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9.22.2008

Britannia Rules! and An Anniversary Come and Gone.


I have so much to tell about our short trip to London, so I will divide it into two posts over the week. To reacquaint you with the purpose of the visit, my aunt treated me to accompany her to her friends wedding. They are English and Dutch executives who lease her condo in Chicago. To justify this generous gift, we decided to call it an early 4oth birthday. My birthday is not actually until November.And I'm just realizing my One year Blog anniversary has come and gone. I think I have come a long way blogging. Anyway we flew out Wed to arrive on Thursday. Certain Someone got great rate at the the fabulous and posh Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair. Talk about 5 star luxury. We couldn't check into until later so we walked around the neighboring Bond Street and visited the shops. My aunt is a social type and tried on some gowns in shops the assistants say was frequented by the late Princess of Wales. They had photos of her up around the shop. Who knows. We then had a quick lunch at a pub. My first meal was a traditional Shepard's Pie.My aunt and I waited a while for someone to take out order. We soon learned we had to to the bar and place the order. Classic good fare . Finally I had access to our room and took a shower to visit my old friend Ellen. I was to take the tube to Westminster and meet her at another pub called St. Stephens. The after work crowd crowded the place, but my old wine club/ Alliance Francaise pal was waiting in a cozy corner. We cooled down with cider before we drank a glass or two of wine. Another classic English thing I love. Crisp cold , slightly alcoholic cider. Ellen's partner joined us, and we decided to go onto dinner. I really wanted Indian. A friend of mine recommend the area of Brick Lane. That was far off, and they suggested we stick to Mayfair. The restaurants were pricier but there were some good ones. We rang my aunt who had crashed on the 1,000 count sheets, and she got ready to meet us. The concierge Mohammad recommended a excellent hotel in walking distance by Marble Arch called La Porte des Indes. This was an unusual and elegant restaurant owned by the Blue Elephant Group with locations in London and Brussels. They feature Indian /French cuisine inspired by the creole cooking of Pondicery.
The menu made it hard to decide to get the best of everything we decided on the tasting menu option.
Great pickles, steamed fishes, lamb,poulet rouge,etc. Then an elegant dessert trio with Asian and french fused classics.Think star anise chocolate mousse. I got the cook book they sell and plan to make some of these dishes. It was outstanding!
The next day I woke bright and early to hit Jane Asher's Cake shop. Shes an actress and ex girlfriend of Paul McCartney before Linda, and is known for her cakes, etc. I wanted some hard to find back home sugar craft supplies. She had lots of Wilton, but lots lot unique items I haven't seen yet. If only the dollar weren't so low against the pound!I settled on sugar diamonds, some lustre's I haven't seen at home, some cutters etc. Compared to a cake shop I saw later on the trip, she was bit more pricey but the ambiance and neighborhood of Chelsea were what you were paying for. Her staff was very polite. I then headed for the highlight of my trip Borough Markets. This is the oldest food market in London and Kittie recommended I didn't miss it. Was I blown away! I'll let the pictures describe my experience I purchased some Indian spices and curries, sea salts , and a fantastic fresh grilled sausage and bacon sandwich with the strongest English Mustard. Who ever perpetuates the myth that English food is bad and boring needs to get over there ASAP! I love whats going on there.

Next on Coco Cooks.... An English Breakfast, wedding, and some pig roasts thrown in!

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27 comments:

Proud Italian Cook said...

First of all Happy belated Blogiverary Courtney! You know I love your blog, cheers to you!!
Now,I was wondering if you could rent your Aunt out! She sounds like so much fun. What a great trip you had, can't wait for part 2.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, what a great gift! I'm sure you had a great trip! I'm looking forwards to your next post...

Cheers,

Rosa

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Happy blogversary. Looking forward to reading your next post about London.

Swati said...

Happy belated Blog Anniversary Courtney..
Look forward to hear more from you...

kittie said...

Oh I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip - and the market!

Sorry I missed you this time - hopefully it won't be too long til the next!

Looking forward to the next post!

Darius T. Williams said...

Looks like someone had a really great time! You said you walked around because you guys couldn't check in - that's perfect. My first agenda would be - let's find some of those cute little pastry shops to see which one is the best - lol.

-DTW
www.everydaycookin.blogspot.com

We Are Never Full said...

1. happy anniversary!
2. what beautiful and colorful pictures!
3. please, please promise me now that you've had read shepherds pie you will join my british husband on the mission to help american's understand that it should only have minced lamb in it - not minced beef (which is cottage pie). this will make him feel really good that someone else is on this mission. ha!
4. because we have to go to england at least 2 times a year to visit family, it has lost a bit of its luster to me... you've renewed my spirit again in this post! i'll be there at thanksgiving and will try to forget the $$ issue and have some fun. great post.

joanne at frutto della passione said...

Sounds like you had a marvelous time and I'm looking forward to reading more.

chou said...

I love your pictures!!! So pretty. What a fun trip, I can't wait to hear the rest.

Bellini Valli said...

There is so much that can be crammed into a quick vacation Coco.Happy blogaversary by the way!!!!

Mary said...

Happy Blog Anniversary and welcome back! It sounds like you had a really great time on your trip!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Happy Blogaversary Courtney! London is on my short travel list. I have cousins that live right there and family throughout the country. The pictures of everything look great. Can't wait to see more!

Exit Signs said...

Your London post was great!Jill

Deborah said...

First of all - happy birthday to your blog!! Doesn't time fly!?!

And what a fun trip this already sounds like. I'm so jealous!

Maryann said...

Happy Blogoversary, Courtney! keep those post coming!! ;)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This looks like so much fun! I have bee wanting to visit England for a while now! :)Now I know I want to go!

Can't wait for the next installment!

Mochachocolata Rita said...

wow! i love england! i even love M&S's chocolate fudge cakes ^_^

can't wait to read about your english breakfast experience :)

Emiline said...

Wow! I can only imagine what a time you had!
The market sounds like fun.

I know who Jane Asher is! I'm a huge fan of the Beatles.

I love alcoholic cider. I'm going to look for some next time I go to the store.

Gigi said...

Happy belated blog-a-versary! I can't wait to see the next post!

Dee said...

Happy anniversary, Coco. Looks like you had fun in London. That French/Indian restaurant sounds amazing. It's exactly my kind of food! Yum :)

I can't wait for the recipes!

Ivy said...

Nice to see you back Courtney and Happy Blogoversary. Looking forward to read part II of your trip.

The Caked Crusader said...

So glad you had a great trip and loved Borough Mkt - isn't it a fascinating place?

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Hey Courtney... I'm very behind right now. It looks like SUCH a wonderful trip. I truly love London. It's so interesting that it's become such a culinary mecca.

Rachel said...

This Anglophile is really getting a vicarious thrill from your trip. Great travel and foodie writing!

Laurie said...

What beautiful food and a great post! The local is amazing!tbwrsnh

Jeanne said...

Oh it sounds as if you had a ball!! A friend of mine is a pilot and his crew hotel was always dear Portes des Indes. At the time I had just arrived in London and felt pretty broke so it was totalyl out of reach, but I LONGED to go. I'd forgotten about it until you mentioned it now - I should make a plan to go! It's a pity you didn't get to see Brick Lane - the restaurants aren'e the greatest but it is sucj a crazy street lined with JUST INdian/Bangladeshi restaurants - and touts!

Thrilled that you got to Borough Market! Isn't it just the best? I loved those giant puffball mushrooms - they had them 3 weeks ago when I was there too!

Rosie said...

Happy belated Blogiverary Coco I always enjoy reading your blog :)

It sounds like you have had a great time here in England :)

Rosie x