Having Aaron in London with me has made for some great sight-seeing! Not only is it the perfect opportunity to visit locations across town that I wouldn't necessarily go to, but it is also wonderful, as a born and bred Londoner, seeing someone else's reactions to this beautiful city that I call home.
With a mixture of my knowledge and the help of a guide book, we have been able to explore a range of tourist and non-touristy sights of town.
I'm not going to go into the specifics about everything we have seen so far, because this blog is not a tourist guide to London, but I will mention a few things from the past couple of days....
On Sunday we went to Spitalfields and Brick Lane, and as we walked around the markets, I got to sip of my first cup of mulled wine of the season. Yum. Mulled wine is essentially festive, and one of those things where I can drink one or maybe two glasses at a time and then I get a bit fed up of it. I love seeing little stalls popping up all over the place ladling out steamy, hot, spiced wine from their 'cauldrons'.
I made some mulled wine on Monday night. It's easy. You slowly heat red wine in a pot (on the lowest temperature) and put in half an orange, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. I also added in a little lemon and lime rind and juice, as well as half an apple. You can also add a little brandy or sloe gin, but I didn't. Heat it up and pour it into cups through a strainer (or you can put all of the ingredients into a muslin bag so that they are not floating around in the wine) and hey presto! You have mulled wine.
So back to Sunday and some foods that I found it necessary for Aaron to sample while we were at Brick Lane - okonomiyaki (vegetable and cheese pancake) from the Japanese food stall at the Sunday Up Market. I nearly always get one of these when I go to this market as they are so yummy and filling, and it seems that a lot of other people have the same idea, as this food stall is always busy. The pancakes are made of shredded cabbage, onion, sweetcorn and cheese, and they are covered in a savoury sauce, fried on a hot plate and served with Japanese mayo on top. So yummy, and so strangely similar to the taste of an In-n-Out burger!
The other holy grail of Brick Lane is the 24 hour Beigel Bake and its scrumptious salt beef bagels. Warm chewy bagel with a slab of salt beef and hot English mustard that gets right into your sinuses....sigh. So simple and so tasty, this is food at its best. I was too full to eat a whole bagel after our okonomiyaki so I shared one with Aaron...he told me that he wants a salt beef bagel to himself next time.
Yesterday our travels took us to Westminster, where we got to go inside the Houses of Parliament and sit in on a session taking place in The Commons Chamber. This was really interesting to me, as I have seen that room decorated with the green benches on the news countless times when they show snippets of debates on tv! The parliament is beautiful inside, and it's great that members of the public are able to go in and look around a little at no cost.
After working up an appetite walking around, looking at all the magnificent architecture in Westminster, we jumped on the tube and headed to Fishcotheque in Waterloo to dine on the obligatory fish 'n' chips, doused in vinegar. The portions are huge and not too greasy, and I don't care what anyone says - if you are going to have fish 'n' chips, you have to have proper fat chips, and you must cover them in salt and vinegar!