Kitty Fisher’s in London Pulled Me In, Fed Me Well and Charmed Me Completely

…and I didn’t even know they were trendy, hot and famous, with a “cult-like following” (to quote a review)!


Photo of Kitty Fisher’s courtesy of TripAdvisor

It Started with a Walkabout

It was a chilly and rainy December Saturday, and I was in London. I had slept well, slept hard and slept late in my cubbyhole-sized room at a giant chain hotel in Kensington / Shepherd’s Bush. Rested and ready, I headed out to do what I love to do most in London: walk around and take in the sights, smells and sounds of the place. The feel of it. And the people. Most of all, the people.

I took my time, and my first find was C. Lidgate’s, the subject of a previous post.

Lidgate’s is a carnivorous cook’s dream! There’s a huge selection of meats, fish, poultry, sausages, cheeses, pies, condiments, cured meats and deli items.

Part of what makes London a fantastic walking city is the Tube, because you can hop on when you’re through walking in one area and quickly make your way to another. Which I did. I love the Tube system!

Shepherd Market was My Destination

My Tube stop was Green Park Station, the nearest to Shepherd Market in Mayfair. I LOVE this tiny celebrated enclave with its rich and colorful history that practically walks alongside as you make your way through the square on cobblestone streets past pubs and restaurants in historic stone buildings. It was the home of the first Mayfair public market in the late 1600’s, and has always been popular with writers and artists. And me.

From www.shepherdmarket.co.uk

Although it was drizzling in that way that only London can drizzle, I walked through the streets in Shepherd Market several times, trying to decide where to have my late lunch / early dinner. Pausing in front of various establishments, I scanned their posted menus and checked out their ambience, sneaking a look at the meals on the tables.

The Manager at Kitty Fisher’s was Irresistible

At Kitty Fisher’s, the manager opened the door as I was lingering outside drooling over the menu and literally pulled me into the door, albeit gently: “Don’t you want to eat with us?” I couldn’t resist her and did as I was told. (Like Eliza Doolittle, “I’m a good girl, I am!”) Kitty Fisher’s namesake is the famous 18th-century courtesan, but she couldn’t have been half as charming and welcoming as the front-of-the-house team in this lovely little place.

The manager, on the right, is the one who literally pulled me into the restaurant; the bartender the left entertained me the whole time I was there

I spent two happy hours at Kitty Fisher’s. The ambience is an appealing mix of cozy old England and fresh, trendy-foodie-creative.

The bar at Kitty Fisher’s is warm and appealing, like the staff

I Like to Sit at the Bar and Watch

I sat at the bar, my favorite place to be when eating alone.

Bartenders have great stories, and watching them work is fascinating. The good ones are always willing to narrate what they’re doing. Kitty Fisher’s bartender (below) was making one of the infused liquors used to create their imaginative cocktails, one of which is called “Bad Kitty” (see the photo on the left from an article in The Times). I wasn’t in a cocktail mood that day, but will try the Bad Kitty next time…it has gin, sloe gin, elderflower cordial (house-made), lemon juice and cava. Sounds great!

Enjoy the Meal with Me

And the food, oh the food! Sweet Tower of London, the food was magnificent! Sit down with me here and let me describe it to you.

I started with bread and butter, the perfect way to warm up on a foggy day in London town. Yeasty, crusty, chewy, it had a satisfying, grandmotherly quality, but on the other hand, Grandma never toasted her bread on a wood-fired grill (look at those grill marks!) or served it with whipped butter dusted with onion ash. That’s right, onion ash. Yum!!!

Check out those grill marks and the dusting of onion ash – oh my goodness!

And then there was the pasta, the glorious pasta, specifically: smoked cod belly and egg yolk raviolo with pickled golden raisins, hazelnuts and curry butter. It was heavenly, a rich and subtle combination of complementary flavors and textures. The creaminess of the egg and sauce are perfectly balanced by the crunch of the toasted hazelnuts and smoky cod.

Rich and satisfying, this pasta was a patchwork quilt of flavors and textures

“Eat your vegetables,” my late mother’s voice always rings in my head, and I’m so glad I listened to her at Kitty Fisher’s. (“I’m a good girl, I am!”) The hispi cabbage was a satisfying surprise, a big, thick steak-like slice of it that was grilled and then topped with a mustard seed sauce.

Surprisingly good hispi cabbage “steak” with mustard seeds

A Walkabout Inside the Restaurant

Kitty Fisher’s wasn’t busy when I was there in the middle of that rainy Saturday afternoon and only a few other customers were there to enjoy it. (Apparently, this is highly unusual, as all the glowing reviews take pains to mention the need for reservations and how hard it is to get a table.) 

