Eating Our Way Through London - The Graduation Adventure Day 3.0

Saturday, May 24th

It's only day three and I am a mess.  It didn't help that the sleep I most desperately desired would turn out to be elusive.  Which I truly didn't understand.  Yes, I had two pots of tea at 5p, but that wouldn't have been enough to make me fall asleep quickly in the 10p hour, only to wake up at 11pm and stay awake until at least 2a.  Right??  It doesn't help that Elias can't sleep with any kind of TV on.  And I was petrified about the light from the iPad waking him up.  Which meant I tossed and turned all night long.  This is not helpful for our first night of our trip.  I also had the extra added bonus of the song Bastille from Pompeii going through my head for the hours I was awake.  Here's the thing...the song is fine enough, until it ear worms into your brain.  Stupid earworm.

Now I have to come clean.  I can't pretend I'm writing this story while on the road, because I'm really not.  The first part might have been, but I didn't get very far.  Mostly cause this was one of our jam-packed days and I wanted to have enough time to really write everything up (apparently, I needed two months to do so).  And I wanted to be clear about this fact before I start to talk about the first part of the day.  The breakfast.  Cause it has been a running storyline in our journey.  And this was Day One of the story...

The breakfast at the Park Grand was the best we had on our trip.  Unfortunately, Elias was never thrilled with the breakfast.  The good news, it had eggs and bacon and breads and fruit and pastries.  They even brought over tea pots (something that sounds normal, but wasn't once we were out of England) so I could drink seemingly endless cups of tea.  I was full.  Elias isn't a breakfast eater to begin with, but I guess we were going to spend the entire day eating anyway.  A less than ideal (for him) breakfast wasn't the worst thing in the world.

Our hotel was only a few minute walk from the Paddington Station, which was great as we could get anywhere in London pretty darn easily.  We gave ourself enough time to get to where we needed to go, but the unexpected issue was not just finding the tube line we needed but actually getting to that line.  The Hammersmith and City line was waaaaaaaaay further away than expected and just took more time than I'd have thought.  Plus, this was our first time getting a ticket and getting on the train.  Hindsight, we shouldn't have dawdled this morning.

We are here!!
Of course, the one time we need the The Tube to run smoothly, it doesn't.  We were running slightly late for our tour, but it was ok.  We still had a bit of time  Until we didn't.  The train stalled a few stops before ours and we sat for 10 minutes or so.  Not the best beginning of the day.

There were only a few reservations we made during our trip.  We had tea last night.  And this morning, we were taking the Eating London's East End Tour.  Yes, another food tour.  At this point, I'm all about the food tours.  And this time, I was dragging Elias along.  Don't get me wrong, Elias was a very willing participant.  Eating London focuses on the East End, which is an area I was definitely not planning on visiting, so it ended up being kind of perfect for us.  If we could get there in time.

The good news was when we booked the tour, they gave us detailed instructions on where to meet up.  Plus, they gave detailed instructions on where to meet up if we didn't make it on time.  Which we didn't.  The nice thing was our guide did call me to make sure we were coming.  So instead of meeting at the Old Spitalfields Market (named for where a hospital was located back in the 1100's) with the rest of the group, we caught up as they were walking into the first location.  Which means we didn't miss much.  Except the introductions. No big deal.

We walked up to the group as they entered St John's Bread and Wine.  The interior was a white and sparse place.  I loved it.  And instantly made a note that this would have been a great place to have breakfast, if our breakfast wasn't included with our hotel room.  We bellied up to a bar as Emily, our tour guide, handed out bacon sandwiches.

Two things to note.  First, Emily was the best.  She called when we were running late.  And when we arrived, we both got welcome hugs.  Second, I was so frazzled about our late arrival that I didn't really get any pictures of this first place.  So...know that.

At this point, I've eaten bacon sandwiches for two days.  And I could eat bacon sandwiches every day at this point.  Why do we not have this in the States??  I mean, this is a very serious discussion we need to have.  Because while these sandwiches should not be eaten every day, I would at least like the opportunity to eat these more often in my life.  Yes, I'm currently complaining about my difficulty in eating like a normal human person and losing the 20 lbs that slowly crept up on me in the last two years, but still...bacon. sandwiches.

It was at St. John's where we started learning about the other people on the tour.  It was an oddly Midwestern crowd.  We had the mom and daughter from Fond du Lac, the couple from Glenview (Chicago Suburbs, represent!!), the Minnesotans, and then the couple from DC.  Well, not everyone can claim to be from the Midwest.  As always when I take Elias places, he was the youngest person in the room.  And I don't think he minded one bit.

We pretty much walked around the corner to try some Bread and Butter Pudding at The English Restaurant.  I don't want to give you a reason to stop reading, but this was our favorite food on the whole trip.  Bread plus pudding always wins out.  Plus, there was a rum sauce that went over this dish.  I could have drunk this sauce and would have been happy.  Not because it was rummy.  In fact, it really wasn't.  And I don't really care for rum.  I just like a good creme anglaise kind of sauce.  Elias and I looked at each other at this point and we made a mental note that this could definitely be a place to come back to visit for dinner one night.

An out of focus Bread and Butter Pudding for the win!!

Dude.  He is gonna murder me for posting this one...
Food Break!!  We walked around the Spitalfield's neighborhood to get a bit more flavor of the East End.

We could go anywhere from here!!

Side streets of London.

