A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about food

You have Breakfast at Tiffany's, I'll do lunch at Harrods

The Oyster Bar at Harrods' Fish Hall

sunny 15 °C

Last Christmas, I was given a very generous gift of a gift card to Harrods. Harrods is a high end department store in West London. The store has one million square feet of retail space, making it the largest retail space in Europe. The size of the store and scope of products on offer brings thousands of tourists through the door each day. Harrods has a Latin motto - Omnia Omnibus Ubique, meaning "All Things for All People, Everywhere." Many products are priced well above the price brand for "all people," but there is the food hall to find a decent priced item.

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I spent the day walking the halls of the store trying to find items on which to spend my gift card. I must admit, mostly I just did double takes at the prices. £145 for a bottle opener? Luckily there were a few items I picked up - a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses and a calendar. Though I still do have lots on my gift card to go through.

I did find one way to burn through the card value, though. At the Caviar House Oyster Bar in the Fish Hall in the Food Halls.

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I started out with a glass of Harrods Lager and a plate of Scottish smoked salmon. The lager is a German beer brewed by Hofmark Brauerei. The beer wasn't great, a bit thick and sweet, but actually worked out okay as an offset for the oil in the salmon and salty taste of the oysters.

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Oysters were up next, a selection of rock oysters. Decent tasting, salty and sliding down easily. It made me recall my experience in the oyster bar in the basement of Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

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I got the bill - £66 for 2 beers, a salmon appetiser and 12 oysters. Decent food, and while I probably wouldn't have paid the prices of my own accord, certainly a decent way to burn through some of the money on my gift card.

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Posted by GregW 06:22 Archived in England Tagged food luxury_travel Comments (0)

Expensive Beer, but the Bar is Alight!

A trip to North America's best sports bar (according to ESPN mobile)...

sunny 4 °C

Seeing as I wrote about a bar in the USA, I figured I should write about one in Canada as well.

Real Sports Bar and Grill is a newly opened bar in downtown Toronto, owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment who also own the Maple Leaf NHL team, Toronto FC soccer club and the Toronto Raptors. The bar was recently named the best sports bar in North America by ESPN Mobile.

It sure is big, and it sure is fancy. The TVs are massive! If you wanted to see an important game on a massive screen, Real Sports does seem a good place to do it.

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I hadn't quite filled up on chicken wings at the Anchor Bar, so I ordered them again along with a pint of beer. It is nice being unemployed - if only for a couple of weeks - as it allows one to drink in the afternoon with no shame at all.

While the atmosphere of the place was great, the food and drink is quite pricey. I'd only imagine the bill one would run up if you took a table on Superbowl Sunday and watched all four hours of the game plus the six hours of pre-game show. It would be in the thousands.

So, is ESPN right? The best sports bar in North America?

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It certainly is the prettiest. The prices, though, make me think they might be better places for a pint, a snack and the big game.

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Posted by GregW 07:54 Archived in Canada Tagged food Comments (0)

Who Says Buffalos can't fly...

Wings, Baby!

sunny 6 °C

On a Friday night back in 1964, a gang of friends arrived at the Anchor Bar at 1047 Main Street in Buffalo, New York. The gang was friends of the owners, and they were hungry. Dominic Bellissimo, the owner, asked his mother Teressa to fix them something to snack on. Teressa was about to make some chicken stock, and had a plate of chicken wings she was about to toss into the pot. Instead, she threw the wings into the fryer, and then put some hot sauce on the wings to flavour them. The group agreed the wings were very good, and soon the word spread about the new snack.

Dominic and Teressa had invented the Buffalo wing.

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After leaving Belize behind, I headed up to Toronto to visit family and friends. This included a impromptu bachelor party in Niagara Falls, Ontario - site of casinos, bars and ... ummm... other things that men might do on a bachelor night.

The next day, after a good nights rest at the Sheraton On The Falls hotel, we decided to head over to Buffalo to get some of the Anchor Bar's Buffalo wings.

The Anchor Bar is now famous for its wings, and the place is often jammed. We arrived just before the restaurant opened, and there was a 30 person line up. The line moved quickly, though, and we were soon inside and ordering a bucket and a double order of wings.

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It was my first time at the Anchor Bar, and I must say it was excellent. The food over here in London is very good, but there are a few foodie things that I miss from back in North America - Harvey's Hamburgers, Swiss Chalet chicken sauce and Buffalo wings. There are chicken wings available here in London, but mostly they are Chinese golden fried style, rather than Buffalo style. There are a few American chain restaurants that make Buffalo wings, but they aren't as good as they could be.

When heading to Toronto, I knew once of the things I wanted to get was Buffalo wings. And to get them at the Anchor Bar was an extra special treat.

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Wings, Baby!

Posted by GregW 07:14 Archived in USA Tagged food Comments (0)

A Silver Rabbit and A Faux Turkey

Pop art and giving thanks far from home.

overcast 15 °C

After walk through the neighbourhoods of Islington on Saturday that lay to the north of my flat, Sunday I walked through the leafier, quieter and poshier neighbourhoods to the south of me - Holborn and Bloomsbury. Former residents include folks like John Maynard Keynes and Charles Dickens. Fictional residents include the Darling family, those whose little children followed one Peter Pan to Neverland. Today, the areas have such notable residents and institutions like Ricky Gervais, De Beers Diamonds and University College London.

