Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mr. Hunter Recommends... Scoop Gelato

Mr. Hunter has a policy: When he finds good gelato, he eats it.  A lot of it.
When he finds a place that serves his favorite flavors of amarena and coconut... Well.  Let the gelato festival begin!

Across the street from Rock & Sole Plaice, we found a gelateria called Scoop, and it turned out that they served authentic Italian gelato.  We stepped in to get some samples, and there they were: the coconut gelato AND the amarena gelato.  

Did Mr. Hunter find his way to Scoop every night of the trip?  I believe that he did!  And if you happen to find yourself on Endell Street in London, you might also want to step into Scoop for some worthwhile deliciousness.  

There's the Amarena! 

For your reference, here is the list of Scoop's flavors. 
Which flavors will you choose?

Cioccolato Extra Fondente (sorbet), Cioccolato Fondente (gelato),
Cioccolato Bianco, Bacio, Nocciola, Pistacchio,
Caffe, Vaniglia, Cannella

Nocciola, Pistacchio, Caffe, Vaniglia, Cannella,
Menta, Fiordilatte, Stracciatella, Amarena, Caramello, Crema Tradizionale

Menta, Fiordilatte, Stracciatella, Amarena, Caramello,
Crema Tradizionale, Amaretto, Biscotto, Tiramisu',
Torroncino, Malaga, Yoghurt, Green Tea, Sorbetto di Fruta
London, England
September 2011

Fish & Chips at Rock & Sole Plaice

A friend of Mr. Hunter's had recommended that we go to Rock & Sole Plaice for some classic fish and chips.  The "Plaice" turned out to be pretty close to our hotel.  

Check out how big the servings of fish were!

We ordered the haddock, in honor of Captain Haddock.

London, England
September 2011

The Thames and the Millennium Bridge

Mr. Hunter stopped while to pose for some photos while he was crossing the Millennium Bridge.

With the Thames and the City of London in the background.

The Thames Festival was going on in front of the Tate,
so when we first headed across the river, the
Millennium Bridge was so crowded.

Amy Winehouse's protege, Dionne Bromfield, was performing at the festival.

The Millennium Bridge and the dome of St. Paul's.

Shakespeare's Globe and Sir Christopher Wren's house.

Looking down the Thames toward the Tower Bridge.

Millennium Bridge
London, England
September 2011

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tate Modern Tour: Gerhard Richter

One room of the Tate Modern was lined with six Gerhard Richter paintings.  
Mr. Hunter has posed with a Gerhard Richter piece before, at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.  

The Richter series at the Tate was inspired by composer John Cage.  Mr. Hunter liked the dark green painting best.

Take a photo tour of all six pieces on the Tate site.

Gerhard Richter
Material Gestures: Cage (1) - (6)
Tate Modern
London, England
September 2011

Summertime: Number 9A

I think Jackson Pollock's painting, Summertime: Number 9A, makes a perfect backdrop for Mr. Hunter.

About Summertime: Number 9A

Jackson Pollock's signature

detail from Summertime: Number 9A
Jackson Pollock

Tate Modern
London, England
September 2011

The Tate's Water-Lilies

Mr. Hunter has spent some quality time with Monet's famed Les Nymphéas paintings at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, and he was curious to see the water-lilies at the Tate Modern.  The painting at the Tate turned out to be a more muted look at water-lilies at Giverny.

Claude Monet

(Mr. Hunter has a confession: 
He likes the vivid Monet water-lily paintings at l'Orangerie much better.)

Tate Modern
London, England
September 2011

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Standing Hunter with Giacometti's Standing Women

From St. Paul's Cathedral, we walked across the Millennium Bridge and headed into the Tate Modern, the contemporary art museum housed in a former power station.

Mr. Hunter felt an affinity with these elongated Alberto Giacometti figures,
even though he's more of a squat sort of figure himself.

three figures, each entitled
Standing Woman
Alberto Giacometti

information from the web site:
Standing Woman - the one on the left
Standing Woman - the one in the center
Standing Woman - the one on the right

The Tate Modern, seen from the Millennium Bridge.

Tate Modern
London, England
September 2011

St. Paul's Cathedral

After our pilgrimage to the Courtauld, we walked down The Strand and paid a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral.  We arrived just as they were finishing up Evensong, so we had a chance to sit down and listen to some of the soaring and lovely music.

Here's a YouTube video somebody posted 
that shows a snippet of Evensong music at St. Paul's.  

The day we went to St. Paul's happened to be tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  It felt odd not to be in the U.S. on the 9/11 anniversary.  

At the Blitz and Firefighters Memorial across the street from St. Paul's, 
many people had placed wreaths, including some to honor the 9/11 victims, and this gave us a good chance to stand and remember that day, to think of all the people whose lives were lost or destroyed, to reflect on how our world has changed so profoundly because of what happened that Tuesday morning.

The card reads:
In memory of our 343 New York Colleagues
Who made the ultimate sacrifice 10 years ago.
The UK Firefighters Memorial Trust
11th Sept 2011

I had especially wanted to return to St. Paul's Cathedral since I'd watched a documentary called The Blitz: London's Longest Night a few years ago.  The film is a affecting mix of interviews with survivors of the Blitz, re-enactments of some events on the night of December 29, 1940, and even some footage of the fires that surrounded and threatened St. Paul's.  

As I stood at the Blitz and Firefighters Memorial, I thought of 9/11, and also I thought of the Blitz and those firemen and other Londoners whose stories I'd heard in the documentary.  There was one fireman in particular -- he had survived simply because another young firefighter had come to relieve him about one minute before a huge brick wall collapsed in flames right where the survivor had just been standing. The documentary took the time not just to listen to this man's story, but also to show him sitting quietly, still grieving and stunned by this vision of the wall falling down.

