Climbing Paris

‘Ello eaters!

To say my life has been hectic these past few days would be an understatement.

I’ve flown across 6 time zones (including a nice little 2 hour stay on the tarmac — thanks for that, British Airways), partied like the college kid I forget I am, and eaten and drank more than I care to remember.

FYI — Champagne goes down easy, and so does a mini bottle of peach Smirnoff when you’re pissed at the flight attendant.

But now I’m back in the good ole US of A, recovering, and counting down the days until I’m back in my favorite ‘Boro (with a certain someone).

It feels weird. Really weird. But since I’m still digesting everything, I’ll spare you my awkward attempts at waxing poetic just yet. I’ll also spare you my waxing poetic about my relationship with Paris.

Instead, let’s talk about something real and tangible.

And what’s more “real and tangible” than the Eiffel Tower?!

Now, let’s get a couple of things straight. First, when the Eiffel Tower was built, the French hated it. They thought it was gaudy and unnecessarily tall. Which brings me to point number two — the Eiffel Tower is not that tall. It’s 312 meters tall (without the antenna). That’s roughly 80 stories.

Sure, that’s big. But it’s not that big.

And considering there are three observation levels that let you decided just how much Eiffel you want to Tour (that’s a pun because in French it’s “La Tour Eiffel”), it’s even more manageable.

So manageable, in fact, that my aunt, Mother, and I climbed it!

Now before you go envisioning my in a Spider(wo)man suit, there are stairs, so I wasn’t swinging from the side. And we didn’t climb the 1671 stairs to the top.

Instead, in just about 11 minutes we climbed the 669 steps to the second observation level.

And it would have been a lot faster, but it seems every toddler and old man decided to take the stairs that day, too. I’m just going to call it an interval workout, though.

Once the three of us got to the top, we paused briefly for pictures.

Aunt.

Mother.

And then I continued my workout.

How's my form?

20 tricep dips on a bench next to some German tourists. 10 push-ups on the gum-stained floor.

A few more pictures followed where Mother and I advertised our exercise attire.

This epic feat was brought to you by The Sports Factory and Clemson Triathlon team.

And then we finished our workout with some reverse push-ups.

These were done in front of the restaurant window. We were watching. We didn’t much care.

This was Mother’s first time at reverse push-ups and while it took her a minute, she got it in the end.

And this is the woman who says she can’t even do a regular push-up!

So in about an hour the three of us walked the mile to and from the Tower, walked up and down, oohed and ahhed over the view, and did all of these body weight workouts.

How about that for a workout?!

And since a strenuous workout needs refueling, we then made our way over to the Jewish neighborhood, Maris, for falafel (from the restaurant that just happened to be recommended by Lenny Kravitz).

There was a sign in the window that said this was Lenny Kravitz's recommended falafel restaurant.

These baby was packed with tons of falafel balls, three kinds of slaw, tons of eggplant, hummus, and two kinds of sauce. And I ate every bite.

Mmmmmfalafel.

And this (plus plenty of packing) was my last day in Paris. I really couldn’t have asked for more.

Your turn, eaters:

Have you ever done a destination workout like this?

Do you like falafel?

Later eaters!

Queen’s Arms Pub

G’day eaters!

I’m hoping you enjoyed the little blip of Paris yesterday, because today we’re going back over the Channel and back in time to talk about my absolute favourite London pub — Queens Arms.

First, let me preface this post by saying that I didn’t really immerse myself in the pub scene. I went to a large handful, mostly for drinks, but a few for food. So I am not an expert on London pubs in the least.

But since everyone has a favourite neighborhood pub, mine certainly deserves a mention.

The Queens Arms is lovely little pub in a mews off of Queens Gate Road. I only found it because it’s right across the street from one of my school buildings. But once I found it, it quickly became my go to pub.

Meantime's London Pale Ale.

I went there for quiet drinks. I went there to rub elbows with musicians after they finished practice at Royal Albert Hall. I went there to flirt with the cute bartender. I took visitors there, ranging from Papa & Co to Mother to my professor and his wife.

This was my all occasion pub and I already miss it.

