Monday, 31 March 2014

Eating London - a food tour of the East End.

Bacon Sarnie!
Now it's no secret that I love eating! As I get older my tastes have changed somewhat and my sweet tooth is getting less tolerant of really sickly stuff and I've begun to appreciate more complex flavours but despite my long list of things I don't like to consume, eating is still my favourite pastime.

Imagine my delight then when I was invited to join a food tour of the East End of London organised by Eating London Tours who offer ten mouth watering tastings ( substantial enough to make a full meal!) and a guided walking tour of some of the most interesting spots in E1.

I went with three of my fellow #mummymix presenters from Radio Dacorum - every day from 10-12 you can hear one or more of us chatting about our life and experiences as mums on internet-based Radio Dacorum. The 5th presenter Vicky was unable to join us and oh boy did she miss out on a treat! (sorry Vicky!)

Miss ML (who blogs at My Model Mummy), Lia, Charlotte  and myself planned a train journey which would land us at Liverpoool Street in time for the 10am meet-up - this meant an early start coming in from Herts and no time for breakfast.  We were starving! Luckily we got quite swiftly to our first port of call St John Bread and Wine where a bacon sandwich was first on our tasting menu. And not just any bacon sandwich - homemade bread, homemade ketchup and Gloucester Old Spot bacon.....Yum!
Bread and Butter pud
Happy Lia!
Moving swiftly on with lots of entertaining facts, figures, history and chat on the way from tour guide Emily we got to The English Restaurant, in a lovely historic building where we ate the best bread and butter pudding I've ever had infused with orange and topped with a light fluffy rum custard.

Now I consider this desert to be my signature dish but this one beat mine into a cocked hat! Now to work out a copycat recipe.....



Cheese choices
It was all about the cheese at our next port of call. Now I am positively phobic about cheese but was pleasantly surprised to find that the famous cheese shop and restaurant Androuet did not in fact smell like a pile of football socks.

 I didn't try any cheese myself but was so impressed by the reactions of the cheese-lovers amongst the 11-strong "tourists" that I went back and bought a couple of packets of cheese for my husband. It seemed only fair after I had left him all day with the children while I went gadding around in the Capital!

The staff  were really knowledgeable and helpful - it's right inside Spitalfields Market so go say hello if you like cheese. They will definitely help you build a good cheeseboard for a dinner party!





Fish N Chips!
 I was looking forward to fish and chips at Britain's top chip shop Poppies - and it didn't disappoint! Light and crispy batter, tasty cod and gorgeous chips with bright green but brilliant mushy peas! Done out with original 50's touches - the owner Pops has even had his own food-safe newspaper printed to wrap the chips in for that authentic experience.

All Hail the Ale
One of the unexpected bonuses of the tour was making new friends.Our group was lovely and chatty - all English apart from a lovely Norwegian man and his beautiful Latvian wife. Every time we got to a new food venue we found ourselves sitting next to different people so we all got to know each other. There were sisters  - one had bought the other the tour as a birthday treat , there was another blogger Lucy from The Pie Patch and her friend and of course the Radio Dacorum bunch!

After chips we headed through the streets of E1 while Emily our guide showed us some of the cool street art and made our way to Brick Lane and The Pride of Spitalfields pub. The foreign tourists especially loved their trip to the "local" and tried real ale and cider with more enthusiasm than me! Not a fan I'm afraid - more of an alco-pops kinda girl!

Then as is the tradition in the UK after the pub we headed for an Indian restaurant where I was pleasantly surprised to find I really enjoyed all three of the curry's we were offered - I normally play it very safe with dry tikka dishes.

The taster dishes at Aladin were flavoursome and spicy but not red-hot "burn your face off" spicy  and the naan bread was to die for! We even got given some chocolates to finish off our mini-meal!

There are over 50 Indian restaurants in Brick Lane so it was nice to be able to be taken to a "tried and tested" one - apparently even Prince Charles has eaten there!


 By now there was some tummy-holding and groaning as we realised that although it is billed as a tasting tour you actually end up eating a lot of food over the 3.5 hours. We were glad to have the short walks in between to help the food go down ready for the next session!

The penultimate stop was to one of the East End's most famous bagel (or beigel) bakeries. Open 24 hours a day and immensely popular due to cheap prices and tasty bevels and fillings we were offered a salt-beef bagel with pickle and mustard.

I have always wanted to try this classic dish and have to say was disappointed that I personally didn't really like it. But the finger licking and MMMs of delight from most of the group told me I was in a minority - and it is well recorded that I am a fussy cow!


The finale of the tour was a salted caramel tart at Pizza East. Bone-achingly trendy and deservedly so with an amazing interior (no photos allowed I'm afraid) I was not expecting a pizza joint to excel at a pud BUT I was blown away by this desert! Yes that is actually salt on the top of it and unlike some more timid salted caramel dishes this one hit every taste bud with buttery, creamy, salty tanginess. I loved it so much I persuaded a struggling Miss ML to give me most of hers after she had tried it.

Salt, caramel, cream-heaven!

So do I recommend it? Yes, absolutely even though I didn't like a couple of the dishes I still ate more than enough! I was kept informed and entertained by Emily whose historic commentary was never dry and plan to go back to the area around Spitalfields market as soon as possible to sample some full-sized portions from some of my favourites from the day!

Disclaimer: I was offered a free Eating London Tours experience (normally £59 per person) in return for this review. Opinions as always remain honest and my own.





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15 comments:

  1. What a wonderful day, I am in love with that cheese counter!

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    1. It all looked so beautiful - I took hundreds of photos!

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  2. Awesome post. I was on the same tour 2 weeks ago. Love the food and the historical facts thrown in.
    www.itsallbee.com

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    1. It was fab wasn't it? I'd love to do the one on Rome that's run by the same company.

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  3. Ooh, what a yummy day. The fish and chips look amazing! #whatsthestory

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    1. They were so nice - I am definitely going back to poppies!

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  4. This post made me hungry! Everything is so yummy looking! #whatsthestory

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  5. Oh my goodness this sounds absolutely amazing! Almost dribbling at the sight of the cheese! What a great day, seems like such a laugh too. Thank you for sharing #whatsthestory

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    1. Was a fab day - would be great for a birthday or a hen treat. Lots of great shops in that area too!

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  6. I can't believe I've never heard of a food tour before! That sounds immense!

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    1. I'd never heard of one either - I normally hate touristy stuff but this was interesting and fun without being too touristy.

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  7. We also have a food tour here in Dubai, though I haven't been to one yet.
    I do think that to be able to appreciate on country, a tourist should explore food scene.

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    1. Ooh you should go and try it. I thought the London one would be mainly for tourists but I loved it!

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  8. Fab post and what an amazing experience. As soon as I started reading this, I thought, ooohhh what's going to happen if cheese is involved so I'm glad you found that part an interesting experience and hope hubby enjoyed the cheese. Great post #magicmoments

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  9. These kind of courses are very important to the society that we live in if these kind of
    courses were start before the situation was much batter

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