I was in London recently with my family. With the 2-week Easter school break, I thought, why not kill two birds with one stone? The main purpose of our trip was to have my Malaysian passport renewed at the Malaysian High Commission in London.

By the way, if you are wondering why I had not had my passport renewed in Belgium, well, the answer is “yes, I could do that”, but it would take at least 4 weeks! The Malaysian Embassy in Belgium would do exactly the same thing, ie, sending the entire necessary original documents to London for checking purposes and having them printed out with the special printing machine. Unfortunately, the special printer is not available in Belgium. Furthermore, I would not want to risk losing all my original documents in the post.

At the Malaysian High Commission in London, the passport was ready on the same day. How convenient was that! A write-up on this topic will come in a later post 😉

Mind the Gap!

1. Mind the Gap 

Mind the Gap between the train and the platform”.

This is really a catch phrase – very mesmeric, indeed – that you would hear over and over again from the public address system on the London Underground Rapid Transit System. It was introduced in 1969 as a warning to train passengers to remind them of the gap between the train door and the station platform or where platforms are of uneven heights with the train doors.

1. Underground

Some places of interest

We have been to London a few times already, mostly for shopping and sightseeing. We never failed to visit Knightsbridge where the famous Harrods stands regally.

2a. Harrods by day

2b. Harrods by night

Taking pictures inside Harrods was an absolute no-no. There were security guards in every nook and cranny of each hall; however, I could not resist taking this 1 meter high exclusive Belgian handcrafted chocolate Easter Egg. Just look at the price tag!

3. Easter EggI wanted to take another picture of an eye-popping display of a Roger Dubuis watch with a price tag of GBP 223,000!! I dared not click my camera because a beady-eyed guard was standing right behind me. Well, I approached the guard and asked – politely – his permission for a “little” snapshot. As expected, ‘Permission Denied’! Ouch!

Gerrard Street does not sound Chinese, but this street is as Chinese or Asian as can be. It’s of course London’s very own Chinatown! You would think that you’re in Asia somewhere 🙂

4. Gerrard Street

I love going to periodic Markets. If you are in London and it’s a Friday, don’t forget to go to Borough Market. According to the London Official Visitor Guide, Borough Market is one of the top 10 to-go-to markets in London and is described as “gourmet’s paradise”. The nearest Underground is the London Bridge. I could spend the whole day there, but we did not have a lot of time. There were a million and one other places to visit and things to do elsewhere…

Borough Market through the keyhole of a tourist …

 5a. Borough Market

5b. Borough Market

5c. Borough Market

Eating Out

We have heard Indian foods outside of India are the best in the UK. Well, we were tempted by the display of the delicious and aromatic vegetarian thali prepared by chefs from Gujarati Rasoi at the Borough Market. That became our lunch. We practically ate out of lunchboxes in London! There were other stopovers that enticed us for try outs out of lunchboxes that we became overly stuffed and were not able to eat a proper and decent meal.

6. Gujarati Rasoi Thali 

Probably, the only decent sit-down meal we had in London was at Wagamama near Leicester Square

7. Wagamama

As a matter of fact, we had earlier wanted to lunch at our favourite Malaysia Kopi Tiam (coffee shop/ house) on Charing Cross Road. We enjoyed many delicious platters served there in the past and were not disappointed – dishes that I was familiar with, of course. The following pictures were taken during our last trip to London in the summer of 2010.

8a. Kopitiam8c. Kopitiam

8b. Kopitiam8e. Kopitiam

8d. Kopitiam8f. Kopitiam 

Almost four years later, Malaysia Kopi Tiam was no longer in her former glory. What happened??!! I sincerely hope that the restaurant is under renovation or perhaps has moved to another location? I hope it’s the former…

9b. Kopitiam2

9a. Kopitiam1

Charing Cross Road = Shopping + Bookstores!

If you are on Charing Cross Road, the most logical thing to do is to shop! For me, Charing Cross Road is synonymous to the innumerable mega bookstores. We stopped at the two most well known bookstores – Foyles and Waterstone’s. I could spend my entire day there flipping through all kinds of genres of books.

It was at Foyles that I bought Martha Stewart’s Everyday Light cookbook. After eating out of takeaway lunchboxes for three days, I made sure that we had a proper Sunday lunch after our London trip.

Martha Stewart’s Leg of Lamb with Mint Sauce was my definite choice as Lamb is a special animal appropriately associated with Easter. Likewise, Lamb and Mint sauce go so well together. I have used Martha Stewart’s recipe with my modifications indicated in blue font.

Ingredients –

  • 1 whole bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed off excess fat and membrane (I bought a 2-kg leg of lamb)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper (I used Himalayan coarse salt and mixed Szechuan pepper, ground with a pestle and mortar)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, cut into 20 slivers total
  • Fresh sprigs of rosemary – this is not in the recipe