So what makes this pub better than the rest?

Papa and Brother holding down the bar.

It is mismatched in a very nonchalant way, not like it’s trying to be “shabby chic.”

The chairs and tables don’t match. The wallpaper and chandeliers are elegant, but nothing else was. Everything is written on chalkboards on the wall or clipboards, but the door is a classic soft blue with big gold doorknobs.

The bar is simple, unpretentious wood and a good height.

They have all the classic British pub beers — Guinnes, Stella, Stella Black, Stella 4%, Strongbow cider, etc. — along with a few American brews — Sierra Nevada, Corona — a couple of lesser known beers — London Meantime, Sharp’s Doombar, a few ciders I never tried — and an ever-changing selection of really random, but enticing brews.

Oh, and the food is f’ing amazing.

It’s all pretty much classic British fare, but with a fun little twist. Sometimes that twist was upscale. Sometimes that twist was just different. But it was always a good twist.

A twist I would like to be able to inject into my food.

Hubba hubba.

Just about every time I went to Queens Arms to eat I got a pork and chorizo burger. It had some sort of tomato relish (think an upscale ketchup) and caramelized onions.

It came with crispy, lightly salted fries and the cutest little pickles.

It was juicy and thick and hearty and I needed extra napkins and loved every minute of it.

If you come in for lunch there’s also a pretty well stocked sandwich menu, all of which come with beet crisps.

Papa's lunch.

I also know for a fact that they have some pretty delicious fish and chips, and the one time I was in real need of red meat, their classic beef burger left me satiated in the best possible way.

And while I never got around to their dessert menu, I know it boasted sticky toffee pudding and a beet and chocolate brownie a la mode. So therefore, I know it was wonderful and that I really missed out.

It may not have always been easy to find a table or a place to perch. The bathrooms may have been confusing. And there may not have been as many odd little craft brews as I like. But this was my pub.

And I really do miss it.

So please, if you ever make your way to London (more specifically, to around the Gloucester Tube stop on the Circle, District, or Picadilly lines), you must go there for a pint and a snack.

You won’t be sorry and I’ll be happy knowing that my favourite little place is still going as brilliantly as when I left it.

What do you think, eaters:

Will you tell me if you go?

What’s something you especially love about your favourite watering hole?

G’night eaters!

WIAW: In Paris!

Bonjour eaters!

Two “bonjours” in three days must mean that I’m really getting into Parisan life.

Honestly, despite the fact that I don’t speak French (or maybe because of it), I absolutely love Paris. Of course, London will always hold a special place, but Paris is a close second.

And since I promised you some Paris happenings, how about I give you a whole day of it.

Pre-breakfast:

I ate a Clementine and drank a half portion of protein powder before busting out some floor exercises. Would anyone be interested in seeing a no equipment apartment-friendly (read: no jumping) circuit workout?

Breakfast:

Yogurt, oats, clementines, strawberries, chia seeds, Linwood grounds.

Not being one to waste food, I packed up most of the unopened food from my London flat and brought it across the Chunnel where it will become breakfast for a week.

Espresso with soya milk.

Side note — French press coffee in France is probably better than anywhere else. Also, everywhere in Europe that I’ve been soy is called “soya,” and in French “bio” means that organic.

Morning:

Mother, Aunt, and I hit the streets with the intention of exploring the islands — Ile-St-Louis and Ile-de-Cite. Unfortunately, springtime in Paris means a ridiculous amount of rain. So exploring (and pictures) was sparse.

Squinty eyes.

We did hit Notre Dame and Shakespeare & Co, though, which are quickly becoming my Paris staples. I’m not complaining, though. Both are lovely.

Lunch:

The three of us are a healthy bunch and the rain had mostly stopped, so we were willing to walk for salad.

Mixed greens, avocado, grapefruit, corn, artichoke hearts, tomatoes (I didn't eat) and a mustard-y dressing.

Yes, we walked almost 20 minutes in the rain and across really windy bridges for salad. That’s commitment.

Side note — I ended up smashing a good bit of that avocado on baguette slices. I love avocado (and the health benefits!), but too much of the texture makes me gag. Luckily, crusty bread is the perfect accoutrement to creamy avocado.

