Saturday, April 16, 2011

In London and Swindon

St. Paul's Cathedral LondonI was back in London, this time on business. England was celebrating the best weather in decades, and I could see the cherry blossom trees in full bloom a full month ahead of schedule! I was put up at the chic Grange St. Paul's Hotel right next to the imposing structure of St. Paul's Cathedral.

The Grange St. Paul's is a stark contrast to the 17th century architecture of the cathedral. The steel and glass facade of the hotel leads into a lounge and lobby area that is ultra-modernist with stylish furniture and lighting. My room was in the part of the hotel behind the main building: in effect you had to go through a hundred doors to get to the room! Apparently, fire regulations in this city requires doors to seperate corridors every 20 feet or so - something I had not noticed the last time I was here.

Grange St. Paul's LondonI tried the Novello restaurant during dinner. Along with a French Chardinnay, I ordered the cream of asparagus soup and the slow roast rack of lamb. The hot soup with its strong earthy flavors was energizing.

Grange St. Paul'sThe lamb looked delicious with its dauphinose potatoes, carmelized onions and beans. And once my pretty Polish waitress had got grinding some fresh black pepper over it, I was rearing to dig into it hungrily.

Rack of LambOn one evening, we got together for an interesting team event at Vinopolis, which brings wine and spirits of the world under one roof. Once a railway station, the building still retains much of its original splendour with architectural features such as exposed brick work, high vaulted ceilings and soaring Victorian arches. Tonight, we were going to cook our own dinner in teams of seven and then eat what we cooked. Scary, huh?

Making PastaWith fellow foodies from Italy in Spain in my team, we weren't going to do too badly, but in addition to making pasta from a scratch, I also learnt why the saying "Too many cooks spoil the broth" came about. :)

Tagliatelle pasta ready for cookingWe cooked tortellini stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach for our starters, followed by oven roasted chicken breast in marsala wine and wild mushroom sauce and saffron risotto. For dessert, we had made panna cotta with fresh raspberry coulis. All in all, a resounding success! New friends, great wines and food that had to taste good after all that work - keeping out of each other's way.

Dinner Finally!Before heading back home, I had to drive down the beautiful English countryside to a small village in Swindon. Even though I was a stone's throw from Stonehenge, I just did not have the time to go take a look. What a shame!

And before I knew it, I was back into another Kingfisher flight being pampered by the girls in red as I headed home via Mumbai.

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