Thursday, November 27, 2008

London, Day One

I can't believe it's Thanksgiving!

Today we started off with some quick antiquing at Spitalfields. (What, you thought this family could get through more than one day without a flea market?!) They've apparently updated the space recently, so there were fewer dealers, but a slew of new restaurants -- a Gourmet Burger Kitchen(gbk), Wagamama, La Tasca, Giraffe, and some others. We didn't find much in the antique stalls, but the artist stalls on the other side were full of gorgeous goodies - purses, jewelry, shirts, dresses... (no, I didn't buy anything)

We stopped for lunch at gbk -- a fancy version of Five Guys or Mighty Fine -- we just beat the lunchtime rush. Then we went looking for Bevis Marks, the oldest synagogue in London. After a minor challenge with the map, we found it, but we couldn't go inside. The "best kosher restaurant in London" is also there. After that, we walked over to the Guildhall Art Museum, to see an exhibit of GF Watts paintings.

In the search for the synagogue, we also managed to walk right under the "Gherkin" -- (I think I'd rather call it the Towering Innuendo). But trying to get one of us in the picture AND the whole building was a challenge.
<-- Bryan and the tower

By the time we were done with the art museum, we were all exhausted. It was supposed to be naptime, but that never happened. We came back and within an hour we had to leave for Gordon Ramsay's restaurant at Claridges.

I have to say, this was one of the best meals I've ever had. We had the three course menu (which also includes at least one amuse before each course...). The first amuse was a soup/puree of parsnips with mushrooms. My lobster and salmon ravioli was incredible. It was one very large round ravioli, with a lovely coconut sauce. We all ate too much of the bread/crackers with butter, and interesting spreads -- one with truffle and one with salmon. Then the main courses came. I had venison with cabbage and an interesting dark chocolate sauce. Dad had the lamb, but the lamb was rubbed with anchovy paste, and he doesn't much like fish. So that was almost a bust - but not entirely, because Bryan thought it was fabulous! He liked that better than my chocolate-sauced-venison, but then again, he doesn't *ever* mix sweet with savory flavors. Bryan and Abbe both had the pork belly, and they really enjoyed it. Mom had the sea bass, which was also tasty.

For dessert, Bryan and I split the Apple Tart Tartin. Oh. My. Gawd. It was fantastic. But wait, that was preceded by a little skinny glass of vanilla cheesecake with blackberries. That was excellent, but then the apple tart with vanilla ice cream beat all! (yes, I was popping lactaid all night, but it was SO worth it.) They also served us little post-dessert amuses: a toasted-almond-covered ball of vanilla ice cream, a square of candied passionfruit, and a dark chocolate truffle. We literally had to ask for little boxes to bring them home in, because we couldn't eat another bite!

But we did take a tour of the kitchen. Our (handsome) head waiter, from Barbados (with a very nice accent) took us into the ridiculously busy kitchen. They have a chef's table, which you have to book waaaaay in advance, and costs over 800 British pounds for up to 8 people! (the price is the same for 2 or 8, so take more people if you can...) The people at the table can just go in and walk around the kitchen and talk to the chefs!

Then, as long as we were all gussied up, we took a family photo. :) (and Winston Churchill in the background - how appropriate!)

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! I hope y'all have a relaxing and pleasant day with your families and friends. (Can't even watch the UT-A&M game, it doesn't start here til 1am!)

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