Visions of cozy cottages with rose gardens, cream teas, castles, posh London, witty humor, rainy days leading to green pastures in scenic countrysides. This is some of what my mind conjures up when I think of England.
I had the great pleasure of traveling to London (with some side trips to Bath and to visit Stonehenge) in my late twenties. How I would love to go Cornwall and dig deeper into the country.
Alas, I'll take a trip there for now through my taste buds to my favorite British haunt in New York City, Tea & Sympathy. A biting cold, windy January evening was the perfect weather to go there for some comfort food. And comforted my friend and I were.
One of the night's specials: their piping hot vegetarian Bubble and Squeak Pie (called that because of the noise it makes while baking). Filled with brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, yellow turnip and mashed potatoes in a shortcrust pastry, with roast potatoes in a leek gravy (this was more like a broth), $14.95. With a pot of fragrant apricot tea, $4.50. The pretty cup and saucer, Mrs. Bucket (pronounced "Bouquet")-approved!
Also off of the specials, my friend's (or should I say mate's!) curried cauliflower and potato samosas with a salad, and not pictured, mango chutney and cucumber raita, $13.95. Can you believe I didn't have Indian food in London? I know!
My friend's pot of chai tea, with the treacle pudding (a vanilla sponge cake with a golden syrup glaze topped with hot custard), $8, which we shared. All divine.
"Life wouldn't be worth living if one couldn't enjoy an occasional treat with one's best friends," Hyacinth Bucket wisely declared to Elizabeth and Emmet in my favorite Britcom, Keeping Up Appearances.
Above the shelf of kitschy knickknacks, the most campy of all - a tray of Charles and Diana.
Admire their assortment of tea pots, cups and tea cozies at Carry On Tea and Sympathy, their companion shop, where I always feel like Hermoine Granger when I enter. I don't know how people drink tea out of a paper cup. In addition to being kinder to the environment, a pretty cup is so much more homey.
A Salt & Battery next door sells fish and chips fare, but for me it would be a chip butty (I rarely eat fried food, so once in a blue moon I'd allow it), side of mushy peas and Magners Irish cider. Preferably with rain coming down.
Because when it rains or skies are simply grey, a little bit of England (and Ireland) fills my heart.