When we visited the U.K. last month, I discovered Marmite. Yep, the love-it-or-hate-it yeast extract is now my boo.
I had tried it about 10 years before and I fell strongly into the “hate” camp. But this time around? It blew my socks off with its unami goodness! Paired with buttered toast and a perfect dippy egg, it became my favorite breakfast.
I bought some to take home and have continued the love affair on this side of the Atlantic. If you’ve never tried it, pick up some at CostPlus World Market and let me know what you think!
Americans who are homesick for their favorite candies can get them delivered in the U.K. now, thanks to the Stateside Candy Company.
The selection is impressive, including Hershey’s and Twizzlers, Life Savers, Willy Wonka candies, salt water taffy, Mike and Ike’s, jumbo gummy bears and the list goes on and on! Grocery items like American cereals, pancake mixes, cookies, cake mixes and barbecue sauces are also offered. U.K. delivery charges start at £4.50.
When we visited my mother in law in Devon, she made a lovely pie for dessert and had some extra pastry. What did she do with it? She whipped up a batch of jam tarts!
The kids loved them. All you need is some pastry and a dollop of strawberry jam (or really any flavor you like). Easy peasy! Aren’t they pretty?
One of the highlights of our recent trip to England was celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary at Ode in Shaldon, which has been named UK’s most sustainable restaurant by the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
The food was absolutely amazing, delicious, fresh and exciting from beginning to end. Service was friendly and helpful (owner Tim Bouget was lovely!). And all of this for a great price! Our wedding anniversary fell on a Wednesday and Ode features a reduced price menu on Wednesdays: three courses for 29 pounds! We added a couple of glasses of kir royale to start and a very pleasant French white wine to accompany our main courses.
Yesterday, I posted my first five Paris highlights. Today? Let’s post the remaining five, shall we?
6. Rue Montorgueil, a gorgeous market street with butcher shops, boulangeries, cafes, chocolateries, fish markets and so on and so forth! We walked from our apartment one bright morning and went to Cafe du Centre for a great basic breakfast (coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and croissant or baguette).
I also had the great privilege of visiting La Fermette, cheese capitol of the universe, also on Rue Montorgueil. We spotted it right away with the black and white cow above the storefront. Best item was their 30-month comte, which the seller warned me about, in case I couldn’t handle it. Oh, yeah, I could handle it! It was a delightful, nutty cheese and we bought a block of it. They also sold these plates of various cheeses for about 11 euros – really generous portions (we got one plate that was stellar – sadly, they weren’t labeled so it’s tough to know what cheese we had – but it had a good variety to suit every palate. A camembert, a blue cheese, a goat cheese, a Mimolette, etc.)
So many things we loved in Paris. Here’s the proverbial greatest hits over the four days we spent!
1. Love padlocks on all of the Paris bridges. They really are a stunning sight. Couples buy padlocks as a symbol of their love, add their initials and lock it to the bridge! And they say romance is dead?!
This is a guest post by Liz Marsom, who was born and raised in Great Britain and now lives and works in New Zealand. She is a cheese lover.
I’m sure there are many great varieties of cheese available in the U.S. Though, I found much of the readily available cheese in the regular supermarket to be over processed and tasteless plastic. A massive generalisation I know! But, who else has liquid cheese at room temperature … in a spray can? You’re not the only ones that I think have lost the true meaning of cheese. The kiwis have cheeses called Tasty and Mild. I’m still unsure of what Colby is … I’m guessing somewhere in-between.
British cheese itself is a bit of an underdog and isn’t famed like the French cheeses. Running from camembert and, my father’s favourite, the exceptionally smelly Chaumes to more delicate brie French cheese is pretty special. Even their processed soft cheese Le Vache Qui Ri or The Laughing Cow has a flavour that no one else seems to have managed.
But what a variety of classic great British cheeses there are!
The classic Cheddar hails from the South West. A solid lump of cheese that’s perfect in a sandwich with lashings of Branston Pickle or melted on toast with a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Available in different strengths of flavour that all depend on its maturity, the only one to really choose is vintage cheddar to get the magnificent classic tang.
Stilton hails from Leicestershire. A rich crumbly cheese full of the blue veins giving its strength of flavour it’s not the prettiest cheese but boy it’s one of my favourites. Served on a cheeseboard, grilled on a portobello mushroom or in Beef and Stilton Pie, it gets my vote!
