Thursday, 12 May 2011

London – Two Weeks in Food / Part 1

It was over a year ago that I moved away from my birthplace and home, to explore the north of England. Tired of the daily grind and claustrophobic commute, I went in search of pastures new. How easy it is to take a city like London for granted. Returning twice over the spring period (inc. The Royal Wedding) I was able to see London with fresh eyes again. I crammed my time with theatre, exhibitions, public parks and lots of beautiful food. Allow me to talk you through where I went, on my food tour of London.

Broadway Market

What better way to start the weekend than with a stroll through Broadway Market and London Fields? Where else can you find the plumpest olives, the freshest bread and the gamiest game? Okay, probably Borough Market in London Bridge, but this is better. It is better for being scaled down to fit a residential road crawling with young and vibrant minds. I couldn’t help but say to my friend, how nice it was to see so many young people thinking, doing and absorbing. Not only can you eat like a king here, but you can feel part of something that is current and exciting. This is the generation of people that have grown up listening to their parent’s LP’s, the generation that are revelling in their freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

At the beginning of the market is ‘The Cat & Mutton’ pub. The staff seem to think their shit don’t stink and they don’t do ale, but the sardines are good and so is the atmosphere, that happens to flow from the market and through their doors. Grab a pint and people watch, whilst you take a rest from the bustle of the market.

Recently, a program focusing on the revival of British baking saw Michel Roux Jr visit an artisan bakery in one of the arches underneath London Fields rail. Arch 402. It was the gentleman’s 200 year old sour dough starter mix that sold it to me. At £3.20 a loaf, it is worth it, just to remind you what bread is. Not bleached, tasteless pap, but fluffy and filled with depth of flavour that runs through the satisfyingly crunchy crust.

At the market, you can eat Persian, Indian, French, British Game, Mediterranean & Greek amongst others. There should be something to satisfy all palettes.

Atariya (Japanese Sushi) - Restaurant Review

Located just off of Oxford Street on the Bond Street end, this Sushi restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside. With a sign dirtied by the nearby buses and cars, it looks a world away from the super clean and sleek environments we are used to eating our Sushi in these days. However, do persevere for some excellent food. A trio of chefs await you on the left as they prepare the orders of local workers who have rung in advance. If you are in a hurry at all, you do have to know about this, as it is all sliced and prepared to order. I ordered Edamame beans to nibble on whilst I waited.

The interior is rather like a small cafe, with only a few tables inside and a couple outside. I think most people just takeaway here, but sitting in wasn’t at all unpleasant for a light lunch. I wanted to sample everything I saw but ended up getting some bream, bass, tuna, octopus, mackerel and scallops. All came served with the usual accompaniments of soy, pickled ginger and wasabi, with what looked and tasted like some finely shredded Kolrahbi or similar. Everything was fresh and moist apart from the octopus, which maybe could have been slightly wetter. For me, the highlight was the scallops. Up until this point, I didn’t know they could be eaten raw. Sliced about 3/4cm thick and served between slithers of lime, they were so soft and juicy. Very different from cooked scallops, I think I could eat them like this every time. Texture is a big part of our perception of food and this simply melted. The rice was light and sticky and the fish was fresh, what more could you want?

For everything pictured it was £13. More than you might normally pay for Sushi, but a world away from the conveyor belted chains of two hour old, revolving fish. Also, for me it always comes down to that old adage, “pay a little more, gain a lot more”. This is the nicest sushi I’ve eaten, but I’m by no means an aficionado on the subject. If you’re in the area, I would recommend popping in, but maybe make a note of the telephone number, if you don’t want to be hanging around.

20 James Street, London, W1U 1EH
0207 491 1178

Stay tuned for Part 2, in the coming week...

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