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17
Jun
2008

Europe Bound

London skyline
Photo used courtesy of Vemma

The adventures of Matt & Sharon continue. This time internationally.

So my lovely eldest sister recently announced that she was getting married. She’s been living in the UK for the past 6 years now, and despite the fact that she’s developed a terrible generic Southern pommy accent, we still love her dearly and were very excited when the news came through.

What that means of course, is that it necessitates us flying over there. Something that has long been on the agenda, but has perhaps needed a kick up the bum like this to initiate. I am of course, the king of procrastination.

So the date is set for the 20th of September. We’ll be flying over a little beforehand and are going to dip our toes in the cultural sea that is Europe (specifically France and a little of my ancestral homeland Ireland), before livin it large in London for as long as our money holds out (not long).

I’m also charged with the job of being the wedding photographer on the day, and helping to coordinate the reception dinner menu (and I’m thinking of taking a marriage celebrants short course in case I need to step in for the priest on the day).

This henceforth is the post for anyone with knowledge of London, Paris, Dublin, and the greater European / British land mass, to share and inform me of the absolutely must go to places, restaurants, markets, pubs, bistros, schlocky tourist spots, and ridiculously overpriced celebrity filled cocktail bars.

Also if anyone on the other side of planet can give me an idea of what is fresh and seasonal in the UK in September, I’d greatly appreciate it.

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25 Responses to “Europe Bound” (2,575 views)

  1. if you have time we should arrange a bloggers-meet…

    June 17, 2008 at 6:01 pm Reply
  2. Kay

    Jet-setters! Nice…

    My culinary experience in the UK was generally dreadful. They don’t have pumpkin at all… or a few other vegies that we consider “normal”. The Indian fare is generally top notch though.

    I’m off to Europe in just about three weeks… Poland, Slovenia, Italy and Germany… I fear I will come back about 10 kilos heavier with all the stuff I will be *forced* to eat, in Italy and Poland especilly :)

    June 17, 2008 at 6:20 pm Reply
  3. Mark (Mooba)

    Hi Matt, great seeing you and Sharon the other night at Little Creatures, I am not too sure how much earlier than Sept 20th you are going but the Notting Hill Carnival in London is on Aug 24th and 25th……worth the visit and experience if you are around at that time.

    June 17, 2008 at 6:48 pm Reply
  4. Andrew: that sounds great actually. Good chance to put a few faces to names to urls. I’ll let you know when we’ll be in London specifically and get the word out. It’s likely to be around the 17th – 18th of September.

    Kay: There must surely be pumpkin somewhere… I don’t think you looked hard enough… though I’m not sure I have availablity of pumpkin high on my list of must haves for a great food based holiday. I am actually looking forward to some good Indian food… and like you i’m sure I’ll have to wear a few extra kilos on the way back for the cause of culinary experimentation :)

    Enjoy Wacken :)

    Mark: Thanks again for the hospitality. Little Creatures is a great spot… here’s hoping you don’t wait another 9 years for your next Sunday session. I don’t think we’ll get there that early. We’re leaving around the 10th of Sep, so it’s going to be short and sharp unfortunately… sounds like it would be good though.

    June 17, 2008 at 7:27 pm Reply
  5. I have some info for you Matt, but need some time which I don’t have tonight. Kay is right. bastards have no pumpkin – I send seeds to my sister in Kent so that she can grow her own.

    June 17, 2008 at 8:28 pm Reply
  6. Hey Matt! Sounds great…Whilst London has certainly changed in terms of eating it can still cost you the price of a kidney on the black market to eat (ok slightly over exaggerated but you get the drift…). Go Indian I say. I had the best Indian grub at a place in Bayswater called “Karns” or “Kahns” and it was amazing.

    When in Paris you must try the most expensive coffee in the world at any of those posh Left Bank cafes (just to say you did it…and people watch!). Pick up fresh baguette, cheese, cold meats, pate and wine and sit on the river bank and soak it all in. Oh! and you must do Nutella crepes from the street vendors!

    June 17, 2008 at 9:25 pm Reply
  7. jezz

    Hey Matt,
    I should be still hanging around in Paris when you get over here, and I am more than happy to share an overpriced cocktail! either way I have a good list of places that are interesting…
    Jezz

    June 18, 2008 at 1:58 am Reply
  8. Bec

    You can get butternuts, but they call them butternut squash, not pumpkin. They were more readily available at Halloween though. Not always as good as Aussie ones, so you need to go for the good quality, organic ones if you want any flavour at all.

