Above: Definitely a “London tourist” kind of photo. Too bad there are no fish and chips pictured.
A few weeks ago my mom and I went to England to visit family. It was a lovely trip, despite it being quite chilly outside for most of our stay. So we had all the more reason to stay inside, drink lots of instant coffee, and eat! Everyone in my family is an excellent cook, so I ate more than my share of roast lamb, new potatoes, risotto, creamy leeks, and chocolate biscuits throughout the week (though not all in one sitting).
Above: Poppy Cottage’s front gate. Poppy Cottage is my aunt’s new house in Shrewsbury — it’s a converted piggery! Now home to people and terriers, but no pigs.
Above: Poppy Cottage’s back garden. Barren now, I’m sure it will be beautiful come spring. My aunt Deborah is a great gardener, and the previous tenant had been growing a whole range of flora. Look past the green fence to the sheep grazing in the far field!
Above: Potatoes in cream at Poppy Cottage. Part of a supremely delicious roast lamb dinner.
My mom and I also spent two nights and a day in London, which was a great mini-adventure. It was exciting to see more of the city than I ever have before — sadly I don’t have many memories from my London toddler days. We managed to visit four museums (the British Library, the British Museum, the Royal Academy of Art, and the Tate Britain), eat at two great restaurants (more on that below), and did a short walking tour past several iconic London buildings (Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament). We also walked through St. James’s Park and were lucky enough to witness a changing of the guards ceremony! Did you know you that the London guards must be men, and the horses must be black? Looks like Blaze and I are out of the running.
Above: Can you believe that my mom used to LIVE in one of these apartments? Back in the day her share of the rent was only £80 a month or some similarly depressing amount of money. My sad vinyl-sided three-story building just does not compare!
I didn’t know much about London cuisine, but I knew there had to be great Indian food around, so dining at an Indian restaurant was high on my list. There’s a pretty large Indian population in London, and while we didn’t go to the more Indian-centric neighborhood (Hounslow, pretty far outside of central London), my mom found a two-block mecca chock full of Indian restaurants not too far from Euston Station.
Based on its online reviews, we chose the vegetarian buffet at Ravi Shankar. And it was incredible. I have never seen such a wide range of vegetarian Indian dishes, even at some of the very authentically Indian restaurants in Jackson Heights in New York. Check out my plate below — we feasted on mini dosas, channa masala, saag paneer, naan, papadums, roast potatoes and peppers, couscous with kidney beans, vegetable pakoras, various crisp salads, and a delicious mango chutney. This meal was unforgettable — aside from one spicy dish, everything was more aromatic than hot. I highly, highly recommend this restaurant if you find yourself in London with a craving for Indian food! The buffet had a great lunchtime deal of only £6.75 per person.
For dinner we headed to a very cute neighborhood called Covent Garden. It was nice to be in a neighborhood that I could visualize myself living in — the amount of cute little bars and restaurants definitely reminded me of trendy Brooklyn ‘hoods. There was also a theatre district that had lots of lights and neon signs…sort of the Times Square of London, but 100% classier.
We ate at a wonderful Tapas restaurant, La Tasca, that was very busy but still had a great atmosphere. They had giant paella pans hanging on the walls, and offered a great selection of gluten-free fare. My mom and I shared several small plates, some wine, and a fantastic chocolate cake for dessert. The menu very clearly indicated which tapas options were gluten-free (many of them!), and none of them were more expensive than the other choices. Together we had a spanish tortilla with red pepper tapenade, roasted pork belly with rosemary and white beans, paella of the day (chicken and chorizo), and salted grilled shrimp with lemon.
Our meal at La Tasca was delicious — every dish was perfectly prepared, and the portions were ample yet tapas-appropriate. La Tasca was also very well-priced for its quality of food and the part of London we were in.
So, as you can see, it was quite a wonderful trip. I’m sad not to be able to visit these restaurants on a regular basis — so I guess it’s time to start cooking Indian food again at home, and seeking out a good tapas restaurant in NYC!