Just got back from about 3 weeks on the road. My husband went over to hold auditions at Guildford School of Acting (GSA), Surrey, then Boston Conservatory and NYU for his theater training program Summer Repertory Theatre - www.summerrep.com and I tagged along for a bit of vacation, research and client visits. First stop was London, UK. My first trip to London was 15 years ago the Summer we got married. I was in route to Dublin, Ireland for a 8 week Graduate School semester abroad at Trinity College prior to taking the plunge. It was my first trip anywhere outside North America in fact. I arrived mid-June and it was the Queen’s 75th birthday – I got to see her in her carriage the day I arrived which blew me away. I immediately fell in love with the city and have been lucky to travel back there for work and play about 15 times.
London is a city that I adore (being a theater geek) and feel terribly comfortable there (I love the dialects, the pubs and the clubs). I’ve actually seen more shows in London than on Broadway. Funny. Not seen the Queen since my first trip but did meet Dame Judy Dench after a play once which was amazing.
We had great weather and spent one afternoon at one of our favorite pubs – the Bear & the Staff. Best thing we saw was the “headband” revolution – headbands were everywhere on women 30 and under. Think Minnie Mouse. AWESOME!
This trip was mostly pleasure for me although I’m always scoping venues, restaurants, hotels etc… along the way.
We stayed at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel – Leicester Square - http://www.radissonedwardian.co.uk/leicestersq.html
First time in the thick of everything and I loved being able to walk everywhere. Rooms were decent sized, nice breakfast and its sister hotel the Hampshire next door has a great bar that is open late.
London for me is a great mix of comfort food, ethnic dishes and savory delights. I finally had some of the traditional English dishes that I’ve always wanted to try. We were taken to Sunday Roast which was terrific complete with Yorkshire Pudding. We also tried a couple desserts: banoffi pie – a pastry based dessert made from bananas, cream, toffee and boiled condensed milk (or dulce de leche), either on a pastry base or one made from crumbled biscuits and butter and Sticky toffee pudding - moist sponge cake, sometimes made with finely chopped dates or prunes, covered in a toffee sauce. Both were crazy good, I think the toffee pudding may be the best dessert I've ever had.
Albannach Bar and Restaurant - http://www.albannach.co.uk/
66 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DS
Scottish, fun, trendy with a nice bar crowd and great little plates. We had haggis for the first time and I liked it. Thanks to David for the great evening!
Fifteen - Jamie Oliver's restaurant - http://www.fifteen.net/Pages/default.aspx
We had a lovely, lovely dinner here. The ambience is terrific here and what Jamie has done for promoting following your dreams, healthy/easy cooking – everyone should patronize his place, buy his cookbooks and support him. 15 Westland Place, London N1 7LP, Telephone: 0203 375 1515, International: +44 (0) 203 375 1515
Reservation lines are open from: Monday to Sunday from 9:30am - 9:00pm
Imperial War Museum - http://www.iwm.org.uk/
Fantastic for war buffs and if you are in London till next January there is the coolest exhibit about the Ministry of Food. Go go see it!! It marks the seventieth anniversary of the introduction of food rationing in Britain, the exhibition shows that growing your own food, eating seasonal fruit and vegetables, reducing imports, recycling, and healthy nutrition were just as important in 1940 as they are today.
Being a marketing maven this exhibition is a pure spin doctors delight. The posters, radio, film shorts from the “Ministry” are a combination of one of the best marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen. And they are unbelievably relevant. I grew up in the Midwest and we had huge gardens when I grew up – James Crockett's Victory Gardens Book is still on my Dad's bookshelf - I have snapped more green beans, shucked more corn and canned more tomatos when I was a kid - than one can shake a stick at. Traveling as much as I do, attending events, client dinners, etc… It’s so hard to eat well. Yeah, yeah but I DID have to try the Banofi pie. As an adult I did plant my first vegetable garden last summer. Just a few tomato plants, some chard and a pepper plant. I’m excited to go bigger this year. Between seeing this exhibit, Jamie’s inspiration – I’m hoping that 2010 is a revolution in my own household. My husband is a great cook and inspiration comes from many places and I’m lucky to live in California and have access to so much organic and fresh food choices. Viva la Revolution! http://food.iwm.org.uk/?page_id=70
Oyster Card - http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/oysteronline/2732.aspx
Tube travel is the way to go, I keep mine in my travel drawer and pack it in for a trip. An Oyster card can store up to £90 of credit, which can be used to pay as you go, plus your Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass. It can be used on bus, Tube, trams, DLR, London Overground and National Rail services in London.
Selfridge’s Department Store - http://www.selfridges.com/
Classic London department store – being from the Midwest I love the architecture of this store and it was designed by Chicago’s Daniel Burnham who designed Marshall Field’s. I’ve been to Harrod’s before and their food departments are AMAZING , but the windows and great layout makes me love this store. The windows and store were a buzz with the opening of Alice in Wonderland and they had a really lovely “Wonder Room” with first editions, gifites, and fun accessories as well as hat displays and “tea party” displays in the window. We loved it. There is always something cool going on there.