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Borough Market, London: A Very Literary Food Paradise

Borough Market, London

When I found out that I’d be in London this week for a couple of days, my thoughts immediately turned to what food-related things I could fit into my schedule. Tea and scones, check. Curry, check. A visit to Japan Centre, check. But at the top of my list was a proper roam around Borough Market.

Long time readers of Just Hungry may know that I absolutely love markets, and go to them whenever and wherever I can. One big reason I’ve decided to move to the south of France is because of the wonderful markets here. So, how does London’s oldest market compare to some of my favorites? While Borough Market is not the biggest market, nor does it have the widest selection, or even the best selection, of foodstuffs, it’s a very special place. In my opinion, it’s simply the most intellectually pleasing market there is. continue reading...

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Mochitsuki in your neighborhood?

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Mochitsuki photo by Ivva continue reading...

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A Marmite Valentine

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Look what came in the mail today! continue reading...

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Daiso is coming to Europe!

Great news for fans of things Japanese who live in Europe, the UK in particular: Daiso, the 100 yen store chain, is opening a branch in London on November 17th. They are teaming up with Japan Centre, one of my favorite sources for Japanese food and other things. (Disclaimer: Japan Centre advertises on this site, but I’m also a happy customer.) It will be at 213 Piccadilly.

If you’re not familiar with the awesomeness of 100 yen shops, you owe yourself a visit if you go to London. I am hoping that they will carry plenty of cute goods for the fans of cute. I think I need to go to London soon! I’m rather curious as to how they’ll price things at the London store…will everything be a pound? We’ll see.

Daiso also has several stores in North America.
An excerpt from the press release follows after the jump. continue reading...

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Paddington Bear eats Marmite!

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There’s quite a lot of slightly matted plush fur flying in Britain this week over the new Marmite TV ad, which features the lovable Paddington Bear, devotee of marmelade sandwiches, tucking into a Marmite sandwich. It made so much of a furor that it even made the evening news on the BBC yesterday. Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond has been accused of selling out and for supplying the script for the commercial (he has denied both). There have been dozens of news stories and editorials devoted to it (my favorite headline is What Next, Rupert Bear in Burberry?). continue reading...

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Some great UK Food TV shows

At the moment there are so many UK TV food shows that are compelling enough to watch that it’s hard to find time for them all. Thank goodness for DVRs and torrents. Here’s a rundown, in no particular order of preference - all of them are worth watching for different reasons, and most are far better than almost anything that U.S. TV has to offer at the moment. continue reading...

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Rhubarb berry trifle

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On rhubarb, stewed fruit and England

I first saw this curious plant called rhubarb during the time we lived for 5 years in Berkshire, England. I was 5 when we moved there. The rhubarb grew like a small jungle in a corner of the vegetable patch of the house we were renting, alongside some equally puzzling gooseberry bushes. Neither existed at all in Japan at the time, and my mother was at a loss as to what to do with them, until our next door neighbor lady told her how to stew them. The neighbor lady believed in stewing most fruit - she told my mother to stew or jam all of the raspberries too, since eating them raw may lead to upset small tummies. Thankfully my mother didn’t take her advice for all of the raspberries, and I still have memories of stickily enjoying bowls and bowls of red, ripe raspberries with clouds of whipped cream. One of the first things I did when I got my own garden was to plant several raspberry canes.

Stewed and cooked fruit figures quite prominently in my memories of English food at the time. This was in the ’70s. Whenever I was invited to tea at a friend’s house, there was usually always some sort of cooked fruit dish, be it a compote of peaches in the summer or apple and blackberry pie later on in the year. I think we only ate fresh, raw fruit at home, except for bananas and strawberries. I didn’t even know that gooseberries could be anything other than sour, green and only edible stewed with sugar, until I came to Switzerland and saw them left to ripen on a bush, turning a bright reddish-purple.

That penchant for cooking fruit does mean that there are many terrific fruity desserts (aka puddings) in British cookbooks. One of them is trifle. I’m in the midst of my annual rhubarb orgy period, and it’s one ‘fruit’ (though it’s botanically a vegetable) that needs to be cooked. Hence, the rhubarb trifle.

The slightly modernized trifle

A trifle is small pieces of sponge cake soaked in a sweet, fruity liquid, and topped with custard or cream. Some versions of trifle are quite alcoholic, but this one has no alcohol in it since I imagine my 8 year old self tucking into it. The components are simple: the fruit-liquidy mix, the cake, and the creamy topping. The key part that makes this trifle different is the rhubarb soaking liquid part, which is quite sour and not too sweet. I’ve added a few frozen berries (raspberries from last summer’s crop in fact) to make the red color more intense - if you have fresh strawberries by all means use those instead.

