Can I make a confession? I’m a baby about my birthdays! For many years now, I’ve made a resolution to not work on my birthday and fill the day surrounded by the people, activities and food I love. And every year I look forward to the 24 hours dedicated to me. But this time around, I decided to extend the celebration to 192 hours. That’s right, eight days of eating my way through London with my teenaged daughter and her dear friend for company.
Now, this was going to be no random Eatathon. I had a wish list of five places I definitely wanted to hit up on my trip. Places where tables tend to get booked up months ahead of time. And here I was with my air tickets to London purchased barely two weeks away from D-day! OpenTable and the phone became my best friends as I wrangled my way to reservations at all five. With those anchors set, I scoured my way through bookmarked clippings from food and travel magazines, Time Out London, and other sources to create a list of restaurants by neighborhood that served amazing meals at not too exorbitant prices. This list was vetted by my travel companions, and the end product was a list accented with highlights and bold colors. We were ready to forage our way through London!
The first stop on this journey was a dream come true. NOPI, a restaurant by one of my favorite chefs, Yottam Ottolenghi. He is the MAN who does vegetables like no other. The flavors, the seasoning, the fresh taste, the creativity…I could just go on and on.
My excitement entering in was like a kid who had been promised a trip to a candy store for a long time and now had permission to pick out anything she wanted. Let me walk you through a visual journey of what we ate! If I had to pick one word to describe the meal? Divine. Add another word? Magic! Tell you how I felt? Like Royalty. How was the taste? It was a like a perfectly orchestrated taste festival on my tongue. And my admiration for the creator of this culinary nirvana? Undying!
Stay tuned for our next post on this 192 hour food fueled journey through London!
Step into Wolff’s Biergarten on Montgomery Street and all of a sudden, you are transported from a chilly Syracuse evening to a festive indoor biergarten. The space is complete with the signature wooden tables, flags from Germany’s provinces, and passionate soccer fans leaving their worries at the door in exchange for a pint of Hofbrau München and a good time with friends.
When I walked into Wolff’s this weekend, I felt like I was back at Munich, knocking back a beer under a starry night in the English Gardens. For a city its size, Syracuse is home to an abundance of international restaurants and bars. Last night, I was determined to see it all; to taste the world without leaving downtown.
From Wolff’s, we headed over to Benjamin’s across from the famed Italian eatery Pastabilities. We traded our jolly German digs for a speakeasy themed to the heroes of the American Revolution. The walls are adorned with portraits of Franklin, Jefferson, and Hamilton. A giant replica of the Constitution welcomes patrons as they relax on the outdoor courtyard and marvel at the night sky.
Just down the street is Kitty Hoynes, a pub that serves as a testament to the strong Irish population in the Syracuse area. Stepping in through that threshold, I was whisked away to festive evenings in Dublin’s Temple Bar district. A duo performed classic Irish tunes onstage as locals gathered around, cradling glasses of dark, frothy Guinness as they celebrated life with complete strangers.
My friend and I smiled as we watched a gorgeous spring day turn into a chilly winter night. We marveled at the great Irish artists that plastered the walls, from Yeats to Joyce to Bono. The cold mugginess was suddenly normalized. We were in Dublin, a city that fights grey skies with good times. Last night, Syracuse proved to do just the same.
The answer is a resounding YES! Especially when you happen to be living in a town that has a Michelin starred restaurant in its backyard. And when you spot the restaurant’s exact location during an intense hike, your desire to indulge is escalated to astronomical proportions.
This is how I ended up at Shaun Hill’s much raved about restaurant, The Walnut Tree. A last-minute call for reservations, an open table, a short cab ride and we found ourselves seated for lunch in a packed dining room filled with professionals, couples and families. I spent the first few minutes telling my date (my teenaged daughter) how lucky she was to be eating in a Michelin starred restaurant. Her expressions appeared to be saying that I have a crazy mother and this mad dash to eat is another example of her love affair with food!
My fleeting thoughts on not getting enough value as a vegetarian evaporated as soon as we saw and tasted the offerings. Let me walk through this lovely meal with pictures and you can tell me if you can’t wait to try this place out for your own special celebration! Of course if you wanted to make it über special, you could stay at the inn adjacent to the hotel and make it a true romantic getaway! You can find out more about The Walnut Tree Inn at http://www.thewalnuttreeinn.com/Food