Monday, March 25, 2013

London Livin' (The Bite-by-Bite of my trip)

I'm back! Tiny Tummy took London by storm (okay, maybe all of the storms took Tiny Tummy... but that's besides the point.) London may be a rainy city, but nobody rains on my healthy-eating parade, not even Kate Middleton and her baby bump. I have to admit, though, while London may be known for its fish and chips, cider, and Guinness, all not exactly the healthiest of options, it is clear that they are, overall, a much healthier country than we are. Perhaps it is the fact that there is more attention spent on the time spent eating (they certainly do not rush between courses, and nobody eats in the streets), or maybe it's something in the tea... only kidding. Anyway I'm sure you're all curious to hear what I ate in London, and while I'll be honest, my eating habits were fairly strange and a little un-Tiny-Tummy-like, I'll share all, as I always do.

Breakfast every morning was provided to us complimentary by the hotel. As with most hotels in America, it was served as an all you can eat breakfast buffet. The buffet consisted of scrambled eggs, beans, English sausages (no idea what was in those bad boys), bacon, toast, yogurt, cottage cheese with fruit in a syrup base, croissants, rolls, cereal, hard boiled eggs, and a bowl of apples and oranges. Often, we had to be at early morning meetings, so I'm generally not that hungry at that time in the morning, but I also knew that with our busy schedules, lunch wouldn't come until hours later, so I ate a filling breakfast to prepare. Each morning I had 3 or 4 hard boiled egg whites with an orange or an apple. I often grabbed an extra apple for a snack later in the day, and had it when I got hungry. Lunch was a tossup and completely depended on what we had planned each day. 

The first few days we had lunch/”linner” at Garfunkel's, a London chain similar to Charlie Browns in the US. They have burgers, pasta, pizza, etc. and a salad bar that you can either get as an appetizer to one of the aforementioned meals, or as an entree. I got the salad bar as an entree. They bring you a small bowl, and for 4 pounds you can fill in once, and for 8.50, you can fill it an unlimited number of times. Because we only had limited time the first day we went, I only got one bowl, and to be honest, it was sort of a blessing. I definitely would have thought to do the unlimited, but to be honest, the single bowl was easily enough. I filled it with lettuce, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs (ate the whites, tossed the yolks), ham (if they had turkey I would have opted for it, but they didn't), corn, beans, cucumbers, etc. While this salad bar was not anywhere near as extensive as Charlie Brown's, it was a cheap, healthy lunch that I knew I could count on, and was about 3 minutes from our hotel. Dinner was where things generally got ugly. The first night, we had a group dinner, so I was able to get a nice meal that night, but the rest of the nights, up until the final night we were there, we went to see shows each night, so people either got dinner before (hence “linner”), or skipped it altogether. I can't eat at 5:00 and be satiated the rest of the night, especially since we often hit the pubs/clubs after the shows each night, so dinner was often a Quest Bar at the intermission of each show (2 some nights if linner was earlier). Not the most nutritious, wholesome dinner, per say, but better than fish and chips or bar food, so I was glad I brought a ton of Quest Bars with me. 

The best dinner we had was actually the first group dinner. The first night, we got a three course meal (nothing was healthy on the menu they offered us-- every entree was a pot-pie), but I was able to order off of their special diet menu. I ordered chicken satay (SOS), grilled cod-- no oil or butter-- and they listened!--, and dessert of frozen berries with warm white chocolate sauce. It was a HUGE portion, so I shared a bit, but all was delicious. (Okay I'll admit, I tasted the delicious cake that everyone else got, but the three small bites I took were enough to leave me feeling satisfied and not deprived with my berries. I also tried the filling of their lentil pot pie which was actually quite tasty!)

My second favorite dinner that we had was the night we went for sashimi. A group of girls and I decided to check out London's local conveyer belt sushi chain- Yo Sushi. I will say that the quality of fish is surprisingly fresher in New York (based solely on the one place I tried in London, so don't hold me to that), but the experience of the conveyer belt was quite exciting. We each got our own plates off the conveyer belt (and ordered what wasn't there) and then split a yummy chocolate mousse for dessert. One of my favorite lines that a waitress asked while we were in London was if we'd like to split a dessert. They didn't ask if we wanted dessert, but if we wanted to split one. I guess it's not common for everyone to get their own dessert in London- another aspect of how their culture is slightly healthier than ours. Anyway, at Yo Sushi, I got their salmon and tuna mixed sashimi and the squid salad which was DELISH! (And of course our yummy chocolate mousse with some strange sugary filling that I did not eat.

My favorite lunch in London definitely came from Borough Market. The market place itself was UNREAL- loaded with yummy sweets, savory goodies, and tons of miscellaneous indulgences- from fudge to gelato to candied nuts to dosas to cheesecake. I decided to at least try to heir on the healthier side, so I went with a veggie burger in a cabbage leaf topped with balsamic marinated onions, hummus, and cabbage slaw in a vinaigrette. It tasted a little too good to be healthy, but it was definitely healthier than the fried falafel, sausages, and potpies that were the alternative. And after sampling just about everything there (who could say no to free turkish marshmallows or homemade gelato), I needed something on the healthier side. Needless to say, delish.

Finally, on the more indulgent end of things, the last night there we had a group outing to a local Indian restaurant. For a place that is known for its Indian food, the dinner was was underwhelming, but I haven't had real Indian food in ages, so I indulged a little, nonetheless. The appetizer plate we were given consisted of onion pakora, masala dosa, meat samosas, a small salad, and chicken curry of sorts. I ate the chicken, and the filling of the dosa along with the salad, and left the rest. The main course was a fish curry, chicken and spinach, a vegetable stir fry of sorts, lamb curry, rice, and naan/onion paratha. I admit, I had some paratha which was only OK (but good for someone who hasn't had it in ages), and I tried some of each of the curry dishes. The fish curry was probably my fav, and I skipped the rice altogether. For dessert they offered us almond or pistachio ice cream. I got the almond, but tasted a bite of each one... I preferred the almond one which had little slivers of almonds in it, and was actually ridiculously creamy.

I think that pretty much gives you the highlights of all the food of this trip. I'm sure I will come up with things that I missed, and share in future posts, but if you're ever headed to London, shoot Tiny Tummy a message and I will give you any pointers you may need!

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