Watch the Foodies' London video It's the taster to end all tasters. Out of the oven, piping hot, and set before you, right here. Enjoy. Which is also by way of saying, London Walks' Foodies' London specialist – the wonderful Ann – the Helen Mirren* of London Walks – has created – and conducts four different Foodies' London walks. They're "occasionals", "specials". Special being the mot juste in every sense of the word.
And apropos all of the above – we've now got a dedicated Foodies' London website! It's at www.foodieslondon.com
Here's what's on the menu – the London Walks Foodies' Walks schedule for the next few months (through early November 2017).
On Saturday, August 12 it's Foodies' London The West End. It goes at 10.45 am from Green Park Tube, the Green Park exit (meet in the park, by the fountain)
On Saturday, August 26 it's Biscuits & Banquets A Foodies Forage & Foray into the City of London. It goes at 10.45 am from Mansion House Tube, exit 1
On Saturday, September 23 it's Epicurean, Gourmets', Foodies' London. It goes at 10 am from Monument Tube, the Fish Street Hill exit
On Saturday, October 14 it's Pie Crust to Upper Crust Culinary Destinations – Afoot, Fooding & Feasting in the Strand & Covent Garden. It goes at 10.45 am from Embankment Tube, Villiers Street exit
On Saturday, November 4 it's Foodies' London The West End. It goes at 10.45 am from Green Park Tube, the Green Park exit (meet in the park, by the fountain)
And if you can't catch one of the public walks, well why not think about booking a private Foodies' outing. Especially if you're fronting a group.
To sum up, they are:
1) Foodies' London The West End
2) Pie Crust to Upper Crust Culinary Destinations – Afoot, Fooding & Feasting in The Strand & Covent Garden
3) Biscuits & Banquets
4) Epicurean, Gourmets' Foodies' London
As per the schedule above.
And by way of an apéritif,* let's hear from the lass herself. Ann's served up – in the London Walks blog – a series of wonderful word dishes about her Foodies Walks. They've cameoed in the London Walks Blog. And they convey – like a wonderful aroma from the kitchen of a top restaurant – the flavour of her walks. Let alone the wit and grasp and reach of her mind! Or if you want to eat in – rather than stroll over to the blog – here's a little appetiser. And here's the banquet itself, tawny port finale'd and cucumber-infused water accompanied (of course). And here's the Christmas dinner to end all Christmas dinners. *From the Latin verb aperire, which means "to open".
Okay, you don't have to call round at the blog. I've popped on over there myself and fetched her soupcons back here. Read one or two of them – or all of them – and you'll see what I mean. And you'll be reaching for your diary to get her Foodies' Walks in same. Which is as it should be. (And, incidentally, they're also a reminder of why the London Walks blog is worth a regular look-see!)
It’s one of the most fascinating walks in the repertoire: there’s nothing quite like it in all of London. No less an authority than Noel at the London Walks office rates it very highly indeed. And he’s a hard one to please. It is, of course, Ann’s extravaganza Foodies' London: The West End London Walk. And here’s your guide with one of her fascinating insights into the high tables of the great and good…
“Wondering what to cook this weekend? Seek inspiration from the menu ordered for the Wives’ Lunch by Silvio Berlusconi at the recent G8 conference – translated with help from my Italian neighbour. They were treated to:
• Two sorts of bread, one made with grain from the high mountains, the other with flour popular in the 1950’s.
• Ice cream with sweet beans and crispy local bacon
• Salt cod marinated in olive oil, with crushed potatoes and roasted peppers
• Raviolo of pea puree with basil, tomatoes and pecorino cheese
• Veal with crunchy woodland vegetables and warm potato salad
• Chocolate fondant with fennel
(You will notice that beetroot, essential ingredient these days for grand British dinners, has not made it on to the lunch menu.)
Find out what other grand menus have been served in the past by joining my Foodies’ London: The West End London Walk.
June in London can only mean one thing: Wimbledon.
And Wimbledon can only mean one fruit: the strawberry.
And when talk turns to food on the LW Blog, that can only mean one London Walks Guide: the one and only Ann. Here she is revving-up for her next Foodie extravaganza…
“'Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did,’ said 16th-century physician William Butler. What else could this be in June but the strawberry – ‘the well known and much esteemed fruit’ as Mrs. Beeton described it. And as the much esteemed Laura Domingo – lauradomingo.co.uk – photographed it.
