I know I annoyed lots of regular readers last Friday, I made lots of you very hungry, I made some of you reach for the biscuit tin – you let me know on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I was invited by Eating London to experience an eight stop foodie tour of East London, an area steeped in history and made rich by waves of immigration. Today I can reveal the eight best places to eat in East London!
First let me introduce my tour ‘partners in crime’.
Here we are gathered outside a dilapidated house in East London that’s left this way as it is used frequently as a Victorian film set. You see the tour is about so much more than food, we even visited the spot where one of Jack the Ripper’s victims was found.
Next let me also introduce my partner in documenting this foodie heaven, the Samsung NX Mini, complete with flip selfie screen – which Currys kindly asked me to test. I normally use a Sony NEX 5T for this blog, so this feels like a step back. But for a busy day in London, and as I was staying in London for a night out, the NX Mini is perfectly pocket and handbag sized!
Right, we have people, camera, we are good to go!
The tours are small and personal and start with everyone going round the circle, introducing themselves, their country and what food they love best. 20% of tour participants are from the UK, some even East End locals wanting to find out more about where they live. All of my tour were from the US and Canada. I love meeting new people and was made very welcome.
The ice was broken, time for bacon butties, well not for vegetarian me, but the rest of the crew tucked into what has been voted the best bacon butty in the UK, served with a home made ketchup, of which the recipe is very closely guarded secret. I’m closely guarding the venues too as a) I think you must do the tour, and b) I don’t want to give away the giveaway answers! I will share the Eating London site below, so you can check them out.
I enjoyed a delicious plum, atop rich creamy yogurt and served with home made brioche. Perfection. Whatever meat eaters think, I will never be converted by a bacon buttie – not with this taste sensation. The NX Mini coped really well with close ups on the food.
I loved the interior, but I was a little too hestitant, seconds before a proper hipster complete with felt hat and tortoise rimmed glasses posed nonchalantly in front of the counter. The hipster is one of many groups to migrate to the East End and add to its flavour. I think the ever so shy chef, who has no reason to be, cooking feasts like this, makes for a great shot though.
Next stop the best Bread and Butter pudding in the world.
My Grandma always made Bread and Butter pudding, but sorry Grandma, even yours wasn’t this good. Pudding alchemy, and that’s before the hot custard flooded the bowl!
The interior here is one you must see too, check out the amazing booths – these were full of gorgeous Australian men having breakfast. But the style is quaint and very British. One of the first British restaurants to open up in the East End and start the foodie revolution here. Brits do have some food heritage to be proud of.
We ate together round four bar tables, lots of mumbled mmmmms.
Next stop cheese. This French shop is within Shoreditch market. We even tasted a Stilton, which is made very near to me in Nottinghamshire. I gave a big cheer.
Say cheese! Selfie one on the NX Mini, I love the 321countdown feature – it gives you enough time to get your cheesy face just right!
Next we stopped for the best independent fish and chips in the UK, according to this year’s Fish and Chip Awards. The Texans were impressed with British fish and chips, especially the delivery. The paper is specially printed as you are no longer allowed to wrap chips in newspaper.
The non veggies got a neat portion of fish and a few chips, just right given this is only half way round the tour.
I on the other hand got a huge vegetable pastie, chips and well we all shared the mushy peas, you have to taste them right? I am not complaining, the pastie was great but I was already filling up, so I started the doggy bag for my brother who I was meeting later.
I love everything about this place, from the cockney rhyming slang on the wallpaper border to the waitresses, who just ooze style. “Can I take a photo?’ I asked shyly of the manager, he called to a waitress and she walked straight up to the camera and struck a pose. Isn’t she gorgeous!
After our fish and chips we were ready for some light refreshment at a typical British pub.
We tasted beer and cider, both were delicious, but the cider was surprisingly refreshing. It was smooth, gently bubbly and fruity, not sickly, sweet and fizzy. Cheers! Selfie number two, they are coming out nicely!
By now we were on Brick Lane, so it was time to eat at the best curry house. Even Prince Charles has eaten here. Last time I was in the Spitalfields/Shoreditch area it was my hen do, over nine years ago, so I was pretty amazed at how much the area has changed.
‘Gentrified’, was the word I kept hearing. We walked past lots of design and interior events, pop up shops, markets and street art, this is where trends start. It’s the place to be if you visit London. It’s absolutely buzzing.
The curry was delicious. I ate vegetable, the others also sampled lamb and chicken. All were pronounced amazing, just so rich in taste.
There are so many stories behind the street art in Shoreditch, I could write a whole post on it.
Our tour guide Nicole, an amazing local who researched and put the tours together herself, was able to point out some iconic ones and tell the stories behind them. It isn’t easy to get a picture of Nicole, she has so much energy and her delivery is so energetic and animated, the NX Mini couldn’t keep pace, but I later worked out how to do a continuous burst of shots!
Around this point my brother popped up, he works in Shoreditch and so joined us for lunch. I donated the rest of my pastie and chips and my beigel from the 24 hour beigel bakery. This is the one place we had both eaten before in our time in London, it’s very special indeed. The vegetarian option would have been cream cheese, my brother had the salt beef, which he tells me is very tasty. Time Out vote this one of the 100 places you must eat in London.
He was starving. Let me at that beigel!
We finished for the most sublime French dessert, Salted Caramel. A taste volcano. Just incredible! My friend Vanessa popped up, she’d been stalking my Instagram and was working in Shoreditch that day, you can see some of her great photos of street art from her day in Shoreditch here on her blog.
Absolutely the most incredible tour, and do you know what, I didn’t feel sick or stuffed, I was just right. I had learnt so much, eaten in the eight best places in East London, seen so much and had so much fun. I was sad to leave and watch everyone disperse back to hotels.
But not for long, I jumped on the circle line and hot footed it too a makeover and the MAD blog awards. Watch out West London, I’m coming to eat you now! Selfie taken while walking, pretty cool camera! You can find out more about the tour and its eight venues here.
Find out more about this camera at Curry’s here.
Samsung NX Mini Compact System Camera with 9 mm f/3.5 Wide-Angle Prime Lens
RRP £269 at Currys (24/9/14)
I think the pictures speak for themselves here, taken under considerable time pressure and on the go!
Upsides – This is a great pocket/handbag size camera that takes reliable, crisp shots under tough conditions. It looks great and is very easy to use. The selfie flip screen is a useful and fun feature, and has different modes to help you get different types of selfie! It’s packed with features, including wifi, NFC, auto, manual, smart auto. The no zoom wasn’t a big issue on this trip, it was easy to move myself for close ups of food, shots of people.
I managed to use the NFC function, tapping my phone against the camera to transfer a shot to my phone and from there to instagram, great for sharing high quality shots on the go. If your phone doesn’t have NFC you can use wifi to do this.
Downsides – It froze a few times, at one point I had to remove the battery to get it working again. I missed having a zoom at first, although fixed lenses can be a great discipline, teaching you about framing shots, and you can, I believe, get a zoom lens separately for this camera. The Samsung app seems limited compared to the Sony one I use for my other camera, and I struggled to find where it had downloaded the photos on my phone to share them. But this could be because I use a Sony Xperia, which isn’t a phone is mass usage.
Thanks to Currys for supplying the camera and to Eating London for having me.
Join the conversation @pennyalexander_ @CurrysOnline @EatingLondon #eatinglondon