- Friday, 4 March 2016

A Foodie's Whistlestop Tour Of London - Chapter Two

- part two of two; Thursday 28th January -
- part one here -


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Alas, the excitement and adrenaline meant that I slept for no more than a combined total of about three hours. Upon seeing that I had managed to lie in bed, awake, all the way to 6am, I decided that I may as well get up. After all, I wanted to make the most of a) London and b) my very fancy Hilton Park Lane breakfast.

And so I rose with the sun, packed my bags and prepared myself for the day ahead, before trotting off merrily to see what new excitement I could inhale for breakfast.

Answer: everything.

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Actual answer: bircher muesli to which I added pink grapefruit (favourite flavour of everything ever), hazelnuts, strawberries, pineapple, cherries, dragonfruit and dried cranberries; a shot of a smoothie which I'm guessing featured an assortment of various red berries; some of a raspberry yoghurt in the most adorable jar ever (which I did mostly choose just because I really wanted the jar...); a bit of a couple of kinds of pastries (although I'm not really an enormous pastry fan so I probably didn't appreciate these as much as they deserve to be appreciated); and some of a big ole muffin with flaked hazelnuts on top and melty hazelnut chocolate filling the inside (it was not Nutella; after a ridiculous number of years spent having Nutella for breakfast every single day, I know the taste of Nutella, and this was not it - this tasted very much like actual melted milk chocolate and was, as muffins go, divine).

Oh, and all that washed down with a refreshing pomegranate white tea. All in all, a pretty good start to the day.

Once I had returned to my room, packed up the rest of my paraphernalia and figured out the best way to carry it all along with my newly acquired bulging goodie bag from the awards party, I went to the checkout desk at 7.59am and was on my way by 8.


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Happily, red sky the night before had indeed proved itself a shepherd's delight, and upon venturing out into the big city once more I was greeted by dazzling sunlight. HUZZAAAHHH! Still got it. ('It' being my coincidental ability to take the sun wherever I go adventuring.)


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A forewarning now: the sun very much made the extremely amazing buildings look even more extremely amazing, and the architect in me (aka a significant portion of myself) went a bit wild photographing them all. The ones included in this post are definitely not all of them...


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(Sidenote: how 'London' is this photo?! I stood looking like a lemon for a good while in waiting for a typical red London bus to pass at just the right point so I could catch it in the background of the Underground sign...)

I wandered up to the Marble Arch, along the edge of Hyde Park no less, and took great delight in surprising the antisocial Londonites that I passed, simply by greeting them with a chipper 'good morning' as we are wont to do in this 'ere Northern land. Small pleasures, easily amused. Especially on a beautiful day in a wonderful city.


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And here we have the Marble Arch itself! Brilliantly photographed and stunningly set off by a taxi rank and a lovely big lorry, of course. Somehow reminiscent of working as a club photographer taking photos of drunk people... a potentially nice photo ultimately made less nice as a result of random stuff featuring elsewhere in the frame. Maybe a metaphor for life, oooOOoOooh.

Whilst on my adventure, though, I was much too busy to contemplate life and its etceteras, so at this point I continued onwards with my hyper-organised itinerary. My first pit-stop was The Mae Deli, which had been on my foodie bucket list ever since it opened. It is owned by Ella Woodward (Deliciously Ella of healthy & delicious recipe book fame) and her fiancé Matt, and is a definite contender for the shortlist of the world's loveliest cafés. Or delis, if you're being precise. Although in fact I think it may also count as a restaurant, possibly. Positively a triple-threat.


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Success! I made it to the day's first milestone. With another view up the street, because it looked pretty and I was even more camera-mad than usual.

Since The Mae Deli did not at this point have its own website (exciting note: the website only went live TODAY! Hot off the press!), and therefore helpfully available menu, I had had to scour the interwebs to find a complete list of what was on offer. Having found said list and decided on an acai bowl with various toppings, my plan was somewhat thrown off course by my unexpected hotel breakfast. Nevertheless, I wanted to tick the deli off my list so elected to have the acai bowl for lunch, and scooch my planned lunch over to supper. This is what happens when you have food bucket lists - finding time to fit them all in is actually harder than it sounds.

After papping the deli like a true tourist, I ventured inside to see if it would live up to the squillions of Instagram posts I had seen. Surprise surprise, it did (obviously; Insta doesn't lie).

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As expected, the staff were lovely and the decor was lovely and the food looked REALLY REALLY LOVELY. Sadly, in order to return to uni in time for my seminar (sigh, such a dedicated student), I had to catch a train before lunch, which meant before the yummy lunch dishes had been made available for the day. This actually did make me extremely sad. Never fear, though: sweet breakfasty things galore to the rescue!