In past centuries Londoners got their fruit not from Kent, but from Hammersmith, Ealing and Isleworth. Women started picking as soon as it was light, then set off before 7 am at a 5 mph trot – something between a walk and a run. They could carry up to 40 lbs of strawberries on their heads – balanced on cushions in large baskets.
Join my Foodie Walk and you won’t have to carry your strawberries on your head – you can just buy a punnet at Borough Market.
The doyenne of London gastronomes is at it again. Ann’s West End Foodies walk is good-to-go [with]. Here she is:
“Would you eat a fruit that smells of sewage and vomit? The durian is so pungent that you can’t carry it on public transport or airlines in the Far East. But its butter smooth golden flesh is addictive and very, very popular. There are many tales about it – death by durian is not unknown – it grows on trees up to 100 ft tall, and can weigh up to 6lbs. So don’t take a nap under a tree laden with ripe durian. And its supposedly aphrodisiac qualities are enshrined in an Indonesian saying – when the durians come down, the sarongs go up.
At this time of year you can buy durian at some of the stores in Chinatown – it’s large, green and spiky on the outside, uncompromising. Ask for a chunk, or see if there is some ready prepared in the chiller cabinet.
And that smell of sewage? Well, just think what a good ripe Pont l’Eveque cheese smells like… and how delicious it tastes.
See if there is durian in stock, and find out more about food in the West End, on my Foodies’ walk.
Ann’s off on another foodie bunberry this weekend. And here’s her trailer:
“Londoners have always eaten eels – there were plenty of them in the Thames – so many that in the Middle Ages they had names for six different sorts. Now we may have a solution to the great eel mystery – how do they go thousands of miles from the Thames to breed in the Sargasso Sea? Researchers have tagged eels (some job: Slippery as an eel?) to trace the route they take. The name of the project? The Eeliad – clearly chosen by someone with a classical education.
Londoners prefer their eels cold, jellied, sprinkled with chilli vinegar and eaten from a paper cup. I like them smoked – and you can buy them in Borough Market after you’ve been on my Foodie Walk. Join me to hear more about the fish in the Thames – and other foodie delights. MonumentTube, Fish St. Hill exit (where else?)”
This in from Ann, the Michael Corleone of London Walks. How so? Because her every LW Blog invitation is an offer you can’t refuse. Here she is…
“This year marks the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin. And if you really want to get into the Darwin frame of mind, try some of his wife’s recipes, recently re-published. Mash a pickled walnut into the gravy of your braised beef, to give it a little extra oomph. Try the mutton ragout – 1 ½ lbs mutton, 1 lb turnips, one sprig of parsley.
Darwin surely found this dull after his student days. At Cambridge he was president of the Glutton Club, whose more unusual dishes included hawk, bittern and old brown owl. And while on the Beagle, Darwin and the officers sat down to armadillo and ‘the best meat I ever tasted’ – an anonymous chocolate coloured rodent.
No rodents on my West End Foodies Walk on...but lots more tasty stories about what Londoners used to eat. Meet me at Green Park Tube, Green Park exit”
“Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet.” Thus spake Jakie Rabinowitz, as played by the immortal Jolson, in the first line of the first talkie, The Jazz Singer. He could well have been referring to Ann’s Foodie Walk. She’s been to hear the rhubarb grow, you know. Like the man said: you ain’t heard nothin’ yet. Over to Ann…
“Rhubarb rhubarb… I’ve been to Yorkshire to see it growing in the dark. Inside candle-lit sheds there’s a pink rhubarb forest of two foot tall stalks, and a faint scent of… rhubarb. If you’re very quiet you can hear it growing – a kind of creaking noise. It was first forced here in London at Chelsea Physic Garden in 1817, when builders tipped soil over it accidentally, and found it weeks later, tender and pink.
The premium grade goes to Harrods and Harvey Nicks, the superior to supermarkets. Try a rhubarb tart – a disc of yeast dough (kind of pizza, soaks up the juice), covered with chunks of rhubarb and slivers of preserved ginger and syrup. And buy your rhubarb at Borough Market – where my food walk ends. Meet me outside Monument tube, Fish St. Hill exit, to hear more foodie titbits.