I'm headlining this post "London 2012" because Tony and I went there right after the Olympics had ended (and before the Paralympics had started) and so there were signs giving the city and year everywhere in the city, as if we didn't know where we were and what year it was. :-) And because I'm sure we'll get back there again some other year.
We had such a brilliant time. Truly one of the best times of my life.
We flew out two Tuesdays ago, two days after the closing ceremony, on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. I'd never flown anything but coach, so it was quite a treat.
I ate some amazing soups on this trip, and that theme started with the Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup With Coriander Oil, Crème Fraîche, and Croutons at the VA Clubhouse at JFK Airport.
For my main course, I had a vegetarian Indian dish: Sweet Pea and Coconut Chana Masala With Jasmine Rice, Mango Chutney, Cucumber Raita, Onion Salad, and Poppadom.
And for dessert, a light and refreshing Lemon Sorbet.
That's my guy's champagne in the background. He stuck with wine and fruit salad so as to be completely safe glutenwise. I had glasses of cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. We drank heavily, including more wine on the plane, so we'd be able to fall asleep earlier than usual and so get a decent night's sleep before landing.
And we did. Our chairs folded out into comfortable-enough beds. We woke up about an hour before we arrived in London on Wednesday morning because we felt some pretty bad turbulence.
We took the Tube from the airport to our first hotel, St. Ermin's. Cockfosters was the last stop for this Picadilly line train, and the canned voice announcements kept mentioning that. Tony could tell I was tittering inside. I told him: "Cock foster? I'm cocking as fast as I can!" in a British accent. Later, the second time we rode the train, I said, "Cockfosters: Australian for cock beer."
I picked up a little bit of an accent right off the bat. I don't think I was too annoying with it. *Tony rolls his eyes* I lost it after a couple of days.
I was eager to get outside and start exploring after we checked in, but Tony wanted to take a little nap. Afterward, we visited some of the many touristy things that were within walking distance.
Actually, the first photo I took on our afternoon jaunt was of the Office of the High Commission of the Kingdom of Swaziland, which isn't a big tourist destination. But it should be. Because of the cute little boat.
Then we saw Buckingham Palace.
Then we walked through St. James's Park.
And then Tony gamely posed for me in the obligatory photo with Big Ben in the background.
Here's the back side of 10 Downing Street, with a cute family posing with a security dude.
The exquisite lobby of our hotel.
We stopped in at wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd.
That night, we ate at Quilon, a lovely gluten-free-friendly Indian restaurant that the hotel's concierge had recommended and that was only a short walk away.
We had our first taste of an Indian wine there: the 2008 Grover La Réserve, a blend of cabernet and shiraz. We liked it OK, but we enjoyed our second carafe of red wine, from a French producer I failed to take note of, a bit more. But it was fun to try something new.
For his starter, Tony got the Seafood Broth. I got a salad that, I was excited to see, contained baby red amaranth, among other delicious ingredients. I've mentioned it on the blog only once, but I've bought micro red amaranth several times this summer at the Union Square Greenmarket.
For his entree, Tony got duck, as he so often does. I went vegetarian: Potato and Cauliflower With Crushed Cashew Nuts.
There were some beautiful floating flowers in an alcove near the restrooms.
For dessert, I didn't even try to resist the Butternut Squash Pudding With Cardamom Ice Cream. I remember it fondly.