Posts Tagged ‘bloomsbury’

Sport & Leisure History Seminar Autumn 2018 #3

October 18, 2018

Monday 29th October 2018

‘American Tourists in Britain in the 1950s: Archetypes, Prejudices and Realities with Dr John Law

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

Our third seminar of the term will be given by a Dr John Law from the University of Westminster. He’ll be talking to us on a subject drawn from his forthcoming book on Americans visiting or living in Britain in the 1950s and their (sometimes horrified) reactions to what they found there.

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As you can see from the cartoon above that I found on John’s website the American tourist in London often cut a distinctive dash in the urban scene. The paper promises further rich visuals as well as material drawn from archival sources and interviews with US survivors of 50s Britain, its weather, its food, and its hotel rooms.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series, scroll down for the details of future seminars or go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the Past and Present Room on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

S&L2018-9

Sport & Leisure History Seminar #2

October 7, 2018

Monday 15th October 2018

‘Sarah Meyer, An Englishwoman in Japan: Judo as Propaganda in the 1930s’ with Amanda Callan-Spenn

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects to pique the interest of the historically inclined.

Our second seminar of the term will be given by a post-graduate researcher from the University of Wolverhampton, Amanda Callan-Spenn. Her subject, Sarah Meyer, is a woman whose career reads like the plot of a Booker-shortlisted novel.

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But don’t just take my word for it, come along to the seminar on Monday 15th October to find out how Meyer became one of the pioneering figures in the globalisation of martial arts between the wars.

This is only the one of a number of series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR in the S&L series, scroll down for the details of future seminars or go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the Past and Present Room on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

S&L2018-9

Sport & Leisure History Seminars 2018-9 #1

September 23, 2018

Cricket&SocietyinSA

Seminar #1

Round Table on South African cricket with Raf Nicholson and Richard Parry

It’s a real pleasure to be one of the convenors for the British Society of Sports History sponsored Sport & Leisure History seminar series at the Insitute of Historical Research. And this term we have a diverse range of speakers and subjects, kicking off on Monday 1st October with a round table discussion about the hidden histories of South African cricket. Each of the speakers’ material is based on a chapter from a forthcoming publication, Cricket and Society in South Africa, 1910-1971, to be published by Palgrave in autumn 2018.

Our first seminar features two speakers. Raf Nicholson will talk about international women’s cricket during the apartheid era while Richard Parry will discuss cricket among indigenous mineworkers on the Rand. And I’ll be acting as chair in my capacity both as co-convenor of the seminar and a contributor to the book with a chapter on the first South African men’s cricket captain, Percy Sherwell. Do come along to listen to our guests and to join in the debate about the role of sport in the development of South African society in the twentieth century.

This is only the beginning of a series of stimulating talks to be held at the IHR, scroll down for the details of future seminars or go to the IHR’s website. The talks take place in the Past and Present Room on the second floor – doors open from 17:15 and the seminar to start promptly at 17:30. I hope to see you there.

S&L2018-9

Resto 13 The Life Goddess Store Street

May 7, 2018

This was a very pleasant surprise. I’d walked past the Life Goddess Store many times on my way to Buckbuck or the IHR but never been in. To be honest I’d been put off by the name, which evokes in a man of my class and generation an god-awful 70s Fontana paperback with some hippy in the lotus position on the cover.

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The Life Goddess – not a 70s earth mother fantasy novel

Which isn’t fair. I was meeting a friend with a Greek husband who said that it was his go to place for genuine Greek cooking and recommendations don’t get much better than that. The room is bigger than it looks from the exterior, with a more restauranty section to the rear and a convivial café style area at the front. A gaggle of friendly fellers behind the counter kept service bubbling along contentedly.

In the afternoon there were a selection of meze and salads plus a few hot dishes. Having a seminar to go to I decided to keep it light and went for an okra salad. Good choice, well cooked okra is one of those pleasures that as a child of Ferryhill I never knew existed till I was about 23. The sauce was rich and tomato based with generous lumps of cheese to give it a bit of texture. The house white alongside was a perfect accompaniment, even if it did slightly impact my attention span during Amelia’s talk!

In a  pretty hectic week an hour’s natter with a good friend was just about the perfect way to spend a Monday afternoon. I’ll be back.

