Wednesday, October 13, 2010
London Trip - Day 3
Day 3 of our London trip started much as the first one did - with full English breakfast at the hotel. During breakfast, I got up the nerve to have a little bit of Marmite, which I've always wanted to try and happened to be conveniently sitting in little packets (like jelly) at the table. It was very salty, very yeasty, and let's just say that's I found it to be an acquired taste (sorry all you Aussies, but I don't get it just yet). Anyway, since Mrs. Hackknife was finished with her work obligations, we pretty much had the day to ourselves as far as scheduling. Her one request was that she wanted to visit a pub for a pint, something she hadn't yet done as she had been working, plus under the weather to boot. Incredibly, we apparently picked the wrong portion of town to get a beer around Saturday noon since none of the pubs we encountered were open (maybe the business district wasn't a good idea). Eventually, we did find one open bar that was next to a Catholic church and was populated mostly by a wedding party that was getting a little refreshment before the ceremony (had we been better dressed, we probably could have fit right in without notice).
Getting on to this day's food highlights - Mrs. Hackknife had found an advert in one of those tourist magazines that they leave in the hotel room about an "experimental food expo" going on that afternoon in an exhibition space on Brick Lane (only a few blocks down from last night's stellar dinner). Having piqued our interest, we decided to try crashing the party and encountered a very long line for entry as we arrived at the hall. While waiting a good 15 minutes or so to get to the front of the queue, we noticed a separate, semi-open air portion of the exhibition space that seemed to include a bunch of street food vendors (this, apparently, goes on every weekend there and was completely removed from the formal event upstairs). When we heard from the door clerk that they stopped letting people into the expo due to lack of space, we jumped ship and headed to the street food fair. As it turns out, this was a good move. We found about 10 vendors, each specializing in a different ethnic cuisine (including Burmese, Chinese, Sri Lankan, Ethiopian, Thai, Jamaican, Japanese, and, oddly, Italian - the Italian booth wasn't getting much foot traffic amongst the more exotic choices). We started with some steamed pork dumplings from the Chinese dumpling stand (really tasty) and I followed that up with a large dish of Sri Lankan delicacies (see photo above). Of the food available, I picked some of the roasted lamb in dark curry (lower left pan), green curried prawns (2nd pan from top on left), and curry chicken (top left pan), along with some rice. I'd say the prawns were my favorite (the lamb was a little tough and the chicken a little chewy), but after it all mixed together in the container, it was pretty delicious - a warm, satisfying, and cheap way to spend a cool fall afternoon.
Worn out from negotiating the large crowds in the Covent Garden shopping district (including Harrod's food hall, which is amazing, but much more crowded on weekends than our malls at Xmastime - Mrs. Hackknife had to eventually prevent me from starting to knock tourists out of the way), we settled in to a small Spanish restaurant for dinner near our new hotel, located in a blessedly secluded neighborhood not far from the famous Abbey Road studios. Some of the details of this humble meal are lost to the ages (I know we had appetizers, but I can't remember what exactly), but I do recall that I had a nice veal chop and Mrs. Hackknife had a nice veal cutlet dish, and we left very satisfied in anticipation of our marquee dinner tomorrow evening at Waterside Inn.