Saturday, June 22, 2013

Long weekend in London

For the month of June, Bobby is in London doing research at Queen Mary University. He was here last year for 2 1/2 months and I got to visit him many times. During those visits, I fell in love with London. It's a huge, vibrant, diverse city, and reminds me of all the things I love about Los Angeles. You can find really authentic ethnic foods, there's a fantastic music scene, the museums are plentiful (ok, this part doesn't remind me of LA so much), and the city has a long history with multiculturalism. Bobby is living on campus in faculty housing. In fact, he's in the same building he stayed in last year, except this year he has a great view of the Regent's Canal, which runs right behind the campus.
I flew out on a Wednesday night and went back to Copenhagen early Monday morning, so we had a nice long weekend together. On Thursday night, we went to the English National Opera to see a new opera by Philip Glass. The opera 'The Perfect American' is about Walt Disney's final months and explores the differences between the public's perception of Walt Disney (an image that was cleverly crafted by Disney himself) and something of a more truthful account (he's racist, sexist, and very anti-union). It was a pretty good opera and it was lovely to have the chance to see it.
On Saturday, we spent the afternoon at the London Natural History Museum. This museum is huge and has a giant collection of seemingly everything! Especially interesting is the collection of dinosaur fossils. We got to see fossils from numerous dinosaurs, including this T. Rex.
We of course had to pay tribute to our main man, Charles Darwin. Did you know Darwin is on the 10 pound banknote? In America, we can't even agree on teaching evolution in elementary schools!
Ok, enough politics, on to something we can all agree on... delicious food. On Friday night, Bobby and I went to a tapas restaurant recommended by one of Bobby's colleagues. Located in Soho, Fino is a great place. We ordered 5 or 6 different plates plus a really good bottle of white wine from the Spanish northwest region of Ribeiro. I really hope this bottle, The Flower and the Bee, is sold in Denmark! Aside from the wine, the food was also lovely. We had some fried artichokes, served with a saffron aioli.
We also had a great cuttlefish and squid dish, served in its own ink.
The duck was quite tasty as well. Bobby says it tasted like French toast, and he was absolutely right! It may sound weird, but it was actually a nice flavor: custardy, mapley, and rich.
We also ordered the pork belly, which was outstanding. For dessert, we order a cheese plate, which included 4 different English cheeses and a dried fig compote.
Our 8th wedding anniversary is coming up. Unfortunately, we won't be together on the 25th this year, so Bobby decided that for 2013, our anniversary fell on the 16th. And what do you know, we were together in London on the 16th! Bobby planned a really lovely day for us. We started with a visit to my favorite bakery/coffe shop, Violet Cakes. I ordered a chocolate cupcake with salted caramel icing (the icing was to die for) along with a pot of my favorite morning tea (Barry's Irish tea, which I fell in love with during our honeymoon in Ireland), and Bobby ordered a vanilla sponge cake with rhubarb along with a cup of coffee. After enjoying our desserts and caffeine, we headed to the movie theater to see the new Superman movie.
For dinner, we headed to the restaurant The Corner Room. This restaurant is located inside the Town Hall hotel, which is only about a mile away from Bobby's apartment. The hotel itself is pretty awesome: really funky interior and interesting art. The restaurant is quite small; it holds maybe 20 people. It doesn't accept reservations for dinner, but we were fortunate enough to go on a quiet night and got a table right away. We each ordered a starter, main, and dessert. This picture is of Bobby's starter: beef heart with buttermilk whey and celeriac. The beef heart was quite tasty: it was more like a steak than offal.
I ordered the purple sprouting broccoli and garlic tea with stracciatella. Yummy!
For the main, I ordered the aged beef with ash, egg, and radishes.
While Bobby ordered the Iberico pork with clams and yeast. Both dishes were really delicious, but I thought Bobby's was the better of the two.
For dessert, Bobby ordered a rhubarb dish (Bobby loves rhubarb, as you might tell from his choosing this dessert and the rhubarb treat he had earlier that day at the bakery). We can't quite remember what flavor the sorbet was, but it was good. Some of the rhubarb was smoked, which gave it a really interesting flavor. We both quite liked it.
I didn't want Bobby to feel left out ordering a dessert based around a vegetable (yep, rhubarb is a vegetable), so I ordered the squash and maple dessert. This was also quite tasty. I've never had squash as a dessert before, but now I can see how its natural sweetness really lends itself to a non-savory preparation.
All in all, it was a wonderful time. We got to do some of my favorite things: be in a foreign city, visit museums, attend a classical music performance, go to the movies, eat and drink well, and (most importantly) spend time with each other. Happy 8 years of wedded bliss, Bobby!

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