When do you actually stop saying Happy New Year? I’ve always wondered where the line is between being rude not saying it or just plain weird to still be greeting people with such an excitable yelp. Is there an unwritten rule I haven’t heard of where Jan 31st is the stop date? To confuse it all even more, this will be my first year living in a country where Chinese New Year is celebrated, I’m then going to go through it all again, so is it the 28th Feb? Who knows! I just thought I’d go for it and wish you all well for the new year anyway. I’ve been away for a while, first on holiday, then busy getting my tax return completed for her majesty and finally heading back to blighty for some much needed family time over the Xmas period. But I’m back, settled in after having done god knows how many wash loads (would you believe it takes almost 3 days to dry a pair of jeans in this humidity?!) and back in the kitchen. Before I post my first recipe of the year, I wanted to share with you some of my epicurean adventures back in the UK. I never understand why Britain has got a bad rep for food. I was asked by an Australian expat here in Singapore why you can’t buy fresh vegetables in the UK, she’d seen a Jamie Oliver programme which showed a child who didn’t recognise a potato and assumed, as many other viewers probably did, that they are not available in the supermarkets on our small island. Come on Jamie you’re not helping here! You rarely see british themed restaurants yet French, Italian, German, Beligian, American Diners and Indian restaurants are seen everywhere. I was tempted by so many culinary delights when at home, from fish and chips to roast dinners. I was utterly delighted when I met a friend for a pub lunch and found Gloucestershire Old Spot Sausages on the Menu. Gloucestershire old spot is an English breed of pig, just don’t look at a picture of their cute piglets before you tuck in! Being from Gloucestershire I used to have these yummy sausages when I was growing up so I had to order the sausage sandwich and it did not fail to impress! Next stop was Borough Market, the next friend I was meeting is a big fan of Bratwurst sausages and I was keen to prove to him that you can buy these in the UK! We stopped off at German Deli on Park Street (yes, it is quite simply called German Deli) before wandering the stalls. I did stop off for some Swiss cheeses on the way but had to pick up some Melton Mowbray Pork Pies and a Cornish Pasty for my fiancé who was staying in Singapore for an extra few days due to work commitments. I couldn’t leave Borough without getting a coffee from Monmouth to walk along the Southbank with, not to be confused with the small town in South Wales, The Monmouth Coffee Company actually opened shop in Covent Garden back in 1978. They make a killer flat white worth joining the long queue for. The staff make their way down the queue taking orders so expect you coffee to be ready by the time you get to pay.
Unbeknown to us, a few days later we ended up in a pub owned by Chris Evans, TV Presenter and Radio DJ. The Mulberry Inn, just outside of Woking was a real treat – I ordered a superfood salad that was delicious and dove straight in so no pics here I’m afraid. The next day, we were meeting our friends from Geneva and lucky us, my friend had managed to secure us a table at The Hinds Head, Heston Blumenthal’s pub in Bray. I was very excited to try Heston’s Scotch Egg, followed by a delicious roast beef dinner and for pudding, lack of photo here as it looked so yummy I completely lost myself, a treacle sponge with lemon butterscotch sauce and cream. YUM!
The next day we were to visit Smithfield with my Dad, Smithfield Meat Market is in London proper and the biggest wholesale meat market in the UK. It’s an early start as the market is closing by around 9 so to get the best of what is on offer, we jumped in the car at 4am! Christmas day was spent with the in laws to be, a traditional Christmas Dinner being the key part of the day, we then headed to my parents early boxing day morning. I was really looking forward to the rib of beef Dad had bought at Smithfield! He was using one of Heston’s recipes for a 5 hour slow cook and it was definitely worth the wait!!
The couple of days we had left before out flight home, we wanted to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors. We ventured on some lovely walks near to where my parents live before heading to Heathrow for the long journey back to Singapore.