Drinking food that’s so wrong but oh so right

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Cheesy, greasy, salty poutine

I last wrote about lovely Greek Easter family traditions and cooking sessions with my yiayias. Honest, good clean fun.

Which is precisely why I’m now compelled to write about something down and dirty. To keep the balance.

Today it’s all about outrageous, positively indecent (and calorie-defying) drinking food. This idea came to me recently while I was drinking (alcoholic) ginger beer with a Canadian friend in a Canadian bar. There was only one thing to order in that situation.

‘One poutine please’.

If you think poutine sounds French, that’s because it is – or at least it hails from French speaking Quebec. Chunky fries are topped with brown gravy and cheese curds so the whole thing is a greasy, salty, cheesy mess. A pretty tasty mess to be fair.

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Ginger beer to cut through the grease

According to my sidekick Ving, this was not poutine in its true form – partly because we just don’t make cheese curds in the same way the Canadians do. But he felt the sentiment was there. Apparently McDonald’s does a version in Canada – I’m not entirely confident about how that might taste.

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Chips topped with gooey melted cheese

Poutine is pretty closely related to the cheesy chips that you see on pub menus far and wide throughout the UK. My favourite was a version I came across in Tresco (while snacking on scotch eggs naturally). Good old fashioned chips are drowned with melted cheese so there’s nothing sophisticated going on there but they certainly go down well when you’re drinking copious amounts of local cider.

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Crispy, crunchy, chicharrones

While we’re on the topic of fried foods, it doesn’t get much more debaucherous that chicharrónes or fried pork rinds. That’s where they take something already extremely fatty and proceed to deep fry it to really amp up the fat factor. Sounds like something Homer Simpson would eat. Read More

How The Fidgety Foodie became kind of a big deal in Estonia

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Tallinn old town

Something really cool recently happened to The Fidgety Foodie.

It all started with my first Fidgety Foodie post, back in October 2014, about Tallinn Airport. I was so taken by my experience there that I felt compelled to write about it. At that stage I had roughly two followers (thanks mum and dad) so the post came and went without much of a ripple.

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The cosiest airport I’ve ever seen

Until a few weeks ago when Tallinn Airport itself picked up on the post and shared it through their social media channels. Next thing I knew Estonia Tourism was promoting it. Then the Estonian Embassy joined the party. Before long my web traffic increased by 3000%. That’s pretty extraordinary for a neophyte like me. Not only was half of Estonia reading my post, but I was getting lovely comments and feedback about the blog. This welcoming reception is what compelled me to write about Tallinn in the first place.

I only wish I’d spent more time in Estonia to have experienced more of this beguiling hospitality. I had a mere 24 hours while travelling between Helsinki and Paris with my stoic Swedish friend Joakim.

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Tallinn old town

Estonia is a bit of a quiet achiever. Nestled by fellow Baltic neighbours Latvia and Lithuania, it was the birthplace of Kazaa and Skype, is home to world champion wife-carriers (yes it’s a real sport) and was the first country to win Eurovision with a black singer in 2001.

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Helsinki – Tallinn ferry

So what do you do with just 24 hours in one city? It wasn’t long enough to scope out the city like a foodie in my usual depth so I had to prioritise; food markets, supermarket and a wander through the old town were on the agenda once we stepped off the ferry from Helsinki.

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Choose a gravestone when you pick up your groceries

We headed to one of the food markets tucked away outside the walls of Tallinn old town. It was a mash up of fresh produce, antiques, Soviet war memorabilia and quite randomly, personalised granite gravestones.

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Fresh wild strawberries

Being summer, the berries were in top form and I especially loved the freshly picked wild strawberries.  Don’t be fooled by the size; each specimen offered a perfectly concentrated ball of intense strawberry goodness.

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Pretty pastel eggs

I really wanted to buy a carton of these gorgeous pastel coloured eggs but knew that wasn’t the most practical decision while on the road.

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Pickle pick-and-mix

My favourite find was this barrel of pickles. I love pickles at the best of times but being able to scoop them out of salty brine at my leisure was strangely thrilling. Read More

Arty food or foodie art?

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Jelly St Paul’s Cathedral by Bompas & Parr

There has long been a connection between food and art. Post-Impressionist painters would famously pay for their meals in paintings, kicking off the artwork-in-a-restaurant aesthetic.

