encounters.  i first met patrice at his broadway market stall about 2 months ago with my friend dan. and by ‘met,’ i mean that he offered me a sample of sumptuous slow roasted pork and i accepted (obviously) but was too full from a face-stuffing borough market trip to purchase anything.  i told him i’d be back sometime with an empty stomach. and then we moved on.

later that night, after an extended journey all the way across london to the opening of the pavilion at the serpentine gallery in hyde park and back east, dan and i quite unexpectedly found ourselves at the final evening of the double club, a congolese street market themed pop-up restaurant/bar/dance club/art installation in a huge warehouse behind the angel tube station in islington.  waiting in line for drinks, i ran into patrice again, who somehow remembered me from our 3-minute encounter earlier in the day. we talked food, we talked markets, we talked global cuisine, we talked more food, and i promised to return to his stall again soon. it was a lovely discussion and such an odd encounter considering the series of steps it took for us to arrive at the double club and how many times we almost got derailed along the way. how often might this path-crossing occur unnoticed or unacknowledged?  it’s fascinating to think about all the different ways in which people’s lives intersect and how we might be completely unaware…

i always find it interesting to consider these trajectories. of course, being a bit of an obsessive eater, they often lead back to food. i didn’t see patrice again for about two months but a few weekends ago, fate crossed our paths to bestow upon me this gorgeously hued beet-marinated salmon, vibrant with color like the petals of a tropical flower.

beet marinated salmon

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groundnut stew and the namesake dish from spinach & agushi on broadway market

peanut chicken, spinach and carrot salad from spinach and agushi

one of the best presents i’ve gotten recently is my trusty little eat.shop.london guide, which i’ve been addicted to since hopping over the pond. the author lives somewhere in the east end and has introduced me to some of my favorite local spots within minutes of our hackney home. i’ve eaten my way through nearly every east london location in the book. through pounding the pavement in search of each amazing spot, i’ve also stumbled across some lovely little gems that deserve a place in the next edition. i highly recommend the books – they’ve got editions for a number of major cities.  i love the visuals of the book and the amusing content and one of my goals in life is to write and photograph the second london guide.  cabazon books, i’m here for you. or rather, you’ll be hearing from me.

anyway, one of the food spots mentioned in the book, spinach & agushi,  is so local that it can only be found once a week at broadway market on saturdays. i can also be found weekly at broadway market, but i’ve been so busy eating roast hog sandwiches, violet cupcakes,  and wild mushroom risotto that i’ve only passed their ghanaian food stall with a longing glance and vowed to return posthaste.

return i did with michelle, one of my many conspicuous consumption partners in crime. after a wild mushroom sandwich from sporeboys, we worked up our appetites again wandering the market chatting with producers and sampling more food until we finally felt ready to take on spinach & agushi. our menu options were as follows:

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how to eat wild and exotic mushrooms without dying!

here’s a post of mine that was originally published at eat.drink.better, an awesome sustainable food website, as five ways to serve wild and exotic mushrooms.  all you need to eat exciting and rare mushrooms is to let someone else do the work of finding them. less effort and less likely to kill you! yay farmer’s markets for both improving and saving my life.

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I’ve always loved the idea of foraging for food, but the idea of dying from a poisonous mushroom overdose has always put me off from plucking edibles from the ground for dinner. Luckily, you can often find a carefully selected array of wild and exotic mushrooms at grocery stores or farmers markets. Sometimes, when there’s potential for serious injury, I find it’s best to leave things up to the professionals.

I found this gorgeous array of exotic mushrooms at the Sporeboys stall at London’s beautiful Broadway Market. Mushrooms are easy to cook, good for you, and have a deliciously rich, almost meaty taste that’s a great vegetarian substitute. I made a simple sautéed mushroom mix with olive oil, herbs, and cheese that tasted great on toast as well as pasta. It could also top a number of other dishes that you’ve already got in your kitchen. It’s simple, versatile, and oh so tasty…and no fear of poison! What more could you ask for?

