It was on the Trivium, In Flames, Ghost, Rise To Remain and Insense tour, on the day of our London Brixton show, when Kirsten (Trivium’s longtime (and super lovely) PR extraordinaire) set up a food-related promo event. Today, I was to chow down on some of Britain’s finest in the offal department.
The line-up included: a Scotch Egg, Cockles and Whelks, Jellied Eels, and some sort of sausage-in-a-pastry. I’ve now had numerous interpretations of the Scotch Egg around the globe, and I can tell you with absolute assurance that a Scotch Egg is a damn good thing: a boiled egg, nestled in meat, coated in breading (either fried or baked). Good right?! This was a classic one; minced meat, normal egg, good nevertheless. The Whelks (a villain in Final Fantasy VI mind you) and the Cockles taste like they look: like briney-oceany-clammy-flavored chewy-bits. I am a fan of shelled-food, and these… they’re not awful, just nothing to particularly rave about. Jellied Eels! If you’re not a fan of something that tastes like you’re licking the inside-of-a-whale’s-blow-hole, you may not like this dish. Texture? Its like… dolphin spooge (I imagine…). It didn’t gross me out by any means – but again – it’s something that’s worth trying and may or may not be something you crave for a midnight snack.
I was quite fortunate to have my wife and longtime partner in food and drink-related inter-continental crime with me for a bit of this run, so we decided we wanted something really good. We were given recommendations by some good foodie friends who we went to high school with, who had recently visited the U.K., to hit up St. John’s for some grub.
St. John’s has what I think were three or so locations: a fancier sit-down restaurant tucked inside of an unassuming building, a bakery/bar/bar-snacks area where you can get plates to share alongside a nice local pint, then the third which is located off-site from the former two. We picked the bar/bakery. In sort of a modern loft/factory setting, St. John’s is an eatery that is wide-open and inviting in it’s not overly-large interior. The bar is stocked with all sorts of good things to drink down; I went with the Helles by Meantime Brewery, with American Hops. A fine pint it was. The delectable looking breads and sweets were calling out to my growling stomach, but I prevailed in waiting for the real good stuff. I went for Roast Bone Marrow with a Parsley Salad, house made Bread, and Sea Salt; Native Oysters to follow. Ashley had the Welsh Rarebit (I assumed a game animal like a rabbit, but it was actually sort of a grilled cheese toast-thing).
Don’t eat marrow? You’re missing out. Think of it as the essence-of-meat-flavoring in a spreadable-form. You take this little spear-thing, jam it into the bone and slather it on that fantastic baked (then grilled) bread. Atop that, drop some Sea Salt and Parsley Salad. Frickin’ good. Simple, classic ingredients that make the knees buckle. The oyster were served simply with a lemon hunk and a mini jar of vinegar and chopped onions. A good, fresh, local oyster doesn’t need much; I had one nude, one with a light drizzle of that tasty, vinegary dressing. This was my first time trying any Welsh Rarebit; it’s a piece of bread, with a sharply flavored cheese adorn on top, it’s then perhaps oven-baked to crisp it all up a bit. Real tasty.
Myself stuffed on slimy, yummy bits, and Ashley on a real fancy grilled cheese, we called for Coffees and pudding (ya gotta have your pudding!). We split a Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and a Mince Pie with Cream. Both deserts were impeccable. Probably the best Bread Pudding I’ve had whilst in England. Rich, not-good-for-you, but oh-so-darn-good. Cold ice cream pornographically oozing all over that hot hunk of sweet.
Deciding to be slightly heart-smart (another Rob Suchan-ism), we take a cab to wander about the Christmas Market… or Village… or whatever it was called. Slugging down a couple hot Mulled Wines, Ashley eventually convinced me to get in the Ferris Wheel – and lemme tell ya: I do not like heights. I’ll spare you the photos of my scared-lookin ***.