See? You’re already thinking that the whole “British accent of my youth” thing has resurrected itself, and my willingness to cross into the land of “tubes” and “bins” and “lifts” has just about reached it’s peak. Rest assured, friends, LCS is not cool/hip expression, let alone a typical phrase here in jolly old Britain. No, this phrase is an adaptation of a cultural/tourist phenomenon first discovered in South Africa, by sister Dice and her husband JD (J-Dawg? We don’t yet have a name for him on this little wordpress experiment, so we’re going to stick with JD. ha – I’m sure he’ll get a big kick out of that one.)
See, it goes like this: you are in a town, large or small, and thinking that you are simultaneously extraordinarily hungry and suffering from Analysis Paralysis. There are just so many good food options out there! What if you never visit this quaint little town/big city again? You think to yourself, “friend, what ever are we going to do?!” And then it hits you: CULINARY SAFARI. You have to hit as many restaurants as possible. The rules are simple:
- At each stop along the night’s safari, you have to order at least one drink per person. More are allowed, but 1 is required.
- You can decide how much you want to eat as you go through the night, but everything must be split. For instance, if you have 3 participants–or let’s just call them traveling companions–you would want to order three dishes, split in thirds once they arrive. Maybe at a particular location you aren’t so hungry, and if you’re willing to bend the rules a little, you might just split some hummus, 3 ways. A true and honest culinary safari would include 1 course per person at each location, allowing your team of expert navigators to work their way through the night from appetizer to desert. (Order 3 appetizers, then 3 salads, then 3 … I’m going to give you readers the benefit of the doubt, assume you’re all way smart, and figure you already understand rule 2.)
- You must visit at least as many establishments as there are people in your party. Aka, if you have 3 people in your safari group, you have to imbibe at no fewer than 3 places.
That’s it, folks. Those are the rules, and they’re pretty easy to follow. Anyway, Dice, JD and I invented this specific excursion while we were touring wine country, South Africa, and immediately realized the joys of the culinary safari.
So now I’ve spent more than 350 words explaining the art of the Culinary Safari to you, all in an effort to set a backdrop for the evening. Basically, mama.L and I were out walking all day. It was a glorious day in London-town. Sunny, breezy, clear skies, etc. We met at The Monument (which neither of us knew existed), continued across London Bridge, meandered around Borough’s Market, wandered through the small streets of Southwark, grabbed a light lunch at a local outdoor shop, perused the Globe Theater, crossed my favorite bridge in the city (Millennium Bridge!), learned about the original architecture of St. Paul’s Cathedral (originally built in 1333!!), educated ourselves about Chambers in London, toured the LSE Library, explored many stores while exercising excessive amounts of self control in Covent Garden, bought half-price tickets to Wicked at Leicester Square…. and then realized we needed sustenance and a chair.
It started innocently enough. We went into the closest bar we could find and ordered a little something to wet our palette. Then we decided we may as well get some tapas-inspired appetizers. Then we ordered another little something to keep our now happy palette happy. I’m fairly certain it was a chain, and the food was nothing to write home about, and now that I’m thinking about it, mama.L has all the photos (so check back and I’ll update?). But it kicked off the night.
We followed up with a walk down Regent Street, until we happened to look down a little alley called Swallow Street. Right where we could see it, like it was beckoning, was a brilliantly designed restaurant front with cow hide, swanky up-lighting and lots of handsome men in suits. Called Gaucho, we decided we may as well ask about a seat, even though we were under-dressed, carrying bags from a pharmacy, and nowhere near as handsome as the women in their stilettos and tiny dresses walking in and out. Lo and behold, they sat us at the bar (suspiciously next to the only other under-dressed clientele. They’re apparently no dummies.)
After our peach drinks and little snacks there, we headed next door to Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill. Mama.L was hungry again by this point (Culinary Safaris can be hard work!) and so we ended the night with wine, lobster bisque, delicious house-made Irish soda bread and seaweed infused butter. For the first stab at this wild unconquered territory of London’ inner city, I think we made out just fine.