London Swings Again

March 4th, 2011 § 1 comment

HG and BSK haven’t been in London for ten years. The changes are immense. The city is shining, crackling with energy, spruced up, diverse. A true world city. Makes Paris look a bit diminished and dingy.

Off to the Victoria and Albert. Wandered the sculpture galleries. Wonderful Rodins and Canovas. Outstanding collection of postwar Britons (Eric Gill, etc.) not seen much in USA. Design section with all of the usual suspects (Mies, Corbu, Aalto, Breuer, Ruhlmann, Hoffman,etc.). Beautiful screen of lacquer cubes by Eileen Gray and one of chrome and mirror by Syrie Maugham. Timeless glamour approached in two different ways by two very different female sensibilities. Came away with renewed appreciation of inventive genius of Israeli/Brit Ron Arad. (HG must confess, however, that nothing tops the bravura rhinoceros bar by Lalanne at the Paris Arts Decoratifs).

Tea. Scones. Clotted cream. Marmalade. Strawberry jam. HG and BSK nibbled it all in the V & A’s civilized complex of cafes. A glimpse at the state of English dining 2011: The cafe has a tea bar, of course, but another counter of French treats like pates, terrines, celeriac and lentil salads, etc. A counter offers some very good looking hot meat pies and steak and kidney pies, British staples. There’s deli, fresh salads, soups, etc. All fresh. All savory. This is London mass feeding today.

Dinner at J. Sheekey, the venerable theater district seafood restaurant off Leicester Square. J. Sheekey is a collection of small, nicely lit old rooms lined with red leather banquettes and theatrical photos. Noisy buzz in the air. Deft, professional (but warm) service. Chiiled Muscadet. HG and BSK shared eight oysters from various spots along the British coast. Better than the best of Paris (but missed those French bulots). Then a dish of two razor clams. The long shells were filled with tender strips of the clam, very thin crisps chips of Spanish chorizo, fava beans, chopped herbs, fragrant olive oil. No garlic. Nothing to interfere with the purity of the dish. This was followed by perfectly done John Dory, moist, firm and flaky. The fillets nested on a bit of whipped celeriac and were topped by sea kale and a few long strips of poached celeriac. This was seafood cuisine that followed the Mies dictums: Less Is More. God Is In The Details. Need HG say more? HG got robust with a Welsh Rarebit (splash of Worcestershire) and a glass of Spanish Tempranillo. Sweet Italian Muscat for BSK. Finale: Salted caramel ice cream.

Home to sleep the sleep of the good, the pure and the blessed.

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