Here’s an easy way to cook your mushrooms and a number of ways to serve them too:

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a sunny saturday at broadway market: wild mushroom risotto and the oldest cheese in england.

broadway market from afar

another beautiful saturday in east london, and it’s off to broadway market! vietnamese iced coffee in hand, i spent a lovely few hours last weekend wandering the stalls,  listening to the outdoor musicians, enjoying the sunshine, and chatting with various vendors of all kinds. of course, i did a bit of eating along the way.

check out this wild mushroom risotto with fresh arugula, grated pecorino, and a splash of truffle oil from the sporeboys stall. mushroom risotto from sporeboys at broadway market

it’s wild and exotic! sounds like a scantily clad late-night performance rather than a lusciously creamy and rich risotto. i bought a box of their assorted mushrooms last week and enjoyed a number of meals of  sautéed mushrooms with italian olive oil, fresh sage and rosemary, and grated piave cheese (hard and nutty, a bit like parmigiano reggiano or pecorino), also from the market. so good and can be served so many ways! recipe and ideas for lots of mushroomy fun in my post on eat.drink.better. even more MUSHROOM MUSHROOM fun here (and no, that site will never get old).

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a brief interlude of cupcake glorification: violet cupcakes at broadway market are lovely bites of heaven

cupcake closeups

this  post is all about the best cupcakes i’ve had so far in london. i took kellin to visit the adorable and wonderful broadway market during her last hour in london before returning to italy. stuffed from our borough market visit, we brokenheartedly turned down wild mushroom risotto, ghanaian food, and roast hog with crackling sandwiches. but we decided to treat ourselves to ONE mini cupcake because they were so ridiculously cute, and obviously brownie mountains and fresh strawberries with jersey cream were not quite enough dessert for the morning.

so we stopped at the happy stall of violet cakes and bought the enticing rhubarb and rosewater mini cupcake, a pale  pink and perfectly formed little turkish dome of dessert.  it was, quite honestly, ethereally delicious. so light and smooth yet so intensely flavored, like having the essence of rose petals in your mouth. such a tiny bite yet such a concentrated burst of taste! we promptly returned and bought another.

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this little piggy got roasted at the market (with fresh homemade applesauce)

people-enjoying-the-market-scene

i absolutely love markets. farmers markets, flea markets, even supermarkets in countries other than my own always bring a smile to my face no matter what kind of mood i’m in. things have been a teeny bit frustrating here in london what with the backwords hurdling werewolf chase of setting up a business. it’s been quite exciting but a bit exhausting, and going to the market is a great way to slow down and clear my mind.  we are sloooooowly moving towards signing our lease, but as non-citizens with no proof of UK employment, this process moves at about the brisk pace of the yearly expansion of finland‘s land mass thanks to post-glacial rebound. yes, post-ice-age isostatic recovery always provides me with an endless source of entertainment.

post-glacial rebound aside, i am here to talk about the endless excitement of markets. to tantalize your tastebuds and stimulate your imagination as to how ridiculously wonderful our apartment will be once we actually get it, i’ll show you some photos from last week’s broadway market. our hopeful new place is sandwiched right in between this phenomenal saturday market, chock full of independent food retailers and fashion stalls, and the famous sunday morning columbia road flower market. my first visit there will be to stock our new flat floor-to-ceiling with bouquets and plants and loveliness in bloom.

thus, we will have a one-two punch of back-to-back weekend marketing within a five minutes walk radius of our place. this idea makes me happy as a pig in sh*t.  or,  happy as me with a roasted bit of pig in bun in hand. miraculously, this exact item happened to be on sale at the first stall of the market. this poster, and the accompanying smell, called to me with  caressing words of love and promises of porky perfection.
roast-hog-menu-at-broadway-market

yeah. for reals. i’m obsessed with this stand. they have a huge metal grill with a slowly rotating hog on a spit. when you order, they grab a ciabatta from a stacked pyramid of rolls in a cute wicker basket and slather it with homemade applesauce. it’s soft on the inside, but hardy enough to contain an massive helping of sandwich innards. then goes in a handful of roquette (which i assume =  rocket, which also = arugula…where are we, europe or something?) and then a generous serving of succulent moist pork. the crowning detail that swiftly buys my adoration? a few carefully selected pieces of crackly pork skin, artfully placed on top of this work of art.

roast-hog-with-arugula-and-applesauce-on-ciabatta

HELLOOOOOOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL.

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