Monthly Archives: January 2018

Lovely Bites

Established in 1798, they boast being the oldest restaurant in London and graced by the presence of the likes of Charles Dickens and Laurence Olivier as well as countless other talents.  Known for their wild game, their menu is of traditional fare such as pies and puddings.  Their game includes pheasant, venison, and hare, mentioning they “may contain lead shot”.  Our New Year’s Eve meal was Sunday Roast, with a rib of beef for two accompanied by savoy cabbage, Yorkshire pudding, and dauphinoise potatoes.  The meat was tender and the au jus was heavenly.   A highlight was horseradish sauce they serve on the side which was mild and creamy.  We finished with a white chocolate vanilla brulee.  All in all, it was a nice experience.

Oxo Tower
It’s easy to spot this tall building with blazing red letters.  Going up an elevator we stepped into a sort of loft that overlooked the downtown skyline.  The atmosphere was loud and hip.  I ordered scallops which were sort of tasteless, I much preferred the crispy pork belly my companion ordered.  For dessert we had a traditional Christmas pudding island in vanilla bean sauce.  There was brandy butter on the top and the figgy cake was comforting and delicious.



I was pretty excited walking around Chinatown for the first time.  After much prodding and wheedling my friends let me choose a place for dinner.  I looked over menus and decided to go here, and boy, was that the best choice I ever made!  Their menu outside caught my attention with their crispy aromatic duck for two with a fair price.  Crispy aromatic duck is not a common dish I had only read about so I was curious to try it.  The server came with the duck and pulled it apart into pieces with utensils which I didn’t expect.  The duck was smoked and juicy, with a crunchy outer layer.  Their rice pot was adorable, and the rice was seasoned with garlic and onion.  We were seated at a large table in the back and treated very well.  I missed Asian food very much and a little sad to say this was my favorite meal during my trip.  When I get old and gray I will think fondly of this place…

Basic good food for the locals, it is a hole in the wall with lots of construction workers.  Their menu consists of sandwiches and the common English breakfast which was simple but good.  I would only add that British love their baked beans and tomatoes.

A wedding party rehearsal dinner took place here downstairs where we saw cooks working with a large brick oven.  Their menu had loads of certified gluten free and vegan items, and they are careful about every allergen I could think of.  I split a pasta carbonara which was flavorful and cooked al dente identical to regular pasta.  Their gluten free pizza had a chewy and tasty crust which I devoured with abandon.  With dozens of locations in England, I can only hope and pray they make their way onto my humble continent someday.

Tucked into Waterloo station, we entered a take away restaurant that had individually wrapped packages of sushi.  Legit Japanese chefs worked in the kitchen making their staple curry bowls.  I ordered the chicken curry bowl which was fantastic, made like the Golden Curry of my childhood.




Of course, what visit to England is complete without giving fish and chips a go?  This famous restaurant is located by Piccadilly Circus and is ranked one of the highest on must try lists for the dish.  Entering a garish 70’s type diner with toys and waiters wearing wigs, it is casual to the max.  We were seated and ordered their fried cod and haddock with chips.  Everything had the Poppie’s brand on it from the sauce to their still water.  I liked the breading, which reminded me of beer batter, and the fish was most and fresh.  I especially loved their tartar sauce but their vinegar was weak.  I’m glad I tried this place, but honestly I don’t think it’s my preferred meal by any means.

Once again, London, you stole my heart and my gluten free stomach.  Let’s eat again sometime!


British Sites

Just some photos and captions from our exploring this week…

New Year’s Eve fireworks at the London Eye












Westminster Abbey

Evensong New Year’s service












Stonehenge aka the aliens did it 

Yup, these are the famous bunch of rocks near Salisbury


Pretty sure the mysterious powers that be added 10 years to my life force



Broadway near Piccadilly

Watched Aladdin, marvy show, lots of bromance xoxo













Hittin’ the chocolate room













Rushing to King’s Cross station


Magical Harry Potter photo time!



St Paul’s Cathedral

A whole new worlllllld at 1.161 steps #almostdied












Borough Market

Can I live here












British Museum 

Collectors of the world’s ancient treasures

Grand and very dim

Around the World in 90 minutes with our lovely tour guide!









Buckingham Palace

Giving our best to Her Majesty








Woodford for friends’ wedding ding ding ding

Church ceremony and reception









Tower of London

Strolling by the Thames



Afternoon Tea (Gluten Free)

I learned that England has long been a food hub, but what blew me away were the variety of gluten free venues.  At first I expected one or two places to serve tea with gluten free options, then was overwhelmed when I had a list of five locations doing a simple search.  Upon further digging, there were over a dozen such places, which really blew my socks off!  We only had so many days to enjoy proper tea – how could we choose among all these fabulous options?  I felt the barriers of food intolerance disappear with such a dilemma and I tip my hat to the great kingdom of England for accommodating guests like myself.  I’m exceedingly grateful that everything is transparent through website menus and blog reviews from fellow gluten free eaters, technology can be such a blessing.

