Starting with one of my trips to Seattle more than 20 years ago, I had noticed that the Seattle area has a distinct love of fish and chips, with the region having more fish and chips joints that I’m accustomed to, even for a fairly large area. Indeed, I’ve remembered more than a few trips out for fish and chips at Spud Fish N’ Chips after having beers with college friends in Kirkland, and even having more than one person in Alki get in an argument over which of the two Alki establishment (another of the Spud locations, or Sunfish just down the way) was the One and True[tm] place for fish and chips. Seeing that our Death March route had us looping around Green Lake in northern Seattle, it seemed almost mandatory that we at least stop by for a quick mid-day snack (at this point, we were right about the nominal halfway point). (And, confession time: we had originally planned to finish at Sunfish for comparison, but we got behind schedule and didn’t make it out there).
One of the things I enjoy about visiting more metropolitan areas than my own is seeing the food fads that show up in particular cities. Like the sudden resurgence in fruit juice in 2013, or 2015’s bone broth craze, or the still-with-us circa 2005 cupcake craze (we’re past Peak Cupcake, but there are still a lot more cupcake places about). In Seattle, one of the 2016 trends was poke: the Hawaiian dish made from cubed, raw, marinated fish served over a bed of rice with a selection of toppings like garlic, the infamous “krab stick”, edamame, ginger, and various seaweed products. It’s actually a dish I rather enjoy (or, more usually, the closely related Japanese-inspired donburi, which is more common out my way). But it was definitely one of the current food trends in Seattle, since during our march we saw no fewer than a dozen places advertising their poke. And there were few better examples of the craze than the 45th Stop N Shop Deli.
After we got back from Mykines, we did some more exploring around Streymoy and ended up back in Tórshavn for dinner. From 1940 to 1948 the Faroe Islands were under British rule, since the British pre-emptively “invaded” after Denmark fell to the Germans to protect the islands from also falling into German hands. While that occupation was shorter than the American occupation (and later post-war NATO presence), the British occupation did leave a lot of little bits of evidence all around the Faroes. Old foundations of observations posts in the mountains. Artillery pieces on the hill over Tórshavn’s harbor. The airport itself was originally built by the British (with its locations chosen since it was well-protected from naval bombardment). And, on a cultural front, a love for fish and chips. One of the better places in the Faroe Islands to get “Fiskur v. Kipsi” is called “Fish and Chips” (again, the Faroese tendency towards relatively simple names for places).
As I mentioned before in my review of The Golden Hind, it can actually be rather difficult to find a good fish and chip shop in London. Back 20 years ago, there were more of them than you could count, and the dish was considered one of the cornerstones of British folk food. But since then, the tastes of London have become more metropolitan and worldly, and as a result, fish and chips got supplanted a while back by Chicken Tikka Masala as the national dish. Meanwhile, most of the really good fish and chip places have closed up. Oh, there’s no shortage of places that can serve up fish and chips, usually by throwing frozen chunks of pre-breaded fish in a fryer, but few places remain that really focus on doing a quality fish and chips. While back in the days of yore it was an upstart (Fisher’s open in 1982), and it’s had several changes of ownership, Fisher’s is still cranking out a variety of fish and chips from their small storefront in Fulham near Bishop’s Park.
(Closed) My second course from the “Eastside Drivein” collection of food carts was from Bits and Druthers, a Union-Jack-painted trailer sporting a menu that was essentially fish and chips, and permutations thereof. I’m always a little bit skeptical of fish and chips joints, since my many travels (especially in England, which is pretty much the birthplace of fish and chips) have shown me that there’s generally a sort of “Fish and Chips Exclusion Principle” at work: Places that have good fish generally have lousy chips, and places that have good chips generally have lousy fish. Places that can do both well at the same time are actually quite rare…
While out and about doing some last-minute Christmas shopping on Marylebone High Street, we decided to divert a little bit and check out The Golden Hind for some fish and chips. While a seemingly simple task (in fact, we’re lucky enough to have a decent place for fish and chips back in New Hampshire), to do it right is actually somewhat difficult in London. Despite Fish and Chips being one of the national dishes of England, there aren’t a lot of places in London itself that serve it (“Chippys” seem to have been replaced with an almost uncountable number of bad fried chicken joints), and fewer that do it well (most serve some sort of half-assed product geared towards tourists). Finding a good one that is generally well-regarded is a bit of a challenge, and the list is short. One that we had an opportunity to try, due to our location, was The Golden Hind.
A visit to England isn’t complete without at least one trip to a good fish and chip shop (a “chippy”) for one of England’s hallmark fast food dish: the fish and chips. Most of our trip had us in London or inland Cornwall, but we did have one day in which we got to visit the south coast of Cornwall, including St Michael’s Mount, Penzanze, and Newlyn. The last of these, Newlyn, is a slightly gritty fishing village which still has a fairly active fleet of fishing trawlers and the like. And, right across the street from the harbour was Jewell’s Fish and Chips…