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I was heading south because I was heading for Covent Garden, a place I normally avoid due to the overwhelming crush of the crowds there.

As a rule, I don’t mind crowds. I like the anonymity of walking through the crowds on a busy business district street, everyone with heads down and walking with a purpose.

Covent Garden is different, though. Covent Garden is full of tourist crowds, people walking slowly and erratically, constantly changing direction or stopping and staring upwards. It totally throws off my pace of movement, and infuriates me endlessly. Bad for the blood pressure.

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I put aside my general dislike of the tourist hoards and headed down to Covent Garden to see a giant silver rabbit. The rabbit, created by American artist Jeff Koons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 2007, has since travelled the world as a floating art piece.

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The rabbit is in London as part of the Pop Life: Art in a Material World exhibit at the Tate Modern. The exhibition has been in the news over here because officers from the Obscene Publications Unit of the Metropolitan Police removed one of the works of art prior to the opening, a picture of a picture of a naked 10-year old Brooke Shields.

After spying the rabbit, to escape the crowds I headed over to the Maple Leaf Tavern on nearby Maiden Lane. The pub is a Canadian Bar, and thus I ordered a pint of Canadian-made Sleeman India Pale Ale. I was having a quick Canadian pint before heading home to prep for the day. This past weekend (including today, Monday, which is a holiday back home) is a big deal back in Canada.

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It is autumn, and that means in addition to the leaves falling from the trees, Canadians will be falling asleep on the sofa with the Calgary Stampeders against the Montreal Alouettes on the TV.

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This weekend, back home in Canada, is Thanksgiving weekend. My British flatmate recently asked me, after I announced it was Thanksgiving this weekend, “you aren’t American, what the hell do you have to be thankful for?”

Besides for the obvious answer implied in the first half of the question itself, Thanksgiving is a harvest festival and back in Canada we are celebrating the bountiful harvest that the majority of Canadians have nothing to do with, and don’t even notice because all our food is flown in from California and Chile.

Never mind, as this is the first Thanksgiving that I haven’t gathered with my family in Toronto since my University days, I decided I would have a mini-Thanksgiving feast for myself.

The traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be a large roasted turkey with stuffing, and mashed potatoes with gravy as a side. A turkey struck me as being overkill, seeing as I was only feeding myself, so I decided to roast a chicken. They are both foul, so I figured it would be fitting.

Because I have more money than culinary skill, I bought a pre-seasoned and stuffed chicken.

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As a side, instead of mash, I just baked a potato to have along side. Of course you need a little liquid refreshment as well. I wanted to have a nice Canadian wine (yes, there are Canadian wines), but sadly they are very hard to come by over here, so I went with a Chilean sauvignon blanc instead.

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It was yummy, and the best part, just like Thanksgiving back home - Leftovers! Chicken for dinner again this evening.

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Happy Thanksgiving to those back home in Canada.

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- * - * - *

A final note that today marks the tenth anniversary of the death of my Mother from cancer. I have marked the occasion by thinking of the good times we had together, and also sending out positive thoughts to my family back home.

It is a tradition at Thanksgiving to name what you give thanks for in the past year. So today I have concentrated on giving thanks for the years that I had with my mother.

"I still miss those I loved who are no longer with me but I find I am grateful for having loved them.  The gratitude has finally conquered the loss."
Rita Mae Brown

Posted by GregW 09:50 Archived in England Tagged food Comments (2)

Timmy's, but no Timbits

Tim Horton's in England? Yes.

overcast 17 °C

Today was my last day of my contract in Birmingham, so to celebrate I brought in a box of doughnuts of the team I had been working with. Always a nice gesture, I think, to thank all those who helped you during your time on your contract.

More importantly, though, it was also a celebration of my birth country, Canada. Because I didn’t just bring in any old doughnuts.

No, I brought in Tim Horton’s.

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Now, if you aren’t a Canadian, I will forgive you for not knowing what Tim Horton’s is. If you are a Canadian, though, your primary questions will probably be, “where the heck did you get doughnuts from Tim Horton’s in Birmingham, United Kingdom? Is the coffee as good? And do they sell Timbits?”

Tim Horton was a Canadian ice hockey player who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1950s and 1960s. In addition to playing for a series of Stanley Cup winning hockey teams, he also started up a little doughnut shop in 1964 in Hamilton. The chain quickly grew, and today has more than 3000 stores in Canada and over 500 in the United States.

Tim Horton's is immensely popular in Canada, with line ups out the door in the morning for a cup of coffee and a cruller. They are also well known for their Timbits, small balls of dough deep fried and coated with sugar, like doughnuts without the hole.

Here in the UK, Tim Horton’s made a deal with the SPAR convenience store chain where they sell coffee and doughnuts in small kiosks in the store. I previously ran into one on Haymarket Street in London, but they recently opened a SPAR with a Tim Horton’s kiosk in the Paradise Forum in central Birmingham. The store sells doughnuts, but no Timbits. The coffee is from a self-serve machine, and I am told it is not as good as the fresh brewed stuff back home.

So as I presented the box of doughnuts around to the team, I was proud to say, “you know, these are Canadian doughnuts.”

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Of course, by that I mean they are doughnuts made by a Canadian company… Not doughnuts flown in daily from Canada.

I hope.

Posted by GregW 05:39 Archived in England Tagged food Comments (2)

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