England – September 4 to 10
On 3rd September, Ryan and I crossed the pond for a 2-week visit in the Motherland (America’s Mum, that is; not the true Motherland where Homo sapiens originated). It was, I must say, a gastronomic experience.
“But oh ho, Michelle!” Says those who know me. “But you have a prob with British cuisine.”
Ah yes, that is was true.
During my academic stay in Central London a couple of years ago, my mass emails to family and friends were packed with criticisms of English food. But I should clarify that I stayed at a catered hall—dorm food, as many of us can attest to, is infamous for destroying appetites. Mine wasn’t spared. Poor imitations of international cuisine were served left and right! I mean, who uses spaghetti noodles for chow mein?! I was hungry for good food! Therefore, my complaints were inevitable and unavoidable. And well justified.
My hall food experience aside, England arguably offers a spectacular array of international food. London especially. Being a multicultural hub, when it comes to cuisine, the city has a plethora of restaurants featuring cuisines from around the globe. Want to go around the world in 3 meals? London is your answer.
London – Paddington – Pride of Paddington – September 4
Pub on the same block of my parents’ lodging and two blocks from Kat’s hall (Lillian Penson).
Kat’s and my drinks (the light ales flanking the water). They were nice and refreshing!
Window by our table
Mmmm, Bangers and Mash, which according to Kat is the pride of Pride of Paddington. (Not pictured: Kat’s, Mom’s, Dad’s, and Ryan’s dishes)
London – University College London – September 5
Oooh, glasses and glasses of Pimm’s Cup served during my college’s graduation luncheon along with champagne (not pictured). Also available were soft drinks (not pictured) for those who preferred a non-alcoholic drink. There were hors d’oeuvres galore but we got too engrossed with munching away so taking photos took a back seat.
London – Queensway – Little Persia – September 5
What was left of my Chicken Kebab and Rice
London – Edgeware Road – Al Arez – September 6
One of Kat’s fave joints. She learned about the restaurant when she attended a friend’s birthday party that was held there.
My drink: a concoction of date, rose water, and other lovely ingredients that I can’t recall.
Mom’s Melon Shake. Mom makes a similar drink using cantaloupe.
Vegetable soup for Michelle’s soul. Soup is my comfort food.
The toppings (reminds me of pita chips) for Dad’s Chicken soup and my Vegetable soup.
Pickled goods! Olives and pepperoncini.
This sausage and tomato dish that I forgot what is called in Lebanese (but Kat knows for sure) is soooo tasty!
Ah, but this green beans dish was the dish I favored.
The spread again but with the grilled meats platter (far right) included.
It gets better… a complimentary dessert, Baklawa.
London – Russell Square – chez Carlotte, Dennis, and kids – September 6
Ryan’s drink. Mine, not pictured.
South African jerky. This is nothing like the jerky we know in the States. It wasn’t hard and dry. In fact, it was moist and succulent.
Charlotte’s baked mushroom. Cheesy and yummy!
Due to uncooperative weather, we had an indoor picnic. Check out these South African links. Being a former lacto-ovotarian (I couldn’t give up dairy and egg products), I must admit that when I’m vis-a-vis meaty eats like the ones in the photo, it makes me glad that I decided to convert back to an omnivorous existence.
Get up close and personal with the South African links (I forgot what they’re called).
The picnic spread prepared by our Hostess. Charlotte made the potato salad and caprese salad. Excellent side dishes!
The condiments that Ryan and I couldn’t get enough of.
Cornish ice cream and brownies- an unbeatable combination
London – Queensway – Bella Italia – September 7
Piatto rustico and Gamberi alio
Piatto rustico: prosciutto, salame, mozarella, olives, artichokes, toasted bread
Close up of piatto rustico
Close up of the prosciutto
Our dolce: mixed gelati
Ryan’s sambucca with coffee beans
London – Notting Hill – Leisure Inn – September 8
Complimentary breakfast in our hotel
It’s definitely a British egg. The UK stamp says it all.
Hello yummy sunshine!
London – Queensway – Waffle House – September 8
Free wi-fi here! With purchase of drinks and/or food. Don’t you just like conditionals.
London – Hyde Park (sandwiches from Waffle House)
Ryan’s sandwich: ciabatta, bacon, lettuce, tomato
Still Ryan’s sandwich
My sandwich: a BLT minus the L, so I suppose it’s just a BT sandwich then.
London – Paddington – The Monkey Puzzle – September 8
There was a bit of confusion in the bar and kitchen on the night we dined at The Monkey Puzzle due to a new bartender and a relief cook. Service moved slow but the food was worth the wait. The Proprietor was rather apologetic for the slow service so all our drinks were on the house. Needless to say, we were nonplussed. Or puzzled at The Monkey Puzzle as it were. It’s such a rare experience to receive such gesture that we were thrown by the generosity. What the hey, drinks on the house is nothing to complain about.
My drink. My first and hopefully my last pibwasser.
Fish and Chips with mushy peas for Ryan and Cheese sandwich and chips with homemade chutney for me.
Dessert was Belgian chocolate waffles topped with Cornish ice cream
London – Queensway – Hung Tao Noodle Restaurant – September 9
Notice that “air conditioned” sign on the awning. That’s because most establishments in London aren’t air conditioned.
Oh blessed soup. That was too salty for my taste so Ryan surreptitiously added tea to it. My Hero made it better.
London – Russell Square – Jacques Wine Bar – September 9
My friends from Ifor Evans Hall (Camden), Candy (from Hong Kong), Elena (from Greece), and Sree (who’s working in our alma mater, University College London but soon will be moving to Cambridge for his PhD, how exciting!) hung out at Jacques for coffee, etc, and to reminisce good times. Ryan joined our small company. Candy, Elena, and I returned to the city for our respective graduation ceremonies; each of the colleges had different dates. Unfortunately, not all our mates could make it for the graduation.
While my friends had coffee, I had an afternoon snack of tuna pate with baguette and salad.
Ryan had a pecan pie with a block of ice cream.
London – Queensway – Kiasu – September 9
Our dessert was chendol which is iced coconut milk with red beans, creamed corn, and grass jelly, and topped with palm sugar.
“Kiasu” means “afraid to lose” in Chinese Hokkien dialect.
Our first drink of the night. (Tsingtao Beer, not pictured)
Beef rendang for Ryan. It’s beef chunks in a spicy (made dark by the beef) coconut gravy. See the cilantro? I removed it from Ryan’s dish and placed it in mine because he isn’t fond of the herb.
Nonya laksa for me. It’s white rice noodles in spicy (and light) coconut gravy.
London – Paddington – Bonne Bouch – September 10
After Ryan’s visit (long story) at the E.R. of St. Mary’s Hospital (according to Kat is the hospital where Prince William was delivered), a treat was called for. Thankfully, on the same block where the hospital is located is a charming pattisserie.
Ryan’s Chocolate espresso cake
My Tutti-frutti cake
London – Paddington – The Monkey Puzzle – September 10
We couldn’t leave Central London (the next day, we left for Wandsworth which is at South End) without a second visit of our favorite London pub. I had to say goodbye to the little guy (see photo) who never tires of monkeying about.
Ryan’s Burger with chips
My Gammon and egg with chips
We just couldn’t leave without trying their Sausage and mash. And we’re glad we still had room for it.
After all the meat dishes, I needed some roughage.
Stay tuned for part II of “Beyond Fish and Chips”…