P1030669

Newcastle, England

Our International booking agent, Paul Ryan is a friend I’ve known for ages. He was one of the first to really believe in Trivium. He flew out to see the band play back in 2005 when we were 2/5 for a Danzig tour; it’s been his vision, alongside our manager Justin and the band itself, who have carefully crafted every step we’ve taken everywhere outside of North America. Paul is another one I would without a doubt in my mind call a food soul-mate of mine. We have shared some of the best meals I can recall in some of the best spots on the globe. 

Now… ages ago… when I was a younger buck… I recall Paul taking us to this basement restaurant in Newcastle that had house made wine, local beer and everything local in terms of eats. I think it was near a good strip club… or so someone-who-went-to-that-strip-club told me! Er…

So basically every time we’ve played Newcastle, we’re tried to remember what the name of that basement, all-local, house made wine spot was called – unfortunately to no avail. Luckily for Paul, Paolo, Ashley and I however, we found a new amazing place: The Forth. The Forth is in the lobby of a hotel, it has that boutique hotel charm that has been properly adorned and furbished and run by hip kids. The Forth has the old-school gastronomical pig chart, except its gold and done in a tattoo flash-art way; the chalkboard is there, but it’s all written in a sort-of creative, modern-script… there’s also a wizard with knuckle tattoos painted on the wall – pretty rad.

We tuck right in and go for the kill. When it’s eating time with Trivium… it’s some serious business. We order up a Trealy Farm British Cured Meat Platter, Mushrooms with Silton Cream on Rye Toast, Free Range Gloucester Old Sprout Sausages with Kale Colcannon and Red Onion Gravy, Beer-Battered Haddock and Skin-on Chips with Minted Crushed Peas and Tartare, a couple extra Skin-on Chips (for good measure), and a round of Scottish IPAs. 

The Forth embodies everything I look for nowadays when in England. I want the nod to the good, grandma-classics, but I want it done with a modern flare. Its like a gastro-upgrade to the classics sort of thing. If this were in the USA, we’d call it New American. I like that term… it lets you know that you’ll see the essential ideas and preparations of things familiar, only sometimes completely spun upside down on its head. A valiant effort of the utilization of locally sourced, additive-free, and well treated animals is always a good sign. Don’t think so? Let’s see how you taste after a brutal torture session that some of our animal friends who aren’t treated well have to go through. If you see the words, rest-assured that the chefs want you to know you’re about to eat food that was well-tended, well taken care of, and that will taste way better than the other junk. 

The meat platter comes on parchment, on a meat board; the meats laid on top of each other with some pickles. Really. Really good. The mushrooms and stilton feature wild mushrooms (the best kind) mixed in with Stilton (think of a not overly powerfully flavored light cream in this case), and topped on grilled toast. Mmm mmm, bitch. The bangers and mash here… sure they’re bangers and mash… but they’re way better than bangers and mash.

With a nod to my Metallica-of-food, Anthony Bourdain: Meat in tube form? I’ll take it. Just the right amount of pop in the bangers, a perfect amount of grill-char, a thick gravy, and taters mashed just like Sam Gamgee woulda dug. Following in the same style as the Bangers at The Forth, their Fish and Chips is just like mum used to make, only maybe a little bit better. Thick-cut salted Chips with the right amount of crunch on the outside, while still having an almost baked-like texture on the inside; sea salt simply on top (you can always vinegar it up though). At the table, we also had a spreadable-potted fish that was delicious, and a tart with greens on top (kale I believe). 

Desert? Yes, please. Just look at that molten hunk of delectability… you know you need that. 


P1030603

London, England

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 ***.