I couldn’t find anything to do on the 4th that didn’t involve binge drinking to an eardrum-exploding techno soundtrack (well, nothing that wasn’t sold out anyway), so I opted to dip my toe in the Grub Club pool instead. The Grub Club website lists pop up dining experiences around London hosted by chefs who love to share their culinary gifts with eager foodies in a dinner party atmosphere. It’s a great way to meet people who love food as much as you do.
I read about The Great British American Chow Down on the Grub Club website while scanning for July 4th happenings and got excited. British-American fusion food on the 4th? To me, this sounded like the culinary equivalent of Great Britain yanking the US back to itself and mushing us to its bosom…until we merge into a delicious, mutant super-being. Awwww yeaaahhh — count me in. The dinner was at House of Vans in Waterloo, a retail spot and venue for visual art, music, and skateboarding.
The GBACD was actually scheduled for July 3rd, but hey, it was still Independence Day themed so it counts (right???).
Our July 4th dinner took place in a room adjacent to the House of Vans cafe, The Wall SE1. The set up felt very quirky and intimate, with tables of different shapes and sizes. It was like being invited over to a friend’s for dinner.
The menu definitely demonstrated how both Great Britain and America have become cultural melting pots. There were chiccarones (fried pork rinds) with avocado puree & Lemon Juice; country ham served with baguette pieces, butter, and Redeye mayo;
shell on prawn served with sharply flavored pieces of pepperoni and a very mellow sweet corn custard (which balanced each other out nicely); “Bramen” or British style ramen with pork shoulder and an Onsen egg (served in a teacup — how British is that?);
Buttermilk fried chicken (DELICIOUS and tender) with a buttermilk-based dipping sauce; Braised short rib with spiraled veggies on skewers;
and refreshingly cold triangles of watermelon with peanuts, mint coriander & spring onion. For dessert, we had miniature strawberry shakes (which tasted more like smoothies to me), and mini fried apple pies with clotted cream ice cream (tastaaaayyyy). The woman sitting across from me was lactose intolerant, so instead of clotted cream ice cream, she was given a sorbet that we were all wracking our brains trying to pinpoint the flavor of. It tasted citrusy to me, but I couldn’t identify anything specific. One man at our table said “Tastes like there’s Amaretto in it”; another woman said she tasted orange. Finally, a guy with the right idea got up and asked the chef wtf was in the sorbet. Turns out it was an Orange and Amaretto sorbet called “Sex Bomb” by Drunken Dairy XD I’m definitely buying some of that…
I don’t have pics of all the food because the room we were in was underground and dimly lit, so most of the photos had to be scrapped (if anyone would like to donate a DSLR out of the goodness of their hearts, be my guest, yo). Also, I was pretty hungry.
The people at my table were from all over: Turkey, Scotland, Ireland, and distant parts of England. All had since made London their home. It was wonderful to talk with them and ask them about this city that I’m still getting to know. Also, the woman from Turkey agreed with me that KFC is pointless without American-style biscuits (London, please remedy this terrible travesty ASAP). The best moments were when we were all laughing; those were the times when it really did feel like I was at a party with friends.
After getting a drink with some of the Grub Club folk, I headed back to Waterloo to catch a train home. While I waited, a cute, mildly drunk Irish guy started talking to me. And we kept talking as the train pulled up, as we boarded, as we rode, and as we switched to a second train. For the 20-30 minute block of time we chatted, it was like we were old pals. He kept touching my arm (and bumping into me — ah, alcohol). I laughed. A lot. He liked the way I said “Delaware” and “whatnot.” Before I got off the second train, he held out his right hand and I squeezed it goodbye with my left.
Once in a while, whether it’s at a dinner party or on the tube, you briefly connect with people you’ve never met before and will probably never meet again… and you have a good time. Lucky me — I got to experience both in one night.