Saturday, 7th May 2011 – Afghanistan, Crossroads of the Ancient World, British Museum, Cambio de Terce, The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900, Victoria and Albert Museum, Canela, London
We’ve just had a day in London – mostly of culture and food. It started with an early-ish train out of Milton Keynes with intent to get to the British Museum a little before 11:00 when we had tickets for the current exhibition, Afghanistan, Crossroads of the Ancient World. All I can say is if you are anywhere near London between now and July 17th you owe it to yourself to go and see this. There is some truly stunning stuff in there, particularly the Tillya Tepe hoard, which rather backs up a theory we are now developing that we can only at present label “who you calling a barbarian?”, sparked by the Langobardian/Carolingian treasures in Monza Cathedral two weeks ago (including the utterly wonderful Iron Crown of Lombardy, also known as the Crown of Theodolinda).
And speaking of crowns, the piece de resistance is probably the gold, folding crown found in one of the graves at the site. Shiny, pointy and it packs away for travelling… What more could you want?
Just for good measure, we swung by the Sutton Hoo finds, and said a quick hello to the Lewis chessmen, of whom I have always been very fond.
After that, we made our way to Gloucester Road for the afternoon’s case of culture – but we needed sustenance first and to that end I’d booked a table at Cambio de Tercio. When we got there it was completely empty apart from the waiters, though it didn’t stay that way for long. With a table in the window, we were soon settled, and presented with the manchego cheese lollipop with which they greet diners.
From there we progressed via white asparagus (for Lynne)…
And fried calamari, andalucian style (for me).
Then it was on to flame grilled baby lamb cutlets, with garlic piquillo peppers.
After that we shared a portion of Spanish cheeses (Manchego semi curado, Arzua, Torta de Barros, Picon, Cremosito Del Casar):
And then a dessert (white chocolate ganache, pistachio, passion fruit, ginger ice cream).
All in all an excellent lunch, well executed and served with charm if with perhaps less organisation than some places might have managed. It was a really enjoyable way of spending a Saturday lunch and set us up for the rest of the day.
After that we were off and running again with a slow meander through The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900. This too was a well worthwhile exhibition, though perhaps less breathtaking than the Afghan treasures. There were, however, things I would happily have slipped into a pocket and made off with, though the real showstoppers were a bit on the big side. I’d have settled for a couple of Charles Ricketts’ drawings though I would also have liked the wrought iron gates – lord alone know where I would put them, mind. They’re too big for our driveway, that’s for sure!
Two hours later we managed to find our way out (not as easy as you might think) and made our slow and weary way to Canela, which I had heard about and wanted to check out. It’s a small, friendly Brazilian cafe, and so we settled in with a caipirinha each.
Add in a portion of chorizo in red wine…
And finish off with a bowl of cassava chips and you’ve a recipe for satisfaction.
It was very good indeed, and we also now have a portion of vatapa in the freezer to try out another day. I’m sure it won’t be as good as Alberina’s always was, but it smelled good, tried to ooze its way out of the packaging on our journey home, and the taste I took before putting it in the freezer suggests it’s pretty damn good.
And now I have a bad case of museum back and am very tired.