We’ve had a cracking time watching the Rugby World Cup over the past few weeks, from an entire nation suddenly deciding they’ve always been big fans of the Japanese to healthy dollops of Celtic schadenfreude at the host’s early exit to the frankly terrifying athleticism of the All Blacks. It’s been magnificent. Although our favourite element has been these chaps:
Now the tournament is down to just four heavy-hitters: the usual suspects of Australis, New Zealand, South Africa and the surprise package of Argentina. London is hope to excellent ex-pat communities from all four countries and they all know how to have a good time. We found some of the best under-the-radar haunts to get into the atmosphere of this weekend. Whether you’re far from home and want some reminders or are just a curious Londoner, these are some of the best southern hemispherical hangouts:
There’s more to Aussies in London than sinking tinnies in a Walkabout. If you want to enjoy the authentic taste of the Outback (well, not the really authentic taste of eating grubs you found under a rock) then head to Borough Market and grab a freshly barbecued kangaroo burger or some smoked crocodile steaks from the Exotic Meat Company. There’s nothing like chowing down on an apex predator to get your weekend started with a bang!
For a taste of Australian cafe culture you can head to one of the three Lantana‘s in Camden, Shoreditch and Fitzrovia. As bright and sharp as you’d expect any antipodean eatery to be, they’ve been open since 2008 by a bunch of homesick Aussies and you can treat yourself to delicious sweet or savoury brunch including toasted banana bread with cinnamon ricotta, fresh berries, butterscotch & pistachio crumb and smashed avocado & streaky bacon on sourdough toast with poached egg & rocket.
If that’s all a little to cosmopolitan and sophisticated for your tastes, then Bogan Bingo at The Slug in Fulham is one of the best dumb fun party nights in town. In their own words “you can absolutely lose your shit at this face-melting, adulterated version of the classic game.” Join the hit of international comedy festivals from Melbourne to Edinburgh every Thursday for a magnificent party, all tentatively held together by the great sport of bingo. Tickets are also available on Frugl this week.
If weeks of rugby have convinced you that it’s actually a little to soft for your sensibilities, you can go and support one of London’s many Aussie Rules Clubs. There are clubs in Wimbledon, Kilburn, Wandsworth, Peckham and Putney, most of which are more than willing to welcome a newcomer to their training session if you’re feeling brave and fancy a ball game where punching appears to be just another form of passing.
London is absolutely teeming with some of the finest comic minds on the planet and right now Australians are at the forefront of that. The prestigious Foster’s comedy award was won by moustachioed absurdist Sam Simmons in August, but he’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also arts and crafts gagster Bec Hill, recent star of the John Bishop Show Felicity Ward, one-man good times machine Damo Clark and the rantiest, raviest of comedian’s comedians, Brendon Burns, will be heading into town in December to record a view episodes of his hilarious free-wheeling podcast at the Hen and Chickens Theatre.
Although it is much famed for its biltong in recent years a new South African food stuff has his these shores and it is a genius invention that carb-lover will adore: Bunny Chow. It’s the simplest of recipes: bake a cylindrical bun, hollow it out and fill with curry then place a bread lit back on it at a jaunty angle. Once you’ve finished your curry, just eat your bowl. Their main store is in Soho, but they can also be found at various pop-ups, offering such variations as a full English breakfast bunny and piri-piri pork bunny!
Trevor Noah is far and away the most famous South African comic on the planet right now as host of the Daily Show, but the Soho Theatre is always on the lookout for international talent and another titan of African comedy, Loyiso Gola, is playing 5 dates in November. Loyiso Gola has been enthralling stand-up and television audiences around the world for over a decade. Host of the two-time Emmy-nominated political satire show, Late Nite News, Loyiso’s refreshingly frank and outspoken comedy breaks taboos, with no fear of controversy! Born in the Cape Town township of Gugulethu, Men’s Health SA described him as ‘a genuine thinker masquerading as a fool and the reluctant voice of a cynical generation’.
There is a vast and vibrant South African music scene around town and nowhere is that better experienced that at Cafe Oto in Dalston. Coming up in soon they welcome a new jazz quartet featuring legendary South African drummer Louis Moholo Moholo and there’s a regular flow of talent pouring in from Africa’s tip.
