I was looking at photos from my trip to London in November and I realized that there are some things I never posted about, as the holidays were quickly approaching and my blogging pretty much ground to a halt. Tragic! But I feel it’s never too late to share these delicious treats and fun memories from my London trip. Enjoy!
I insisted that we go to Borough Market sometime during the long weekend, since that was something I had missed when I visited London in May with J (well, we did walk past it one day, but just as everyone was packing up and leaving). Siret, I believe, had also never been there, so she and her mother were happy to go check it out with me. Borough Market, located near London Bridge off the Borough High Street, is really quite lovely. If you read reviews of it, you’ll see that the locals complain it’s become too tourist-y, but as a tourist, I didn’t mind one bit. It’s filled with a huge variety of sweets, produce, meats and prepared foods, everything from chocolates to veggie burgers to mulled wine.
Unfortunately when we went it had been a while since I’d read up on the market, but I hazily remembered that there was one thing that many, many reviewers raved about. Some kind of cheese sandwich, but I couldn’t remember what it was called, or the name of the stand that sold it. Siret and her mother opted to get veggie burgers wrapped in cabbage leaves with various toppings for a snack, but I was determined to keep looking.
And then– I FOUND IT. The stand is called Kappacasein and it’s surrounded by the rich, heavy smell of cheese and garlic. I knew it must be the place. They sell both raclette (check out this link to see how it’s made) and their famous toasted cheese sandwich. I eagerly forked over a few pounds, took a number, and proceeded to watch the sandwich-making process as I waited for my toasted treat. A few minutes later, I was the proud owner of a giant cheese sandwich.
This is like no other grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. The sourdough bread is sturdy, pressed and toasted to a satisfying crunch, and while the pungent Montgomery cheddar cheese is the star of the sandwich, it’s tastefully accessorized with a garlic and leek mixture. It’s a grilled cheese for grown-ups.
It is also, as you might imagine, very, very rich. I ate about 3/4 of it, which was probably a few more bites than I should have, but luckily I felt fine afterwards (I rarely eat such greasy food), and Siret helped me finish the rest. I think this sandwich could be shared among as many as four people, if you want to have space in your tummy to taste some other treats at the market as well (and the sandwich-maker will cut it into smaller pieces, if you ask). I also recommend having water around if you get this sandwich, because grease + garlic stuff + bread + cheese = salty salty salty. But I totally enjoyed it– it was the epitome of a vacation treat, something unique to the location that I would never eat on an everyday basis.
The other food highlight I failed to share previously was the dinner Siret and I had on our last night at Giraffe. Giraffe is a chain of restaurants in London, and I really liked everything about it. I liked the decor, the atmosphere (the place was busy and we were extremely lucky to get a table in the corner, where nobody was shoving past our table. I may have felt differently if we were seated in the middle of the dining room), the friendly atmosphere and the food. We had glasses of wine and the hummus appetizer, and for my main course I chose from the list of specials: the BBQ duck “huarache”. I wasn’t sure at the time why “huarache” was in quotes. After looking it up, I found out that huarache is usually served on a base of fried masa, and mine was served on a tortilla. At any rate, I had nothing to compare it to, so if it lacked authentiticty I was none the wiser.
It was delicious. The duck pieces were just meltingly soft, much more tender than chicken. I added a little hot sauce to the sweet fruit salsa on top to give it more kick (which, to me, feels necessary for foods wrapped in tortillas) and proceeded to devour the whole thing. Once again, a nice treat that I can’t get at home, as I’m pretty sure duck on an Estonian menu would be quite expensive. And of course, the food and fun atmosphere were made even better by endless conversations with an old friend, someone with whom I already share countless memories from all over the world (from Sweden to Fiji!) and, no matter where we are, I can always pick things up with exactly where we left off.