I didn’t have time in London to put my previous ‘train-journey-written’ posts up so you will have to imagine some sort of magical time difference between this and the following stories. I am currently under the sea (Under the sea… under the sea… doo doo di doo doo doo doo) in a train in a tunnel. I learnt in the Eurostar magazine just a few minutes ago that I’m not actually currently surrounded by water, but the tunnel passes through the seabed. This is extremely disappointing. I like the idea of being merely metres away from fish, but sadly I am not. I’m probably metres away from seabed living worms or algae. I guess I’ll have to make do with this fact. I am less than 10 centimetres from a snoring woman who was going to steal my window seat and became grumpy when I insisted on having it. Within three minutes of departure she was snoring. It would have been a wasted window.
My day in London was a food-bonanza and on a high-profile scale. I appear to have turned into a food snob and only like eating at places run by famous chefs. That’s ok with me, I am willing to accept this status. My morning started with coffee and a piece of chocolate and almond torte at Princi bakery. It is an up-market Italian bakery/pizzeria that does very tasty food at ridiculous prices. It is one of the hip-and-cool places in the middle of Soho that you go to because it’s Princi. My chocolate torte was good but was certainly more almond than chocolate. It was a bit flavourless and could have done with more chocolate but that is probably just my own personal preference for chocolate-based cakes. If it is going to have chocolate in it, make it lots and make it dark. The coffee was very good and wasn’t over priced which was a relief. The café is beautifully laid out with a water fountain running down one wall, lots of large communal tables and a great window looking out into Soho. It was a nice experience but I think you can get just as good cake for half the price (eg. Forge Bakehouse.)
After using up some time visiting the Queen, a large clock tower called Ben and going future-husband spotting in the fancy-cars-and-houses area towards Kensington, it was time for lunch. For a few years now I have been in love with a Yotam Ottolenghi, a chef whose cookbooks and restaurants have redefined vegetables. I have been wanting to eat at one of his London-based restaurants and made it my mission to do so this trip. His Belgravia café is more a take away venue but I managed to get a seat at the one communal table. You can choose from huge piles of delicious salads with amazing combinations of ingredients, as well as pizzas, quiches and soups.
I had eggplant with goats cheese curd; a red quinoa, rice, dried fruit and spices salad; and roasted carrots with chilli, herbs and a magical mix of spices.
It was all so good but again, I was paying for the experience to eat Ottolenghi’s recipes and £11 for a smallish plate of salad was quite a lot. But I’m glad I did it. Next time I will make sure to have room to try one of his desserts but I was feeling guilty from my morning tea and aware that I was going out for dinner so I resisted.
So that brings me to dinner. I was staying with my friends Angela and James who are soon heading back to Perth to join together in holy matrimony. As I won’t be at their wedding, I wanted to take them out for dinner to celebrate and Angela booked a table at the York and Albany hotel – one of Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants. They have a special set menu on weeknights if you eat between 6-7pm, which is exceptionally good value at three courses for £22. The food was very, very good – I had a celeriac soup with truffle and parmesan croutons (very creamy and delicious); beef with horseradish mash (tasty although a little chewy); and a chocolate fondant with honeycomb ice cream. The fondant was good – not too sweet and the honeycomb added a nice flavour combination. It was a very tasty meal and exceptional for that price. I would definitely go back.
And so concluded my day of famous food. The value and standard of Mr Ramsey’s meal out performed the others but I can’t say I ate anything that disappointed me. Thumbs up all around to London foodies.