Thursday, July 11, 2013

Literally eat until you drop

If Saturday was all about shopping then Sunday was all about eating.

We took our time getting up. It was exhausting all the walking we'd done the day before and I knew we would be eating and drinking all day. For I'd made great plans for us, and these ones were ones we would definitely follow through with.

For starters, I'd bought us tickets for The Soho Food Feast. It was a charity event to help a parish elementary school in the heart of Soho. A lot of fancy restaurants got together and if you bought entrance you could buy cheap food tickets and eat samplers of their amazing food and drink. This sounds like the best way to try fancy restaurants in London if you ask me. So, it was a done deal. My boss told me about it because she and her neighbors were going to go.

We got there late, as always (this seems to be our constant MO). Admittedly we got out of the underground station and immediately got sucked into a store or two nearby. Nothing was purchased. I think we finally shopped ourselves out.

Anyway, the food fest (I thought it more of a festival though it was appropriately named, being a feast). We got there around 2:30pm. Still another 2-3 hours before shut down. We also had dinner reservations with Ozzie L and British C later that night at St. John's more casual restaurant called Bread and Wine at 7pm that night. Oh the day of feasting was about to begin.

And we hadn't had breakfast.

We originally bought 10pounds worth of tickets. 5 tickets. Each booth was one ticket.

What did we get? Ohhh, way too much.

1. Grilled sockeye salmon sandwich
The first thing we spotted was a grilled sockeye salmon sandwich with black bean mayo. It was amazing. The bread was an incredibly fresh roll that was cut on the spot (it was enormous - like a huge rectangle, not a loaf in the normal sense). The salmon was just barely cooked, which was amazing, and everything was just right. So juicy. Fantastic way to start the day.

One thing I will say as a side note - all of the food was served in these little wooden disposable bowls with wooden utensils. Very eco-friendly. I applaud the event organizers. Well thought.

2. Risotto with shaved black truffles
The next thing we got was risotto with shaved black truffles and extra virgin olive oil. Incredibly smooth, rich risotto with actual huge pieces of black truffles. There were also truffles in the actual risotto (looked like grated or very finely chopped...they were just specs but you could also taste the flavor...possible that it was truffle oil instead). In any case, it was amazing. Simple, elegant, gorgeous.

3. Roasted quail with green sauce
I have one thing to say about this for starters: I am good at taking meat off of birds. Sweden was taken aback at how cleanly I ate around the bones. It was a little shocking, even to myself. We were given half a quail each with green sauce slathered over it (some sort of veggie herb concoction in oil...tasty and fantastic). The bird itself seemed maybe smoked or something, bit on the oily side. Straight half though - with the bones and everything. Gorgeously tasty, not overcooked. We did need to sit down to eat this one though - took a little more than one hand to eat this tasty meal.

4. Octopus with paprika, sea salt, and crushed black pepper
Barrafina was representing as I knew they would be. I was super excited, having eaten there recently and being blown away. Their sampler was no disappointment. It was fresh octopus cooked in the best olive oil then sprinkled with paprika, sea salt, freshly crushed black pepper, and capers. Fantastic, fresh, smooth, and amazing. No one has ever made octopus as well as them. I don't know where they get their seafood from, but I'm just going to assume it's from heaven. Sweden was amazed - she said she'd never had octopus like this before in her life. Neither had I...except when I'd been at Barrafina previous. Boom.

5. Pisco fresco
A frothy alcoholic drink made from limes and other delectable things which I've forgotten. Our first alcoholic drink of the evening. It had egg whites in it and bitters, that's all I can remember. It had a little board saying what was in it. It was a ticket plus a pound. 3pound drink. This I could definitely do. It may have been little, but it was delicious, refreshing, frothy, and strong. Very delectable. From Ceviche in Soho. Definitely going to have to check this place out at some point in time.

And then we made the foolish mistake of taking a break and sitting and people watching for awhile. We believe that if we had continued with the food we 1. would have actually gotten some of the desserts before they sold out and 2. would have not felt so full because our stomachs wouldn't have had the time to settle.

But unfortunately we did and didn't pick up eating again for another 45 minutes or so. Inbetween that time we ordered the largest drinks I've seen in a long time. They were mojitos and florodoras. They're from Milk & Honey, a New York-based restaurant that has now come to Soho. Huge and amazing and 10pounds (no food tickets allowed). I gladly bought them anyway. They were totally worth it.

Anyway, bought another 10pounds worth of food tickets, so another 5 more. This was likely a mistake, especially knowing that we had dinner reservations, but I just couldn't stop myself. There was still so much food to try! And the festival was still going strong.

6. Spiced grilled quail
More quail for our food loving. This one was grilled and had spices both fresh and dried. Even some rose petals I believe. Very tasty and very different. Dry instead of wet and very spiced. Loved it though. This one was also quartered, so you only had to worry about the wings. No back parts and little bones. Very tasty and still perfectly cooked. Funny that quails were the theme of that side of the festival.

7. Fried pizza
We got into a line that looked popular not knowing what we were going for. I thought we were getting beef bourguignon, but I was wrong. By the time we got to the front of the line it was very clearly something deep fried and that thing was...little pizzas. Like the size of muffins. Adorable, and oh-so-fresh. There was a basil leaf, some very fine ham, and fresh mozzarella inside. All covered in a fresh tomato sauce. Fantastic. I have been shying away from fried food for awhile for whatever reason (because I've been eating only raw fruits and vegetables I guess) but in the face of this beauty, that was clearly a mistake.

8. Beef bourguignon
And because I had wanted it all along and it was oddly at the next table over (with no line), I got the beef bourguignon that I had been dreaming about. And it was incredible. Little dollop of the creamiest mashed potatoes this world has ever seen, stewed beef (this could have been done for longer, it was still a little stringy and tough, but still very tasty and savory), and the most amazing wine-soaked veggies of all time. The veggies, especially the mushrooms, were really the best part.

9 and 10...more piscos frescos
We decided to sit down and eat the pizza and beef bourguignon at the same time, since we needed at least one hand to eat with. We were slowing down by this time, filled with so much food and drink and as we were slowly eating they were doing a raffle for a bunch of prizes. I'd bought a bunch of the tickets and Sweden had bought a ticket too, so we listened with rapt attention. Unfortunately we didn't win anything but that's besides the point. Still lots of fun and we helped support a school.

Anyway by the time the raffle was done and we had actually finished all the food we'd bought...all the rest of the food was gone and packed away. So what was left for our remaining two tickets?...

...drinks. More drinks (or by this time we would likely have said: MOAR DWINKS!).

We combined our remaining tickets and added a pound to get three piscos. Entirely worth it. Still frothy and tasty.

After this we stood around the festival for a little longer, watched little kids dance and play around, then made our way to London Bridge as that was Sweden's request until we had dinner: to walk around London Bridge.

Unfortunately when we got there it became all too obvious that she really meant Tower Bridge. But I'd already navigated us there so we walked around London Bridge anyway and took nerdy pictures with Tower Bridge in the background. Make due with what you have. Still fun. We sang "London Bridge is Falling Down" while walking across. Definitely the first time I've done that.

And then we took a taxi to St. John Bread and Wine to meet Ozzie L and British C.

But I'll get to that next.

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