New year new goals! I was intent on starting 2019 right and on the 2nd January I flew off to London with my mum. It was supposed to be a Bonnici Girls trip – my sister-in-law was supposed to join us, but unfortunately she had to cancel due to my brother getting injured at work. We missed her 🙁 but we still managed to have a pretty good time.
On our first night in London we visited Gordon Ramsay’s Bread street Kitchen. It had been pre-booked for 2 months using the OpenTable app. I was even hoping to meet him as I have had a crush on him for ages but, alas, he was not there. Even though it was only 7pm, the place was pretty packed already. The decor is lovely with back lit wine cabinets and bold furniture and lighting. The staff very polite and attentive. Of course since the restaurant is called bread street kitchen we had to try the bread. Which was served warm and with a butter spread. It tasted absolutely amazing 🙂
We had 2 starters. My mum had the roasted pumpkin, hazelnut and truffle oil soup and I had the duck and liver foie-gras parfait. I am not a pumpkin fan usually but I must admit the soup my mum had was one of the best I have ever tasted and I wanted to send my dish back just to be able to order a soup for myself. My starter was ok but, I must admit, nothing to write home about.
As a main course my mum decided to have fish and chips, which had a nice crispy skin and the fries were cooked brilliantly – the tartare sauce was quite nice as well. The fish lacked some salt seasoning but other than that my mum really enjoyed eating it. I had the the red wine braised beef feather. I am an avid meat eater and I know that Feather Blade is cut from the shoulder of cattle that live on wide open plains. Feather Blade has an authentic and distinct taste and structure. It does however need a bit more time and care to tenderise and needs to be cooked properly with red wine to make it soft and tasty. I must say that they did an amazing job of this. The meat literally melted in my mouth and the contrasting tastes on the plate of the purees and the shallots complimented the dish incredibly well. After our mains we were both quite full and so we decided to share a chocolate fondant. I have always found the chocolate fondant to be a really sexy dessert. When you cut your knife through the molten centre and see the chocolate seeping out. Lastly, This dessert was a perfect balance of not-too-sweet chocolate and sweet and salty caramel ice cream. I will surely book a table again when I am back in London. It was also very decently priced considering it is a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. I must also admit it was the only decent meal we had in London as the rest of the food we ate left a lot to be desired – I cannot say that London excels when it comes to food at all.
On our second day we decided to visit winter wonderland in Hyde park. My mum loves Christmas so she really was looking forward to this visit. Winter Wonderland is London’s biggest Christmas event – if you visit you can expect to find a Christmas market, an ice skating rink, a Christmas circus (no animals don’t worry), roller coaster rides and many carnival games, a magical ice sculpture kingdom, live music and several live shows, and enough food and drinks and sweets to feed all of Malta! The only thing that could have made it more Christmasy would have been if the whole park had been blanketed in snow. Unfortunately we did not get snow just lots of cold gusts of wind.
We walked around the Christmas markets – I must admit most of the items they were selling were pretty expensive. There are loads of vendors though so whatever you want to buy you will find here ranging from handmade Christmas decorations, to clothing, weird hats and funny socks, accessories, hot chocolate, sweets and hot dogs everywhere. Many stalls were set up inside wooden chalets. I particularly loved the Bavarian village myself – I had been looking forward to visiting this since we decided to visit winter wonderland. We walked through the magical ice kingdom – with over 400 tonnes of frozen water sculpted into a magical forest with fairies and unicorns and squirrels. We were supposed to look for letters hidden in the magical forrest but I must admit we did not manage to find a single letter – and I was too busy using my new camera for the first time to bother. We then watched Peter Pan on ice which was lovely 🙂 The performers were amazing and it just got you into the winter spirit even more. If you really want to get into the Christmas spirit I do recommend you visit in the evening when it is all lit up. Entrance is free but you need to pay for almost all of the attractions and some stalls only accept cash. The attractions however and many of the food vendours do accept contactless payments though so this does make life quite easy.
After a day of shopping we headed to her Majesty’s theatre to watch the Phantom of the Opera. I cannot even begin to describe how excited I was about finally watching this musical – it has been on my ‘to watch list’ since 2006 when one of my friends watched it and she raved about how moving the experience was for her.
I was overwhelmed and I managed to completely Immerse myself into the vibrance and beauty of the whole production. I must confess I get easily moved and I do tend to get carried away in performances and sing and cry with the music and characters. There were so many moments in this musical where I found myself breathless, and completely entranced by what was happening on stage. The performers were all amazing, although Christine was by far my favourite. She was exceptionally talented yet humble and meek in so many ways that her character was so enticing in itself.
I enjoyed the scenes with supporting characters as well such as the prima-donna, Carlotta – she made me smile several times during the performance and the double act of theatre managers, Firmin and André as they provided much needed comic relief from the intense love triangle going on on stage. It’s definitely a show that you could see again and again and notice something new every time.
This musical was an experience and a delight to watch; it is so rich with detail ranging from the gorgeous masquerade ball to the candlelit boat trip. The Powerful music and amazing performers cast to play the roles is what makes this show so incredibly special. I was worried my mum would not enjoy it, especially since she never watched the movie but she told me that she was completely mesmerised with strong emotions all throughout the performance. I also adored the gothic splendour of the scenes and staging, the atmosphere felt so romantic and surreal. I would highly recommend going to see this piece of West End history if you haven’t yet and I hope to be able to watch it a second time soon myself.
On our last day we decided to walk around London. We went to Covent garden and had thick hot chocolate from there. I really wanted to find Neils yard – I am quite obsessed with secret gardens and In my mind this is how I pictured it. Neal’s yard is the kind of place you enter and immediately think to yourself: “Wow, I could totally stay here a while!” Hidden away in plain sight, it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of busy London. We were welcomed by the delicious smell of bacon and freshly baked bread as soon as we entered through the cobbled alleyway.
Here, the walls are painted in vibrant colours, and covered in murals. Open air terraces spill out onto the paving stones, and a friendly atmosphere surrounds you. You can easily spend a few hours just sitting and having yourself some tea and reading a book here.