Saturday, October 07, 2006

In which I spend all of Friday away from castles and statues

I pretty much stayed in the area around the hotel on Friday. Walked around, looked at stuff. I keep finding some little place (a cafe maybe, or a shop) which holds a little island of delight, and which makes me feel as though I could spend the whole vacation within a few blocks and never be bored.

I stumbled into an Italian Cafe at lunchtime. They had large pasta bowls on top of a glass counter filled with little cookies. I looked around and saw prices for only the cookies and drinks.

"Do you have a price list?" I asked.

"No, no. You have to go next door." He pointed in the direction I've come to think of as north, but which is actually more northwest.

Puzzled, I complied. I figured there was some sort of adjunct to the cafe in the next storefront. But instead there was a different restaurant entirely.

I retraced my steps and tried again, this time phrasing my query in the "how much" family, pointing at the huge bowl of pasta.

Turns out he thought I had wanted breakfast. It also turns out that he was actually from Italy, and spoke English with a strange mix of Italian and British accents I had never heard before. And that the bowl at which I was pointing contained probably the best Arrabiata I have yet tasted. That's a spicy marinara for those of you who've never had the pleasure. They also made an espresso good enough that I later called Craig in America to tell him about it.

I followed the street until it ended near a Caffe Nero, which seems at first blush to be like Starbucks might be if they gave a shit about coffee. It's a chain, but with very good espresso drinks, and no aisles of merchandise. You can buy their beans, and I think mugs, but not an album of songs Sheryl Crow thinks you should hear, or Akeelah and the Bee on DVD.

So I listened to my iPod, drank my mocha, and once again watched London as it finished work for the day, and bustled home.

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