Contemporary African art is becoming increasingly popular in Europe and whilst you might not be able to buy any of the items on display at the newly opened Tyburn Gallery in Marylebone, they’re certainly worth a look and a quick game of Fantasy Art Dealer. Its brief to champion established artists and younger talents from a global range of evolving art scenes, with Africa as a point of departure and its first show features work by a range of South African artists in a combination of photography, painting, sculpture and tapestry.
New Zealand doesn’t really have a cuisine calling card, but Kiwi chef Peter Gordon has created a warm Covent Garden favourite of idiosyncratic fusion cookery at Kopapa. Its lunch menu is a little on the pricey side, but for unsurpassably clean and healthy breakfasts (even the fry-up looks like finely crafted work of art) this is the place to be. The Turkish eggs are a particular winner.
Of course New Zealand isn’t just a place in the real world, it’s a mythical beast as well. For past 15 years people all round the world have seen it transformed into Middle Earth and any Tolkein obsessives should definitely head for The Grapes in Limehouse, co-owned by Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen. It’s a wonderfully aged pub with a ripe history including such famous figures as Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens and Conan Doyle. Not only will it take you back to a time when Limehouse was a much more grimily dangerous place, but you can also see Gandalf’s Staff behind the bar.
The Long White Cloud in Hoxton has made itself out to be a home from home for Kiwis in the Big Smoke. It sells the usual array of healthy lunches and indulgent baked goods, but also stocks a range of food, drinks & treats for homesick Kiwis and those who like to try something a little different, including Vegemite, Giant Toastie sweets and Lemon & Paeroa.
Without much rhyme or reason Acton has become the hub for New Zealanders in London and the only place to be there is the fantastic Aeronaut pub. After a massive re-furb a couple of years ago, the Aeronaut now specialises in spectacular cabaret and circus shows on the weekend. With advance tickets at just £12, it’s an absolute steal for a night out at the big top with a pint.
New Zealand is, of course, the birthplace of bungee jumping. Whilst there’s no budget bungees in London (and perhaps it’s not the best experience to scrimp on the cost) you can still enjoy white-knuckle thrills for less by heading to Oxygen, a massive free-jumping trampoline park, conveniently in adrenaline-central, Acton. It’s just £12.50 for an hour of jumping in a huge space literally covered in trampolines. Easily the best value fun workout in town.
Before Lionel Messi, the Hand of God, Patagonian steak or Eva Peron, the first port of call when thinking about Argentina is that it is home to the world’s sexiest dance. London is blooming with tango classes on every day in every place, whether it ‘s Tango Fever on Tuesdays in Exmouth Market and Thursdays in Hackney, Tango Instinct social dancing on Wednesdays at Tito’s restaurant in London Bridge or La Mariposa leisurely Sunday afternoons in Balham. If you just want to stand back and watch, slack-jawed at the pros, then head to the atmospheric party of Negracha where an array of live bands and lithe dancers create a little piece of Buenos Aires in London.
If you’d rather enjoy the music without the visuals you can head to either Garufa in Highbury or Santa Maria del Sur in Clapham and enjoy a big glass of Malbec with some authentic, feisty background music from world class performers.
Argentinians are rightly proud of their stock of tasty cows and we reckon the best place for a cheeky lunch burger is Garufin. Pop in there for lunch and get their Hamburguesa, an Argentine beef burger, topped with provolone cheese, “chimichurri” mayo, lettuce, tomato & hand cut chips for just £9.50.
If you want to have something a little bit more rustic, then Chango offer the most scrumptious empanadas around. These little pockets of sweet and savoury joy can be found all around town at food markets from Piccadilly to Victoria, Brick Lane to Clapham. For a full list of the 12 venues they pop-up in, plus their new permanent store in Richmond, click on the link above.
Whilst Argentinians are rightly proud of their rugby warriors, there’s still only one sport that rules all others back home: football. One of the reasons they’re so frustratingly good at the game is the spread of the trick-fuelled, one-touch game of Futsal – somewhere between five-a-side and life size Subbuteo. If you fancy yourself as a late-blooming Lionel Messi, why not get a side together and start practising those stepovers?