Wallace and Gromit made Stinking Bishop cheese famous and stink it does. Although it turns out to have a more delicate flavour than the odour would suggest, I have to say I think it smells a little bit too much for me. Cornish Yarg from the deepest southwest is a beautiful cheese wrapped in nettle leaves as it cures.
Red Leicester, Wensleydale, Double Gloucester or a bath blue…. I could go on forever as cheese is my favourite food. But for now I’ll just plan my lunch. After all this talk of cheese I’ll have a Ploughmans. A classic British country pub menu choice based upon what you’d have for lunch as you worked the horses ploughing ready for the crops. The Ploughmans consists of a lump of cheddar and a wedge of stilton with pickled onions, chutney and some crusty bread. This is best served with a pint of real ale at room temperature, of course.
Hello! I am happy to report that we are back from our whirlwind trip to the U.K. and Paris and had a fabulous time!! I have so much to blog about for the next few weeks and lots of photos to share so stay tuned!
First things first! The plane ride! We flew Virgin Atlantic out of San Francisco Airport, which required a morning drive from Sacramento. Best thing we did? We booked long-term parking at Millbrae BART station, which was $6/day! So much cheaper than any park-and-sleep package I could find and a lot cheaper than long-term parking by the airport. My husband dropped me and the kids (and our luggage!) off at the airport first and then parked and took the BART to the airport (so we wouldn’t have to lug all of our luggage and stroller and kids with us on the BART, and we saved money on three BART tickets in the process). Win!
Now about that flight … well, we flew economy and splurged on extra leg room seats, which Virgin offers now for an added $50.
Was it worth it? Well, it was hard for me to tell (but I am 5′ 3″). My husband appreciated the extra legroom.
We haven’t flown internationally in a couple of years now and I was most startled not by the lack of leg room, but by the lack of food! My 3-year-old daughter ate an adult sized portion of pasta and bread, and was starving, as were we all! She refused the Gu mango and passionfruit cheesecake pot that was her dessert and so I quickly ate hers and mine.
Big mistake. Huge.
Within a couple of hours – in the complete serenity of our turbulence-free cabin – I became decidedly unwell. I actually vomited into my empty water glass and had to climb over the poor sleepy
stranger victim, who was unlucky to be sitting next to me (and who was none too impressed and looked like Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) to get to the bathroom. My husband and son were sitting directly behind us since there weren’t a four-seats-in-a-row available to us in the extra-leg room section.
My husband asked if I had eaten the Gu. He hadn’t touched it since he thought it smelled spoiled. Neither did my son. Thankfully!
There wasn’t any ice cream, or after dinner Bailey’s (which I think of wistfully, when I think of flying Virgin years ago. The water and juice tray came around a couple of times. It actually didn’t matter since I couldn’t stomach anything after the Gu. Not even the skimpy muffin top breakfast that they brought around with coffee and tea. I was sick again.
But it didn’t matter. After ten hours or so, we touched down in London and I wasn’t going to let any Gu stop me from enjoying my holiday!
Thanks, Buzzfeed, for this entertaining list! I’ve only had #13 before, and will never ever ever eat #7!
Last week, I blogged about a new banana bread recipe I tried, which got me thinking … do Brits eat banana bread? Did it originate in America? And is this one our American culinary contributions that Brits have embraced like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?
After doing a little research, I found a Guardian article that answered all of my questions and more. It did, in fact, originate stateside.
“Banana bread as we know it doesn’t appear in cookbooks until the 1930s. Food history website foodtimeline.org suggests that although it’s sometimes attributed to thrifty housewives looking to use up overripe fruit, all evidence points to the fact it was developed by banana companies to promote their wares – indeed ‘in the 1950s banana bread was actively promoted in nationally syndicated television cooking shows.’ Jane Grigson writes in her Fruit Book that it appeared in [the U.K.] after the war, when West Indian bananas returned to the shops – presumably once everyone had gorged themselves on the fruit in its natural state, they began to seek other ways to make the most of it.
Also it’s interesting to note that British recipes for banana bread usually includes baking powder, instead of baking soda (the recipe I tried last week was very American and included baking soda), which usually lends to a lighter, fluffier cake.