After I polished off my delicious meal, I wandered around and took pictures.

Downstairs has an old-school, snug, clubby feel with its red upholstery and dark green walls, but isn’t stuffy.

Downstairs at Kitty Fisher’s

Kitty Fisher’s building was once a Georgian bakery, and the relics embedded in the walls downstairs are part of its charm and personality.

Reviews I read from diners who ate downstairs mentioned the experience of watching what goes on in the small kitchen, which is visible through glass doors.

Star Treatment Makes Memories

Noticing me with my touristy curiosity and camera, a member of the kitchen team came out to meet and greet me, and then summoned the rest of the staff to take a photo with me. Really. It wasn’t even my idea. They are that nice.

The excellent kitchen staff at Kitty Fisher’s, swarming me with welcome

In addition to praising the food and remarking on Kitty Fisher’s diminutive size and imposing presence on the London restaurant scene, reviews by restaurant critics unfailingly mention the patronage of stars and TV personalities (Kate Moss, Brad Pitt, Nigella Lawson, to name a few) and even a former prime minister (David Cameron). I’m a nobody from the colonies, but the staff treated me like I was royalty and served me a meal that to match. If everyone gets that star treatment, and I suspect they do, Kitty Fisher’s will be around for a long, long time.

And I will be back to reunite with these folks who made me feel like family.

Photo taken at the insistence of the manager; don’t I look happy and well-cared for?

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Reminder: all recommendations, such as those in this post, are based on personal opinion and experience and should not be considered as advertisements (Glover Gardens is not a commercial blog).

January Dreaming: Frangipani Winery on an Afternoon in June

This is the third post in a series, January Dreaming. Click for the series.

Wedding arbor at Frangipani Winery in Temecula, CA

We’re conjuring up some summer to get us through January. Are you with us? (See more about the January Dreaming series at the bottom of the post.)

Today, we’re reminiscing about one of the wineries we visited on our ‘Wine for No Reason’ trip in June of 2017 to California’s Temecula Valley, which sports over 50 vineyards.  Frangipani Estate Winery is quiet, verdant and lush – and the wine is good, too! “Just off the beaten path,” says the Frangipani web site, encouraging visitors to “drop on in today”. I’d love to, especially on this chilly, blustery mid-January day! But for now, the memories will suffice.

As you can see, Temecula is beautiful, probably almost as nice in January as it is in June. We’ll be back.

January Dreaming: The Background

If you read this post, January Dreaming, you know that the inspiration for this series is my Mom’s longstanding loathing of the pitiful month of January. Like her, we’re dreaming of good times in warmer months, and celebrating those good times in this series.

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Reminder: all recommendations, such as those in this post, are based on personal opinion and experience and should not be considered as advertisements (Glover Gardens is not a commercial blog).

Putting My Better Foot Forward (and a haiku)

Things are quiet here at Glover Gardens because I’ve just had foot surgery.

The Musical Millennial was my day surgery chauffeur, and I kept my foot elevated per instructions.

Yay!

My last bunion surgery a few years ago didn’t heal properly and my big toe stuck out like a sore thumb. Literally. I’m so excited to get my bum foot fixed, put my much-better foot forward, and get back to being a super-active person again, instead of just a sorta-kinda-active person.

But first, there’s a taking-it-easy period. Light duty for me, with The Grill-Meister doing the lion’s share of the daily grind at Glover Gardens. Bless him. He has warmed up my coffee three times today while I recline like a princess with an ugly black boot instead of a glass slipper. But hey, maybe glass slippers are now back in my future!

The cat is happy to keep me company while I’m convalescing.

Fiona found a semi-permanent lap

Back to the surgery itself: the doctor and hospital staff were marvelous. They were warm and caring, professional and efficient, even funny. About ten of them swarmed me in the operating room to get me ready, and I couldn’t keep up with my ‘Curious Kim’ questions. One of the nurses laughed and said that they perform together like an Indy 500 pit crew. Great analogy! It inspired me to conjure up a haiku as I was drifting off. Or was it as I was waking up?

Haiku: Swarmed in the Operating Room

pit crew in scrubs with
military precision
fixing my bum foot

Thank you to Dr. Donald Falknor and the staff at Memorial Hermann Southwest Day Surgery. (By the way, these were not the folks who did my bunionectomy-gone-wrong a few years ago!)

Life is good. I’m about to put my better foot forward!

© 2019 Glover Gardens

January Dreaming: Paris in July from the Taxi Window

This is the second post in a series, January Dreaming. Click for the series.

If you read yesterday’s post, January Dreaming, you know that the inspiration for this series is my Mom’s longstanding loathing of the pitiful month of January. Like her, we’re dreaming of good times in warmer months, and celebrating those good times in this series.

Paris is charming just about any time…in the springtime (like the song says), summer, fall and winter… but I was especially enchanted last July on the way back to my hotel from a business meeting. The parade for winning the World Cup had taken place earlier that day, and everyone was either happy or in a hurry. I had a point-n-shoot camera with me and spent a very enjoyable 40-minute rush-hour taxi ride snapping pics of the tourists and locals as they darted about this very walkable city.

In Paris, even a taxi ride during rush hour is enriching and interesting.

© 2019 Glover Gardens

January Dreaming

Nancy Harvell at the beach

This is the first post in a series: January Dreaming.

My late Mom always hated January. For many reasons.

The emotional let-down after the excitement of the holidays.

The dreary, gray, chilly days.

The lack of a real identity for this also-ran of months. Nothing big happens. All the other months get the glory.

Mom was a warm weather person, and grumped her way through all her Januaries. I think she kind of enjoyed putting down her least favorite month, and she had a real patter going about it “too cold, too damp, too boring, no spice to it!”. She spent her January days dreaming of warmer good times and letting everyone know about it. I miss that, and her.

That’s Mom above at the beach where I grew up, in Gilchrist, Texas along the Gulf of Mexico. The floppy hat illustrates her personality so well – she definitely marched to her own drummer. So in Mom’s honor, I’m going to do some January Dreaming posts about warmer days. First up will be scenes from a Paris taxi ride in July (my next post – stay tuned).

Scenes from the Paris taxi: joggers along the Seine

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Back to Work: What the Car Saw

My blogger friend The Storyteller makes lots of pictures, some of which he calls “What the Dog Saw“. These are photos he takes when taking one or more of the gaggle / pack / menagerie of canines in his household for a ramble. I alway like them (the photos and posts); they always inspire me. Take a look below to see what I mean; there’s a link to the post, too.

What the Dog Saw. Five. by Ray Laskowitz in The Storyteller

Segue to me and how this relates – I’m back at work this week after almost 3 weeks off during the holidays, and the 50+ minute (each way) commute has held some amazing sights. When the vehicle is stopped, I’m as likely to whip out my iPhone as The Storyteller is, to capture “What the Car Saw”.

This morning, it was a gorgeous, fiery sunrise, framed by a freeway and speeding cars.

A few days ago, it was birds, birds, birds. When I saw them, all I could think of was that old Bing Crosby movie, “Going My Way”. They were definitely going each other’s way. Together.

So that’s What the Car Saw. This week. So far. At least, what I could catch. The sunset tonight was one of those once-in-a-decade experiences, but only for a few minutes, and only when I was going 75 mph. So I guess the car saw it, but my camera didn’t.

© 2019 Glover Gardens

A Chicken-Fried Good Time in New Orleans is In Our Future

Now there’s one more way to enjoy my beloved NOLA: a chicken-fried festival of flavors. A plethora of plentiful poultry done right. A cache of crunchy chicken goodness.

Photo from Shoofly by Ellis Anderson; that’s the fried chicken from Willie’s Chicken Shack

Shoofly Magazine, the pride of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, did the world a public service by sampling the best of the best of the chicken-fried offerings in nearby New Orleans, and published a great article about it: The Grand New Orleans Fried Chicken Pilgrimage.

A simple story about a food festival grows to epic proportions when it kicks off the search for some of the city’s best fried chicken. 

– Shoofly story by Ellis Anderson

We’re a little obsessive about New Orleans here at Glover Gardens and are revving up for another Jazz Fest jaunt later this year. Shoofly’s tribute to fried chicken adds complexity to our journey, because we are already stressed by the “so little time, so many great meals to choose from!” dichotomy. But we’ll figure it out, and if we have to make extra trips to NOLA to sample the crispy chicken delights highlighted in the magazine, we’ll do it.

Photo from Shoofly Magazine by Ellis Anderson: the Roosevelt Hotel’s Monday night chicken

Give the article from Shoofly a read, and think about joining us at Jazz Fest later this year when we’ll be tasting the chicken and jamming to the tunes. Thanks to the folks at Shoofly Magazine for adding to the never-ending lure of NOLA.

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Back to Work and Healthy Eating

Are you like me? I love the holidays but don’t mind when they’re over…one can only have so much rich food and fun, right? I feel like it would take an austerity program for a few weeks to balance everything out.

So our “back to work and healthy eating” meal on the last night of our 2+-week vacation was Glover Gardens Chili. While it might seem counter-intuitive to call chili healthy, our recipe is high in fiber and low in fat. There are three kinds of beans, and these days, I make it with ground turkey instead of ground beef. Fresh chiles amp up the spice component.