9/10

#food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016-18 check out my GoogleMap

 

Resto 32 Great Court, British Museum

July 9, 2017

The Great Court used to be a family favourite when it first opened at the beginning of the millennium. However, over the years its standards declined quite markedly as it seemed to lose a sense of purpose – did it want to be a destination restaurant or did it want to be the kind of place the average tourist would think to pop into with the kids? But I’d heard good things since its revamp under Benugo management and as we were there for an evening of Hokusai (highly recommended) we thought we’d give it a go.

The ‘room’ of course remains unchanged. Nestled under Foster’s great glass roof though sadly one can no longer see into the Reading Room.* The décor is light and airy with generously-sized tables. Service at first was a little slow but improved subsequently. I went for the themed Japanese inflected dishes, starting with a teriyaki swordfish and finishing off with a green tea mousse. The swordfish was delicious but beware, it comes sans stodge; I was glad to have laid in a round of bread and butter on the side. I’m not much of a dessert man but this one I demolished very quickly, aided by an inspired decision to get a Grand Marnier to go alongside it.

With a bottle of wine the bill came to around forty quid a head which is not cheap but did reflect good value for the quality of food and ambience. I’ll be back.

8/10

#Food #London

*As an aside it’s an absolute disgrace that the Reading Room, one of the great sites of global intellectual history, is no longer open to the public. I do hope the new Director has plans to re-open it.

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016/7 check out my GoogleMap

Review #110 North Sea Fish Restaurant, Bloomsbury

December 25, 2016

Last night a fish bar saved my life. Well, kind of. In the crazed fashion of the festive season I’d sorely neglected solid nourishment while maintaining a steady intake of liquids. The North Sea Fish Restaurant proved to be an excellent remedy for the consequent hunger.

A table in the window gave a good view out onto a quiet Bloomsbury byway and we selected from a wide range of fishy beasts. I took a skate with a dollop of chips and mushy peas on the side. The skate was perfectly cooked. Crunchy batter wrapped around a generous helping of delicately flavoured wing. Chips in a basket were proper chips and too plentiful even in my empty-bellied state. The tartare sauce was homemade and tangy. The only small disappoint was overly mushy peas. They were not quite up to Ferryhill standards but I guess it’s not unusual to find one’s childhood treats difficult to replicate in the here and now.

With beer on tap the NSFR is my new favourite chip shop.

8/10

#Food #London

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #71 Bi Won, Bloomsbury

August 24, 2016

After a quick look at the Sunken Cities exhibition (recommended … also featuring an unexpected familial connection on the sponsorship side of things!) we were looking for hearty food. Bi Won delivered.

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Bi Won is right next door to Cocoro (where we went last week) and so making a comparison between the two is inevitable,. But that would be slightly unfair as while they both offer Asian food they do offer distinctly different menus, which is not always the case with Japanese and Korean restaurants. For example, Bi Won doesn’t offer sushi/sashimi on its starters, although the battered starter selection was reminiscent of the tempura next door but a bit on the heavier side. Which wasn’t such a bad thing as I was ravenous.

Being early arrival they plonked us at a table for four in the window from where you get a good view of people milling around on Coptic Street or hurrying down New Oxford Street on the way home from work. The menu was all in English so despite my inexpertise at Korean food even I know that their stews are bibimbap but I guess this is tourist central and there’s a menu for the regulars and a menu for the visitors.

Well, I took the spicy kimchee pork stew and it was perfect. Fierce heat and good sour cabbage interspersed with strands of porky good stuff. Seaweed on the side was a bit overpriced for what it was, as was a kimchi to share. With a good portion of rice after a starter you really only need the main course. Max beer was good and malty and helped mitigate the heat of the stew.

With good service (included in the bill) I was happy to pay around twenty quid a head. It reminded me that I must go back to Dotori in Finsbury Park this year, which in my experience is yet to be improved upon for this kind of informal Asian cooking.

7/10

To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here

Review #70 Cocoro, Bloomsbury

August 20, 2016

After meeting at the excellent Skoob Books we were looking for a hearty lunch to set us up for an afternoon of exhibitioning. I’m rapidly running out of options in Bloomsbury so we opted to raid Coptic Street where good food is usually to be found whichever restaurant you choose to visit.

