Happy December! Garlands are being hung on the street light posts, and holiday music is sporadically playing in an increasing number of retailers.
Which means that I am one happy camper. Like beyond jolly.
I have a bunch of cookies and desserts I can’t wait to make this season. So go check that list out on the This Month page.
But in the spirit of keeping the new format of Wine Wednesday a catching up of sorts of my past month here in Beantown, I wanted to share some highlights from our vacation to London! And give you all a bangin’ cocktail inspired our travels for cocktail season and your go-to drinks repertoire.
London, in a nutshell, might just be my new favorite place. Pubs, history, and plate after plate of fish and chips. Don’t forget the mushy peas. Oh and meat pies. Yep. Sold. I was fortunate to travel there with my mom and brother. We only had three days in the city, so we tried to pack in as much as possible. We stayed in an apartment in Westminster near a tube station which was perfect for getting around. I don’t want to pretend that I’m an authority on any parts of London, but I did want to point out my favorite bits!
Dinner by Heston Bluementhal
We were lucky to have dinner at this two Michelin star restaurant (way to go mom for snagging last-minute reservations) on Thanksgiving Day. Heston Bluementhal is quite famous for his avante garde Fat Duck, but this restaurant focuses more on historically-inspired dishes and reimagines them. The meal was fabulous, as were all of the staff serving us. I think this night was my absolute favorite part of London. We got to snag a peak in the kitchen as well and watch service for a few minutes. Highly recommend!
Historical Pub Tour
We did many historical things in London as well as sat in many pubs. But this tour was awesome. We got to visit pubs that were hundreds of years old and learn about their historical contribution to London’s past. Our tour guide was extremely well-versed in London tid bits and made the day just wonderful.
Tower of London
The tower of London is so large that you could spend hours and hours here. It’s really interesting to walk around and see just how many important events occurred here like the lost princes of the tower (thanks for the background knowledge Rex Factor) and Henry VIII’s wife’s beheadings. Also, the Fusiliers who give talks around the campus are amazing storytellers. Oh and the crown jewels were stunning of course.
Kensington Palace—Princess Diana Fashion Exhibit
While Kensington Palace was interesting, the best part by far was a new exhibit on temporary display. There is a celebration of Princess Diana’s fashion evolution starting with her coming to the royal family until her death. Very cool. And as the residence of many royals, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of Kate or Prince Harry, but oh well.
Notting Hill Market
While I obviously love the movie, Notting Hill, I was most excited to stop by Notting Hill and its famous Portobello market for a few hours. The streets are very crowded, but this spot has the hands-down best selection of vintage clothing, antique wares, local farmer’s stands, and furs. Block after block. The bars will let you carry around takeaway cups of wine and beer as well! I had the best mulled wine here that I’ve ever had. Bonus: the houses are very colorful and charming, and you can follow along with locations from the movie if you’re a fan. It’s a win-win.
Jack the Ripper Tour
If you enjoy history and gory deets, this tour is for you. Very fun and cool to experience. The buildings are mostly original, so you get to see the actual locations of where the murders took place. You also get a feel for West London which has a very different vibe from East London. There are tons of tours, so be sure to look through and pick the one that best suits what you’re looking for.
London was decked out to the nines for Christmas when we were there, and the best place to see this was Covent Garden. They have a big Christmas tree on par with the Rockefeller Center tree. The best and highest recommendation I have for you is to go to Punch & Judy. It’s a historical pub with a fabulous atmosphere. Everyone is having a great time here. It has a large balcony that overlooks the West Piazza in Covent Garden which is where the tree is, but there are also live performances in the piazza! It’s super fun.
Onto the cocktail! This cocktail comes from our dinner out at Heston Bluementhal’s spot. We were early for our reservation, so we sat in the lounge and had a drink. There’s no question that I’m a huuuuge fan of Parmigiano Reggiano and I love gin. So when I saw a gin martini garnished with the famous cheese on the cocktail list, I had to order it. And here is where the pairing lies for this month.
The fragrant botanicals of gin mixed with the beyond-savory nature of Parmigiano Reggiano is something else. The slightly smelly back-note of the cheese adds complexity to the herbal liquor. And the sweeter vermouth rounds everything out. Of course, feel free to change up the ratio of gin and vermouth if you want a drier or wetter martini. My vermouth is French and slightly colored, so your martini will probably be clear unlike the appearance of mine.
And that’s the whirlwind that was London! Don’t forget to checkout This Month for all of your December food needs. And without further ado, the martini. 😉
Gin Martini with Parmigiano Reggiano
5 ounces gin
½ ounce vermouth
Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish
- Add gin, vermouth, and a big handful of ice to a cocktail shaker. Stir vigorously for 30 seconds, until chilled, but not excessively cold.
- Pour into two chilled martini glasses. Garnish with a chunk or two of Parmigiano Reggiano in each glass. Enjoy!