One of the fabulous things about London is that it has has a lot of ethnic foods available that aren’t easy available in the US (on the negative side of things, there are also ethnic foods that still haven’t really arrived there: most Latin American food isn’t really available aside from Mexican, which is still somewhat a developing scene). One of these is Xinjiang cuisine. Xinjiang is a really good example of how China isn’t a monotlithic country; as one of the northwest provinces, much of the population is historically more Turkic than Chinese, much of the population is Muslim Uyghurs, and the resulting culinary tradition is a blend of Turkic and Chinese traditions. Lamb soup and kebabs are standard fare, and there’s even a variation of naan. And, in the London district of Camberwell, there’s actually a well-regarded source for Uyghur cuisine: Silk Road.
Where Offbeat Eats has been:
Our last full day in Brussels was one of wandering and exploring. Sophie went off to see some old sites from when she lived there. Dan went to check out The Royal Museum for Central Africa, mostly a museum about Belgium’s sordid colonial past. And Carol and I decided to do a bit of a walking tour, checking out the botanical garden, the old 19th century homes around Square Ambiorix, and then checking out the Parc du Cinquantenaire and L’arc de Triomphe, the last of these being a rather large and impressive park originally built in 1880 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Belgium. At the Arch, we rendezvoused with Dan and Sophie, and decided to find a pleasant place to eat, eventually settling on Carpe Diem, a brasserie just east of the Arch on Avenue de Tervueren. It’s getting almost to be a running joke at this point, but like a lot of the previous reviews, Carpe Diem is your basic Belgian brasserie, with a menu focusing primarily on traditional Belgian dishes (I must make a note to myself here to try some more ethnic food the next time I’m in Brussels…). But they really do have a good selection of traditional Belgian dishes, including Lapin à la Gueuze (Rabbit in a Gueuze beer sauce), Carbonades Flamandes (Flemish stew), Chicons au Gratin (basically potatoes au gratin), Vol-au-vent, and Stoemp de Saison (basically an elaborate mashed potatoes), as well as a good selection of Belgian beers and side dishes.