I have been a naughty blogger. While I know that this is something I should be doing on the daily (as it would help with my entry-constipation) I’m lacking discipline. It doesn’t help that my laptop is a dinosaur and it has actually come to the point where I don’t like to upload my images to it in fear of crashing. I have been working from the same one since 2006 when it was the hot-rod of computers. Recently it was pulled out of the bin at airport security for “looking suspicious”. Smaller in diameter, it has the weight of about ten MAC-books in one. I never fail to amaze the genius bar. Now I just use it to catch up on Gossip Girl Netflix. (Yeah I just said that.)
Who really looks forward to spending 3k on a new computer when they spend their entire work day glaring at one? I can think of a lot of things to do with three thousand dollars: Return to Euroland, buy some Loubuotins, hit up some celeb chef restos… If only I could blog at least half as fast as I can eat, I’d be in good shape (writing-wise). Bear with me as I find some time to share with you my tales of international foodie travels at a leisurely pace.
Day One Soggies:
I had been planning to head out to London for a while now. Unfortunately I missed the tail end of a couple friends staying or living there. However, I feel like the city has become the “6th borough” in a lot of ways which is amazing. Or, maybe I’ve just had enough life experiences at this point (I’m now old) and there seem to be ex-colleagues and classmates spread all over the globe making “trotting” quite the easy experience.
First and foremost I’d like to draw some attention to this wicked-cool Instagram I took while landing. London is quite an attractive city from the air. I give credit where it’s due.
When I arrived I bought my Oyster straight away and headed to Highbury-Islington Station, a.k.a. home for the next four days. After nearly 1.5 years it seems it has become an even more ideal location for PeanutPimpMama’s habits like eating the delicious foodies, drinking and hunting for the vintage & designer bargains. I’m not sure what I would compare this area to in NYC. It has the quaintness of the West Village, but some qualities that tie in some East Village maybe even Billy-burgh points (dare I say). The flat I stayed in (pictured above) is located right on Highbury Place which is steps from the tube and now featured on Airbnb.com. All I can say is that I have really good taste. I approve of the host (Ziya) as he was super cheerful and welcoming. I can’t speak highly for his taste in drapery however. It messed with my pristine vision.
This flat offers a garden where you can sit and enjoy the London
Fog sun and prepare a meal on the terrace, or perhaps sip a spot of tea while taking in the lovely scenery.
These purple flowers live here.
And this door…Tell me you don’t want to know what’s behind the door. Little door in the middle of a giant brick wall…You know you want to open it.
I hit the ground running. Thanks to the likes of facebook facilitating “getting in touch” at the blink of an eye, I had my first London hang out planned within twenty minutes. First it was time to grab a coffee to ward off any oncoming jet-lag. My first stop (by recommendation) was Little Gem on Corsica Street which is located right around the block. This is one of many quaint coffee shops in the area.
It’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall but super cute and gets the job done, kind of. There are a couple seats inside where you can sit and nosh, or you can place your order for “take away” and head outside. Their pastry cases look a bit lonely, but you can order some light fare from somewhere in there. (The London accent on the barista was unexpected.)
I decided to go for the Green Tea Latte. Little Gem needs to learn how to use the steamer. My latte had a nice flavor but it was less than warm and I sucked it down in 2.5 seconds. Granted I do tend to drink beverages on the quick side. I need the heat as a deterrent!
After I chucked that cup in the bin, I decided to take a short stroll while waiting for my friend to arrive. Highbury Fields was in full bloom and the green leaves were so pretty. It was a shame the sky was a tad overcast…No use for a sunny London anyhow. Ironic enough, I had nearly 8 days of a rain-less Soggies. That’s not very soggy.
My friend Biggles (whom I met in 2006 at Parsons Paris) picked me up on his Triumph! It was super cool zipping around London via motorcycle. I have heard this is the way to see the city. I guess there’s a first for everything.
We ended up at Borough Market where I got a sick view of The Shard. They’re quite proud of that building you know…It’s right up their with their Gherkin and their Walkie-Talkie. This place brought back memories of my cousin’s visit in 2006 when we hit up Vinopolis. Edu(m)acational wine-tasting in London, who knew? I swear I still have one of their over-sized souvenir t shirts kicking around my pajama drawer at home…Evidently I earned that shirt through my diligent studies.
