Americans are sometimes accused of not valuing tradition or caring for the past. Well, this is one American who loves traditions and wallowing in the past, even if the traditions are so recently created they could hardly be so called.
Jon and I arrived in the UK on 21 August 2005 carrying lots of excess luggage and more money than common sense (we actually hailed a black cab from Heathrow to central London, lol).
I started this blog on the one-year anniversary of our arrival in the UK, and since then, I’ve loved doing a 12-month “look back” every year, so here’s my 2009-2010 roundup in food and travel:
August 2009: We made a trip to Southern California and ate a lot of great Vietnamese food, Korean food, Cal-Mex, and burgers (Hodad onion rings, I miss you).
September 2009: We hung around London the entire month and discovered the joys of inexpensive South Indian food at Shilpa, a real gem in Hammersmith. Despite the seemingly-endless Tube ride from Angel, I’ve been back there several times for the prawn moilee and kerala paratha.
October 2009: We paid another visit to Provence (our third to that region – how unoriginal!), exploring the markets in l’Isle sur la Sorgue, getting some sun and sea in the pretty port town of Cassis, enjoying a splashy meal at Pierre Reboul in Aix, and revisiting some old favorites in Nice. And the restaurant adventures in London continued, with the highlight that month being my first dolsot bibimbap lunch at Young Bean. Young Bean’s raw beef version is so delicious and filling that I’ve had it at least twice a month, every month, since that first visit.
November 2009: Never tiring of France, we spent a weekend in Paris (our fourth visit there in 2009 alone). We rather enjoyed the beautiful people scene at Le Thoumieux, but were a little less enthralled by the also-hip-and-happening Kitchen Galerie Bis. Favorite London meal that month: Launceston Place, which I’ve recently revisited and remain thrilled by.
December 2009: We indulged in our love of all things Christmas at the Nuremberg Christmas market and guzzled the gluhwein in Munich. Jon and I then headed to the US for Christmas and ate huge portions of generally-mediocre food in Palm Beach County, Florida. Back in London, I somehow managed to have a so-so dinner at Chilli Cool, finding their food way under-spiced and uninteresting. (If you’re familiar with the expressions of love heaped upon Chilli Cool by other bloggers, you’ll see why I’m confounded). The real travesty of the month, though, was schlepping to Shepherd’s Bush to follow Matthew Norman’s glowing recommendation of Thai resto Esarn Kheaw, where I had a depressing meal.
January 2010: I started the new year with a week in Boston, where I ate a delightfully unseasonal — but immensely delicious — lobster roll at Neptune Oyster. And like every other self-respecting food blogger, I generated my “Favorite London Restaurants” list for 2009, and a corresponding list for places outside the UK. I’m happy to see that even today, I’d still agree with most of the restos listed.
February 2010: At the end of the month, Jon and I popped over to Venice for some fritto misto at the Vechio Fritolin on our way to ski in Cortina. It turned out that there’s great eating to be done on the slopes of the Dolomites, so for the food-centric skiiers among you, get thee to Cortina d’Ampezzo. Baita Pie’ Tofana, in particular, is calling me back. Favorite meal in London that month was a tie between the high-end at Hibiscus and the been-back-a-dozen-times comforts of Empress of Sichuan.
March 2010: Craving sunshine and fried boquerones, I spent 24 hours in Malaga, Spain and managed to catch the start of Semana Santa, which was a bonus. Back in London, the dinner of the month was at the often-overlooked Greenhouse in Mayfair. Interestingly, I had a good dinner that month at the Dean Street Townhouse, which I’ve since revisited twice to my ever-increasing dismay. Is it just me, or has the food there gone downhill pretty quickly?
April 2010: Ahhh, Egypt, how you crushed my self-image as an experienced and savvy traveler. The Egyptian ruins of Cairo and Luxor were amazing. The food alright, with the highlight being the grill at El Refay in Cairo. But on the whole, our week in Egypt left me ambivalent about independent travel there. In terms of dining in London, I had my first lunch at Pizza East and it’s earned a regular slot on the workday lunch rotation ever since. Good prices, good food, and fast service.
May 2010: May in Europe is great. You’ve got lots of Bank Holidays and the weather starts to be reliably sunny. So. Off to Rome with my parents, where we enjoyed four days of casual, excellent meals of pasta and pizza. Dal Paino and Il Forno Campo de’ Fiori are not to be missed. Closer to home, we finally visited Canterbury and Whitstable, which were a bit of a snore, so we should’ve planned the day around a meal at the Sportsman instead. Maybe next time. Best meals in London that month: The Square on the high end, and Byron Burgers on the low.
June 2010: Early in the month, Jon and I had to drop everything and get back to the New York area for a family emergency, but every cloud has a silver lining, and we loved seeing family and friends while chowing on some great bagels, pizza and excellent General Tso’s chicken. Bar Boulud and Viajante made their splashy openings, but I’d say the bloom is off the rose at Bar Boulud since they took the chop chop salad off its menu. Boo.
July 2010: A weekend visit to Calais to see Jon’s cousins yielded a culinary surprise: quite possibly the best meal of 2010, in fact. La Grenouillere in Montreuil, France, managed to be fun without being gimmicky, and the lobster and flash-grilled steak courses were out-of-this-world. On a more modest scale, the arrival in our neighborhood of low-priced Italian, Trullo, was warmly welcomed, and ready-for-franchise Dishoom convinced me they’re on to a winning formula. How do I invest?
So that’s it. Five years in London. I can now look forward to taking the “Life in the UK Test” and paying the £1,393 application fee for indefinite leave to remain. This way, London will never be rid of me!
For more nostalgia fun: