Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Taste of the Olympics

12th June 2012

IMG_0425

With all the world focusing its attention on London this summer, it has finally come time for the city’s food to take center stage. Slowly emerging from its former lackluster culinary reputation, visitors to the 2012 London Olympics will be pleasantly surprised by the dishes local pubs are serving up.

Just recently, the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) released the menu of food and beverages items that will be sold inside the Olympic venues. And with visitors expecting to pour in from around the globe, the LOCOG is hoping to please everyone with both British and international cuisine.

And it is not just the LOCOG who is getting into the Olympic spirit but pubs across the city as well.

One local pub in West London is making sure the food they serve during the games is as British as it comes.

With an estimated 50,000 viewers expected daily for the Olympic indoor volleyball competition at nearby Earl Court, the Blackbird pub is preparing for the masses.

“We’re lucky, not many pubs are so close to a venue,” says pub manager Dave Hay.

Part of the Fuller independent brewery and pub family, the Blackbird is a pub known among locals first and foremost for its food.

“We try to make the food the best with what we’ve got,” says Hay. And while the menu will be reduced for the Olympics, Hay is “trying to keep it similar to what we do day to day.”

With this emphasis on traditional English food it is only natural that such items as meat pies and fish and chips are expected to be the menu’s most popular. The country’s famous English ale is also expected to be a top seller at the Blackbird, specifically the Fuller label’s  “London Pride.”

While many pubs in London will be taking an approach similar to the Blackbird, some gastro pubs are looking to elevate the typical pub experience.

Located across from the Eurostar platform at the St. Pancras International train station in central London, the Betjeman Arms gastro pub won’t be getting much foot traffic from any nearby Olympic venues.

However, what they’ll be getting is an enormous amount of domestic and international travelers in need of a bite to eat and place to catch the latest Olympic events.

With this in mind, the Betjeman Arms has rearranged its menu and interior to provide for the ultimate Olympic viewing experience.

The pub’s entire menu, including the North Yorkshire free range herb chicken and British cheese board, focus on using the best local ingredients available.

“I think almost every dish has some British ingredient.,” says Yvette Blackwood, one of the events coordinators at the Betjeman Arms.“We are always trying to keep the traditional pub classics but with a modern twist.”

Like everything they do, the Betjeman Arms is giving the Olympics an air of sophistication with reasonably priced canapé boards as well as a two and three course price fixie menu.

With the direct train from London to the Olympic park in Stratford just outside the pub’s door, the Betjeman Arms is also taking full advantage of it’s location.

Just steps away from the train platform the gastro pub is setting up a grab and go buffet that, like the LOCOG food inside the Olympic venues, will feature international flavors.

And while both the Betjeman Arms and Blackbird pubs have very different approaches to food, when it comes to the Olympics they can both agree that for them it is all about showcasing the culinary world of London.

With such an array of options and price points available at this year’s London Olympics, both locals and tourists are sure to find something to please their palette.

(This article originally appeared on foxnews.com

Old Friends & New I’ve Found at Waterloo

10th June 2012

It’s amazing to think tomorrow is our last day in England. The past few days have been filled with fabulous meals, wine, people, and places.

On Friday we spent the day exploring Kent with the lovely Haynes family. They have become our “English family” while we have been here and our entire experience would not have been the same without them.

After going to see the ancient English town of Rye, and a delicious lunch at a local gastro pub, we headed to Leed’s castle.

While most of us know the name Leed’s for the famous WHO album, it is in fact also the site of the largest castle in Kent.

Within 5 minutes of seeing the flawlessly kept grounds I had already decided that the castle would be the site of my wedding in the very distant future (mom & dad you’d better start saving now!)

Feeling rested after our leisurely day Jackie and I took the opportunity to travel to Cambridge on Saturday as it was unfortunately one of our only sunny days here (those that know London will not be surprised to hear it has rained 85% of our trip).

It was in Cambridge that I truly feel deeply and madly in love with England.

