British Food And Drink In London
London is a great place to experience world cuisine. It truly is a melting pot of cultures, and these cultures, plus an outward look at the world have helped the capital shake off its old reputation for boring bland food and truly embrace all the best the world has to offer. Even so, at times, it still pays to celebrate the food and drink Britain is best known for and which are still close to the hearts of many British people. It is these that many visitors to London want to try. When the sun shines, which it does do in london, alfresco dining can be enjoyed, but when it's cold and wet, nothing beats tucking into our faves in one of the many cosy pubs, modern restaurant cafes, or eateries in london.
Brits are known across the world for their love of the stuff. A ‘nice cup of tea’ can solve problems, mend rifts between quarrellers and counsel the bereaved. From the humble mug of builders’ tea, full of strength and sweetened flavour, to the delicate flavours of loose leaf teas enjoyed in bone china cups and saucers, the British all have their favourite way of enjoying a cuppa. For a simple mug of tea try the many of the small, independent cafes found down the side streets in the city, but if you want to do it on a grander scale, ‘afternoon tea’ is the way.
Probably the best known place to enjoy afternoon tea is at the Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, London W1 +44207 300 2345. This is a real institution. The17 different varieties of loose tea are served in the beautiful Palm Court , along with freshly cut sandwiches, and served on a three tier stand together with scones, cakes and pastries. And yes, they do have cucumber sandwiches! There is a Formal dress code; men are required to wear jacket and tie. Prices range from £42 to £64 per person.
If you want to buy tea to take home, there are two companies worth considering.
Whittard of Chelsea celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2011. It has a range of 130 different varieties of tea, and has stores all across London .
Twinings of London has more than 200 varieties of tea. The company was founded in 1706 by a Thomas Twining. His was the very first tea shop in London . In 1787 a logo for the company was chosen and is still used to this day, making it the oldest commercial logo in use. The Twinings shop at 216 Strand , London WC2 also has a small museum celebrating the Twinings history. It is open:
Mon to Fri 8.30 – 17.30
Sat 10.00 – 17.00
Sun 10.00 – 16.00
+44207 353 3511
There are also Twinings shops in Shepherds Bush and Stratford, both in Westfield Shopping Centres.
Fish and Chips.
Fish and chips have been eaten in Britain since the 19th century. In nearly every town in Britain, you would expect to find at least one chippie or chipper as they are often commonly known. Greater London has many of these chip shops but for visitors to the centre of the city you may be hard pushed to find one. Never fear, if your time in the capital is short or has a packed itinerary, you don’t want to be spending precious time searching one out for a sample of Britain's favourite. Instead, head to one of the capitals many traditional pubs and you will more than likely find fish and chips on the menu. If you do want a totally real chip shop in the centre of London, two excellent examples are:
Dining Plaice, 20 Berwick St in Soho.
The Rock and Sole Plaice, at 47 Endell St in Covent Garden.
Fish and chips were one of the few foods not to be rationed during the Second World War. The popular food was seen as a sustainable meal the nation could depend and thrive on. Winston Churchill was keen for the British population to be able to enjoy the national dish and described fish and chips as ‘good companions’.
Called dinner but more commonly eaten at lunch time or early afternoon, the roast dinner is a meal where the family still get together and spent time over a meal. The Sunday roast takes a while to prepare and cook and this is probably why it has now become a tradition in itself to go to the pub for a Sunday roast. This way of enjoying a roast dinner has gained so much in popularity that, similar to fish and chips, has become common on the menu in many pubs.
What makes up a roast dinner will vary from region to region and household to household but in essence it includes roasted meat and potatoes with a selection of vegetables. With the different meats are different accompaniments. Beef has Yorkshire puddings (made out of batter), Lamb goes with mint sauce, chicken has stuffing (made from bread crumbs, onions, herbs and spices) and pork has apple sauce. More recently, nut roast has become a popular alternative for vegetarians.
Real Ale/Cask Beer.
There are thousands of different varieties of ales to choose from but most good pubs will have at least three or four different ones to try. Contrary to what some believe, real ale should not be warm. British ales have been referred to as warm beer, but if you are served ale that is warm, you haven't received a good pint. Real ale should be served chilled, similar to the temperature in the cellar the casks are stored in. Cooling this type of beer too much destroys the taste, and one of the many reasons this type of beer is regaining popularity is that it has more taste than many of the mass produced, heavily carbonated lagers that are available. If you are not sure which beers are ales look for the long handled pumps on the bar which have badges on them, or alternatively ask the barman for recommendations.
Real ale is brewed in casks and is unpasteurised. It is aerated by the live yeast in it, not artificially carbonated. It is also not filtered. Instead, finings in the cask keep the yeast to the bottom. Real ale by its nature will go off. It will last about three days after the cask has been tapped (opened). If the beer is completely flat, tastes off, and has no frothy head when first pulled, it’s probably past its best, and you should ask for it to be replaced. If you want to make sure you’ll get a good pint look for the cask marque, which will be displayed either outside the pub or near the bar. This marque indicates that the pub has good quality ales. The pub will be subjected to surprise inspections in order to be accredited to the scheme.
If your interest in real ale takes you further, try a brewery tour. There are several breweries in London that give guided tours; one of the oldest is Fuller’s The Griffin Brewery. The site of this brewery has 350 of continuous brewing history. It is located on:
Chiswick Lane South , W4. +44208 996 2063. Nearest tube stop is Turnham Green.
Opening times: 11.00 – 15.00 Mon to Fri.
Visiting London is an amazing experience. While you are in the capital, have a try of the nation’s favourites. You can then take home memories of places you have visited, shows you have watched, but also some of the tastes of Britain as well.
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