Minimalist and Christmas are two words that don’t go together very well. I am still trying to minimise my life and constantly asking what adds value and brings joy. Christmas is particularly awkward because I don’t spontaneously need things on December 25th and if I have decided to add something to my life then I feel odd “banking” that need so that someone else can buy it for me? That being said my Husband, who is not a minimalistbut is supportive of me, still wants to buy me a gift for Christmas.
Not wanting a lot of physical things coming into my life when I am trying so hard to declutter in general I asked for experiences and an easily minimised item; flights to London to visit a friend, a contribution to my new haircut and a the book Rice, Noodle, Fish by Matt Goulding and Anthony Bourdain.
My flights fell just after New Years. Sarah is a teacher and so time off is scarce. I am lucky to be able to get an early (7am) flight down to London and a late (9pm) flight back up, allowing me to experience London without the expense of a hotel. It’s a long day with trains, planes and automobiles galore but so worth it to spend time with such a dear friend.
Post Christmas London was crisp and cold and littered with pine needles. Our first stop of the day was for breakfast at beyond bread in Fitsrovia. What a gorgeous little cafe. It is 100% gluten free and everything we had was delicious. For breakfast we both had seeded toast with dressed smashed avocado topped with two poached eggs garnished with chilli, feta and toasted almonds. The tasted almonds and feta were a great topping, the salty sharpness of the feta cutting through the eggs and avocado and the almonds adding a welcome crunch. The bread was moist and soft, if I hadn’t told Sarah we were going gluten free she said she would never have known and that is high praise indeed. Washed down with two pots of tea, the bill was £21 which for London was great value. I will definitely be back in March.
We did come back on the way trough to the airport to pick up some baked goods to take home including a slab or red velvet cake and a chocolate gooey cake. I also bought a baguette which was light and crispy, a moist and fruity raspberry muffin and I completely forgot to take any pictures of those. Oops.
The red velvet cake was divine, moist and light and with a dreamy whipped Cream cheese frosting. The chocolate cake was dense and nutty with a rich ganache topping, it’s the complete opposite of the red velvet, almost brownie like in texture and I am having to eat it in smaller portions.
The four bakery items came to £10 to take away which is an absolute bargain for incredible gluten free treats. I would recommend visiting one of their cafes if you are in London whether you are gluten free or not.
We took a quick trip around Liberty on our way to China town, while most of the time Liberty is far out my price range I did find a new brand in the fragrance section Korres. They had a collection of very natural no additive fragrances hitch sounded perfect for me, vanilla, fresia, and lychee and peonia, vanilla and amber pear. The second one appealed more but the sample bottle was empty and the sales associate wouldn’t open another bottle so I walked away and ordered the first one online with matching body milk for the same price. Liberty’s loss is my gain.
Chinatown is a must visit for me whenever I am in London. I just love the atmosphere and I usually find it quite easy to eat. Though while I travel I don’t stick 100% gluten free if there’s something I really want, and I wanted Taiyaki. These came onto my radar while honeymooning in Japan. They are essentially a fish shaped waffle but come in different forms. The traditional are closed and filled with red bean paste or more modern versions with custard. I still dream of a chocolate custard filled one I had on a cold night in Sendai. You can also get them open and filled with cream and fruit or ice cream. We went to Bake on wardour street, a cute little Chinese bakery with hot Chinese buns and chiffon cream cakes. But we’re there for the fish. They do two kinds, mini custard filled and the hollow kind you can fill with ice cream, either vanilla or chocolate.
I went for the green tea version as anything green tea flag is a winner for me. The ice cream is the soft serve kind from a machine so it isn’t great quality I’ll be honest but it still makes a nice sweet treat to wander London with at £3.80. The waffle itself is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside and you can watch them being made at the window. I do love some theatre with my food.
A little more wandering around carnaby street and a near miss at Dr Martens, they had those Magdalena boots in stock but at £125 it was too much to part with there and then, we came back to the edge of Soho and Greek Street where these is a beautiful little paper shop that sells stunning Harry Potter themed posters, note pads etc. I lost Sarah on there for quite a while.
Our Lunch destination was right across the street at Viet Pho. On a cold winters day there’s nothing better than a huge bowl of soup and the rice noodle broth that is Pho was exactly what we needed. I went for the rare beef Pho which arrived in a huge bowl with a side plate of bean sprouts, Thai basil, chilli and lime. The broth was fragrant with coriander and a dozen other flavours I couldn’t pick out, the noodles had the perfect chew and the beef was melt in the mouth tender.
Sarah went for the seafood Pho which had prawns squid and Mussels. It was Sarah’s first Pho and she enjoyed her seafood version immensely.
I will be back in London in March but this time with Husband and Little boy in tow. If anyone reading has some recommendations for places to eat suitable for a fidgety toddler I would love to hear them.