For our first meal after leaving Chicago, we were offered “Chicken and mashed potatoes” and “manicotti with cheese.” We chose one of each. It was a lose-lose. It seems that altitude and deliciousness are inversely proportional. I’ve heard that there was so much advancement in airline food and that it’s almost like eating at a restaurant. Note to self: do NOT start a restaurant that advertises that it’s “almost like eating on an airplane.” Enough time dedicated to airplane food. For now, I’ll hope it gets better and keep bringing my homemade treats in lieu.
Our first day in London was a little challenging. In true “winging it” style we (read as “I”) chose not to book a room for our first day in London, since we’d have plenty of time and inflight wifi to sort it all out…no such luck. Apparently the food and the internet connectivity fall to the bottom of the list in the “economy” section. Once we made it through the many tunnels of LHR airport, we made it to the UK Border Agency where we waited in line for only a couple of minutes before being sent to booth #23, where we greeted by a stern-faced Heston Blumenthal look-alike…he looked me straight in the face, circled the blank address space on our landing form and said, “you can go finish filling this out now.” I started down the pathway of the story about no wifi on the plane and that our lodging was not yet confirmed. It turns out he has no interest in hearing about the many benefits of airbnb.com. He then proceeded to grill us as to why we were traveling in the UK and ridiculed us for not having extensive documentation of such…he was a real bear UNTIL I mentioned that I was a chef and that my wife and I are trekking through UK, Ireland and Western Europe to study the culture and food…86 the frown…he wanted to know where I was from and began chatting about restaurants, food, and travel…Looks like he’s headed to Chapter One next week when he’s in Dublin…see…food can soothe even the most savage of border agents.
We made it through our first night in London by enjoying some quiet time at a local pub on Tabard Street called The Royal Oak. All hand pump cask ales from brewers like Harvey and Son (brewing since 1790). Amy had a delicious English hard cider. Pickled eggs joined the party as soon as I spotted a jar on the bar with 60p written on it… a very hard cooked egg with a wonderfully intense hit of malt vinegar brininess.
To pair something more substantial with our drinks we shared a steak and ale pie with chips and veggies. Basic and hearty was the name of the game here…rich braised beef in thin ale gravy with chips and veggies. The simple and straightforward food for a couple of hungry travelers was much appreciated, but short of its potential for sure.
Words of wisdom:
“Remember: fries are chips and chips are crisps” – Jake Bradshaw.