Daily Archives: February 17, 2008

Culture and stuff

To London yesterday, in a chill February wind, to meet a friend. The plan was to meet at Baker Street but dozens of police officers and a couple of fire engines put paid to that: some kind of alert meant a mumbled apology from the tube driver and we trundled past Baker Street to Edgeware Road.

Tannoy man at that station told us to walk back down Marylebone Road to Baker Street. All very well if you could find Marylebone Road and then know which way to walk. Humorously the iPhone Maps application had the hump and wouldn’t even find London let alone Edgeware Road. I followed my instincts; reading signs helped.

Friend located and bags dumped, we went to the Dinosaurs and Pushchairs ConventionNatural History Museum for the Wildlife Photography of the Year Exhibition. Some stunning photos. Inspiring stuff.

From there, via a cup of peppermint tea, to Mildred’s in Lexington Street. An all-veggie cafe/restaurant, packed out. We were warned it might take 30 minutes for a table but were seated in five: very lucky. The food was outstandingly good and the service quick and cheerful. I had the chargrilled artichoke crostini with lemon aioli to start: artichokes on toast, in other words. To follow, sundried tomato, bean and tarragon sausages served with grain mustard mash, green beans and a red wine and onion gravy. Absolutely delicious.

Avaragado’s rating: garlic on toast

We chose a pub-based dessert, in a place whose name I forget but which is apparently a haunt for post-performance actors etc. It turns into a members-only establishment at some point in the evening, but we arrived early enough to get in for free. Celebs spotted: zero. Another pub followed before we walked back along rapidly icing streets to the hotel.

This morning we went to see The Wallace Collection, full of those fiddly bits of furniture adorned with cherubim and seraphim and slathered in gold leaf that were all the rage in pre-revolutionary France. First stop was the posh cafe for breakfast – mint tea and an omelette – to steel ourselves for the onslaught of ostentation.

The museum included only one example of the Loud American, thankfully. Highlights included an infinite number of portraits of women with rosy cheeks and big hair, a job lot of Canalettos of Venice, and yer actual Laughing Cavalier. Very little tat, and not a patch on the Vatican Museum for sheer greed.

Avaragado’s rating: one bowl of fruit with a gratuitous monkey

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