Locomotoring

Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Archive for the ‘London’ Category

Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seeds

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Ai Weiwei's sunflower seeds at Tate

I didn’t really know much about Ai Weiwei‘s art until I walked into the exhibit at Tate’s. They had a conical pile of porcelain sunflower seeds  in the center of a featureless room, cordoned off with a security guard watching over. The accompanying information said that the seeds were individually hand-painted by hundreds of Chinese artisans! At the time, the display evoked nothing. But the pile of seeds stayed in my head and made me curiouser and curiouser.

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Written by Som

April 1, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Globe Theater tour in London

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Globe theater from Millennium bridge

Globe theater from Millennium bridge

Model of Globe theater

Model of Globe theater

Visiting Globe like a bystander is perhaps just a little sad. Completely omitting the trip would have been even sadder. I chalked this one up to one of the downsides of visiting London in the winter. It helps a little if you pretend it to be a reconnaissance mission. So, what is it that you can actually see if you are not attending one of the theater’s productions?

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Written by Som

March 18, 2012 at 2:18 am

View from St. Paul’s Cathedral

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If there is something fantastic about a winter trip to London, I will say it is the view from the top of St. Paul Cathedral’s dome. The timing works out rather well in winter when the last admission coincides with sun down. Here are some of the photos we took from up there.


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Written by Som

February 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Eating out at Seven Dials, London

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Monmouth coffee shop

Aside from Dishoom that serves reliable roomali roti and chicken tikka, there are several nice eating and drinking spots near Seven Dials. We could only sample a very small subset.  Monmouth coffee was one. According to a reliable local source, while tea shops are on the decline, coffee shops are on the rise in London. Monmouth may have been the one that started (~1978) the micro roasting trend. Being perhaps the grandaddy of the business, they didn’t seem quite the coffee police as Blue Bottle or Four Barrel, very few coffee shops are. But they have a large selection of single varietals and brew a good espresso to make a coffee lover happy.  The one at Seven Dials attracts a hipster crowd, there is always a long line, tables are shared, and you can get a croissant to go with your coffee. I do think they need some chocolate-y stuff to go with their coffee, say crepes or biscotti.

Neal’s yard dairy has excellent British cheeses and they import Poilâne bread. Like Cheese Board, they let you taste before buying and the staff is super friendly. We bought a variety of cheddars and even some Stilton. You really can live on Poilâne, Stilton and Monmouth coffee if you so wish.

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Written by Som

January 30, 2012 at 6:06 am

British food in London

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Great Queen Street Pub, an easy walk from the British Museum

British food, for the rest of us outside Britain, brings to mind fish and chips or bangers and mash. But if like me, you have grown up with Tuppy Glossop’s midnight adventures with steak and  kidney pie, you wish a cook as good as Anatole who can make you just such a pie. Now with the revival of British cuisine and gastro pubs, someone just may serve you one.

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Written by Som

January 30, 2012 at 1:07 am

Desi food in London

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Dishoom, dishoom ...

Dishoom with its seventies look

Fried calamari with a set of spicy sauces

Shish Kababs and roomali roti, what else ...

Chicken tikka

Naan with Keema

A few blocks from Seven Dials, is an Indian restaurant named Dishoom. The sound of a punch landing on your opponent in Bollywood movies has the sound “Dishoom“. Kids when mimicking fights do it with the sound effect “dishoom”, “dishoom”, … So there is indeed something endearing and playful in the name. The restaurant exudes hipness, although like any other Indian restaurant the service is a bit languid.  Walls are decorated with an old world charm of mirrors and pictures of Bollywood movies and stars. You can watch the tandoor in action while waiting for food. We ate here a couple times and really enjoyed the “roomali” roti with the shish kababs. Roomal is Hindi word for handkerchief. Yes, sir, these breads are indeed as thin as the handkerchief. The dough is similar to naan/pizza and they are hand rolled like pizza, swirled in air to get the thinness and briefly cooked in the tandoor. I haven’t seen roomali rotis served in Indian restaurants in US. I found the food to be competent but the menu is limited to typical North Indian dishes that westerners associate with Indian food.
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Written by Som

January 29, 2012 at 9:15 am

Fast food in London

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Pret a Manger sandwich and crisps

It is now a little over two months since our London trip. I hadn’t meant to slip so far behind in my writing but it has happened. I can only hope that the memories have aged like cheese! We had stayed in a tiny but super-cute apartment in London, which was practically on top of the Neal’s Yard at Seven Dials. I am pretty sure that on a summer afternoon, an open window in the apartment will bring in the mingled aroma of aged cheeses from Neal’s Yard Diary. We didn’t open the windows  on account of the cold but we did breakfast on their cheeses and their imported Poilâne’s bread.

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Written by Som

January 29, 2012 at 7:25 am