I joined an East London food walking tour organized by Free Tours by Foot. Unlike the usual food tours that charge a fixed fee, these guys have a 'pay-as-you-wish' business model: As their company name implies, the walk itself is free.
As they lead you to the various stops of the food tour, you just purchase whatever food and drink you like. Then at the end of the tour, if you liked it, you give the guide a tip. Otherwise, otherwise.
So on a hot morning, our group met up at the Liverpool Street underground station, one of London's most bustling, as it also connects trains to out-of-the-city destinations. Our guide was Jessica, a transplanted American who was taking her PhD, and rocking the biker look quite well with her arm tattoos; she proved to be quite voluble and full of interesting anecdotes.
The East end of London has been where waves of immigrants have settled over the centuries, from the Irish to the Jews and now, the Bangladeshis; and thus, the food scene was quite varied.
First stop: Arzu Sweet Centre. This is a bit of a misnomer, as they have both sweet and savoury goodies in the store.
I tried the Lamb Samosa, which is best eaten when still piping hot. Great texture of the crust, and the filling was spicy. Very good!
Next up was Poppie's Fish & Chips, which has been around for more than 50 years. Jessica exclaimed effusively that this was not the best fish & chips in London, but the best fish & chips in the entire United Kingdom!! Strong words, i must say.
She said this was because Poppie's used only peanut oil in frying their fish & chips. Apparently, peanut oil has a high smoke point, making it ideal for deep frying; and does not absorb the flavor of the foods cooked in the oil.
Here below is the price list of Poppie's:
So, without further ado, we ordered the 'kids' (yes, i kid you not ;-D) portion of their famous fish & chips. Here's how it looks:
On the way to the bagel shops, we had passed by this chocolate store Dark Sugars. I was pretty ecstatic that we retraced our steps and entered it.
Look, FREE samples! Yeyyyyy! [fist pump]
This is what all that dark, intense cocoa does to your brain. Hehe!
Dark Sugars sources all its cocoa beans from the West African country of Ghana. As their website intones, "At Dark Sugars, we want to bring you quality chocolate without pretension and with all the passion of our rich and vibrant culture. Come on by and make yourself happy."
I entered the store, and savoured the rich aroma of all their chocolates on display. So many different truffles and pearls! It was so hard to decide which variants to buy! Fortunately, Dark Sugars sells their chocolate by weight (minimum 100 grams), so one can pick and choose at will.
I don't know about you, but i was a happy (make that ecstatic) camper when i left their store! :-D
Last stop of the food tour was DumDums Doughnut store. As you can see from their window display, they ask the rhetorical question, "best doughnut in the world?"
Of course, yours truly willingly went in to try out their goods, all in pure, wholehearted service to you, dear readers! ;-D
Look at these beauties! Their doughnuts are 'never fried, always baked', thanks to their proprietary, patented baking process.
I eventually choose this chocolate glaze-topped doughnut, with cream filling. Flat out one of the best i've ever tasted - the cream was light and not cloyingly sweet; the bread was fresh; and the chocolate tasted just right.
If i could have brought home a box of 12, i would!
Some photos of interesting food outlets i saw while our group was walking (below). So much places to check out, so little time.
The Smokey Locomotive. Choo choo!
Meat Porn. Just the name alone, panalo na!
Pizza Purist. Look at that pile of wood!
Gandhi's. Hmmm, now i wonder what Mahatma and Indira and Rajiv have to say about this!
[Groan] *SMH* No, just no.