Or, "Why Did We Want Independence from This?"
Myers of Keswick feels as though it has been looking out on Hudson Street forever, which, in Manhattan terms is true; the self-styled "Bastion of Albion in Manhattan," opened its doors 23 years ago tomorrow, on July 4, 1985. I'm guessing that Peter Myers has a sense of humor, raising the Union Jack in the West Village as he did on the anniversary of the day that the thirteen colonies cocked a collective snook at Mother England and struck out on their own.
The store carries a wide enough range of English foods--Heinz Baked Beanz (most often served on toast), mushy peas, Branston Pickle, Lucozade, crisps, sweets, and twenty or more varities of tea--to satisfy any expat or send any Masterpiece Theatre-watching anglophile into squeals of delight. There's also a selection of Brit-themed mugs, tea towels, and so on. Myers is nonetheless cozy without being twee; it feels like a store, not a tourist destination.
But the best of Myers of Keswick sits plumply behind the counter.
You won't find apple or blueberry pie here, but there are fifteen pies of a bit more substance to be had, including pork, pork and Stilton, beef and onion, chicken and mushroom, and steak and kidney, and Cornish pasties, each savory filling encased in a perfectly flaky golden crust.
What I'm here for today, though, is the sausage. They make four varieties at Myers of Keswick: bangers, chipolata, pork and ginger, and Cumberland, the recipe for which was given to Peter Myers' grandfather in 1907. No changes have been made to the recipe, and with good reason: this is a perfect sausage. More coarsely ground than American sausage, utterly juicy, and subtly spiced. And like many tradition English sausages, it contains a bit of starch--in this case, rusk, which is similar to zwieback.
The Toad in the Hole recipe that follows features the sausage nestled in a soaring dome of Yorkshire pudding, along with its traditional accompaniment, onion gravy. If the weather's too hot for you to light the oven, or you're barbecuing on the Fourth, just grab a pound of Cumberland sausages, pierce them, and toss them in a frying pan or on the grill. Whatever you do, don't miss them! 634 Hudson St., New York NY 10014 (nr Horatio; map); 212-691-4194