We tossed up between Korean at Bi Won and Japanese at Cocoro and Japan won. Trade was decent for a midweek lunchtime and a good sign was that half the clientèle were Asian. Asahi on draft was sweeter than I remember it being and we got stuck into the menu. There’s the usual range of sushi/sashimi, curry, teryaki, ramen and sides. They do a lunch option of ramen, salad and rice for around eleven quid which we both went for.

To start we shared a plate of tempura prawns. They arrived freshly done and piping hot, in fact too hot to eat before out ramen arrived. The batter was lovely and fluffy, I only wished I’d ordered a whole portion to myself. My ramen was kimchi with good lumps of cabbagey goodness in a spicy sour soup. The rice seemed a bit surplus to requirements on top of a good dollop of noodles.

Service was quick and cheery, the only downside to the room is that it lacks natural light but I guess there’s not much they can do about that. I’m looking forward to trying out Bi Won soon to see who wins this East Asian head to head.

8/10

To see where else I’ve eaten in 2016 go to the GoogleMap here

Review #27 Pizza Express, British Museum

March 18, 2016

For me this Pizza Express is the original and the best. I’ve been coming here for over twenty years and in a normal year I would eat here about once every couple of months. Anyone who read my review of their branch in St. Paul’s in 2013 will know that I’m an admirer of their operation. So obviously I’ve made a massive tactical mistake in using it up so early in 2016, in a central London location (as PE is a dependable option when you’re alone in a strange town), and on a one-man mission to boot!

My bad.

Well, not really. I was ravenously aware of the  need to lay in some bait before the Fullback quiz and I had a pizza sized hole in my stomach. I used to bring my infant children to this branch after school and before I abandoned them to the Birkbeck nursery while I improved my mind. It brought genuine nostalgic warmth to my heart when I saw that the manager on duty on this evening was the same one who used to welcome us all in on cold Tuesday evenings all those years ago. Such continuity is rare in the West End.

The room itself is a bit echoey but it’s in a beautiful old building that has been carefully tended over the years. You get a mixture of regular locals like me and tourists like the big family at the round table in the centre of the room. It feels homely. The pizza, as ever, was just right and washed down with a slug of Chianti made me a very contented man.

I strolled off to contribute to a narrow win. A good day.

9/10

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap

Review #22 Cigala, Lamb’s Conduit Street

March 5, 2016

A catch up with an old friend who’d been around the world aye aye aye (that’s one for the kids) and we descended on the increasingly Monoclish LCSt. Intending to go to the old school Italian (as recommended both by my chum’s Italian pal and the FT) we didn’t make it past Cigala, of which I have only fond dining memories.

Cigala is long-established and not part of the new wave of Spanish restos exemplified by the likes of Salt Yard.The room has that homely, lived in feel that makes you feel relaxed as soon as you sink into your seat. The customers seemed to be for the most part locals and the tables are generously sized to allow discreet conversation.

We went for a slew of tapas – a few staples like padrone peppers and tortilla, as well as things less often eaten like porky crunch things (I forget the exact name!). All good. My dining companion was a bit sniffy about the tortilla (‘Not as good as Barrica’) but I munched my way through it quite happily.

There’s an extensive Spanish wine list and I decided to make a random choice which happily led to one of the stranger exchanges I’ve had with a waiter,

‘I’ll have a bottle of the Mencia’

‘Would you like it chilled?’

This threw me. I didn’t know what Mencia was but it was listed under the reds.

‘Ummm, should it be chilled?’

‘Yes, this wine is like a Beaujolais … We drink it chilled’

‘Ok … I’ll have it chilled.’

‘But it’s fucking cold outside …’

That raised an eyebrow.

‘Yes, it is!? … Does that make a difference.’

‘Only, I wouldn’t have it chilled when it’s so fucking cold outside, you know?’

‘Okay, we’ll have it at room temperature’

‘Very good’

He went off and brought back a chilled Mencia, ‘Sorry, this is the last bottle’

It tasted good! Especially as brought to us by the hardest swearing waiter in London.

8/10

To see which other restaurants I’ve visited in 2016 check out my GoogleMap


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