I lived in London for a semester in college. It was a very different place then. It sounds crazy to say it was more British then but that is the only way I can explain it. The last time I was in London was 5 years ago and was blown away by how the city had become an extension of NYC and the USA. That is a bit over exaggerated but I am thrilled to be back and embrace London again with a different set of eyes.
I admit, it is also nice to hear English spoken again. We took the train through the chunnel which was quite sweet. The new train station, St. Pancras, is beautiful. Last time I was here, it did not exist. We are staying at a place called Base 2 Stay which has no amenities but a bed and a decent shower which is about all we need. Would love to stay at the Mandarin Oriental but after spending a month in Paris and watching our dollar implode daily, I opted for something simple and cheap. The rooms are 125 pounds a night. Pretty cheap by London standards and we are in a great location. One block from Earls Court tube stop which has 3 different lines running through.
We got here, dropped off our bags and made our way over to Notting Hill to get some fish and chips. Didn't exactly pan out so we got back on the tube and went to the Tate Modern. Really an incredibly museum with a wonderful collection of modern art. Almost too much to take in. When I lived in London, during college, I remember as if it was yesterday, going to the Tate (before in another building and time) and seeing a Roy Lichtenstein exhibit and literally having an epiphany for the world of art. It was if my life changed before my very eyes. Today, the Tate had 2 shows, Urban Street and History ( a photography exhibit ) and Cy Twombly. The museum is free except for the exhibits which is how it should be. It is wonderful that anyone can come and enjoy the collection. I have never been a huge fan of Cy Twombly although the show really did a great job of showing his work from beginning to now and the Street and History show - all photography - didn't grab me. I am sorry we didn't just stroll through the permanent exhibit. But after 2 shows, we were spent and it was time to go back and regroup for dinner.
We had reservations at Amaya which is an Indian restaurant in the Kensington Area. That entire area appears to be wealthy Indians and Middle Easterners. Very interesting certainly not that way 25 years ago. The restaurant was unbelievable. Not only was it nice to eat Indian food ( after eating French food for a month ) but the food was fantastic.
We began with 2 oysters. Only Fred and I wanted them. Fried in a light crust and put back in the shell and doused with a curry sauce. A total OMG. We then made our way into Tandoori shrimp which were each the size of my palm with a tomato ginger sauce on the plate. Sweet, spicy and juicy. Incredible. We had a variety of breads which were all good but not the best I have ever had. We had tandoori chicken and duck that had been de-boned which was juicy and spicy and delicious too. I love the tandoori because the meat is always full of flavor yet juicy and charred at the same time. Chicken lollipops that had been marinated in lime, cinnamon and cilantro and then grilled. Not lots of meat but different and very lime tasting. Josh and I split a small helping of the lamb osso bucco, biryani style. One bone each, the meat slid off the bone and was soft and tasty. Love the lamb. Our vegetables were an eggplant that was served similar to the way they serve it in Japanese restauraunts. Split in half, roasted and then grilled but the taste was like coriander. Interesting. The tofu, which was stir fried with spicy peppers and spices was also a hit. Spinach, which I expected to be stir fried was like an Indian version of creamed spinach. A total hit. Delicious food, fun to share and innovative. What else can you ask for?
We came home, hit the hay and got all of our computers up and running thanks to Fred and Josh. Now, we can function. Tomorrow, another day in London.