Liverpool showing off

It was one of those glorious days for weather. Not hot, lots of strong breezes, and a heavy dose of sun at the end.

We, along with Lambert Tours North, started our day at the Walker Art Gallery, which houses one of the largest art collections in England outside of London. It is promoted as “the National Gallery of the North,” and it was quite impressive. Forget Manchester’s claim to the world of the Pre-Raphaelites – the Walker beats it hands down. We had a great time in the 18th and 19th century galleries, and as a highlight of the 20th century, saw a Duncan Grant painting of Charleston Farm. All the dots are connecting.

And then Liverpool showed off its literary side in the nearby Central Library, with its lovely Picton Reading Room and Hornby Library. Throughout the building are creations representing Shakespearean characters, all done out of paper, which move with the breeze and have incredible life in them. Not sure if any writers I know would want their work critiqued here, but that service is available, in case one is in need of immediate counsel.

And then we spent our time admiring the glories of Liverpool, on a day when the crowds were out shopping, singing, strolling and generally having a lovely Sunday. The Albert Dock was rocking with vintage cars, a 40’s swing band, lots of museum goers, and plenty of ice cream. A wonderful day was had by all, including us – thanks to our favorite Liverpool ladies. Once again, we are so lucky in our friends.

Don’s Food Corner

The four of us had lunch today at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant.  It’s one of a chain of restaurants with the celebrity chef’s name on it. Having just tasted just about important regional dish in Italy at the source, it’s interesting to return to food that, like Italian-American food, is “inspired” by Italian food.

For example, we all love garlic bread — all buttery and sprinkled with garlic and sometimes cheese — but you’ll never find it in Italy. At one point in our trip through Italy I had an extended conversation with an Italian man (at the laundromat!) and mentioned how little garlic we found in Italy. No, he said, it’s too strong. Then, I described garlic bread and you should have seen the horror on his face. No Italian, he claimed, would ever prepare or eat such a disgusting concoction.

That’s not holding Jamie Oliver back. It is featured prominently on the menu, and, of course, we ordered it.

Other Italian-inspired dishes we ordered were tagliatelle Bolognese, ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta with a tomato/mozzarella sauce, and a seafood linguine. All of Jamie’s interpretations had nodding references to the food you would actually find in Italy with as much influence from Italian/American cuisine. As a result, it was actually more familiar to us than most of the meals we had in Italy.

The fourth dish ordered was Jamie’s Italian burger.  I’m not sure what made it Italian, but it sure wasn’t the cheddar cheese put on top.  (There is NO cheddar cheese in Italy, to Jo’s chagrin.) While the Italian origins of the burger are questionable, it was declared to be a delicious version of what we would consider a purely American invention.

We had a dessert as well – a polenta cake. The ones we tasted in Italy tended to be rather dry and gritty.  This was moist like an English cake and smothered in whipped cream.

Jamie’s place was pretty crowded so I guess he has hit the perfect tone for an Italian-tasting sojourn in England.

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