I have to preface this post with a caveat: having done the touristy thing in London twice before, the agenda for this trip was more simply to spend time with friends, eat lots of nice things, shop and otherwise just amble around. Sightseeing and suchlike came later in the (non-London bits of the) trip. So – this will be a post mostly about food.
James and I landed in London on a suspiciously fine afternoon and proceeded to beat jetlag by walking till we were ready to drop dead from fatigue. After blundering into Carnaby Street while it was in the middle of a London Fashion Week fringe event, buying me a cheap and cheerful coat from New Look and loading up on snacks at Marks & Spencer, we ordered room service and promptly passed out.
The next day, the weather started gloomy and got steadily worse. We ambled to The Borough Barista for breakfast, to find that the pastries were lovely but that its fabled coffee was, alas, not much better than anything else I’d had in London to date. That is to say, rather weak.
Lunch at Borough Market – no relation to aforementioned Barista – was much more successful. To me, the truly lovely thing about Borough Market is that if you can just find a place to sit down, you and all your friends can take turns wandering about and bringing back good food to eat and share. Since we’d made plans to meet not just Mich and Ben but also the entire Lim family, and also Charlaine and her kids, we were a group of 10 (plus two toddlers). And that kind of critical mass means there’s a good chance that lots of people will each bring back a different yummy thing when they return from their exploring of the market.
The rain kept coming down and reached its zenith as we were headed to Mich’s birthday dinner at The Bull & Last. I can’t really complain much about the wet because we were in a rental car, while everyone else at that dinner had hoofed it more than 10 minutes from the nearest Tube station. Being damp didn’t do much to change the fact that it was a fantastic dinner, though the mood lighting was too dim and shadowy for decent photos and also wreaked havoc on my jet-lagged head.
My fondest food memory from dinner was of my starter course, a crispy pork belly with pickled watermelon that Mich’s dad and I both agreed tasted like an incredible sio bak with orh tau you (that’s 黑酱油烧肉 if Hokkien isn’t your thing). My main course was also excellent. I had a very good pasta – Brixham Brown Crab Linguini, Chilli, Parmesan and Bisque – which the waiter warned me was a small portion but incredibly rich. He was right, too. It was delicious, but if the portion had been just 10% bigger it would’ve sent me into a night-long food coma.
Come to think of it, I was already rather inanimate from jet-lag by the time we reached dessert, so James and I called it a night earlier than most other guests, gave some folks a ride to the Tube station, and were in bed by 11 so as to wake up fresh for the next day’s early start – for our road trip to Old Trafford!