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Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde cow at Tramshed

Some have taken this to the next step, such as the formaldehyde cow-in-a-restaurant look that Mark Hix has gone for at his London restaurant Tramshed. You can’t miss the giant Damien Hirst ‘artwork’ of a cock and bull which references the chicken and beef dishes on the menu. It’s hard to focus on your whole stuffed upside down chicken with the suspended animals in your line of sight.

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Salvador Dali purposely created art with maximum shock value and has inspired many in the restaurant business. Dali Café & Art in Riga is a culinary temple to the great Surrealist artist which includes plenty of his trademark motifs like eyes, lips, curved lines and draped fabric.

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A ‘melting clock’ style chocolate crepe

Melting clocks come by way of the chocolate crepe, served to look like The Persistence of Memory. There are also plenty of blue and gold tones, Dali’s favorite colors, to highlight the eccentric fit-out.

Glow-in-the-dark gin and tonic jelly

Glow-in-the-dark gin and tonic jellies

The idea of food itself becoming the artwork is growing in popularity. My all-time favourite foodie artists are Bompass & Parr, two English gents who call themselves jellymongers.

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The roof of Selfridges becomes a lake of lolly water

Their CV has the most absurd but fantastical list of projects you could imagine; a chocolate waterfall in the middle of a shopping centre, flooding part of the Selfridges roof to create a lolly water emerald boating lake, glow-in-the-dark gin and tonic jellies… Read More

The Budapest bars that would be illegal anywhere else

Szimpla was Budapest's first ruin pub

Szimpla was Budapest’s first ruin pub

I remember the thought that flashed through my mind when I walked into my first ruin pub in Budapest.

This is an OH&S disaster, you would never see this in Sydney, or London, or possibly anywhere else for that matter!

That’s because ruin pubs, as the name suggests, lie within dilapidated shells of abandoned buildings. They predominantly sit in the old Jewish quarter which was left to decay after WWII. In any other city there would be a wrecking ball around the corner, but in Budapest some inspired drinkers decided they might be good for something and slowly they have turned into drinking and party meccas.

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The owl at Instant looks over the crowd protectively if not a little weirdly

This neighbourhood now includes dozens of ruin pubs, all characterised by flea market furniture, psychedelic interiors and an intense feeling you’ve just fallen down the rabbit hole.

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You could actually visit Instant every day, there is that much going on

I had two favourites, the first was Instant (pronounced Inshtant by Hungarians) which takes up an entire former tenement apartment . Within its 23 rooms it offers themed dancer floors, furniture pinned to the ceiling and giant flying owls overlooking the floor. They are fake but you’ll have to look twice.

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The slightly shabby façade of Szimpla

The second was Szimpla, which happened to be the very first ruin pub, kicking off the trend in 2001. It has a fabulous courtyard where you can sit in an old communist Trabant car, order from the vitamin bar, check out the graffiti art, catch films and theatre or rent a bike.

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My favourite part of Szimpla relates to food, of course, and was the farmer’s market that takes place every Sunday. Their mission is to connect the city crowd with local farmers and judging by the crowds, it’s certainly working.

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The giant courtyard is dotted with stalls laden with farm-fresh produce including cheese, fruit and vegetables, honey, cured meats, fruit cordials and homemade pastries. Vendors are friendly and they offer generous samples.

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I spent a good twenty minutes hovering by the truffle stand, if only because I couldn’t believe how many there were, how big they were and how cheap!

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I loved the truffle butter but seeing as I was not going to be near a fridge all day I opted for the truffle salt which had chunks of fresh truffle dotted throughout and proffered the most intense truffle scent I’d ever encountered. A good sized jar was 1800HUF or €4.50 – bargain! Read More

Fishy business

Everyone loves fish in my family, even Macey

Everyone loves fish in my family, especially Macey

If ever there was an ingredient I was born to embrace, it’s fish.

One of my grandfathers was a seafood chef. The other had a fish shop at Wynyard. I learnt how to catch, gut and cook a fish before I could do anything else useful with food. And tuna salad is my default lunch.

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Scaling and gutting a leather jacket

Okay maybe that last one doesn’t count, but in essence I eat more than my share of fish and love it in any shape or form, raw or cooked, from head to tail. Especially the tail. Not to mention the skin, cheeks and eyes. Yes eyes! That’s what my dad taught me and his dad taught him so I never raised an eyebrow : )

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Fresh fish on the barbeque with a few snags for good luck

I went fishing recently and am glad to see I can still reel ‘em in. The only way (in my family at least) to cook freshly caught fish is on the barbeque with oil, lemon and occasionally garlic. The oil and lemon form an unctuous sauce which is heaven against the crispy fish skin.

