Monday, February 18, 2008

London: Day 3

So, I just got back to my hotel, and I'm a bit peeved because I got stood up at dinner. C'est la vie, I guess (can you tell I'm getting ready for Paris?). I can't recall when I've ever been stood up before, and I felt like the wallflower at the homecoming dance. The bus boys kept staring at me and chatting, and I kept thinking that they were probably making bets on how long I'd wait before ordering or leaving (1:05...and yes, silly, I stayed and ate).

The funny thing is that I was originally supposed to dine alone at Nobu, but then invited the reporter along, so I guess it shouldn't matter that I ate alone. And, he did e-mail this morning that he'd most likely be late. I left 2:15 after our reservations, so I definitely gave him a chance. Strangely enough, I've met him for lunch before in the States, where he's based, and he's a really nice guy. He strikes me as a workaholic though, and I suspect he got caught up at work.

So, apparently I have a thing with Nobu making me feel like a loser. When I first made reservations, the gentleman on the phone kept apologizing for my having to dine alone (a.k.a. I'm a loser). Then, when I called back last week to upgrade my reservations to two, Giles introduced himself and said he remembered me (horrifying). "How lovely that you've found someone to accompany you to dinner," he said. "Not that there's anything wrong with one dining along, but it does give one a boost of confidence, doesn't it?" At least Giles wasn't there tonight. (P.S. I assume Giles has a butler gig for his side job because every movie I've ever watched with a butler is named Giles.)

Enough about dinner. Today actually was another great day, just with a bit of a sour note at the end. I started off with a meeting at a trade publication in Surrey, which is 30 minutes southeast of London. I took the national rail to get there and miraculously, my trip was pretty smooth (took about an hour to get there from my hotel).

I love the trains, but have to say that I'm completely puzzled that there are no trash cans anywhere in the subways on the sidewalks. I keep giving my trash to vendors. Very strange. And, I haven't noticed a lot of litter, although people leave their newspapers on top of the subway escalators and others pick them up to read. It's like some sort of unofficial library. Kind of funny to watch.

My meeting went for 45 minutes and went very well, although I was kept waiting 45 minutes (but at least not stood up!). Definitely was worth the trip because opportunities for a few different clients were unearthed. The editor and publisher I met with chatted my ear off about the American election, which is emerging as a trend for my meetings. They admitted that everyone is obsessed with the U.S. election and asked me all kinds of questions about the caucus and the voting process. They were under the impression that you had to officially join a party through some complex process to cast a vote. I set them straight, and then we all talked about how we want to be super delegates. (P.S. All of the papers have updates about our election on page one.)

I left Surrey around 1 p.m. and then headed out for lunch (I was starving!). I called Phil before I left the station and woke him up (whoops). Mr. Wells recommended his favorite pub, The Grenadier, in Westminster, so I headed there with plans to visit the Chocolate Bar at Harrod's for dessert (I'm doing such a great job of getting lean for my race, aren't I?). The Grenadier is tiny and 352 years old. It was the former officer mess hall of the Grenadier Guards (hence the name). I had to wait a few minutes for a table, but during the wait, the owner decided to make me his pet. Perhaps he does this with everyone, but he told me all the details of the pub and its famous guests (including an Afghan general who visited this week and sat at the table next to me and folks from the French embassy who were currently seated at the table on the other side of me...I only caught some numbers and thank yous in French...not a good sign for Paris).

I was seated next to a cozy fireplace (there are a few in the pub) and was torn between ordering the famous fish and chips and the chicken and leek pot pie of the day. I ended up with the pot pie mainly because my father-in-law and I had a conversation about not knowing what leeks taste like a couple weeks ago (Dad: they taste like celery). It was delish, and my server complimented me on being a good eater (sadly, this is not the first time I've received this compliment...Amy, you're not alone!).

On the ceiling in the room where I was seated was a bazillion dollar bills inscribed with notes from their previous owners. I left my own autographed dollar to be added to the collage.
Harrod's was really close by, so I popped over to the second floor for the dreamy Chocolate Bar. Paddles churn large vats of chocolate, which is channeled in pipes to the bar where it's on tap (my kind of bar)! I had strawberries and marshmallows and dipped them in milk chocolate. Soooo delicious!

I was headed into the subway to go back to my hotel and catch up on some work (e-mailing on the subway was only getting me so far), when I saw a giant Zara, one of my favorite clothing stores in NYC. There was even a home section! I went in to scout it out, but was disappointed. Nothing big about the home section (sorry girls), but I ended up buying a skirt.

Got back to my hotel and prepped for my next meeting at 5 p.m. Met with the business editor at The Economist and had a great conversation. He's really nice and offered to be a go-to for his biz reporters down the road (yes!). Met with him for about 45 minutes (no waiting) and then headed to back to the Mayfair area 45 minutes early for dinner. I poked around and saw a hilarious (to me) restaurant called the Polish - Mexican Bistro (????). Phil's fam is Polish, so I thought they'd like the photo.

I scouted out Nobu and then remembered that the Hilton next door has a super sweet bar on the 28th floor, Galvin at Windows, with great views of London (another tip from Mr. Wells). I navigated through a mess of black tie guests in the lobby to the elevator and sat myself down for a drink and a good view. Unknowingly, I ordered my most expensive drink ever (the chef has a Michelin star, so apparently you can charge a bazillion dollars for a drink and not price it on the bar menu). I ordered a Brazilian flirt (pineapple, amaretto, Brazilian rum and pommery champagne) and captured some notes from my meetings that I didn't want to forget. Bill was 13.25 pounds, which equates to around $27, and damn, that drink was good.

Walked next door to Nobu, checked my coat and waited for my guest at the table. You know the rest, but I should mention that the sushi rocked (Nobu has its flagship restaurant in NYC and is the creation of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Robert DeNiro is an investor) and I had the best mojito of my life: cinnamon and pear. My server felt bad for me after I waited for an hour and brought me some edamame to tide me over. I should mention that the first time I ate edamame in a sushi joint, I ate it pods and all (lots of fiber...very chewy) before looking over at my tablemates and noticing that they were sucking the edamame out of the pods and then shedding the skins into an empty bowl (oh, that's what that's for), Sadly, that was not that long ago. We learn.

Tomorrow: Back to the gym and three more meetings. I'll try not to embarrass myself.


  1. Missing trash cans????

    Hey Christina - getting caught up on some of you adventures from last week. Sounds like you're having a blast.

    About the garbage cans... like you, I was totally baffled when I couldn't find one (or any) when I was in Paddington Station in London. After 15 minutes of walking around trying to find one I asked a stranger why there weren't any garbage cans and what I should do with my empty milkshake cup? He told me the reason there weren't any 'rubbish' cans was because people could hide bombs in them, and as far as what I should do with the cup? He told me to leave it against a wall, and someone would eventually pick it up. ... I guess that make sense, but it never dawned on me. Learn something new every day.

    Anyway, I miss you a whole bunch. Can't wait to see you next weekend and hear all about your stories in person!

    Safe travels. See you soon!


  2. OK, I'm jealous. When we travelled together we visited the Pez Museum and the Crayola Factory Store. What gives? I wish I was with you - you are a blast to travel with. It sounds like you are having some interesting media meetings (or not) - keep up the great work with your blog and stay safe.


  3. Sweet!

    The Chocolate Bar at the Great Lakes Science Center's Chocolate Exhibition is interesting, but it sure could use some vats on tap like at Harrod's! (Did you know Europe's elite used to meet at "chocolate houses" to enjoy the hot drink and discuss politics/socialize?)

    If you can field questions about our election process, the rest of your meetings should be a piece of cake!

    Happy travels, and keep on posting!

  4. Brutal!

    CK - I'm so sorry to hear about your dinner experience!! But way to still eat dinner, and your pride - you go girl! I'm sure Giles would have joined you had he been there...
    Glad you are having a great time. Keep posting! ~Ambs

  5. Yum Yum to the Tum Tum

    Cinnamon and pear mojito? And I thought I had the best one of my life at the Four Seasons last weekend?? Let's re-create for the girl's couldn't be THAT hard. And FYI, I'm highly interested in the cuisine at the Polish-Mexican restaurant. I'm thinking sausage, cheese dip and tortilla chips. YUMMY! Have fun, wish I were there... I would've never stood you up!

  6. Table for one

    Wow, the gym excursions sound interesting. Maybe you could try to find a Jazzercise class instead? LOL.

    The mojito at Nobu sounded delish. We definitely must try to get a bartender somewhere around here to recreate it!

    Safe travels!