Thursday, March 31, 2011

London Highlights

The gods smiled on Kevin and bestowed upon him a business trip to London last week, and they practically cooed and giggled over me by allowing me to tag along for the trip.

If you're in need of a little escapism, are curious about or planning to go to London, or just like the drone of my writing, this post of my London trip highlights is for you.

Near the London Bridge lies a series of old buildings under subway tracks where centuries ago, traders of grain, fish, meat and vegetable sold their products.  It's a bustling food market, which Kevin aptly called "Dickensian", that houses over 100 stalls seemingly randomly dropped throughout three main market areas. 

It's crowded, there are turns and twists, and a dizzying array of fresh and prepared food.  It's not really a farmers' market as it's not big on produce, but if you need cheese, bread, meat, seafood, dessert, wine, flowers, meat pies, chocolate, cider, etc., then this is the place (well, at least on Thursdays through Saturdays).

One of my favs at Borough Market was this heavenly stand that had multiple half-wheels of Raclette (a French cheese known for its wonderful melting properties) broiling away under heat lamps.  If you order a plate, the nice gentleman (he was actually relatively sullen, I'm just calling him nice because he gave me food) will slough off a layer of gooey melted cheese onto a heap of perfectly boiled potatoes and dish it up with some gherkin.

It ain't pretty, but no one said heaven was about good looks.

2.  Mayfair
One of the ritzier and prettier neighborhoods in West End, right by Hyde Park.  I loved meandering the streets and looking at all the gorgeous architecture and window shopping at the stores in Bond Street (which seems to be on the border between Mayfair and Soho). 

3. Afternoon Tea (or more importantly, Clotted Cream)
I learned that the late afternoon tradition of having tea, scones, sandwiches and dessert is called afternoon tea, not high tea. High tea is something else--what that is, I don't know.  Anyway, in the world of Mina, afternoon tea is not complete without champagne.  Even though champagne doesn't really go with desserts. That never stopped me.  Because I persevere.

The afternoon tea at the Haymarket Hotel is a little bit of a splurge but SO WORTH IT especially if you can sit in the airy and bright Conservatory.

Very rarely is there something more special than a glass of bubbly.  But when it comes to afternoon tea, you really have to talk about the clotted cream.  Somewhere between the consistency of butter and cream, this stuff is just thick gobby creamy goodness.  I mean do you see that beauteeousness?

4.  Dogs (imaginary and otherwise)
You've already met Molly, a bear of a mastiff that I met in Regent's Park:

I actually took Kevin back to Regent's Park later that day and pointed out the exact spot where I had met Molly earlier that day. Like it was some sanctified patch of dirt and grass.

But we also came upon the new window dressing for Mulberry, which included:


5.  I feel like I should have a nice number of five highlights. Hm...oh, the lemon sole at Hereford Road restaurant.  We made the trek out to this Notting Hill restaurant, opened by a chef that trained with Chef Ferguson at St. John, the restaurant that made a splash of cooking very good British food with excellent ingredients, and using all parts of an animal. At both St. John and Hereford Road we had some excellent meat, such as roast bone marrow and veal breast, but the highlight was absolutely the lemon sole.

Not a pretty picture, but this fish was delectable.  Tender yet firm, cooked incredibly well and so wonderful with a healthy dose of lemon. I admit that I don't often finish my entrees (I get full easily), but with this one, Kevin stared at me a little mortified as I, with my fingers, pinched up every last morsel that couldn't be scrounged up with my fork.  The food made up for the incredible cacophony that fills the restaurant.

There were obviously other great things, but I'll inflict those on my family.


  1. EEEEEEEEEK, I'm going to be in London in July with a few days spent mostly by myself (visiting a friend but she'll be working on the week days!) so this is perfect and making me so excited! We'll have to talk more when my trip gets closer.

    Also, CLOTTED CREAM!!!!!!

  2. Looks fabulous!! I LOVE London. I haven't been there in a very long time. If I go I will totally check out Hereford Road or St. John. Thanks for sharing your trip! Also I LOVE tea. What a great trip!

  3. That market looks awesome! My dad is British and has mentioned more than once about how much he misses his beloved clotted cream. Take me with you next time! ;)

  4. ooooo, that tray o' sweets looks just delectable.

  5. Oh my- the cheesy potatoes (or just the giant wheels of cheese) are making me drool! Looks like such a fun trip!

  6. You had me at potatoes. And champagne.
    Would those two go together? I would certainly try.

    It looks like you had an amazing trip!!

  7. Hooray for London! Man, now I miss it. Also now I have a very strong desire to eat some clotted cream. :) So jealous you got to spend a week in London - looks like you had a great time!

  8. arunnerslife: oooh how exciting! feel free to email me and i can fill you in on some other stuff i would recommend!

    terri: i definitely give a thumbs-up to hereford road.

    tiffany: if i grew up with clotted cream, i can only imagine how much i would miss it.

    sashacleo: nothing like a tray of goodies. a little mini buffet, if you will.

    maylove: the cheezy potatoes were without a doubt one of the best things i've eaten recently

    jessica: that's a genius combo.

    notesfromthebench: i didn't know you lived there! it really is a great city, i was so happy that i got to go.

  9. Afternoon tea with champagne sounds like the only way to do it if you ask me. And that clotted cream. Yum.

  10. I need that ginormous wheel of cheese STAT! Oh and the clotted cream. yummmmmm.

  11. HOLY CRAP - give me that wheel of melty cheese STATTTT!!!! Amazing!

  12. My parents went to London like 10 years ago and still rave about clotted cream. Hubs & I have been longing to go to London for awhile now...this post put my London Fever in overdrive!