Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrsates it! I've been home for 2 days now and have some dishes cookig up in the oven, but I'm blogging to you about my little extra "weekend" in London.London's a good place to get stuck for 3 days, I must say. Once the British Airways clerk made a new reservation for me for Saturday (3 days after my arrival), I resigned myself, relaxed and decided to do a little tourism. Here you see Big Ben not really covered in fog... This was my breathtaking view just as I walked up from the Westminster underground stop. Sadly for me, Westminster Abbey and Parliament were closed to tourism for the Christmas holidays (re-opening after Epiphany, January 8th). So, I spent my two tourist days between the British Museum, Harrods, fish and chip shops and Indian restaurants on Brick Lane.

Here, you think you're seeing the famous and remarkably well-preserved bust of Egyptian pharaoh, Ramses II, but in actual fact, I took no photos in the British Museum, this is actually a bust of Mohammed Al Fayed, the father of Dodi Al Fayed, Princess Diana's last boyfriend, done up on Ancient Egyptian style. It sits at the top of the most elaborate Art Deco/Egyptian Revival style escalator anyone's ever seen. The escalator is reminiscent of "The Egyptian Theater" in my old college town of DeKalb, IL. They're both, I believe products of the 1930s. As far as Mr. Al Fayed is concerned, first I laughed out loud because it really is an incongruous thing to see his chubby, cute, obviously not ancient face on that bust, but then I was taken aback by his apparent narcissism. I mean, who does this guy fancy himself to be, anyway? There's a life-sized and lifelike Duane Hansen-style sculpture of him somewhere on the ground floor as well.

Now, as far as Indian food on Brick Lane is concerned. Don't bother. I had one mediocre meal of Chicken Masala there and another meal of paneer masala that was just awful. I hear that Southall, near Heathrow airport is a larger neighborhood, more diverse in its offerings and has better quality food. I'll remember that for next time.

Fish and Chips. Got some cod and chips wrapped in paper to go in some anonymous corner chippy and the fish was gorgeous, tender, super crispy on the outside and all-around heavenly. The chips were a sorry, hours-old, mushy mess. So the next day I googled "best fish and chips in London" and found Brady's in Wandsworth. It was a hike and a half from the East Putney underground stop. When I got there I found a lovely sit-down restaurant full of apparent locals. Got the fried haddock and chips and was underwhelmed. The chips were certainly better than the ones the day before but not very crispy (my benchmark) and the fish was a bit drier on the inside and less crispy on the outside than the corner chippy. So, the moral of the story is: get a personal reference both for Indian food and for fish and chips.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds like london was an adventure, if not a culinary success. wish i would have known you needed guidance! our friend joel is a local and knows all the gastronomically pleasant places to go.

merry christmas, and welcome back stateside. i'll be having nightmares of mr. al-fayed tonight.

3:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What wonderful pictures. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

4:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ate in several Indian restaurants in London, and, like you, wasn't terribly impressed. I read somewhere that many Indian restaurants in London employ more Bangladeshi chefs than Indian, not entirely sure why that is.

I'll bet you're so glad to be home, enjoy!

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope you had a wonderful christmas Susan.

12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Susan. All the best in 2007!

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Ellie said...

Hope you had a great xmas! Sounds like your London 'stopover' turned out quite well, as far as airline stuff-ups go! ;)

2:38 AM  
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11:16 PM  
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6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my God Susan I can't believe you were in London! I haven't been on blogger for ages so I didn't realise. What a shame I would have come to meet you. Hope you had a great Christmas.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

the little layover in London sounds like it was kind of fun--but I'm glad you made it back to Chicago by Christmas!! Our friend also had trouble flying into England from here, and he was delayed as well (but made it back in time for Christmas in the end). Hope you're having a fun time at home!

sorry about the indian food!


7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention the chips you get from a fish and chip shop are always soggy, I think they're supposed to be like that. As for the curry, it's a shame, sounds like you chose the wrong places as I've had some decent ones on Brick Lane. Next time you're in London give us a shout.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Paz said...

Love the pics!



5:59 AM  
Blogger J said...

Happy New Year! Sounds like a lovely vacation. Al Fayed sounds like Donald Trump to me. Full of himself. But it is funny.

I thought the best food in London, when we were there, was the Harrods buffet. Expensive, but tasty.

8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have a great time Susan.I am back from vacation!:)

Happy 2007!

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

susan, you have too much useful/useless knowlege of the world in that punk brain of yours. humbled by your higher education and understanding of the world and history am i. might the mighty winds of barcelona fly up your dress only to reveal that you are just some white chick wit no rythm. the only word in the english language that is all consonants. unless you consider the "y" a consonant like billy preston was the fifth beatle. hugs and kisses and if you could...briefly explain how to add links to this thing that is soooooooooooooo easy to do. paul.....................of paul and angela and simona bella and the hermit crabs...

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh.....merry christmas and if you know any 40 plus year old musicians near elmwood park via milan...let me know.......again.paul of paul and angela and simona and..........yeah.

5:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy new year! best wishes for 2007.

11:19 PM  

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