24 hours in London May 2015

caroline at Polpo

caroline at Polpo

24 HOURS IN LONDON
What would you do for 24 hours in London? Go and see a show? A concert? An exhibition? Perhaps take in some street entertainers (There are 6 yoda’s outside the national gallery) maybe an obscure church you heard about on the radio? Or blow it, just have a great meal! Well I had two great meals and somehow did all of the above as well and more. London is like that you can plan ‘till you are blue in the face – we did two meals and the rest just happened apart from the main event, but more of that later. Hedonism was to the fore!

First stop on arrival at Kings Cross was lunch at Plum and Spilt milk named I gather after the livery of the former rail company whose hotel the restaurant is based. I know nothing of “chef director” Mark Sergeant but there is more than a nod to the Simon Hopkinson school of cooking, unlike Hopkinson, although there is lip service to great British ingredients, how sad that in an otherwise superb prawn cocktail the prawns weren’t British! That said great things were done with pig’s head and green lentils, but one always has to brace oneself for London prices. Ah how lucky we are in Scotland!

The Calvinistic guilt kicks in at this point and rather than drinking red wine all afternoon which I would have loved to have done we set off for the exhibition bit of the trip (one of two!) Caroline knows the mother and brother of the photographer responsible for “Altitude” in King’s Place a truly wonderful space north of Kings Cross (staggering distance of the restaurant you understand) and it was here we saw Alexander Lindsay’s remarkable photographs. Huge landscapes where he has taken dozens ( hundreds?) of images and carefully blended them together which gives a phenomenal sense of depth, the focus being pin point from the scrub in the foreground to the snow on the peaks 100 miles away. Are they worth £10000 plus?

And so on to a bus in the pouring rain to the Strand passing my Alma Mater the Savoy hotel and buying some yummy cheese (not at the Savoy) for later. Now the real reason for our trip as we nod to Nelson and pass under Admiralty arch in to the Mall, no, we are not off to say hi to Princess Charlotte, but to the Mall galleries and the Pink Lady Photography awards where Caroline is a finalist in the awards one of 150 out of 6000 such a thrill to be there. And whom should we bump in to but Joan Ransley a fellow Guild of food writers member and also a finalist. What an evening, Champagne Taittinger, Errazuriz wines and yummy nibbles and bumped in to Xanthe Clay and Michel Roux ( Ah kent his faither- old Scottish joke) For me the great joy of the event was the fun of meeting like minded people who love food and photography what an honour to be there!
Phew, taxi to the depths of west London, cheese and wine with best loved friends (they must be, putting up with two drunks arriving on door step at midnight) and so to bed.

Breakfast in 164 Wandsworth bridge road and then bus journey to not quite meet two friends in town (such is London) so little escape for coffee in Royal Academy friends room and saw the delightful Timothy Hyman exhibition of drawings of the Maggie’s cancer centres which we know, as Caroline helps raise money for our local one in Kirkcaldy. And so to lunch….
Polpo in Beak Street. Caroline had given me the cook book and so it seemed rude not to go, based on Venetian “small plates” it was a joy, terrific service from Nora who really made our lunch. Some lovely flavours Artichoke and speck crostini and Coppa peperonata and goat cheese, to name but two! Buzzy atmosphere, we almost felt like the beautiful people
On the way back to the train we found a food market right outside Kings Cross go there ! its great.

Ah London. but good to be home

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