Monday, August 30, 2010

Borough Market

I enjoyed Borough Market even though it was smaller than I expected and I suspect it's more for tourists than locals. Still, it has a large selection of ready-cooked food, quality meat, fruits and veggies and even a Spanish food supply-shop, Brindisa, that had everything from jamons to paella pans. It is also covered but still has that open market feel and is very pleasant to stroll in. Go in the morning and eat lunch there at the many stalls. Finish with some sangria or fruit juice and then walk to the Thames nearby.  Lucky Londoners. I take back what I said about London. There are some nice places to visit and each has its charm. Just don't compare I suppose.



Delicious-smelling curries that permeated the whole market.


Fresh bacon, so yum. Bacon is hard to find in continental Europe, surprisingly, so it was good just to see some bacon after 2 months of prosciutto. British bacon is very good, just lightly salted and cut not too thick or thin.

Now why didn't I get a can of beans with duck?


And why didn't I try the Melton Mowbray pie which I've read about?

People of Malaysia, rise up and protest the high costs of food! If a corn fed chicken is 6.50 pounds in an upscale market in London, why are we paying 16 pounds for the same thing here??


5 pounds only, an Italian-style lunch of prosciutto, melon, buffalo mozz and tomatoes. So yum!



Golden-colored mushrooms from Romania

Purplish mushrooms too.


Turkish delights always look better than they taste.

Baklavas too.

But not chewy choc brownies, they always taste better than they look.

Rum babas? Now why didn't I try these?

This was a fantastic dip, reminded me of the spices in mango chutney. I must make some rose harissa soon.

A ceramic dish that I wish I bought (big hint).

Portobello Market

We had to decide between Portebello Market and Camden Market. Now I'm told by a reliable source that Camden's market is a lot more interesting and that's where you can find unique pieces of clothing and unusual trinkets.  Portebello is for silly tourists like me.

The famous Portobello Market of London comes alive on Saturdays. On any other day, it's dead. That's what I found out the first time I was there, not a Saturday. The best time to go is before 11 am. Anytime after that, the streets turn into a sea of people and you have to shuffle along, unable to even stop and look at the wares.




A real Prada bag, very nice isn't it.









Hummingbird Bakery was packed with people and the street was the most jammed outside the shop. The ladies in the kitchen (no photos allowed) worked very fast, slapping icing onto cupcakes, digging a well in the center with the spatula and sprinkling colored sugar into the well. So clever, time-saving and no use of icing bag too. The cakes weren't elaborately or delicately decorated and looked home-made and rustic, the way I like my cakes.

I'd never heard of Hummingbird Bakery before that so I didn't even bother to line up for the cupcakes. Now I wish I did because the bakery has a cult following from people around the world. Judging from the height of the cakes (very high) and the flavors (red velvet cakes, carrot cakes, devil's food cake) , I think the cakes are American, not British.



This is their best seller, the red velvet cupcakes. I have never tasted a red velvet cake because I avoid eating coloring but dang, I should've at least tried a bite.



More Of London

London sights:

We were near Buckingham Palace and in time to catch the last bit of the Changing of The Guards. Lucky for us because I can't imagine standing in the sun for a silly ceremony the purpose of which is to draw silly tourists to a boring palace. I'm not much of a monarchist as you probably can tell.

The grassy area behind Big Ben and next to Westminister is favorite for protestors who pitch tents and live there. Most of them were protesting against the presence of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghan. I love countries that allow freedom of speech.

British pubs are cosy and fun.

Double decker buses and antiquated (and silly-looking) cabs

London underground. Check out the Metropolitan station. It is perfect for a horror flick.

Chinatown, small and cosy with good restaurants.

We saw a big crowd barricaded off an red-carpeted area next to cinema in Soho. Will Smith, his son and Jacky Chan were there for the premiere of Karate Kid 11.

 Harrods is an AMAZING store. I've never seen a store like Harrods' and I don't think there's any store that can beat it. It's just the most luxurious and decadent store in the world. The things in the store, from the furniture to the clothes to the food, are unbelievably beautiful and expensive. 99% of the shoppers in Harrods were Arab women, who shopped in a group with body guards. Their handbags were either  Hermes or Chanel and they actually wore jewels on their foreheads. A couple of masked ladies wore golden moustaches and Yi saw one who wore a moustache AND fake eyebrows , making her look like Groucho Marx. Can anyone tell me the significance of that??

That's the super hot yet cool--and brainy--Kimmei, btw.

Poor tourists shop at the huge Topshop opposite Harrods.

Lloyd's Building, still attracting the gawkers.


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The Gherkin needs no introduction. Even the posts on the roads are phallic. I've yet to see a building glorify the female reproductive parts.

One of the things I wanted to do in London was watch Les Miserables but one of the Jonas brothers had to be in the show the week I was there and that bumped the cost of the ticket up to 77 pounds so I decided I'll watch it another trip.

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Boldly-colored cakes in a shop that seemed to belong in Disneyland, near the Garrick Theatre

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Goodies in Selfridges

London's saving grace is the many theatres and shows. Other than that, I think the city is rather disappointing,  maybe because of great expectations (no pun).  The first time I saw the famous historic buildings, it was awesome but the second time, I felt nothing. The Brit churches, palaces and places of interest are booorringg compared to the rest of Europe. Even the shopping is booorring. Carnaby St is sweet, made for tourists. Regent St, the main shopping street, is just full of chain stores like H & M, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Zara, yadda yadda yadda. Despite that, I found the girls in London very stylish and original, definitely edgy and exciting. But don't let me put you off London. It's still worth a visit.

Bear with me as I finish off my posts on London. Two more to go and we'll go back to Hungary. And you thought I was done with my Europe tour.
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