Anne Faber arrived in London in 2007 with writing and food on her mind. After a brief foray into news journalism she decided to follow her heart and start a food blog called ‘Anne’s Kitchen‘ Today she is a successful blogger, author and TV presenter.
Disclaimer…. I worked with Anne on Associated Press’ video features bulletin. The day she quit to follow her dream… I predicted …‘There’ll be a book’ ! To date Anne has published three books and enjoys a successful TV career in her native Luxembourg.
I have persuaded Anne to share her foodie memories of London, after all she ate her way around our capital for 12 years, enjoying foodie staycations.
What makes London a special place for food lovers ?
London boasts a huge variety of restaurants with cuisines from all around the world – you can find anything from authentic Turkish pide to Taiwanese baos, to the best of British food. Really, any craving can be satisfied in London ! Since the food scene is hugely competitive, restaurants need to constantly up their game and come up with creative and unique dishes that make them special. There’s also a thriving street food scene now, with food trucks and food markets popping up in every borough. Londoners are really spoilt for choice when it comes to food.
The city has enjoyed a gastro pub revolution in recent years, what do you expect in the perfect Pub Sunday Roast ?
First of all, the pub needs to be cosy ! The ideal is enjoying a Sunday roast in a pub with a fireplace and lovely mix and match furniture. I really like the Old Dairy in Stroud Green, which was my former local. They don’t have the fireplace but their Sunday lunch is great. I love roast beef with proper Yorkshire puddings but I’m always tempted by roast chicken with gravy and stuffing, too. Either way, a great Sunday Lunch needs to be accompanied by crispy roasties and a good glass of wine…
You featured different parts of the city in your first book ‘Anne’s Kitchen’, how does the cultural diversity of London add to the culinary mix ?
I can’t think of the London food scene and not think of the sheer myriad of international restaurants. That’s what makes London so unique. When we filmed in Brixton market for my show, we featured a Caribbean place called Fish Wings and Tings where I was shown how to make proper jerk chicken and also at a Thai place called Kao Sarn that had really great som tam papaya salad Everyone was so happy to introduce me to their culture through food. London is really lucky to have this cultural diversity!
What is your favourite place to find street food ?
My favourite street food spot is Dinerama by the Street Feast gang – a two-storey urban location in Old Street with 15 food stalls and bars that opens three nights a week. Here you get a sort of clubbing feel at a food market: loud music, lots of people and a huge buzz about the food and cocktails.
I also love Borough market – a classic – but it’s also worth strolling down to Maltby Street Market nearby, where you find a stall with St John’s incredible custard donuts as well as lots of freshly cooked street food.
Where’s the best place to grab a pre-theatre meal in the West End ?
Dishoom in Covent Garden is one of my favourite places for Indian food – their bacon naan and black daal are to die for. Yet the lengthy queues often discourage me from actually going (you can only book for parties of 6 and more). You can book at Opera Tavern though, so that’s a safer bet. Their innovative tapas dishes are made with excellent ingredients and wow me every time.
Where’s your favourite spot for a picnic and what’s in your hamper ?
I really like Hampstead Heath, as it’s got a wild side to it. Many meadows are left to grow unchecked and in late summer you can almost hide in the high grass in some spots. I love to get some Scotch eggs (as we don’t get those in Luxembourg) with fiery Colman’s mustard, some Moroccan hummus with vegetable sticks for dipping and a slice of carrot cake or Victoria sponge cake, plus a bottle of cider.
You have just arrived back in London, after some time away, where is the first place you want to eat out ?
I love heading to Jen café in Chinatown solely for their amazing Beijing dumplings – it’s a really unassuming, crammed and loud place but they make the freshest dumplings in Chinatown. In fact, there’s always a lady folding fresh dumplings in the window. You can order them boiled or fried – I prefer the latter with their crispy bottoms and chewy texture.
I also head to Som Saa every time I’m in London. Their authentic food propels me right back to Thailand (a favourite destination for me) to the North-Eastern region of Isaan, which is known for less touristy dishes. The chefs at Som Saa have extensively travelled the region and brought back incredible dishes with really authentic flavours – eating there blows my mind time and time again.
Have you been to any of restaurants that Anne mentions ? Do you have any London foodie tips to share ? If so I would love to hear your tips and stories. Let’s share our #staycationinspiration.