A week ago today, I woke up at 4 am, caught a bus to the airport in Pisa, and got a flight into London with two of my best friends. Though we were only in London until Sunday afternoon, it was hands down my favorite city of this trip. I found out there was so much more to the city than the Royals (though that was never a drawback for me). In fact, it was sort of a foodie heaven, something I didn't expect at all. There are outdoor markets all around the city selling vintage clothing, jewelry, and lined with food stands serving dishes from all over the world. Though we only made it to two markets - Portobello Road and Camden Street - I wished that I lived there and could visit them everyday. The food stands are constantly handing you samples of the most delicious street food you've ever tried: steaming hot mulled wine, crunchy on the outside but perfectly soft in the middle falafel topped with hummus, paella cooked in giant bowls, crepes filled with jam or nutella, Dutch pancakes which have the diameter of a golf ball, mac 'n cheese made to order with several choices of cheese and fillings, the list goes on. Don't get me wrong, I love Italian food, but in Florence, that's really the only type of food there is. In London, I got a hot Moroccan couscous dish with apricot chicken for lunch at Portobello Road Market on Saturday, finished off with the biggest, densest, most moist carrot cupcake I've ever eaten from a stand nearby for 50 cents (okay fine, with the exchange rate it was closer to a dollar, but still).
On Sunday, we went to Camden Street Market, which had a really cool punk rock feel to it. After wandering the street a little, we quickly worked our way to section with food stands, where I got a hot, comforting, tastes-like-home pie to warm me up. Oh yeah, did I mention it was snowing both days in London? Needless to say, this pie was the epitome of comfort food and I don't think I stopped talking about it for the rest of the day.
To finish off our food adventures (I promise we did more than eat in London!), Caroline, Maggie and I made a point to stop at our long lost love: Whole Foods. Since our train left at 4 and would take about 5 hours to get to Edinburgh, we had the brilliant idea to get Whole Foods salad bar creations to eat for dinner later that night. Little did we know, we had stepped into the largest Whole Foods Market in the world - a whole three stories! We were in Heaven.
Anyone remember the recipe I posted for Frosted Brownies from the Hummingbird Bakery? Well, it's one of my favorite brownie recipes, and I made a point to go to the bakery in London the first day since it was on Portobello Road. I had to try the real thing to see how my version compared, and their brownies were honestly twice as thick as the ones I've made. Not sure how they did that, but it was perfection, and though it was probably the most expensive brownie I'll ever pay for, it was well worth it.
I will say, I don't think I would've appreciated this city so much if I hadn't spent the past few months living in a country that not only speaks another language, but is very culturally different than the US. And don't get me wrong, I love Florence and wouldn't trade it for anything, but if I ever live abroad again, London is at the top of my list.