London here we come. Day 63 and 64
There seems to be a reoccurring theme amongst the travel section of this blog. Once again the alarm is set at a god awful time. With eyes bulging and arms aching from carrying luggage we head out the door. I guess it’s the price you pay for paying a good price on airline, train and bus tickets. Luckily the train is fast, the wait at the airport is quick and the flight will be the perfect time to nap before arriving in London … or so I thought.
Once again luck does not strike down upon us. Josh is fast asleep whilst I have a young boy who insisted on kicking my chair and smashing the tray closed repeatedly for the next two hours. Finally it’s over, we can enter London and not have to worry about flying for a month, I have never seen Josh so excited! At the mention of our occupations, passport control were not going to let us in so easily, as so many tourists come here to work without visas, it has ruined it for all young chefs and waitresses to just be welcomed in. They want to know where your staying, flight details of when you leave, what you plan on seeing and if you know anyone that lives in the area. My advice is to have an answer for all of these questions.
An hour tube ride later and we are buzzing the door of David and Viviane’s apartment. We are lucky enough to be spending our time in London with Josh’s uncle who’s only charge is a bit of babysitting the gorgeous Maggie and cooking some delicious dinners. Family is so important when you embark on a trip like we have, the rent in London is astronomical and the constant living from a suitcase quickly becomes a pain. But the best thing of all are two things you take for granted, a washing machine and a kitchen! Finally we can cook again!
As David heads off to work and Viv takes Maggie to the park we decide to go explore Upper St, the main road filled with coffee shops, restaurants, pubs, clubs and boutique shops, including a grocery store. We grab some supplies and then it’s pasta for lunch, nothing has ever tasted so good. Well maybe not nothing…We fill the rest of the afternoon with tv before heading to Brixton for a concert at the O2 Academy. Anyone who knows us knows our love for music and live shows, and when you hear one of your favourite bands is performing at one of the most popular London venues, you go. The line to enter laps around the block and back to the start, luckily we were in the middle of the pack. Two Aussies start the show with The Getaway Plan and Hands Like Houses, followed by The Summet Set and finally Sleeping With Sirens. This show was amazing and we ended coming out with two new bands that we now loved.
With music still ringing in our ears, we head to bed for a much needed rest.
Sleeping in until lunch time did us well. We felt refreshed and ready to explore what London has to offer, and what better way then to spend a day in the life of Viviane. We head on the tune, grabbing a monthly Oyster card on the way. This is one crucial tip for all tourists heading to London. You can either purchase a timed card or a pay as you go option. If you are planning on taking public transport it makes any trip in London a lot cheaper including buses, the underground and overground trains.
Tomorrow David and Viv are hosting a dinner party and Josh has been selected as head chef with me as his trusty apprentice. We find ourselves at Borough Markets where the produce screams freshness as soon as you walk through the door. On the menu is pulled pork, polenta and an array of vegetables. The markets are busy so we start with lunch. For Viv a falafel wrap but for us, what Aussie can resist a pie, and what a pie it was. Josh’s was filled with venison and rich gravy whilst I opt for chicken, leek and cream.
Now it’s time to shop. I turn around and Josh is lost, great! He is never going to find his way back to the tube. Luckily he is tall and I see him engrossed in a cheese tasting a few stalls back. I’m going to need to keep my eye on him. I pull him away with the thought of mushroom hunting where his smile quickly grows. We leave the fresh produce section with many bags in hand before stopping for meat. Josh finds a 5 kilo pork shoulder that’s perfect, and with a little talk to the butcher, Josh has him scoring, tying and chucking in a free jam as well. Last stop is a Spanish grocer so Viv can stock up on gazpacho and then it’s home time. The hardest thing about going to markets like these is not filling up on all the tastes people want to offer you. Any other day we would have been stall to stall, trying everything on offer but we have our first dinner in London tonight so we had to resist. We will definitely be back to finish what we started.
Tonight, reservations are at Tom Aikens Restaurant in Chelsea. We are dining at Tom Aikens because a fellow chef and friend of Josh’s worked here a few years ago. The room is dark with wooden features and single lights shining down on individual tables. Service is professional, efficient and friendly with a significant number of French waiters filling the room. We of course opt for the tasting menu which allows you to choose between two mains and two desserts, we have one each. Food here is tasty, well presented and well thought out. Although it’s not as creative with ingredients as we are use to (no moss or ants in sight) the quality and technique used is not to be overlooked. It was classic with a twist which is exactly what I love and a must if in the area. After dinner we are offered a look into the kitchen, something we never refuse and shake hands with Tom Aiken himself. A quick chat with Tom and the Restaurant Manager and we are headed back home on the tube.
Lots of cooking tomorrow, we can’t wait.
Jess and Josh