Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How far would you travel to get to the Blueprint Café?

When T said he was coming to the UK from Australia for the first time for such a long time, M wanted to organise a meal somewhere fabulous to catch up on all those years. And of course Blueprint Café fits the bill perfectly. T can reacquaint himself with the London skyline as we dine though I think he’ll be surprised by the likes of the ‘erotic gherkin’!

Regrettably T has a very delicate stomach today and we had to ask Jeremy to produce the gentlest tummy-friendly simple food he could for him. M and I are under no such constrictions however so we were able to tackle Jeremy’s finest with gusto. I started with grilled mutton & pork livers, sage & bacon which although similar to the special I had on my last visit here with M, was way too good to pass and didn’t disappoint in their unctuous meatiness.

M had to prevaricate between crab soup and the ‘made famous on Great British Menu’ crab cakes, mayonnaise (I assure you this is my subtitle as Jeremy would never be so bold!) After some consideration the crab cakes were plumped for. I was hoping that she wouldn’t be able to polish off all three but she did, and she never does that so they must have been good!

For my main course I went for the baked blackface lamb, mustard & parsley crust. Unfortunately the only potatoes on the menu today were boiled and somehow I didn’t think they’d be sticky enough for such a dish – I would have chosen gratin Dauphinoise if I could but I was lucky anyway as Jeremy made me some of his lovely sauté potatoes instead (much better!) The lamb was so melting and with a truly punchy crust. I thought I would be saved an eye-watering experience by avoiding horseradish but that Dijon in the crust totally whacked me in the face. I’ve never experienced such violent Dijon; trust Jeremy to find such a feisty condiment.

M opts for the considerably more calming hake, peas & mussels which also seem to go down well. though I don't recall her eating all the vegetables! Though she always says she is saving herself for dessert.

So dessert it is then. I’ve ordered and enjoyed the St Emillion au chocolat on several occasions so I think it’s time for a change, today it’s the equally chocolaty chocolate brownie, fudge sauce & ice cream for both of us.

I thought that as today we’d being doing a little of “and on the left you can see…” for T’s benefit, I would recycle a photograph I took on a previous and unfortunately much later on the day visit.

No.1 is the vertically striped Tower 42, it used to be called the NatWest Tower when the National Westminster Bank resided there quite a few years ago now and ‘fact fans’, it is shaped like the interlocking chevrons of NatWest’s logo.

Now it is famous, at least in my eyes for being the home of always delicious Rhodes24, so named because it’s half way up on the 24th floor of this sky scraping building.

No. 2 is not very distinct but is, rather incongruously amongst all these modern buildings, the Tower of London, much visited by tourists from all over the world and home to the crown jewels, Beefeaters and ravens. There is a legend that if the ravens should ever leave the tower then the kingdom will fall so they don’t take any chance as the large black birds have their wings clipped. I also discovered that one of the 8 current ravens residing there at the moment is called Baldrick, I don’t know why that pleases me but it does.

I walk past this building nearly every day and am still always surprised that it’s just right there, so much history in the midst of all this city madness.

No. 3 is the Swiss Re building, though generally referred to as ‘the erotic gherkin’ and hugely controversial. Like marmite, you either love it or hate it. And just so you know, I love it and totally and utterly detest Marmite!

No.4 is just the last span of Tower Bridge, again a compulsory photo opportunity whenever visiting London for the first time. The Thames’ first bridge and was formerly lifted by steam but since the 70’s the hydraulics has been powered by oil and electrics. I have always been perplexed by its red, white and predominantly blue livery but have recently learnt that it was only painted in 1977 to celebrate the Queen’s silver jubilee but before that was chocolate brown. I have no recollection of seeing it chocolaty brown but maybe that’s why the blueness has always seemed strangely anomalous to me.

No. 5 is the hideous monstrosity that is formerly known as the Tower Thistle and is now the Guoman Thistle and still extremely ugly and looming menacingly next to much more interesting buildings. The lights in the foreground and coming on as I grab this photograph line the river for quite a way, well further than I’ve ever walked anyway and are often to be seen in the background of a London at night shot in a film, especially if they’re trying to be romantic. On one of my visits to Blueprint Café we witnessed Gwyneth Paltrow doing her ‘lights camera action’ bit in front of these very lights and I had to remove my high heeled shoes as I was making too much noise clip-clopping along the river path.

It was so lovely yet poignant and sometimes affecting to see T again as we had so many things both wonderful and definitely not so to catch up on; I only wish he could have indulged in Blueprint Café’s always perfect menu with us. He did select an excellent Australian red wine for us though, unfortunately not from his vineyard but rather wonderful all the same.

M had only come down on the train from Manchester for this meal and T had come all the way from Australia (though today only Brighton) so it shows you that some do indeed travel far and wide to dine at Blueprint Café. And frankly I'm not surprised!

I hope you enjoy the next leg of your world tour, T and I trust we won't leave it so long to meet up again.

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