This past summer, I got the rare chance to visit London- the city of my dreams for perhaps the longest of times. I went with Mum- a partner in crime- and she drove on the left side and all. The two hour trek from the outskirts of London on the terrifyingly narrow A4 to Woodstock and Oxford was an experience within itself. We even got lost in Newbury in an awkwardly-maneuvered minivan- the only automatic available at the station. Nope, we didn’t get to visit the Earl and Duchess of Carnarvon because Highclere Castle just happened to be closed the days we were there.
Anyways, I had never been so close to history and having always been an avid period drama and British history buff in general, this was an exciting time. Museums were everywhere. Antique shops to my left and right. It was undoubtedly a collector’s dream (I have this camera from 1913 that has the intense smell of yesteryear and a couple of vintage cookbooks that call for 4 cups of sugar in a mocha chiffon cake!), and I walked in awe in my every step, determined to make this jittery feeling as as long as possible.
I had just gone through a rough semester at school. Debating on whether or not to drop out, to take a leave of absence, or determining how to piece together a broken mental state of mind, were all altering decisions I had to make the few months prior. I’d say that this was a nice break from all that stress. For the first time in about 1 year prior to this time, I felt at peace and somewhat stress free. How unusual was this?
Anyways, we stayed outside in Ewell, a nice suburb area that’s an easy commute to London. You could get in and out within, let’s say 45 minutes. Next to the Airbnb was a Sunday roast place, Toby Carvery. This place had a warm and welcoming family atmosphere that exceeded all expectations. Their roasts were succulent, juicy, and packed full of luscious smells that ran throughout the restaurant. Along came the humongous Yorkshire puds, an equivalent of our popovers. Then the stuffing. The mash. Veggies. My words won’t do this place any justice. Oh, and we went again for breakfast- only an all you can eat place with eggs, beans, meats, mushroom, taters, and the like. Splendid as well.
I’ve talked about Lucy Worsley for quite some time before, but let me reiterate: the lady is or was (?) the chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces and I’ve been watching her documentaries since the age of 11, perhaps. Do me a favor and go check them out. Tell me how you feel afterwards. Existential right? Questioning your current position in life no doubt. Or I might just have been very weird at such a young age. I don’t quite know, you tell me. That means a visit to Hampton Court Palace. They had a temporary exhibition for the #TudorFeast and there was no hesitation in my snapping a couple of pictures.
Yes, the man was obese because of these pot pies. These were probably filled with mounds of chicken and cream (I’m honestly not really sure what’s in there!), and he had a side of this and probably more game meat as an appetizer, maybe even for dessert? Or just a truckload of sugar like his daughter Elizabeth I. Truly, the very first foodie there was in that era. Thanks for the inspiration, Your Majesty. There was also a live roasting demonstration. Not going to lie, it smelled amazing again. Up until the late 19th century, meat was roasted on a stick in front of a fire (or Victorian kitchen range if you lived in a manor house like the Carnarvons) and the smells permeated the 20 foot tall kitchen ever so strongly. And! there was a marzipan making demonstration as well. As a fellow sugar enthusiast, I admired Henry’s taste in dessert: almond paste confectionaries would taste rather scrumptious- melting in your mouth because of its fragility.
Back onto the trip. I’ll just talk more about the food stuff now. Back in London, we trecked around for dinner places and of course being the Asian tourists we were, found ourselves wound up in the heart of Chinatown (Covent Garden). There was this amazing noodle shop on the corner, with hand made, chewy, and irresistible noodles. Go check it out for yourself when you’re up there! Lanzhou Noodle Bar had a cohort of Cantonese-speaking individuals hard at work preparing beef noodle soups, mustard green noodle soups, fried rice, and a vast variety more of ethnic dishes. You know it’s a good noodle place when its beef is sliced thinly, mostly cooked through, and the noodles are chewy and freshly boiled. Oh, and the bok choy cannot mushy. I repeat, blanched vegetables only. To be honest, I was just sitting there admiring the chef’s noodle making skills the whole time. Yes, I will make them soon- just you wait!
There was this other place we went to in Covent Garden, whose noodles were not as fresh and the broth, almost too salty to digest. That is reason why I have forgotten the name of this place.
Oh, and twice we went to, Bubble Wrap London, had the most delicious, sooth, and creamy gelato. EVER. In my opinion, it was honestly a little better than Salt and Straw. They are comparable. But I still enjoyed the former better because of the bubble waffle. I had a craving for it since I had last went to Taiwan a couple of years before. The dark chocolate and matcha gelatos were to die for and writing this now is making me want a lot more.
Oh and this last picture is Winston Churchill’s living room at Blenheim. It was very stately and grand. You probably couldn’t run the course of his estate for miles on end. Ok, I’m stopping here. Let me know your thoughts on this city and what the U.K. has to offer!