After lunch at Carluccio's and ice cream at Oddono's (apricot sorbet and nutella ice cream!), we returned for the fashion section, by way of the Raphael Vatican tapestry cartoons, which are phenomenally large. The cartoons, contrasted with a much later tapestry made from one of the designs, demonstrated just how badly madder can fade, all the way to white. Case by case, we worked through the entire fashion section backwards, seeing the devolution of style. We agreed that bathrobes could really use better fasteners than ties, and that yellow is a challenging color for most people to pull off well. mirrorshard coveted an elegant coat-and-tails; my tastes ran to the eighteenth century by and large. In the heart of the fashion section was a temporary exhibit of the wardrobe of Queen Maud of Norway, with a hat, shoes, bag, and a corsage to match almost every outfit. She preferred to ride sidesaddle.
As the afternoon grew late, we set off for Piccadilly Circus to explore a handful of Japanese grocery stores. The Japan Centre Food shop was unexpectedly spartan. I found most of what I was looking for there, but its strength seemed to be their in-house ready made food. Lacking azuki beans which weren't tinned, we checked out two more grocery stores on Brewer St. The first was baffled that it was out of dried azuki beans. The second, Arigato, demonstrated the expensiveness of buying Japanese-branded dried azuki beans in 100 gram packages. Thanks to the Good Food Show, I knew it was possible to buy 500g bags of the in this country at reasonable prices, which 3 pounds/100g didn't qualify for. I gave up and, as a temporary measure, bought a tin of them before returning mirrorshard to his train station and journey home. He's written up some of the day's other highlights here.
I met stormwindz at Worldcon back in August and hadn't seen her since - but it was so good to! She had specific goals for her trip to London, and I benefited from all of them. We started at the Fantasy Centre, up on Holloway Rd., about which I have been hearing since I moved here, a bookstore devoted entirely to used Science Fiction and Fantasy. We browsed, only occasionally interupting ourselves to talk. I acquired two older Sheri Tepper volumes (The Revenants and The True Game), the classic King Solomon's Mines, the award-winning Darwinia, and, most excitingly, Suzette Hadin Elgin's (ozarque) Ozark Trilogy.
Thanks to today, I have finally been to Camden market. Yes, I'd never been until now. It's a series of nearby markets, crowded primarily with clothes of the punk/goth/hippy/club-going genres, as well as bags and jewelery and hats and gloves. We didn't acquire anything until we started working our way through the Camden Lock complex, which includes the work of lots of independent artisans. We both fell for extraordinarily soft-and-comfy fleece skirts, hers dressier than mine. We bought Christmas presents, and stopped briefly in the Fairy Gothmother. I feel as if I now know a whole swathe of London I'd gone in circles around before.
On the way back to the underground, I found a bag of azuki beans at Holland & Barret (health food store) for far more reasonable prices. Why are health food stores a better place than Japanese grocery stores for buying a traditional Japanese ingredient?
With no knowledge aforehand, we ate dinner at The Living Room. The food was decently good, but the drinks list was wonderful. I'm very partial to fruity drinks and to dessert wines. They had two dessert wines, half a dozen margaritas and dacquiris, other frozen drinks, two pages of fruity cocktails, and a page of non-alcoholic cocktails which were just as varied and interesting as the alcoholic ones. I had a refreshing Princess Asia (ginger, lime juice, and pineapple juice with crushed ice) while stormwindz had a coke-and-banana-icecream float which, apparently, is a very successful combination. After tracking down her delayed bus, she too departed safely for home.