A planning session with sushi, that was the idea. We are going to the UK on holidays later in the year, and our dear friend Anna will be joining us for part of the time. As the margins for procrastination are rapidly dwindling, decisions need to be made. Who will be where, when. Enough vaguery, enough shilly-shallying. It’s time to nail this shit down. So a nice meal, some wine and some decisions, that was the plan.
We were all in a good mood, having met up at Cafe Newtown first and watched the friday night crowds arriving to be greeted by the cute looking police drug dog and about a dozen boys and girls in blue. I ducked across the road to the bottle shop to buy a bottle of Pinot Gris with a pretty drawing of a bird on the label, and then joined Strop and Anna at a shop selling polka-dotted felt hats for $19.95. “Bargain!” said Strop, reaching for my wallet.
When we got to Japone Sushi we opted for the train rather than one of the side tables. This was going to mean that there was less room for Strop’s hand-drawn calendar / spreadsheet but who can go past the option of having their food arrive on a miniature luggage carousel, especially when you are planning a holiday. It’s imperative.
So we hung our bags and coats on the backs of our stools and perched ourselves in a row and waited for the tiny trains to pull in. The first to arrive were a series of little wooden boxes with shot glasses. Oyster shooters! MMMmmmm. They were good. Look mussels. Yes! Mussels, yum. What’s next? Try this. What is it? Do you want some or not? Sure. MMMmmmm. That was good, what was it? Ceviche! In a little hipster jar! Quick grab them. Get a photo. Stop shouting. MMMmmmm. What’s that with the salmon? Watermelon. It’s got watermelon in it too. Crunchy. And smooth. Wow.
There is a slightly crazed mood that overtakes you at the start of a sushi train session. It happens with yum cha too, all the food coming past, all looking so good. Decisions need to be made quickly. This mild form of hysteria was exacerbated at Japone Sushi because there is so much fantastic looking feature food. At the bottom of their business card it says “It’s sushi… But not as you know it!” And for once that cliche is appropriate. This is sushi with a sense of fun and experimentation, and a fair bit of chilli: Spider King Roll; Volcano; Kiss of Fire; Popcorn Shrimp; Sashimi Tacos. The food was excellent, and fun. And excellent. The Pinot Gris from Orange was pretty good to.
Once we had got over our initial feeding frenzy and got to the point where our stomachs started to tell us that at some stage it is going to shut its doors and we had better start taking our time and choosing wisely, we started to talk about the holidays. The primary reason for the trip is to go to the wedding of an old but young friend at a church in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Anna is a librarian, specialising in built heritage, and she had been doing her research. “Is it the church with the tall steeple or the one with the short round tower?” Tall steeple. “When the invitation says we’ll be there with bells on – how is that? The book said the churches had no bells because the designers didn’t want to disturb the peace of the residents.” Turn of phrase. “Will we be able to spend a night at a London pub?” And a Devon pub. More than one probably. Ooh look, Kingfish Jaws, do you want one of those?
There was reminiscing about forgotten passports and East Finchley station, number 13 buses, and a fair bit of excitement. Where shall we go? Kew? Of course. The museums? There are quite a few. Galleries? Tate? Modern? No the old one. British Museum. Nice roof. Derek Jarman’s garden. Sissinghurst. Not that fussed about Bath. But it is lovely. Or Stonehenge. Highgate Cemetery? Oh yes, let’s do the tour.
As we left Anna said “I can’t remember if I’m leaving on the 8th or the 9th. It’s one of them, but I’m not sure if I’m mixing it up with the 19th which is when I leave Rome. I think.” It was a planning session short on details but long on excitement.
Next up is a rock’n’roll hamburger joint. That should be fun.