On 21 August 2005, Jon and I moved to London thinking we’d be here for two years. But we loved this city so much that we’re still here, four years later.
I started this blog on our first Londoniversary, mostly as a way to spare my friends and family a never-ending stream of emails about places we’d visited and food we’d eaten. You can tell I had no clue what the hell I was doing. Those early posts make me cringe. I still consider deleting them.
And now, of course, I realize this blog is so much more than just an exhibitionist’s journal. For starters, blogging has proven to be (1) a nice way of meeting like-minded people; (2) something interesting and creative in my otherwise-dull life; and (3) a way of making sure I never stop visiting new places and eating new things.
Over the last 12 months, I’ve had 205,783 page views, which makes me happy (query the long-term psychological health of tying happiness to blog stats). I hope that number keeps growing thanks to readers like you, because it turns out that I really love an audience. So I guess you can add “teaches you about yourself” to the long list of blogging benefits. (Yes, I’m dying to see the Julie & Julia film).
Because I’m a sucker for annual traditions, I’m now going to indulge in a bit of looking back:
August 2008: Jon and I visited Vienna and ate our weight in schnitzel. We also paid our first visit to two restaurants that are now among our favorite places to eat in London: The Ledbury and Leong’s Legends.
October 2008: Jon and I clearly dropped the ball on travel planning because we didn’t leave the UK that month. But we paid another visit to the Ledbury and I discovered Rosa’s, which, now that my office has moved to Spitalfields, I visit often for lunch. (The green curry there is wonderfully spicy and packed with tender pork).
November 2008: We paid our final visit to Paris for 2008 and fell in love with neo-bistro Itineraires. Although the much-hyped Bistro Paul Bert disappointed, we did find a gem of a hotel in the same neighborhood — the Grand Hotel Francais, where the irrepressible master hotelier, Syad, makes every stay a real pleasure. Missing the beauties of Paris, I visited Le Cassoulet in Croydon and met a ton of food bloggers baking macarons at L’Atelier des Chefs. Then, feeling homesick and a little masochistic, I froze my ass off to get some pizza at Franco Manca in Brixton.
December 2008: I enjoyed an outstanding-value £25 lunch at Murano and a beautiful and delicious – but much pricier – lunch at Petersham Nurseries before heading back to the U.S. for the holidays. Obviously, while back in the US, I decided I ought to eat more French food, with one especially-memorable lunch with old friends at No. 9 Park in Boston.
January 2009: Recovering from the holidays and needing to cheer myself up in the dead of London’s dark, rainy winter, I attempted to list my five favorite London restaurants in 2008. I also made another trip back to New York, sadly, for a funeral.
February 2009: This was a huge month for my blog (and, by extension, for me). An American in London was nominated for the Lonely Planet Travel Blog Awards, and even though I got a total beat-down by my worthy blog-adversaries, the nomination was, as Martha would say, a Good Thing. Requiring a bit of warmth and escape from London, Jon and I spa’d it up in Bath and spent a week in the Ribera del Duero in Spain, where, of course, we drank great reds and ate our weight in cochinillo (roast suckling pig) and lechazo (roast suckling lamb). And yes, I do like to “eat my weight” in lots of things.
March 2009: In March, Jon and I had to turn our passports in to the Home Office to get new visas (because in case we lost our jobs, we didn’t want to be deported), which meant no foreign travel that month. So instead, we splashed out on a weekend at Barnsley House in the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds, as many Brits know, are beautiful and supremely easy to reach by train from London. I also had a memorably-crap experience at Gordon Ramsay-owned Maze.
April 2009: We were in New York to celebrate Jon’s grandma’s 95th birthday (95, and she still lives on her own!). Of course, while there, Jon and I couldn’t resist paying a visit to David Chang’s much-publicized Momofuku Ssam Bar.
May 2009: With a wedding anniversary and two bank holidays, May was a ridiculous month of traveling and eating. A return to Paris, our first trip there in 2009. A return to Barcelona, where I fell in love with bistronomic restaurant, Gresca. And then I ended the month with a trip to Istanbul, where Furran Balikcilik and Muzede Change reminded me once again that great food comes at all price points. (Sadly, the Kempinski Ciragan Palace restaurant reminded me that expensive food can be total sh*t and Ciya Sofrasi that even locals can have bad taste in food).
June 2009: Suffering banh mi withdrawal after May’s trip to Paris, I was thrilled to find a passable version in at Banzi in Surrey Quays after Charmaine Mok tipped me off.
July 2009: We made not one, but two trips to Paris in July, as well as a brilliant week-long cycle ride through the Loire Valley. During our first of the Paris trips, we revisited Itineraires and were glad to see fame hasn’t gone to its head. Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for Le Comptoir. On our second Paris trip, we avoided French food and tried Cambodian food in the much-over-hyped Canal St.-Martin neighborhood.
And now we’re back to the present, and I’m off to La Jolla, California, where my favorite brother (who also happens to be my only brother, so har har) will be marrying his wonderful fiancee.
I feel lucky to live in London, and even luckier to have readers who make this blog worth all the blood, sweat and tears. Cheers.