And so I went to London. I got back Monday night, but spent the better part of yesterday
(and today) in pajamas and have only just started going through my photos. There are lots. I will spare you. But the first thing I wanted to tell you all is: I ate really well. No really, I did! I embarked for London on Wednesday afternoon, perhaps not a total acolyte to the stereotype of dreadful British food, but certainly a passive believer. I expected to be wowed by the museums, the neighborhood walks and how posh everyone sounds, but not the cuisine. (Remember that old joke that hell is where the police are German, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it is all organized by the Italians?)
I was hoping to be proved wrong. And I was. Don’t you love it when that happens? There were mussels and fries with an English friend from uni, authentic pizza at a Notting Hill restaurant inhabited entirely by Italians, fabulous currys and biryanis and buttered naan at a self-proclaimed “Bombay Cafe” near Leicester Square. But this is all foreign food, of course — it’s Belgian and Italian and Indian. I also had British food. And it was splendid.
One afternoon, after walking all around Notting Hill and South Kensington, I spent an hour in the V&A’s beautiful tea room with scones and a pot of Earl Gray. (Confession: I will always retain a particularly fond memory of this particular pick-me-up, because it’s when I learned of my acceptance into another grad school, with potential for fellowship money.)
I also went to Sunday Roast. I’d never heard of Sunday Roast before, but that English friend (of mussels-and-fries fame, above) described the slow cooked meat, roasted vegetables, Yorkshire pudding and gravy in such rhapsodic terms that I knew I had to try it for myself. So Clara (who lives in London and was sweet enough to open her flat to me) and I went to the Princess of Shoreditch, a restaurant less than two blocks from her building — and oh how we ate. My order, the “Mixed Roast” option, came with a slice of pork belly, a slice of Irish sirloin, a quarter roasted organic chicken, as well as duck fat roast potatoes, roasted vegetables, spiced red cabbage, Yorkshire pudding, and, of course, the incontrovertible gravy. Hearty, abundant, exactly the comfort food to counteract a night out. The mouth waters. I imagine that no matter where I end up next year, I will be incorporating the roast into my weekly routine.
And finally, on the words of a friend who wrote, “Eat a pie for me!,” I had a pie. It was in the airport, but from a chain encouragingly called Eat (The Real Food Company), and which I had spotted around town, so I ordered their chicken, ham, and leek pie. A little puff pastry savory, with some mashed potatoes and there again, the gravy. I loved it. I ate the whole thing. I think the English might be onto something.