I usually don’t buy the conception of “it’s not the destination, but the journey”. Given my short attention span and inability to sit still (I am what is called, fidgety) and aversion to walking long distances, I usually choose the shortest possible route.
However, on my recent European sojourn, I deliberately took the slow boat/train/plane.
This resulted in me being more frazzled that usual (I love traveling, hate the process) but I did manage to see four countries in 12 days – UK, The Netherlands, Sweden and finally Oman. If it appears this journey was chosen by randomly throwing darts at a map of the world, you would be close.
The grand tour started with a whirlwind trip to London, where I immersed myself in cheesiness. I have to be the only traveler to choose their hotel – Andaz Liverpool Street – because of its proximity to cheese stores, notably Androuet at Old Spitalfields.
But the real food/cheese nexus highlight came from afternoon tea at The Langham London
Generous and beyond beautiful, the savory of the offering Theo Fennell Bijoux Afternoon Tea encompassed several types of cheese including Parmesan with Fourme d’Ambert and cucumber, scones with clotted cream (almost cheese in my view!), beetroot cured Scottish salmon with Grey Goose Vodka Cream and pearl las and broccoli quiche with piquillo peppers.
Oh…and there were also pastries!
Another cheesy highlight came by way of a carnivore’s cavern – The Hawksmoor – in hipper than thou Shoreditch. This is the kind of place that gives you meat. On a plate. No frills. My old unversity friend Jason and I spent a greta evening there, gossiping and playing “Spot the Hipster”.
My steak came with a stilton hollandaise – which in my view was the perfect beld of right and wrong. The photo of the sauce itself is too wobbly to show (too many glasses of red), but this photo gives an impression.
The topic of this post is taking the long way, and given my hatred of airports, I decided to take the train to Amsterdam. I wanted to relive the old school glamor of old European travel…well actually I just couldn’t deal with Healthrow.
The Eurostar itself was a bit of a letdown, but the second leg of the four hour trip saw me change trains in Brussels to a Belgian/Dutch train which served some excellent food and wine.
This included a fabulous snack of boccocini, pesto and cherry tomatoes with a French red. are small mozzarella cheeses the size of an egg. Like other mozzarellas, they are semi-soft, white and rindless unripened mild cheeses which originated in Naples and were once made only from milk of water buffaloes. Nowadays they are usually made from a combination of water buffalo and cow’s milk. Bocconcini are packaged in whey or water, have a spongy texture and absorb flavors.
The train from Brussels was taking me to Amsterdam…the next destination of my Grand Tour 2013 and what I would discover, pretty close to cheese heaven.