Emirates, a truly decent meal, and broken trains
A visit to Arsenal, a taste of the new English food and a lesson in Underground topography: all in today's postcard from London.
At the Arsenal
Yesterday afternoon, FOX Soccer was granted unprecedented access to Emirates Stadium, and we took full advantage. You'll see the results of this in July when we air the Emirates Cup, but let me offer up a few highlights.
From punchline to knockout
When Ferguson Henderson opened St. John restaurant in 1994, "English cooking" was a punchline - a synonym for "horrible." Despite being so close to places like France, Spain and Italy, there was a deep suspicion surrounding what most of us would consider edible cuisine, possibly a legacy of the long years of rationing that followed World War II (Scotland was hardly immune to this, mind you. I had my fair share of boiled-grey vegetables and smoked fish, too). Growing up, wine was almost unknown, curry was (and remains) the de-facto national dish, and anything with fresh greens was almost impossible to find.
Since St John - and chef Henderson's commitment to what he called "nose-to-tail eating" - there has been a true renaissance. The days when the chip shop was the height of dining out are gone, Britain's gastro-pub wave has come and crested, and now it's pretty hard not to find a decent meal. Last night, in the formerly-seedy Paddington area, I walked into a rather nondescript corner pub and managed to have fresh-caught haddock on top of fresh greens with pea ravioli. This was unimaginable even 10 years ago. I ate at the Chapel, and it's off the Edgware Road stop. Look it up if you're here.
The Underground works
I had a drink with my friend Derek Rae last night - you'll know him from his work days at MLS' New England Revolution and with ESPN - at Earl's Court. Walking back to the Tube, Mr. Rae noted that the one thing that took some getting used to about London was that everyone was always late. It didn't take me long to find out why. Two trains suddenly went dark, closing down three separate lines. (the Tube System has 13 separate lines, counting the Overground). Our driver informed us that this was due to a "new S-type train breaking down, again."
Tomorrow: Jonathan Wilson's new football magazine, Test Matches, my attempt to lunch with Bora (yes, that Bora), and the road to Wembley.
Jamie Trecker is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering the UEFA Champions League and the Barclay's Premier League.