I mean, my body is in Texas now, but my vivid dreams and memories are still in Scotland… I go through my pictures and notes trying to categorize them, sort by subject. It’s impossible — everything is intertwined. I am going to pick one thread at a time. No order, no specific structure, random choices.
Culinary adventures are always an important part of my travels. I had a plan how to make my taste buds happy. Since I’ve been less and less interested in fancy restaurants and culinary celebrities, I wanted to concentrate on artisanal/craft foods and drinks found effortlessly. I’d still make my choices, but only out of what was on my way. My special interests during this trip were Scottish craft beer, single malts, smoked fish, haggis, and blood pudding.
For the first four days of our trip we stayed at Shangri-La in London. Besides beautiful window views and walking distances to many attractions, its location is perfect for breakfasts at Borough Market. Some articles and ads for guided tours might trick your imagination to picture this market huge and difficult to navigate.
In reality, it is relatively small and well organized. In the morning, with no crowds, you’d need about an hour for the first visit — walk around, sample some food, choose what you want to eat, and have breakfast. Everything is fresh, and you get all the attention you want as the first customer. The same market becomes very different in the evening; the comparison is not in favor of the latter. No matter what time of the day, Borough Market is one of the best places in London to represent artisanal foods and drinks from different regions of the U.K.
I walked inside the pavilion and stopped in front of the… bread — completely out of my agenda, but so beautiful and appetizing! Bread Ahead enthusiasts bake it fresh every morning. They also share their knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for artisan baking in the Bakery School right there on the market. Basically, because of this bread I rediscovered grilled sandwiches. Gastronomica was one of the protagonists of Borough market’s revival over a decade ago. They offer mouthwatering food to the local community as well as the gastro-tourists in search for original and specialty foodstuffs. They offer stunning panini and piadina (hot grilled sandwiched) with the best ingredients. My favorite was a combination of ciabatta, ham, fresh mozzarella, and arugula. While high quality stuffing was important, for me the bread alone made the difference. Easy to bite and chew, with perfect crispy and light crust, ciabatta was not the same as oily loafs I could find in most Austin bakeries.
Ciabatta is one of the easiest breads to make at home. There was a time when I tried different ciabatta recipes and techniques and baked it quite regularly. Yet, it never occurred to me to use this bread for hot sandwiches. It’s funny that this amazing Italian bread came back to me from London…