a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘vancouver cuisine’

has everyone been watching jamie oliver?

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!

http://www.therockwell.com/

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…

Pizarro/José

http://www.josepizarro.com/

Zucca

http://www.zuccalondon.com/

The Botanist

http://www.thebotanistonsloanesquare.com/

Anchor and Hope

being a slut has its perks ;)

Sorry to disappoint – the headline was meant to be titillating – but a bit misleading…  I am only polyamorous  when it comes to professional food 🙂

It all started a couple of decades ago, in a strange twist because I was still friends with an ex-boyfriend so was taking him for a birthday dinner.  But he was an ex and I wasn’t terribly rich so took the advice of my roommate at the time and took him for dinner at Allegro, a restaurant in an obscure location only open for about four months.

It was the first restaurant Michael had owned instead of working at and the effort was obvious.  I enjoyed the meal so much I was back again a week later… and he asked my opinion on my entrée, on the general prices, etc.  AND he remembered where I had been sitting a week earlier, what I had ordered and that I had been with the guy with the backpack.  I was impressed!

I had never had a restaurant of my own before.  Michael added a layer to my life that I hadn’t even been aware I needed 🙂 It all started with Allegro.  I brought everyone I knew.  I became such a regular no one blinked an eye when I was behind the bar.  Once I got invited to the Christmas party in January and everyone was trying to figure out if I was staff.  And I learned the most important lesson: talk to the staff!  Bond!  Create a relationship.

It’s why my friends love to go for dinner with me.  Many of those bonds were revisited during my birthday celebrations.  And meals were extra special.  Morgan, the teenager previously mentioned, declared that Neil at boneta was the coolest person she had ever met!  Neil is pretty cool.  I would have to agree 🙂

And one of the really special rewards that I get these days, having spent many years following people I like from restaurant to restaurant… is that sometimes they pop up again in an unexpected places.  That’s what happened last night.

I went to the restaurant at the Opus just before all the birthday festivities started so that I wouldn’t have to cook – and more importantly – deal with dirty dishes, since I had cleaned the apartment for the entire day.  The meal was great so I went back last night.  It was just a break between work shifts and I hadn’t eaten all day so I was there really early.  Which is when you might get to meet the chef roaming around outside the kitchen!

And it was Paul, whom I’ve known from a couple of other restaurants.  He is a great chef.  And a super charming great guy.  He wanted to buy me dessert.  But sugar isn’t really my thing (I didn’t even eat my own birthday cake – and it was incredible cake!) so we negotiated for cheese… I got this stellar plate of Italian cheese and cause I was now a friend of the chef, a glass of incredible red wine not normally poured by the glass.

And what is the takeaway?  Proper flirting is one of the tenets of a great civilization.  Learn how to do it.  Tip well.  Talk to the staff.  Take a night out and make it memorable.  And then you, too, may have a photo of yourself in the kitchen at Gordon Ramsay… it all started with a conversation about the menu…

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