Afternoon:

Musee D'Orsay used to be a train station and this is inside the clock.

After some more getting lost in the rain, we quickly ran through Musee D’Orsay, which has an incredible collection of impressionist paintings and sculptures.

Snack:

I wasn’t overly hungry, but I was feeling snacky and am trying to limit unnecessary bread. Unfortunately, this banana had no taste past the first bite.

Or maybe that’s luckily because I wasn’t actually hungry and stopped after a few bites.

Dinner:

We didn’t feel like another meal out, so I ran to Monoprix (a grocery and clothing store, like a Marks & Spenser or really classy version of a Target with fresh produce) and picked up pre-fab odds and ends.

Seaweed salad, quinoa vert (meaning "with green vegetables"), bread and brie, baby carrots, and wine.

It made for a good, light, snacky dinner, which is exactly what I wanted.

And then I had another glass of wine and a few bites of cookie.

And it was a tres bon soir. (Translation: a very good night.)

What about you, eaters:

Do you have any Euro-tips to offer? Maybe something Paris-related that I should do or eat?

Do you snack when you’re not actually hungry?

Later eaters!

A Perfect Pint

Hi eaters!

It’s been another rainy day in Paris, so I don’t have too many pictures. But I will get around to France soon. Until then…

I fully realize that I’m not longer in the UK and thus that most things that happened there are old news.

BUT, I’ve still got a few UK topics to discuss with you, so think of these next couple of posts like watching ESPN Classic.

Ireland was previously part of the UK, so despite the creation of the Republic of Ireland and the Troubles, they still have one thing in common — their love of Guinness.

A proud pint.

And believe me when I tell you, Guinness from a tap is a world away from Guinness from a bottle. Honestly, from a tap Guinness doesn’t feel like a meal. It’s almost refreshing.

So of course, when Leon and I were in Dublin, we had to go to the Guinness factory for a tour and a pint.

Frankly, the whole tour bit seemed a bit overdone to me. Yeah, it’s great that you use pure spring water to make your beer. Tell me something that I didn’t assume.

The real reason for the tour (because Leon already knows how to make beer and wasn’t too thrilled about sniffing hops) was to drink a free pint in the Gravity Bar, which is a 360 glass bar atop the factory. It has ah-maze-ing views of Dublin (and all these handy descriptions on the glass about what you’re looking at).

And with your ticket you get a free perfectly poured pint.

Yeah, the real thing that I learned on our tour was how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness.

Technically, it’s a 6-step process (and technically it takes 120 seconds to pour), but considering two of those steps are selecting your glass and holding it correctly, I’m going to skip those.

So here goes:

4 Steps to a Perfect Pint (from a bottle, can, or tap)

1) Tilt the glass to a 45 degree angle and pour until the gorgeous, dark liquid has reached about ¾ of the way up the glass.

2) Stop pouring and leave to settle.

  1. Can you see the almost ombre beer?

Settling it very important for a Guinness. This is when the pint turns from amber to black as the nitrogen bubbles cascade down.

Less ombre.

This creates that signature contrast between the dark beer and the creamy head.

3) Once the cascade has stopped, slowly continue pouring into the pint until the head has formed that strong round crown.

Second pour.

4) Now it’s time to sip and savor this magnificent glass-ful of liquid gold.

But first, let’s appreciate a few things.

A little bit left to settle.

After the second pour there will need to be some more settling time, so take the time to look lovingly and longingly on the beautiful of your pint’s evolving colors.

Settled.

Admire the round head that seemingly no other beer can achieve.

After a minute or so, when the cascade has stopped revealing a black beer and a creamy head, it’s time for your first sip.

Now be warned, Guinness is not served ice cold. It’s chilled, but it’s not frigidly refreshing.

Also be warned, your first sip will be pretty much all foamy head. And that’s okay. This isn’t like the foam from some crappy domestic that comes in a 24 pack of cans. This is a really good, flavorful foam.

Don’t fear the foam.

From there, I suggest big sips.

