Remember Christmas eve as a child? The anticipation of getting the one gift you have been wanting for the last 11 months. The smell of the Christmas tree. The drunken banter of the grown folks all smacked up on the ‘nog (that’s slan for eggnog btw)? Oh yeah… the egg nog. Love it or hate it, it is the quintessential holiday beverage enjoyed by every blue-blooded American family that’s not allergic to eggs.
Anyway, you can kiss that ish goodbye when you come down to eurotown. Eggnog is supplanted by a decidedly more adult beverage. Hint: What do you get when you mix a light, fruit-forward red wine with brandy, honey, mulling spices and just the right amount of heat? A big f*cking headache delicious cauldron of hot grown up juice is what. Skip the morning shower and slap on your tightest pair of trousers before hitting the jump for your very own guide to the Euronog.
1 Bottle shiraz
4 tablespoons honey
1 cup Brandy or Grand Marinet (or any other brown liquor)
Mulling spices (cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, you know…)
After living in New York City for 3 years a few things sort of become standard in your mind. Bars don’t close before 4, pizza is better by the slice, and Brunch is a Saturday/Sunday event that should last no fewer than 3 hours. Ah yes… the NYC brunch, I remember searching for the best combination of food drink and ambiance, recruiting the friends, planning the trip to the hangover spot. Man do I miss brunch in NYC.
So coming to London, the birthplace of heavy food and drink, it was a huge shock when I discovered that BRUNCH is pretty much for tourists and expats. I did however find a suitable substitute.
FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST
Not only does it take a full on hour to eat, but it typically comes with no less than 2 pints of whatever malted, fermented deliciousness you care to suck down, or a properly spicy Bloody Mary. So what is a Full English Breakfast you ask…
2 Fried Eggs
a single fried slice (yes a fried slice of bread)
2 British Pork Sausages
2 Bacon Rashers
Grilled Toms (tomatoes, not people…relax)
A thorough helping of the ITIS…
Is it brunch…No. Is it fun…YES! Does it enjoy sitting around in a cool place with a ton of what le french call ambiance… Oui oui! So where is the best place to have this monster of a meal and an even better time in London? Well my favorite haunt just happens to be a 5 minute walk from the flat right here in Brixton.
So what do you do in Scandinavia’s (but not really Scandinavia) most interesting city when you only have 1 day? Well start off by not flying in on a Sunday night where the only edible bit of deliciousness you can hope to ingest is a 9 Euro meal at McDonald’s (that’s about $12 for you yanks). Aside from that, the birthplace of Nokia and the world’s most successful elevator and escalator company is founded is a pretty city.
It is actually easy to spend a day in Helsinki and see just about everything. Because the winter day starts at around 10AM and is over by 3PM there aren’t too many activities that you need to fill your day with. The crown jewel of the city has to be the very old school euro-chic downtown where you can find just about any type of restaurant, designer shop, and nick knack store. The staff is friendly and the vast majority of the population speaks English for those of you that are a little rusty with your Finnish, or Swedish…
Night life in the Eastern Europe styled Scandinavian city is brief, but existent and there is no shortage of interesting locals and tourists to talk to. If you do venture into one of the many charming pubs besure to do yourself a solid and skip past the Finnish beer (sorry guys, it’s terrible) and pickup a tasty Belgian or Bavarian brew instead. All in all I would say it’s a nice place, but certainly not the city where you would get home and say… man, I wish I was back in Helsinki. Certainly not in the winter anyway.
You know it is that time of year in Brixton when the kids are extra happy, the mulled wine is delicious and on every other street corner, the smell of spicy beef patties permeates the air… ah yes its business Christmas time.
It was nice to just happen upon the community tree lighting just as I was popping out for a pint late in the week. The charm and community feel of this highly undervalued London borough never ceases to amaze me. I have to say that the balloon artist on stilts dressed as a Christmas tree sealed the deal for me. It is definitely the holiday season…