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Holiday Markets, Walking, More Walking and a Dram or 2...

Last blog I talked about the wonderful holiday markets of Vienna and mentioned that I would take you on my next journey in search of holiday markets in Europe. This trip took me to London and Edinburgh. I've always loved London and have been there more times than I can count; Edinburgh I recently discovered on a trip I took last year (and will be a future blog subject) and have since fallen in love with this amazing city. First stop was London! London is one of the really great walking cities in the world. The city was all dressed up, glittering in holiday lights and various holiday markets. The largest was in Hyde Park and was a bit of a disappointment as I was expecting what I saw in Vienna, lots of cute crafts and food but instead found little crafts, large rides and lots of food. The Holiday Markets on the South Bank and in front of Trafalgar Square were more in line with what I had expected and wanted in a Holiday Market. I love to walk this city and during my 2 days this time I think I logged in over 25,000 steps each day which was a good thing considering how much I love to eat in London. Years ago you'd never have thought of London as a place to eat great food but this has changed dramatically over the years. Today London has many Michelin starred restaurants, celebrity chefs and with a large and varied immigrant culture, there are so many amazing ethnic restaurants.

But I was on a mission, and that mission was to find the Huffkins Tearoom in London, home to my favorite tea, Girlie Grey! Last year I had afternoon tea in this lovely tearoom, while on a day trip to the Cotswolds it was there that I first tasted Girlie Grey. I tried desperately to find this blend or a replica and had asked many friends who went to England to try to find this tea for me. While we found similar blends, none could match up in my opinion to this blend of Black Asam and fragrant rose petals and citrus. I was so excited when I heard they had opened up an outpost in London, inside John Lewis, that I made that my first stop and bought all the bags they had! I ordered my tea and it looked lonely so I had a proper club sandwich with chips and then a perfectly sweet and sticky Belgian Bun. Great way to start the trip! I kept on walking and taking in the holiday sites and ended in another of my favorite places, the Burlington Arcade where I stumbled upon a fantastic holiday pop-up for the English Sparkling Wine Nyetimber. This lovely pop-up, was elegant and just the place to rest my tired feet and have a glass of Nyetimber Rose. Made from a classic blend of grapes Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, this wine was lightly pink with an elegant perlage, creamy with notes of rasberries and roses. Yes folks, England is making some stunning sparkling wines. The terroir especially in Sussex is perfect for sparkling wine and with climate change and things getting a bit warmer, England is becoming truly a fantastic place for Sparkling Wine.

Day 2 took me on my favorite walk from Mayfair over the Golden Jubilee Bridge and onto the South Bank so that I could work up an appetite for my pilgrimage to Borough Market. To me Borough Market is the holy grail of food markets with Wright Brothers Seafood the light at the end of the tunnel! I arrive, and am starved, it's a bit too early and Wright Brothers is not yet open but Borough Market is! I just love taking in the sights and smells of this amazing food market that's been around since the 12th century. Beautifully displayed food from local vendors in stalls filled with cheeses, meats, fish, shellfish along with fruits and vegetables. Spice Mountain was my first stop, a spice purveyor with a fantastic array of spices and mixtures from around the world. I discovered it last time and bought a large array of Indian spice mixtures. Prepared foods abound, from hand pies to oysters, the largest mushroom risotto pan ever, enormous paellas, and ethnic foods galore. I started off with a holiday hand pie from the Pieminister; I felt I needed a base for the oysters I was about to consume at Wright Brothers. I love the Pieminister and actually bought their book which is filled with a huge assortment of recipies for pies! Now it was time for my annual lunch at Wright Brothers and I couldn't wait, early enough to get a seat at the bar and not have to wait at this mecca for oysters and seafood fresh from the English coast. I started with a half dozen oysters matched with a glass of Ridgeview Bloomsbury Brut. Another great example of what can be produced in England, rich and creamy in texture with a lasting perlage and bright green apple nose. Perfect for my oysters and next course the most lovely pink prawns served in a coupe and a side of mayo. I was almost in heaven and got there on my last stop which was to Bread Ahead Donuts and if you know me you know I'm obsessed with donuts! Now I was in heaven, a perfectly fried donut filled with rich chocolate bavarian cream and sprinkled on the outside with sugar!