food highlights re recent London stay
As always great food in London--and much help from this Board. By way of thanks, some highlights.
My best meal may well have been St. John's Bread and Wine. The foie gras and duck liver pate on toast was indulgent bliss. And the blood pudding topped w/ a duck egg (duck two ways...) was brilliant--I had been wary of ordering it, having found other blood puddings heavy in texture and seasoning. The server (who was lovely--in visits past, I've quibbled with too-cool-for-school service, but this time it was spot on) assured me this was light and carefully flavored--and she was right.
Although I'd been dreaming of a grilled cheese sandwich @ Kappecasen in Borough Market; and it was certainly very good, I was somehow not as wowed this time--can't explain--maybe not as special, when you've had it a bunch? And it always leaves me feeling like I never want to eat again, it's so rich--not a good feeling.
Trad drinking chocolate @ Rabat @ Borough Market lovely (and it was chilly, so especially welcome--and they also have the best loo in the Market, just off the little eating area, a not insignificant fact!).
The Bramley apple juice from the Chegworth Valley stall--which I got @ Borough and the Notting Hill Saturday Farmer's Market--is the best apple juice on the planet--tart, tart, tart.
Got to a few places I'd never been before and had been meaning to for a while.
One was Tayyabs--lamb chop appetizer beautifully seasoned and cooked--ditto dry meat (which was anything but dry--which I couldn't say about the chicken tandoor appetizer). We went after theatre, so quite late. They had assured us when we made a res that they'd get us a taxi. Turned out to be unlicensed; and the nice enough driver had no idea where to go and named a too-high price (we bargained a bit, but felt kind of stuck, since it was just too late for the Tube). Will for sure go back and sample more--at a time when the Tube is running.
Another first time try, after wanting to for a while: Ottolenghi--@ Notting Hill--I queued up for a sit-down lunch and got a plate of four salads. They all looked beyond gorgeous in the huge bowls at the front. But they blurred together somehow, eating them. I got...bored. I think I would have quite liked all of them, had I had one as a side with a main.
And the final place I'd wanted to go to for a while--Rose Bakery, just off Picadilly (Green Park tube). I have the first cookery book, which I quite like; and I'd been wanting to go in Paris--was delighted to see she'd opened a London branch. It's in a building full of designers, several floors' worth. So fun people-watching/eaves-dropping @ the cafe. Smiled at the fact that in order to get to some seats against the wall, you had to scrunch through the tiniest space--and the fashionistas who took those seats had no problem doing so. Goes without saying, pretty much everyone who had "fashion industry" written all over her was eating Rose's quartet of salads. Not me! Shepherd's pie was the daily special; and it was a day of not just freezing cold, but snow, so I went for that. It was quite good--as good as mine--but frankly--not particularly better. And Rose's famous carrot cake--was.....dry. Maybe just a different (dry?!) carrot cake style or aesthetic?
The most adventurous food experience: we went to a concert @ Kingsway, near Kings Cross--and for dessert @ the Rotunda restaurant in the Kingsway complex, I had buttermilk and sea buckthorn pudding--panna cotta with a jelly made from sea buckthorn, which is an orange berry (so I learned)--delicious!
And the most fun food moment: after swinging by Fortnum and Mason's tea counter (sending up a memorial prayer re the fact that they no longer stock their tea in the US), I wandered up to the first floor, where the terrific Rose Prince and her adorable and talented teen-age son were set up in the pop-up kitchen. She was lovely--had fun, chatting, as she assembled a delightful-looking Victoria Sandwich cake with four layers and three different kinds of Fortnum jams in between and a white chocolate fondant on top. She's there for a couple weeks, which, I think, just started this past Monday. Worth making this a destination during that time!
Finally, I brought back in my suitcase: Marks and Spencer Extra Strong teabags, Fortnum and Mason Fortmason tea, Maldon salt, McVities Dark Chocolate Biscuits, Cadbury's chocolate with nuts, and assorted other Cadbury's, and a few re-usable carry bags from Sainsbury and Waitrose to parade around with when grocery shopping in the US!
I love London. See you again soon.