Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 2: London

Actually I have a little bit to report on last night’s dinner. I went to an Argentinian place called Gauchos. Apparently there are 19 of them in the UK and one in Amsterdam. All their beef comes from Argentina, which is well-known for the superiority of this product. I set aside my concerns for sustainability and the costs of shipping the beef over here. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Rib eye steak with green peppercorn sauce, humitas (a delicious slightly sweet corn mixture spooned into corn husks nicely tied on each end) and fresh spinach. A glass of Malbec. I sat at the bar which had a perfect view of the open kitchen. These guys were so good at grilling steak that they hardly had to look at it to know that it was ready—and perfectly cooked. (I took pictures on my IPhone but can’t get them to load on this PC. I'll do it when I return.)

So today. Lots of walking—about 8 miles so far. I first walked down to one of Jamie Oliver’s two retail stores and cooking class locations. It is way off the tourist maps down in Clapham, maybe two and a half miles from where I’m staying. It is painted pink, with some of the signs in Jamie’s inimitable ‘big love’ friendly and accessible language. He was not there. I was only able to get a couple of photographs before a salesperson told me that photos weren’t allowed inside the store. I did buy a Jamie magazine. What does this guy not have? A class was going to start at 12:00 noon. I was invited to stay and watch. But I decided to move along on my walking journey.

After putting some band aids on the back of my heels, I set off to my local tube station to ride to the Notting Hill stop for a nice walk to Books for Cooks, a splendid cookbook store which I had been wanting to visit for ages. With only a few missteps, I got there just in time to be told that the cafe in the back had run out of food. Never mind, I could hold out a little longer. I carefully looked over the books. I was especially interested in some of the Brits who were new to me: Jason Atherton, Skye Gyngell, Aaron Cruze, and Celia Brooks Brown among others. I didn’t buy any for the same reasons as yesterday but I sure do hope that their books eventually make it over the Atlantic. They look great.

I walked back to the Notting Hill tube via Portobello, just minding my own business, when I spotted the Hummingbird Bakery Café. I knew the name from the cookbook which Marie Clare found at Anthropologie down on Fourth Street in Berkeley and which I bought her for her birthday. I believe that her first blog featured cupcakes from that cookbook. Well I stopped in and bought myself a gorgeous and generous piece of Red Velvet Cake. So good. I ate almost all of it (I wrapped up the rest in a napkin for Katherine Fulton to taste after her day of work). I would have saved some for Marie Clare. But really, it would not have been very tasty in ten days time. Sorry, Marie Clare.

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