31 March 2012

ai fiori

It's another Fancy Supper Club post.  Our expectations were not as high as with Babbo which made the meal that much more enjoyable.  I had eaten at other Michael White restaurants - Marea and Osteria Morini - and they have all been delicious meals.  And Ai Fiori was the perfect combination between the two restaurants offering both pasta and fish perfectly executed.

When I first arrived, I was seated immediately and the staff was attentive.  The others arrived and we were given lots of time to chat and catch up.  When we wanted to order though, we couldn't find a server.  I finally caught the eye of someone who I thought was a server and he helped us throughout the meal.  We all enjoyed his expertise and he steered us well when ordering.  He was very nice and willingly answered all of our questions.  We found out at the end of the meal that he was the manager and he really didn't need to stay with us all night.  We were all happy he did as he made the evening that much more enjoyable.

Mer commented a few times throughout the meal that each dish was a melody that perfectly executed the individual components.  Each bite was a little different and it made the dining experience that much more enjoyable.

Trish recently celebrated a birthday and I brought back gifts for her from Belgium.

I wish the lighting was better as Mer looked lovely.

An amuse-bouche of (I believe) pea soup with these perfect lemon bursts through the soup.

We all ordered the Four Course Prix Fixe.  

Mer and Trish started with the Nova Scotia Lobster Salad, shaved celery, and apple.

I started with a dish of Soft Shell Crab, melon and prosciutto.  It's a new offering and not on the menu online but I highly recommend it.

Trish and I ordered the Trofie Nero which is ligurian crustacean ragu, seppia, scallops, and spiced mollica.  I loved this pasta and could probably eat it everyday.  It was my favorite thing I ate that night and will probably order sepia whenever it is on the menu.

Mer ordered the Tortelli which is ricotta & mascarpone ravioli, sottocenere cheese, and red wine glaze.  I tried a bit and it was rich and delicious but not pretty enough for it's own photo.

For our main course, Mer and I ordered the Atlantic Halibut with baby romaine, guanciale, white bean puree and preserved lemon jus.  I particularly liked the lemon jus as it added personality to the dish.

Trish ate the Bouillabaisse with saffron broth, langoustine, scallops, bouchot mussels and rouille.  She loved it,  specifically the scallops and it was a beautiful dish.

We were excited for the desserts as I've read a lot about them online and the pastry chef is a James Beard semi-finalist.

Mer ate the Torta di Cioccolato which is gianduja mousse, bosc pear, port, violet, and vanilla gelato.  It was the last dessert that our server commented on as it is a heavy chocolate dish.  Mer loved it though and I made jokes about her licking the plate.

Trish ordered the Torrone which is chocolate semifreddo, Sicilian pistachio, apricot and orange confit. 

I ordered Budino di Limone with hazelnut praline, toasted meringue, espresso gelee, and cinnamon gelato.  It was like a lemon panna cotta and it was lovely.  I didn't like the gelato though as the flavor wasn't very distinct and I moved it to the side of the plate.

Marie Antoinette & Peter Pan

The Wallace Collection is a museum in a London town house that is a perfect balance between objects in a galleries and decorated rooms mostly from a private collection.  May and Joe spoke highly of it so I made my over there. 


A very beautiful portrait of Queen Victoria.  I love the colors that are used in the rooms.

This is Francesca da Rimini from Dante's Inferno by Ary Scheffer.  I was captivated by the painting - the beauty and the subject.

At both here and the Leighton House, I was drawn to the chandeliers.  

This room contained the most pieces of furniture owned by Marie Antoinette outside of Versailles.

After the museum, I took advantage of the sunny day and walked through Hyde Park.  I didn't see anyone at Speaker's Corner but I found some fun statues.

This one looks like the British candy Jelly Babies.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in the park.

I saw the sign pointing me to the Peter Pan statue and I finally found it after a long walk.  I wish you could see all of the details of the base but I think you can still find rabbits, mermaids and Wendy.

30 March 2012

Sunday Afternoon Walk Along the South Bank

I love the Tate Modern.  And for this reason, I return every time I'm in London.  I was disappointed this visit since it was in between exhibits in the Turbine Hall.  This time though Ben and I wandered through the place without any pressure to see anything in particular.

The view of Tate from the Millennium Bridge.  It was one of those overcast days in London where I couldn't help that the sun was obscuring the view.

A view of St. Paul's Cathedral from one of the gallerys.

One of the only pictures I took of the actual art work but I really liked this piece.  The red was very soothing which I know is not typical of the color red.

We left the museum and walked along the South Bank.  It sprinkled on us a little bit but it was still a nice day for London.

What appears to be a very sad statute of an octopus.  Sad because it lost some of its arms.

Sir Laurence Olivier in front of the National Theater.  I had just watched My Week With Marilyn on the plane so Olivier was in my thoughts.

A view of the London Eye.  I have a distinct memory of buying tickets for this during a previous trip but I can't remember actually being on it.

Ben taking a picture of Big Ben.  I couldn't help taking it.

We crossed Lambeth Bridge and passed Westminster where we ran into Cromwell.

I really like this memorial for Women in World War II and the red bus in the photo.

We ended up close to Charing Cross at a pub and drank drinks appropriate for a cloudy day.

And now my hotel room.  I checked in Sunday night and stayed in a Best Western.  I was very disappointed to be staying in a Best Western but it was a 5 Star hotel and it appeared to be nice. 

It only became not so nice when I was woken up one morning at 6:30 am by water and sewage pouring out onto the floor from the sink drain.  It was an ordeal moving into another room and also convincing the hotel that they needed to buy me a new hairbrush since mine had been contaminated.  I do not recommend this hotel.

Blossoms & Gravestones

I stopped by Trinity Church to see the resting place of Alexander Hamilton.  The church (not the building) has existed since the late 17th Century.

Alexander Hamilton's gravestone.  His wife who lived another 50 years after he died is buried right next to him.  I looked for his son who was also killed in a duel but couldn't find it.  I can't remember where he was buried.

29 March 2012

Liberty London

I love Liberty London.  It's a different kind of love from the one I have for Totokaelo or for Selfridges.  It's a large enough store to keep me occupied for hours but not too large where the humanity becomes overwhelming.  It is also full of beautiful items.  My hotel this trip was very close and I ended up here many times, including lots of trips to the chocolate store.

Just one corner of the candy shop.  It was fun to see all of the Easter treats on display.

It's been a while since there has been a King.

I want this couch and the pillows on the couch.

I was happy to find Astier de Villatte dishes but I only buy them when I'm in Paris.

I think this area is in honor of the Diamond Jubilee - the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne.

I returned to Liberty on Wednesday for a lovely lunch with Liz at the cafe in the store.

The salt & pepper shakers are endearing.  I think seeing these made me want to document the lunch.  I just regret not taking a picture of Liz.