Posts Tagged ‘london’

11
Oct
2008

Le Pain Quotidien – and more of London

You *are* being watched *

And so we walked… and walked…. and walked. I guess that’s what you do on holidays when you actually want to see some of the city. In London it’s pretty easy to get into a rat like mentality. Using the tube system it’s pretty easy to stay underground all day and only pop up in a few places. Super convenient once you get used to where to change lines and how not to get your arm caught in the doors, but not the best way to see the sites.

So we strolled through town, down Regent Street, and Oxford St, though we did not pass go, and did not collect $200 (and there is no such thing as free parking). Then down past the horse guards and over the bridge to the London Eye. Being one of the touristy things I figured I should do, we bit the bullet and got in line. 30 minutes and a couple of cavity searches later we were at the top. Surveying the shabby historic beauty that is London.

Le Pain Quotidien Swirly

With a fierce hunger now brewing but no idea where good food was to be found in Southbank we did a little divining and ended up at Le Pain Quotidien, which looked like a chain, but an up market one. Turns out they are a chain, and in fact have stores in most of the known world… including Australia.

The basic premise at Le Pain Quotidien is quality bread, made on the premises from organic flour, and shareable plates of organic charcuterie and other tastiness. Founder Alain Coumont was apparently a Belgian chef dissatisfied with his choice of bread to serve in his restaurant, so he ended up developing his own loaf and then opening a bakery. From humble beginnings it’s now spread to 10 countries and many stores.

Bordeaux and Merlot at Le Pain Quotidien Swirly Le Pain Quotidien Le Pain Quotidien Her bible Le Pain Quotidien at Southbank 
So I went for a simple charcuterie plate loaded with hams, prosciutto, sausage, bread, sun dried tomatoes, pickled veges, and olive. Just what I was after, and a lovely way to relax after a long walk, with a delicious glass of Château Couronneau Bordeaux to wash it all down.

Probably highly presumptuous, but this may have been my most enjoyable experience in a franchised establishment to date… which normally exude a cold sterile vibe that makes me want to wash myself with steel wool.

Le Pain Quotidien
Royal Festival Hall
Festival Terrace, Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road
London SE1 8XX
Tel.: 0207 486 6154

Our next destinations were more snapshots of the city. We went to Camden and checked out the infinite row of piercing places and enjoyed the parade of Camden Leisure Pirates swaggering about. A peak through Camden Markets unveiled rows and rows of crap, and then even more crap hidden behind that crap. I did particularly like the “Chinese Food All Mixed Together” sign hanging above a particularly fine example of salmonella fodder, but yes was strong enough to resist the lure of cheap greasy nasty looking food.

We then hopped back on the tube and jumped off at Covent Garden. I forget why, but Amanda said there were some nice places there. Though the only one we actually ended up going into was the Australian Shop, so Amanda could buy twisties… which apparently are no readily available in the UK (the horror).

More walking and now it’s getting late and we pick up another Perth ex-pat, my friend Sam, who proceeds to lead us on another merry dance through the streets once more. Giving the seedy Soho by night tour that every tourist really wants but doesn’t know how to ask for.

A chance to see the London Eye by night as we cross back over the bridge, and then meander our way towards The Cut near Southwark to try our luck with some of Davy’s recommendations. Sadly we couldn’t get in to most of the places on the street as they were completely packed on a Thursday night and not taking bookings meant we were out of luck.

So then, we made our way via Black Cab to Farringdon Road to check out The Eagle, the original gastropub… which is where the story will continue shortly…

* The Horse Guard * * * * *DO NOT* LEAN AGAINST DOORS The cinematographer Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament You *are* being watched Chinese Food All Mixed Together Some weird wood carved thing inside Camden Market Organic Elderflower Presse Fentimans Mandarin and Seville Orange Jigger Vintage reflections Trampling imminent Camden Market Screamer Camden Leisure Pirates Australia Shop * Soho Lady Thai Massage Sam and Amanda The London Eye The Sherlock Holmes Black cabs by night Me and Sam * Amanda and I in the eye Camden Market Reflections Do not place anything on this cage Covent Gardens * 

09
Oct
2008

Flat White, Soho

The eponymous Flat White

My first destination. No day of exploring a new city can be undertaken without coffee.

I’ve long stopped being amazed by major cities without an established coffee scene, it just happens all too frequently. So many people, so much diversity, no good coffee. London is no exception to that rule, in fact, it probably invented it.

