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!
“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.
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.
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!
I 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 🙂
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 …
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.
Probably, the only decent sit-down meal we had in London was at Wagamama near Leicester Square
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.
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…
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.
- 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
- Preheat oven to circa 230 deg Celsius (450 deg F)
- 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.
- Insert a garlic sliver and some of the fresh sprigs of rosemary into each opening
- 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.
- 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
- Remove from the oven; tent with a tin foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
- Serve with mint sauce
- 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
- 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
- Lower heat and simmer until liquid is syrupy and reduced in amount, for about 15 to 20 minutes
- Remove from heat, stir in mint and let cool completely
According to Martha Stewart, the sauce can be refrigerated up to 1 week in an airtight container.
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.
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
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.
Enjoy the rest of the week!