Claire and Ava in Gruyeres, Switzerland

Claire and Ava in Gruyeres, Switzerland

October, 2011

October, 2011
Chess in Lausanne, Switzerland

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


It may be March but I’m still thinking about February 23.

Important day: I had the best burger my taste buds have experienced in MONTHS. Well, it was also the only burger I’ve had in months, unless you count lamb or buffalo. Which are quite tasty but don’t really qualify, for a red white and blue American, the way a 100 % beef burger (and not the McDonald’s venue) does.

Where, might you ask, did I find this? Some fabulous burger joint called “Brady’s” (in London). This place churns out the real deal with superb red meat, a nice size patty – not too thick, not too thin, not shriveled up on the bun. And perfectly medium rare. The kind of pink in the middle that allows the burger to still be juicy. Nothing worse than ordering a burger, waiting amidst wafting smells of sweet onions sautéing happily in butter, only to receive a brown hockey puck.

This burger also comes with the right-size bun, not that huge overwhelming tasteless thing, just a fresh, soft accompaniment that allows the beef – really good beef, reportedly from Scotland – to shine.

Add to that a generous portion of excellent blue cheese, melted just so, some greens but not too many, a thinly sliced red, non-woody tomato, and I was beyond ready to dive in. After slathering on some ketchup and good English mustard – the kind with the horseradish of course – I did just that.

It lived up to all my anticipation.

But that’s not all. Accompanied by a thick oreo milkshake, I was thinking I was back in a good U.S. diner, like that one in Kansas City – the name escapes me – but the burgers and shakes I’ll never forget.

Now it’s a little dicey, I think, to order a milkshake here because they often seem to hold true to their name: milky. With a little ice cream thrown in. I much prefer the opposite, particularly since the last item on my wishlist is anything that tastes like milk.

So yes, Brady’s delivered on the shake, too.

While I consumed all of this bun, cheese, burger, shake business, my better half had the healthier option – burger sans cheese, half the bun and a side of greens. Though he did go for the shake…

Suffice it to say I did not regret a single kilo calorie.

This wonderful repast followed a trip to the Museum of London, which is well worth a visit. Bonus: it’s free.

Then a nap. Great way to spend a Sunday.

In other news…January’s high points included:

- The Snowman. Apparently this is one of those yearly Must-sees for many British families. Based on a book, the show is done to music with no words. Thankfully we have the book and CD so we had a good understanding of the story going in. Lovely performance, west end caliber naturally, 20 minutes too long.

- Visit to Jane the hygienist. Kids tell her EVERYTHING. Hillarious. Reason for not using automatic toothbrush? Mom hasn’t changed the batteries. Do we drink juice for breakfast? Yes. Followed by Jane’s lecture about sugar, holes in teeth…etc. Aiy yai yai.

- Visit to the Natural Science Museum’s Atmospheric exhibit – which was very cool. And a little imax action too, this one from the cockpit of British air forces. Also very cool.

- Wordsworth poetry classes with Alice. I like Wordsworth better this time around. So much literature is better digested later in life; seems unfair to make us all go through it when we 1) can’t understand it properly, let along appreciate it and 2) would be better served reading the Catcher and the Rye and all its friends. (Said Catcher book didn't have the same panache when I read it a few years ago. Clearly too old for it.)

- A fun two-person act at the Tricycle Theatre (local venue; the show had received good reviews) that Joe and I checked out, with dinner at a charming little gastropub conveniently located across the street.

- Claire and I joined some other ASL moms and kids for a bust of an outing on the Golden Hynde. Rarely do I have uncomplimentary things to say about educational outings, but this one got on my nerves. About the ship:

The Golden Hinde, London's replica of Sir Francis Drakes warship offering visitors an unforgettable Living History Experience. The Golden Hinde is a full-sized reconstruction of the Tudor warship in which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe in 1577 – 1580.

Now it wasn’t the ship that was annoying; it was the entire outing starting w/ the bosomy Marge in charge type who shepherded our group from start to finish. She barked out orders to don costumes (just dirty smocks and hats). Claire took one look and flatly told me she wasn’t dressing up. I said that was fine. Some battles…why bother with them?

Unfortunately Marge (aka George -- women on board were bad luck, hence the masculine identity) overheard her and tartly informed both of us that dressing up is part of the experience. While her tone left something to be desired, I did tell Claire that it might behoove her to throw the smock on over her clothes. That met w/ steely-eyed resistance, so I said I would dress up, which did a little to appease George. But not much.

Then onto the musty ship, where we had to hunker, bent over, and listen to a very loud, fat man wander around the ship bumping into things. He was apparently the drunken sailor.

This already had Excedrin written all over it. Then the barber surgeon started his gig, which was a very rich description of how he amputated.

At that point I felt ill from head to stomach. Meanwhile Claire was part of a group being yelled at to row harder or some such thing. She expressed her dislike of the experience to my neighbor so when we caught up w/ each other she was buried in games on Melissa’s i-phone.

We made a beeline out of there an hour and a half early, attempting to do so covertly – only to find the drunken sailor right behind us on the gangplank. Oops.

Then on to John Lewis’ dining room because…well, why not? It was warm, offered plenty of good food choices and had no drunkenly behavior or gruesome descriptions of life at sea back in the 1700’s. And I could stand up straight.

Incidentally, practically no one returned on these voyages, and if you did, you came back w/ a humped back from standing stooped over for years on end. And it was bad luck to bathe so gee, wouldn’t the olfactory experience be pleasurable…

- “A flea in Her Ear” was also on my theatre list in January – this one w/ the ladies (St. John’s Wood Women’s Club). Light-hearted, quick language, a bit of a spoof 18th century style. We all enjoyed it, I think it’s safe to say.

- Also in recent weeks I hit a book group meeting – discussion of The Female Brain (which frankly sounds dull but is quite a good elliptical read). Our discussion was just ok but the Mexican food that went with it, courtesy of Szerina, was superb.

- Joe and I enjoyed “The Rivals” with our neighbors following good Indian fare at The Mint Leaf. (Though the first 10 minutes had me worried; I was convinced I was going to snooze. Rather, once I got into the language, it was very smart, very light-hearted, and as always on the West End, very well done.)

- Not to be left out, we also went to “George’s Marvelous Medicine.” We’ve, as a family, all gotten into Raold Dahl more heavily than we might have were we still in North Carolina (having visited the Raold Dahl museum, read most of his books, including his non-autobiography autobiography and watched/re-watched some of his films).

Ava was lined up to go w/ her class to see George before we jerked her out of Abercorn and plopped her into ASL. So I felt it only fair to line up tickets to the show, which was great fun, I must say. That Raold Dahl did have quite the sense of humor. Probably wouldn’t fly in today’s politically correct world (who can get away with writing about creating medicine from shampoo, hair spray, paint, flea medicine and the like to improve Grandma’s demeanor…). And then to have her shrink to nothingness and end the story there. Hmmm…

- In late January I linked up with the SJWWC for a walk around the Victoria and Albert. This is a museum that has something like 2 ½ miles of exhibits…we focused on 12-14 varying in size, medium and timeframe, had a great guide who was witty, well spoken and well read and good w/ a big, unwieldy group.

So there you have it. My attempt to capture what we did in the earliest part of 2011. We'll soon embark on spring break: adventures that will involve cold weather and family catch up in the west and midwestern parts of the USA! Bring on the red meat...

Jama Masjid, Old Delhi

Jama Masjid, Old Delhi
Largest mosque in India