But there’s so much more you can do with fish and it’s one of my favourite things to experience when I travel (provided there is a body of water not too far away – I generally stay away from seafood in landlocked countries).

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Smoked salmon, any way you like it

Given the vast seas around them, it’s no surprise that the Scandinavians know a thing or two about fish. I almost wept at the sight of beautiful displays of salmon in Helsinki, radiating a signature peachy-orange glow. Read More

A year of heart stopping coffee moments

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A perfect Leipzig coffee

A day doesn’t pass when a cup of the good stuff doesn’t pass my lips. Not because I’m addicted or because it gives me an energy boost (although I’m not denying either of those points).

Rather my daily coffee is a ritual. The where, how and who are just as important as the what. What use is great coffee in a soulless room with a lone grumpy staffer playing bad music? Only the whole coffee package will percolate through my memory long after the event.

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Steffen and his portable Lieblingskaffee

I had my first heart stopping coffee moment in the east German city of Leipzig. My friends Marc and Kathleen took me to Lene Voigt Park, a stunning expanse of green which seemed strangely elongated until I discovered it’s on the site of old train tracks. Here they introduced me Steffen who runs Lieblingskaffee, literally meaning ‘favourite coffee’.

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Steffen takes his time making each filter coffee

Steffen cycles his café into the park daily and sets up camp. Everything he needs is cleverly packed away and unfolded when needed. Ikea would have a field day with this design. Steffen takes his time with each coffee – carefully filtering it to deliver a smooth and sprightly cup.

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Hanging out in Lene Voigt Park

The coffee was tasty. But the moment was heaven. A roaring sun, Marc strumming away on his guitar, locals stopping by to say hi. If you’re ever in Leipzig, you must track down Steffen and this idyllic park.

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Classic Irish coffee – just don’t ask for the recipe

In Ireland, if you mention ‘the good stuff’ they inevitably think you want a pint of Guinness. Thankfully Irish coffee is as ubiquitous as stout, unfortunately the recipe is almost as carefully guarded. Neven and I couldn’t find a single bartender who would reveal the recipe and they purposely made it out of eye’s sight, dammit.

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Can you tell which one is the Irish coffee?

A quick google revealed it was as simple as hot coffee, Irish whiskey and sugar, topped with an almost impermeable layer of thick cream. After a chilly day exploring the Connemara district, nothing is more welcoming than a warm pub, cosy fire and large glass of this delicious concoction.

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Getting some perspective at Monmouth Coffee

And now over to London’s Monmouth Coffee. Big deal I hear you saying. Monmouth Coffee tops every ‘best coffee’ list in London so it’s hardly an unsung hero or undiscovered gem. But by god is it marvellous. The coffee itself is of course sublime – a good body, distinct caramel notes and organic Jersey whole milk make the best latte of your life. But it tastes all the more special when you’re perched precariously on a wooden stool that took twenty minute of shameless hovering to secure, looking down at the mayhem of Borough Market. Then turn you gaze turns upwards to the arresting figure of the Shard. Now that’s a money-can’t-buy view.

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In Sweden I become a fika fiend

Accoutrements are important for any coffee experience. And in Sweden that means kanelbulle or cinnamon buns. I’ve exposed my weakness for these babies before but it’s not just me – all Swedes are engineered to consume coffee and kanelbulle on a daily basis in the name of fika. The coffee in question was in the old town of Stockholm, Gamla Stan, with my local friend Claire. It was Claire who insisted I try the chokladbollar or chocolate ball (”Only if I can still order a cinnamon bun” was my response), beloved of children all over Sweden.

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Proper iced coffee

It wouldn’t be a true list without some Sydney representation. My favourite coffee moment of late was an iced coffee on a hot day with Cheryl in Cremorne. I’m always nervous about ordering an iced coffee. Cappuccinos, lattes and macchiatos are (almost) universally recognised and generally resemble your expectations. But you’re playing with fire (or ice?) when you order an iced coffee – it’s open to interpretation. So Bread & Butter’s cold drop coffee with icy milk and a dusting of cinnamon really hit the spot. I think the drink-in-jar moment may have passed though (you know the zeitgeist has moved on once it’s on the shelves of Kmart).

And to finish, here is my all time favourite coffee moment of the past year:

“One iced coffee please˝ I asked my waiter politely while enjoying the afternoon sun with friends in downtown Mallorca.

