European Food Trip, Part I: London

Lat month Richard and I took some time off to go on a food tour of Europe. I'm going to be be sharing recaps of each city as well as photos from a trip in this series. 

The trip started early in the morning, London time, on a Wednesday. We had just arrived, bleary eyed from our red-eye flight across the pond. I can never sleep on planes and Richard isn't much better at it. But as torturous as that feeling of no sleep and time zone change is, there's something so exhilarating about the disorientation of being plunked down in the middle of a new city, in a different country, and running purely on adrenaline. 

I had been to London once before in college and this was the first time for Richard. We got to our hotel easily though public transportation and then we collapsed and took a nap before refreshing and heading out for a meal. We were staying right by Big Ben and the neighborhood had all of the charm that you'd want a British neighborhood to have. We didn't have any restaurants on our list that we had to go to, more just things in particular that we wanted to eat - everything from steak and ale pie, to fish and chips, and Indian food. I'm happy to report, we successfully checked everything off our list. Here's a recap of some of the highlights:

Our first meal...a Ploughman's Platter and two pints 

Our first meal...a Ploughman's Platter and two pints 

Chips = French Fries, Crisps = Potato Chips 

Chips = French Fries, Crisps = Potato Chips 

There was an old English pub attached to our hotel and next door, a fancy gin bar with giant, kelly green leather sofas and comfortable plaid chairs that felt so right. The gin and tonic was fantastic, a brand that I had never heard of (and I am embarrassed to say that I forgot) and tonic water that was so good, I could have been so happy drinking it on it's own. 

We also saw all of things one must see when visiting London, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, and Harrod's, to name a few. It's a beautiful city and one that is so easy to navigate around. The Brits are so charming too with their formal manner. We were in a coffee shop and someone needed to get by. Instead of muttering excuse me or something to that effect, he looked Richard in the eye, and I remember this so distinctly, in the most friendly way, said, "May I trouble you to move so that I may pass by you?" It was such a simple and politely interactive exchange. Mental note to self: interact more with people, even if just for a moment. 

A cup of English Breakfast tea at High Tea

A cup of English Breakfast tea at High Tea

The aftermath of High Tea

The aftermath of High Tea

We also did high tea, which was very memorable. We sipped our black tea (English breakfast tea, naturally) out of blue flower patterned fine china while dainty rectangular tea sandwiches, mini stones and clotted cream, and more desserts that two people could ever eat were paraded by us. It was so relaxing to linger over tea and treats for two hours. 

Ham hock pie

Ham hock pie

THE gin and tonic 

THE gin and tonic 

The atmosphere at London, come 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon is a lively one and this atmosphere continues into well into the night. There, you're allowed to just take your drink and stand outside a pub so it just looks like the city is engulfed in one giant party. It's loud in a way that makes you feel like you're part of the fun, even if you're just walking by. 

A crowd of people enjoying an outdoor pint. 

A crowd of people enjoying an outdoor pint. 

London was great and it was the perfect first stop. Lively, easy to navigate around and just plain fun. My favorite bite was the ham hock pie (pictured above). We bought it at Harrod's and ate it right outside the building on a bench. It was a chilly and dreary day and the warmth of the pie was perfection. We stop back in London at the end of our trip, just for evening before flying home. After a couple of days in the city, we boarded the Eurostar and headed to our next city, Brussels. 

Cookbook Sneak Peek: Superfood Sandwiches Recipes!

We're snowed in. Again. The snow, in fact, is so high that it practically covers the fence that surrounds our apartment. The sidewalks are so narrow because there's no where for all the towering snow banks to go and walking single file is an absolute must. It's been a while since I remember this much snow on the ground, and still falling. But anyway, let's talk about something a little more happy, shall we? 

How about Spring?

Sigh. Seems so far away. But at the same time, so close! My cookbook is inching its way to being out and ready for purchase! (It can be pre-ordered on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and other online retailers.) It's running along, right on time and is still due out late spring/early summer. My publisher shared another recipe of mine on their blog and I wanted to share it with you, in case you missed it. It's for a carrot miso sandwich. Such an easy recipe to throw together, it's perfect for something nutritious on the go. Here's the recipe for the sandwich:

MISO CARROT SALAD SANDWICH

2½ teaspoons white miso
2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons (2 g) chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon (3 g) chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
3 cups (330 g) shredded carrot
1 cup (150 g) mandarin orange slices
4 buns, sliced in half

In a medium-size bowl, combine the white miso, rice wine vinegar, ginger, cilantro, mint, and sesame seeds. Add the carrots and stir to combine, making sure the miso vinaigrette coats the carrots evenly. Add the mandarin orange slices and stir to combine. Divide the carrot salad among the 4 buns.


Should you find yourself with a little more time on your hands, you can also make the Honey Miso Whole Wheat Sesame Buns that pair beautifully with this sandwich. This bread is hearty and nutty and has a subtle sweetness to it. If you, like me, find yourself snowed in, you can give this a try. Your house will smell amazing, I promise and it's just the perfect day for some fresh baked bread. 

HONEY MISO WHOLE WHEAT BUNS

1 cup (235 ml) warm water
2¼ teaspoons (9 g) yeast
1½ teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
2½ teaspoons white miso paste
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons black sesame seeds, plus more for the top
1½ teaspoons white sesame seeds, plus more for the top
2¼ cups (270 g) whole wheat flour
1 egg

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the warm water, yeast, and honey in a small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside until the yeast starts to foam, 5 to 10 minutes. Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the oil, five-spice powder, miso, salt, and both sesame seeds. Add the water-yeast mixture to the bowl, and then add the flour.

Knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough comes together and is elastic. If you don’t have access to a stand mixer, you can make this by hand by combining the sesame oil, five-spice powder, miso, salt, and both sesame seeds in a large bowl. Add the water-yeast mixture and then the flour and combine with your hands or a spoon. Once the dough comes together, transfer it to a clean work surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it’s smooth and elastic.

Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the bowl sit in a warm place until the dough rises and doubles in size, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down with your hand. Turn out the dough onto a clean working surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a tight bun with your hands and using your palm, flatten the bun a bit. Repeat for each bun. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC, or gas mark 6) and allow the dough to rise again and double in size, about another 30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap from the buns. In a small bowl, combine the egg and a splash of water. Use a pastry brush to evenly coat the top of each bun with the egg wash, being careful not to get too much on the paper or at the bottom where the dough meets the paper, which can cause it to stick and burn. Sprinkle each bun with the sesame seeds and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the rolls reaches 200ºF (93ºC).