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After ordering my acai bowl topped with the recommended combo of granola and hemp seeds, I set about documenting and gazing lovingly at the contents of the deli. Most of which is practically one of your five a day. (Okay, slight exaggeration with regard to the sweet treats but it truly is all remarkably healthy because of the philosophy behind the deli and Ella's books - worth a read for the gorgeous food photos if nothing else.)


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And then I was on my way once more, this time along Oxford Street (the final green! Yay! True to my Monopoly-playing self, I had checked off the full set of greens!). Although when first planning my route, Oxford Street had sounded glammy and exciting, a quick swoosh along it on Google streetview correctly pointed out that it's really no different to any other highstreet shopping extravaganza, except perhaps a little more supersized than normal.


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My main reason for going along Oxford Street (other than the fact that I felt I ought to and also it would take me in the direction of Kings Cross) was to visit, yep, another food establishment. This time, Ethos Foods.

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This had also been on my radar for quite some time after I had come across their Instagram and ogled at their menu and filled in surveys for discount codes which ended up not being valid but still. I had been keen for a significant while to try matcha (basically super-charged green tea with mounds of antioxidants and good things), so that's exactly what I did.

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One almond milk matcha latte later, I am still hooked. It fuelled me most sufficiently as I hopped along the London streets in the general direction of the train station.

This hopping along the streets malarkey can be largely attributed to three things:
1. my Oyster card had run out
2. I was (somehow) miles and miles ahead of schedule
3. it was really sunny - who wants to be in the underground when it's sunny on the on-ground? Not me.

Besides, sun makes for glorious photos.

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So many dream houses. It was like stepping into a real life version of my Pinterest 'house of dreams' board. Amazing.

Also, the BT Tower! Not sure why that's cool, but it was another fun thing to recognise. It also meant I was officially in Fitzrovia, which is a swish and lushy name for a district if ever there was one.


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Some wanderings later, and after passing another branch of Pure - Made For You and being momentarily confused by it (had I gone round in a circle? How could that have possibly happened? Surely even I couldn't have managed that..), I found myself approaching Kings Cross St Pancras.


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What's that, you say? St Pancreas? No. No, no, no. Please, for the love of London, stop calling it St Pancreas (unless you are doing it to poke fun at the St Pancreasses (ha ha) in which case carry on). But just know that it is St Pancras, not St Tummy Gland.

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I can't help but always see the station as a cross between Hogwarts and my school. Probably just because it's turrety and pointy and old and red(ish). Either way, #nostalgia.

The stretch of time before my train was spent feeling surprisingly sad and mushy at Alan Rickman's memorial next to Platform 9 3/4, managing with great difficulty to restrain myself from buying up the entire Harry Potter memorabilia shop, slightly less successfully attempting to restrain myself from buying up the entire book section of all shops in the vicinity, and ticking off the final food place on my list, Leon.

Another one that I had had my eye on for a while, Leon actually have a whole stack of their own recipe books, which is how I first heard of them. Their recipes look decidedly scrummy, and I can now vouch for their food as well (not that there was every any doubt).


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Now that I was a chicken superclean quinoa salad better off, I spent the rest of my wait swithering and dithering in WHSmith between which book to buy, in the end opting for two (it was a special deal and books are books, okay?).


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Already an avid fan of Bill Bryson, this was simply a question of which of his books to choose, and Notes from a Small Island was certainly a good choice. I place a lot of weight on the quotations and reviews on a book's cover, and these ones positively raved about it. Decision made.

I hadn't heard of Sarah Winman's A Year of Marvellous Ways (although I have heard of, but not read, When God was a Rabbit), but again was instantly swayed by the reviews. I'm yet to start it but it has the most wonderful descriptions and a fab blurb so I'm suuuuuuuuper looking forward to getting stuck in.

A train journey later, featuring interesting chat with the old ladies with whom I was sharing a table, my (amazing) acai bowl, and much amusement from Bill Bryson, I was back on York soil. Fear not, though! The final bit of London that I was yet to enjoy sat comfortably on my shelf in the fridge until supper time when it was neatly devoured (post-food-photoshoot, of course).

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Tralalalala - that's me singing the praises of this meal. Well, if I was being picky then I'd say I'm especially singing the praises of the pomegranate, because... pomegranate. But if you pass a Leon and you're not doing veggie Lent or just generally being a veggie, then this is a very solid decision.

And so concludes the second half of my London trip! I hope you enjoyed reading about it and I hope at least one person likes a few of the photos you have been inundated with over the course of these two posts. I love London and I hope you do too.

*All photos in this post are mine. If you wish to use any, please ask my permission and credit me!*
As always, all photos are click-to-enlarge!

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