Q: When is the optimal time to book for January?
A: October

It’s really quite mad, but thanks to OpenTable all the best rooms were saving our spots in advance.  All of them required confirmation emails or calls the week of the reservation, which goes to show that flaking out of appointments is a universal plague.  Of note, please bear in mind I only go for the white or green teas.  I could not speak for any of the royal blends or black teas offered by the following establishments.

Side note: expect to shell out 70 to 90 for these afternoon tea services, bon appetit! 

Fortnum and Mason at Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon
Although the business opened in 1705, the tea salon was actually established by Her Majesty in 2012.  There was a clean elegance to the decor and china sets, and their selection of teas is quite extensive.  This being my first formal tea service, I wasn’t used to the individual strainers for the loose leaf or the option of switching teas as often as I chose.  Also a pleasant surprise was that we could reorder anything we liked from the set menu.  This particular service gives you the option of choosing a cake from their table to package and take away.  They had a gluten free apple option, which was nothing to write home about.  My friends said their choices of Battenberg and chocolate weren’t exciting either.   The gluten free sandwiches had tasty filling and soft bread.  Their desserts and scones were unfortunately on the tough side.  The other floors of the building are dedicated to boutiques as well as tea products.  I was very well pleased with the quality of the teas and took a tin of the Fujian White Silver Needle Pekoe home, as well as the Pistachio Clotted Cream.

Hotel Cafe Royal
Anticipating the elaborate decor for this venue, I just had to dress to the nines topped with a tiara (trust me, it enhances the experience) .  The walls were heavily adorned with gilded Roccoco accents.  The server was helpful and attentive and the piano player near us was on point with his selections (ranging from Beauty and the Beast to the Game of Thrones theme).  Though the sandwiches were unbelievably bland and the tea was average, they more than made up for the loss with the iced tea palate cleanser and array of gorgeous French desserts.  My favorite was their version of the opera cake, which had a sumptuous layer of gianduja and featured a crunchy layer on the espresso cake.  Also, the rich dark taste and texture of their jam and silky clotted cream were so marvelous I was almost moved me to tears.

Last but certainly not least. we checked our coats into a hotel met with art deco surroundings.  Claridge’s is a name I came across in Crazy Rich Asians and comes up frequently in top lists for afternoon tea.  My friends loved their Marco Polo gelee which seems to me like a bland marmalade jelly in lieu of any jam.  Their clotted cream was flavorful as were their sandwiches.  I have to concur their famous fresh baked soft gluten free scones earns favor as the best gluten free tea service I’ve encountered so far.  Their regular flour scones were crisp on the outside and buttery on the inside, I envy those who can have them.  My favorite tea was the Japanese Hojicha and could not get enough of the duck egg sandwiches.  Also, I was quite impressed with the chia seed yogurt with diced fruit, an innovative offering to gluten free guests.  Bravo, Claridge’s, I am eager to visit again.



Down to London Town (again)


On my own I wouldn’t be too keen to go to England in the middle of winter.  However, since my friends had a wedding come up, I could not resist hijacking their holiday so that I could too escape from the mundane trappings of the familiar.  Plus, the tickets were super cheap!

Our duration being only a week, the nerdy planner in me burst out, researching the best sites, afternoon teas, and winter events few and far between.  From my last European trip, I knew there was a certain art to scheduling tours and meals.  Overall, the week totaled $1K not including the plane ticket.

I hung on through the dreary last days of 2017 anticipating the trip, singing from this golden movie:

I had in mind some differences for this trip compared to last time.  First, I no longer had a constant paranoia of being mugged.  I used to be on high alert and was afraid of carrying any currency or ID, but this time I was carefree running around midnight on the streets in search of the next point of interest (or Pokemon).  Second, I was able to speak to some locals to dispel or confirm my perspectives on English life.  Yes, they are very aware of Americans, or shall I say obsessed with us, like the rest of the world.  I still couldn’t get a hang of their currency, but it seems they have trouble with it as well.  Lastly, I had to brave the bitter winter conditions.  I expected constant rain and some snow but apparently London doesn’t encounter much in terms of snow and I was only drenched a few times during my stay.  My group stayed near the Waterloo Station, which I highly recommend as it is pretty accessible to most of the sites one would have to see.  The station has an array of shops of restaurants, as did some of the major stations, which is a convenient and safe way to get food and other essentials.  My only regret is not having more time to enjoy the local Netflix selections, the options I saw overseas disappeared as soon as I returned home, much to my chagrin.  That, and not being able to find a sim card.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and fell in love with London.  I can totally see myself living there, with the juxtaposition of old and modern, tasting authentic chocolate and gluten free delights, basking in the nearness of Ed Sheeran.  If it’s meant to be, here’s hoping it will.

Time stamps:
– Harry ❤ Meghan
– Trump’s new book
– Layover during Bomb Cyclone
– Gas $5.79 in London
– Exchange rate =  x1.34
– Big Ben undergoing plastic surgery 😦


1) book everything well in advance
2) spend all your money on the last day
3) get preloaded Oyster card for Underground transportation (we ran around $70 for the week)
4) Harrod’s chocolates are easy, elegant, and unique souvenirs
5) ear plugs and extra coats are musts for the plane ride
6) always arrive early to famous sites
7) for gas pains, Gas X = Windeze