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How we made it Home for Tea!

Submitted by on September 22, 2009 – 7:33 pm6 Comments


So it was one heck of a feat but we did it! We went around the world and ate at 20 different restaurants in a day. It wasn’t easy, but it was fun and the weeks of planning all paid off in the end. This is how we did it:

I was joined by travel expert Tom from Heading There, Sarah (AKA Gev) and Paul (@pholloway, recruited especially for the mission from Twitter).

Our European leg started sedately in France, at 10am in Café Rouge, who supplied us with coffee, pastries and beautifully crisp French toast.  We moved onto Italy by visiting Pasta Romagna. This is a proper little family run café, with the famous/infamous Gilda, her brilliant music and some piping hot slices of pizza!

We grabbed a fresh, crispy pretzel from the German themed kiosk Ditsch, before heading into the Kirkgate Market to the Polish Kitchen. The girls there made us feel really welcome and cooked us some of their traditional, and seriously tasty potato cakes, topped with sour cream and a sprinkle of sugar (it’s the Polish way apparently).

Our Ethiopian host and cook

Our Ethiopian host and cook

We then headed into Africa with a pit stop at Opposite coffee for a shot of their triple A grade Rwandan coffee, it was so smooth and fragrant, milk and sugar would have ruined it.

Ethiopia was our next destination, at the Merkato café in the (slightly eerie and surreal) Merrion Market.  We were presented with a huge plate of beautifully spiced vegetables and lentils, and delicious meat stews all served on a huge flatbread. No cutlery here, just rip off a piece of bread and scoop up some filling! Amazing. Our first twitter follower of the day @sourrain aka Milli came and found us at this point and helped us consume the huge platter of food.

Gev enjoying Russian pancakes

Gev enjoying Russian pancakes

We moved into the Middle East with a stop in Saffran, a Persian restaurant where we were joined by Culture Vulture Emma to share a platter of bread, hummus and falafel. Emma stayed with us as we got Turkish take away from Efes Mangal. We ate that one on the train on our way to Shipley, where we visited the café Natta. There we enjoyed some Russian style filled pancakes.

Apple Shisha

Apple Shisha

Another short train journey into Bradford was a welcome break from eating. Our original intention was to go out to Temujin Mongolian restaurant in Sowerby Bridge, however we were running a bit late and the restaurant was closing.

We decided instead to stay in Bradford and waddled down to centenary square where we visited Fusia, a Chinese buffet and then onto Markaz, a lavish pan Arabic/Indian inspired restaurant. We chose a few items from the buffet. The change of itinerary meant we had a bit of time to spare so we decided to indulge in a Shisha pipe. The apple flavour was interesting, and although not at all like a cigarette it still made me cough!

Sushi from Sesame

Sushi from Sesame

Back in Leeds we launched into the Far East leg of the tour with Japanese style Sushi from Sesame, followed by a sharing platter in Pan Asian canteen Tampopo. Our third Twitter follower to join us Mike/@nalsa found us at this point (after closely missing us at lunch time).  In Thai Edge we experienced top Thai hospitality along with some delicious, and rather hot soups.

We decided it would be more Australian to indulge in a liquid meal at Walkabout (and to be honest we were far too stuffed to contemplate eating anything else).

Steak from River Plate

Steak from River Plate

The South American leg was marked by a visit to River Plate for beautifully rare Argentine steak and a range of other delicacies. A quick stop for tapas at funky Latin American cocktail bar Sandinista before we jumped in a cab to Chapel Allerton for our Mexican stop (our driver was so impressed by the feat of endurance he donated back our fare- nice one Amber taxi man!)

Empty dishes at Salsa Mexicana

Empty dishes at Salsa Mexicana

Our hosts Fiona and Simon at Salsa Mexicana despite our protests fed us piles of food including chicken with a spicy chocolate sauce and cocktails. We were then given sorbets before being presented with shots of sipping tequila. By this point we were stuffed and we were struggling to swallow even these tiny measures of spirit.

Back into a taxi we drove straight past our Caribbean destination as it was unfortunately closed (dare I say I was slightly relieved? I don’t think I could have eaten another bite) so we carried on into town to our final stop, Prohibition, an American themed cocktail bar.

Our Long Island ‘iced teas’ were served in teapots and mugs to continue with the Prohibition theme. We were joined there by 3 guys who we had spoken to earlier in the night who had been so impressed by our challenge they wanted to see that we were got there to finish! By this time it was near to midnight. After a cocktail making demonstration and a lesson on the history of Long Island Iced Teas, we decided that we had finished!

Covert drinking? Moi?

Covert drinking? Moi?

Stuffed full to the point of being frankly quite ill, I waddled off home counting up the days stops, and to my horror, the two missed stops meant that we had only been to 19 places, 1 short of our target. I devised a plan.

The next morning I got up (well I didn’t really sleep, the indigestion was that bad!) and headed down to the Aroma Café for a bacon buttie and a cup of tea to represent good old blighty. It was hard work, and I don’t know were I found the room but I did it. So there you have it, 20 international restaurants in 24 hours.

Finishing line in sight, looking rough

Finishing line in sight, looking rough

This was all in aid of the smile train charity, and we raised enough money to meet our target of paying for cleft palate surgery for 2 children in the developing world. If you Make a donation, maybe we could pay for three?

We really wanted to demonstrate what an excellent variety of cultures and cuisines we have in this city, and even though we thought we knew this city well, we were still completely astounded by the diversity of food we tried.

We met some excellent people, and speaking to the restaurant owners, we really detected some heartfelt passion for the food being served, you just don’t get this in chain restaurants as the original vision and passion gets watered down to the point where establishments become soulless.

I hope our challenge has helped to show you that there is a vibrant food culture and some amazing restaurants in this city and we hope we have inspired you to maybe go and try something a little different. Micro reviews of some of the places visited will be appearing on Leeds Grub in the coming weeks. You can also listen to my interview with Steve Bailey on BBC radio Leeds on the iplayer until Thursday (the interview begins at 45mins).

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