I heard somewhere that a proper (wo)man can drink a Guinness in 7 sips. And if a Guinness is properly poured, the foam leaves thick rings after each sip.

I don’t remember how many sips I drank mine in, but I know that I can drink it in 7 sips no problem. But I rarely do that because I’m a lightweight and because I actually enjoy the different tastes of a Guinness as it warms.

Yes eaters, beer has different flavors depending on its temperature so you should drink it slowly to allow for temperature changes. Or drink a lot at different temperatures, whichever suits you better.

Once you’ve sipped all you can sip, you’ll be left with a puddle of foam at the bottle of your glass.

You’re more than welcome to tilt your glass back and wait as it slowly drips down…but you’ll look a little loony, not to mention that the last foam doesn’t taste all that great.

So leave the foam and show everyone that you can enjoy a perfect pint without getting greedy. You can always order another.

And believe me, eaters, Leon and I drank our fair share of perfect pints of Guinness during our jaunt around Ireland.

Your turn, eaters:

Are you a fan of Guinness?

Are you a fan of beer in general?

G’night eaters!

G’Bye London

*This post was written Sunday, but my electrical adapters weren’t working, so my computer died before I could post it.*

Bonjour eaters!

Can you tell from my greeting that I’m not in London anymore?

I try to be transparent like that.

But yes, as I’m writing this I’m on a train speeding away from my ah-maze-ing London life and towards a week of springtime in Paris.

I certainly have mixed emotions about my UK departure. On the one hand, I absolutely loved London and British people and all their culture. On the other hand, it never felt like it was really real life, like I had another life somewhere that was just paused.

But whether in the years to come I refer to this time as “the time I lived in London” or the longest vacation ever, one thing I can’t deny — I’ve grown up a lot.

On the first day, after a 7-hour plane ride, an hour spent waiting for friends in the airport, and an hour taxi ride, I made it up six stories to my flat with my combined 70-something pounds of luggage. I was dazed and disoriented, but the one thing I knew was that I needed food.

Rather than diving head first into London life and finding a pub or going for a curry, I did what I always did — bought a frozen pizza and ate it on the couch in front of the TV.

Goat cheese and roasted vegetables.

And all at once, with the first bite of this pizza, I knew I wasn’t in Kansas America anymore. The pizza was shit (pronounced “sh-eye-t”) and my culture shock had begun.

Fast-forward almost 4 months to my last full day in London.

It was threatening to rain at any moment, but not even that could deter Mother and I from going about our business. We took the Tube (without talking, like a local) to Tower Hill. We gawked at the Tower of London and crossed the Tower Bridge. We walked along the Thames for a bit before deciding to venture away from the water in search of refreshment.

Not 5 minutes later we were knee deep in Borough Market (because I always stumble upon it, but I almost never find it when I’m looking for it)*.

Assorted of flavoured marshmallows. These were nothing like Jet Puffs.

Knowing that this would be my last chance, Mother and I dove in head first with the intention of eating the whole market.

We sampled marshmallows and pates and chocolates before finding a pie shop.

I love pork.

I was feeling this little mister, which was full of all the lovely British foods that I will miss dearly, but Mother’s not a fan of pork (the horror!), so we compromised and went with a British classic.

We ate this leaning against a column as trains rumbled by on the bridge overhead and people pushed around us.

Isn't that adorable?!

It was glorious and now Mother wants a freezer full of little pies.

After the pie, I had just one thing on my mind — fish and chips.

My entire time in England I hadn’t had quality fish and chips, so when I saw that the line at Fish!, which is heralded as one of the best chippys in London, I jumped at the chance. In no time flat an order of haddock and chips with salt and light vinegar was warming my hands.

We found a perch out in the sunshine of the Southwark Cathedral courtyard and dug in.

So crispy. So lovely.

The chips were thick and soft in the middle, as a proper chip should be. And the haddock was fried to a crispy perfection and surprisingly flavorful for a dish that usually gets all of its flavour from vinegar and grease.

To round out our midday feast, we went to a Middle Eastern stall. We bypassed the dried fruit and nuts and chocolate covered things and went straight for the pastries.

We took home a bag of assorted baklava-style sweets, all sticky with honey and dates and the oil from nuts.

And now, as I sit here on the train, listening to the train manager make announcements in French, I’m fully satisfied, both from my last meal in London and my life in London.

I lived on the 6th floor of number 13.

And I’m fully excited knowing that I’m one step closer to getting back to my life in the ‘Boro.

Yeah, my life is pretty grand.

Your turn, eaters:

What’s the best last meal you’ve ever had?

What would be your last meal if you could choose?

Later eaters!

*If you’re ever looking for Borough Market, the best way to find it is to go to Southwark Cathedral. It’s right behind it. And it’s pronounced “Suth-ark” with very little emphasis on the “r.”

Whole Foods’ Thirsty Thursday

Hiya eaters!

It’s been a long day.

Mother came in today, which meant I was up extra early to meet her at Heathrow. Then we walked to Harrods in the rain, walked around some more, and then I went to work (where I wrote three press releases and packed a handful of boxes in three hours).

I can only imagine how exhausted Mother is with jet lag added into the mix.

So when it came time for dinner, we wanted something easy and cheap.

Enter: Thirsty Thursday at Whole Foods.

This means you get 5 wine/beer and food pairings for £5. The menu theme changes every week and I’m yet to be disappointed.

I’ve done this a handful of times, including the first time with Marisa, a fellow college bloggirl, and it’s always a good, cheap evening out.

So after I got off work, Mother and I met up at Whole Foods to quench our thirst.

The theme for tonight was classic British, which I thought was wonderful for Mother’s first night.

The servers were friendly. Mother was very out going (which I’m realizing is a very American trait).

Mother took this picture. I think she's trying to steal my job.

And overall, the pairings were pretty spot on.

Tonight there was a nice mix of white wine, beer, cider, and a rose.

Mmmmmbeer.

While I’m normally only a fan of beer out of that mix, I did find the others far more enjoyable than I remember them being (except the cider, which Mother rightfully said tasted like cardboard).

Oh, and…

Tuna salad with sweet corn on a jacket potato.

I don’t like tuna salad. I do like oak-free, citrusy white wine (the name of which I don’t remember at all! sorry) with rosemary and thyme.

Roasted potatoes and asparagus with a rosemary, thyme, butter sauce.

Free samples are awesome. Free samples of fancy schmancy balsamic vinegar are extra awesome.

The balsamic vinegar bar at Whole Foods is my new favorite place.

After Mother and I finished our samples, we were still a bit hungry, but not hungry enough for a real meal. So we did the next best thing.

We grabbed a bottle of cheap (but oh so delicious) wine and headed back to her hotel.

There we nabbed a couple of forks and plates, and ate some fried food. While watching TV.

A scotch egg and some baked goat cheese.

And then I drank more wine while laying on her plush bed.

It was so absolutely wonderful. And it almost completely made up for getting hailed on AGAIN today and getting splashed by a bus.

What do you think, eaters:

What’s your drink of choice: wine, beer, cider, or spirits?

What’s your idea of an indulgent night?

G’night eaters!

WAIW: Off My Feet

‘Ello eaters!

I was going to title this post “WIAW: On My Back,” but that felt a little weird.

Anyway, today was my last full day at my internship. It felt weird, to say the least.

But it was also rather uneventful. So let’s talk about yesterday!

Breakfast:

I forgot to take a picture until I ate it. That was mainly because I was chatting about Paris plans with my friend who used to live there.

This was scrambled eggs with spinach, chipotle ketchup, and bean sprouts with a slice of multigrain bread on the side.

Did I mention I’ll be there for about a week on Sunday?

Exercise:

My legs were feeling really, painfully exhausted on Monday night so I decided to take a rest day. Except that it’s nearly impossible for me to totally rest, especially when there’s still so much of London I want to explore on foot.

So I headed off on a 2 mile walk to Buckingham Palace. My legs hurt a bit, but I thought the easy walk would be a nice active recovery.

Wrong! My legs hurt more and more as I went along. By the time I reached the Palace, my legs (especially my right one, which is the side with my Not Good Knee) felt tight and sore and just generally out of whack.

I quickly found a bench and rested a bit.

Lunch:

While I was resting, I ate the weirdest sandwich.

Sandwich with smoked tofu, goat gouda cheese, spicy mustard, and spinach on multigrain bread with an (tasteless) apple and a carrot.

And then I got suddenly bombarded with hail. So I ran to the Tube, getting pelted and soaked along the way. (The running made my legs feel worse.)

Snack:

I didn’t have time to finish my lunch before the storm came, so after class I ate the carrot with some PB. And then I ate a Clementine.

All of this was eaten with my legs above my heart to hopefully easy some of the pain. In case you’re wondering, eating while lying on your back is hard.

And this is about where things fell apart.

I’m going to be honest, eaters, I snacked on pb, bread, and other random things from my fridge all evening. And I did it all while lying on my couch with my legs elevated.

I wasn’t snacking so much because I was hungry, but because I was frustrated and bored.

Here I was, on one of my last days in London, when all I wanted to do was go out and explore and see things, and all I felt capable of was lying on the couch because my legs hurt too much.

Even more frustrating, though, is that I know I did it to myself.

I’ve been going hard in the gym, walking a lot more than usual, working at my standing desk/perch constantly, and just generally beating my legs without giving them the rest or stretching that I should have. It’s stupid of me, but sometimes I just forget to pause and take care of myself the way I should. And then I get hurt.

So once again, I’m refocusing on treating my body well. Hopefully one day taking care of myself will be the norm.

Because I’m really sick of lying on the couch.

What do you think, eaters:

How do you deal with frustration?

Have you ever eaten a carrot with pb? I honestly think this was the first time I ever have.

G’night eaters!

Becoming a House-Person

Hiya eaters!

Today has been a bit of a trying day. But I’ll get into that more tomorrow on WIAW.

Instead today, I’m going to talk about what a chicken carcass has taught me about myself.

Yes eaters, I really did just say that.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of person I want to be. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about the kind of house-person I want to be. (I realize that “house-person” is not a real term, but stay with me here.)

When I get back to the States I’ll be moving into a house with Leon. And for some reason this feels like a very definite line in the sand.

This will be my first place of my own. It’s not a dorm. It’s not a summer apartment with friends. It’s a real house where I will act (somewhat) like a real adult.

Granted, it’s a rental that we will probably not be in for more than a year. It’s not like we’re buying a house. It’s not like we’re really adults (well, maybe Leon is). But it feels like a big deal that warrants lots of decisions. And after a lot of thinking (and pinterest-ing), I’ve made some decisions:

I want to be the kind of house-person that cleans everything with the vinegar and water mixture (with some essential oils for fragrance).

I want to be the kind of house-person that upcycles furniture from Craigslist.

I want to be the kind of house-person that does DIY projects that add ascetic pleasure and functionality.

I want to be the kind of house-person that composts.

I want to be the kind of house-person that has a garden and makes their own sprouts.

So after the chicken I roasted for Easter was eaten, I was left with a carcass and a decision. I could stand around the kitchen picking the meat off with my fingers, I could toss it, or I could make soup.

I decided to start becoming the house-person I want to be before I actually get the house. So I made soup.

Curry Chicken Soup

1 chicken carcass, cleaned

6-8 c water, enough to cover the carcass in the pot

2 cloves garlic

~10 whole peppercorns

~1 c leftover chicken

1 onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

3 carrots, diced

~1/4 c green curry paste*

½ c dry (brown) rice plus water

~1/3 c wild garlic leaves, diced**

3-4 scallions, diced

~2 c kale, chopped

*This is entirely dependent on how strong your curry paste is. Mine isn’t terribly strong so I added a lot. I would recommend adding a tablespoon at a time.

**Wild garlic leaves are long and thin and have a nice subtle garlic taste. They’re a nice addition, but not necessary.

Put the carcass in a pot, cover with water, and add in the garlic and peppercorns. Cover the pot and simmer softly for about 4 or 5 hours. Pour the contents of the pot through a strainer (a colander should do the trick) to remove the bones and garlic.

Add the stock back into the pot and start cooking.