St. Paul's Cathedral
London, England
September 2011

Mr. Hunter Recommends: The Courtauld Gallery

The Courtauld Gallery is a wonderful, friendly little museum on The Strand.  I've visited the Courtauld every time I've been to London, and each time it has been a pleasure to wander the galleries.  They have many Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces on display, including works by Renoir, Manet, Van Gogh, Seurat, and Cezanne.  

About this painting by Amadeo Modigliani

One of my favorite paintings at the Courtauld is this piece by Modigliani.
I think I'd seen and admired this image in a book long before I'd ever gone to London, and I remember turning a corner when I was first visiting the Courtauld, and there she was, this Modigliani nude.  

I had a similar experience once at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. At home I had a framed print of a delicious Klimt landscape, but I'd never seen that particular painting in person.  And then, tucked into a corner of a room in the Musee d'Orsay, there it was.  
I love running into paintings that are old friends.

Man with a Pipe, by Paul Cezanne

Portrait of Ambroise Vollard
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère
Edouard Manet

Paul Gauguin

Guess who.

Another favorite painting.  I fell in love with this piece.
Child with a Dove
Pablo Picasso

The courtyard of Somerset House.  The Courtauld
is to the right of where I was standing when I took this picture.
They were building a structure for London Fashion Week.

We had lunch at The Gallery Cafe.

Somerset House
London, England
September 2011

Monday, May 28, 2012

People I Have Asked: The Dishoom Waiter

Dishoom turned out to be one of our neighborhood restaurants on this trip.  
We stumbled in early on our first evening, jet-lagged but determined to stay up long enough to get ourselves on London time.  
(Note: Mr. Hunter probably wasn't jet-lagged.)

Our super-friendly waiter gave us the lowdown on the ways of Dishoom, which bills itself as a Bombay Cafe.  Smaller portions, so it's fun (and yummy) to order a few different items and share them.  We had cafe crisps, garlic naan, raita, and a wrap called a Dishoom Frankie for our first dinner at Dishoom.  And the waiter was so helpful that Mr. Hunter had to ask him to pose for a photograph.

Garlic naan and raita

Another night: chicken berry biryani, garlic naan, raita, and a Dishoom Frankie

Can you tell that we were into the garlic naan?

London, England
September 2011

Pret A Manger

As soon as Mr. Hunter had checked into his hotel, he was ready to eat, and there was no better place to begin than the nearest location of London's ubiquitous Pret A Manger.

I had a hard time picking out the flavors for my first Pret sandwich of the trip.  My mom, on the other hand, went right for the Mature Cheddar and Pret Pickle sandwich (served on a baguette), and that particular mix proved to be a classic that she chose all the other times we hit a Pret for lunch.

For breakfast, we both tended toward Pret's "yoghurt pots," in particular the one that combined Greek yogurt, pomegranate seeds, dried cranberries, pistachios, and shredded apple.  

Here's a short video of the scene at Pret one morning:

I was in London on a business trip, so on several mornings I walked down to our "neighborhood" Pret for a quiet breakfast on my own, and then -- bliss! -- I'd take the super-short walk to work.  I loved walking to work in London.  I loved being one of the people who was walking to work in London.

On the day we had tickets for the Buckingham Palace tour, we visited the Royal Mews, too.  Once we'd finished with that tour, we had a bit of time before Buckingham Palace, so we asked one of the Mews employees if there were any Pret A Mangers close by.  (And really, isn't there usually a Pret A Manger close by wherever you go in Central London?)  The guy we talked to said, Yeah, there's one across the street.  Well, not exactly.  The place he was talking about had a name that also meant "ready to eat," only it was a Pret knock-off that called itself Pronto 'A' Mangia.

We headed a few streets over toward Victoria Station and found an actual Pret a Manger.  And yes, my mom had the Mature Cheddar and Pret Pickle sandwich that time, too.

London, England
September 2011

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Enjoying the Eclipse

Yes, absolutely!  Of course Mr. Hunter stepped outside (well, I carried him outside) to admire the annular solar eclipse in action.

The moon had just begun to take a chomp out of the sun.

One of Mr. H's good friends had given us a special eclipse viewing card, and the first time I looked through the lens, I gave a little chirp of excitement: There was the moon, cutting into the sun!

The moon, taking a bite out of the sun.

The eclipse inspired a neighborhood party of sorts, with some neighbors looking through my eclipse viewer, and the family down the street sharing the special eclipse viewing glasses they'd gotten in Taiwan.  The guy across the street found that if he looked through three pairs of sunglasses at one time, he could get a pretty good view of the sun.

One neighbor, who's originally from Korea, recalled how when he was a boy, a relative told him that one long-ago solar eclipse was happening because "a fox was eating the sun."  The story went that the fox got the sun in its mouth, then realized the sun was too hot, so the fox spit the sun back out.  I asked this man if he'd believed the story back then.  He said, maybe a little bit, but then he figured out it wasn't true... like when he realized there was no Santa Claus.  No Santa Claus!  

The thing is, the two young daughters of another neighbor were standing there, too, listening closely.  Their mom and I looked at each other: Oh, no!  "But of course there is a Santa Claus," she said quickly, trying to sound casual but authoritative.  One of the girls asked if Santa Claus came down their chimney, or if it was her mom who brought the presents down the chimney.  Um, whoops.

A temporary beauty mark, annular solar eclipse style.

Random eclipse search fact: whenever there's a big eclipse, people look up "Total Eclipse of the Heart."  And you can bet that people have also been listening to Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and Manfred Mann's "Blinded by the Light" because of the 'clipse.

Turn around, bright eyes.
May 2012