Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Irene’
‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.’ Samuel Johnson
I was delayed by Hurricane Irene in New York for two days and my direct flight London was rescheduled to one connecting via Amsterdam. Thank goodness I arrived in time to attend the wedding but I was reduced to just Saturday in London.
We missed the wedding of dear friends earlier this year in Australia. They have since moved to London and I had lunch with the newlyweds at Jamie’s Italian.
The flagship Covent Garden restaurant is spacious and lively. Seasonal produce are stacked in crates by the entrance, fresh pasta is handmade at the front, a bench is laden with crusty loaves of bread and the dining room features a charcuterie counter with legs of prosciutto di Parma dangling on hooks.
White tiles with black accents line the walls, Jamie Oliver branded products and cookbooks are neatly displayed on shelves, and wooden tables are matched to red lacquered chairs. Patrons sang a jovial rendition of ‘happy birthday’ when a cake with candles was delivered to a nearby table by staff.
The menu is divided into nibbles, antipasti, pasta, secondi and sides. As I browsed the menu, I could hear Jamie Oliver’s distinctive Essex accent reading it to me! We picked our courses between convivial conversations.
Mr M ordered crispy squid as an appetiser. Lightly floured and served with ‘really garlicky mayo’, a squeeze of lemon freshened the tender tentacles.
Mrs M and I had a crispy courgette flower each. Stuffed with four cheeses, lemon and mint, the golden zucchini flower was drenched in a puddle of olive and tomato sauce. I prefer battered to crumbed but it was rich and tangy.
Mr and Mrs M both selected main courses with squid ink. Mr M had scallop and squid ink spaghetti with chilli, parsley, anchovies, wine and capers. The snowy scallops contrasted with the black pasta. I twirled a few strands around my fork and it was deliciously briny.
Night on a plate, the crab and squid ink risotto had a mound of shredded crab meat and ‘crunchy herby breadcrumbs’.
A beautiful lemon colour, my bucatini carbonara was coated with egg and parmesan and dotted with pancetta and leek. The slippery buccatini is hollow in the middle and it was a smoky and simple lunch.
Mr M was full but the ladies welcomed the dolci menu with glee! A decadent treat, Mrs M selected a slice of chocolate and espresso tart with glazed figs and orange crème fraîche.
I defaulted to my favourite of tiramisù. On a rustic plate, the wedge of Italian dessert was layered sideways and covered with lemon zest.
It was lovely to spend the afternoon with Aussie friends, strolling the cobbled streets of ye olde London.
There was an ominous feeling on the Saturday of Hurricane Irene. Blanket television coverage droning on about this, that and the other, the solemnity Mayor Bloomberg’s news conferences, declarations of state of emergency, mandatory evacuation orders, and the shutdown of the Subway and all New York airports all amplified the forboding.
Although I joined the grocery store queues and stocked up on bottled water, some muesli bars and a large bag of almonds, I felt safe in Midtown Manhattan.
The apocalyptic photos of an empty Grand Central Terminal and deserted Times Square were transmitted across the world. The streets were eerily devoid of people and silent of honking as the city stoically awaits the ferocious hurricane.
Most stores were closed and only a few eateries were open. Ms H did a search and found Marché du Sud on the Upper East Side.
We walked there from opposite directions in the torrential rain, thankful that the hurricane winds were still several hours away. The entrance to Marché du Sud is divided into the dining area and patio on the left, and the bakery and gourmet market on the right.
Cold and dripping wet, I was relieved to be indoors. A long and narrow room with the bar at the front and an open kitchen at the back, the space was homely and comfortable.
The laminated menu had a tabloid magazine as its cover. There were set menus available but curiously these were cash only.
We selected two items to share. The specialty is Alsatian tarte flambée or French pizza. Thin and crispy, the l’authentique had crème fraîche, lardon, caramelised onions and Gruyère. Plain in appearance, it was a delicious combination of flavours.
We should have ordered a second French pizza! The Belgian waffles were unfortunately a little dry but easily remedied with extra cream.
Hunger sated, we strolled a couple of blocks in search of gumboots for Ms H. You’ll smile at this cute photo!