Jon and I arrived in London exactly six years ago today. It was a bright, sunny day then, too. Little did we know then how much to appreciate weather like today’s.
Little did we know we’d still be here six years later, with a UK-born kid, no less. There are so many things we love about London – the friends and colleagues from around the world; the vibrant restaurant scene; the ease of European travel; the work-life balance. In fact, the list of good things seems pretty endless once you start thinking about it, and it all outweighs the famously-sh*t weather and the fact that Jon and I (as is standard for Americans who live abroad) will be hassled by the IRS for as long as we continue to carry US passports.
We did a little less travel in the last 12 months than we normally do. Chalk that up to being preggars and having a baby, but we did our best. Here are the highlights:
August 2010: We spent an indulgent and relaxing weekend at Cowley Manor in the Cotswolds, and we enjoyed one of the best meals in recent memory at La Grenouillere in La Madeleine-sous-Montreuil, just across the Channel.
September 2010: Despite having traveled to Paris often, we managed to entertain ourselves for another weekend (and found excellent restaurants that opened before la rentree – Le Chateaubriand and Spring being great choices even when all of Paris’s restos are open for biz) and then cycled through Burgundy for a week. If I had to choose between cycling in the Cote de Beaune and the Cote de Nuits, which are both beautiful, I’d recommend the Cote de Beaune. The picturesque towns and vineyards in the Cote de Beaune seemed slightly closer together (ideal when you’re a lazy cyclist comme moi). And of course you don’t travel to Burgundy without a few good meals. Chezy Guy in Gevrey-Chambertin and La Ciboulette in Beaune were two of our faves – sometimes bib gourmand is as fancy as you want to get.
October 2010: We spent a beautiful, sunny weekend in County Wicklow, Ireland, attending a friend’s wedding, and then a week later, we traveled to Montreal, Canada for another friend’s wedding, where we sampled the delights of poutine, Montreal bagels, and maple syrup (separately). Who knew October was the new June? Feeling a bit tired and sick and blaming it on all the travel, I learned I was preggars just before accepting a 3-star freebie at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.
November 2010: Jon and I sampled the deliciousness of Taipei, Taiwan and Hong Kong – gua bao, nightmarkets and dim sum, oh my! (Truly, if you go to only one nightmarket in your life, for food, make it the Shilin). And despite spending only 48 hours in Hong Kong, we managed to hit only high notes dining out: dim sum at Lei Garden and Tim Ho Wan; noodle soups at Tsim Chai Kee; and the name attraction at Under Bridge Spicy Crab Restaurant. All were excellent and hard to resist. I lucked out with an easy first trimester (when you’re most likely to be nauseous and suffering from morning sickness). On the home front, we made our first of many trips to the nearby Delhi Grill. I can’t be bothered to go to New Tayyabs anymore, now that the DG is so close by. We also hit the much-vaunted Sushi of Shiori near Euston Station, which I’m much happier with as a takeaway customer. In fact, while recovering at UCH, Sushi of Shiori was my go-to. (It certainly beat the hospital food by a million miles).
December 2010: After enjoying a festive time (though underwhelming food) at Bob Bob Ricard, we made our annual pilgrimage home for the holidays and got trapped in a world of gorgeous snow, travel nightmares and the worst puns imaginable (Snowpocalypse, anyone?).
January 2011: Having learned over the years that traveling in most of Europe in January is kind of a bummer (the weather is uniformly dreary), we stayed home and just kept up the “usual” restaurant going. I learned I much preferred Hiba to the more-well-known Yalla-Yalla and that Dumplings Legend doesn’t hold a candle to the Din Tai Fung chain on which it’s “modeled.” Antepliler has become my Turkish of choice in Islington, and Kopapa is now my best alternative to the Providores when I want those eggs changa without the Marylebone queues.
February 2011: Off to Paris for the sales. Dining out, Rino was the sleeper hit, and Bistrot Paul Bert turned in another solid performance. Get thee to the 11th, food lovers. Sadly, I also ate the worst dim sum of my life on this trip. I should have known better, but it was Chinese New Year! Back in London, I loved the blow-torch sushi at Yashin but hated sitting in the basement and being shuttled in and out in under an hour. Having started to meet lots of other pregnant women bemoaning their inability to eat sushi, I wrote this post about the fiction of many eating restrictions during pregnancy.
March 2011: Jon and I enjoyed ourselves (and felt really old) at the pop-up burger joint, #Meateasy, which could teach a thing or two to the highly-disappointing Barbecoa (though hats off to the beautiful views of St. Paul there). I also finally tried out the grande dame of London Italian restos, Locanda Locatelli, and for better or worse, it was what I expected.
April 2011: Lots of golden oldies this month. Back to Cowley Manor for another lovely weekend, though upgrading room types wasn’t worth the money. Back to Ba Shan (now Hunanese) in search of the elusive General Tso’s chicken; and back to Murano, whose freebies are still the same and still delish. Jon and I took a 10-day trip to the Italian Riviera from Genoa through the Cinque Terre. And of course I never got around to putting up my Italian Riviera post because of the impending bebe craziness. Maybe I’ll do that next month, lol.
May 2011: I was weeks away from my due date in May and therefore uncomfortably enormous. Still, feeling it was my last chance to get out and about easily, I ate out a storm. I’m still thinking about that Peking duck at Zen China, the casarecce with bolognese at Zucca, the afternoon tea at Bea’s, and pretty much everything at the Ledbury.
July 2011: Jon and I mustered all the energy we had left and took our then-two-week-old daughter, C, out for Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival in Clapham. The outing exhausted us, but we were glad we finally left the house. We’ve since taken C out to lunch at the Michelin-starred pub, the Harwood Arms, which was a success, and I’ve managed to sneak out to a good meal or two at the Pollen Street Social and old-time favorite, Bocca di Lupo. Now I just have to find time to blog about it.
Last weekend, we took C to Brussels (she’s two months old), and that was both harder and easier than I expected. Again, lots of fodder for a blog post, though perhaps not for my usual blog audience. Next week, we’re taking her to Paris. She won’t appreciate it, of course, but I’m looking forward to seeing an old favorite from a new perspective.
Five years of blogging. I couldn’t have imagined I’d keep it up this long, and it really is thanks to you, dear readers, that I feel encouraged to try for another year of this blogging gig. Let’s see how this goes . . . .
For the 12-month lookback of previous years: