Saturday, 25 September 2010

An Ode to Something British: The Sunday Roast

The Sunday Roast is a deliciously unique British culinary experience. For those of you who have known it your whole lives, you must know and feel a close and intimate bond with the dish itself. I know I've experienced the same feeling with my Dad's monthly langoustine platter. It's a special relationship. But for those of you who are becoming familiarised with the dish, it's a matter of time, you'll see. For me, the Sunday roast represents my experimentation with British food, but more importantly, my eagerness to embrace all things British - including, but not limited to, pubs, two-tiered busses, jacket potatoes, Marmite on toast, fish n' chips, tea and scones, James Bond, Wimbledon, the Queen, bowler hats, Wayne Rooney and last but not least, Yorkshire Pudding. To this day, I still ignore the properties, which make Yorkshire Pudding taste so fluffy and fantastic. But I will continue to test its value, on Sundays, as I continue my quest for London's zesty roasts.

Last Sunday was the first of my many zesty escapades down Sunday Roast lane. Camera in hand and a massive appetite to satiate, I walked into The Albion in Islington. The Albion has been a London Sunday Roast staple for many years and continues to thrive on the one divine British special and simple recipe for success- beer gardens and Sunday Roasts. What's not to like? This was my second visit to the Albion so I was therefore inclined to book a table a week in advance to get the time slot of my choice in the room of my choice. The pub's dining room is a relaxing place to lazy around with your mates in the cold but cozy winter days, while the beer garden is gorgeously green in the spring and summer days.

I ordered the Roast, without even taking a glimpse at the menu. I was not deceived and I was not mistaken. My memory had not failed me, this roast was by far the best one I'd tasted since my early days as a Londoner. I scarfed all of it down, scraped the plate to its very last crumb, to the point where my jeans cut into my belly like a sword. I looked around mischievously to check whether I was the only one with nothing left on her plate. Indeed I was- others were still chewing on crunchy potatoes dipped in gravy and cutting into smooth and red-tastic slices of beef. I was envious. I wish I had lingered a little bit more on my plate, tasted the flavours a little better, let the buttery potatoes and horseradish sauce melt on my tongue a little longer. But hey ho, all the more reason to try this again. 

In hindsight, I can't stop thinking what a gorgeous meal that was. And I'm ready for a redo. Anytime, anywhere, you name it, zesties.

The Albion
10 Thornhill Road
N1 1HW
0207 607 7450

Monday, 13 September 2010

Yummy Mummy Heaven

I'm young. Okay, I'm not that young, but I often daydream about what my life could be like as an adult. I have this vision of life in London a few years from now- lovely rich husband and kids in tow and gorgeous Victorian house in Holland Park, no professional obligation. Country house, beach house, fancy car, walk-in closet, nannies, live-in help, first-class travel, dinner parties. The list goes on. But it's only a fantasy - an artificial dream. Is there a job in my dream? Nope. Are there problems, financial, professional and personal, in my dream? Not likely. I am a Stepford wife in my dream; and then I wake up, and I hate that dream - this isn't what I want! 

Certain areas of London sometimes feel like that dream. Not only are the women gorgeous but they just look so relaxed, fulfilled and perky! They go on daily walks around the neighborhood, stop for tea, or - a low-fat, no-foam, extra-hot cappuccino (just so), shop at the Matches around the corner, attend 3pm Pilates classes, and send their nannies to fetch the children at school. Yummy mummies have the best life! But do I really want this?

Yesterday, I took a leisurely stroll down to Holland Park and the dream state kicked in. Holland Park is the hood I sometimes refer to as Stepford Central. What a beautiful area, though. Norland Square has it all, the restaurants, the shops, the spas, the gorgeous people, the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the epitome of English elegance. Wait a minute, I like where this dream is going.

Julie's is one of the highly popular spots for the yummies of Holland Park. It's a lovely place to stop for a nice salad. No, but seriously, in reality, you can cozy up and sink into the delicious velvety sofas and enjoy the wintery feel of the dark-wooded walls in the winter and bask in the sunshine on their outdoor terrace in the summer. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this dream sounds amazing!

The dream doesn't end there. After lunch, comes the shopping! Virginia is one of those gorgeous secret gems only a handful of Londoners know about- and those who know about it covet it like a super exclusive members club. This treasure trove is filled with one-of-a-kind vintage designer dresses, shoes and other mysterious accessories from now back to the 1930s. The prices match the intimidation factor of the shop window and you can be sure to find many elegant fashion-forward yummies, and sometimes even celebs such as Kate, Sienna and Naomi, chatting up the very rude but brilliant shop owner, Virginia herself. I think I like this dream?

After the shopping, comes the spa.  If the dream hasn't been tough enough, what with the many coffee breaks and shopping excursions, there is no better way than to really work it hard in Holland Park's luxurious Cowshed spa. Enjoy a freshly squeezed juice or detox green tea to completely indulge yourself after your massage. Invite the ladies, the nannies, but not the kiddies. After consideration, these places sound great. But I like my reality better than my dream. What about you, zesties? Any fantasies of the yummy mummy lifestyle?

Julie's Restaurant & Bar
135 Portland Road
W11 4LW

Virginia Vintage & Second Hand
98 Portland Road
W11 4LQ

Cowshed Spa
119 Portland Road
W11 4LN