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A taste of the Olympics

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    The Blackbird pub near Earl's Court in West London (Kacy Capobres)

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    Visitors can sit down for a pint and a pie at the Blackbird and watch the Games, or head down to Earl's Court for the live action (Kacy Capobres)

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    A traditional British pie, made by the Blackbird (Kacy Capobres)

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    Local cheeses are the star of the Betjeman Arm's classic European cheese board (Kacy Capobres)

With all the world focusing its attention on London this summer, it has finally come time for the city’s food to take center stage. Slowly emerging from its former lackluster culinary reputation, visitors to the 2012 London Olympics will be pleasantly surprised by the dishes local pubs are serving up. 

Just recently, the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) released the menu of food and beverages items that will be sold inside the Olympic venues. And with visitors expecting to pour in from around the globe, the LOCOG is hoping to please everyone with both British and international cuisine.

And it is not just the LOCOG who is getting into the Olympic spirit but pubs across the city as well.

One local pub in West London is making sure the food they serve during the games is as British as it comes.

With an estimated 50,000 viewers expected daily for the Olympic indoor volleyball competition at nearby Earl Court, the Blackbird pub is preparing for the masses.

“We’re lucky, not many pubs are so close to a venue,” says pub manager Dave Hay.

Part of the Fuller independent brewery and pub family, the Blackbird is a pub known among locals first and foremost for its food. 

“We try to make the food the best with what we’ve got,” says Hay. And while the menu will be reduced for the Olympics, Hay is “trying to keep it similar to what we do day to day.”

With this emphasis on traditional English food it is only natural that such items as meat pies and fish and chips are expected to be the menu’s most popular. The country’s famous English ale is also expected to be a top seller at the Blackbird, specifically the Fuller label’s  “London Pride.”  

While many pubs in London will be taking an approach similar to the Blackbird, some gastro pubs are looking to elevate the typical pub experience.

Located across from the Eurostar platform at the St. Pancras International train station in central London, the Betjeman Arms gastro pub won’t be getting much foot traffic from any nearby Olympic venues.

However, what they'll be getting is an enormous amount of domestic and international travelers in need of a bite to eat and place to catch the latest Olympic events.

With this in mind, the Betjeman Arms has rearranged its menu and interior to provide for the ultimate Olympic viewing experience.

The pub’s entire menu, including the North Yorkshire free range herb chicken and British cheese board, focus on using the best local ingredients available.

“I think almost every dish has some British ingredient.,” says Yvette Blackwood, one of the events coordinators at the Betjeman Arms.“We are always trying to keep the traditional pub classics but with a modern twist.”

Like everything they do, the Betjeman Arms is giving the Olympics an air of sophistication with reasonably priced canapé boards as well as a two and three course price fixie menu.

With the direct train from London to the Olympic park in Stratford just outside the pub’s door, the Betjeman Arms is also taking full advantage of it’s location.

Just steps away from the train platform the gastro pub is setting up a grab and go buffet that, like the LOCOG food inside the Olympic venues, will feature international flavors.

And while both the Betjeman Arms and Blackbird pubs have very different approaches to food, when it comes to the Olympics they can both agree that for them it is all about showcasing the culinary world of London.   

With such an array of options and price points available at this year’s London Olympics, both locals and tourists are sure to find something to please their palette.

You can contact Kacy Capobres via twitter

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