Yep.  Gun Street. 
Emily and the fruit sculpture.

I love this look of this building.  It's the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor.  Emily said it was in use up until a "few" years ago.  People would walk through one door with their bowl, get their soup, then walk through the other door back out into the world.

Stop #3 - Androuet Cheese

Emily walked us back through the Spitalfield's Market (where Elias and I were supposed to meet the group, but didn't) to find a cheese shop.  Oddly, this may have been my least favorite part of the tour.  And I like cheese.  A lot.  I like cheese a lot.  But the cheese that was handed to the group was just ok.  I think I needed a glass of wine and a bit of charcuterie to fully appreciate the cheese.  Because I'm just that kind of girl...

Stop #4 - Poppies Fish and Chips

Winner of some kind of fish and chips award (because there are all kinds of fish and chips awards), we stopped at Poppies.  This one was kind of fun as the inside of the restaurant looked like a 1950's American Diner.  Which...oddly works for the restaurant.  Of course, we were given fish and chips.  I mean, when you're going to a chip shop, you're going to get these items.  But we also had plates of mushy peas.  This is where I have to go on the record...I hate peas.  Hate them so much.  I pick peas out of everything, because the idea of a pea getting into my mouth is so gross.  But I did take a small forkful of this dish to at least try.  Nope.  Nope.  Just, nope.  Elias ate it and liked it, so...I guess good for him.

Just look at those peas.  Nope.

Much better than the bread and butter pudding pic ;)

After fish and chips, we needed a moment or two to let all of the food digest.  So what better way to do that than inside of a pub??  With lager (or maybe ale??  I honestly don't know the difference) and cider.  Works for us.  Again, Elias is 18,!!  They started with shot glasses of lager/ale.  Not great for me, but Elias does like his beer.  Then, cider.  This one, the cider was great for me, but not for Elias.  So we know Elias and I won't be sharing drinks ever.

The Pride of Spitalfield's was the place where we learned about Lenny the cat.  Kind of a mascot for the pub, Lenny has his own Facebook page.  I got as close to the cat as I dared, for fear of an allergic reaction constricting my throat, turning me into a Kathleen Turner wannabe.  Because that would have made for a bad day.

Lenny the cat

Stop #6 - Aladin Curry

When you think of London food, there's almost an instant thought of curry.  So no tour of English food would be complete without a stop at a curry house.  At this point, we were in the Brick Lane neighborhood.  The neighborhood began life with the French Huguenots in the 17th Century, followed by an influx of Jewish immigrants in the 19th and 20th Century.  Recently, the Jewish community moved to other neighborhoods and the Bangladeshi community moved in.  Which is why this is the perfect neighborhood to get some curry.

I'm guessing you couldn't swing a dead cat on this street without hitting a fantastic curry house (oof...urm...sorry, Lenny).  And today, we were at Aladin Curry.  The group piled into the restaurant and immediately were served some naan and three types of curry.  The not so spicy veggie curry, the lamb curry of medium heat, and the hot chicken curry. 

And here's where I forgot to take any pictures of the curry.  God, I am the worst.

Elias is no fan of Indian food.  We've tried this out on several occasions.  So he was not quite ready for this stop.  Me, I loooove me some curry.  I'd could eat this any time.  We passed around all of the dishes and surprisingly, I was a big fan of the chicken (hot) curry.  I am slowly working up my tolerance for spicy foods, so the fact that I liked the hottest of the curries was as big of a surprise to me as it was to Elias.  While he wouldn't necessarily like to get Indian food often, I think he warmed up to the concept a little more.

Street art off of Brick Lane
More Sights of the East End!!

The Banksy is the pink car incased in the container in the front.

Oh.  Maybe this should be a private moment.

Nice knocker...

Another side street.

Stop #7 - Beigel Bake

Now at this point, I was really, really, starting to get full.  I had read up on the tour a bit before leaving on the trip, so I knew we still had a few stops to go.  We walked through an area loaded with street art (including the Banksy above and a Shepard Fairey, which also may be above) and arrived at the Beigel Bake.

Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking about this.
I am not kidding when I say I've never eaten a bagel like this.  It was warm and soft and just epic.  Inside the bagel was beef and pastrami, with a hit of mustard.  It was almost a shame I was so full.  I don't think Elias finished his half.  So good.  So, so good.

I don't know who these girls are, but they had a great idea...

Stop #8 - Pizza East

I never really thought a pizza joint would be the last place we'd stop on our tour.  Especially when we learned we'd be eating something sweet.  But there we were.  We were actually told as we walked in that we were prohibited to take pictures of the restaurant itself.  What??  Yeah.  We could take pictures of each other and of food, but not of the actual restaurant.  I guess they wanted to protect...the feel of the restaurant or something??  Seemed a bit pretentious to me (and that's saying something), but whatever.  When in Rome...

This was enough for me.  I was ready to waive the white flag...
Our last bite was something sweet.  A salted caramel chocolate tart was split into several very small pieces.  Which was perfect.  The tart was so rich.  But anything caramel is good with me.  

We all talked about the tour.  What was our favorite??  Well, I mean I guess I kind of spoiled it earlier, but whatever.  The Bread and Butter Pudding was the clear favorite.  We all had some tea and everyone slowly faded away.

Bellies full, we waddled our way out of the East End and towards a more touristy area of London.  It was not even 2p and our day had barely started.

to be continued...


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