When I was eight years old, my mother moved us to England, where she studied art therapy for a year at Goldsmiths College, University of London. We lived on the top floor of a family’s home, in a few rooms that overlooked their garden. I contemplated the view of soggy grounds out rain-spattered windows. I tramped across the heath in Wellingtons to school in Blackheath, one of London’s innumerable outer boroughs. My mother and I drank tea while watching the rain (which drizzled with about as much water pressure as our ancient showerhead). And we survived, it seems to me, primarily on toast, wholemeal Digestive biscuits, and cheddar cheese sandwiches.
They were lean times. Still, I found myself going down memory lane amid the wealth of all things British at Central Market’s Passport United Kingdom the other day, where displays of toffee shortbread share the floor with stand-up figures of British royalty.
There were Newby teas (London-based, found in Michelin-starred restaurants) and Prince & Sons (try their Chocolate and Chai tea). Shortbreads, cheeses, and chutneys. The deli case is doing their best with bangers and mash, meat pies, and toad-in-the-hole, along with great mounds of the mashed root vegetable duo called neeps and tatties (turnips or swedes and potatoes).
Through October 2, you’ll find excellent Scottish smoked salmon, sticky toffee oatcakes (by Maclean’s Highland Bakery), spelt muesli and spelt porridge I bought to serve with whole milk, vintage Blackstone cheddar, and Welsh Dragon cheddar aged 500 feet underground in slate mining caves (yes, this is very unusual and very cool). I looked forward to arranging Strathdon blue cheese on the thick, fan-shaped Scottish oak-cakes that are absolutely not like any other cracker or flatbread.
Scottish wild game birds, like red grouse, wild pheasant, or wood pigeon are available from estates and feed on berries and heather (you have to order ahead). For $15 you can take home a red-legged partridge. It’s even less for a wood pigeon. I find all of this very cool.
I was happy for the promise of tea spot of tea on a rainy day, and a moment of reverie.