Cooking Across 4 Generations

Using recipes collected from 4 generations of one family


October 2012

Around The World Part 2: Ol’ Blighty

After a quick 5 days in New York we said goodbye to the Big Apple and took an over night flight to London on BA. Arriving early in the morning we got through customs and immigration relatively fast and then hopped in an iconic black cab to go to the city. Um we forgot to factor in peak hour traffic. Cab fare was £80 and took nearly an hour and a half. All the grass and trees were so green, even heading in to the city there was a lot of green.

We checked in to the conveniently located Marylebone Hotel( part of the Doyle Collection) which is located close to Oxford Street. I really liked the hotel apart from the lighting in the bathrooms. I call it a man’s hotel as it is suited to those who don’t need to apply make up or shave their legs. But lighting aside it is a comfortable and fantastic hotel. After checking in and freshening up, we decided to hit the asphalt to let R get his bearings again and to start sightseeing/shopping. Looking at a map does not give you any indication of how far things really are. For example I thought Buckingham Palace was going to be a long way from our hotel when in fact we were able to walk there in 10 minutes.

Our first trek found us heading to the luxury heaven that is New Bond Street-Old Bond street and around. After a quick reconnoiter R tells me we can walk to Buckingham Palace, did I want to go now. My answer: Is Elizabeth Windsor the Queen? So we walked along Piccadilly past The Ritz then through Green Park(yes it was very green) we get to the other side and there are some road blocks and lots of people milling about. Hmmm something is happening. We hear brass instruments start playing and then we see the bobbing brass and bearskin helmets as the Changing of the Guard finishes and they march off down Horse Guards Parade.

Changing of the Guard

After watching the soldiers march out we took a stroll down Oxford street and browsed the shops.

On Thursday we decided to explore the area around our hotel. We also had an invitation to the official launch of the Coast London flagship store on Oxford Street. I was very lucky to get invites to this. Coast were having a competition for the evening gala opening alas it was only for residents of the UK. So I sent them an email explaining we would be there at the same time and they entered me in the competition anyway. Didn’t win for the evening, but they put our names down for the day time opening. So I threw on my Coast dress, put some make up on and off we went. Red carpet, champagne and pretty frocks. What more can you ask for.

After the opening we needed some lunch. We stumbled across Wigmore Hall Restaurant and Bar located in the lower ground floor of Wigmore Hall in Wigmore Street just behind Oxford Street. Originally built as a recital hall by the Bechstein piano company Wigmore Hall still maintains a solid reputation of great performances. And not only do the great performances happen on stage but the restaurant is fantastic too. Taking advantage of a three course lunch deal for £20 we had a delicious meal.

Friday we got dressed up and headed for lunch at Claridges (see seperate post) with an afternoon of window shopping around Oxford Street, New and Old Bond Street, Piccadilly, and Regent Street. We also bought some theatre tickets for Sunday night to go see Rock of Ages. Friday afternoon we got changed and walked over to Westminster to see the houses of Parliament, Elizabeth Tower/Big Ben, which we got to hear chime. On the way we “stumbled” across the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square. We had a quick look in the NG and as with the Met in NYC we were blown away by the amazing collections hanging on the walls. You could spend 2 days wandering around the gallery.

Nelson’s Column and Trafalgar Square
Nelson’s Column The Fourth PlinthPowerless Structures Fig 101 by Elmgreen and Dragset and Trafalgar Square
Me and a lion, Trafalgar Square
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

Saturday saw us take the tube from Baker Street (yes the one that Sherlock Holmes “lived” in) around to Tower Hill. We walked over to The Tower of London and had a look and saw the iconic London Bridge.

Tower of London
London Bridge definitely not falling down

We then walked to St Paul’s Cathedral, which unfortunately was closed for an ordination of Deacons. St Paul’s was MASSIVE, I know it is now dwarfed by skyscrapers but it is still an amazing building, quite took my breath away.

St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral
Me at St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral from 1 New Change

Then we wandered over to 1 New Change for lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen (see seperate post). We decided to walk back to the hotel along the Thames Embankment to Westminster and from there back to the hotel. We passed Millenium Bridge, Tate Modern, saw the London Eye and enjoyed the walk along the river. Thank goodness I wore flat shoes

Millenium Bridge, Tate Modern
Long the Embankment The Shard in the background
Along the Embankment looking toward Westminster

Past Westminster we saw Scotland Yard, walked past the Royal Academy of Engineering then in to St James’ Park where we saw SQUIRRELS!!! Yay so cute, I was even quick enough to trick one and touch it. I was quite jealous when R came back from his trip to London several years ago and said he had seen and touched one. There were so many of them and so many different types of birds in and around St James’ Park Lake, it was quite remarkable that so much wildlife was in the middle of the city.. St James’ Park was very nice to stroll through and it got us back to Buckingham Palace and then to the hotel. Huge walk, at least we walked off lunch. After a bit of a rest we went down to the bar and then for dinner at Le Relais de Venise-L’Entrecote (see separate post).

Squirrels St James’ Park
The St James’ Park Lake
St James’ Park Lake looking towards Buckingham Palace

After a busy Saturday we spent most of Sunday window shopping, had lunch atGordon Ramsay’s Maze and relaxed before going to the theatre to see Rock of Ages. Great show, and they had some technical difficulties at the start of part 2 but worked it in to the show and made light of it, true professionalism. The theatre was the Shaftesbury Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue and was a little walk from the hotel. I still have to see the cinematic adaptation of Rock of Ages.

