Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

Fourth of July Special: A Salute to the Brits!

Yes, as we all hoist a glass to toast Independence Day, let’s also recognize the folks on the other side of the pond and their delicious cuisine.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking, and stop it right now!

Chef Kristen Lacount of Boston enjoying a Chip Butty at the Borough Market

Chef Kristen Lacount of Boston enjoying a Chip Butty at the Borough Market

We are not talking about notorious favorites like the Bacon Butty and Chip Butty (an overstuffed French Fry Sandwich) or things many would consider oddities, such as jellied eels.

Jellied Eels

Jellied Eels

And we are not poking fun at Spotted Dick (it’s a baked pudding with raisins, people), Bubble and Squeak (a delicious vegetable and potato dish) or Toad in the Hole (sausages in a Yorkshire pudding casing having nothing to do with amphibians).

Spotted Dick

Spotted Dick with Custard Sauce

Take Lamb Faggot, which MyMEGusta enjoyed recently at the excellent  Rex Whistler Restaurant at the Tate Gallery, London.  A braised lamb roulade on a perfectly crafted brown sauce, this was accompanied by a trio of sparklingly fresh spring vegetables: pureed peas, fava beans and pea shoots.  This truly world class dish could compete with any offering, anywhere .

Lamb Faggot

Lamb Faggot

And that’s the whole point.

British food has been revolutionized, and London is a world class dining destination. While you can find a bad meal there (particularly if one seeks out Wimpy’s Burgers and the cheapest possible pub grub), it is remarkably easy to find truly excellent  food.

Start by stopping in at a branch of Feng Sushi, brainchild of Chef Silla Bjerrum who has created an empire on the foundation of fresh, sustainable seafood.brit oyster bar wright brothers 3

Take a walk through the Borough Market and environs, sampling a sausage or two from the aromatic stands or popping into Wright Brothers Oyster Bar for perfect European shellfish. You’ll find a huge range of just about everything good to eat, including a stand with gorgeous paella and other cooked dishes, and there’s an extraordinary (and huge) cheese store across the street.

Consider Indian food, a British favorite since the Raj, and what used to be generalized as “going out for a curry”.   Make a bee line for Café Spice Namaste, where Chef Cyrus (a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and Pervin Todiwala create extraordinary renditions of Indian Classics.

They also feature Indian influenced British classics like Country Captain, vibrant Indian seasonings in the form of a classic shepherd’s pie which was invented many years ago to satisfy the yearnings of homesick British officers. This dish, which myMEGusta was fortunate to sample, was Chef Todiwala’s contribution to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee luncheon in 2012.

And, as a final salute to the Brits, don’t forget that there are lots of good things to do between meals in London, like the theater, the zoo, the London Eye, the museums. I’m ready to go back!

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3 thoughts on “Fourth of July Special: A Salute to the Brits!

  1. Bea Crumbine on said:

    Dear Mary Ellen,

    You make me giggle! I remember being so embarrassed when I first encountered Spotted Dick!

    xoxoxo Bea

  2. Deb St. John on said:

    Hey ME…
    thrilled to hear they finally have good food in London. Back in the 80’s when I was there they kept sending us to health food restaurants or Indian restaurants when we specifically asked for British food. Very discouraging. of course as a friend later pointed it out how often do you ever see British restaurants in New York City or San Francisco for Boston? Good point, I thought. So was very glad to see your article. Looking forward to our next visit there. Thanks!

    • Great insights Deb! Remind your friend to tune in to Nigella Lawson or Gordon Ramsay (also a successful restaurateur in various US locations) for a taste of “British” cuisine! The key is that food there is now more sensitive to freshness and sustainability, and influenced heavily by international cuisines, much like what happened in the US.

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