21 November 2014
A day of food shopping
London: the shopping capital of Europe. But beyond the clothes and design, the city also offers sumptuous cheeses, original chocolates, innovative charcuteries and all sorts of exceptional culinary products. Follow our journey across London the gourmand city, from restaurants to markets, and discover the London food culture…
For breakfast, start at the Duck & Waffle. Having opened in 2012, on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, this spot offers a breathtaking view of the City of London. Not only is this the highest restaurant in the United Kingdom, but it is also the first one to be open seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. This is what appeals to the city slickers, who come here to eat and drink sophisticated cocktails around the central bar where clients and bartenders mingle. This works as well for both lunch as the middle of the night, with “city boys” working to the pace of the financial hubs around the world…But here they gather to divulge in a traditional full English, the best way to watch the city begin to stir. The menu changes every month and consists only of products (sausages, bacon, blak pudding eggs, etc) from the top farmers and breeders in Britain. Drinking coffee at the top of the iconic ‘Gherkin’, with the incredible structure designed by Norman Foster just opposite; it is without a doubt the best way to start a long day of food shopping…
2014 marks 1000 years of trading at Borough Market at the heart of London, playing host to the best market farmers, cheese makers and fishmongers in the country! As the oldest market in the United Kingdom, Borough market is without a doubt the most ancient active food spot in Europe…Strolling amongst the beautifully laid out stalls is a joy for any foodie who can spend a whole morning without ever getting bored. Amidst the rare gems, make sure that you stop off at the Philip Wilton stand. Nicknamed the “urban cheesemaker” for making his cheeses in the Tottenham area and using milk from a farm situated only 50km from the City. If anyone deserves the title ‘London cheesemonger’, it’s him! He only produces cow-milk cheeses, his very own originally named creations. So, for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to taste all this, from London Shire, Howard Blue or Alexandra, this is a must-visit spot. Then, bite into one of Mrs. King’s pork pies, which has produced these multi-award winning pastries since 1853 in a tiny, unassuming boutique. And stop off at Cannon & Cannon, an Artisan British Charcuterie, which sells saucissons in flavours unknown in France: pork, fennel, rosemary and celery pork shoulder, lemon pork-veal or even smoked pepper venison…
For the English, lunch is something to be executed quickly. In London, economic capital of Europe, lunch-breaks are even more brief, with business taking priority above everything else…so, do as the Londoners do and order your sandwich, wrap, burger, fish’n’chips, soups etc, from a food truck counter. And the KERB association helps budding chefs create their food vans. Then they must snap up a hot spot where they can attract local punters. KERB manages several places in London solely devoted to street-food. The most recent, and the most popular, is located at Granary Square, not far from Saint-Pancras, just across from Central Saint-Martin, the most famous school of fashion and design in Britain. Every lunchtime, five or six food trucks serve delicious culinary treats to edgy students and the hurried and harried of this flourishing area (Google is about to open its United Kindgom head office here and Jamie Oliver his next restaurant…) For £5-6, you are spoilt for choice with this original world food, with KERB acting as a measure of quality. These food trucks change daily, varying the culinary delights on offer…
In the elegant streets of Marylebone Village, discover all of France’s luxury brands and prêt-a-porté fashion houses! You have to wonder whether or not a bit of Paris has been transported to the heart of London…especially as the area also plays host to the best food stores in the city. Face-to-face on Moxon Street, for example, are La Fromagerie and Rococo Chocolate. Here are two unmistakably Frenchie cuisines…with an English twist! Chantal Coady is a devoted fan of major French chocolatiers, constantly innovating and breaking boundaries to produce chocolates that only English impertinence could invent. In her little boudoir boutique, take a moment to marvel at the beautiful geometric wrappers. Before tucking into a white chocolate and cardamom, taste milk chocolate and sea salt or this dark outside filled with passion fruit and caramel…created from rare cocoa from the four corners of the globe. Receiving a shower of desereved recognition for her creations, Chantal Coady never fails to surprise chocaholics…
Over the road, La Fromagerie is the brainchild of another passionate woman, Patricia Michelson. Deemed the ‘Queen of Cheese’ in London, this expert is another Francophile, travelling the world and unearthing the most sumptuous pressed cheeses and selections of goat’s cheese. The result: 250 recommendations housed in a refrigerated room unique to London. And her excellent boutique bursts with delicious products (dried meats, vegetables, jams, wines…) where shoppers can taste a board of cheeses picked from the label’s special supply. The perfect way to rediscover old cheeses and other English stiltons!
In all honesty, it is highly unlike that that any of you will have the chance to sip earl grey with her majesty. But if there is anywhere that might make this occasion seem possible, it has to be the Goring. As it is the only hotel in London to receive The Queen’s blessing for its irreproachable service according to the royals! The Goring is an institution. Having opened over a century ago, it is still run by the hands of the same family (the Gorings) who has ensured excellence in service for four generations. In fact, it is the only 5-star hotel in London that remains completely independent, not belonging to any large hotelier group. You could say that there is no tampering with tradition here, seeing as afternoon tea is exclusively served between 3pm and 4pm. While many hotels give into the temptation of modern trends and serve tea throughout the afternoon, at the Goring, traditions are very much upheld. The same goes for the dishes proffered on a three-tier cake plate. Start with dainty sandwiches, before moving onto scones and their thick homemade clotted cream, finishing with pastries, each prettier than the last. What is more, following the passing of the Queen Mother in 2002, the royal family agreed to give to the Goring the lobster and prawn verrine recipe that the Queen Mum loved so much that she forbid serving the dish to anyone but her royal self. And so before digging into your gourmand afternoon-tea platter, you shall be served this longtime secret verrine…In short, the Goring Hotel is the top spot for traditional afternoon tea. Hence the three-month waiting list!
How could anyone leave London without quickly stopping off in the holy of holies when it comes to British food? Founded in 1707, Fortnum & Mason is the most long-standing of major London stores! In the beginning, it was a candlestick maker for an exclusive client: the royal family. Fortnum & Mason has always been a royally approved agent. Swiftly, the food house begun to sell all sorts of products. Today, the brand proposes four floors of clothes, home and one of the most popular places for Christmas shops in London. But in the basement and on the ground floor, foodies find their calling. The food and wine department offers hidden treasures sourced from the best produced in the country. And a selection of incredible teas. If you are particularly fortunate, you might have the chance to purchase one of the most exclusive jars of honey in England. Produced by the bees that pollinate the flowers of the royal gardens, the four hundred pots produced each year are quickly snapped up by shoppers…And check out the ‘cronuts’ on offer, sold exclusively on the first floor. Created from crescent-shaped dough, fried like a donut, these New-York born pastries are now taking Fortnum & Mason by storm! Finally, take a cup of tea in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, which opened two years ago, famously inaugurated by the Queen, Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker-Bowles…The first time that these three women had been united together at a public event. And of course, the first time at Fortnum & Mason!
In London, you can try cuisine from every culture. Along with New York, without a doubt there is no other city capable of awakening your taste buds, from Asia to Africa and even the Americas, and all in the same street! At the moment, it is Peruvian cuisine that is one to watch. And the Lima London restaurant establishes itself as the most remarkable. Opened two years ago by chef Virgilio Martinez, Lima London has already cinched one Michelin star. Located in Covent Garden, in a hectic corner lined with bars and restaurants, Lima offers culinary delights using mostly Peruvian products, vegetables, spices and herbs, all with a modern twist. Even the plates are super visual. But this is not a detriment to the taste, which explodes in the mouth, offering a unique gourmet experience…