Stage for Rock of Ages
Inside the Shaftesbury Theatre

Monday was a little drizzly when we headed out. The mission was to have lunch at Nobu and find Berkeley Square. Call me sentimental but I am a huge Dame Vera Lynn fan. My Nan got me hooked and I really wanted to get of photo of me in Berkeley Square for her. Nobu is just along from Berkeley Square so we got to kill two birds with one stone. R had been in 2008 so he wanted me to go there with him. We arrived early and got our orders and soon after the business lunch brigade started coming in. So many finance conversations going on around us.

Tempura Prawns Nobu London
Sushi and Sashimi Nobu London
Yakitori Nobu London
Interior Nobu London

After lunch R went back to the hotel and I had a wander around, stumbled upon the centre of hip during the 1960’s, Carnaby Street, got to go try some pretty frocks on, visited the Faberge Boutique, Asprey, Wartski Jewellers, Garrard and walked past the glorious windows of Graff, Moussaieff, Leviev, Solange Azagury-Partridge, and a few other high end jewellery stores. Then it was back to the hotel for a rest before heading out for dinner with some watch friends of R’s at Tamarind (see other post).

Carnaby Street

Tuesday saw us packing again ready for our flight to Zurich. We decided to book a car through the hotel which was a good idea as it was only £60 and there was a bit of traffic on our way out to the airport. The weirdest part of being in London was dusk. Not something we are used to here in Australia, but having light at 10pm was quite strange in a good way.

Pop back to see Around The World Part III: Zurich.

Maze Restaurant London

For our final Gordon Ramsay experience we decided to try Maze in Grosvenor Square. We arrived rather early so left our name for a booking and returned later. What had started as a drizzly morning soon saw the sun coming out and brightening Grosvenor Square. Maze is located in a lovely old sandstone building which backs on to the Marriott London Grosvenor Square and has lots of embassies as neighbours.

The menu board for Maze
Me outside Maze entrance

The interior is quite modern and refined, medium woods, neutral colours, enhanced with the odd splash of colour make for a relaxing room. The tables had a maze like design in metal embeded in the top and I really liked the cutlery stands.

Interior shot
Tabletop design and cutlery stand

We opted for the £25 four course set menu which, surprisingly, we were able to pick which four dishes we wanted. R and I both had the same starter and main but had different second and fourth courses. We also opted for the matching flight of three wines which was an additional £20. This worked out to be around AUD$70 each. I tell you lunch is the best time to eat in London!!

First course was delicious terrine of chicken and foie gras. There you go foie gras again, I told you we had a lot!!

Pressed chicken and foie gras terrine, blood orange, hazelnuts

As my second course I chose a hash brown. Originally I chose it for the novelty but when it arrived at the table I was very happy to have ordered it. The hash brown was nice and crispy on the outside and slightly creamy internally. The bacon was lovely and crisp while the egg component was a dollop of  yolk.

Hash brown, bacon and egg, wild garlic

R had the pork dumplings with radish and aromatic mushroom broth. This was a dish I contemplated but didn’t want to double up with R. Well filled dumplings with very finely shaved radish and shallots, the mushroom broth was really nice and well flavoured.

Pork dumplings, radish, aromatic mushroom broth

Our third course we both had the same, a feather steak with potato puree and a sprinkling of Togarashi spice. Feather steak is a cut of meat that needs to be braised and this was really well done and delicious. The sprinkle of Togarishi spice over the steak and puree added a nice spicy highlight to the dish. Togarashi spice is a Japanese chili pepper mix that is usually used for ramen and udon soups. There are several kinds of togarashi: Ichimi is just the chili/red pepper while Nanami/Shichimi togarashi is a blend of red peppers, sansho pepper, roasted orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, seaweed, and ginger.

Braised feather steak, pommes puree, togariahi spice

Dessert was amazing. I had a very light apple terrine with rhubarb and a custard ice cream. It had a lovely rosy coloured ‘soup’ with finely diced rhubarb and apple. R went for the banana and date parfait with butterscotch and walnuts. The presentation on both was fantastic.

Apple terrine, rhubarb, custard ice cream
Banana and date parfait, butterscotch, walnuts

Now I know you will be wanting to know which was our favourite Gordon Ramsay dining experience but they were all great. Each had its own feel and style. Service was fantastic, ambience in each was wonderful. When we go back we will be checking out a few of Gordon’s other restaurants.

Stay tuned for more on our trip coming soon!!

Bread Street Kitchen – Gordon Ramsay Again

As we were wanting to find some where in London that did a good burger, one of the chef’s at Gordon Ramsay @ Claridge’s told us about one of Gordon Ramsay’s latest offerings in London, Bread Street Kitchen. Located  within the recently developed One New Change, a stones throw from St Paul’s Cathedral in The City of London, Bread Street Kitchen is a large modern bistro.

The decor is industrial chic with lots of retro touches. Huge glass windows allow plenty of light in, dotted here and there along the back of the banquettes are op shop find lamps(so cool, some bought back memories of ones Nan had). The space is divided into several ‘rooms’ of banquettes each with there own colour theme. The steel beams and open ceiling are very cool and juxtapose nicely with the classic bistro black and white tile floor.

Downstairs bar at Bread Street Kitchen
Decor of Bread Street kitchen
Dining area

The menu has a good selection of dishes from the raw bar items, grill, wood fired oven right through to scrumptious puddings. I decided to have a burger while R tried the yellow fin tuna with a salad of green leaves and shaved fennel, with a salsa verde. A glass of Chablis went down well too.

Burger and yellow fin tuna

The bar downstairs also does a great trade in coffees and breakfast for the local business people.

After our lunch here we strolled all the way along the Thames back to Westminster then through Green Park back to the hotel. The walk helped burn off the calories and got us ready for dinner. Stay tuned for my report on Relais de Venise l’Entrecote a gem of a restaurant in Marylebone and our lunch at Maze.

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