 1. Lamb prep_collage 

Method –

  1. Preheat oven to circa 230 deg Celsius (450 deg F)
  2. Rub lamb with a generous amount of freshly ground coarse salt and mixed pepper, and then rub with oil. With the tip of a sharp paring knife, cut twenty circa 1.5 cm (½ -inch) deep slits all over the lamb.
  3. Insert a garlic sliver and some of the fresh sprigs of rosemary into each opening
  4. Place the lamb on a roasting rack set on a baking or roasting pan. You may want to line the roasting pan with an aluminium foil or baking sheet. I skipped that.
  5. Transfer to oven and immediately reduce oven to ca 165 C (325 F). I do not have an instant-read thermometer, but if you owned one, then Martha Stewart recommended that the reading must register 52 C (125 F) to 57 C (135 F) for rare; or 57 C (135 F) to 60 C (140 F) for medium, 1¼ to 1¾ hours. Note the thermometer needs to be inserted in the thickest part (avoiding the bone). Since I do not have an instant-read thermometer, my acid test is based on the insertion of a metal skewer into the thickest part of the leg, and then I immediately place the skewer on my lower lip. If it’s still cold, the lambs goes right back in the oven. If the skewer feels hot on my lip, then the lamb is ready. The roasting time is between 1½ to 1¾ hours, depending on the weight and size of the leg of lamb
  6. Remove from the oven; tent with a tin foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
  7. Serve with mint sauce

 2. Lamb_roasted whole + carved

3. Lamb_roasted_whole

4. Lamb_roasted_carved1

4. Lamb_roasted_carved2

Mint Sauce

Ingredients –

  • ½ cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar (Sorry, but this was way too much! I used ½ cup raw cane sugar and even then, the mint sauce was too sweet for my liking. I will seriously reduce the amount of sugar the next time)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • A pinch of Himalayan coarse salt for balance of taste – this is not in the recipe

 Method –

  1. In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, salt and water to a boil. I did not stir, but rather, swirl the saucepan around over the stovetop
  2. Lower heat and simmer until liquid is syrupy and reduced in amount, for about 15 to 20 minutes
  3. Remove from heat, stir in mint and let cool completely

 1. Mint sauce_prep_collage

According to Martha Stewart, the sauce can be refrigerated up to 1 week in an airtight container.

2. Mint sauce_cookbook

3. Lamb + Mint sauce_collage

4. Lamb + Mint sauce

I am most happy to link this post to Cooking with Herbs Challenge for April, hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage with the April theme of using Mint as the selected cooking herb.

Cooking with Herbs

This post is also linked to Cook like a Star – ALL Stars Anniversary with my choice of Star Chef, Martha Stewart. This event which runs between March to April is organised by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Mich from Piece of Cake

Cook Like A Star! 

Because I have picked a Cookbook to refer to for this special meal, I am linking this post to Cook-Your-Books #11 hosted by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours

Cook Your Books 

With another week passing us by, I am linking this special post meal of Lamb coinciding with the Holy Week to Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv’s Made with Love Mondays: Week 14th April

 Made with Love Mondays

Because this post has a hint of random thoughts and cookbook-related, I thought a link up to Beth Fish Reads’ Weekend Cooking: The Kitchen Journals: A Week in the Life is most appropriate.

 Weekend Cooking

 

Enjoy the rest of the week!

 

Cheers!

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Comments
  1. cinta says:

    I used to do the same too like you! went to London and renewed my malaysian passport there! so I could sightseeing and makan and shopping at the same time while passport was renewing! 😀

  2. A GBP 223,000 watch?!! Wow, that’s crazy… I can see why you wanted a photo 😉 And love the sound of this lamb – simple but delicious. And a cup of sugar really does sound like way too much sweet for something as savory as lamb and mint…

  3. Nasifriet says:

    It’s fun to go to Harrods, but for me, it’s just window shopping 😄.

    The lamb was fantastic, but was indeed disappointed with the mint sauce. Even after slashing half the amount, it was still too sweet. I bet there was a typo-error? Perhaps it should have been 1 Tbsp instead of 1 cup!! Anyway, I will know what to do next time😉

  4. Nasifriet says:

    Oh BTW, I was trying to leave a comment on your blog, but it never got through… I wanted to say how happy I am that you have finally decided to ” go for it” with bf. Congratulations to you both! Cheers from me!

  5. Nasifriet says:

    Yeah, that’s the easiest and simply the best thing to do, isn’t it…ie, killing 2 birds with one stone😀

  6. London is such a lovely place. I have heard so much about it from my sis too, and wish to go there one day! It must be such a disappointment to find the Malaysian Kopi tiam is not in business anymore.
    That is one delicious, divine looking leg of lamb! It would be great for a party, and I would be the first to queue! I think the sugar is too much too, reducing it to your own taste is definitely a smart idea!
    Thanks for linking to both my events!

  7. Nasifriet says:

    London is a nice place to go to for short city tripping. I don’t think I will want to live there. It’s really very busy, crowded and noisy everyday, at least when we were there. It’s an expensive city as well, but the only advantage is that you can get and eat almost anything you want to your heart desire.

    Yeah, we were so disappointed to find the Malaysia Kopitiam “closed down”.. 😣. But glad we had plenty other restos to choose from..

    Btw, we were very lucky with the weather . It did not rain a single day which made going out shopping and walking all the more interesting. Yes, you should visit London one day. Lots of places to visit and see, not only Big Ben or Madame Toussaud😄

  8. Zoe says:

    Wish that I can be in London. The last time that I went there was 1995!!!

    I always associated lamb with Spring and nice that you are making this flavoursome lamb roast for Easter.

    Zoe

  9. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Zoe!! Welcome back!!
    Wow, that’s a long time since you’re back in London. I guess the London Eye was not there yet. A few other changes as well… It was really crowded there as it was the school Easter break. I love London as a tourist cos there’re lots of places to visit, see and eat! Don’t think I’d live there…a bit too fast = stressy. Noisy and quite polluted… Best place to go to get oxygen is the Hyde Park😄

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