Diva-Worthy London Tips!

Dear Diva,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>I town.html” target=”_blank”>read on your blog that you are off to London with your nephew! It sounds like you’ve already done a lot of booking for your upcoming trip but as I used to live there I wanted to give you some tips!

As you’ll be with your nephew, I think a great thing to do in London is Madame Tussaud’s. It is very popular and though the lines outside are crazy long, you can avoid standing in the queue by buying the fast-track tickets. They are usually a bit more expensive but it is worth it. Same goes for the tower+of+london&WT.mc_id=ppc013&WT.campaign=1035&WT.mc_ev=click&aid=146&WT.content=text&afp=ppc013&WT.source=google&cshift_ck=686894050cs501604715&WT.srch=1″ target=”_blank”>Tower of London – I hope they still do the fast-tracking there! You will still be with everybody else in the Crown Jewel room but at least you saved the hassle of queuing to get into the Tower grounds!

The London Eye is just magnificent and I enjoyed it especially by night when you can see all the lights of London. They now do a “champagne flight” – perhaps that is not too “teenager friendly” but worth noting for another time when you & WG are in the city sans nephew!

You’ll love the walking tour in the area of town.com/LondonInformation/Entertainment/Shakespeares_Globe/8f9c/” target=”_blank”>Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre! In fact, when we first moved to London we lived not far from the Globe. Speaking of this area – if you want to enjoy the pub experience try The George Inn on Borough High Street south of London Bridge. The George is one of the oldest pubs in London and was used as a stage for the Shakespeare Company, but be forewarned – it does get a bit crowed at times because it is so popular.

Another thing in this area that your nephew might enjoy (and if you are up to some horror) is the ‘London Dungeon‘ – it’s quite scary and nothing for the faint-hearted. There is also the HMS Belfast mooring on the south side of the Thames if you are interested in ships (and war). From there you could walk along Southbank, cross towerbridge.org.uk/TowerBridge/English” target=”_blank”>Tower Bridge and visit the Tower of London. Makes a perfect afternoon!

The Horse Guard is another London sight which I enjoyed. And of course my favorite building in London is The Parliament building. Also, you must do St. Paul’s Cathedral – climb up all the stairs (approx. 400!) but the views from there are mind blowing!

If you want to see lots of London in a short time the red double decker buses are great. It is a hop-on-hop-off tour and it stops at all interesting sights. That’s what I did first thing when arriving in London.

For lunch you should have the famous fish and chips. I only know two very good pubs in Greenwich which is a little bit far to travel from central London just for lunch. Anyway the names are ‘The Trafalgar‘ and ‘The Yacht‘. They are both facing the Thames but the Yacht is hidden in the side street behind The Trafalgar. They are both popular and you will find someone who can give directions. Also Greenwich is great for the Observatory and the Maritime Museum. Unfortunately the Cutty Sark was burned down and it is being renovated right now, so you can’t see it.

Another nice place for lunch right in the city is the ‘Coq d’argent‘. It is one of the very few restaurants in London City where you can sit outside on a roof terrace. It is a small place and you need to make a reservation. I know you & your husband’s taste in food – you’d love this place!

Now, for dinner there are several diva-worthy choices:
1. The OXO Tower – it has wonderful views, delicious food. The downside is that it is expensive and hard to get in.
2. Another obvious recommendation for The Diva is The Ivy. Again, it is quite expensive and hard to get a table on the weekend. It’s close to Covent Garden
3. Remember me mentioning Coq d’argent above? Well, it is a Conran restro of the Sir Terence Conran restaurants. A few other Conran restaurants to consider are The Orrerys and Butler’s Wharf Chop House. And for a nice glass of champagne in the city try the Royal Exchange – it’s be
4. The Vinopolis Restaurant (Southwark/Borough) is just great for wine lovers. You could do a tour around the world of wines (tasting included) and then have dinner there – just delicious! In the UK the legal drinking age is 18, so your 16 year old nephew isn’t quite old enough to enjoy this yet!
5. The Winewarf (belongs to the Vinopolis) is great for nibbles and Champagne/wine before dinner. Your husband, The Wine Guy, would love it.
6. The Roast (Southwark/Borough) is located on top of the Borough Food Market building and is great. Borough Organic food market is every Friday and Saturday and we just lived around the corner and had Saturday breakfast on the market! I miss London!
7. Champor Champor (Southwark/Borough) is a very small place behind Guy’s hospital with a variety of Asian dishes and a beautiful setting, and sometimes offers quite unusual dishes.
8. For a real British experience Rules Restaurant, close to Covent Garden, is a must. They have their own hunting grounds in Scotland and Wales and this is the place to go for good and tasty game dishes!
9. Are you fish eaters? I can’t remember! If so, for fish, try FISH! behind Borough Food Market.
10. Most of the Italian restaurants are really good in London, you don’t have to go to one of the big names like Giorgio Locatelli and Carluccio’s — although I must confess, they are nice though!
11. Try going to one of the restaurants owned by the big chef names like Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White or Markus Waehringall. They all have one or more restaurants in London, but making a reservation is a must! These are places to spend your entire evening – simply eating and enjoying the ambiance.

