The time had come to leave the capital of capital cities. As I've made clear in earlier blog posts, I have really mixed feelings about London. In hindsight, it's so fantastic, but it's also extremely taxing. As I write this posthumously from my new home in Berlin, I am beginning to see London through rose-tinted spectacles, but equally, I am actually becoming acutely aware of the privileges of London, a lot of which I had mistaken as the uniform fabric of large European capital cities; not so!
I was well aware of the cultural wealth of the city, in institutional terms. The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum, The British Museum, The BFI, The Tate Modern/Britain, The National (Portrait) Gallery, The Saatchi Gallery, The Wellcome Collection...these are just SOME of the MAJOR players, not to mention any medium or small scale venues. It's actually quite mind boggling how much opportunity is at the fingertips of your average Londoner, and now I'm starting to realise it was the same with ingredients. I really took it for granted that my local off license had any variation of tinned bean, dried lentil, Chinese noodle, or Indian spice, not to mention the number of African vegetables that I don't see anymore (oh plantain, oh puna yam, where are you old friends!?).
Don't get me wrong, of course I knew that London has a unique level of multiculturalism, but perhaps because it's so commonplace & readily available, it ceases to amaze a new migrant eventually. I remember when I first arrived, that first walk through the corner shop was so extremely exciting; so many food products I'd never seen before, some raw, others already packaged & ready for consumption! Subconsciously, I was well aware that I was going to be leaving behind a great deal of convenience, which is why for my leaving party I was determined to put in some fucking effort & try make some dishes that I've never done before.
The star of the show was inspired shortly after going to Pitt Cue Co. in Soho, which is basically providing down home American style cookin' (BBQ pulled pork, hot wings, pickled slaw, burnt ends and things of that nature). I decided to give pulled pork a go because it's so soft & delectable & I could make it in abundance for all of the guests. I did a dry rub with paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, brown sugar & course salt - then refrigerated the meat overnight. In the morning, BAM, into the oven for 6hrs. Then some orgasmic BBQ sauce made from cider vinegar, yellow mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne pepper & black pepper. It was like a damned good ketchup on crack; I love vinegary things and this just made my taste buds dance for mercy.
Then we had a couple of salads which really complimented the salty vinegary meat well. There was strawberry & baby spinach salad with white wine vinegar, vege oil, paprika, sesame & poppy seed dressing. For the next salad we had fried plantain & watercress salad with a basic balsamic & oil dressing. Basic snacky tricks were catered for by some home made salsa & salted corn chips, boiled artichokes with a home made mayonnaise, some sweet potato chips, and pita bread pizzas which disappeared incredibly fast. A few of the favourite toppings were asparagus & spinach with blue cheese on a tomato base, and classic italian-esque numbers like baby tomato, brie with olive oil, oregano & fresh basil, guests were like birds of prey eyeing up these pizzas as they arrived.
As per usual, the task of hosting a party got the better of me, and I only managed to get a few rudimentary photos, but it serves as a reminder that it actually happened (even if the event itself lives on as being more legendary in my mind!
Dem porks after 6hrs of roasting in their own juices.
Pulling that pork to shreds!
Captain Pork Puller & his table of salads
Home made salsa & other salady-goodness.
Vlada, getting a little excited by the tray of pulled pork...
The morning after the morning after spelled the end of my London chapter, some goodbye crepes in the morning, whose weeping faces bid a citrus soaked farewell to both me and themselves simultaneously as they hastily met my digestive tracts.
It's a seriously weird feeling to leave a city by necessity instead of choice, it only adds to the complex panorama of emotions I experience when confronting this ancient, monolithic city. I'm eternally happy for the people I've met through living there, the friendships I've forged & the temporary chances with acquaintances, who will pass into dust & obscurity. I raise a glass for the present & future adventures; I have a feeling there are many more to come :)