Fortunately, there are Australians and New Zealanders around to set things right. The Flat White, that quirky little antipodean creation of a shot of espresso with some nicely textured milk is such a well known quantity down under that it’s almost the default when no other information is given. “2 coffees mate”, quite easily translates to “2 Flat Whites please, and thank you kindly sir”.

When I arrived in the store I instantly felt at home. Tucked into a lovely little street in Soho, Flat White is a mecca for quality espresso and milk based coffees in London. Owned by an Aussie and a Kiwi and staffed mostly (i thunk) by Kiwi’s, who really take their coffee seriously.

I started with a flat white, beautifully textured milk and a rich full flavoured double on the bottom, presented with a near perfect rosetta poured from eye level… which ranked well up with some of nicer coffees I’ve had anywhere. Then onto an espresso, pulled as a short double. Super syrupy and sweet, a little bright, but overall very punchy. I was hooked. A piccolo latte to finish off and I was set for my coffee needs for the day.

Flat White (and their sister store Milk Bar, also in Soho) are amongst the first commercial contracts for none other than Square Mile Coffee Roasters. Latest and greatest addition to the artisan roasting world in London and beyond. They used to be using Monmouth coffee, which seemed to be the roaster of choice amongst anyone who cared up until recently, but with a team like Square Mile behind you, it’s scary to think just how good it might get.

So this was a fantastic first experience which I was soon to discover is vastly non-representative of the rest of English coffee :|

The machinery at Flat White Flat White Menu The eponymous Flat White Latte at Flat White, Soho Flat Whites espresso Me at Flat White My tally at Flat white The clientelle at Flat White 
Flat White
17 Berwick St, Soho

http://www.flat-white.co.uk/

09
Oct
2008

Destination London

Tags: , ,
Posted in Travel

*

Heathrow is like a seething mass of frustration the size of football field concentrated in an area the size of grapefruit. We are the last in a long line of planes to be given permission to land, joining the end of what at first glance is an impossibly long queue. I text my friend Amanda, making sure she’s aware that even though I said I’d be arriving at around 7, there is no way I’ll be out of this room til 9. She is… She’s been there and done that, and so I wait. Sure enough 1 and half hours later, with a determined look of enjoyment to be here still desperately clinging to my face, I emerge.

Amanda finds me a Tesco’s muesli bar in the bottom of her handbag and I devour it in 3 bites. Welcome to London she says.

Don’t worry, it gets better :)

02
Oct
2008

Home

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Admin

So yes… I’m back. Three weeks, three countries, and three thousand odd photos to process… Photos will soon start to arrive and posts I guess will come along with it. Funny that in such a short time so much can happen.

I feel a little light headed at the moment, which could either be because of jet lag, or the cold I picked up the day before I left, or the cold and flu drugs I’ve been taking to get rid of it. But rest assured as that soon as the world starts making sense again I’ll be pouring my meagre thoughts out and hope you’re all around to read it.

Apologies in advance if I ramble, and flood the screen with lots of boring photos… but this is my catharsis for readjusting to life in the real world that is Perth.

11
Sep
2008

Tropical Delights in Airport Departure Lounges

Mauritius as seen from a departure lounge

Mauritius, a cultural melting pot of intrigue and language and designer clothing stores. Well, at least thats the impression I got from being in the airport departure lounge for 3 hours during the 20 hour dual leg journey from Perth to London.

My first tastes of Mauritian food was a curried egg sandwich and a chicken omlette. Which tasted surprising like a regular curried egg sandwich. Although considering it was most likely made in Perth by Qantas catering, who handles the outgoing meals for a lot of other airlines, should not be too surprising.

Sadly I didn’t get to venture out into the day, which looked very mysterious and intriguing from inside the airport. Small birds flew throughout the terminal without anyone thinking it was weird, and although they say English is the main language, why the hell would you want to speak it, when you know French ?? Big points for French speaking Indian Mauritians, who seem to be one of the few Indian populations around to throw off the impossibly uncool accent.

Second leg of the journey out of Mauritius saw me eating a chicken chop suey and some form of little coconut sweet tart thing, as well as a cream cheese sandwich which was about as disgusting as it sounds.

The wine was good though… a couple of bottles of low grade Bordeaux (a white Chateau du Pin, and a red), kept me well plied and dehydrated, and the ‘tropical punch’ was much less punch and much more ‘straight rum in a glass with ice’.

Never fear though, this will not become a plane food blog. I’m safe and sound in London now, and have much exploring to do. Will update as i can, otherwise I hope you’re all well.