Monday, January 29, 2007
London Weekend Gastronomy
I wandered around Picadilly Circus / Park Lane / Mayfair in the chilly morning, looking for some hearty English breakfast.
Actually English breakfasts aren't that exciting, they are mostly eggs and bacon and sausages. Even then, not many places serve breakfast on weekends. Apart from ubiquituous Pret a Manger, Starbucks, Caffe Nero places, I found it quite hard to locate an interesting English cafe.
Anyway, on the edge of Shepherd's Market, there was a little cafe called Ye Olde Tavern where I finally decided to stop for breakfast.
I had a cup of hot chocolate, thick and rich and not too sweet.
Then decided to have the grilled kippers with brown toast. It's very English isn't it? I used to read Enid Blyton's books as a child and remember that there would always be a cat who would steal the breakfast kippers.
Kippers, as it appears, are a type of dried salty fish, very much like mackerel back home. It did taste a bit like the saba fish that I've eaten in Japanese restaurants. Not too bad. Quite a lot of fiddly bones though, which I had to remove as I ate.
Here are all the fish bones, after I was done.
I wandered around Covent Garden for a while. It was very vibrant, with buskers and street stalls. Quite a few Asian stalls selling paintings and other things like massages and palm reading.
I tried a traditional Cornwall Pasty - from the West Cornwall Pasty Company, a chain in London - which is very much like our curry puff, except that it wasn't spicy. It contained potatoes, onions and mystery meat. It was very hot and freshly made, so it was quite welcome on a cold morning.
After walking from Covent Garden to Leicester to Trafalgar Square, I decided to take a tube to Knightsbridge and walked around Harvey Nichols and Harrods.
I ended up having lunch at the 5th Floor Bar and Restaurant of Harvey Nichols, which I had read about in a book (where the female protagonist met the goodlooking male lead on their first date). Harrods was just way too crowded on a weekend.
It turned out to be very popular, and I had to wait 20 minutes for my table. I ordered the 2 course set lunch for 23 pounds. My chosen starter of pork rillette with toast was not too bad. Rillette is coarsely chopped seasoned pork with vegetables. It had carrots in it, which I don't like that much, but this is a personal preference of mine. Otherwise it was quite nice.
The main, pan-fried calf's liver with mash and bacon was perfect. I would think that calf's liver is an English thing, as I've seen in on menus of other restaurants around here. The liver was tender and tasty and not overcooked. The mash was smooth and lovely. And the bacon was wow, fantastic. It was light and crisp and tasted like a tapioca chip, not at all like the dry hard meat thing that you would eat at hotel buffets in Singapore.
Met a lovely schoolmate, who is now working here. She brought me to La Pont De La Tour a French restaurant next to Tower bridge, so we had a lovely view of the bridge and the water.
The set meal was very affordable (19 pounds with wine and 15 pounds without).
I started with the mushroom soup with truffle oil, hearty and satisfying. There was a lovely mushroomy fragrance and bite in the soup.
My main of duck confit with red cabbage was very good. A lot of fat with the duck, as it should be, rendered this duck a tasty treat. The tart red cabbage provided a good contrast to this fatty duck, and allowed me to gobble up much more than I should have.
My dessert of rice pudding with apricots was quite rich and sweet. I think it's rice boiled with condensed milk and sprinkled with apricots. My friend said it reminded her of the thai dessert, mango with sticky rice, which is cooked in coconut milk. I would agree, but I would prefer mango and sticky rice somehow.
And, I will post about my Sunday gastronomic adventures tomorrow.