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Saturday, December 2, 2017

People of London, Part II

Did you miss Part I ?  Here it is:

I know both my faithful readers have been up all night, drinking heavily, their
hearts aglow, waiting for the next installment of People of London.  Always 
daring to please even your darkest desires, I raced back to London to chat with
 more Londoners and down a few very bright and stirring beverages.
Now let’s begin our journey back into the hearts and souls of those who call this 
fabulous city their home.
Lorenzo to the left, Mustafa to the right

There’s the barmen at 45 Jermyn St, pronounced German.  #45 is a part of the very
famous grocers, Fortnum & Mason, but a floor down, with a separate entry on
 Jermyn Street, while F & M’s entry is around the corner on Piccadilly.  Wonderful
 place to stop in for an afternoon pick-me-up.  Make sure to sit at the bar.  The
 barkeeps listen intently as you describe your taste preference and cater to you
 personally. Lorenzo and Mustafa know their stuff.  Lorenzo is from Italy and
 Mustafa is British.
Three of us order a gin and tonic, but add, “Make this a special one.” A discussion
follows of tastes and preferences.  With these barmen, hearing about a customer’s 
tastes is not just idle chatter. They offer what has become the rarest of services, 
they listen.

Mustafa brings over a bottle of Sipsmith, a gin made in London.  “This is my
favorite,” he says and begins a litany of all the aromas and flavors, with hints of
this and that.  His extensive knowledge not only informs, but exudes charm and 
trust. Good reason.  I feel sure he could tell you every ingredient in every bottle on 
the bar.

“And the tonic?” I ask.  Mustafa grabs a bottle of Double Dutch India tonic from
the frig, a brand recently created by twins from the Netherlands, Joyce and Raissa.
You know, of course, that gin originally came from the Netherlands.
“You’ll find this is not too sweet, but pairs well with the Sipsmith,” He says. I found 
this to be exactly true, with just a bare squeeze of lemon to brighten it up.  The man
 certainly knows how to listen and faultlessly match flavors to my taste buds.
No artificial ingredients, colorings, or additives in this tonic and paired with Sipsmith, 
it’s the best gin and tonic ever to tickle my tongue and slide down my thirsty throat. 
High praise from a very experienced throat.
We’d ordered salads, so as not to appear mere drinkers with a rabid thirst.  Lorenzo 
explained buratta to us.  “It’s the creamy inside of fresh mozzarella, and so delicious.
You’ll love this salad.”  And so we did!

But, just in case you're having breakfast and not at present into gin and tonic I've 
included a recipe (from Genius Kitchen web site) for a Bloody Mary, that very roughly
approximates the fab Bloody Mary served at 45 Jermyn.
Having slaked our thirst and hunger, we wandered just down the street in search of 
more conversations.

Berry Brothers & Rudd are the oldest purveyors of wine and spirits in London and
although the main shop is still in the same place it has been for centuries, around the corner
they have just opened a more expansive retail wine and spirit shop. Quinton, 
a young Frenchman works there and so do Englishmen, George and Rob.

Quinton is spelled the same way in French, but pronounced something like Coun-tan.  
You know those French, love ‘em or hate’em, you have to love ‘em.

Quinton was quick to answer questions about wine and spirits, but he is also a
home-taught chef who was exuberant about cooking.  A very saucy man.  Yes, 
dear ones, that is called a pun.
But, as a man with an interest in languages, I had to ask how Quinton became so
proficient in English. “At first I had only English from school, which everyone knows
is only good for learning words and phrases you will never use. (laughing)  
‘My grandmother’s pen rests on the table.’  Which has never come up in conversation.
 So, I kept practicing with friends and when I got a job here, English came very fast.”
Both George and Quinton told us about a liquor concocted by Berry Bro & Rudd in
1903 for the King Edward VII of England.  George’s version was:  “The King’s
Ginger was commissioned by Royal Physicians to keep the King warm and revived
during his morning drives in his Daimler auto, the first ‘horseless carriage’ to be
owned by the Royal Family.”  George poured us a taste.  We bought a couple of bottles. 
Want to know more? 

The King’s Ginger does indeed have a gingery flavor, but it’s more complex than that.  
Try to imagine the aromas of Christmas, with cinnamon and ginger and pine and the
heat from a roaring fire.  I’ve no doubt it pleased the king as he braved the crisp 
morning air and put pedal to the metal.
By the way, King Edward, who only reined 1901-1910, was the eldest of Queen
Victoria’s children. Just to whet your appetite to know more, let’s say Edward lived
In the afternoon, it was off to Duke’s Bar at Dukes Hotel. 

Sitting and waiting for a table and a Vespa Martini at the world famous Duke’s Bar
in the Duke’s Hotel, we met a young Brit couple who live just outside the city and
came in for a night. A delightful pair!  Do they come into the city often?
“No, not really.”  Have they been to Duke’s before?  “No, never.”  And then we chat
 lightly about living in America and England.

Not sure what a Vespa Martini is or curious about the Duke’s Bar experience?
Also waiting was an actor, That’s the PC, generic term for male and females with
beautiful faces who are paid exorbitant amounts to pretend to be someone else. 
But in the non-PC world, she is an actress.  So much more polite to say actress than
 to speak of genitalia. . 
But, yes, she is both very beautiful and very charming, with dark hair and hypnotic 
eyes. As I fell under her spell, I just had to ask a delicate question that didn’t involve 
Harvey Weinstein. “So are actors able to compartmentalize and go full steam ahead
at auditions?  Do you worry about anything or anybody?”
“I don’t do a good job of compartmentalizing. I keep thinking, ‘Oh! the woman
before me did such a good job!’ and the air is filled with insecurities.”
She’s not an American native, but from Victoria, British Columbia and I kept 
thinking, she’s a Canadian, living in L.A., visiting London and chatting with a
 couple of Americans who live in Germany.
But, then, that’s the essence of London, people from all over, coming to populate
a city, some staying forever and some for only a short time.  But short stay or long, 
people are the city.
Try not to forget this valuable lesson, children, when you visit this wonderful city,
shopping, drinking everywhere from the neighborhood pub to the some of the finest
and most elegant watering holes in the world.  And never again just walk past the
shopkeepers and policemen.  Want to get to know London? Get to know the people!
 So endeth the daily lesson.

from Genius Kitchen

·       3cups tomato juice
·       3tablespoons lemon juice
·       3tablespoons lime juice
·       1tablespoon prepared horseradish
·       12tablespoonsWorcestershire sauce
·       14teaspoon garlic powder
·       34teaspoon Tabasco sauce
·       34teaspoon celery salt
·       12teaspoon coarse black pepper
·       13cup pickle juice
·       1ounce vodka, per drink


1.   In a blender combine the tomato juice, lemon juice, lime juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, pickle juice, and hot sauce and process until smooth. Transfer to a nonreactive container and add celery salt and black pepper, to taste. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
2.   When ready to serve, fill each glass with ice.

3.   Add 1 ounce of vodka to each glass, then fill the glass with the bloody Mary mix. Stir well, and garnish each glass with your favorite veggie, pickle, celery, pickled green bean, or a pickled okra.

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