Or Nigella? My personal girl crush 🙂
This is definitely a way to prolong your vacation 😉 But I had some fun experiences in London so will attempt to share them… maybe a little late, but most things not of the moment…
I am hoping this post does not just represent some strange adventure in a parallel universe but an experience that could be repeated…
As noted earlier, I first arrived in the UK in 1989. My memories of the food mostly involved trying to avoid the grease. There was a lot of deep-frying – and not all that fat was fresh. Accompanied by mushy peas and vegetables cooked to the point of torture (I think after that long in a pot you can be accused of crushing a carrot’s soul), it looked like a dream destination for a Weight Watchers commercial.
If, of course, you had a palate… and just said “no”. On the very first trip, I did that a lot. Of course, I got enough calories from shortbread and clotted cream I couldn’t exactly become a Weight Watchers spokesperson. But I did develop an allergy to the stuff the English liked to trot out and suggest was food.
I wasn’t the only one! And somewhere over the decades, gastropubs emerged, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay became so famous that even someone who doesn’t know how to turn on a stove has likely heard of at least one of them.
I wouldn’t necessarily thank any of them personally because they are just famous and I am sure it was lots of people we have never heard of that actually changed British cuisine. What came first – the chefs stepping away from the fryer – or the palates of the customers expanding and asking for more – or less in the case of recycled fatty acids.
I was just an observer. I have been going to London regularly for over 20 years and I have started to enjoy eating there once in a while. It has always seemed obscenely expensive though. I live in this rarefied universe that combines a climate favorable to produce, a bevy of talented chefs at every price point and an adventurous gang of local customers anxious to eat out and spoiled for choice.
To impress me, you have to be great! And I will care about the value. So great will not be enough.
Because my city allows me to be such a spoiled brat I am tough on the rest of the world. So, if I am impressed, it is something to be reckoned with.
And, this trip blew me away. I’m not sure whether it’s London, me, or the global economy. My guess would be a little of all three. London cuisine has definitely improved over the years. And the multicultural stew that London has become has provided the ingredients for better stew 😉 I am getting more adventurous in my wanderings and less prone to wander into a tourist trap. And London is feeling the world’s pain given that so much of it involves financing the world’s ventures. So a menu promising good value, rather than good champagne, is likely a much bigger sell than in the go-go days of the City’s early century heyday.
Poor investment bankers work for me 😉 I was astonished in that every meal that I had in London was above average. That has never happened before. And – even more impressive – none was wildly expensive. I hung out mostly in the East. Next trip that will be my stomping ground. But I stayed at the Rockwell Hotel en route to and from Stockholm because it’s right on the Piccadilly Line so it was fantastically easy to get to and from Heathrow. And the restaurant? It was astonishing. A fresh salad full of yummy veggies and fruits. A salad in the UK? How the world has changed. I love it. And the best fish and chips I have ever had!
Gordon Ramsay would be jealous 🙂 Of course, Gordon’s food isn’t all his reputation suggests. I think he spends too much time these days mugging for the camera… but that’s a story for another time…
Just in case anyone is headed for London, here are the recent adventures in dining I would recommend checking out…
Anchor and Hope