    June 18, 2008 at 6:03 am Reply
  9. Ed

    I might just see you there myself. I’m aiming for my mum’s birthday of the 11th. A bloggers meet would be good. Shit, the prices of tickets…

    June 18, 2008 at 7:28 am Reply
  10. Grendel: I’ll just wait patiently then… *taps fingers* :)

    Peter, thanks for the tips, just the stuff I’m after.

    Jezz, considering you may well be the most adept coffee maker in Paris at the moment, I’m pretty sure we’re going to need to catch up. You can show me the few places of espresso quality.

    Bec: Ok, I’m not sure when this turned into a pumpkin discussion… but thanks for the input anyway. Though if I don’t see a pumpkin the entire time I’m in the UK I will not shed a tear.

    Ed: Perhaps a repeat of Melbourne but with warm beer and fish and chips ? Our tickets are booked ! No backing out now…

    June 18, 2008 at 11:46 am Reply
  11. cin

    i think we’re going to be in Spain/Portugal around that time! Yay for travel.

    my suggestion is that you try asw many unpasturised cheeses as possible. we even brought them on the plane with baguettes & all for dinner instead of having the usual airplane fare.

    June 18, 2008 at 3:45 pm Reply
  12. Good call on the cheese Cin… I think I may try living of bread, wine, and cheese while in France. If only to save money for other things. Spain and Portugal are on the list for next time… the spiritual homes of Chorizo… hope you enjoy it :)

    June 18, 2008 at 5:04 pm Reply
  13. Bugger London, just stay in France for the food n culture! Are you thinking of trying any Michelin-starred places? The Fat Duck’s meant to be quite the experience but it costs major $$$. Although I’d love to try snail porridge & some foam.

    BTW, how’s that Stein guy? Bit of a prick, eh!

    June 18, 2008 at 8:07 pm Reply
  14. Sue

    A la biche au bois for a set menu meal in paris. Divine all for 25 euro I think. will dig up the address for you.

    UK – fat duck?! :)

    Ireland – Any pub but not in temple bar. Food. Generally ick but a roast meal at the pub a must have.

    June 19, 2008 at 2:07 pm Reply
  15. Ed

    Okay Matt I’m booked and will be around in the UK from 10th Sept to 22nd (Jak’s staying at home though – saying hols for Xmas). How about the Fat Duck? 125 pounds a head for the degu and we can book two months out. Anyone else in? Otherwise I’ll have to take my mum for her birthday and she’d really prefer Gordon Ramsay in Paris.

    June 28, 2008 at 9:23 am Reply
  16. Davy

    Hey Matt, I was back home in the UK in February, didn’t get a huge amount of time food wise but there’s a few places I’d like to recommend…

    Mason Don Felipe, 63 The Cut, (020) 7928 3237 – Spanish, great vibe, sit at the bar and eat like a pig.

    Anchor & Hope, 36 The Cut SE1 8LP. Tel 020 7928 989 – Gastropub, rough, bare environment but gorgeously rustic food that’s won accolades including Best Gatropub. Be organised if you go though, no booking policy. Best to avoid peak times.
    Matthew Fort review here> http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/experts/matthewfort/story/0,,1617899,00.html
    another here> http://www.tktaylor.com/?page_id=58

    St John’s of course… iconic

    The Ambassador’s, 55 Exmouth Market EC1R 4QL – Great wine list, go in the daytime for lunch, then have a wander round the market, once you’ve built up an appetite again head to…

    Moro, 34-36 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QE for dinner.

    The Eagle, 159 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3AL – The original gastropub

    The Atlas, 16 Seagrave Road SW6 1RX

    All those band wagon jumpers who bag British food have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. Some of the best food on the planet can be found in London, across all budgets. Like any large metropolis you just have to do your research. I was lucky enough to have lived in London through the food revolution in the 90′s when gastropubs brought top notch food to the masses.

    Another recommendation is my old stomping ground…head west to Chiswick on a sunny day and meander along the Thames at Strand on The Green (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strand-on-the-Green & http://www.virtual-chiswick.ukonline.co.uk/strand_on_the_green/index.html), beautiful location with some great ancient pubs. You can then continue along the river to Hammersmith to catch the tram into town.

    Enjoy!

