Note: My 2011 visit to London series begins here.
My home base in London for the first half of my trip is Wimbledon, the same area I stayed in during my last visit five years ago. Wimbledon is a pretty village replete with Victorian and Georgian houses, and I smile at the familiarity of the surroundings.
It’s a Sunday and ravenous after almost a day of flying, my Bin, daughter Boo, and I amble over to the Dog & Fox. This is also the same pub that my Bin and I shared a traditional Sunday Roast last trip, and today we order the same thing for Boo to try. The Trio Roast with beef, chicken, and pork is cloaked in a meaty gravy and bolstered with veg, crisp-roasted potatoes, and a bowling ball of a Yorkshire pudding. Midway through the meal, my Bin and I glance at each other and exchange smiles – we are tasting memories.
Keeping to the British theme for dessert: Eton mess, meringue shards and strawberries melding with cream; sticky date pudding and salted caramel ice cream sitting serenely in a pool of toffee sauce; and a panna cotta just because.
Back at the flat we’re staying in, we surrender to a nap. But even the ravages of jet lag are no match to growling stomachs. I don’t know about you, but I am always hungry when I travel. For dinner, my Bin’s friend takes us to Wahaca, certainly the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in my life (and I don’t say that often).
Deviating from the too-familiar, we order a selection of small plates, a Mexican mix-and match, if you will. The tacos of chorizo and cheese and – is it chicken (?) -, are fine (on right side in photo), but it’s the dishes on the left that make my spine slump in submission. A new and rather odd combination, but in the sweet potato & feta taquito, tendrils of caramelized red onion drape over nuggets of roasted sweet potato. It’s enclosed in a crispy blue corn tortilla then smeared with salsa and chipotle mayo. Such a synergy of savory sweetness and smoke!
Then there’s the grilled summer corn, its unassuming name a mask for the absolute explosion of sweet, sweet corn imbued with fresh lime, tangy crema, Lancashire cheese and a Piquin chilli pepper-sugar-salt seasoning. My goodness.
The next day, we’re in the town of Windsor located 37 kilometers from London. We really didn’t plan on doing it but we end up walking “The Long Walk”- a very apt name for the 2.65 mile/ 4.26 km distance from the Savill Court Hotel to the George IV Gateway at Windsor Castle.
Walking through the 5,000-acre Windsor Great Park, we pass deer and marvel at how they’ve become accustomed to the roaring of airplanes overhead. It’s a pleasant walk with magnificent views, and Windsor Castle looms larger with every step but it’s a challenge to make it to the end. My teenager threatens to give up and pass out on the grass.
The grandeur that is Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.
At 11am, we’re just in time to see the guards marching along High Street on their way to the castle for the daily Changing of the Guard.
An in-between meal at brunch-fave, Bill’s, before doing some walking around Windsor. Scones with strawberry jam and that marvelous clotted cream, strawberry sponge cake, pot of tea, warm mini cinnamon doughnuts accompanied with fresh strawberries and chocolate sauce, and an assortment of beverages. Aren’t those such gorgeous orange flowers?
Back in Wimbledon, Chutneys is an unassuming restaurant. It specializes in South Indian cuisine, thus lots of stews, lentils, and dosa, a type of lentil and rice crêpe as in this ghee roast massala stuffed with mashed potatoes and fried onions.
Feasting on my Indian food favorites.
In London, all Indian meals begin with pappadums, wafer-thin flatbreads made from lentil flour. Dipped into sour chutneys, they’re perfect for perking up the appetite. I’ve been to many Indian restaurants but I had the best Indian meal of my life in Chutneys. A multitude of textures and temperatures, this is food that is unabashed in flavor. If you’re in London, I highly recommend you make the trip to Wimbledon to try Chutneys.
All my mornings in London begin with a coffee and a pastry and one of my favorite places to have those is at Gail’s. All its locations proffer an astounding array of breads and sweet treats, all tempting, all good.
A flat white and a cinnamon bun.
Even Gail’s savory dishes satisfy, as in this mushroom ragu with spinach and goat’s cheese on toast and topped with a fried egg.
Taking my daughter, Boo, on a tour of the West End
I watch my daughter as she takes in the sights, her eyes widen and brighten as occasionally her brow furrows at things she doesn’t understand.
Click!click! goes the shutter sound on Boo’s iPhone as she shoots her own photos. She squints critically at her shots then makes quick work of flipping through the various filters to share with her friends on Snapchat: “Do you prefer this filter, Mom? Or this one?”
Regent Street: a grown-up, less hectic version of Oxford Street.
Black cab, red phone booth. An iconic London sight on (again), New Bond Street.
Boo and I chance upon posh Burlington Arcade, a sleek enclave for the uber-wealthy. We walk through and peek in on bespoke tailors and jewelry boutiques. Our shoes squeak on the super-polished floors…
On my last visit, I came here three separate times, a feat I replicate on this visit as well. I’m a sucker for the moist vanilla cupcake, Boo is in love with the red velvet, both are marvelous. Their cakes are on the dry side sadly, but there’s no denying the pull this place has on our dessert-loving hearts.
Establishments mentioned in this article