Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday, 21 Dec - The Winter Solstice

My life in London had been characterized by lots of eating, drinking, feasting, swigging, munching, gobbling, gulping, and all round burping. And I was determined this time round to reprise my achievements of the year past. The mission still remains the same: to eat my way through this city, no matter how long it takes.

I had stayed up a bit too late last evening, finishing the bottle of Fettercairn. [Mmmmm….the wonders of whiskey...] Woke up in a great haste and rushed out to meet “Manchester”, a dear friend from UCL. We got together at Cubana near Waterloo station, where we had last met. The pollo crillo was totally yummy – grilled chicken, black bean rice and fried plantain, washed down with two glasses of diet coke and two cups of coffee. How did I manage to fit it all in?

But what was more fulfilling was the chance to meet up with one of my bestest friends from class. We managed to update each other on gossip, intrigue and intelligence. Images of the different people in our group started popping into my mind. It hardly feels as though I had been away from London for three months, or that I was only in town temporarily.

That’s been how it’s been. I don’t feel like a tourist in a new place. I feel as if I’ve returned home, to a place I feel entirely at east in, with places familiar and people dear to me. But right now, I have no idea when I shall next see her, and much as I continue to pester her to make a trip to Singapore, I know that the more likely scenario for our next meeting – whenever that might be – will see me coming back to London again.

But a separation of time and distance doesn’t mean that we cease being friends, and I know we will remain friends if we try hard enough. Later in the afternoon, after we had said goodbye, Manchester actually left me a very sweet text message, which certainly made this trip back to London all the more worthwhile.

From Waterloo, I took a Tube ride to Rotherhithe, where I linked up with HM and GNK+1. We then made a short drive to Greenwich, where I checked out what was purportedly a Christmas market, but I was distinctly unimpressed by the offerings I found. We moved instead to George of Greenwich, a simply most lovely coffee hangout, where the three of us lingered on a settee, with coffee and cake in front of us.

Outside, the sun on this winter solstice day was steadily setting, with the temperatures hovering only a few degrees above freezing, and a steady fog moving in. The throngs of passers by shuffling past, the lights of the cars whizzing by, while inside, we had a good time chatting and talking cock. This was what I had come to London for – an experience not to be had in Singapore. It was absolutely lovely.

We left and then drove half way across the city to pick up GNK+1’s other half, and then headed to the posh Primerose Hill area, home to the city celebrities and other assorted hanger ons. We found ourselves soon at the Engineer pub, where I feasted on a very well prepared roast duck breast with dauphinoise potatoes, sour cherry and port jus. Man, this wasn’t just some routine pub grub. These gastropubs now serve top-notched cuisine, which can better a lot of what mainstream restaurants dish out. The Lansdowne was another of their Primrose Hill favourites, but alas, I'll have to visit it some other time.

Now it’s time to look forward to the next few days. More food to eat, more friends to meet, more memories of London to revive. But for tonight, it's time for some good wine.

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