Fighting jet lag, yet reluctant to begin spending huge amounts of money in London restaurants, we make a trip to the local Marks & Spencer supermarket section for some quick & easy prepared food options. After a wide-eyed browsing session, we decide on two lamb chump rounds, and a container of potato salad.
A half hour later (and after discovering our oven is off by 40-50 degrees Celsius), we’re ready to eat what turns out to be in all aspects a very satisfying meal. For the price (£5.99 for the lamb and £1.50 for the potato salad), the quality of the ingredients far surpasses expectations. The tender, juicy lamb has a smokiness rarely if ever found in American commercial meat, and the bold Devonshire cheddar & Tewkesbury mustard crust pairs with it wonderfully. The potato salad, in a mix of mayonnaise, creme fraiche, and mustard, flavored with spring onion and mint, provides a cool complement to the savory lamb.
Add to this a glass or two of completely acceptable (and £2.70 a bottle) Tesco brand claret, and a few slices of organic butter-topped miche from the bakery down the block, and we receive a welcoming introduction to ready-made British supermarket fare.
A few early observations on London supermarkets: chicken appears to be heavily promoted with 2 for 1 offers in display cases. A symptom of wariness of the bird flu, or is chicken just not as popular here as in the states? There’s a much greater focus on organic here as well, even in the Tesco / Sainsbury’s / M & S store generic brands. The prepared meal we’ve purchased proudly exclaims that it’s additive free, which goes a ways to explaining how much we end up enjoying it.