London, Part 2
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Why did I never realize what a truly beautiful city London is? Maybe because it’s been years since I was here in summer. But you can’t walk more than a block or two before coming upon a park or a garden. Fountains play everywhere, and even subsidized housing flats are a riot of colorful wildflowers.
Passed these flowers on the way to Borough Market. Has it changed this much since last time I was here? It's a madhouse, so packed it's almost impossible to move. Still, there are some highpoints.
Tiny little lamb legs at The Ginger Pig.
Wandered over to Neal's Yard, where they no longer make the fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches. "They're making those at Kappacasein’s." We found it more by smell than anything else, an aromatic scent of melting cheese floating over the market. And there it was, that fabulous sandwich of Montgomery cheddar melted onto Poilane bread with lots of different alliums.
But they also make raclette, Ogleshield (yes, the same cheese we had last night at Quo Vadis), melted onto potatoes with onions and pickles.
It's made on this ingenious melting machine.
Afterwards, walked over to the Tate Modern. If you're there while it's still on, don't miss the remarkable Agnes Martin show. Like a visit to spa: a calm oasis in the midst of madness.
Museums pop up where you least expect them. Wandering past smoky Lincoln’s Field - filled with picnickers grilling meat - we came upon the John Soane Museum. Soane was a famous architect and teacher and obviously a little mad. His house is packed with architectural models, drawings, artifacts - all piled upon each other in vast profusion. One tiny room contains 180 paintings - including the complete Rakes Progress by Hogarth. The museum is free, quirky and should not be missed.
But then it was time to eat again. We stopped for an ice cream and found this sitting on the table. Never seen such a thing before- America conquors the world!
My dinner at Dinner
Lot of hype. Number something or other on the list of 50 Best Restaurants. And I loved it last time I was there, just after it opened. So I knew I was letting myself in for a big disappointment.
But it was my brother’s birthday, and I thought he’d like the whole idea of eating history. So I, almost reluctantly, made a reservation.
I don’t think we’d been there ten minutes before we all relaxed into the experience. The service was.... wonderful. Enthusiastic. Caring. Welcoming. Endlessly professional. You couldn’t help feeling that these people were proud of what they did, wanted you to have a great experience, and would do anything to ensure that.
And the food - from the first bite of bread to the last morsel of pudding - was pure pleasure. We ate almost everything on the menu, and there’s not a single dish I wouldn’t happily order again.
To begin: great bread. Fabulous butter.
A wine list that has some stars - 82 Bordeaux abound - but also good wines at reasonable prices. And a sommelier who helps you find them.
Meat fruit. This is, believe it or not, liver pate. Fantastic. Unbelievable. Gorgeous. Delicious. A relic from the 13th century, when they loved playing with food, making one substance look like another. Back then it could never have tasted this good.
Porridge. Frog’s legs. This is what I thought: I have to start paying attention to oatmeal. It has as much potential as rice. Garlic. Parsley. Fennel.
But then, of course, there was the risotto. It’s not called that on the menu. It’s called rice and flesh- and it comes from 1390 - but it is, in essence, the best risotto you’ve ever eaten. Intense. The rice cook in saffron with red wine, tasting of beef, of rice.
Marrow’s become a kind of joke; everybody serves it now. But not like this. This was not just a blob of richness in a bone. It was chewy. Against something even chewier: snails. And served with the loveliest little pickles.
Crab and toast. What is there to say? Except that maybe it also has trout roe.
A dish dating back to 1720. Chicken oysters - the tenderest part of the chicken - served with salsify, horseradish.
This was just the start to a roller coaster ride of a meal. But this post is getting very long; think I'll save the main courses (and dessert) for tomorrow.