Gourmet Gastro-palooza

My Mom and Dad are in town.  They are the world’s greatest foodies.

And so, I have planned an orgy of food experiences for their visit to London.  Though I joke about the mostly disastrous pub fare, the city does have a lot to offer on a gastro-tour.

Our first stop upon their arrival was the famous Borough Market.  Located a the base of London Bridge, the Borough Market houses many stalls of gourmet treats from around the world: fresh fruit, organic vegetables, diverse cheeses, choice meats, freshly baked bread, vintage wines, and delicious desserts and pastries.

Among other things, we discovered the greatest black licorice EVER and mulled-wine truffles that were divine.  The market is literally a feast for the eyes and stomach because as you browse the market, the tradition is to sample the wares.

As I write, I have already loosened my belt by one notch, and we are on only day two of their visit.  I am in trouble!

Today was a true foodie fest.  We went on a gourmet tour of Marylebone, eating our way through the streets and markets.  Our  guide, Celia, is a well know food author and accomplished cook who leads classes from the Divertimenti Culinary Shop.

The first stop on our tour was La Fromagerie, home of the famous Cheese Room.  Entering the sacred cheese room is like a religious experience: it is a temperature controlled temple to cheese.

We sampled out way through different cheeses and left with my favorite, Tete de Moine, which is served on a cheese curling device that creates little delicate “flowers” that pack a pungent punch!  I also got some Stichelton, a spreadable blue cheese related to Stilton but made with unpasteurized milk.  It is a yummy traditional holiday cheese that I recently discovered.

From there we ventured next door to The Golden Pig, the ultimate butcher shop filled with prime cuts of meats and delicious savory pies and sausage rolls.  I thought I might lose my Dad in there forever as he started engaging the butcher on his craft.

Here, I discovered the Scotch Egg which consists of a de-shelled hard-boiled egg, wrapped in a sausage meat mixture, coated in breadcrumbs or rolled oats and deep-fried.  

The London department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented Scotch Eggs in 1738.  I’ll have to let you know what I think of this invention — I am dubious.

Around the corner was the Farmer’s Market filled with fresh produce, beautiful flowers, and marvels such as pistachio pesto and fig balls.  Though wonderful, it paled in comparison to the enormous spread at Borough Market.

The Japanese Knife Shop came next, complete with an explanation on the construction of hand-made knives with 130 layers of steel.  Suddenly, I felt as if I were inside of an automobile showroom.  The men listened with rapt attention as the store owner explained the intricacies of the well made knife.  He actually referred to one model as the “Ferrari of knives” — and it could be yours for only 190 GBP (maybe this is a more affordable mid-life crisis choice!)

Once we extricated the men from the knives, we came to my favorite part of the tour, the chocolates.  The Rococo Chocolate shop is a beautiful place filled with artisan chocolates in exciting flavors such as rose and geranium in addition to all the traditional varieties. I learned that chocolate really is good for you as it releases anti-oxidants that are good for your skin and endorphins that make you happy.  I may be getting fatter, but at least I’ll have a smile spread across my clear complexion!

Our day ended with a lovely meal cooked for us at Divertimenti with all the fresh ingredients we’d picked up along our tour.  A sommelier, referred to as the “Wine Chap”, paired the great wines with the feast. A perfect day!

The gastro-tour can be a great success, but the gastro-pub remains a disaster.  Gasto-pub is a term I refer to as a classic oxymoron.  It is quite simply a pub dedicated to good food.

To prove my point, my Dad’s first dinner in London was at the local pub so as to get a “taste” of London culture.  He was bold enough to try the special of the evening:

Spatchcocked Quail, Puy lentils, Red wine jus








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