As I walked among all of the food concessions, everything was so tempting. I went with some delicious salt & pepper chilli squid, and got my Fish & Chips out of the way. Deep fried seafood was the theme of the afternoon as my fat cells expanded.
On the way back to the bike we popped into Neal’s Yard Dairy where I plotted my cheese fondue selection for a long standing tradition with my dear friend Linda. I could stand in there all day sampling les fromages. We almost did.
Eventually I had to purchase something and off we went. It was time for ice cream in Camden Town.
Linda and I met up at Chin Chin Labs which was on my list of “to-do’s.
Chin Chin found a way to create the freshest ice cream known to mankind by blending the ingredients in the laboratory-like white Kitchen-Aid mixers with Liquid Nitrogen. It creates a fascinating vapory-spectacle to watch after you select your treat and pay. They switch up their flavors frequently, so you’re sure to have a different experience every time.
This is what you end up with. The mix I had was titled something along the lines of “Easter Egg.” It was a Madagascan Vanilla(r) ice cream with heather honeycomb, pistachio & cardamom powder and (what tasted like chocolate magic shell) Valrhona chocolate. When I selected my concoction I had the approval of the Ice-cream scientists to ease any chance of ice-cream buyer’s remorse that might set in. It was delightful and I’d totally go back or recommend this to a friend.
Sitting in Camden is always such a surreal experience. In all of the markets I’ve been to in my life, the Lock is something special and will never get old. It is pure over stimulation of the senses, a visual explosion choc full of the things. Anyone can find something there to eat, drink, or buy.
After I had my ice cream, I couldn’t help but notice the sign next door advertising the “Mighty Fine Chocolate & Fudge Kitchen”. That is exactly what they serve in all forms (solid, smushy and liquid) including 100 different flavors. To tell you the truth I was a bit underwhelmed. Their website is worth a visit since they make their concept look so fun! A return might be in order.
Anyhow the chocolate man was really sweet and quite the conversationalist. I bought a sympathy hot chocolate since Chin Chin seemed to be stealing all the customers that day. (It was hot by London standards, a whole 65 degrees Farenheit) My chocolat chaud was banana flavored with honeycomb and whipped cream. Evidently the owners of both Chin Chin and MFC&F played “football” together and go way back. (translation: soccer)
By the time we wrapped things up at the market and it was time to get ready for dinner, the sun was about to set. I took the prettiest pictures at sun-down.
For my welcome night in London I was surprised with a ladies night out by Linda (Mum of two) for which I was really grateful. (Thank you Dominic!!) We were trying to figure out where to go for dinner (last minute) which is always a challenge in the land of planning. My plane arrived late that day so we missed a culinary extravaganza at Nathan Outlaw. I wasn’t in town 24 hours and Toptable.com was already giving me a “talking to” about not taking my reservations seriously, hence blacklisting me. I wonder if there is a probationary period or if I’m banned forever. They take reservations seriously in Soggies!
Everything worked out for the best as it always does. We landed a reservation at Shrimpy’s which is a pop-up Mexican restaurant located in a filling station (translation: gas station) at King’s Cross St. Pancras. Suddenly the Brits have a new found love for Mexican cuisine and I am absolutely over the moon about this! We sat at the bar where service was super attentive and they kept our margaritas at appropriate levels. (Much respect for The Habanero Margie: Tequila, Lime Juice, Agave and Hot Habanero Sauce) We kept the meal simple and straightforward starting with some “chips and dips”- guac and salsas, later moving on to our mains. I ordered their Soft Shell Crab Burger: soft shell crab, rouille, provolone and avocado. It originally came out with bacon and I have to say the bacon would have been great left on. (Poor me the pseudo-veggie) This PeanutPimpMama-safe burger was off the charts. Feeling extra naughty? You can double your crabs for an extra five pounds! Okay enough of that…
I can’t seem to wrap my mind around how much that area has changed since 2006. It actually has venues that are quite posh. Speaking of POSH, our evening ended with a couple bottles of vintage bubbly at the St. Pancras hotel. We probably should have had one less than a couple… But hey who’s counting?
We <3 bubbles!
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