Bring the stock up to a slow simmer and then add in the chicken, onion, bell pepper, carrots and curry paste. Stir everything until the paste is well incorporated (taste and add more if necessary). Loosely cover the pot and leave it to simmer.

While the stock is simmering, cook the rice in another pot. I suggest cooking it with just a smidge less water than you normally would so that once you put it into the soup it absorbs a little of the stock and curry flavor.

Once the rice is cooked, add it into the soup. Let the soup cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add the kale, scallions, and garlic leaves.

After a last 5-10 minutes of cooking the soup is done. Taste for seasoning and serve.

I suggest topping this with some sriracha. I would have, but somehow I never got around to buying any while I’ve been here.

Note to self: Be the kind of house-person that has plenty of condiments to offer guests.

All in all, this recipe is in no way ground breaking. I added some curry paste and wild garlic to the same chicken soup that house-people have been making forever.

But it’s a step towards being the kind of house-person I want to be. I’ll be revolutionary later.

What do you think, eaters:

What kind of house-person are you?

What kind of house-person do you want to be?

G’night eaters!

Routine Deviations

G’day eaters!

Let’s jump right into it and get down to real talk.

Real talk topic: routines.

For good or for bad, I’m a routine person. I like to have a general plan for what I’m going to do depending on the day of the week. Having that routines takes a lot of the guess work and indecisiveness out of my life.

When all else fails, defer to the routine.

So it’s a bit of a miracle that I resisted most of my urges to routine while here in London. Generally, every day has been different and I’ve loved it.

But since I can’t change my routine-y nature, I’ve let Sunday be routine-tastic. I bask in my routine and rarely answer the phone in avoidance of any and all routine-breakers.

Yup, it’s intense.

But considering this is my LAST WEEK in London, as a show of just how much I’ve grown over these past 14 weeks, I even deviated a bit from my favorite routine-filled day.

I’m going all out here, eaters.

I went out on Saturday night, rather than staying in (to avoid the chance of a hangover) like I usually do.

I sipped guzzled cheap mojitos with an old camp friend and his friends (who knew the barman, hence the cheap drinks).  It was a proper good time and I really need to learn to keep in touch with people better so I can have more nights like that.

Sunday I woke up and leisurely ate breakfast while I made my grocery list. Then I dawned my Toms and hit the city.

Toms and farmers markets are such a perfect pair.

And just like every Sunday for quite a while, I got off at the Baker Street Tube stop, which is like a shrine to Sherlock Holmes.

And just like every Sunday, I dodged tourists taking pictures with this statue.

People do know that Sherlock Holmes was fictional, right?

I walked down the street, trying not to trip on the uneven tiles, and eventually ended up at the land car park of plenty.

Chegworth apples and pears are so lovely.

I took my time. I savored all the gorgeous food. I realized that I may never be back at this market. Realizing that you’re doing something for the last time makes the experience entirely new.

I was a little extra chatty with the vendors that have been growing my food for months. All of them are so wonderful.

I bought food that I didn’t need just because it was pretty. I’m really committed to having a rainbow on my plate.

Loot:

The eggs were a very worthwhile splurge.

Organic rainbow chard, organic apples, organic sprouting broccoli, organic leeks, organic carrots, organic free range eggs.

Then, like every other Sunday, I made the Tube ride back, clutching my precious bag of food and trying to keep it from touching anything or anyone. I look like a loon, but I’m okay with that.

After some unintentional couch time, I went to the gym. I did a fun tricep and ab pyramid workout. And, per usual, the muscle men looked at me a little crazy while I was knocking out burpees.

This sign makes it seem like a dance club, right?

Once I finished working my way up the pyramid, I headed down the street to Whole Foods in all my sweaty glory.

This probably won’t be the last time I’m at this Whole Foods (I may take mother there for Thirsty Thursday), but I still took my time. I slowly browsed the aisles, oogling the fun foodie things I never tried.

Seeing all those fun things I never ate, and all the things I ate and loved, inspired me.

So in addition to my usual groceries…

Loot:

Organic spinach, organic bean sprouts, smoked tofu, soymilk, bananas, rooibos tea, green bell pepper, clementines, goat gouda, multigrain bread.

