08 March 2011

Sisters on the loose (day 2, part 2)

Cultural exposure over, we headed across the street from the Royal Academy to that august emporium Fortnum & Mason, founded in 1707.

Here's an entertaining historical tidbit from their website:

Mr Heinz brings Baked Beans to Piccadilly

Since the middle of the century Fortnum & Mason had been the leader in tinned goods – and chief provider of information on how to open the tricky devils with a pocket-knife. This made us the obvious first stop for a young entrepreneur lugging five cases of samples from the USA. Recognising a future staple we took them all, introducing the mighty baked bean to Britain for the first time – one of the more prosaic entries in our ever-expanding list of historic gastronomic firsts.

Note that baked beans don't feature in any of their shop windows, justly famed, below:

My impertinent sister joins Mr Fortnum (or is it Mr Mason?) with our modest purchase of fudge.

Here's what we didn't buy:

A fabled hamper
A hat...
...though Cheri did look fetching.
A parasol
(this blurry photo is included for Em—
just think, one of your designs might have been here)

Onwards to the National Geographic store, which for some reason didn't seem quite as wonderful as the first time Michael and I visited it, though the famous cover photo of the Afghan girl with extraordinary eyes hasn't lost its magic:

We had been planning to have tapas at the café attached to the store, but the reality was nothing like the photos online. So . . . a perfect excuse to take ourselves to the Argentinian steak restaurant Gaucho, next to Freggo, its sister gelato shop where I had been planning all along to have dessert.

My photo is inadequate, so look here instead.
Fabulous bread basket. We asked for seconds, and I secreted the two cheese rolls left over in my purse.

Open grill: Juan would approve.

Cheri and I split everything, drinks and food. We started with a sparkling Pinot Noir from Familia Schroeder in Patagonia, Rosa de los Vientos. That accompanied our starter of shrimp marinated with chili pepper on a bed of (amazing!) black truffle potato mash. With our truly melt-in-your-mouth and flavorful rib eye, we shared a glass of Colomé de Terruño, a "Gran Altura" Malbec from grapes harvested in Salta at 2650-3002m above sea level.

Thanking our waitress for permitting us to share (and upping the tip proportionately), we scampered next door for our finale at Freggo's. I had passionfruit and berry sorbets, while Cheri chose dulce de leche and white chocolate ice creams. Licking our double-scoop cones, we made our way back along Piccadilly to Green Park tube, happily sated as both tourists and trencherwomen.

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