Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Gastronomic delights in London

During my quick day-trip to London on the way to Prague, my sister Elizabeth and her hubby Henrik took me out on a wonderful trip on the town. They took me on my favorite kind of bus, a London double-decker (top deck of course), to an open market area that is usually completely packed, but today it was quite mellow and peaceful.

Our first stop was a great little tea shoppe where we had fruit scones with clotted cream and jam, little tea cakes, and incredible, delicious Earl Grey tea.

Then we wandered next door to a wonderful cheese shop, full of cheeses made by local British cheese "artisans." They had the infamous Stinking Bishop from Wallace and Gromit.

Henrik had me taste one of the cheddars. Wow! Incredible. Nice smooth fore-taste, and then an everlasting tingling sour/nutty after-taste. Never had anything like, nor do I expect to ever find anything like this in the USA.

I loved the atmosphere of the shop, with its full rounds of cheese and the "cheese waterfall" that kept the shop nice and moist.

Then, round the corner to a sweet little coffee shop. I really liked the communal wood table that people shared -- you just don't see that in the USA, and I wish we'd see more.

My cappucino was perfect, better than almost any I could find in the Bay Area, which is supposed to have pretty darn good coffee. There was also a hand-made chocolate truffle that was astonishingly good.

So if anyone says British food is bad, tasteless and dull, they should check out London these days. It is quite a change from some of my first visits to London, where the food was just ghastly. Elizabeth credits this to the EU, which allows for more cross-pollination from the Continent...

One last thing to notice: those little clips hanging below the table at the coffee shop.

What are those for? Obvious, says Elizabeth: to hang your purse from, so they won't get stolen. Now that's a cool idea...

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