Travel Recommendations, Reviews, and Stories: Welcome to The Grain and Grape
Food Photography in London
London is a fabulous city to visit any time of year, and a very magical place at Christmastime. Rob signed up for a 3-day Food Photography course at Le Cordon Bleu’s London location in December. In addition to all the wonderful experiences in this grand city, it has a festive feel with all the decorations and lights, families pouring into theaters, and happy groups out for their holiday parties. England fans packed the pubs to watch the football match as well. When we go to this part of the world, we also have the bonus of seeing Rob’s family in London and Nottingham, which is always super special.
We went to London for Rob to take a 3-day course in Food Photography at Le Cordon Bleu.
Unfortunately, when he showed up for the first day, he found it was cancelled. What a disappointment! The instructors could not get to London from Scotland due to weather issues with planes, and a train strike.
Undeterred, Rob decided to assign himself food photography tasks as we toured around London for the week.
Besides eating our favorite pub foods of Fish & Chips, Minty Peas, Steak & Mushroom Pie, and Bangers & Mash, we also enjoyed having global food choices. We ate flavorful Indian food at est.India, a unique Tapas lunch at Pix Pintxos, and even Sri Lankan food, in London. A wonderful hidden gem, with 4 locations around town, is the Mercado Metropolitano, a food stalls market. We ate Sri Lankan food with Rob’s cousin at their Elephant & Castle location, which has over 40 food stalls. An amazing offering of foods from around the world, with long picnic tables for plenty of seating, and bar stalls for drinks. We highly recommend all of these.
Sights in London
We have seen the Tower of London from walking around the outside, but have never toured inside. We booked tickets online and made sure to go first thing in the morning to avoid most of the crowds. This grand historic castle, founded in the eleventh century, is absolutely amazing to tour. We saw everything from the Crown Jewels to grand halls, chapels, towers, prisons, and even walked on the walls.
We also highly recommend walking around the outside of the walled castle, there is a lot to see. The best is the stone statues of lions and other animals, representing the original menagerie kept at the castle.
Other fun things to see at Christmastime in London are the famous department stores of Liberty’s and Fortnum & Mason. Liberty’s Christmas window displays alone are fabulous, and we loved seeing Fortnum & Mason’s specialty foods and wines.
For a special treat, thanks to a tip from Rob’s cousin, we caught a pop-up concert at Carnaby Street. Sam Ryder, of Eurovision Song Contest 2022 fame, was belting out songs for the gathering crowd.
There is so much to see and do in London. We walked for miles in the cold air, foggy in the mornings and very crisp and cold at night, seeing sights and loving being in a wonderful big city.
A great tour to go on is the Hidden Pubs of London walk, which wanders through historical sights, visiting pubs which have been around for centuries. The tour is led by a knowledgeable Brit, full of wit, telling tales and providing guidance on drinks to try. Recommendations ranged from cask ales, house specials, and gins. Cask ales are not filtered or pasteurized, and a hand pump is used for the pour. It was fun to try them, but we liked the lagers better, and Rob picked up a Guinness wherever he could. The real highlight was meeting and talking with the other guests, mostly Americans, mostly from the south, and all super fun.
We still can’t believe the Food Photography course had to be cancelled. However, we had a wonderful week seeing family and the sights of London, and trying different foods and restaurants. And taking photos.😊
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