London’s adventures (and a foodventure, of course!)

Yes! We went to London!

For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram (@michellelovestoeat) or didn’t get the chance to see my London insta stories, a little more than a week ago (right before easter), we went to London on a little day trip. Since Manchester is just a couple of hours away by train, we decided to take one early in the morning and then spend the day visiting the city. It was really exciting, considering neither of us had ever been to London before.

If you don’t know what I’m doing in the UK, you might as well start by reading this

So yes, we had a really big day planned because we wanted to visit the main landmarks and then a couple of other places as well, and I promise I will be sharing some pictures for those of you interested! And of course we had some amazing food as well, which I didn’t really plan for but we do love experimenting with food whenever we’re traveling around (you probably already know that from our latest Manchester foodventure, don’t you?).

We started the day with a walk around Abbey Road, because G plays the guitar and he’s really into music, so he was super excited to visit a studio that had so much history behind it. I just was happy to have the opportunity to be with him on this journey, and happy to enjoy the view during our walk.

Then we went for something even more touristic. Yes, the Elizabeth Tower (wrongly known as the Big Ben, as G thought me during our trip! Fun fact: apparently it’s the bell on top of the tower that’s named Big Ben, and then the tower is named Elizabeth Tower). 

It was extremely crowded, as you can imagine, but once you get past the crowds and start crossing the bridge you can actually look back and really enjoy the view, the tower and the palace of Westminster, which to me was completely fascinating. The details in all of the facades were really outstanding and a piece of art both individually and as a whole. Definitely one of my favorite parts from this trip (and I’m aware of how cliché that is! But I’m an architect, I can’t help to look at the buildings and their detailing).

After that we went to the Buckingham palace, but it was way too crowded to get a good picture. Although I did get some nice pictures of our walk from the Elizabeth tower to the Buckingham palace, so I’ll share those instead! 

Another favorite of mine was just getting to walk around the city and experiment everything from the pedestrian perspective. We did see many (probably way too many) double decker buses and tour buses around town, but I just think that sometimes it’s a little more magical to go the not so unplanned route and just enjoy your surroundings at a pace that you feel comfortable with.

Maybe next time we go we’ll take one of those tours to know all the history behind the walls, which is also incredibly exciting. But this time we just wanted to walk (and walk, and walk, and then walk a little bit more!). I kid you not, by the end of the afternoon my feet wanted to quit responding, but I think every single mile was completely worth it!

Once we were done with the Buckingham palace, you can bet that we were incredibly hungry, so we went to a popular street market called the Portobello market that, I believe, is near Notting Hill. To get there we walked past the cutest streets and houses I’ve ever seen, which of course I loved. I felt like I was in the middle of a movie set, it all felt kinda surreal to me.

We actually got to Portobello Market and, even though it seemed like an interesting experience, we didn’t really feel like eating while standing up next to the street. Our bodies were asking us to sit down and rest for a while, and we decided to listen, so we walked around the area and found the cutest Italian place I’ve ever seen.

Inside Portobello Garden Caffé

It really did feel like a garden, and because of the natural lighting it felt even more Pinterest-y. The place was really packed, which to me is always a good sign, at least as a first impression. The staff was super nice, and I believe most (if not all) of them were Italian, which made the whole Italian caffe experience even better, if you ask me!

As an appetizer, we decided to get a bruschettona with mozzarella di buffalo e pomodoro. Whatever has a great amount of cheese combined with fresh tomatoes has all the potential in the world to be an amazing dish, so I was completely sold when G suggested this.

Mozzarella di bufala e pomodoro bruschettona: buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, oregano, extra olive oil and basil

I don’t know if you can tell from the pictures, but the ingredients on this were so fresh, they made the whole dish come together beautifully. It might seem like something really simple, but I do believe that sometimes less is more, and this totally gave us the opportunity to really savor every ingredient.

Then, if you know me, then you probably already know I’m a big pesto lover (you probably got that from this mac and cheese I wrote about!) so when I saw gnocchi al pesto, I knew I had to order those.