There are so so many restaurants in London and I am sure I forgot half of my favorites as I just have too many favorites to list!

Now, forget your nephew for a moment and make sure to go shopping for yourself!! Buy yourself a lovely hat as this can’t be done anywhere else other than London. tore/?cm_mmc=tbg-_-ppc-_-google-_-harrods+london” target=”_blank”>Harrod’s is a good address naturally, but if you want to be cost efficient go to Selfrigdes, (you could buy two or more there for the price of Harrods!). Try Debenham’s and Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street.

If you fancy a real English Tea, The Ritz does it nicely, but again it is quite expensive. You could also consider tea at Fortnum & Mason. They are nice for buying tea and British delicacies. Harrod’s has beautiful food halls where you can also have a delicious lunch.

I am sure I could just go on and on and on but I have to run now! I hope the above information will be helpful! Not too many tips for a 16-year old as I never had this experience! But the Musical night is great and I am sure he will enjoy it. I can’t wait to hear all about your trip!

Give my regards to WG! Lots of Love and a Big Hug,

The Gourmet Goddess

A Birthday Blog and La Reine’s Favorite Blogs – All in One!

I’ve been prancing around my house all week singing Happy Birthday to myself with an enthusiasm rarely exhibited in one past the age of 29. Though I like to think that you might be fooled into believing I’m barely a day past that point, I know better than to kid myself. Most likely you’ve already aged me at least 5 years from my real age as people always think I’m older than I am. Perhaps that’s because I’m so darn mature and not because I look so darn old.

That said, I just celebrated my birthday… but this birthday celebration is about more than just my physical age. Yes, I am another year older – and I like to think that I just keep getting better each year. I hope and pray that my husband, The Wine Guy, has the same opinion on women as he does on wine – that age only improves a quality vintage! Before I go too far with these wine metaphors and fall into deep depression over the fear that I might have , lets talk about the celebration! WG indulged me lavishly on my special day. On this occassion, The Wine Guy became known around our house as The Chef Guy!

We’ve been so busy here lately that I’ve barely had time to enjoy my own home, so when The Wine Guy asked where I wanted to celebrate, I said “Right here at home, Honey Boy, and I want you to do the cooking!”

Ladies, believe it or not, he not only cooked me an extraordinary dinner but he cleaned up afterwards. We started with a , roasted garlic olives and German sausages served along-side a perfectly prepared which I sipped while lazing on the couch letting WG feed me olives one after another. With a puff of steam the first course came from the kitchen and was presented with such beauty I wanted to weep. My husband, a man who thought he couldn’t cook, had made my favorite – scallops and sea bass served on a bed of grilled spinach. True to his name, he poured me some liquid gold, a 2004 Chateau Jouvente Graves we’d purchased this summer in Bordeaux, and it immediately became my favorite white wine.

After languishing over the succulent morsels of fish, WG fired up the grill to sear me a side of Brazilian beef and to grill some vegetables. A trick WG has learned is that the Canon Fronsac (near St Emilion) can offer nearly equally divine wine as St Emilion but with a slightly lower price tag. WG served me a beautiful, red 1997 Chateau La Horse and I lingered over my wine letting it last in my glass until the perfectly appointed arrived. And just when I thought it was over, for surely WG wouldn’t make me a cake, I was surprised when a refreshingly light lemon tart (store bought, but who cares!?) arrived. Thinking it wasn’t possible for me to eat another bite, I forced myself to partake as WG serenaded me with the birthday song once again. I think I married a saint – and he’d have to be one in order to put up with me for so long! In case you haven’t yet figured it out, I can be a bit of a hand full.

