This weekend was pretty lazy, but I still didn’t get enough sleep. At least I didn’t have anything planned in the mornings, so I was able to sleep in. The issue with being lazy in the morning is that I then don’t feel like I’ve gotten anything done all day because by the time I’m all up and ready, it could be 1pm. So then I stay up until midnight or 1am so that I have more awake time to rest. Yes, it’s convoluted thinking.
Saturday Christianne and I decided to go to Borough market, which is the food market in London. We didn’t do it in the morning or anything. I think I spent most of the morning and early afternoon organizing and cleaning up my room and such. So we didn’t head out until around 2pm.
Borough Market is located on the Northern Line of the tube, south of the Thames. I believe it’s London Bridge exit. Just so you know, London Bridge isn’t the London Bridge of the children’s song. London Bridge doesn’t raise or lower or have giant towers on either side. That’s Tower Bridge. I’m still confused about the discrepancy between the two and why the song doesn’t say “Tower Bridge is falling down” instead.
I don’t recommend going to Borough Market on the weekend, because that’s
when everyone goes. It was literally the most crowded public space I’ve been thus far in London. You almost had to push yourself through the crowd to afford being pushed in the opposite direction. It was too dense to weave through the crowd. However, I do highly recommend going to the market in general.
There are three main locations in the market, which is split in two locations by roads. I think each section is organized around a different type of food (like one area might be more food vendor stalls for lunch while another is about buy later foods like bakeries, and another is market food
like raw fish, cheese, meat, etc?). They’re mostly all enclosed under this giant pavilion so you can visit even when it’s raining.
Our first mission was to find food. We walked around all the vendors, as I like to know my options before
deciding. It’s always my goal to try and find the diamond in the rough. (Yay, Disney reference!). Borough Market is where you go for the world’s best grilled
cheese sandwich, at Kappacasein. It’s not a normal grilled cheese. It’s made with raclette cheese, which comes in giant wheels. The wheels are cut in half and placed under a broiler that melts the top of the cheese. Once it’s bubbling the cooks rotate it out of the broiler and scrape off the melted cheese onto a piece of toasted hearty bread. I believe there’s also caramelized onions that they add inside. Anyway, I had one of these sandwiches 3 years ago when I visited England with my Dickens and Hardy class, but I wasn’t in a grilled cheese mood so I passed on the sandwich.
Christianne settled for a Boston sausage burger, while I got a cheese bourek. Bourek is basically the Turkish/Eastern European version of tiropita. It’s filo dough filled with cheese, though this one had an interesting mixture of cheeses, including not only feta, but also Gloucester, which is an English cheese. The cheeses were a little soft/mild for my taste, but it was incredibly warm, and warm cheese with flaky dough is heaven. I munched on the Bourek as we walked around more of the market.
We found the Bread Ahead bakery, which offers baking lessons. We watched through the window as a baker taught 10 students how to make croissants. He was rolling the triangles of dough into croissant shapes, and I wish I could have stolen their final results. Sadly, the lessons are 80 pounds a piece, which is so not worth it.
We continued walking around, as I knew I wanted to get some sort of baked item/dessert. However, all the bakery stalls were really expensive. I know that it’s fresh and these are independent vendors, but still, I am a student and I like knowing I’ve gotten a good deal. So though the fresh bread looked
delectable, they even had a hazelnut loaf of bread, I wasn’t willing to spend upwards of 3 quid on fresh bread. Another issue is the fact that I probably wouldn’t be able to eat it fast enough while it still tasted fresh. I’d rather get some organic hearty loaf bread from Sainsbury’s that I can refrigerate and freeze than fresh bread which really should only be eaten fresh.
I also kept judging all the baked goods. There was a very good variety, and lots of different brownies (even hazelnut chocolate brownies), but yet again I didn’t think they were a good value. Over 2 quid for a brownie? And it wasn’t even a giant brownie or anything. I can’t tell just
from looking at it whether the brownie is rich and dense, in which case a higher price point is understandable. It tends to be rare to find rich, thick, gooey brownies. They are typically more cake-like, which is a let down. Instead I settled for a face-sized cookie. I mean, come on, a dark chocolate chip cookie the size of your face for 2 quid? That was a good deal.
savored in my mouth while I continually drool over it. That came out way more disgusting than I intended. Yes, I realize I could go back and delete the
sentence, but I feel that ruins the integrity of this being a blog/journal post. I’m trying to convey my raw thoughts and feelings, while screening them for inappropriateness and too much personal info since it is a publicly accessible site.