And this is what was served.

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Iced coffee – just like I ordered

Technically he delivered what I ordered. But now you see why I get nervous ordering iced coffee!

Zurich Christmas Markets

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Christmas market in Zurich old town

At this time of year, most European cities are filled with twinkling lights, roast chestnut stands and the heady scent of cinnamon and mulled wine in the air. It’s a compelling argument for a white Christmas.

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Christkindlimarkt in Zurich Hauptbahnhof

Zurich really gets in on the Christmas cheer with seven markets strewn through the city. The flagship is the Christkindlimarkt in the main station or Hauptbahnhof, one of Europe’s largest indoor Christmas markets.

The cavernous space is filled with over 150 stalls, many with a distinct Germanic feel given Zurich sits in the German speaking part of Switzerland.

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You’re looking at 7,000 Swarovski crystals

The highlight for most visitors is the 15 metre tall Christmas tree decorated with 7,000 sparkling Swarovski crystals. And to be fair, it is rather impressive.

Of course the highlight for me was the amazing range of food on offer, some of which is only available during the festive season.

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Let’s start with the cheese. The Swiss churn out plenty of the stuff and it towered in tempting displays; giant wheels encased in vine leaves or crushed raisins, white rinds stuffed with truffle butter and topped with shaved truffle, even whisky käse. And of course there was plenty of raclette, pimped up with shaved truffle if you fancied.

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One of my favourite festive treats is always the German Christmas cake, stollen. It’s a dense, buttery cake studded with dried fruit and candied citrus peel, occasionally marzipan, and topped with icing sugar.

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The original Dresdner stollen

The recipe originated in Dresden in the 15th Century and remains the most famous version. Dresdner stollen can legally be made by only 150 Dresden-based bakers and is distinguished by a special seal depicting King Augustus II.

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Apple fritters with custard

Before long my local friends, Michael and Karin, steered us towards the Apfelhuis stand for some delicious apple fritters swimming in custard. Having now been to a dozen or so German Christmas markets, I can safely say that you will never find a whiff of fresh produce in one. Fried, battered, pickled and preserved is what it’s all about.

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Grittibaenz are eaten on St. Nicholas Day

Swiss Germans mark St. Nicholas Day on 6 December by eating traditional sweet bread baked into the shape of a man with raisins for eyes and a chocolate ‘stick’. This fella is called Grittibaenz and represents an early form of Santa.

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Lussekatt are eaten on St. Lucia Day

I was pleasantly surprised to encounter a Swedish stand offering lussekatt. These saffron tinged buns are traditionally eaten on St. Lucia Day on 13 December to celebrate the festival of light. I have happy memories of baking them with my Swedish friend Johan and they taste just like brioche with a soft yellow hue from the saffron.

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Pretty lebkuchen for your loved ones

I think the most picturesque stand at any Christmas market is always the one embellished with gingerbread hearts or lebkuchen. Hanging from ribbons and displaying cute phrases, the idea is to give them to loved ones to express your feelings.

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I can usually be found near the glühwein stand

The busiest stand of course, is almost always the glühwein stand. It’s usually my first port of call so I can then wander through the markets sipping a cup of intoxicating wine spiked with the flavours of cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and citrus.

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Red glühwein for me please

I was pleasantly surprised to see red and white wine versions on offer but red inevitably wins my heart every time. In my eyes, the only downside of a hot Southern Hemmisphere Christmas is the impracticality of serving this aromatic concoction. Maybe I’ll look into a chilled version this year…

Do you have a favourite Christmas market find? Please do share!

The London restaurant with no chef and no kitchen

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The new London restaurant with no chef and no kitchen

How do you feel about food in a can?

Spam, tired veggies, no thanks.

Fish in a can? I love the stuff. I’ve eaten more cans of tuna in my time than John West has ever rejected. Salmon, sardines, the oilier the better please. Add salad leaves, balsamic and a good olive oil and there’s lunch. And I know I’m not alone on that front.

But how do you feel about a restaurant serving canned fish and only canned fish? When I heard that Tincan had opened in London, I had to investigate.

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Staff prepare cans at the counter

I chose a rainy Thursday night and my timing couldn’t have been better. Tincan, perched just off Golden Square in Soho, was empty. Perhaps not so good for them but excellent for me. I sat at the bar and quizzed the lovely Lithuanian and French hosts with my myriad questions.

Who came up with this random concept?

Which can is the crowd favourite?

How often does someone order the £45 can of Carelian caviar?

