I haven’t posted in over three weeks. I’m the worst blogger ever. Oh well, I can deal.
Two weeks ago I was in England for spring break. As a working person, of course, I don’t actually get a spring break, but my college-age sister does, so I applied for the days off and we, along with my mother, planned a trip to London. I love the Estonian word for holiday or vacation—puhkus—because it’s derived from the word puhkama, to rest. Not that anyone gets much rest when they’re on vacation, but it’s a nice thought :-). Our original destination was Iceland—we were looking for something conveniently located between the East Coast of the USA and Estonia—but when flying to Reykjavik proved too complicated and expensive, we decided London was a reasonable substitute.
Despite the fact that England isn’t exactly known for its food, I was excited to try not only local specialties, but also things that aren’t available in Estonia. For example, Starbucks coffee drinks. For some reason, my favorite Starbucks indulgence is a white chocolate mocha. I recognize that it’s too sweet, but I like it anyway, every once in a while. And we were given actual mugs! Do Starbucks in the States do that anymore?
Another everyday American item that I occasionally miss is a toasted bagel with cream cheese. There’s cream cheese in Estonia, but no bagels. That craving was satiated in the sandwich shop we refueled in after being jostled by the crowds in the British Museum.
And now for some Brit food! The tavern next to our hotel specialized in local sausages, with a wide variety of different ones available each day. I chose the pork & Guinness sausage, my sister’s was Scottish venison, and my mother took… um… ok, I can’t remember what it was called, but it was a beef sausage. We each got three sausages on a large pile of mashed potatoes with red onion gravy. Mine were nicely spiced, and the red onion gravy with more crispy onions sprinkled on top was wonderful. I also poured a little HP sauce on my plate, because I liked that vinegar-y bite. My sister’s venison sausage had juniper berries in it, the sweetness contrasting with the red meat-y flavor of venison. It was perfect comfort food after the busy day we’d had, which included a tourist bus, the British Museum, Harrod’s, and rush hour traffic.
Of course the meal was accompanied by some English ale. I had Timothy Taylor, a favorite of mine during the trip—it was sweet, but had enough bitterness in the aftertaste to make it serious.
For dessert, we split a sticky toffee pudding. I know the notion of “pudding” is different in British English than in American English, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. The dessert that came out looked like a hamburger covered in mayonnaise and perhaps gravy. But the “mayonnaise” was rich custard, the “gravy” extremely sweet caramel (toffee, I suppose) sauce, and the burger was a dense, moist cake that reminded me a lot of American pancakes soaked in fake syrup (as opposed to maple).
That’s all I have time for today. But there is more London food to come, such as enigmatic clotted cream and some very old food. Till next time!