The snackers guide to British cakes

Americans have funfetti. German chocolate cake (which is not actually German, go figure!). We can even count New York cheesecake under the banner of “Proud Cakes from the USA.” But we’ve got nothing compared to the Brits.

I love this infographic, designed by Flokkcreative, and the sheer variety of British cakes with amazingly quirky names like eccles (pronounced eckles) cake, Battenburg cake or Victoria sponge. What’s your favorite British cake?

Snackers Guide to British Cakes

Best gin joints in London

Gin and tonic in London

Time Out London has rounded up the best bars for gin in the capital.

I’ll admit that when I used to live in London, gin wasn’t the thing. It was … well, at least to my twenty something mind … more of a vodka cranberry or cosmopolitan/mojito/caipirinha sort of place. Whatever others were drinking in NYC was infinitely cooler than a native gin and tonic.

But my oh my, in the past few years, London has been stepping up its gin game, with more gin distilleries starting up and some cool bars, dedicated to the G&T. My tastes have similarly changed – I have more of an appetite for gin than I ever have before. Time Out London has compiled its best picks for a gin here. Disclaimer: I haven’t tried any of these spots but they sound divine. *Sigh*

When “spring forward” involves no spring in your step …

clock

Those of you in the U.K. right now must be enjoying the quality of peaceful sleep that only comes when you haven’t had the misfortune of moving the clocks forward. Tell me. Is it as amazing as I remember it? Alright, I get it. Must you gloat?!

Those of us stateside have been in a fog this week – extras in “The Walking Dead” – since the time change.

Brits move their clocks forward one hour on March 29 this year. Until then, please enjoy the next couple of weeks for us Americans. And on that note, here are the 8 Worst Things about Daylight Savings Time.

Sir David Attenborough’s “What a Wonderful World”

So, I’m very late to the party here (this was apparently posted back in 2011), but I just saw this lovely little video of Sir David Attenborough reading “What a Wonderful World,” featuring some stunning scenes from the BBC’s “Frozen Planet.” I hope it sets what may be a tough Monday morning for you off on the right note!

How to piss off a Brit

Queue here sign

How can you piss off a Brit?

Let me count the ways. Or rather, let me share a list I found on the Matador Network which says it better than I could.

I think #1 (tell us we don’t spell things properly) and #2 (jump the queue) are universal truths!

Aluminium, anyone?

Happy Pancakes

Making crepes

I don’t think Pancake Day really became a part of my life until I lived in the U.K. I thought it was a sweet, whimsical holiday that the Brits invented (they didn’t, by the way. More info on the origins here). But very quickly, it became an annual thing. And then after our kids were born, it became a tasty tradition — one that annually takes us by surprise (I actually didn’t realize it was Pancake Day until yesterday morning), but part of the tradition includes that fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants scramble to get ingredients on a school night and pull this thing off.

I’m happy to report we had success yesterday — and even better, my husband made the pancakes this year.

Read the rest of this entry

Crisp sandwich, anyone?

crisp sandwich

Leave it to the British masterminds who created the chip butty (fries in a roll) to also attempt the crisp (translation: potato chip) sandwich.

Yes, crisp sandwiches are now being sold at the Stock Exchange Bakery in Bristol. The bakery offers patrons the choice of granary bread or a white bun (baked fresh on the premises! and I’ve blogged before about how granary bread is the Best Bread on the Planet!) and a choice of 20 different crisps (the Brits have so much variety in flavors from roast beef to prawn cocktail and everything in between) to put inside. All this for £2.50 each. The Bristol Post reports that they’ve had queues around the block!

Not since this sandwich have I been so intrigued. Sigh. Will someone report on this from across the pond? Is it as good as it sounds?

You know you’re back in America when …

Cereal aisle

Katrina Witt/Getty Images

I enjoyed reading this “You know you’re back in America when …” posted to the Matador Network.

If you’ve ever lived abroad for any amount of time, this will appreciate these – for me, I remember vividly being struck by #1, #3 and #15 after spending my first few months in the U.K. and then returning to California for Christmas.

What’s your best “You know you’re back in America when …” tell-tale sign?

The chewy joy of wine gums

Wine gums

When I first moved to the United Kingdom nearly 20 years ago, I discovered the Maynards Wine Gums and being a Haribo convert and loving anything gummy, sweet and black currant flavored, I became an instant fan.

And then the whole Mad Cow Disease broke and there was rumor/conjecture/fact that wine gums were made out of gelatin (made from those mad cow’s joints or muscle, bones or gristle, I’m not quite sure) and they fell out of favor with me. I stopped buying them (I was a vegetarian at the time and did think it would be tragic and also ironic if I got Mad Cow Disease, not from eating cheap burgers or sausages, but from these blissfully nearly blameless fruit candies), but that decision did come with anguish every time I spotted them in the grocery checkout aisle.

Fast forward to this past year and I started thinking about those wine gums again. When my mother-in-law was packing her bag to visit us in November, I asked her if she could bring some. It only took a couple of bites into the black and red (the only flavors worth mentioning, in my opinion) and I was transported to those days at uni. I love the density of them. The hearty chewiness of them (not weak and loose in bite like some excessively jubbly candies you can buy). The black currant-y smell of them. They don’t stick to your teeth or make you worry that you’ll loose a filling. They’re just a burst of sweet berry joy and I can’t compare them to anything here in the U.S. Needless to say that packet of wine gums went quickly.

My sister-in-law came to visit us this month and also brought a box of wine gums along with Percy Pigs (more on this delicacy in a future post…) and it was again like a tasty reunion of memories and nostalgia, wrapped in animal gelatin and black currant flavors (or lime, lemon or orange, if you prefer the green, yellow or orange, which I don’t touch).

Have you tried wine gums? What do you think of them?

And … I’m back!

It's a Small World
How was your holiday season? I hope you had a wonderful one! Apologies for the radio silence these past couple of months. It’s been an incredibly busy time for me and my family — like most holiday seasons — but I haven’t been able to quite find the time to add blogging into the matrix.

My mother-in-law came to visit in November from Cornwall and we had a great visit. One of the highlights of her trip was taking her to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for the first time right before Thanksgiving! Our kids had a blast and if you’ve never been to Disneyland during the holidays, I’d highly recommend it! It was my first time visiting when the park was completely dressed in holiday splendor and we had a lot of fun seeing some of our favorite rides like It’s a Small World and Jungle Cruise get redone for Christmas.

Other Disney highlights:

* Seeing “Aladdin” stage show at the Disney California Adventure
* Watching the holiday parade at Disneyland
* Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan and Soarin’ Over California
* Fried chicken dinner at the Plaza

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share some other adventures I’ve had over the holiday break. Stay tuned! In the meantime, have a wonderful three-day weekend!

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