Visiting london for the first time held almost as much anticipation as visiting Italy.. Those that know me, would argue the jet lag must be in full effect, but London held curiosity to my family tree. I think the food scene is very progressive as they have fought hard to break away the old stereotypes of basically shit food. Disclaimer aside, there is still plenty of lousy food in the UK, but if you have an interest in searching out the fast moving food culture, you’ll be impressed.
My wife has had plenty of experience with London and it was nice to be visiting a foreign country for the first time and know that the little details are taken care of. We perched ourselves in the heart of the city and ventured from Piccadilly area. I think I saw more tourist sites in the short few days than most tourists do in a week. Having not slept for over 24 hours, the goal was to reset the internal clock and stay busy until at least 8 or 9pm so i could sleep through the night.
The architecture is absolutely amazing, steeped so richly in history, just walking the streets was exciting. The level of detail was breathtaking and I wish that integrity to craftsmanship was viable today. It would be stoic to know that the buildings we constructed today were going to live through the centuries for generations to admire.
After a handful of monuments and monarchal masterpieces, the wafts of grilled meats and charred sausages over took the normal car exhaust aromas as Covent gardens emerged like an oasis from the brown stones. Artisanal products like pastries, breads, quiche, cheeses, lined the south side of the entrance. Its grassroots images was appealing compared to the tourist laden offerings on the inside. A classic smoked bacon and sharp cheddar quiche was the perfect taste to take my london gastronomic cherry. Delicate tension and flakeyness to the crust without any excessive grease, it was well done. So much to try, it all looked so good.
A few more hours of walking and it was time for a pit stop. My first traditional pub. I had to order the quintessential Guinness, or two. Everyone was telling me that Guinness taste different (better) over here, I can tell you that after a few hours of walking, no sleep in 30 hours, this was the best fucking beer of my life. I swear one sip and it was half gone and like a scene from the movie “Oliver” – please sir, may I have some more. I even nailed the accent even though Wendy thought I was going to get pummelled.
Wendy was happy with the volume of national monuments we had visited so now it was time to find a place a place for dinner and meet up with Dave. We settled on a place called Browns and I think it was recommended for its simplicity in food. The atmosphere was fun, loud, and frankly at this point I’m starting to drift in and out of moments while I can’t understand why my eyes can’t focus. Dave finds through the use of unlocked cell phones on a prepaid SIM card (bought out of a vending machine), and we crack into our first taste of English sparkling wine.
A 2009 Ridgeview Sparkling Wine. Made from the holy three grapes in a manner they are trying to corner called Methode Britainnique. Like most commonwealth countries good intentions are masked by other political mistakes. In the same manner Canada tries to distinguish VQA from Wines of Canada, England struggles to identify wines of England and British Wines. “British Wines” and “Wines of Canada” fall into the same boat, they can be made from grapes outside the country and as long as they are fermented or bottled on local soil, they can be labeled as such. As much as its industry would love to stand behind and promote “Methode Britainnique”, it is to ambiguous and misleading to consumers when its proud local industry is wanting to earn its reputation on quality. Sound familiar? Biggest lesson = 100% grown and made wines from the UK are called “English Wines”, not British.
A day of firsts, a day of sensory overload, a good day!