Mooching Around Maldon, Essex

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Maldon is a smallish town (population roughly 14,000 people) with a lot of history and fun current shops and restaurants. Plus they have world famous salt! UK Sarah and I spent a few hours mooching around Maldon one March day. It isn’t far from where Sarah lives and one of the most charming towns in Essex. It is situated on the Eastern coastline with marsh flats and tidal fluctuations that strand boats in the River Blackwater for hours at a time. On my last visit we had explored the Promenade Park.

This visit was more practical with a stop at Tesco for dinner ingredients and then a leisurely stroll in downtown with a bit of shopping (for salt) and lunch at Mrs. Salisbury’s Famous Tea Rooms.

Apparently you can buy the Maldon salt at Tesco, but I didn’t think to look for it there. I was able to find it at the Marks&Spencer mini mart. It is the same box you can buy at your grocer. Perhaps like me you’ve been watching Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix or read the book and it peaked your interest in Maldon salt. Here are a few excerpts from Samin Nosrat’s book: Sea salt is what’s left behind when seawater evaporates. Natural sea salts such as… Maldon are the less-refined result of gradual, monitored evaporation that can take up to five years… Maldon salt crystals… take on a hollow pyramid shape, and are often referred to as flaky salt. (p25) I recommend buying Nosrat’s book if you’d like to know how to use Maldon salt and at what quantities. Very helpful.

I’ve also been watching Great British Bake Off and purchased a cookbook by Mary Berry when I was in London. I wanted to sample a Victoria Sponge or Victoria Sandwich to see what I’ve been missing. Mrs. Salisbury’s Victoria Sandwich was quite tasty although very sweet. I enjoyed the Victoria Sandwich at The Loft in Tollesbury more. And on Sunday’s the Loft plays vinyl records and creates a laid back vibe perfect for a Sunday afternoon.

I love the go-go of London and Harry Potter world, but there is a lot to be said for relaxing at the English seaside and experiencing a bit of modern English culture.

American Pie Vs. British Pie

Final-Book-Cover_15Dec2011_cropped1Happy Pi(e) Day!

My first plan for today was to read Beth M. Howard’s book Making Piece and then to reflect on the roles pie has played in my own life. I am as my mother reminds me “from a long line of pie-baking women.”

I bought the book (it’s on my TBR shelf) and then I realized I’d be in London on Pi(e) Day.

I am in London in the middle of two glorious days Harry Pottering. I did scope out a shop, Pieminister, where I could try some British meat pies. Alas our schedule is so full it may not happen today. I may have to wait for Ian Leavitt’s pie in the butcher shop in Tollesbury, Essex.

CriscoI recently began watching the Great British Bake Off on Netflix. I am late to the party. I went back to watch from the early seasons and someone in there they gave the amateur bakers the challenge to bake an American pie. I was appalled by how they interpreted our pies. First they all used butter only crust. While there are Americans who use butter only crust, it is more common to use half-butter, half-shortening in the crust. Or as the women in my family do–all shortening, preferably Crisco. (I’m sure Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are shuddering if they read this.) Second, American pie is served from it’s pie “pan” which is most commonly a ceramic dish especially for pie. The bakers did get right that it is almost always very sweet and can be a cream pie or a fruit pie or a combination.

Watching the show has also reminded me of some of the very delicious meat pies I have enjoyed in England. I hope to eat some today, perhaps at Warner Brothers Studios.

Pick up a fork and celebrate Pi(e) Day with your choice of savory or sweet!

Update: I did get some absolutely fabulous chicken pot pie from Ian the butcher in Tollesbury, Essex. He makes his with a puff pastry top.

Friend Time in Tollesbury

My friend UK Sarah lives in Tollesbury and descriptions of life in her Essex village were too lovely to visit England without experiencing the essence of Essex. We stayed at her home in Tollesbury and made day trips. Our days were ordered though by drinks or dinner with friends, walks in the village and to the sea, and time for reading. No point in being in Tollesbury if you don’t actually spend time in Tollesbury.

I understand why she and Roy were glad to move back. While their boat Ocean Dancer is home for the next few months. This is where they will weigh anchor at the end of their adventure.