nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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I think we’re just out of Waldorfs

Let me take you back to the UK circa 1979 and and series 2, episode 3 of Fawlty Towers.

Basil Fawlty, proprietor of Fawlty Towers Hotel is playing chef to an American guest who asks:

“Could you make me a Waldorf salad?”

To which Basil, perplexed, tries to disguise his ignorance, responds:

“I think we’re just out of Waldorfs”

Later on, exasperated because he can’t find the ingredients to make the Waldorf salad, Basil Fawlty asks his wife Sybil:

“What is a Waldorf anyway? A walnut that’s gone off?”

She patiently explains to Basil that this salad is named after the Waldorf Hotel in New York.

And that’s where we were last night. I have to confess I didn’t remember this episode of Fawlty Towers, it was R who reminded me and I watched it earlier today on Netflix.

What a place. It is on Park Avenue at 50th Street and it’s huge! When you walk in you are confronted with some grand stairs and then you can’t help but look upwards to the incredibly high ceiling and opulent space. And as you continue walking you go past the Victorian clock, coming in at 2 tonnes, it’s a beast of a thing and so detailed in its decoration, it’s hard to take in.

We were there to check out the bar. Because we could. I couldn’t resist ordering the Waldorf Salad to eat at the bar, a high, smooth and rounded border to the well stocked bar and bar tenders who looked like they had been there forever.

Take a look at my photo below. Yes, it is a pile of apples, neatly cut up into match sticks with a few walnuts and grapes nestled underneath. I think I missed the celery, maybe it was disguised as an apple? Wondering what the circle with a hole is and what is poking through it? It’s dried apple with, I think, a sort of soft biscuit thingy. Technical, I know.

And the verdict? Well, now that I know that the Waldorf no longer uses mayonnaise and that my only experience of Waldorf salads to date is the mayonnaise laden version from Sainsbury’s, it explains why it looks nothing like I expected. But it kind of works, it’s pretty light but there are so many matchsticks (julienne, as they say) that it just takes forever to eat. I’d recommend stealing some steak from the person next to you (maybe introduce yourself first) as it makes a great accompaniment to all that healthy food!

Check out how to make the salad with guidance from a chef at the Waldorf on YouTube. Note how the presentation has changed since that video was made by Popsugar in 2011.

A Waldorf Salad at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel

A Waldorf Salad at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel



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Farewell, White Bear

I was very saddened to read of the closure of the White Bear pub in NW3 earlier this month. The New York Times told me about this yesterday. It’s not a pub I liked a lot, but it is in a lovely location and it’s sad when pubs close. I loved the Holly Bush, the tiny, rickety old pub round the back streets of Hampstead. God I miss a decent pint. Here beer is all craft beer and imported bottles of Stella etc. There are a lot of sports bars, with loud TVs showing sport I barely understand and gassy horrible beer. We have a British gastropub, the Jones Wood Foundry, nearby but I think I’ve complained here before – that they keep the London Pride too cold and that’s just wrong. One of my friends recently told me about visiting another favourite pub of mine, the sticky floored Ship in Soho. Lucky thing. Reminded me about the lovely beer there too. Homesick now.

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An update on beer

I love beer. I love it almost as much as I love tea. But not quite as much, obviously. I miss London Pride and I miss Timothy Taylor Landlord on tap, but I can buy both in bottles here in NYC. I am now a regular visitor to City Swiggers, which is a great beer shop cum pub, with 14 beers on tap every night! You can buy a 2 pint bottle called a ‘growler’ and ask them to fill it up for you. We now own two of these and they make a regular visit on a Friday night, I think the guy behind the bar is starting to recognise me. Unfortunately most of the beers are undrinkable as they are 7, 8, 9 or more per cent alcohol beers. However, I have, through my weaker beer tastes of less than 6 per cent, discovered a world of IPA. To the uninitiated this means India Pale Ale. It’s a bit of a girl’s beer, but it tastes lovely. Fruity and fresh and goes down very easily on a hot summer’s day.

I had intended to write about our visit to the NYC Craft Beer Festival a few weeks ago, but failed to do so. Such a shame, because it was fantastic and introduced us to a whole new world of US beers. We drank beer from Hawaii complete with free flower garland around our necks; blueberry beer, beer from California, Oregon and many other states. Along with a fine sausage roll, it was a heavenly night.

And on our return, I took my free beer mats and new beer knowledge to City Swiggers and could finally make some sense of the wall of US beer! Hurrah! No more Corona for me. Can I recommend a Kona Big Wave Golden Ale? Perhaps a Dogfish Head ‘the continually hopped’ IPA from Delaware or even a Coney Island beer – but be warned they have a very scary looking clown face on the neck of the bottle, drink it facing away from you.