London - British Isles

london6.jpgIn our effort to downsize but continue to have fun, we scrambled together all our frequent flyer miles and managed to put together two return flights to London and Italy. Then, by making a small investment on a home exchange site, we found a young woman in Prato (twenty minutes from Florence), willing to do a non-simultaneous exchange with our desert house in Joshua Tree.

Our first stop was London, where a kind friend loaned us her house. Although I grew up in London I have not lived there in over 30 years. The minute I walked off the plane, I was surprised by the intense 80-degree heat, a byproduct of global warming, and something I had never encountered in my childhood, where you were lucky if it reached the mid 70’s in the summer.  After struggling with the new monetary denominations and a new subway system, I began to feel like a stranger in my hometown,  

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raw_bar_interiorpicture.jpgOne thing I sadly miss living on the west coast of the USA are the Atlantic sea offerings in all their glorious whiteness and taste. So when I returned to London in September I set out to eat as much fish as I could. This led me to the Wright Brother’s emporium just a hop, skip and a jump from Carnaby Street actually on Kingly Street and Kingly Court (such noble sounding places!!).

A multitude of rooms met my eyes plus a large outdoor patio and great sit around eating bar. I thirsted for a good white wine and the menu answered all my seeking. Lots of champagne and sparking prosecco, a long long list of whites from France and Italy starting with a vin de pays d’Oc and reaching into an 07 Meursault from Dom. Jean Philippe Fichet, and much to chose from in between. For lovers of rose and red there are some great choices too from the Veneto, Provence and Burgundy even a pinot noir from California circa 2009!  Digestifs, armagnacs, cognacs and whiskeys add to the multiple choices for those of us who love to imbibe.

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irelandl.jpgIt's no secret that my best friend, Missy and I love to travel. We met 25 years ago in the parking lot of a Winn Dixie grocery store in Valdosta, Georgia. I was in college there and she was home on Spring Break from Pepperdine in Malibu, CA. I thought she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen and never imagined that we'd grow up together and travel the world.

She put a damper on that for a few years when she got married and had 3 boys back to back. But I think we've pretty much made up for that in the last 6 months as we have been to Italy, Tuscany, Rome, the island of Capri, Spain, the South of France, Nice and Monaco. Tunisia is in Northern Africa. I hated it, she loved it. We spent a week in Paris in December, with 5 of our best girlfriends in a rented apartment on the Seine.

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hawksmoormainSince (finally) it has been discovered that the fat in beef – oleic acid – is the same heart healthy fat that is found in olive oil, and since fat in beef actually decreases heart-disease risk (something about the ratio of good and bad cholesterol), and if you are not devouring sugars, a good, fatty steak is a good thing! Yes!

While it is still a bit hard to believe, it does make eating steak a bit more of a righteous thrill. And, I have found just the place to indulge in all things beefy! No, not in Peter Luger’s, not even in the stockyards of Fort Worth but at Hawksmoor, in the old Combe’s brewery in the heart of Covent Garden.

Covent Garden? London?? Oh Yes, and if you also like anything British with the word “sticky” in front of it, this cavernous, un-pretentious but friendly brew house is worth a destination journey. It is also quite possible that a corner table might host one of the West End’s glittering stars dining incognito. It’s that kind of place.

There were three of us devouring the menu like children: Ooooh Tamworth Belly Ribs, Oooooh Bone Marrow with Onions, Yum, Roast Scallops with White Port and garlic, Potted Beef and Bacon with Yorkshires… (Oooooo Yum)

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yog.jpg Can we talk about how strange a yoga class in London is?  Stretch out your kidneys, she kept saying.  Elongate your kidneys.  Her British accent easing me from one pose to another…but…kidneys?  Really?  I don’t even know where my kidneys are.  Honestly, I know they’re somewhere in my torso region but to the point where I could isolate them into a stretch.  It was really strange. 

And it got me thinking about other body parts that in my opinion have nothing to do with yoga.  Like my esophagus.  And my appendix.  And, well, my stomach.  Was it grumbling?  Or was I distracted?  By the time we got out and started wandering around Primrose Hill, the gray sky somehow bright and exciting like I wouldn’t mind if it started raining, by that time my stomach definitely was growling.  I’m still not sure what my kidneys were doing but I was hungry.  And it had to be breakfast

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