Scandinavia’s Christmas City & Rudolph for Lunch.

Scandinavia’s Christmas City & Rudolph for Lunch.

We decided a few months ago that we would try and take a weekend trip once a month while we are here in London, to take advantage of the proximity of so many amazing countries. However, this thoroughly unaffordable goal could only be accomplished if we had very few other requirements for the trips. So, it was decided that we would keep an eye on Eurostar and flight sales, and book the best deals that came across our inboxes. Wherever they were to.

When we were booking our Christmas trip I added one other requirement. It had to be Christmas-y. So when £19 fares to Gothenburg, Sweden came up for a weekend mid-December, we booked straight away to visit what many call Scandinavia’s Christmas City. And boy, was it Christmas-y. Everywhere we turned… Christmas. We stayed with a lovely couple in the Masthugget district, in their gorgeous flat.
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London Fields, Afternoon Tea + a meat restaurant in an old, bombed church.

London Fields, Afternoon Tea + a meat restaurant in an old, bombed church.

Soooo I found my new neighbourhood. London is cool, but I hadn’t found anywhere I really wanted to live. Today, I did. A guy in a coffee shop in Bloomsbury had lived in Adelaide for a while, so told us as Melbournians we would probably like London Fields. So we planned to head out Hackney way to check out LF and Victoria Park Village (which I had heard was like a little country village in the middle of London). We headed over on a sunday to check out the market, and got so caught up with the neighbourhood, completely forgot to go to the market. We stopped in at a great cafe, Coffee is my Cup of Tea, in a row of cafes in the converted Railway Arches. I had some soft-boiled eggs, mackerel and mixed salad on sourdough, and a delicious banana and cinnamon smoothie.
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English Tea Rooms, mesquite grilled chicken + smoked brisket in a Frontier Town.

English Tea Rooms, mesquite grilled chicken + smoked brisket in a Frontier Town.

We drove up to the little towns Carefree and Cave Creek in Arizona for the day today. First stop was afternoon tea at the famous English Rose Tea Rooms in Carefree (on Easy Street. Yep. On Easy Street in Carefree).

These tea rooms had popped up in my culinary searches of Arizona – run by a woman from the UK, they are a hotspot for ‘ladies who lunch’ to dress up in fancy hats and dresses and dine on cucumber sandwiches, real British scones with clotted cream and jam, and a huge selection of teas.

I had scones with a pot of black rose tea, and sat underneath a decorative chandelier of teapots and teacups, next to flowers and British flags. I am in training to move to London it seems!

Afterwards, we drove to Bartlett’s Lake, a typical National Lampoons style American family holiday summer lake.
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Of house-smoked pastrami and toasted celery seed vodka.

Of house-smoked pastrami and toasted celery seed vodka.

The pastrami. Reading review after review, I was continually confronted with raving fans of Saul’s house-smoked, spice rubbed pastrami. So off we set on a 30 minute stroll into Berkeley’s ‘Gourmet Ghetto‘, an area of Northern Berkeley in which the ‘pursuit of quality is absolutely uncompromising’. Alice Waters’ (the president of the Slow Food US chapter) was largely responsible for this foodie revolution with the installation of her restaurant Chez Panisse in the area in the early 1970’s. But nowadays, you can find some of California’s most well known and celebrated food revolutionaries and a stack of remarkable quality dining options.

At Saul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen I ordered the toasted celery seed vodka, simple syrup and lemon cocktail. At US$8, I was tempted to keep ordering them… still used to Melbourne cocktail prices of around AU$18. The bloody mary was made with house pickle juice, but was definitely a meal in itself.
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