Trifle is traditionally topped with custard, cream or both. Here I have combined the two so to speak and topped it with vanilla ice cream instead - this is the slightly modernized part. It’s homemade but you can use a good store bought ice cream if you don’t want to bother, or don’t have an ice cream maker.

I think that the key to a good trifle is to not overload it with sponge cake, which makes it go rather stodgy. Add just a few pieces for the interesting texture. Note that I’ve used pieces of store bought roll cake here (called Swiss roll in England, but not really Swiss as far as I know) which adds some extra flavor. You can assemble it all in a big bowl, or in individual glasses as I’ve done here.

This is my pre-planned entry for Sam’s Fish and Quips event celebrating British food. See also my other two British-theme posts this week, Tasting Guinness Marmite and The Edwardians and their food. continue reading...

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The Edwardians and their food on BBC Four

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BBC Four is running a series of program(me)s about the Edwardians, and two of those are about the food of the era. They have already aired but will be repeated several times as most BBC Four shows are. Both are well worth watching for anyone interested in food and history.

Edwardian Supersize Me is the showier of the two. Giles Coren, food critic for The Times, and TV presenter Sue Perkins lived the life of well-off Edwardians for a week, and ate like the Edwardians of the upper-middle class did - in Sue’s case while wearing a corset. Their in-house meals were cooked by famed food writer Sophie Grigson, from an Edwardian housekeeping book, and they also ate out frequently since this was the era when restaurant dining became popular in England. continue reading...

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Tasting Guinness Marmite

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Back in February I reported on the new limited edition Guinness Marmite. Since then, the salty yeast spread connoisseur in me yearned to taste this mysterious combination. Parts of me panicked at the thought of it selling out before I had a chance at it.

Enter my friend Mimi to the rescue. She kindly procured not one, but four, yes 4, 250 gram jars of Guinness Marmite for me, which arrived in the mail today. My first reaction: “ZOMG, a kilo of Marmite!” (That’s about 2.2 lb for the metrically challenged.)

Calming down, I proceeded to inspect it in detail. continue reading...

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Tune in to the Big (Cheddar) Cheese

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Don’t forget to tune in to Cheddarvision.tv (previously mentioned on Just Hungry here) today! They are going to turn the Big Cheese over, take a core sample, and see how it’s doing! If they haven’t already…I’m not sure. Was that label on the other end before? (thanks Mimi!) continue reading...

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Guinness Marmite!

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Wow, look at the gorgeous black and white special edition Guinness Marmite jar! Limited to a run of 300,000 jars, this special blend of Guinness and Marmite is on sale in the U.K. right now. I’m not too sure how different it would be in taste from regular Marmite, which is after all a yeast spread. I’m speculating it might taste like the slightly beer-y Cenovis. Now how to get my hands on one… (link via Coolest Gadgets and The Guinness Blog - yes, Guinness has a blog. The portal is a bugger…just say you are from England, and old enough.) continue reading...

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Marmite, Vegemite, and...Cenovis? A tale of salty yeast spreads

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Since it was reported a couple of weeks ago (erroneously, as it turns out) that Vegemite was a banned substance in the U.S., there's been renewed interest in the mysterious black spread from Australia, and its bitter rival in the yeast-extract world from the UK, Marmite. continue reading...

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The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire, UK

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Since I pretend to be a sort of serious foodie, I have of course been reading a lot about this food movement called molecular gastronomy for a while. I've been mentally dodging it however. I am not against innovation in cooking by any means, but the reports I'd read about it sounded a tad too precious. continue reading...

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Impressions of England, strictly food-related

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tavistock_bobscafesign.jpgI am back from England. As is usual when I go there, in a food sense it was a mixed bag. On the positive side, I got to experience two real, unique - and very different - highlights in The Pudding Club and The Fat Duck.

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A week of foodie inserts in The Guardian

If you live in the U.K., (or elsewhere where they sell U.K. newspapers complete with inserts) get ready for a week of food-related inserts starting tomorrow in The Guardian.

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England, part 2: Pasties and pies

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England, part 1: Breakfast and sausages

The first of several essays about my recent trip to England.

The rather large lady sat down with a sigh at the table next to ours with a sigh. Laying down her walking stick, she looked around appreciatively at the sunlit room, decorated tastefully in pale yellows to match the vaguely Edwardian architecture of the hotel. Beyond the large windows, we could see the waters of the Channel sparkling in the morning sun. continue reading...

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England, England

I am off to England via France (we are driving there...) early tomorrow morning. I will be totally offline during that time (I really need a break from the computer, since I work with it all the time, so I'm not even bringing my laptop...), but I'm hoping to gather some good food tales while I am there. continue reading...

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