Sunday, February 10, 2008

 

"LONDON HEE KEN MECHAKA LEE"

Once upon a time there was a popular song in Israel that lamented "London hee lo mechaka lee" (London is not waiting for me). I changed the lo (no or not) to ken (yes) and am delighted to tell you that London - or at least my friends in London - were definitely waiting for me. A very short and sweet trip - in which every moment was a joy.

Nevermind that I thought I'd never get out of Israel. Snow was predicted for the night before I was to leave. And when there is snow in Jerusalem - we're quite high up in the hills - the road to the airport is closed. What to do? I called Ouri and Devora - who live along the coast where there is no snow - drove all the way to their house - stayed there overnight - left their house at 5:00 AM for the airport - drove in pounding rain - but rain - no snow - and made it to the airport.

Nevermind, too, that there was so much air traffic that we were stacked over Heathrow for a long time - we finally landed. And I was picked up by one of the cadre of Israeli sherut (shared taxi) drivers to take me into London. Doesn't matter whom you call and order a taxi from - Shimon, Rafi, Moshe, Amnon - whoever is free and is doing the Heathrow run has your name on his list - in Hebrew, of course - and you are duly picked up and delivered.

It was very very cold in London - only rained one day - very windy - but bright and sunny. And it was wonderful to catch up with all my friends (whom I see often) and my friend's friends - whom I hadn't seen since the last simcha (celebration) about two years ago. So I'll tell you what I did. Went to the Royal Academy to see the fascinating "From Russia" exhibition; went to the theatre with Pearl & Stewart and then out to dinner; shabbat dinner at Pearl & Stewart's; shopping; Marble Arch Synagogue early on Saturday morning to see Stewart get an aliya (called up to the torah) in honor of his 80th birthday; dinner with Zoe and Peter and Nicole on Saturday night; "The Party" for Stewart on Sunday; more shopping and the Wallace Collection and lunch with Pearl on Monday - and back to Israel on Tuesday. Short - sweet - fun - and busy.

P&S took me to the theatre on Thursday night - we saw "The Sea" by someone named Bond. Wonderful seats - great cast - Eileen Atkins and David Haig - listed as one of the top five shows to see. Pearl understood it to be one thing - I understood it to be another - Stewart fell asleep - and I cannot begin to tell you what the play was about. It was absolutely incomprehensible - to all of us - well, to Pearl and me anyway - Stewart was asleep. I think it was about a man who believed that aliens were coming to earth - while he was making blue draperies. I kid you not - could I make something like that up?

But dinner - that was something else. The food today in London is wonderful and we had dinner at "St. Albans" - a new restaurant by the people who own "The Ivy" - a good recommendation before you even sit down. Two years ago the restaurant was owned by someone else - sloppy service and indifferent food - now - aboslutely first rate. I always try to eat food abroad that I can't get in Israel - so for me it was a ragout of white beans, mussels and chorizo for a starter and skate wing for my main course - non of it kosher you understand. And as the owners know P&S - we were treated to delicious champagne to begin and S received his dessert with "Happy 80th to Stewart" inscribed in chocolate on his plate. Nice touch.

Shabbat dinner at P&S's was a treat. Twelve of us - all family and me - Pearl cooked - some kind of ethereal creamy soup (I must get the recipe), salmon with grapes, green beans, mange tout, tiny new potatoes and three kinds of dessert. Great food - great company - great evening.

I watch the Food Channel - you knew that - and I often see Antonio Carluccio on one or another program. He owns several restaurants in London - and - great luck for me - Zoe (P&S's almost teen-age granddaughter) and Nicole and Peter (the sister and brother of P&S's son-in-law, who came in from Stockholm)) and I had dinner reservations at one of his places - "Carluccio's Grocery". A sort of Italian bistro - a bit loud - but - oh, what food. I love to share and stick my fork into every one else's plate - and they can do the same with me - and Nicole and Peter feel the same way. So we shared fried calamari and the most perfectly prepared spaghetti and white clam sauce and some kind of chicken dish and another pasta dish and beautifully prepared chicken livers.

And the food at The Party on Sunday? Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous. Champagne and pass-around h'ors d'oeuvres - miniature quiches that literally melted in the mouth, sushi tuna and pesto-soaked tiny mozzarella balls. The luncheon began with a timbale of green peas - creamy and unctuous with micro-greens and a bit of some kind of red coulis - then a large soup-shaped plate with a bed of puree on which were enoki mushrooms and the most sweet and delicious halibut with a light sauce and for dessert a chocolate and raspberry marquise. And with every meal - wine, wine and more wine.

And now back to real life - and, once again, my diet - which really means eating very carefully when I'm at home so that I can eat really well when the occasion presents itself....which it seems to do very often.

Yalla, Bye.









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