Finally I will continue my adventures in Nomdon!
If you can remember from the first part of ‘I see London, I see noms!’ I had left you at the famous Millennium Bridge in the heart of the city, full of German wursts and Cadbury hot chocolate. The next day with our London Passes in hand, my mother and I ventured off on our own (my aunt had a plethora of bookstores she needed to visit) and as per our loosely planned itinerary headed to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
After a brief walk over this international monument, the tour started at the far end of the bridge and began with a short elevator ride up one of the massive pillars and into a recreated room that detailed the history of Tower Bridge. After that we were free to move on by ourselves to the upper observation deck which is parallel to the retractable bridge crossing. The deck is lined with information about the bridge itself and other comparable bridges around the world. There is also sections of the bridge that are made of thick glass which unveil the flowing Thames below and give one the feeling of walking on air. I was a bit hesitant at first but once I saw how much fun everyone else was having, I had to join in!
After our death defying feats we strolled to the gift shop to pick up a few trinkets for people back home and continued on to the Tower of London. Not to be confused with Tower Bridge, the Tower of London is actually the old palace, castle and fortress of this aging city, having been named after the ‘White Tower’ built in 1078. There happened to be a tour starting upon our arrival at the gates and despite my unwillingness to take part in something ‘uber touristy’ it turned out to be one of the best tours I’ve been on. Our tour guide, ‘Billy the Beefeater’ a retired soldier of her majesty’s armed forces was dressed in the traditional tudor style Yeoman Warders garb and my did he look and play the part!
At the end of the tour we were full of entertaining historical facts but our bellies were quite empty so we decided to grab a bite to eat and a warm cup of something before we boarded a cruiser that would take us around the Thames that afternoon. There was a selection of small cafes and immediately Paul jumped out at me, not having been to one since being in Abu Dhabi and my first experience atCharles Degaulle airport when I was 15 years old (my mouth still waters to this day when I think of that buttery ham sandwich on a crusty baguette).
And thus I couldn’t resist from having the same comforting cheese and ham baguette, this time split with my mom along with her choice of a toasted almost croque madam like sandwich (minus the egg) with marinated mushrooms and cheese..and a cappuccino of course to bring life to my aching feet. Paul is always a good choice if you’re looking for a tasty nom with a limited amount of time. For us it was just what we needed before we went back into the cold yet sunny weather of London.
As we floated down the Thames we caught the sun setting behind Big Ben, probably one of my favorite ‘oh wow’ moments of our trip thus far. The cruise was a nice break from walking and standing but however our day was yet to be finished, we were determined to make the most of our London Passes and got off near the Eye so that we could make our way back over to the Tate to visit the Shakespeare Globe Museum before it closed for the night.
Destroyed by fire in the 1500s and then demolished in the 1600s, Shakespear’s globe shaped theater has been built and rebuilt three times over yet the spirit of the original has certainly survived. Our tour through the museum was delightful and interactive as we were able to sit in the seats and roam about the theater, open and vulnerable to the environment. Today’s globe is still used for plays throughout the spring, summer and autumn months but with all of today’s modern appliances to enhance the performances. The guide was very knowledgeable and it would have seemed we came at the perfect time with the sun fading and the magic of the night creeping through the visible sky.
We left the city center via the tube and back to Chelsea only to pack our belongings and bid the Sloane Club goodbye so that we could move to our second hotel just down the road ‘My Chelsea.’ A charming boutique like accommodation, My Chelsea has their own beehives on the roof of the building which is why their restaurant cafe on their ground floor is adorned with different portraits of all things bee.
Later than night we met my aunt on King’s Road at a pizza/pasta place called Pizza Express where the interior and atmosphere bolstered much more than the name let on. With two floors, Pizza Express was busy even on a week night with hungry people nomming on universal Italian inspired favorites. The personal sized pizza were perfect for our appetites and I decided to make Milan proud by ordering a cappricosa-esk pizza.
The oven baked pizza met all my pizza requirements and was just the right size. I fell that if you travel anywhere you have to have pizza at least once (or twice or even three times) to gain a sense of stable comfort miles away from home. As it turned out my home away from home was our Serbian waiter from Subotica (not far from Belgrade) who gave himself away when he confessed his love for a dessert of the menu that was inspired by jaffa cakes, a chocolaty-orange biscuit adored by Brits and Serbs alike. Opting out of dessert (I know I’m crazy) my aunt and mother although intrigued by the jaffa profiteroles ordered a slice of chocolate chip cheesecake a la mode.
You know what they say…you can take the Americans out of America but you can’t take away the American love for all things chocolate chips. Pizza Express, thank you for providing us with the comfort of our homelands at a reasonable price and lovely service. Nomtastic!
The next morning we ate our humble yet deliciously energizing breakfast of cappuccinos, eggs, toast, cheeses, parfaits and pastries at the hotel’s cafe restaurant appropriately named ‘My Kitchen’. That day we met my aunt at Sloane Station with the intention of going to Kensington Palace, residence of the royal family, expansive outdoor gardens and a museum that detailed the life of Queen Victoria as well as a special exhibit of the well known royal fashion of Princess Dianna and Queen Elizabeth herself.
