I grew up just outside London, detached by one umbilical tube line which dared venture far enough out to bravely bring us in. But my gratitude to that peculiar shuttle connection continues to this day since it gave life to one of my favourite experiences.
Picture the scene: just got off the tube, several exits around you, which one can I take? Then you make your choice and squeeze up the crowded steps to be hit with bracing daylight as you emerge. And there it is… LONDON.
In many ways, before all the restaurants, bars and treats to come, this first taste of London is the flavour this blog is dedicated to. Wandering around the city getting lost before joining the dots is a pleasure I hope never wanes.
But when on such expeditions, a burning question often starts to emerge and the hunt for sustenance begins.
On one such occasion, and using the brilliant LastMinute TopSee iPhone app, I found myself dragging fragrant girlfriend toward a distant red pin on Google Maps, watching our flashing blue blip get closer and closer (not to mention hungrier and hungrier).
What was the object of our desires? Simple: salt beef, gerkins and a fresh bagel. Beigel Bake, Brick Lane.
Now, in my mind, possibly corrupted by cheap high street floozy imitations of the real thing, this conjurs an image of thinly sliced meat, crunchy gerkins and spicy mustardy mayo.
Behold what greeted us in exchange for a mere couple of pounds – the truth will set you free.
Two slabs of meat as thick as my palm and a chunky, bagel with no interfering hole. The beef almost had a gammon-like quality to it toward the edges and came part nicely with each bite. Likewise, the mustard was thoroughly distributed with the odd patch of excess sending quick bursts of pain up through my nostrils.
So it was good, definitely good. And if you find yourself around Brick Lane but a lunchtime curry doesn’t appeal, it’s definitely a worthy alternative. But if you’re the other side of Tower Bridge, there are probably nearer options which you’ll find just as satisfying.