Chelsea Physic Garden, Ottolengi, Islington

Another superb day in London, the weather not too hot or too cold, sun popping out and in, putting sunglasses on and off, scarves on and off throughout the day. I met another longtime friend M. At Sloane Square tube station and we sauntered along the Kings Road, stopped for a cappacchino (tea for me) at a smart cafe, Manicomo Poco, browsing through the modern art at the free saatchi gallery and then going to the lovely Chelsea Physic Garden, London’s oldest botanical garden! about 340 years old, hidden in prime real estate along Cheyene walk beside the Thames. beautiful spot with gardens organized by the flowers and herbs medicinal purposes. Cool idea. there is also a pretty cafe in an old fashioned airy dining room with tables outside in the garden. We had delicious salmon baked in some sort of puff pastry with currants, a tangy gruyere and tomato pie, salads, homemade lemonade.

Next stop Islington in northwest London where we had the best meal of all at Yotam Ottolenghi’s flagship restaurant. the restaurant is small and airy and down to earth and was full at 6 pm on a Wednesday. Good thing we booked our table weeks ago. the food was as good as it looks in the Ottolenghi cookbook I use back in Iowa. We shared four small plates that were substantial portions, each excellent. I cannot remember having such devious eggplant aka aubergine, thick slices cooked perfectly in olive oil, seasoned with some mysterious favors, moist, not bitter or dry, topped with a cool yoghurt sauce. Fabulous. I will no doubt be trying and probably failing to duplicate it for months to come in Iowa. My other favorite plate I couldn’t begin to duplicate…zucchini flowers stuffed with a creamy white ricotta, and part of the zuccini itself, lightly battered and fried tempura style. The desserts were fantastic. We picked from a wide selection on displace, a wedge of moist rum and chocolate cake, with only a faint rum taste and a creamy tangy lemon marscapone tart. Perfect. Prompt and pleasant service too.
I took the no. 4 bus from the angel tube stop to Waterloo, sitting in my favorite seat, top deck, front seat, with great views of some of my old haunts, The Barbican, where M. Used to live, Shoe Lane where M. And I once shared offices, along Fleet Street, which we knew back in its newspaper days. Across the Thames past Big Ben and another place I worked many years ago, the Houses of Parliament. magical still and always for me.

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