Having spent the last month in London, on a last minute business trip, I was swamped in work. So when I had time to eat... I was actually eating, and not taking pictures, nor blogging.... However, I really wanted to share a few of my favorite foods that got me through month.
During my first few days when jet lag was winning over me, I would stumble into the market looking for a snack. Something that would fill me, but not put me to sleep. I found the British love of dairy (at the office we get a quart of milk delivered fresh every 2 days), but this time I am referring to yogurt.
Many were organic and promoting their probiotics. There were creamy, thick yogurts made from whole milk from local farms.
and especially flavors that we just do not get in the States...like black current, rhubarb, and fig. And yes, I tried them all, and could not choose a favorite
So I have never been a big pie lover. Growing up Italian...pie was never of grand importance at our holidays. Cannoli and Panettone were much more celebrated. In addition, mincemeat pie was something I especially avoided from childhood, wondering who would want to eat meat for dessert. Then one afternoon under the gray London sky as I sat in my office with a grim look of concentration wrinkled across my face, a British co-worker stopped outside my door. "Mince Pie?", he asked. I looked at him a little confused (in typical American fashion) as he held up a little plastic container, from the grocery store, of small (2 inch) mincemeat pies.
"Uhhh sure"- I answered. I picked up a little pie, enclosed in a shortbread crust, and bit in. The dried fruit compote inside was sweet (but not too), flavorful and different than any pie I had ever tasted. "You just got these at the grocery store?" I asked, brushing crumbs from my lips.
"Of course, they are my favorite.", he answered. I knew then that I would be spending my next few evenings searching out mincemeat pies...which I discovered are in every bakery, in every grocery, and in everyone's hands this time of year.
Finally, on those evenings when I had enough energy left to drag myself down to the corner pub for dinner, I fell in love with the savory vegetable tart. The best are not made with a rich crust like you may think, but the crust is instead thin and crunchy, and sometimes seasoned with fresh rosemary or other herbs. The roasted vegetables are simply seasoned, cooked so that they are still a bit firm, and caramelized. My favorite was a goat cheese, fig, pecan and roasted winter squash tart from the Queen's Arms. I still have to work on recreating it at home.