Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Poultry, Dalí, and Liverwurst

Reed, one of my old high school buddies, came for a visit this past weekend. He’s working for a company in the UK now, so we’ll probably be seeing Reed fairly frequently as he is over here quite often. I met him at Euston Station on Friday night, and, having little better to do, we walked from there all the way to our flat, a little over 3 miles as the raven flies. Of course we needed rest and fuel along the way, so we stopped at a couple of classic London pubs, the first being Lamb. This was on Lamb’s Conduit Street, one of the best named streets in all of London, although this is a tough competition, what with streets named Poultry, Seething Lane, and Fruiterers Passage. And don’t get me started about Barking and Tooting. Lamb has been open since 1729 (total youngster), and in honor of this they have a dish on the menu called “1729 Celebration Pie” - they must have made a lot of pie back in 1729 for there to be some left today. I didn't order it to find out. Lamb is a popular and beautiful old pub on a quiet street with a nice back patio and richly wood paneled interior, plus a selection of some great real ales from the London brewery Young’s.

KFC missed a real opportunity here

After Lamb, we wandered over to Holborn where we came across the Cittie of York, which was clearly old because of the silly way they spelled city. The Cittie of York has been an inn since 1420, but the building was rebuilt in 1645 and then again after it mostly burnt down in the 1890s. All of the oldest pubs in London have stories like this, which is why there are about a dozen that claim to be the oldest. The Cittie of York was less busy than Lamb (on a bigger street, and hidden down a long passageway), but the aesthetic was at least as appealing, although it felt more like a 300 year old Swiss inn than an English pub in some ways. This is a Sam Smith’s bar, so all of the beers that we get only in bottles in the US were here on tap and predictably tasty, albeit a bit on the pricey side. The bar had high rafters and lots of little walled booths to sit in, reminiscent of Tadich Grill in San Francisco. There were huge old wooden beer casks lining a loft above the bar, and a really old three-sided coal fireplace standing in the center of the room made of inch thick plates of iron.

On Saturday we all went to the Tate Modern, walking over the infamously expensive and questionably stable Millennium Bridge. This weekend was the final day of a special exhibition on Salvador Dalí that dealt not only with his paintings and drawings, but with his work on various films as well. Hitchcock fans will recall the creepy Dalí dream sequence in Spellbound with Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman, also renowned as the movie where Ingrid Bergman became the only person ever to make the word “liverwurst” sound sexy (here's the video of the dream). Most of the original art that was filmed for this dream sequence was on display here, as was much of his work for Un Chien Andalou and other Buñuel films, and a recently restored collaboration with Walt Disney that never got released, Destino, (probably because it made Fantasia look normal and had all sorts of semi-scandalous imagery). I haven’t really been a huge fan of Dalí since I lost my teenage fascination with all things trippy-looking, but I was really blown away by this exhibit. They had nearly all of Dalí’s most famous works including “The Persistence of Memory” (melting clocks), “The Metamorphosis of Narcissus” (two kneeling figures by a pool), that one with a tiger jumping out of another tiger jumping out of a fish jumping out of a pomegranate, and the lesser-known “Lobster Telephone” (a rubber lobster sitting on a telephone); you could walk right up to these paintings (and lobster) and get close enough to see the brush strokes (and lobsterness). Totally amazing.

On the Milennium Bridge

St. Paul's and the City from the Tate Modern

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