To me, the key to a good pesto dish is fresh pesto sauce, of course, and then the amount of sauce you actually put to the dish. It’s not like you have to overload it, but I do think that you need a good amount in order to make the dish great. This dish definitely didn’t disappoint me!

Gnocchi al pesto, with dry Sicilian ricotta on top

Yes, you read that right. They put plenty of dry Sicilian ricotta on top of my gnocchi and I couldn’t have been happier! I’ve tried many (many, many) pesto dishes, and this is one of my top favorites! The pesto tasted amazing but it wasn’t really overpowering and it didn’t feel too strong, if that makes any sense. It wasn’t one of those “too much of a good thing” cases. To me, these gnocchi were just perfect. I happily finished the whole dish.

G, on the other hand, read porchetta in one of their sandwiches and knew that was his dish. This man definitely loves good porchetta.

Porchetta vegetali e mozzarella saltimbocca sandwich: panini with aromatic herbs, roasted Porchetta (cured pork), mixed vegetables and mozzarella.

A saltimbocca sandwich is actually a panini made with pizza bread, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, shaved dry Sicilian ricotta and basil

I know I said this when I tried the Reuben (and I sustain my opinion on that amazing sandwich): I’m really not a sandwich person.

Don’t get me wrong! There’s nothing wrong with sandwiches. It’s just that I don’t usually read about a sandwich that’s interesting enough to make me want to try it (or at least order it all for myself!). But I’m still thankful that G decided to try this one, because I had the chance to get a good couple of bites out of it and I can tell you it was really really really good.

As I said, I’m not really experienced when it comes to sandwiches, and this one is just too different from the reuben so there’s no point on comparing both, but I did enjoy the bites I got. The porchetta was truly amazing and you could really get a good taste with every bite. The fact that the panini was so well seasoned made it ten times better than a regular panini, of course! 

Overall, our experience at Portobello Garden Caffe was incredible and full of amazing flavors, so it’s a big thumbs up from me. The fact that the staff was really nice to us (even though we had to wait a little longer than we usually do) and the place was beautiful was a plus, so if you’re ever in London, make sure to pay them a visit! I don’t think you will regret it.

It’s also an amazing place to go and share a couple of glasses of wine with some cheeses and cured meats, and we might do that next time we’re in town.

After this we kept walking around the city and enjoying the different views London offered. We went to a place called “Little Venice”, that kinda disappointed me because it wasn’t as pretty as the pictures online showed, but what did intrigue me was a restaurant right next to the canal, that looked quite nice. I made a mental note to myself because I think it’s worth a visit in a future trip as well (I know, I haven’t even left the city by this moment and I’m already planning on coming back!).

Also, being the Harry Potter fan that I am, I felt the need to go to King’s Cross and check the space between platforms 9 and 10. Oh boy, another big disappointment! There was an actual place where you could take a picture as if you where ‘entering’ platform 9 3/4 (with your own cart full of your magic stuff, of course!) but the line was ridiculous. It was absolutely insane, and I didn’t have any plans on spending a good couple of hours (if not more) just to take that picture, so we decided to skip that as well. The train station was nice, so it’s not like we lost our time going there, at least!

And then we wandered around the city for a little longer, just enjoying the big city vibes, the architecture and the people. Please tell me I’m not the only one that enjoys these kind of experiences!

Overall, we loved London but I’m not really sure if I’d want to live there. I really love Manchester as well, even though it’s not as touristic nor full of landmarks, it’s still a multicultural city and that’s what I love the most.

I’ll be sharing more UK foodventures in the meanwhile, and hopefully some nice pictures of our days walking around the city as well. You might find more of the latter on my Instagram stories (@michellelovestoeat), so make sure to follow me over there! And please subscribe (right at the end of this post, on the right side of the footer, you’ll find a little box to leave your email) so you can be the first one to know when these foodventures and posts go online!

Let me know if there’s an amazing place in Manchester (or even in the UK) that I can’t miss!

Thanks for reading this super extra long post 🙂

TL;DR: there’s no way to summarize this whole blog post but we went to London, and it was amazing. Also, I tried another sandwich that I liked! And some pesto gnocchi that didn’t disappoint me.