Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Charles Lamb, The Barnsbury

Another long delay between blog posts and again this is due to a holiday. This time I was in Sorrento, Italy, which was absolutely gorgeous. The scenery on the Amalfi coast is breathtaking, and the food and drink weren't bad either. Amusingly there was a "British pub" there (plus the ubiquitous "Irish bars") although I didn't venture in to try the John Smiths that was on offer. Being Italy there were countless mopeds whizzing about, and it was a gamble when crossing the street if you were actually going to make it across this time. Amusingly Italians just hop onto a moped no matter what they're wearing, from suit and tie to casual T-shirt and jeans. Of course being Italian they make it look effortlessly cool. Much better than the angry dreadlocked courier with the hand me down clothes you tend to see on bikes in London. On occasion whole families would be squeezed onto a moped, with the family dog tucked into the front. I was almost tempted to rent a moped but I knew full well I would die seconds after getting on the road thanks to the absolutely insane driving of Italian drivers.

If you look at this photo very closely you can hear an American saying "Isn't it just gorgeous?!"
A danger I wasn't prepared for in Sorrento was the countless Americans who were there. I don't mind Americans, but for some reason they irritate me when they're on holiday in a European country. They're kind of fun at first as they marvel at buildings that are "over 100 years old!" and ask if the waiter "really is from Italy?" but then I find the constant braying and getting drunk on two glasses of wine gets very irritating very quickly. In restaurants they inevitably start asking inane questions to anybody who has the misfortune to sit next to them, completely ignoring the answers and prattling on about how great New York or whichever little corner of America they're from is. I just want to enjoy my Spaghetti without having to hear Doris from Connecticut tell her entire life story.

The food in Sorrento was great although every restaurant seemed to serve the exact same menu of pasta, pizza, meat and fish. By the end of my brief trip there I was practically gagging for traditional British cuisine such as a curry or kebab. So on my return to England it was straight to the Charles Lamb on Sunday for a roast, accompanied by The Lovely Jemma and a flame haired Irish friend. The Charles Lamb is a cosy two room boozer down a quiet side street near Angel tube station. It can be easily missed, and one chap at the bar was berating his friend for picking a pub that was so difficult to find. I like to think that after a couple of well kept ales he would be thanking his friend for bringing him here.

This was my first visit to this quite fine pub. The Sunday roast was excellent, the beef a very pleasant shade of pink and the veg in good form. The ale was excellent too, although thankfully not pink. I enjoyed a couple of delicious pints of Thornbridge "Sequoia," a typically classy Thornbridge bitter with a warming hoppy taste. Staff were friendly and the pub didn't feel cliquey or stuffy the way some pubs in Islington can. Basically it was hipster free.

This photo in the window of a Sorrento
photography studio was
basically the highlight of my trip.
Afterwards we moved on to The Barnsbury, another first time pub for me and recommended in the Good Beer Guide 2013. I love going to a CAMRA recommended pub for the first time. First because visiting a new pub is always an adventure, and second because I get to tick off the pub from my mobile version of the Good Beer Guide. It's very satisfying to push the "Pub Visited" button. I recommend the Good Beer Guide app generally, it's a very useful tool to have especially when you're in a new town and you're not sure which pub you can go to where you most likely won't get stabbed by crazed locals, or drink an ale which tastes of soapy water poured from a tramps boot.

The beer in The Barnsbury did not taste like soapy tramp boot water, far from it, and I had a perfectly well kept pint of Dark Star Hophead, a classic pint with the excellent floral flavours coming through fabulously. The atmosphere was pleasant although I did hear a Coldplay song being played, thankfully it didn't last long and the rest of the music was fine. Again this pub is sort of in the middle of nowhere, but well worth making a visit if you find yourself in the area.

I've got no holidays planned for a while now, and now that I'm looking at buying a house it's most likely I'll never go on holiday again. Expect more frequent updates of this blog in the future. I know you can't wait!

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