It could be described as a department store, but it's more of an establishment. Founded in about 1707 by a footman of the royal household called William Fortnum, and a grocer called Hugh Mason. Long story.
Plush red carpets everywhere, wood panelling...A much more classy, old-school affair than Harrods. I can go an entire year without stepping foot in that brash palace. Leave it to the tourists, though they make a pretty good presence at F&M as well. Fortnum's signature colour is reminiscent of a Georgian drawing room. See a bag that colour and you know where the bearer has been! Those of you who were at Christie's King Street will remember how much better (and cheaper) their sandwiches and wraps were than the overpriced overtoasted ciabattini things produced by the Duke Street cafe.
I go there once a month for my chocolate and other luxury supplies. On Saturday I spent more time browsing than ever before and bought:
- A little box of F&M Elegant Chocolate Thins: dark choc squares infused with little violet petal crystals (floral explosion in the mouth!) in a cute little box this colour embossed with gold script.
- A jar of French Greek-syle oil-cured olives..............................Mmmmmm, writing about it, I decided to open the jar and try them. Marinaded in herbs, the olives still have a wonderful creamy flavour.
- A box of F&M royal blend tea bags, created in 1902 in honour of the coronation of King Edward V. (???)
- A tin of F&M crepes dentelles enrobees de chocolat noir (fine lacy crepe wafers covered in dark choc) - so fine they literally melt in the mouth. The pic on the lid is a drawing of two white-wigged 18th century dandies having tea, pinkies fully extended, simpering smiles and eyebrows raised.
- At the chocolate counter, Mother picked her own combo box: my fave coconut ganache logs (cocobello), spicy passion fruit squares, dark choc covered ginger (her fave), and cherry kirsch. All in a lovely box, and, like many of their items, tied with a ribbon in that colour.
After Fortnum's we walked along to Virgin Records on Piccadilly Circus (used to be Tower Records) and bought classical choral stuff. Durufle, Handel, Rutter.
By then we were hungry, so we continued on to Soho's Chinatown where we had dim sum. That's the best lunch you can ever have - 3 or 4 small items on each plate, so two people can finish 6 or 7 dishes with ease. We had char-siu cheung fun, king prawn dumplings, grilled peking dumplings, Vietnamese spring rolls, prawn and chive dumplings, and steamed custard balls. Lashings of Jasmine tea. Happy tummies.
Still, we continued on to the Haagen-Dasz cafe in Leicester Square, a very popular spot where the queue went out the door, but it's always worth the wait. Their rich hot chocolate is the best in town, made by melting the belgian chocolate ice cream in steamed milk with frothy cream on top. Decadent..........Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Then we took a stroll into Trafalgar Square, where, on a whim I dragged Mum into the National Gallery. This time I showed her some paintings from 1600-1800. Last time, I had taken her to the Renaissance section in the other wing. It was packed full of people, probably for the Caravaggio exhibition.
Then we were at Piccadilly, almost back where we'd started. Always nice having walked in a big circle while getting everything done in the right order. I wish I had a pedometer to see how far we walked.
I left her at the bus stop to catch the bus straight back to my aunt's and then I walked back to the station to catch my train to SJW.