The cobblestone streets and scholarly looking citizens were so inspiring (all the cute Cambridge men didn’t hurt either).

After some serious shopping, including a stop at TK Maxx (yes, it’s TK here not TJ) we went on what I now know to be the must do activity in Cambridge: punting.

Punting is in a sense the same thing as a gondola ride but much less romantic. However the views of Cambridge were beyond stunning and one of my favorite experiences so far.

Today we went back into London and went to service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. While I have now been in what feels like an endless number of cathedral’s, this one stood out.

The cathedral is known as the English architect Christopher Wren’s masterpiece and as a beacon of hope during the great London fire.

I myself found mass in the cathedral incredibly moving and loved seeing all the traditions of the Church of England.

This account by no means details everything we have done. If I were to write about it all not only would it take away from the few pressure hours of sleep I get it would also scare away anyone who actually reads this.

xoxo,
Kacy

A Foggy Day in London Town

7th June 2012

There is nothing quite as wonderful as seeing the sky turn blue after getting soaked in the rain.
That is exactly what happened to Jacquelyn and I today as we traversed our way through London.
The day began in a rather unusual way as we headed to a “work” appointment for some freelance travel pieces I am working on.
For a piece I am doing on the Olympics it was a “necessity” that I taste some of the local dishes that restaurants will be serving during the games. After emailing dozens of pubs I booked a few appointments for me and my photographer (yes, Jackie) to taste what these places will be offering.
Today was our first tasting and let me tell you this small little pub has set the standard quite high. Not only was the food delicious but the atmosphere was incredibly warm and inviting.

After tasting every item that will be available on their shortened menu (which is really quite large) Jacquelyn and I decided it was time to continue on to our tourist attractions. And while the tower of London awed me & the Globe theater left me feeling dramatic, it was our final stop of the day that really had me jumping for joy.
Ever the crazy Beatle fan that I am, today I had a quintessential fan girl moment as I reenacted the famous cover of “Abbey Road.” I felt like such a tourist waiting for the optimum moment to cross the street for the perfect picture, which is in fact quite the art form. 
With each day London continues to fascinate me with it’s treasure trove of history. My obsession with all things English only grows the more I learn about this magical place. 
Xoxo,
Kacy 

London Days 1 & 2: The Jubilant Jubilee

6th June 2012

It has been almost a year to date since I embarked on my last European adventure. And being the ever-restless person that I am, when my friend Jacqueline asked me to join her this summer in England and Italy, I jumped at the opportunity. For the next few weeks I will be chronicling our adventures in these amazing European countries as we take advantage of our youth and learn to seize the day.
This past Monday we began on journey from the sweltering state of Arizona to the cool green pastures of England. Less than 48 hours after being in country I am already ready to pack my bags and head across the pond. This fact is due in huge part to the once in a lifetime experience I had at Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee yesterday.
After one of the longest travel experiences of my life, I arrived in London after not having slept for 18 hours. But even that major side effect could not keep me from partaking in the Diamond Jubilee celebration that is not likely to occur again in my lifetime.
Exhausted and weary, Jacqueline and I arrived to London’s city center just in time to see the Queen pass by on Strand street. Confused as to what exactly was happening we both moved down towards Trafalgar square to see what the fuss was about. After an hour of waiting patiently I caught the glimpse of the glossy brunette strands of the one and only Duchess of Cambridge. Yes, I saw Kate Middleton in person and yes, I died in the process.
Seeing the grandeur and spectacle that is the English royal family was something indescribable. The culture is so different from the U.S. and different from anything else I have experienced in my life.
Starting our trip on such a high point has in many ways made the rest of our journey anti-climatic. Yet today we were still put in awe by the London Eye and the golden dome of Buckingham Palace.
With our trip just only begun I cannot wait to see what the rest of our time has in store for us. As we enjoyed a two-hour dinner in a local British pub tonight I will not be able to upload more photos until later. But fear not! If these past two days are any indication, this trip will be one for the storybooks.
Xoxo,
Kacy