But for as long as I’ve droned about my birthday, this isn’t the only thing we were celebrating on the weekend. We were also celebrating an anniversary of my blog! Dear readers, The Antiques Diva ™ Blog has passed that crucial juncture when most bloggers realize how much work goes into blogging and decide to do the humane thing and let their blog go to that place in the internet abyss where all the not-so-dedicated blogs go to die. I’ve passed the 2-month point most bloggers consider to be the “fail or succeed point” and let me tell you, I’m here for the long run!

You might wonder why I’ve titled this email “A Birthday Blog and La Reine’s Favorite Blogs”. The Birthday Part you get – but why “La Reine’s Favorite Blogs”? When I started writing The Antiques Diva ™ blog, I wasn’t actually a big blog reader. So I contacted “mes amies” and asked them which blogs they liked and why in order to help me with the genre. La Reine happened to be a Blog Reader Aficionado with a list a mile long of what she liked and what she didn’t. In these past few months I’ve turned to her for help, for ideas, when I had a question or hit a technical wall. Being friends with La Reine is like having your own personal life coach and as she is my most wired friend, she happens to be “on call” 24 hours a day.

Anyway, it occurred to me that if you like my blog (and I hope you do) that you would also probably like La Reine’s other favorite blogs as well… Before I link them to my blog site, I thought I’d give you a chanc
e to pick your favorites and to tell me which ones should be on The Antiques Divas Recommended Blog Reading List! The fact they’ve already made La Reine’s list speaks volumes, as she can be one tough audience. That said, La Reine’s list is a long one and is certainly not for the faint of heart…. It just goes to show that “A Diva’s work is never done.”

Yours Truly,

The Antiques Diva ™

La Reine’s Favorite Blogs:

Luxist — because its fun and tells me everything I need to know and buy. Today they have an outrageously expensive dog collar perfect for Mignette.

Traditional Home — because I like the magazine and their blog is a good supplement to the maggy.

— same as above plus good tips and recipes

ND Nation — because despite getting humiliated AGAIN in the game last weekend, I am a “domer” (plus there are a billion other ND blog sites if really you want to devote a whole section to S&M;).

Girls Gone Styled — has fun urban fashion tips. I like that it is sort of a video blog,

Chicago Mag — because some of the most current info on the housing market is in real estate blogs, and I am in the middle of buying a condo in Chicago.

Mom 2 My 6 Pack — this is really more our friend Tamara’s life than mine, but I think the author is hysterical even if I don’t have kids at home.

TMZ — I usually check this one 2 times daily because I’ve become a celebrity cyber stalker and they make stalking easy.

Chic Shopping Paris — because I can still vicariously shop in Paris and I like Rebecca’s taste.

Features Blog Chicago Tribute — because I need my tech info summarized and compartmentalized, and the two Erics have good information and an easy writing style.

Palm Blog — this is Palm Pilot’s official blog so you get good updates on their products, but also its a bit of a commercial.

Sling Community — because I can watch live TV any time, any where on my Palm thanks to slingbox.

BMW Blog — which is again an official company blog, and is full of typical BMW jargon and hype, so I’m looking for a good blog for Beamer owners that can help resolve some problems…any suggestions from an Antiques Diva™ BMW Driving Reader?

Some of my favorite pod casts are:

Epicurious — because since moving back to the USA two years ago after living the better part of a decade in Europe I find very few people who want to talk food, and I miss that! Somehow HGTV, Food Network and Fine Living, all of which I watch on the telly, have turned the foodie talkers into foodie observers…it’s so sad!

— because they are informative and smaller and lighter than dragging along a travel guide book. Even though they’re annoying, they have a lot of good content.

Jane Smart — good content, and again, smaller than a guide book.

Pod Cast Alley — when I’m searching for new pod casts in my free time!

And these don’t fit in either the blog or pod cast categories, but I’m a real fan of Facebook and You Tube! FYI, I recently purchased a , and it makes my computer time much better than my 5-year-old laptop did – but I’m not a fan of Windows Vista.

Happy Surfing !

La Reine