    P.S. I’ve also heard good things about Portal but haven’t tried it myself…
    Portal
    88 St. John Street
    London
    EC1M 4EH
    020 7253 6950

    June 28, 2008 at 3:07 pm Reply
  17. Davy

    I forgot…

    LA TROMPETTE
    Phone : 020 8747 1836
    Fax number : 020 8995 8097
    5-7, Devonshire Road
    Chiswick
    London
    W4

    Review here> http://www.squaremeal.co.uk/restaurants/london/view/81342/La_Trompette

    June 28, 2008 at 3:20 pm Reply
  18. Cheers Davy… that’s a load of cool sounding places. Didn’t know you were from ye olde country, so thanks for some first hand tips. I’m guessing the kind of people who bag out British food are the same ones who think Perth is boring, and drink soy milk… completely devoid of life :)

    Ed, I think the best we may be able to afford is a London version of the Supper Inn at this rate. But i’ll be in touch shortly… Heston is sexy man…

    June 29, 2008 at 10:23 pm Reply
  19. Davy

    No worries Matt, I’m from Scotland originally but spent 14 stupidly hedonistic years in London.

    I just realised I said “catch the tram into town” when I meant “the tube”…I’ve obviously become indoctrinated into Melbourne life!

    Anyhoo, have a fantastic trip, I’m mildly jealous. Don’t forget to buy the weekly Time Out magazine when you’re in London as well as the yearly “Time Out Eating & Drinking Guide”, essential. http://www.timeout.com/london/

    Cheers!

    June 29, 2008 at 11:26 pm Reply
  20. Chris

    There is a lot of rubbish food in London. Walking down most high streets in the city, you’re inundated with signs for big food chains, which is a common feature in any large city. However, if one is willing to do a bit of research and leg work, there are many gastronomic treasures to be found.

    For something a little unusual, there’s a Ethiopian restaurant called Addis (http://addisrestaurant.co.uk). Rustic decorations, a little basic looking. But the food is really flavorful, especially the Ye Beg Wot: a spicy lamb cubes cooked with a fiery peppery sauce.

    Or, there’s Jakob’s on Gloucester Road; a small eatery serving a mixture of Armenian, Iranian, Greek and Lebanese food. All ingredients are fresh and organic. Inexpensive and really tasty.

    There are also two new players on the Chinatown restaurant scene, Baozi Inn, specializing in Northern Chinese cuisine and Leong’s Legend, specialising in Taiwanese cuisine. Both are reasonably priced, authentic renditions of regional classics.

    Looking forward to seeing both of you in Sept!

    July 2, 2008 at 8:52 pm Reply
  21. I know you already commented on my post to say you will put Borough Market on the list, but I just want to make sure that you do!! Just get there early…. I don’t know how many people live where you are but in London we have no concept whatsoever of personal space. This is very evident early afternoon at Borough Market! The restaurant ‘Fish’ in the market is bloomin’ fantastic too.

    July 3, 2008 at 10:00 pm Reply
  22. So much to recommend in Paris…let’s see…

    - Take in as much rosť as you can! They keep all the good stuff for themselves.
    - I second a picnic along the Seine. Rue Cler in the 7e was where we picked up some pretty amazing ingredients.
    - Had a couple of great dinners at La Maree Verte and Le Florimand. These are also in the 7e (can you tell which arrondissement we stayed in?).
    - Non food: browsing through the Rodin Gardens near Les Invalides far outshone our experiences at the Louvre and the Orsay. It’s only 1 or 2 euro per person (going into the actual Rodin Museum is extra).

    July 4, 2008 at 3:48 pm Reply
  23. Catherine

    Hi Matt,
    There is a cheesy bike tour you can do with a company called Fat Tyre (http://www.fattirebiketoursparis.com/) the night time ride is a great way to see the city and get your bearings whilst also finishing off with a cruise on the Seine with some cheap red wine in plastic cups. It’s quite a lot of fun.

    I will try and find the business card from this little Bistro that we dined at twice it was so delicious. It was on boulevard Pasteur. It was very small but the food was lovely and there was only one waiter serving everyone.

    Oh Paris…

    July 17, 2008 at 1:32 pm Reply
  24. Kaya McCarthy

    Hi Matt,
    There really is a lack of good quality coffee in London, but MonMouth Coffee Company at the Borough Markets is very good with an excellent range from around the globe, and have found a great little coffeeshop near Carneby Street named Fernandez and Wellz(43 Lexington street), that do the best flatwhites-strong and creamy(a rarity in London). Have been having an absolute blast over here, hope your trip is as fantastic as mine…

    August 29, 2008 at 2:09 am Reply
  25. Thanks guys for all the great suggestions. I think i’ll be posting up a new topic shortly, as the time is nearly upon me to go… Less than a couple of weeks now… and I’m hopelessly unprepared.

    Kaya: I didn’t know you were over there, great to hear you’re having a good time. It sounds like Borough Markets are a must do now. I’ve been led to believe the coffee situation is dire in the UK, but good to know you’ve found some nice spots. I’ll give you a buzz if you’re still there when I am :)

    August 29, 2008 at 10:57 am Reply

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