Flabby and fabulous. That is how I feel at this moment.
Judging by my previous posts: I love food. And I am lucky enough to have a husband and friends that loves good food. My friend, M, has found this rather remarkable little gem just a stone’s throw from Elephant and Castle tube station. But, instead of going there directly, we decided to have a gastronomic day travelling through London and trying out random little cafe’s and bakeries.
We started with a coffee at Sacred in Westfields, White City. The hubby is on a mission to try the best Pasteis de Nata this city has to offer. The coffee was smooth and the service was a tad slow, but we didn’t care. We wanted to savour every moment of our day. The first Nata of the day is tried and tested. Hmmm… Not too flakey, but decent.
Onwards and upwards! Our journey towards the tube station got halted for a brief second as we nipped into a sweet shop next to Shepherd’s Bush Underground Station. The boys were like… wait for it… kids in a candy store! As we left, D triumphantly held out a bag towards his wife, M. She opened it to find: cookie flavoured cookies… What was even more hilarious was that he tried to secretly eat them throughout the day without us noticing!
Next stop: Department of Coffee and Social affairs in Carnaby Street. Here I had a Mocha. The chocolaty velvet first coated my throat with warmth before dripping slowly into my satisfied stomach; chasing the cold from my bones one sip at a time. It was here where the hubby had his second Nata of the day. This time, although nice, the custard just didn’t taste authentic enough. I needed a savoury kick by now and the toasted ham and Emmental croissant filled a hole that only can be achieved by processed meat and molten cheese.
Our noses got the upper hand as we left the coffee shop and lead us straight past Bread Ahead on Beak street. The bakery was brimming with doughnuts and cinnamon rolls and all things calorific… The doughnuts took the cake! We ordered a take away pack of four doughnuts for a tenner and I could feel how my jeans were getting tighter and the wrinkles around my eyes are smoothed out as the fat deposits under my skin. That was just by looking at them – imagine how I would feel once I have tasted the salted caramel cream dripping down my face. Flabby and fabulous!
Our journey took us past The Whole Foods Market. I could spend hours here. Now I am lying. I could live here! Despite the fact that most of the products is classed as healthy, it has it’s fair share of unhealthy too! There was doughnuts here, too. This time from Crosstown. I know we haven’t eaten the Bread Ahead doughnuts yet, but I felt that I would be cheating if I got a Crosstown one too! That is pushing the piggy part a bit… So we only got tortilla chips. Although my heart (and stomach) was screaming for that cheesiest hot mac and cheese. And fresh minestrone soup. And don’t get me started on that loaf of Sourdough! I just wanted it all. Why not?!
We needed to walk it off. We’ve had quite a bit already. Small little snacks, but gastronomically great. We’ve had samples of açai berries, organic niknaks’ type chips, we even had some cheese samples! Oh, and don’t forget! We went to Kingdom of Sweets at Piccadilly on a whim and they gave us some free gummy bears! How can you not go in with that sickly sweet vapours gently drawing you into the store. It sends you into a frenzy of ‘oohh, do you remember this?!’ and, ‘I can’t believe they have this!’ to ‘Screw it, I’m buying all of this!’ Therefore, naturally, we’ve left with half the store…
As I said: we needed to walk it off… We went for a meander through the streets of London and suddenly we walked past the I love Nata bakery. What a coincidence, I thought! But no, not really. M knew exactly where she was leading us towards. I have never come across Pasteis de Nata quite like they have here. Sure, they have the original sweet custard tart with the oh so creamy filling and the golden, crunchy, buttery crust served lukewarm with powdered sugar and ground cinnamon. But they also have a chocolate one. And an apple and cinnamon one. And a chicken and mushroom one. And the classic chicken and leek flavour. But if that was not weird enough they also had cod and hake flavoured custard tarts! I just had to push the boat out and dove straight in: with a chocolate Pasteis de Nata. Surely you did not think I was going to go weird, did you?!
The hubby didn’t rate this one either – looks like we’re off to Belèm, Portugal!
It is pushing 3pm and we still haven’t reached the Italian Market, our original place of interest. It became time to move towards our ultimate feasting heaven.
By 4pm we reached the gate. Angel choirs are singing in my head. I am seeing the light. I am certain that this is what food heaven is all about. Shelves full of dried pasta, rice, wine, cheese and cured meat greets us as we part the blinds in the doorway. I see a sign for a tasting cheese and meat platter: £5/100g. Bargain. My eyes feel deceived. They can’t believe that this little Italian gem exists in the heart of Elephant and Castle. Mercato Metropolitano. After walking around for about an hour inside this Italian shop, taking in everything there is to take in, we reluctantly move towards the exit. My heart is sinking, surely this cannot be it?
It wasn’t. The angel choirs are singing loudly than ever before as around the corner an entire Street Feast-like market opens like a shy little oyster, revealing the gem hidden inside. I must’ve looked like an idiot as I just could not stop smiling. All my favourite foods are here. Under one roof. And it is not over-crowded. We walk from stall to stall taking in delicious breath after delicious breath. We found a vacant table and immediately knew that this was going to be our base for the night. I was the lucky one that got to go first. I floated towards Gausacaca Arepas. In my element, I ordered the Beef Arepa. This pocket of gluten-free corn crunch was exquisite. I couldn’t get enough of it. The crunch of the corn-pocket followed by the soft full-flavoured beef that strings into your waiting mouth strand by strand. The guacamole gives it that luxurious buttery coat whilst the the pickles adds a playfulness to this Venezuelan Street food dish. I just had to wash it down with the Champagne of the Week from Champagne and Fromage.
My next mission was Käsespätzel from German Kraft, but, to my greatest disappointment, they ran out of Spätzel! My whole world collapsed (it won’t be the first time this week, I’ll let you know!) when I heard that I will not taste the cheesy German noodles with lashings of speck sliding down my throat and washed down with some more Champagne of the Week. I felt lost. I wandered up and down the stalls, no idea where my next meal would come from. D found me in this dazed state of confusion and lead me from stall to stall to find me a suitable replacement. So I did. In the from of Pho. This Quintessentially Vietnamese delicacy has noodles. Fragrant herbs and, equally important for a South African; meat. The deal was sealed. I carefully took my bowl over to our base. Armed with chopsticks, a napkin and a spoon I started this tastefully explosive noodle soup experience. Every bite was crammed with flavour. Familiar flavours, unfamiliar flavours, but none that I didn’t like. The broth was strong. It was beefy. It was wholesome. The noodles could easily have been from a food designer as they were perfectly cooked. Every herb and every spice was in perfect harmony.
It was time. Cannoli’s and gelato. It had to be done. The chocolate gelato was smooth and velvety and rich. It was the chocolate of all chocolates. The king of all things chocolate. It wasn’t cold, yet not melted either. It was like licking out the bowl when your mum has made mississippi mud cake. With real Belgian chocolate. Not that cheap cooking chocolate that just taste of fat. It was epic. The cannoli had a crunchy exterior with an ever so subtle hint of chocolate. The rich, creamy ricotta sweetness was sprinkled with pistachios – perhaps just for good luck, as it was just great on its own.
Alas, it was time for us to return home. We wanted to have one last drink so we went back to the place that started the day: Westfields. We went to the food court and we each got a soft drink, but no, it wasn’t enough. I enjoyed the Pho at Mercato Metropolitano way too much, so I ordered another one for good measure. This time from Pho itself. Angels sang again. It made me quite emotional. And sweaty. It was a bit spicy…
As I sit here reminiscing over our extravagant feast yesterday, it reminds me: That doughnut is still waiting in the kitchen…