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Food or art?

‘A six month project by AL_A sourcing the finest tinned seafood from around the world’ is noted at the top of the menu.

AL_A is a London based design and architecture firm, responsible for projects including the V&A Museum courtyard and Bangkok Central Embassy. While designing a new cultural centre in Lisbon, the directors discovered a restaurant in a former fishing tackle shop that specialised in tinned fish. They were inspired to take the concept back to London and launch their own pop up.

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Sleek interiors where the can is the hero

Looking around it’s no shock that a team of architects is behind this. The décor is minimal but chic, with a Monocle-meets-Warhol aesthetic. Wherever you look, the can is clearly the hero.

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The menu – all 26 types of canned fish

To see what’s on offer you can simply look around the room, or down at the menu which offers 26 varieties of canned fish, ranging from £7 – £45. There are familiar fish such as sardines, mackerel and anchovies, although you’ll be pushed to recognise a single brand. The further down the menu you go, the more interesting the offering becomes; smoked eel fillets, squid in its own ink, Portuguese-style stuffed squid, bonito belly and clams in their shell with garlic, to name a few.

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Open can. Serve can. Your meal is ready.

All the hard work is done before the tins arrive at the restaurant. Much of the fish is caught by traditional methods and even hand packed into tins. The restaurant staff open the tins and serve the contents with salad leaves, fresh bread, extra virgin olive oil, lemon, chilli and shallots.

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The tasting plate, perfect for indecisive diners

I wanted to order everything. Thankfully they offer a tasting plate which makes it easy for the indecisive. Priced at £12, the platter includes tastings of Icelandic cod liver, urchin caviar, slow cooked Galician octopus in olive oil, sardines in spicy olive oil, tuna in molho cru spices and spicy mackerel fillets.

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The sardines, mackerel and tuna were all very pleasant but not dissimilar to good quality canned product I’ve eaten before and nothing to write home about.

The other three, however, almost deserve their own posts.

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Icelandic smoked cod liver

Being both a fan of liver and having recently been to Iceland, I was surprised and a little embarrassed that I’d never actually eaten cod liver before. The French staffer told me it was a big part of her childhood and standard fare in France. It had an unctuous texture, just like liver from a cow or calf, with a slight fishy flavour and was absolutely delicious, especially with bread. I can see why this is one of the top selling cans.

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Icelandic cod liver is the best selling can

The urchin caviar – mixed with onion and lemon before being served – was also a standout. It had a slightly grainy texture and mild flavour so it was a surprise to hear that it’s one of the more polarising offerings on the menu.

The Galician octopus in olive oil was my favourite. A dead ringer for the similarly tender, deliciously marinated Greek-style octopus that I don’t eat nearly as often as I’d like. The Greeks never thought to put it in a can though.

Unfortunately the platter didn’t include a tasting of the Carelian caviar, at £45 it’s the most expensive can on the menu. I’ll have to go back for that one.

The owners spent over a year trying every type of canned fish they could get their hands on, from every corner of the globe. But you wouldn’t know because the menu overwhelmingly features fish from Spain and Portugal, with the odd addition from Iceland and Finland. Apparently even French canned fish was not up to scratch.

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Er Boqueron, salt water beer

I’m not one for beer but the other selling point here is the salt water beer, Er Boqueron. Tincan is the sole distributor in the UK and apparently it’s very nice.

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The restaurant was a massive hit when it first opened in September (the punters were packed in… like sardines : )

It’s been a little quieter since the cold weather hit. A can of room temperature fish is probably not exactly what most people lust after when the temperature reaches zero and extremities are freezing. Perhaps the restaurant’s six month life span would have been better positioned over the summer months.

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I love this concept and I think they just get away with it because of the exceptionally high quality of fish. Seems to be working because according to the website, next stop is New York…

Christmas eating at Harrods and Harvey Nichols

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Oh how I’d love to eat my way through this hamper

London does Christmas better. Better and bigger than anywhere else in my humble opinion.

Right now it feels like the entire city is illuminated. Streets are decked out with elaborate lights, stores are dressed like pantomime stars, every corner reveals an outdoor ice skating rink selling mulled wine, and the tell-tale smell of cinnamon and cloves wafts through the air.

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Xmas pud yoghurt

Then there’s the food. And this is where London really shines. Even the supermarkets bring out imaginative Christmas ranges, from Heston’s hidden clementine Christmas pudding at Waitrose to xmas pud yoghurt (delicious by the way). The Christmas ad from Sainsbury’s this year stopped the nation.