I even met a few friendly squirrels, something I missed while living in Belgrade until one tried to scale my leg like a tree in search of food…yet again (a story saved for another time perhaps).
We parted ways with my aunt who wanted to retire back to the Sloane Club while my mom and I still had a full agenda ahead of us. We hopped on the tube towards Westminster Abbey but before we got above ground something colorful and miniature had caught our eyes: Lola’s Cupcakes.
Their tiny blue cart in placed directly next to the turnstile almost like the light at the end of the tunnel when surrounded by the cold drab tiles of the London underground. With a plethora of regular sized and mini cupcakes, we couldn’t resist ourselves and indulged in a sweet mid morning snack.
The mini I chose was salted peanut, made with a moist vanilla cake base, peanut frosting with chocolate drizzle and caramelised peanuts on top. It was truly a flavor explosion and left me sad and happy at the same time, wishing for more yet relishing in the nomness I had just had the pleasure of eating. My mother chose the oreo mini with a chocolate cake base, cookies and cream frosting topped with an oreo chunk. The fact that they were mini made they ten times more sweet and worthwhile. Needless to say my mouth salivated every time I walked by a Lola stand for the remainder of the trip!
When we got to Westminster we were in awe of the dark architecture and towering flying buttresses. The idea that so many famous and infamous people were laid to rest in this immense cathedral was an outer world experience. Lucky for tourists like us there were free audio guides that toured you around each crevice of the abbey but don’t forget to wander outside to the closed and open gardens!
After our tour of Westminster we hopped on a London Pass bus and got off not far down at Buckingham Palace were we stood before the home of the Queen mum and all it’s sparkling glory. Even though the changing of the guards wasn’t until the next morning we still enjoyed being in the presence of the royals and a place where history has taken place.
The next morning we had one very much anticipated plan and that was to see a live performance of the critically acclaimed Lion King at the Lyceum Theater. As a kid it was one of my favorite Disney movies so my mom thought ahead and bought two tickets to see the show earlier in the week.
With plenty of time on or hands we enjoyed our daily dose of cappuccino and then headed over to Covent Garden via the tube. The area is well know for shopping so we poked around and windowed shopped for gifts and things to take home with us. We tired our feet out as usual and were in need of a second caffeine fix as well as something sweet to pick us up. Along our journey we had seen the most incredible looking English pastries, cakes and cookies that our feet practically dragged us in on their own will.
A street or two down from the Lyceum is Peyton and Byrne, a cozy cafe with healthy lunch options and decadent sweets. The moment I saw that they served a personal sized banoffee pie, I was sold. After years of hearing about it from songs and television shows I simply had to have it. They also had a delicious looking Victoria Sponge, yet another English must try.
Both desserts were so good we still can’t choose which one we liked better.The bannoffee had a perfectly crispy crust with sticky toffee custard filling and light whipped topping. The Victoria Sponge was a high tea classic with cloud like sponge, sweet cream and ripe strawberries everywhere in between. My pallet has enabled me from labeling anything ‘too sweet’ causing me to lean a bit towards the bannofee but I would eat both any day any time just say where and when.
We walked in a sweet haze to the theater where we enjoyed one of the best shows I have been to in a very long time. The Lion King can be enjoyed by people of all ages and the fact that a mother and her adult daughter can be transported to their living room sing along once again is something extraordinarily special. If you get the chance, go see this show! It was more than worth it! (Thanks again mother dearest).
As I had mentioned in the first part of this blog, this year I turned twenty-five and because I would be spending yet another birthday away from my family my mom really wanted to have a birthday dinner before we parted ways. With one day left we planned to meet my aunt and uncle that night at a restaurant not too far from My Chelsea and close to one of the most well known stores in London: Harrods.
Word cannot describe the scale of this almost two hundred year old world famous department store. Naturally the luxury clothing, perfume and jewelry were enough to drop your jaw but for me it was the international food section that had me at a true loss for words. It was bonafied foodie heaven…and they had EVERYTHING.
Harrods’ gourmet grocery store included everything from pies to artisan cheeses and roasted meats to a complete bakery section with decorated cupcakes, cakes and every teeny tiny dessert your could dream of. The floor consists of multiple rooms, progressing from prepared food to strictly sweets, coffees and teas to food related gifts and finally a large room full of bars where you could sit, sip champagne and feast on anything from caviar to cured meats to raw fresh oysters. I was in awe, in absolute complete awe.
We decided on cupcakes to treat ourselves to after dinner for which I will recount after our dinner. Don’t worry I’m just as excited to show you as you are to see them!