I indulged and picked up some little gifts (that are probably for myself).

Gifts:

I'm a sucker for a canvas tote.

Pudding chocolate bars, Bean & Seed Cornish sea salt dark chocolate, Suffolk mustard, Cool Chilli Co chipotle ketchup, HP brown sauce, and a diamond jubilee tote bag.

Once my fridge was thoroughly stocked (really, how am I going to eat all this?!), I did the unthinkable.

I completely deviated from my routine.

I didn’t chop vegetables for salads, like I normally do. I didn’t blog, like I always do. I didn’t do laundry, like I wanted to.

Instead, I went over to hang out with my friend Polly in the posh hotel she’s staying in while her mother is visiting.

We drank tea and ate little cakes. We ordered room service (roasted quail with leeks and curried lentils) and drank wine. We watching movies — The Full Monty, for school, and Dirty Dancing, because it’s awesome.

I got home at midnight and immediately went to bed.

It was the most glorious deviation.

Your turn, eaters:

Are you a routine person?

Do you bring back foodie gifts from a vacation?

Bonus  — Does anyone have any clue why there was no kale to be found in London yesterday?

Later eaters!

Princess and the Pizza

Hi eaters!

I completely forgot what day of the week it was today. I blame that on work.

When I’m a regular college student and taking classes I always know what day it is because my classes vary each day. But this whole being in an office thing is throwing me off.

But now that I know what day it is, I’m going to celebrate in style.

St Peter's Golden Ale.

Yup, with only a couple of weeks before I’m back in college-land I’m trying to get back into college-mode. And what goes better with beer than pizza!

Unfortunately the English don’t know a damn thing about pizza.

Really, you would think that with them being closer to Italy than America, they would have the upper hand. And while I’m certainly not saying that American-style pizza is authentic, I am saying that I’ve been to Italy and the English aren’t any more authentic.

Luckily, though, through my relentless searching for a quality slice, I found a couple of gems.

Da Mario is right around the corner from the Gloucester Road Tube stop and it’s not a secret that this was a favorite of Princess Diana and the boys. (FYI — “The boys” is what people over here call Harry and William.)

After splitting a bottle of wine over pizza with two of my lady friends, it might just be a favorite of mine.

Between the three of us we ran the gamut of pizza varieties.

American Hot: Tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage, mild green chilies, mozzarella, fresh basil

We had the American Classic.

Mushroom pizza.

We had the actual classic.

Boscaiola: tomato sauce, sun dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, roasted sweet pepper, broccoli, fontana cheese, and fresh basil

And we had my usual, an “I want to get as close to a salad while still eating pizza” pizza.

Now, there were fork-and-knife pizzas. There was no hands or folding going on here. But it was so freaking tasty and the sauce was perfectly, naturally sweet that I let it go.

The other gem I found, the prettier gem, was Sandy’s (by Marble Arch), which I found thanks to Living Social.

Note to everyone — Always sign up for Groupon/Living Social emails for any city you’re visiting or moving to. It is such a great way to (cheaply) do new things.

The house red.

I bought a deal for two pizzas and two glasses of wine, so when my boss gave me a half day before the Easter holiday I decided it was high time to use it.

A glass of red to start and then my friend and I split two pizzas.

Napoleon Bonaparte: tomato, gruyere, ham, mushrooms, olives.

Something with mushrooms and meat.

And something else with mushrooms and meat. This second one, though, was the winner in my book.

Sampieru Corsu: creme frea, gruyere, Corsican sausage, porcini mushrooms, oregano, truffle oil.

And since if we’d left at this point we would have only had to pay the service charge, we decided to split dessert.

Raspberry and white chocolate tarte.

Hands down, Sandy’s won. Not only were the topping combinations better, but I could pick up AND fold their pizza. That’s the first time that’s happened since I left America!

That’s huge, folks.

Sorry, Princess Diana. Better luck next time.

What do you think, eaters:

Do you have a usual kind of pizza?

What makes a good pie/slice in your opinion?

G’night eaters!