Monday was the first day that we had cloudy and cool weather. We put on our jackets and headed to Whole Foods for breakfast and some internet access.
We found Tamarillos in the produce section– neither of us had heard of them and we figured we’d get one and give it a try. Tamarillos are also known as tree tomatoes, and are full of nutrients– vitamins A and C, and Iron, Calcium, and Magnesium. I think maybe if we had known anything about the fruit before tasting it, we might have liked it, but we were expecting a sweet, peach-like fruit and got what seemed like a rotten tomato. So that didn’t work out as planned.
After breakfast, we headed to Knightsbridge.
If there is one defining thing about me that you absolutely should know, it’s that I am obsessed with The Parent Trap. Not the weird old one. The new, Lindsay Lohan, “I have class and you don’t”, wonderful Parent Trap. Before leaving for London, I spent a couple of hours hunting down an address for Elizabeth James’ London flat from the movie (for those of you who have not been enlightened as of yet, Elizabeth James is the mother of the two main characters). My one must-see in London was not Big Ben or the Changing of the Guard. It was 7 Pembroke Lane, residence of Annie and Elizabeth James, Martin the butler, and Grandfather. And I found it.
So after crossing this major life event off my bucket list, we headed to Harrods. If I had to choose one word to describe Harrods, it would be “overwhelming.” It’s enormous. There is so much going on. Bags, clothes, jewelry, perfume, furniture, cookware, restaurants, an enormous food court with produce and specialty items, an entire store devoted to Harrods merchandise, and last (but not least) a gigantic room full with the most luxurious and expensive wines, grappas, cognacs, and various other spirits available.
After finally finding our way out of Harrods, we stopped for lunch at a Lebanese Restaurant. We got a beautiful plate of hummus and pita, a side of fries, and two sandwiches.
Mark opted for falafel, but I got a veggie pita– it was incredible– filled with roasted cauliflower, potato, tahini, and other various veggies. The combination was unexpected but delicious. You’ll definitely be getting my spin on this combo soon!
Once we were no longer dying of hunger, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. One great thing about London is that all of the museums have free admission. This museum was amazing– full of ancient sculptures and columns. My favorite part of this museum was having Mark tell me about a lot of the things we saw– it made me really happy to see him so interested in all of it, first of all, but also seeing that he’s learning a lot in his classes in Rome and is taking interest in it.
Later, we headed to Whole Foods and got a few drinks and a little tub of cashew based chocolate ice cream. I can’t wait for cashew based ice cream to get to America. It is the perfect ice cream consistency, and it doesn’t have any soy or coconut after taste– or a cashew aftertaste for that matter.
For dinner, we headed to West Brompton for dinner at 222 Veggie Vegan. It’s not the most creative or beautiful name for a restaurant, but we had heard rave reviews about it. For an appetizer, we split a Bean and Tofu Pancake– it was like a filled crepe, and delicious.
I ordered a vegan burger for dinner, and Mark got a seitan roast– both were less than spectacular.
We were both most impressed with the appetizer, and left slightly disappointed.
The next morning, we headed back to Camden for brunch. Inspiral was a quirky place on the canal with huge windows and alice-in-wonderland-esque decor.
We grabbed a banana smoothie from a fridge and placed our orders, then sat by the windows that looked out over the canal.
After a few minutes, our food came– I had ordered the vegan bagel. It was full of avocado, tomato, pesto, sprouts, and cashew cream.
It was really delicious.
Mark ordered the vegan brunch. It came with tofu scramble, beans, a veggie sausage, a potato pancake, toast, and a roasted tomato. Everything was incredible, and we left full and ready for a long day.
We set out to find Platform 9 and 3/4. Big problem though– we got to Kings Cross, walked through the entire station, around the entire station, and even through St. Pancras, and couldn’t find it.
After almost an hour, we gave up and decided to walk through Kings Cross. The neighborhood was not what I expected. It’s where a lot of young people live, and for some reason I expected it to be a lot nicer than it was. After a few blocks, we turned around and headed to Westminster instead.
We walked up the steps from the tube station and Big Ben was right in front of us. Fun fact: Big Ben isn’t the name of the clock or the tower– it’s the bell inside. It’s actually not as big as I expected, but still beautiful nevertheless.
Right across the Thames was the London Eye, and we snapped a few pictures in front of it before heading over to Parliament.
The Parliament building is absolutely astounding. The architecture is unreal. Being in Westminster was our first view of The Thames, and being near the water always puts me in a great mood.
We walked down to the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square and grabbed pints and chips at a pub named after Sherlock Holmes. We got to sit outside on this tiny side street while we relaxed, and sitting there it really hit me that I was in London with Mark.
Once we finished up our beers, we headed back to the National Gallery. The collection is fantastic, and the view from the top of the steps is worth the trip in itself.
For dinner, we went to what ended up being our favorite restaurant from the trip (correct me if I’m wrong, Mark), Mildred’s. The restaurant isn’t vegan– just vegetarian, but about half the menu items are vegan and the food is out of this world. They don’t take reservations, so there was a 45 minute wait when we arrived. We stood by the bar and had a few drinks, and before we knew it we were seated.
For an appetizer, I ordered the dumplings. They were perfect– they came with a unique dipping sauce that was similar to other dumpling sauces but definitely had more fruit in it.
Mark ordered a tomato curry soup, and he wasn’t crazy about it as he doesn’t love curry, but I thought it was incredible.
After they cleared our appetizers, we waited forever. Eventually, a server came over and explained that they had forgotten to place our order, but brought us free wine to apologize– good enough for me!
For dinner, I had another curry dish. The next morning, Mark and I woke up wreaking of curry. Curry overload! But it was also delicious.
Mark got a vegan version of “Bangers and Mash”, or sausage with mashed potatoes.
For dessert, we got a raw banana coconut cheesecake. I made the mistake on this trip several times of not checking if food I ordered was raw or not. I don’t mind raw food, and I think it’s absolutely amazing that so many places serve raw food in London, but when I’m expected my food to be cooked and it comes out raw, I’m not prepared for it.
I think I would have really loved this cake if I had appreciated it for what it was, but I wanted melt-in-your-mouth vegan cheesecake, which this was not.