Day 8: London

We decided to spend the morning lounging around, making pancakes (because this Airbnb had gluten free flour in the pantry!) and taking our time (i.e. sleeping in). Because I don’t sleep in, and the upstairs neighbor likes to run around frantically by 7:30 a.m. I was awake earlier than intended. So I decided to get going with the pancake project. Two minutes into ingredient sourcing, I somehow managed to drop a glass half filled with wine that I didn’t finish the night before. We also had no paper towels, glass everywhere and wine on a lot of clean clothes. Luckily James expects this to happen to me on any given day, so he was ready to help clean up and make an emergency run to the grocery store.

I do say, our pancakes were a success, even without syrup and bacon.

At this point of our trip, I began to feel a bit homesick. I can master a seven day vacation but a 10 day? I start to yearn for home and for comfort. I was also beginning to get annoyed with the musty smell this apartment has. It really is its only downside. If they weren’t so expensive I would buy a dehumidifier and place it in the middle of this place and leave it to make a point. But I digress. So given that I felt homesick and Squeaky sad, James planned our day. We headed off to Guildhall to check out the Magna Carta.

This was a very good museum and its free! On our way to the bathroom (when there is a free restroom in London you use it, even if you don’t have to go), we stumbled upon the Magna Carta and read about early London history and its production. According to the museum, this is the best preserved Magna Carta in existence. And they are probably right, it was pretty flawless despite the fact we could read zero percent of the words (that fancy writing man…). And so we proceeded to tackle the museum from bottom up (the opposite of what we were told to do).

Also by the restrooms was the London Roman Amphitheater. This was SO cool. When Guildhall was being rebuilt, they came across the structure of the amphitheater, which they knew had to exist since the Romans ruled the land 2,000 some years ago but had ceased to discover. The building plans had to be revised to accommodate their new finding, and now visitors are able to walk among the ruins, view the pipe system to pump water out of the theater (SO COOL) and learn about the early days of London.

The upstairs was filled with paintings including Copley’s largest painting which took up a significant portion of the gallery. We left feeling like we got our money’s worth. That’s for sure.

We opted to do a quick lunch and were determined to go to this place we saw on our way to Guildhall – Pull’d. Sadly, it was still under construction so we crossed the street to Pod to enjoy an overly healthy, multigrain, multi kale meal.

Our next stop was the Millennium bridge. For my Harry Potter fans out there, this is the bridge in the sixth movie that the dementors destroy.

We of course walked across it. The bridge is famed for having an amazing view of St. Paul’s.

We were spit out at the entrance to Globe Theater. James felt it didn’t look authentic enough to visit so we continued our journey which eventually took us to the London Eye. After a quick debate on whether or not to do it, we decided to give it a go, because when are we going to do this again? The ride goes slow enough that I could cope and I had to pretend that I wasn’t in a huge glass bubble in the city. But the views are spectacular.

Looking up!

Big Ben & Westminster Abbey

It was very bright and I made James take off his sunglasses.

Afterwards we enjoyed a bubble tea by the dirty Thames shore and moved along to the Tate museum, our last stop before dinner.

The Tate, also “free,” opened up to a huge display of trash. I don’t know what it is about James and I, art museums and trash as an exhibit, but this happens a lot.

This exhibit had to do something with the river. Very obvious, right?

We moved along through the many galleries – through the 1500s, through the 1900s. Eventually fatigue was winning, so we sought out galleries that had large benches that would allow us to sit, review and read everything in the room and then go to the next gallery with a bench. After walking 10 – 15 miles a day for 8 days, this is what your body does to you.

But no amount of tiredness could prevent me from getting to our final destination: St. John’s Bread & Wine for dinner. Folks, this was on the list of places I’ve been dying to go to. The couple who own this restaurant frequently contribute recipes to Bon Appetit and are interviewed on the reg. They’ve provided me with masterful roast recipes I’ve made around the holidays, wowing friends and family alike. It was time to go to the mecca.

The restaurant itself is incredibly simple. Wooden tables, wooden chairs, simple glasses and dishware. It’s no frills because the food speaks for itself. I started with salted mackerel with potatoes, creme fraishe and watercress. It was like jumping into the ocean while wrapped up in a giant cozy blanket all at once. James ordered the mussels which were equally as delicious. For our main course, I ordered the duck leg with bacon and dates. James ordered the grouse (it rhymes with house).

The duck leg was amazing. It fell right off the bone and was complemented by fatty pieces of bacon and the sweetness of the medjool date. I was in duck heaven.

James’ grouse was literally a whole bird, shot earlier that day, served pretty pink. We both thought it tasted a bit like beef. It was certainly gamey, but we can handle gamey. It was when James came across the bullet hole and some blood that he lost interest in his grouse. He lost more interest when my meal came and was jealous. So much for being adventurous!

St. John’s redeemed itself for James with dessert. He ordered an apple crumb cake which came with homemade vanilla ice cream. I ordered raspberry swirl ice cream which was absolutely delightful.

To read more about the Henderson’s (co-owners of St. John):¬†http://www.bonappetit.com/people/chefs/article/the-fantastic-mr-and-mrs-henderson

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