Wednesday, October 12, 2016

London: buried civilisations and thriving nightlife

Last week wonder | wander | women were thrilled to meet a friend we hadn't seen in person for 10 years. Like last time, we met at the British Museum, but some things had changed since we first went!

Visitors now have to be guided through gates instead of overwhelming the open courtyard. We had paid tickets to the exhibitions, so we were led through quickly, but we had to stop for a coffee and snack at the food trucks.

After a fortifying snack of fries and coffee, we headed to our favourite Greek section of the museum to browse artefacts before seeing the Sunken Cities exhibition.

This tiny perfume jar or aryballos was made in the region of Corinth. Its mouth and neck are shaped like a lion's head and it has tiny figures of warriors and hunters painted in intricate detail on its sides.

This wine jar is shaped like a ram's head and guarded by a sphinx. The jar and the base of the sphinx are painted with slip clay, a technique in which a thin layer of clay overlays a base layer of a different colour.

This tiny figure of Athena is a household god that was worshipped as a guardian. She was the patron of Athens but other Greek cities admired her wisdom and warlike strength and she was common in the house shrines of many Greeks.

Phidias was the famous sculptor who created the giant frieze at the Parthenon. His female figures are notable for their stunningly-observed anatomy and the intricacy of their garments. Sculptures from the main frieze as well as metopes of men fighting centaurs bookend the main Greek hall at the museum; you can see the frieze sculptures below.

In return for the Sunken Cities exhibit, our friend treated us to something totally unexpected - London Cocktail Week! The wonder | wonder | women are neither drinkers nor bar hoppers, and one of us has an alarmingly low tolerance for alcohol, but a few days of barhopping with a friend who knew her oats turned out to be a lot of fun.

The World Class House on Glasshouse Street in Soho served some of the tastiest: a gorgeous light honey-infused wonder called Pollen A Pollen Bee, and a Boilermaker with a twist, using coffee-infused whiskey to be drunk separately in a tiny flask.

Mark's Bar at Hix Soho had to change their signature at the last minute due to a missed shipment of ingredients. But they whipped up maybe our favourite drink of the week, a quince liqueur wonder that looked bright and sweet but actually turned out quite dark and smokey.

The bar also had a mobile of taxidermy fish in glass cases, hovering over a flamingo in spinning neon. Strange yet classy!

Cafe Pacifico, an awesome Mexican cantina hidden up a tiny side street in Covent Garden, served three Cocktail Week specials as well as free quesadillas and other delicious nibbles. We had The Cure, the Muranueva and the Aqua Miel.

On our last night we went to Tredwell's to have A Feather in the Cap, a cognac, sherry and fig and apricot liqueur concoction that may have been the strongest cocktail we had. The mixologist generously made time for us, answering our questions on his preparations and their techniques and ingredients.

Of course a lot of drinking - especially for lightweights! - needs food to supplement it, and bar nibbles don't provide enough padding. Superstar BBQ on St Giles High Street provided a delicious set menu with enough spice and substance to quench the alcohol haze and send us home happy.

We've said before on this blog how much we love sharing the culinary delights of our city with visiting friends. This time a friend opened our eyes to a side of the city we hadn't known very well, and we're so grateful and happy for this dual experience. Cities really are better when shared!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.