London break

London was mercifully cool and damp after a hot week in Parma, and it was wonderful to catch up with the old gang in the Shackleton Room of the Troubadour where we dined on Brompton Burgers and fish and chips. The food, I’m afraid, looked more promising than it tasted, but the service was excellent and the private room a fortunate thing as there was a lot of youthful exuberance beyond the doorway. London restaurants can be deafening. (But at least they will be smoke free come July!)

We followed with a very large cake from Patisserie Valerie:

Says it all, really.

The next day my kind cousin took me to a Chiswick treasure, Fish Hook, which used to be a South African specialty restaurant (Fish Hoek as it was then) whose niche turned out to be just too narrow for the neighbourhood. In its new incarnation, it serves well priced lunch specials like this one: asparagus veloute with cockles and pea sprouts…

…followed by perfectly cooked sea bream…

… and – living as I do in gelato country I was curious to see how English versions compared – home-made ice creams (vanilla, caramel and chocolate). The comparison? I think I may actually prefer the local gelato here in Parma; the ice cream tasted … thicker and more dense. Still good, though. Might need further research.

I had a very good supper, surprisingly good, from a Lebanese takeaway called Elias, on Turnham Green Terrace. Lamb shish, tahini, hoummus, felafel, pita bread and a few other things – all incredibly good and carefully prepared before my very eyes. And a fresh apple, carrot and ginger juice to wash it down. Perfect.

Then on Sunday I was reunited with my old writing group and we had a delightful poetry workshop (and excellent lunch of bits and pieces from Carluccio’s) before a few of us headed off to a Poetry School talk by Michael Schmidt about value judgements in poetry at the dangerously wonderuful London Review Bookshop.

Sallied out of there with a few more food books (In the Devil’s Garden; The Cheese Room; Last Chance to Eat; and even a small poetry anthology, Open-Mouthed) and dined on Indian (balti curries, for a thoroughly British experience) at Annapurna.

And back to sweltering Parma. On with the week….

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