Life&London

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I’ve taken you to Venice, I’ve taken you to Paris; might I invite you to one of my favourite places in London too?

I shall not pretend that I’m not very comfortable in Mayfair or around Sloan Square. Which very much has to do with the fact that I actually not belong there; I’m a cat among the ermines and I enjoy it. As a Scandinavian (albeit one that doesn’t look it because short and a brunette) I pretend I own the place. In the east end it’s the same thing but opposite; I don’t belong because I’m not hip nor genuin enough. But I do love that part of London.

The flower market at Columbia Road is so wonderful. I also very much enjoy shopping for fabrics and Bollywood earrings in the Indian shops that I pass getting there. Dennis Sever’s house is one of my fave museums(except it isn’t a museum,it’s a living tableaux). Oh and the beigle bakery in Brick lane. Get the strudel; almost as good as in Vienna. And if If I want a bit of that east end vibe when I don’t have a chance to go ? The Gentle Author takes me there.

I actually saw this book at the Brick lane bookshop when I was in London in 2014 but didn’t buy it because it was a brick of a book(pun intended) and my bags were already full to the brim. But I had a look when I got home and found it online. It started as a blog so it’s divided into many small chapters about the people,places and past of Spitalfields in the East end. There are probably very strict geographical lines to adhere to, as a bloody Swedish tourist it’s all the East End to me and I can’t tell Spitalfields from Shoreditch. I think I might just be a tad proud of that in fact.

The point is that this book is a darling thing to read and it has all those kinds of sweet nostalgic stories that I love on paper but don’t know how to deal with in real life. Like the story about the pigeon fanciers. That’s lovely that is, that someone is still keeping postal pigeons that carry messages. I also think that they are nasty birds, all of them. The kind of thing that I love to read about, I might even throw in an “we have culture anymore. Carrier pigeons was a sign of civilization and now we have the Kardashians”. I don’t mean it at all.

But many of the things in this book I do love, and I do appreciate diversity in real life. It should be noted that because it’s so many small chapters,and about a variety of things it doesn’t have to be read from cover to cover, and it’s an easy read too or browse. But possibly hard to get. I would advice to read the book before going to London,not after. Or you know, make another trip. London is always a good idea.

Things mentioned in this post;

The Gentle Author

-Suss

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Art&Amaretto

For all it’s grandeur it’s built to the human scale. While the tangle of streets,alleys and canals form a maze that can confuse even old-timers,the city is small enough to be comprehensible. You will continue to get lost,but in places that are familiar and welcoming.-p. 29 of No Vulgar Hotel

More cocktails I’m afraid. I had a trial monkey over and decided to make the most of it. And as the Venice Biennale has now begun it seemed like a good idea to make a cocktail named after that habitat on the marshes. But let’s be honest; for me Venice is always “top of mind”. It is one of the most magical places on earth. I’ve visited twice and would love to go back, but we’ll see when it happens. Until then there is plenty to read to take me back.

One of my all time favorite books,Jonathan Strange&Mr Norrell, partly takes place in Venice. In Proust’s epic suit A la recherche de temps perdu the narrator makes a visit. I recently read The passion by Jeanette Winterson which also is set partly there. And many many others. I’ve read more then one book purely because it takes place in that decaying city that has been described as a living museum. My tip for getting a genuin feel for the place is to get up early and move around, have breakfast at a cafe to view people who live and work there. Try to get away from the crowds a bit and visit the outskirts of the city, which given the small size of the plan isn’t that difficult.

A fun read, a bit out of the ordinary, that I picked up on one of my visits is No vulgar hotel by Judith Martin. She is a Venetophile and isn’t afraid to say so(nobody is; a love of Venice is a love that totally dares speak it’s name). With a a dark sense of humor Martin tells the story of Venice and how to make the most of your stay. Somewhere between “A Year in France” and “1066 and all that”, but you know, Venice, is how I would describe it. Byron makes an appearance, obviously.  Martin is American and writes from that perspective, just skim the fist chapter or so where she draws parallels between the US and The Venetian Republic. Or read them, rather interesting actually.

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But the where is the drink I promised? Ah. Most who have visited Italy are familiar with The Spritz; white wine, Aperol or Campari and soda. Very good stuff on a hot day. So called low ABV i.e. low alcohol but very refreshing. Served with olives or crips. This cocktail, the Ventian, comes from a cocktail book I have somewhere. Iused to make it often and feel it’s time to bring it back into my repertoire as Campari is always a good idea and Amaretto has a bad rep despite being a very nice thing to have on the bar cart.

Venetia-cocktail;yields 1 drink

4 cl dry gin

2 cl dry vermouth

1 cl Campari

1cl Amaretto

for serving;

chilled coupette or other cocktail glass

lemonzest

  1. Stir ingredients in an ice-filled mixer glass until chilled.
  2. Pour into the coupette and add the lemon zest.
  3. Enjoy responsibly.

This is a very nice drink with a mix of bitter and sweet. Very refreshing but also potent. On a hot day a spritz is a better option, and if you find yourself in the actual city you may not find this but then a Martin at Harry’S Bar is a nice substitute. For rainy nights when you wish you were somewhere else? This is just the thing.

-Suss