ACC Travels: London and the Cotswolds

Usually I post travel pieces right after I return from a trip but we went to, and ate at, so many incredible places it took me an age just to pour through all the photos and memories in order to share the very best with you all.  This spring Patrick and I visited London and then headed out to the Cotswolds – we also hit Oxford and Dublin which will be subsequent posts.  The New York Times scooped me again with a 36 Hours in the Cotswolds and I was gratified to see my choices were mostly endorsed by the paper of record (included in their piece that I can also recommend are the towns of Burton on the Water, Stow on the Wod and a visit to Broadway Tower).  It was a trip of a lifetime visiting with amazing friends and traveling over the gorgeous British countryside – not to mention having amazing meals.

London 

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Patrick lived in London for several years and if he had his druthers we would probably spend every vacation there.  I must admit I have caught the bug as well, mostly because of the amazing friends we have there, but also because the city is so vibrant and alive – especially the food scene.  Below is more detailed info on some of my favorite places we ate in London but I would be remiss not to include a couple of other highlights.  Paxton and Whitfield is the world’s most incredible cheese shop, the Churchill Arms and the Lamb and Flag are our two favorite pubs, you can get terrific tapas at any of the Brindisa locations, and of course no visit to London would be complete without a stop at Borough Market.

Fortnum and Mason – 181 Piccadilly London W1A 1ER

Not only is this an incredibly beautiful 300 year old store with an awesome food hall in the basement but it also has the most charming wine bar.  I like to pop in to take a break from shopping on Jermyn Street.

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First a glass of sparkling rose in the bar, maybe a cheese plate, and then I can get lost in the food hall picking up tidbits to bring home.

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Santo Remedio – 152 Tooley Street SE1 2TU

Of course I found an Air B&B a block away from a Mexican restaurant!

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This place was so cute and instagrammable but it all comes down to the margarita.  Once I had my first one I knew this place would be alright!  Fresh and tart they were perfectly balanced and the chips are lighter than air.

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They have a great lunch menu where you can get several courses for a reasonable price – a great way to celebrate Fiesta Friday in London.

Lazy Hunter – 117 Kentish Town Road NW1 8PB

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When you are sitting in the back of this Kentish Town pub surrounded by hipsters and drinking craft beer you may think you were in Brooklyn but the menu has a serious British bent.  Patrick got the full English breakfast, made with homemade sausage and the traditional grilled tomato.

I opted for the venison burger with caramelized onions and incredible fries.  If its a nice day try to sit on their lovely back patio.

Passione Vino – 85 Leonard Street EC2A4QS

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If this place existed in Washington, instead of the Shoredich neighborhood of London, I would be there all the time.  Part shop, part wine bar, it’s the perfect afterwork spot.  Of course my incredibly fun and chic friend Coleman is the one who took us here.  I was glad to be with a regular because you feel quite odd walking through the shop to the hidden wine bar in the back but thats where all the fun is to be had.!

img_0820 We grabbed a perfectly chilled bottle of sparkling rose and caught up, I just hope he will forgive me for sharing this secret spot!

A.Wong –  70 Wilton Rd, Pimlico, London SW1V 1DE

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If you follow me on Instagram (@acapitolcontessa) then you have already seen some of the INCREDIBLE highlights of this meal.  One of the top ten of my life for sure.  It didn’t hurt that our friend Vernon is friends with the chef and owner, Andrew Wong, but trust me they treat everyone at this Michelin starred restaurant like family.  None of the stuffiness you would expect with this level of cooking – the chefs are having fun with the food but also hewing really closely to traditional Chinese dishes.

I could probably do an entire blog post on this meal alone but the highlights were definitely the “goldfish” dumplings that were both adorable and delicious.  We also loved the cantonese roasted pork, the 1000 chili chicken with snails and the Singapore noodles with scallop dressing.  The menu changes often so make sure to ask for suggestions from the impeccable staff.

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To finish off you cannot miss the amazing peach merengue.  Thank you A. Wong for an incredible evening.

The Cotswolds

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I had only ever been to London, so for this trip I really wanted to get out of the city and see more of the countryside of England.  We took the train out to Oxford (that one night is a whole post of its own, coming soon) and then rented a car to drive to the Cotswolds.  Huge love to my dear husband who drove ,which was pretty hair raising but totally worth it – there are so many incredible towns tucked away in far reaching corners it really is best to get lost and explore.

The Wild Rabbit –  Church St, Kingham, Chipping Norton OX7 6YA

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Unfortunately we didn’t have time to eat dinner at this beautiful restaurant when we were staying there.  However, the elegant breakfast spread is included in the room rate and is top notch so I have no doubt the rest of the menu is as well.  I couldn’t leave this off of the post because it was one of the best hotel experiences I have ever had (and part of the reason why we stayed in the Cotswolds in the first place).  Wellies for all the guests!

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The attention to detail was so charming but unpretentious and the bar area was a great place to relax and have a whiskey after a long day of driving on the “wrong” side of the road.

Huxleys – High Street, Chipping Campden

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Who knew some of the best Italian food I have had in a long time would be found in a 500 year old building smack in the middle of quint Chipping Campden?

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It was raining like crazy and Patrick and I just wanted some warming food.  What we got was terrific pastas, a serious Italian wine collection, sheepskin blankets for your lap and the perfect place to hide out in front of the fire during a hail storm.

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Daylesford Farm – Daylesford, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 0YG, UK

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Dream place – cooking school, home goods shop, delicious food market, incredible wine cellar, bucolic surroundings…I went to this place twice in 24 hours because I couldn’t get enough.

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Its almost like Chip and Joanna opened the Silos in England – this place also runs the Wild Rabbit so you get a discount if you stay there.  The only question is how much can you fit into your suitcase???  (Answer – 4 beautiful handblown glasses, 2 bergamot candles, a hand thrown pot and several jars of spices).

The Kingham Plough – The Green, Kingham, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire OX7 6YD

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Exactly what you want in a quaint neighborhood pub in the country.  Fireplace – check, low wooden beamed ceiling – check, friendly locals – check, delicious menu featuring locally grown ingredients – check.  Just down the street from the Wild Rabbit we quickly fell in love with this place and its vibe.  After a couple of pints by the fire we tucked into the rather sophisticated menu.

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Who doesn’t love pheasant wallpaper??

They have a nice mix of casual pies and sandwiches that you can eat in the pub section (full menu is available out there as well) and then the back dining rooms have a more formal dinner menu.

I cannot wait to get back and explore more of both of these places – I hope some of you are able to get out there this year.  If you find more gems leave them in the comments.  Cheers!

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