Tuesday, July 29

London Eats World: Poland

In my London Eats World series I'm on a mission to eat my way around the world without leaving London and this week it's Poland.

London Eats World: Poland

 Now the place that I had in mind is called The Polish Deli and they are not actually a restaurant, but a catering company that also has a stall at a couple of London food markets. At least that's what their website says. So I ventured to Covent Garden last week to the food market that is supposed to be held there every Thursday, only to find a massive Coca Cola truck blaring out pop music. No food to be seen.

London Eats World: Poland

Then on Saturday I trekked to Broadway Market in Hackney, where we found lots of delicious smelling food, but no Polish Deli.

London Eats World: Poland

Then, third time lucky, I finally found them at the Real Food Festival behind the Royal Festival Hall. Finally. I also found a massive queue in front of the stall, but that wasn't going to deter me from having authentic Polish pierogi.

London Eats World: Poland

Besides these pierogi, which are doughy dumplings filled with either meat, cheese or apple compote, The Polish Deli also sells a range of Polish sausages, cured or on the grill, croquettes, potatoes and chicken skewers on the grill and a fragrant Polish stew. Even though these all looked and smelled amazing, the balmy London weather put me off having steaming, hot food. So, like I said, I went for two pierogi, one with a tasty filling of meat and sauerkraut and one with sweet apples and cinnamon, which I enjoyed with a glass of cold and refreshing Polish beer.

You can find more information on The Polish Deli on their website.

Saturday, July 26

Hackney City Farm

If you feel that city life is sometimes running you down, then you'll be delighted to hear that at Hackney City Farm you can let your inner Old McDonald run free. Heeya-heeya-ho.

Hackney City Farm

Hackney City Farm is located in the lovely borough of Hackney in north London. Its aim was to give city dwellers the opportunity to get hands on farming experience. They offer craft courses, volunteering positions and run educational projects during which you can learn useful skills such as bee keeping and straw bale building.

Hackney City Farm

 When we walked through the gate,  rural smells (read eau de manure) welcomed us onto the courtyard. As did a friendly farm cat. The farm yard is surrounded by animal sheds housing your typical farm animals such chickens, sheep and two massive pig called Pepper and Pearl to the more domestic animals like guinea pigs, rabbits and one animal we couldn't quite recognise.

Hackney City Farm


Hackney City Farm

Off to the left of the court yard, there are signs pointing to a field, but when we peeped around the corner into the paddocks, no one seemed to be out grazing the luscious grass. Probably the temperatures were a bit too balmy for the farm animals.

Hackney City Farm

On the opposite end of the farmyard was a herb and vegetable garden with pear and fig trees, tomato and rhubarb plants and lots of other veg, fruit and herbs shrubs.

Hackney City Farm


Hackney City Farm

The farm house itself has been turned into a cosy cafe called Frizzante where you can have a morning coffee with homemade cakes or a more elaborate lunch with a variety of healthy sandwiches, pastas and salads. There is also a leafy, outdoor patio where in the summer months a BBQ is fired up on Friday nights offering succulent grilled sausages and burgers. Which are, I assure you, not provided by any of the farm animals.

Hackney City Farm


Thursday, July 24

Three Peak Challenge

I have to start this post by saying that this is not about THE Three Peak Challenge, but it's about MY Three Peak Challenge. I didn't climb Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon within 24 hours, I didn't run up and down the three tallest mountains in the UK either, nor did I dress up in fancy dress. Why would you want to do that anyways? My Three Peaks Challenge was to conquer each one at my own pace and on three different days. Boring? Not so much.

Three Peak Challenge
Photo by Dave under Creative Commons Licence

The first one on the list was Snowdon. This was my first mountain climb ever and I was lucky to have an experienced mountaineer as my guide. We walked up Watkins paths which starts out quite even as you pass some abandoned copper mines. The ascent became a bit more steep as we went along, but the hard part was close to the summit where we had to find our own path as we scrambled to the top. As we started this final ascent, thick fog came rolling in and within seconds I could barely see as far as the tip of my nose. Kudoos to me expert mountain guide, who led us to the top, but nonetheless I was bricking it slightly. What made it even more surreal was that when we finally reached the top (me with my heart pounding so hard it felt like it was coming out of my mouth) there were people walking around in flipflops on the terrace of the restaurant at the top. They'd taken the train. Go figure.

Three Peak Challenge
Photo by Richard Leonard under Creative Commons Licence
The second mountain I went up was Ben Nevis. We decided to do this in late May and were so not prepared to find the top covered in snow. We had no problem walking up halfway to the summit accompanied by numerous fellow hikers, when patches of snow started to appear and then they just became one big massive patch of snow. All of a sudden, it seemed like all the other hikers had dropped off the mountain. Fog drew in, the wind picked up and rain started to drizzle. We were just debating whether to risk our lives and continue or be wimps and go back down, when suddenly a group of hikers appeared out of the fog and yelled: Ten more minutes guys! We could not not continue, so we did. We got to the top that looked more like the North Pole than Scotland and practically skied back down. We were so relieved to reach the visitors' centre that we broke open a cheap bottle of champers to toast to our safe return.

Three Peak Challenge
The start of Ben Nevis hike


Three Peak Challenge
Summit of Ben Nevis

The walk up the last of them, Scafell Pike was blessed with some fine weather. Finally. At least I could enjoy some fine views from the top this time. We were treated to an action packed training session of the mountain rescue heli team who dropped off two of their people only to hoist them back up to the chopper again. It made for an exciting lunch at the top.

Three Peak Challenge
Walking up Scafell Pike

Three Peak Challenge
Scafell Pike Summit

Tuesday, July 22

London Eats World: Ukraine

London Eats World: Ukraine

In my London Eats World series I'm on a mission to eat my way around the world without leaving London and this week it's Ukraine. Not the most common cuisine here in London, so I dragged a few of my friends all the way to Canning Town to a restaurant called Albina that serves Ukrainian, Russian and Lithuanian dishes.Canning Town is not exactly a leafy, suburban London neighborhood, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

London Eats World: Ukraine

When we walked into Albina, we were greeted by our friendly host who advised us to sit anywhere we wanted as the place was literally empty. It being a Tuesday night, I think he was glad that someone actually showed up. The entire restaurant had a very folkloric feel to it; ethnic place mats on the table, flowery plates and lots of er... interesting Ukrainian art work hanging on the walls. In the back was a large flat-screen TV playing music videos on what looked like Russia's answer to MTV. I've never been to Ukraine before, but this is what I imagine all restaurants would look like.

London Eats World: Ukraine

While trying to figure out what to pick from the menu, I had a Georgian glass of red wine, which tasted exotic, but came with an exotic price tag as well. 

London Eats World: Ukraine

Our host came to our rescue after he noticed we couldn't quite make up our minds. He made some recommendations and I went for a Ukrainian cheese and tomato salad as a starter and two meat pancakes with sour cream. It seems Ukrainians are not all that familiar with eating light as I only managed to finish 2/3s of the salad and only half of one pancake. My friends, who opted for the borscht soup and cabbage dumplings, only managed to eat the soup and struggled to finish four of a mountain of dumplings.

London Eats World: Ukraine



London Eats World: Ukraine

Having no more room for desserts, we rolled ourselves back to Canning Town Station with doggie bags in our purses. I didn't actually eat the other pancake, as one very heavy Ukrainian meal in one week, is more than enough.