I need to backtrack a bit to share an amazing day I had while I was in London for the holidays. As I have mentioned before, my husband is not the greatest “gifter.” In the past I have either bought my own Christmas present, which was completely fine since I got exactly what was on my list. Or we exchanged no gifts at all, which is fine as well, since I usually have to shop for about 20 people.
Well, I am now eating my words because he got me the most amazing Christmas present … a reservation at Jamie’s Italian on Threadneedle Street. But that is not all, he pre-arranged for his brother and sister-in-law to babysit our son all day! We spend every Christmas in the UK visiting Clive’s family on the outskirts of London and for some reason our son has now turned into a demon child every time we try to take him up into the city. The worst was trying to pick out gifts at Fortnum and Mason’s this past year and having to carry him out kicking and screaming over my shoulder.
My angel – pre tantrum and post tantrum
The prospect of spending the day in London, just the two of us, like we used to when we lived here right after we first got married, was heaven. Especially since the day would end with what I knew would be a delicious meal.
With Ollie on the way to a farm/petting zoo with Uncle Paul and Auntie Di, we decided to take full advantage of the day and go up to Notting Hill, which is a must visit when we are in town. The fact that Jamie’s Recipease sits at the entrance into Notting Hill was just a wonderful coincidence. Certainly I didn’t plan to drag my husband around for an entire day of Jamie Oliver!
Recipease is Jamie’s new food and kitchen shop where you can also take cooking lessons. I was only planning on browsing, maybe pick up a few of his magazines that I can’t get back in the States, but we had to eat lunch somewhere so it might as well be here. We sat upstairs at the high table along the window, drinking cappuccinos and watching the double decker buses and black cabs go by.
Clive ordered the mulligatawny soup. I had a blue cheese, thyme and caramelized onion flat bread to start and then the Vietnamese spring rolls. Everything was fresh, delicious and exceptional. Even my non-foodie husband (“food is fuel”) was blown away by the complex flavors of the soup. And I have to say, it was all so reasonably priced.
After lunch we wandered up Portobello Road and bought an antique toy tractor for Ollie at my favorite shop, Chloe Alberry, went to my favorite spice shop which unfortunately was closed and stopped for a pint at one of the local pubs.
Then it was off to the city to Jamie’s Italian! We had an early reservation and the restaurant was fairly empty but by the time we left it had filled up. The service was great – nice, friendly and attentive. But the food, oh the food, it really was out of this world. I knew it would be good but there are about 30 Jamie’s Italian outposts around the UK so you never know (even though I have complete faith in Jamie). There is nothing better than having your high expectations exceeded. Blown out of the water, really.
We started with the Crostini Selection, which was presented on a long thin wooden plank. The first one we tried was the shaved raw zucchini with just a hint of mint and lemon. Delicious. The rest were equally amazing – beetroot puree, squash and ricotta, smoked salmon – but our favorite was a very simple roasted Mediterranean veggie. I have no idea how he packed so much flavor onto each of those crostinis.
For our mains, we decided to split the Truffle Tagliolini and the Mushroom Cilindretti. We were very glad we did this because eating a whole dish of the Truffle Tagliolini would have been too rich for us. But the flavors, all that butter and shaved truffles was a really special treat. Both of us agreed that the mushroom dish was our favorite. It was wild mushroom stuffed “parcels” with a tomato & porcini sauce. The parcels were long rectangular fresh pasta filled with a mushroom mixture, and the sauce was simple but divine. For our sides, I ordered a rocket and parmesan salad (always a favorite for me) and Clive ordered the roast pumpkin, beets and squash. Again the flavors were so intense.
We finished with a simple mango sorbet. On our way out, we stopped to talk with the manager and give him our compliments. He was warm and enthusiastic. It is so nice to dine at a place where you can see that the staff genuinely enjoy working there.
We then took a stroll through the city, across the Millennium Bridge and along the South Bank. I love this walk which we did so many times before while living here. The night wasn’t too cold, just crisp enough, and there were people strolling and buskers playing music. We slowly made our way back to Waterloo to take the train back to Surbiton.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect day and two perfect meals. Thanks honey!