But the real action is in the department stores that I usually steer clear of because I’m more Primark than Prada. And if London does it best then no one comes close to two of the big names in retail: Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

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You’d think every day was Christmas at Harrods

Harrods is a retail temple that’s lit up from top to toe all year round so you can just imagine how energetically it embraces the festive season. Every inch of the four giant food halls is festified.

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One entire food hall at Harrods is dedicated to chocolate

Little red cards noting special dishes are dotted through each section – a clever technique that subtly screams ‘limited edition’, ‘you need me for Christmas’ and ‘buy me immediately’.

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Your Christmas table centrepiece perhaps?

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Decadent kugelhopf dusted in gold leaf

The bakery section (always my favourite) is full of stunningly decorated cakes, pastries, donuts and breads. You can pick up a Christmas train cake for a cool £150, slices of marbled vanilla chocolate kugelhopf dusted in gold leaf or a gingerbread man ham and cheese puff.

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The prices are, as expected, exorbitant. But when you consider the artistry and precision involved in every single item, they are somewhat justified. And in case I had any doubts about the extremely high standards set here, an exchange I witnessed set my mind (and wallet) at ease.

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What fruit kugelhopf?

A suited manager asked one of the servers what on earth had happened to one of the fruit kugelhopfs on display. Admittedly the pieces looked like they’d been hacked by a five year old. The server hastily explained that it was a very difficult cake to cut and she’d really struggled with it. 

‘So what is it doing on the shop floor?’ asked the manager with an arched eyebrow.  

All evidence of that cake was gone in 30 seconds (I desperately hope not straight into the bin).

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It took every ounce of willpower not to buy one. A whole one.

The dish I found most drool worthy was definitely this sweet potato pie, perhaps a legacy to Thanksgiving as much as Christmas. Almond pastry encloses a heady spiced sweet potato mix which is topped with pumpkin seed tuille and mascarpone. What a stunner.

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Savoury patisserie at its best

And then there is the savoury patisserie. According to The Independent newspaper, “Savoury patisserie is a thing now”. Basically take your favourite pastry and replace the usual sweet flavours with savoury and presto, you have savoury patisserie.

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Will that be foie gras or goats cheese in your éclair?

For Harrods this means traditional choux pastry éclairs stuffed with goats cheese. Or delicate macaroons filled with foie gras.

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That’s my next birthday cake sorted

They sound exquisite but my attention was focused on the smoked salmon gateaux. Layers of smoked salmon, delicate crepes and light smoked salmon mousse are topped with avruga, salmon caviar and cream cheese ‘icing’. My next birthday cake perhaps?

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Harvey Nichols gets festive

Down the road at Harvey Nichols, the food hall on level 5 is slightly more chic (sweetie darling) but equally adorned. Giant silver crackers hang from the ceiling, spilling out beautifully packaged panettones, gingerbread men and mince pies.

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No dodgy paper crowns in these crackers

If those crackers are a little big for your dining table, there are smaller ones designed in black, gold and white that are filled with choice gifts and premium headware. Presumably the jokes are more high brow too.

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You can never have too much glitter on your cheese

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There is an impressive cheese selection and numerous ‘bombs’, including a smoked cheese bomb and whisky cheese bomb, both sheltered in thick wax and sprinkled liberally with glitter. Nothing says festive glam like glitter.

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Cake or turkey?

My favourite find was the large Christmas fruit cake in the shape of a turkey. Even the vegetable accoutrements are made of fruit cake. That’s one way to get the kids to eat their vegies!

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Eggnog for the uninitiated

As much as I would have loved to buy this cake (a steal at £49.95), I settled for some eggnog instead. You rarely see eggnog in Australia, probably because of the 30 degree plus temperatures around Christmas time so I’m curious to give it a whirl.

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Your festive condiment needs are sorted at Harvey Nichols

Christmas is a marketers dream. Create it and they will buy. This is why you need a specific pickle for Christmas Day and then a separate chutney for Boxing Day. Using the same over both days would be uncouth.

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If you only buy one thing, make it this

The alcohol department is also a favourite of mine, stacked high with bottles of Dom and Krug priced higher than a plane ticket to Sydney. My tip for the festive season is the mince pie syrup. Mix it with rum and pressed apple juice to create the perfect mince pie martini.

Between the two stores I could have easily dropped my life savings. But I’d better save a few quid for a trip to Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason…