Bravissimo and Tex Mex Sunday, Dec 28 2008 

The Texas Embassy in London

27 December 2008

Literally, “bravissimo!” means “splendid!” or “very well done!”  It is “bravo” on steroids!  But, today, it was a destination. 

In an effort to humour me a bit, I think, my dear husband decided this morning that today we would search out one of the three Bravissimo stores here in London.  I have longed for the pretty things in their catalogue for years, but without trying things on, ordering clothes from the UK is just a little too . . . uncertain.  Recently, another dear friend has discovered these folks and has already taken the plunge, and I have been a bit envious.  So, at some point on this trip, I really wanted to visit one of these stores!

Bravissimo is a company specializing in lingerie and other clothing, for what they call “D-K cup” women!  And the super cool thing is that they make these cup sizes in normal torso/back sizes like 32 and 34 and 36!  Okay, so I don’t really want The Daily KRuMB to be all about my bra-shopping experience, but it was a focal point of my day and it was pretty darned fabulous!

In the process of plotting our course for our travels, today,  Kyle and I also discussed the fact that it would be wonderful to find a “market” or “street fair” to walk around and shop.  After all, we’re here on a Saturday, and well, thanks to our childhood memories of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, we both wanted the experience.

We didn’t find Portobello Road, but we did discover that the famous Covent Garden is just such a market area, and that’s exactly where my Bravissimo store was!   And not only that, but it’s all just another easy walk from the Picadilly Square area.  I think we’re both just realising that these wonderful little pockets of this city we’re growing to love, are really so close together and intertwined. 

So, we had a wonderful time shopping around Covent Garden.  We bought Kyle and lovely hat and scarf—it’s a sexy scarf! 😉  And we found a pub where we just had to stop in and enjoy a pint—for Laura!  The Maple Leaf was charmingly decorated rather lodge-style, with Toronto Blue Jays jerseys on the wall,  Canadian newspapers on the tables, and hockey on the telly! 

And that wasn’t the only non-London-like experience we had today.  While Kyle was killing the hour I was being “fitted,” he picked up a local advertising publication—a little  magazine-type thing listing sights, and shows, and restaurants . . . and one caught my eye as I flipped the pages (while we warmed up at yet another pub) . . . The Texas Embassy.  Upon closer investigation, I realized it was a TexMex restaurant and I was immediately ravenous for enchiladas and nothing but a margarita would quench my thirst!  We knew it was risky—after all, we’re in London!—but we decided it was worth the gamble. 

It sure was!  We had an absolutely fabulous experience at this great little pocket of Texas in downtown London.  The building is old and convincing on the outside, complete with the Texas flag flying proudly.   But, it’s inside that’s really impressive.  We walked in and almost immediately looked at each other with the same thought:  “it smells like home!”  Then, we focused on the sights.  Faux finished walls, painted with “cocina” and various other Mexican words, just like you would see on dozens of TexMex restaurants stateside.  A bar, well-stocked with tequilas, and Lone Star, Corona, Bud,  Dos Equis, and a smattering of other appropriate beers.  American college football on the television.  Bumper stickers saying “Don’t mess with Texas” and  “Kinky Friedman for Governor,” and a TABC alchohol regulation sign on the wall.  And even, a burnt orange, Texas Longhorn sticker on the bar.  Terrill, we immediately thought of you! You and Mike Klobe and Mary Dane and anyone else we know who travels to London, and might get a little homesick for the Lone Star State. You’ve gotta experience this little slice of home the next time you’re in London!

The margaritas were okay—especially the free one! (I struck up a connection with the bartender when I told him the margarita he was pouring wouldn’t last me five minutes! He made me a larger one for the same price and I thanked him with a modest tip. He later delivered a second one to the table at no charge!) And the food was actually delicious!  I was prepared to be less than impressed, and exactly the opposite is what we got!  It was a perfect TexMex experience.

We left the “embassy” and walked around Trafalgar Square again, taking even more photos than we did the night before.  We were tired, though, and decided to head back toward the Tube and ultimately the hotel.  I’m finishing this post, now, while Kyle gets a head start on some sleep, since he’s the one who has to drive us north tomorrow.  I’m just the navigator.

I can hardly wait to get to Edinburgh, but I actually find myself not really wanting to leave London!

~MB

Piccadilly Tube, Texas Embassy and Bravissimo Sunday, Dec 28 2008 

27 December 2008 Yesterday we tubed into London, got off at Piccadilly Circus and stayed there…sort of. Today, we established a wee bit more of a plan and by the time we left the hotel (too late for breakfast again) we had decided to head to Covent Garden and then on to Portebello Road or some other outdoor market area that sprinkle London on the week-ends. Hah! We went to Covent Garden and while searching around for the singular store that was the purpose of our visit, we found that parts of it were outdoor market. Two birds – one stone, as they say. We wandered about a bit trying to get our bearings and narrow down the specific location of the shop we were seeking. Eventually we found it, Marita Beth arranged for a return visit (for a fitting) and off we went…back to the market. We were treated to a large variety of buskers from re-imagined pan pipes, to a tightrope walker, to jugglers, to an astonishing vagabond opera display in the atrium. I’m not unused to buskers, but the sheer quality and skill of these reset the busker bar for me. Eventually, after purchasing a hat and scarf for me (I’d somehow managed to leave Texas without both of these necessary items) and a purse for Marita Beth (don’t ask) it was time for her fitting. I escorted her back to Bravissimo, then went in search of a pub and some footy. I didn’t find the footy, but I found a plethora of pubs. Unfortunately, I only had an hour, so only visited two pubs. First up was the Punch & Judy where I enjoyed a fine winter ale called Rosey Nosey. The pub itself was nestled in the cellar of a Coventry Garden building and the table I occupied while people watching was in the atrium. Quite lovely, really. When done with Rosey Nosey, I mosied on over to a pub called the Marquess of Anglesey where I enjoyed a Young’s Winter Warmer while I waited out the hour I had promised my wife. When time was up, I went to collect my wife and begin the trek back “home” to the Radisson. On our trip back to the tube station, we spotted a pub called the Coal Hole that looked too inviting to pass up. The pub building itself is Victorian and used to be the home of the Wolves Club. Gilbert & Sullivan frequented this place as did several other lesser notables. While I enjoyed the Dirty Dick ale and MB her half Strongbow she located a listing in a Covent Garden flyer I’d picked up for a Tex-Mex restaurant. Hmmm. Intrigued and hungry we basically said, “what the hell” and walked on over to it as it wasn’t all that far and we’ve gotten quite used to walking. The Texas Embassy, for so it was called, was, in a word, fantastic. From the huge Texas flag outside to the “Come and Get It”Come and Take It” (Update: Thanks, Da, for the correction) flag inside. From the University of Texas banner to the Rice University banner. From the “Don’t Mess With Texas” bumper sticker to the “Kinky Friedman for Governor” bumper sticker. From the tortilla chips and hotsauce to the sizzling plates of fajitas. This restaurant could have easily existed, and made a good go of it, next to Abuelo’s or Mexican Inn or El Rancho Verde. If you find yourself in London and are feeling a little “London Homesick Blues” head on over to the Texas Embassy for some great Tex-Mex. Enough of the commercial. From the restaurant we had to head back to the hotel as it was nearing 2300 and we had to pick up the car in the early morning. I took this photo in Piccadilly Tube station just as our cars arrived. Piccadilly Tube After 55 minutes of tube riding, two missed stops and a miscommunication with the bus driver, we arrived back at the hotel where I retired immediately. That was our day. Cheers. ~KR (Written on 28 December 2008 ) Watching: The Big Fat Quiz Oaks Hotel in Alnwick, England. Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS Exposure: 2 sec (2) Aperture: f/8 Focal Length: 5.8 mm ISO Speed: 80 Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV Flash: Flash did not fire