Sunday, September 06, 2015

Shoes: Pleasure and Pain at the V&A and Brasserie Zedel: A Delectable French Experience

The V&A (Victoria and Albert) museum's current exhibition - Shoes: Pleasure and Pain is worth the 9 quid (12 if you're not a student). It takes about an hour and a half to wander through, marvelling at the fashion progression in shoe design over the last century. I found the interactive shoe history timeline, also available on their website, spectacular. There was no photography allowed, so I'll just have to advise that, if you're in London before February, you take a look for yourself!

Alex's birthday dinner was the evening after we celebrated by going to the fabulous production of Hamlet, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Alex picked the most spectacular restaurant for us to enjoy a meal.  We went to Brasserie Zedel, a French restaurant in Picadilly, in the building that used to be Regent's Palace Hotel.  It had an elegant, decadent atmosphere; you'd feel as if you were rich - yet the prices were surprisingly affordable and the services was impeccable for London!  In fact, we didn't even tell them it was Alex's birthday, but the servers are trained to "look out" for celebrations. They noticed Alex putting away a card at the beginning of the evening, and when she got up from the table for a moment, a waiter quickly checked with the rest of us if it was her birthday we were celebrating. They then brought her a surprise dessert after we had ordered! 

The food was delicious...I had a lemon asparagus potato dish (they even have a vegetarian menu!). Next time we go to London to see a play (perhaps on the way to Canada next summer, if I can manage to get PhD research stay abroad and vacation dates aligned), we'll definitely go here for dinner first! See the photos below for pictures of the French "floating island" dessert Alexandra had, and the beautiful cappuccino souffle that I had. 

Happy Birthday Alex!

Posts on the weddings I attended in the UK coming up shortly (as soon as those official wedding photographers release the photos!) Other than that, my life is back to semi-normal - intense PhD work, data collection and analysis, seminars, teaching, finding time for the gym and attempting to play the piano better! (By the way, I did pass that DELE B2 Spanish exam, with flying colours, so I'm super happy about that. Next up: C1 French (DELF) in a year or so. I'm losing my French!! Here's to a successful semester ahead!

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet: Best London Play Ever!

London theatre is one of the ultimate attractions of all time - and  Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet at the Barbican was the best I've ever seen. My favourite Shakespeare play with an absolutely stellar actor -  Benedict in BBC's Sherlock Holmes had me hooked! Alexandra, through her Barbican theatre membership,  booked the tickets 1.5 years ago - in June 2014, after waiting 5 hours in the virtual queue two weeks in advance of the show opening to the general public. The timing was perfect, as I happen to be in London this week for a couple of weddings - blog posts on those coming up shortly.

Sapna at the Barbican
I have never seen a set so amazing! Every detail was perfect - and the cast really brought Shakespeare to life. We even had a small celebrity citing - we saw Jimmy Carr, a famous British comedian. Thanks so much to Alex for managing to get tickets - INCREDIBLE!!  We had wine before the play and at the interval - Alex was so excited she couldn't even eat the salad we made for dinner!

Every time I go to the theatre I feel rejuvenated, artistic, elegant and entertained. Other plays I've seen over the past few years are Singing in the RainWe Will Rock YouWickedBook of Mormon, Fatal Attraction, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.   I love dressing up and going to the theatre to see actors - and going with Alex, especially to celebrate her birthday was doubly special.  I feel so lucky to live in Spain and be able to come to London so often!
Alex and Sapna at the Barbican

Thank you, Alex for a lovely time in London! I can't wait to come back and visit you again! Readers, stay tuned - a post on the lovely French restaurant we went to for Alex's birthday dinner, and a day of London house rental shopping - coming up!

Girls at the theatre - Alex and Sapna