A stroll round the back of Harrods’ on Walton Street brought us to The Enterprise, a quaint restaurant my mom had chosen from her skilled research the night before. By name alone it might sound a bit pub-like but rest assure this place has the warm atmosphere of a bar with the service and food of a fine dining establishment. As luck would have it we thought my uncle might have called to make a reservation although it turned out he hadn’t and the dining room was apparently mostly booked for a holiday party. But if the birthday gods do exist they granted us this and we managed to snag a table for four. As if that wasn’t enough luck, the staff presented us with a welcome drink of our choice. Thank you birthday gods, thank you.
The menu had the perfect amount of options, making it easier for us to make our decisions. For an appetizer we ordered tempura calamari and vegetables with a tangy soy sauce, Asian inspired and it actually made complete sense despite the British menu. The specials called to me and I ordered a chestnut stuffed turkey breast wrapped in bacon with roasted brussel sprouts and a sweet cranberry sauce. To me in sounded like Christmas on a plate. My mom who had been looking for something classic the entire week chose a game pie with a buttery flaky crust and a side of truffled mashed potatoes.
The entire meal was comfort reincarnated (with the added plus of my lovely family), something I needed just before jetting off back to Serbia. The Enterprise did not disappoint in any area, the staff was delightful and their attentiveness was something you’d hope to have for every special occasion. If I ever find myself in the neighborhood again I would certainly have The Enterprise on the top of my list.
Later that evening back at the hotel, we unveiled the cupcakes that had been whispering my name from their beautifully sealed box all throughout dinner. These cupcakes are show stoppers inside and out:
Some of them were painted freaking gold people! Harrods’ gourmet cupcakes were my dream come true. I blindly chose them at the store having been overwhelmed and thus came back with a creamy red velvet (bottom right), hazelnut nutella inspired ferrero rocher (top right), a best of both worlds salted caramel (top left) and perhaps the most outrageously delicious cupcake I’ve had in my existence, chocolate peanut butter (bottom left / enlarged right photo). The golden fondant kept the peanut butter frosting in perfect form on top of the peanut butter filled peanut butter cake on the inside. I was out for the count. It made my entire trip hands down.
London, I nom you!
On our last full day we still had a bit of sight seeing to do and wanting to do so on foot we chose to visit the Victoria Albert Museum first. This museum (adjacent to the Natural History Museum) is not to be missed if you are interested in unique exhibits such as the one we visited about the history of underwear, it’s a must visit. The admission is free (featured exhibits are six pounds or so) and with the amount of global artifacts that museum possess you could be there for months before you saw everything. They also have a great gift shop to pick up a less touristy souvenir.
My uncle had highly recommended that we at least stop by the British Museum, another site with free entry and a plethora of ancient world history. The architecture of the museum itself is worth the visit with its spiralling ramp in the middle that can take you to the different floors. Packed with student groups, their main attractions are mummified Egyptians, remnants of ancient civilizations and perhaps the most important artifact in terms of written language: the Rosetta Stone.
Needless to say all of the history incited our appetites and we chose to visit a low key chain around the corner called EAT.. EAT. is similar to Panera in the States or Hleb and Kifle here in Belgrade, breakfast, lunch and dinner options of sandwiches and soups galore. Never being able to escape the allure of falafel (cold or hot) I grabbed a wrap and a cup of piping spicy Chicken Laksa soup. At that point I was contemplating my return to Serbia.
From there we returned to Chelsea, stopping by the Sloane Club for one last farewell drink before we all headed out the next morning. On the way back to My Chelsea my mom and I ran into Waitrose to make sure we were fully stocked up on English treats, yes mostly candy and biscuits. To be honest that night I had a hard time closing my suitcase and for the first time I was actually concerned as to how I was going to get it all back to Belgrade.
The following morning we solemnly ate our breakfast though reminiscing about our favorite points of the trip and discussing when we would meet next. Once we clambered our stuffed suitcases to the curb we called a cab and made our way to Paddington Station to catch the Heathrow Express back to the airport. Being the faithful daughter I am, I walked my mother to as close to her terminal gate as I could and teary eyed we parted ways. Goodbyes are always hard but since moving abroad and having dated long distance for four years before that, there is happiness in farewells because of the full knowledge that you’ll see each other again. In my case this coming summer for an entire month!
I sat at my gate yearning for another coffee and a treat to quell all of my emotions. So I did so at Apostrophe with the help of a large cappuccino and choco-pain.
The thought of a short flight was comforting but I still felt as though the week in London had gone by too fast and I wish we could have stayed frozen in time forever.
Going to the UK was something I had wanted to do since my brother had gone with my late grandfather when he was in middle school and I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. At some point in the near future I mean to discover my roots in Scotland as well as see the wonders of both Ireland and Whales. As to when I don’t know, but I do know it will happen!
Until next time Nomdon!
As a sidenote I would like to acknowledge the fact that it is indeed March 17th and that these events took place over three months ago, however I want to thank all of you for being patient and understanding of this large episode of writer’s block. Work and life getting in the way is no excuse but I do know that with spring having sprung, new noms are just around the corner so stay tuned!