Monday, March 28, 2016

A day out in the far west of London

Today was surprisingly good weather, so John and I did something surprisingly un-English. We went to a batting cage.

The batting cages were in Harrow, one of the more suburban areas of West London where you're surrounded by fields and motorways. It was unusually windy but we hit pretty well despite being blown away when walking back and forth to the car. Still, it felt pretty good to swing a good-ol'-American bat.

But the spring-time English weather crept up on us, and it wasn't more than 30 minutes after we finished playing that it started pouring rain. So being in the far west of London we decided to do what all good English people do after a sporting event. Have a curry! 

Being in a traditionally Asian area, we decided to explore a new place I'd never been to before that is well know for its Indian and Pakistani food: Southall. 

Using good old fashioned TripAdvisor, we looked up recent posts and found a place called Gifto's Lahore Karahi among the top 10 most recommended places to eat. When we walked up to the restaurant we both got a good feeling about it: there were naans being formed and baked right in the window, and you could see pots and pans of red, yellow and green curries being cooked on the stove. I do love a good open and exposed kitchen.

There were a lot of servers wandering around not knowing exactly what they were doing, or which tables they were responsible for, but apart from that everyone was friendly and the service was quick. One of our servers didn't speak English, which we took as a sign of authenticity. The other tables were full of Indian and Pakistani families, so we were definitely in the right place.

We ordered a new dish I'd never heard of before, and probably would have over looked if we hadn't asked what the family next to us was eating. It was called Karahi Chicken, a red tomato curry served in a piping hot metal dish that looked almost like a Chicken Tikka Masala without the cream, or a Bhuna with a little more spice. We also ordered a Papri Chaat as a starter (crispy wafers with chick peas, potatoes, onion, yoghurt and tamarind sauce), shish kebabs, a lentil dish with lamb and spinach and fluffy hot white naans. It was delicious, incredibly filling and we both wished we could be carried back to the car.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Welcome to London! Now what's for dinner?

In October last year, I moved from New York to London and there's so much to discover when it comes to food. I'm surprised by the diversity of cuisines, from Indian (well known as the best outside of India), Turkish, French, Spanish... the list goes on. The only food I've yet to find as good as the States is Mexican, but I'm waiting to be surprised.

However the British food is off-the-charts. On a recent trip to Notting Hill, John and I went to a restaurant called Bumpkin. It specializes in British dishes, made with locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients. They go to such an extent to make things accurately, classically English that they wont use even olive oil to keep the food faithful to how it should be.

It was late on a cold winter evening, so we ordered two appetizers to share and opted for the same main: an enormous, perfectly cooked and juicy burger. Maybe it was the American inside of me that wanted to challenge the good old fashioned backyard barbecued burger on the grill with a farm-house style restaurant in central london, but I have to say it was far surpassed my expectations.

Some of the other highlights on the menu included St. Austell Bay mussels with garlic, parsley and white wine, veal pie with leeks, tarragon and mushrooms and rhubarb cake for dessert.