Self-isolation, week 11: this place is still like a ghost town

This week we’ve ventured outside of our Fitzrovia bubble and checked that

  • it’s still pretty much a ghost town elsewhere too
  • some things are timidly opening
  • this does not apply to parks on Sunday

We’ve also cooked some wonderful things and I’ve discovered that DUKKAH IS THE BEST

Central London was a ghost town on Bank Holiday Monday

We timidly walked into Soho, observing the changes: they seem to have resurfaced most of the streets since the last time I walked on them, many restaurants are boarded down to Piccadilly and who knows what will remain open. We stopped and reminisced frequently, reaching a peak around Brewer Street:

  • Remember the meat in Blacklock? And the dessert? When the waiter comes with the big tray and dumps a gigantic portion on your plate, “the way grandma would do it”?
  • I really want to go back to Hachi – do you remember the set menu? How tasty and good value for money it was… I’ve even forgiven them for taking over Ten Ten Tei…!
  • Kiln…! I miss it! the fiery heat when sitting in front of the kitchen… and the sausages…

Then as we were still curious we walked down to Piccadilly. Which was so empty it was a touch scary and eerie. There were a few people like us—everyone taking pictures because it was just so weird for this area to be so empty.

We were practical though. Since we were in the area, we thought what if the Japan Centre was open?

What if they had their peanut butter mochis?

WHAT IF!?

Answer:

A very empty Japan Centre
A very empty Japan Centre

It was open. And quite empty too.

And they did not have the mochis. But we got the soba sauce that was out of stock on the website and which we need.

On the way back we tried our luck by walking back via Chinatown—maybe the Kowloon bakery would be open and we could pretend it was all over and it was a normal Sunday morning in which we can pop by to get some custard tarts…?

A very empty Wardour street in Chinatown
A very empty Wardour street in Chinatown

It was closed. As was, seemingly, everything else in Chinatown.

The lanterns gave it a strange festive sense. What were these celebrations for? Are these still from the Chinese New Year? 🧐

Whatever it was, we didn’t stay to think about that.

We walked back home and prepared lunch, using the last of the fish from the online delivery from the upper scale. This time, tuna that Devvers lightly seared and then seasoned with a yuzu-based sauce, using some yuzu extract that we had just bought from the Japan Centre.

Maybe I have been looking at too many pictures of Japan lately, but I couldn’t stop thinking that the tuna looked a bit like the patterns in the gravel of Zen gardens. Do you not think? Look at this perspective:

Dukkah everything

On Friday Devvers made a courgette and burrata recipe from the Honey & Co section in the FT magazine.

Courgettes, burrata, dukkah
Courgettes, burrata, dukkah

But the most interesting result is that we now have a kilner jar full of home made dukkah and I’m enjoying sprinkling it on everything. It’s hard to find something that does not get better by adding some dukkah to it. How come I hadn’t learnt about this before?

Dukkah on porridge...
Dukkah on porridge…
Dukkah on bread
Dukkah on bread

A thing of beauty: stuffed peppers

Stuffing peppers with rice and meat is a classic in my area. If you do it right, they are SO GOOD. And I did it right!

Wild boar pasta

We tried these tortelloni of wild boar, from La Tua Pasta. What an interesting flavour and what big tortelloni too!

Lentil and goats’ cheese salad

Here’s a great flavour combination for a salad to finish bits and pieces from the fridge:

Sweet Spanish things of the week

I made some Spanish-style madalenas (they’re like “simple muffins”)…

… and most exciting for me, Devvers made rollitos de anís without my intervention!! Someone should get a Spanish passport already! 🇪🇸

Soho: still a ghost town

We walked down to Soho on Saturday afternoon… it was quite ghostly still, although some pubs had a hatch-style service through which they sold pints and then told their customers to go and drink it far away from the pub so as to not be caught breaking the law by the police. You’d find random groups of people separated from each other, holding their pints in plastic glasses, and wondering where did that come from?

I wondered: what if… Gelupo is open? So we walked down to Archer street and praise the heavens that be—it was open!

Empty Gelupo
Empty Gelupo

I’d forgive you if you thought that I took the picture through the window. But no, I did indeed get ice-cream from the shop. And here’s the proof:

The pistaccio flavour won, although bitter chocolate was very close. The blood orange was not very convincing. But still… ICE CREAM! Outside our flat!!!! What is this sorcery?!

Walking back, a look at Carnaby Street and I couldn’t stop thinking of the Specials’ song. It’s hard to believe this picture was taken on a Saturday at 17h (but it was).

Regent’s Park: NOT a ghost town

I made a coca de tomate which was another thing of beauty…

It is very portable, and I made it so we could have a picnic in Regent’s Park.

We were really fast—we arrived, placed our NEW blanket (that we had not had the chance to use even once since last year when we got it), ate our lunch and left…!

There were so many people; fortunately the park is big enough that you can sit and still have space around you and other people (can’t imagine we would be able to do the same in say, St. James’s Park). But it was certainly not a ghost town.

The menu:

  • Starters
    • Salad 1: Potato, tomato, capers, olive oil
    • Salad 2: Cucumber, olives, feta cheese
  • Main: Coca de tomate
  • Dessert: Strawberries
  • Drinks: Pimms! in! a! flask! with! ice! (AKA picnic level = Pro™️)

Here we are supporting British strawberries. We went through 500g of them in a weekend!

In other news, my mustard and fennel seedlings keep progressing. Both in the same pot. I have caused chaos, according to Devvers 🤷🏻‍♀️

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