As I did a semester abroad at Lancaster University and later a master’s program in Leeds, I have a great handful of friends who still live in the UK. I mentioned a few of these brilliant women in a previous post, as I was lucky enough to spend the past bank holiday weekend with them in the Big Smoke. Today I’ll introduce you to my huge-hearted friend Nat, along with a tasty little brunch spot in Clerkenwell, London.
Granger & Co is a laid back and delicious foodie establishment that’s popped up in Hawaii, Australia, Japan, and now London. Bill Granger is the mastermind chef behind the chain, and is especially well known for his talented touch with eggs. But before I tell you about the eggs, let me tell you about London . . . . I was staying with my girlfriend Roshni, who has a new flat that’s very central. Central as in, dangerously-walkably close to Oxford Street. On Saturday we shopped, cooked, and clubbed. We darted in and out of high street stores, nabbing sales and avoiding sporadic downpours.
We ate delicious Indian food (Ro’s cupboards are filled with all the best spices) and then spent four hours getting dolled up and eventually went out to a fancy pants club called Tramp. Ro did my hair and helped with my makeup, and I felt like a proper London babe ;) There’s rarely an opportunity to get this fancy in Amsterdam. I also got to wear my new Louboutins, and subsequently danced until I swore to never, ever wear them again (but who am I kidding, I totally will). Sunday morning Ro dozed in, but I got up bright and early to meet up with my friend Nat for brunch. We had plans to meet at Granger & Co, and as the sun was shinning, I left a tad early so I could roam the streets of London and explore the neighborhood beforehand.Clerkenwell is adorable. It’s spotted with restaurants, pubs, fancy pants eateries, and quaint homes, and with architecture that exudes London. Georgian houses with white sash windows, an array of fire-colored bricks, extra large chimneys, and pointed steeple tops. I wound through residential alleyways enjoying the quiet and getting lost, before stumbling across a grassy sanctuary in the middle of the neighborhood.I found a park bench with loads of sunshine, and dressed in my Oxford Street best, did absolutely nothing but enjoy the breeze and people watch until noon.Nat was running a bit late for our date, so after sun-soaking I headed to Granger & Co all by my lonesome to enjoy some iced coffee. I was seated at a cozy corner table, surrounded by tall windows and simple, sleek furnishings.
The waitress brought over a menu, and I immeditely ordered an iced allpress cold brew with milk. The rosehip & mint punch and the white peach bellini were equally tempting, but after a late night of heavy dancing, my sorry body demanded caffeine. Do you find swirls of white milk erupting into pitch black coffee as hypnotizing as I do??
As I waited for Nat I sipped coffee and scanned the menu, which had way too many delicious options to choose from. Ricotta hotcakes, banana & honeycomb butter. Crab, chorizo & house kimchee fried brown rice. Herb cured salmon, cream cheese, pickles & toasted sourdough tartine. Soft boiled cotswold legbar eggs & buttered sourdough soldiers . . . . As Nat was late and my belly was rumbling, I ordered some courgette chips, nigella seed & tahini yoghurt.
And finished the full plate in under two minutes!Finally, after much anticipation, my beautiful date arrived!! :)I met Nat in 2009 when we worked together at a summer camp in Maine. I was the head arts and crafts teacher, and Nat worked down by the waterfront. At first I didn’t think we would have much in common . . . until I discovered that she was from Leeds, where I would coincidentally be studying in a few short months. We spent the summer together, and when it came time for my big move out to the UK, Nat picked me up at the airport and help me move me into my student accommodation. It feels like years and years ago, but I can still remember sitting in the back of her mom’s car, eating McCoy’s cheddar and onion crisps (ohh my British cravings), as we zoomed down the highway on the wrong side of the road. Nat and her family had prepared the sweetest care package for me, and welcomed me into their home. I spent that first night in England with Nat and her family, as well as Easter and a few other comforting weekends throughout the school year. Nat was actually crashing with me in Leeds the first night Ben stayed over (Nat was in fact sound asleep in my bed, while Ben and I stayed up all night talking in the kitchen). And at the end of the school year, Nat again helped me lug boxes up and down the steep stairs of my student accommodation, and settle into a new home. She’s known me as Maine Ali, Leeds Ali, engaged Ali, advertising Ali, and now Amsterdam Ali, and similarly, I’ve loved watching this brilliant woman flourish through the many stages of young adulthood.
I also loved watching her slide into the booth alongside me at Granger & Co, because this meant . . . it was time for eggs!! Nat went for the courgette fritters, deep fried egg, haloumi, tahini yoghurt & parsley salad, which looked divine.
While I was a simple gal and went for the scrambled eggs & sourdough toast with a side of avocado.The eggs were swirled into the most delicious bundle – this photo does not do the tastiness justice!! Speaking of tasty treats, Granger & Co also has a beautiful display of desserts, with cakes, cookies, salted peanut brittle, and dark chocolate pistachio fudge, just to name a few!Nat and I stuffed our bellies, settled the bill (which always seems so reasonable at brunch!) and then went to explore London. So more London adventures to come soon ;)
The consistency of my posts have been a bit out of whack lately (I still have two Maine posts, a bunch of fun Amsterdam adventures, and a few more London goodies to share), so please forgive me for the inconsistencies – lately I have been having a hard time deciding WHAT to share next ;) as I have a black-log of lovely summer adventures! Onwards and off to the next!!