After getting our bite to eat, we decided to explore the area a bit. We wanted to walk across London Bridge, but got a little lost as we tried to find the bridge. At least we did find the Shard (the tallest building in London) and after some wandering we did get to the bridge, where we were able to take some nice pictures of Tower Bridge in the background. We continued walking and stopped in a Starbucks to regroup. Like evil people we just stole two chairs but didn’t actually buy anything. And then stole their wifi.
I was very tired at that point, so I decided to head home. I think we were near the Monument tube station. Christianne was going to continue on and find a nice park where she could journal. I just headed home and collapsed in my room with the rest of my massive cookie and American Horror Story: Freak Show on my laptop.
Sunday was completely food focused. I woke up around 10am or so, and realized that the grocery store I wanted to go to, Lidl, didn’t open until 11am. I really commend stores in London for having legitimately reasonable Sunday hours. Grocery stores are open only from 11am to 5pm on Sundays, and I think the malls close at 6pm, which is the same as American malls. But still, we’re so used to all stores, especially grocery stores, being open almost 24/7. We’ve lost the integrity and purpose of the weekend and especially Sunday.
So I got up slowly, reveling in the time I had, and then forced myself out of the flat and fast walked to Lidl. Someday I need to take pictures of the walk from Queen Mary to Lidl, as it’s quite pretty. I cross Mile End Road and follow alongside the canal. There are these really cute miniature two story houses along the right side bordering the canal. I’m sure they are very expensive, but they look wonderful to live in. The I continue through Mile End park , cutting through and then bordering the park until I cross a street and hit Lidl. So yes it’s a 15-20 minute walk, but most of it is through nature and green space, and I love walking anyway. I’m really happy with how things are laid out in London. Though you walk everywhere, everything actually is within walking distance, and many are a very pleasant and recharging walk (until you lug home too many groceries…)
I’m a bit addicted with Lidl’s bakery. All grocery stores have fresh bakeries in England, but it’s different from the types of bakeries in Albertsons/Lucky’s or Vons/Safeway back home. Most of the baked goods sold there are cheap doughnuts or some other bad quality pastry, in addition to bland white rolls. Yes, the grocery stores here do have some of those items, but on a whole the pastries are much higher quality. First off, their croissants taste much more like croissants. Aka the dough is flaky instead of being able to squish the entire croissant cause it’s soft. They typically only have one doughnut, and the rest is either fresh loaves of bread or a wide variety of rolls. They had pumpkin seed rolls, protein rolls (really hearty ones), some parmesan marinara crispy rolls, cheese twists, and my favorite: pesto tomato goat cheese focaccia. The last time I went to Lidl with Nick, they were out, so I wanted to make sure to get to Lidl early enough that they would still have some fresh ones in stock.
Entering the store, I found my precious miniature focaccia, so of course I grabbed two (they’re only 65p each). I had to restrain myself while shopping. I really like buying and cooking food, so it’s easy to go overboard. But I do have a budget that I’m trying to stay under (so I can use the extra as pocket money). I wasn’t positive what I wanted to cook for myself for the week, so I wandered around trying to determine what produce and ingredients were on sale, and developed recipes around that. I decided I wanted to cook chili cornbread, or cornbread filled with cheddar cheese, kidney beans, butter beans, canned tomato, and onion (so a veggie chili). That’s a really cheap dish as it really only requires getting cheese, canned veggies, cornmeal, and onion. Presumably you have the rest of the ingredients like flour at home, and probably have onions handy as well, and canned goods are all less than a quid.
I also wanted to do a spin off of my caprese crepes from Friday. I got some tomatoes on the vine, and am going to cut off the top, hollow them out, and fill them with barley, mozerella, and basil. So it will be roasted caprese! Yay cheese!
I was super hungry when I got back to the flat, so I ate my mini focaccia for lunch. Then I knew I needed to get started cooking, and informed everyone that I would cook dinner that night. Right as I started to make the cornbread (I made a healthy version with Greek yogurt instead of oil, though I did end up adding a tablespoon of oil and a dash of honey) I realized I had gotten corn starch, not corn meal. The corn starch was labeled corn flour, so I mistook it. That meant I needed to do another grocery trip, and it was already 3:30.
I forced myself out of the flat again, fast walked to Sainsbury’s, and got the remaining ingredients, in addition to another few unplanned items like more organic wholegrain bread and such. I also decided to make baked onion rings. They turned out alright, but I think I really should have soaked the onion in buttermilk for at least 4 hours before putting them in the panko batter. Also the batter could have been better seasoned. But it still tasted alright. I mean, warm soft onion with crunchy bread crumb stuff on the outside is always good. And then I slept.