For most of the week, I was staying outside Oxford, a charming little city known of course for its abundance of old colleges. While I didn't get to do too much sight-seeing here, I would love to come back and visit again. Oxford is full of charming old buildings and cobblestone alleys. Plus, I was very surprised by the variety of ethnic restaurants available! Polish, French, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Lebanese - you name it, Oxford seems to have it. During my visit, I checked out 2 local restaurants:
|Pasta at Jamie Oliver's restaurant|
The first was Jamie's Italian. I'm a huge fan of TV chef Jamie Oliver, so of course I had to try this! The restaurant itself was quite cute with lots of homespun touches like herbs hanging from the ceiling and wooden furnishings. Above is my shell pasta with prosciutto, peas and fresh mint in a cream sauce; it was delicious, but nothing spectacular. As well, the service was super slow, so I'm not sure I'd come here again.
My next outing in Oxford was a little more successful. I found the Cote Brasserie randomly while wandering around the city center. Since I was dining alone, I wanted an intimate place to catch a quiet meal where I wouldn't be surrounded by rowdy diners. Cote fit the bill and I was very pleased with the result, this beautiful roasted sea bass with fennel and a slightly cream champagne beurre sauce with tomatoes. While the side veg was awfully salty and unpalatable, the sea bass was perfect with crispy skin and moist meat. I even enjoyed the fennel, which I usually don't!
The dessert though is something that cannot be missed. Marked as a house specialty, the creme caramel is a seductive mound of creamy custard, fresh vanilla bean and dark caramel. The creme even sits in a little pool of fresh cream and caramel and I literally wanted to pick this up and lick the bowl to get it all.
Known as a haven for antique hunters, foodies and fashion lovers, Portabello is a treasure trove for unique finds. There is so much jewelry and silverware everywhere that it's a little hard to focus!
|Teapots at Portabello Market|
|Delicious waffles at a stand in Portabello|
|Not sure what you are supposed to do with these?|
|London haul part 1: goodies from Portabello market, a leather wristlet, and verbena hand cream from a Notting Hill boutique|
The next day, I visited the British Museum where I totally geeked out all morning ogling ancient sculpture and artifacts from Egypt, China, Japan and Korea.
|Outside the British Musuem|
|Hand crafted ceramic flowers in the Korea exhibit|
|Ancient Japanese makeup kit - the kabuki brush looks quite similar to today's!|
|Japanese laquered jewelry box|
|Jewelry likely worn by noblewomen in ancient China|
After the museum, I walked over to Covent Garden, a popular chic shopping and open market area. Here is where you can find everything from local artisans, to pie shops, tea shops, high street shops like Zara and designers like Dior. Sadly, I restrained myself from buying too much as the exchange rate was killing me, but even just to window shop is quite fun.
|British Museum and Covent Garden haul|
And that's a recap of my UK trip!