Our garnishes include fresh jalapeños, cheese, avocado, cilantro and red onion – and the saltines make a great delivery device

You’ll find the recipe in this post from a while back – A Fresh Take on a Classic: Glover Gardens Chili. The picture below is from the original post.

Glover Gardens Chili is chock-full of protein and fiber and looks very appetizing with its variety of garnishes

Amusingly, I’ve just noticed that I seem to make a post about this chili at around this time each year. It’s the after-holiday antidote!

© 2019 Glover Gardens

Le Ballon Rouge by The Musical Millennial, for Your Listening Pleasure

Song Cover for Le Ballon Rouge by Thomas Wenglinski

The Musical Millennial has written, recorded and released a new single, a tune that was inspired by the 1956 film, Le Ballon Rouge, or The Red Balloon. The film was written, directed and produced by French cinematographer Albert Lamorisse.

It All Started in About 2002, Thanks to Aunt Julie

While the Musical Millennial is now a junior in college studying jazz composition at The University of Texas, we watched the film together when he was a small child, and he was transfixed. Which means, of course, we watched it many times. (If you’ve ever had a small child, you understand.) Luckily, this 35-minute film is worth watching multiple times, so I renew my thanks to his Aunt Julie for sending it as a Christmas gift.

Song Cover for Le Ballon Rouge by Thomas Wenglinski
Song cover art for Le Ballon Rouge

Le Ballon Rouge has the Approval of Mom the Critic – I Love It

I really love this tune! Big surprise, I know: he’s my kid, of course I do. I like everything he does (mostly; I was actually too honest when he was tiny and “wrote” tunes by assembling pre-recorded tracks from Garage Band that I didn’t care for…there may have been tears). Le Ballon Rouge is avant-garde and thoughtful, and it may be the first song he’s ever created with lyrics. It’s definitely the first time I’ve heard him sing since choir in 4th grade. (I couldn’t really hear him then, actually. He was ‘in the chorus’. You know what that means.)

Announcing Le Ballon Rouge

Here’s what the Musical Millennial said on Instragram to announce the release of Le Ballon Rouge:

happy new year everybody!! we made it to 2019!!
my new single “le ballon rouge” is now available everywhere online!!
.
this single was inspired by 1) the need to get over a ripping stress headache i was battling at the time the original groove/theme came into my head and 2) my recent rediscovery of albert lamorisse’s 1956 film of the same name. i’m honored to share it with you, and i hope you enjoy it as much as i enjoyed recording it!!
.
(again, special thanks to @_justinebel for the seriously killing cover art!!)
#newmusic2019 #pickupjazz

From the Musical Millennial’s Instagram (thomascwenglinski

The Lyrics

Aunt Julie, the giver of Le Ballon Rouge, is the poet Julie Wenglinski; it is so fitting that her gift inspired the Musical Millennial to write a song with lyrics 15+ years later. I think it reads like a poem, and you can hear the childhood memories combined with the contemporaneous experience (the headache) he described in Instagram in the lyrics (below).

I’ve got my own 
One red balloon
Thanks Lamorisse
You gave me peace
I was so lost
Broken and crossed (but now)
I’ve got my own
One red balloon

I’ve got my own
One red balloon
Far in the past 
Memories amassed
It’s mine to stay
If just today
I’ve got my own
One red balloon

Listen to Le Ballon Rouge Now

How can you hear it Le Ballon Rouge? (You want to, I know you do.)

Stream on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0xapOUO2B2nfhkDxAptXlY?nd=1
Buy on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/le-ballon-rouge-single/1448048942
Stream on Amazon Music:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MKSCSST
Stream on Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/le-ballon-rouge-single/1448048942?uo=4&app=apple+music
Buy/Stream on Google Play:https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Thomas_Wenglinski_Le_Ballon_Rouge?id=B3bqifemo4wyf3xnmzul5nk2uiy

The Movie that Inspired It

And what about the film? Like my son, the New York Times still loves this children’s film that won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay; check out this review from YouTube. Warning: it will make you want to watch! Amazon has it here.


© 2019 Glover Gardens

One Stocking Left Behind

One stocking was left behind...

It’s time to put away Christmas.

But one stocking was left behind.

It was chock-full of goodies!

It will be several more days before the Musical Millennial can collect his stocking stuffers, because he’s on a New Year’s trip to the Northeast. Ethical question: is it ok for me to dip into the goodies (I like spicy stuff!) since he left them?

Or would it be bad Santa-karma?

What do you think?

© 2019 Glover Gardens