Yesterday was sadly my last night in London.
It was perhaps the quickest semester yet, I felt like it had only just begun to be honest. While I have been to London before this trip, living in south east London was a completely different experience. I feel like I really traveled around the city, taking in the food, theater, markets and I even went to my first football match. I traveled to Dubai and Italy this semester and though I learned often outside of the classroom, my classes have made me think in different ways from Vassar. It was kind of sad leaving campus this past Friday. Who knows when I will be in New Cross once again, but when I am hopefully I can raise a pint at the Hobgoblin once more.
Now I am all packed up to travel to Spain until Christmas. It will definitely be different from London, and much warmer! My time in London dispelled the stereotype that food in London is drab and boring, but I am looking forward to tapas in Spain. Pan rubbed with tomato, cuttlefish, and perhaps paella too. But for now, I am going to post below a few last memories from London I never got the chance to write about, between packing up and writing essays for the end of the semester. Warning, tons of food pictures below! Hasta luego.
Our last class trip (if you can call them that, they were better than trips, adventures really) was to the Barbican to visit the Rain Room. It is a temporary exhibition that is completely free to enter, though the wait in line can be a deterrent. As a class we arrived early and were able to gain quick access to the space. Gallons upon gallons of water pours down, but as you walk through the path clears. If you were to run through you would get soaked, but with a slow walk you can manipulate the elements. How much do you wish you could actually control the rain around you, right?
In what appears to be an industrial space under a bridge near the Shard is actually the space for some great, unexpected food. Maltby and Druid streets offer a great range in eats, but we came for St John Bakery, and specifically the doughnuts. You can only pick up a treat from the bakery on Saturdays, and we were glad we went. The space is large, with tables in the front with goodies, and an expansive kitchen behind. They offer fresh bread, which local restauranteurs snatch up by the dozen, but for me it was the vanilla bean custard doughnut that was the must try. I cannot do this doughnut justice, but to say it was the best I have ever had. Coming to London and not stopping by here would be a mistake.
Also be sure to check out the market on the other side of the bakery. Lots of options there as well, including some impressive pastries and incredibly rich smoked salmon. As it was our last Saturday in London, it was almost necessary to make a last stop at Broadway market. This was one of my first memories in London, and I do not think I could get tired of it. The street itself is rather gentrified, but the food and shopping available makes this market my favorite in London by far.
Besides having another tuna sandwich like I tried earlier in the semester, I also dug into a pumpkin whoopie pie from Violet Cakes. While I did not try it, the rose and pistachio whoopie pie I spotted inspired me to tackle making chocolate lavender whoopie pies once I get back to the states. If that works out, I will post the results.If that was enough for one day, we also went to Ottolenghi for dessert after dinner. I have Ottolenghi’s first cookbook, and hopefully will be purchasing his second, Jerusalem, once I get back to the states. Plates full of treats like the ones below are displayed in the window of the shop, and you can pick and choose directly from the display. I chose a lemon and pistachio polenta cake and what I assume was a plum cake of sorts. Even though the polenta cake is prettier, I think I preferred the plum cake. Simple is sometimes best.
And to finish off the last two nights in London, we had two incredible meals. One was at an incredible tapas restaurant called Fino in Fitzrovia. Along with a pitcher of sangria we shared dishes such as black squid ink risotto, cod fritters, papas bravas, and chipirones. We finished with doughnuts, but were experiencing extreme food comas because we ate so much.
For our last night in London we ate at Asia de Cuba in Covent Garden. I have eaten here with my family before, and alike the tapas from the night before, the concept is to share large dishes. The food is inspired by both Cuban and Asian cuisine, and it was another incredible meal. We shared Thai beef salad, calamari, pork belly, scallops, seared tuna with wasabi mash, steak marinated in coffee, crispy tofu, and miso black cod. And of course, finished the meal with what else, doughnuts. This place is perfect for the adventurous eater who can never decide on just one dish to order (like me!), but less adventurous eaters will be content as well. I saw my sister attacking her noodle boxes like a champ.
And that was it. The semester went by too fast, but I realize how lucky I was to have the time I did in London. London is definitely a city in which each person can find their bit of enjoyment. There is a roaring music, theater, shopping, and food scene–and even more. It is not possible to experience London in one trip, but I think I got sure close.