Sunday, February 19, 2012

One of those nights...

I'm sure most of you have had this experience. 

You plan and plan for a special night out.  You purchase tickets in advance.  You buy a new outfit including new black pumps (because the other 17 pairs in your closet are just not quite right).  You make reservations at The perfect spot at The perfect time.  You make lists and plan everything to the last detail.  But, as the saying goes... "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men..." often go awry.  The night comes and goes and (sound effects)... it doesn't quite live up to expectations. You'd have been better off staying at home in your pj's, watching The Gilmore Girls and eating a cheesecake for dinner (not that I've ever done that.) 

Well, last night was NOT one of those nights!  It was not expected or planned out to the last detail.  It just came together and it was great!  Don't you just love when that happens?  

One of the expat blogs that I enjoy is Expat Mum.  She is a British author and blogger who was whisked away to the US by an American accountant, so we have a little bit in common in a Parent Trap sort of way.   She had a drawing a few weeks ago for tickets to see Straight No Chaser in London last night.  We were lucky enough to be one of the winners!  We headed up to London for the weekend.

We had no plans for pre-show dinner, so decided to head over to Islington, find the venue and hopefully, find someplace close by to dine.   We had walked a block or two and nothing looked too promising, until we happened upon a little Italian place called the Canonbury Kitchen.   The menu was very enticing so we decided to give it a try.   

Canonbury Kitchen (pic from their website)
Wow!  I'm not a foodie blogger, so I can't wax poetic about the gastric delights we experienced, but I can tell you...  it was Nummy!!!  This is what we had:  

Chickpea & Fennel Seed Fritters & Smoked Mozarella with Red Wine Syrup 
Mixed Salad

Pinot Grigio, Castel Firmian, Trentino Italy
Vistaflor Sangiovese/Malbec, Bodega Norton, Argentina

Saltimbocca: Veal & Parma Ham cooked with Sage & served with Roast Potatoes
Pan-Fried Fillet of Sea-Bass with Lemon Butter & Garlic Sauteed Spinach

Affogato Al Cafe
Classic Tiramisu

The servings were the perfect size to allow for a dessert indulgence without remorse.  The place was spotless, the kitchen pristine and the service was eccezionaleIt was one of the best meals we've had in London and we will definitely go back.

We then headed over to the Union Chapel to pick up the tickets at will-call (we got to jump queue... bonus!)   

Wow!  If you are going to hear an a cappella concert, is there a better venue than a Gothic Chapel?  I don't think so.  It was absolutely breathtaking.    

From their website:  "Opened on the 5th December 1877, the Union chapels main space is a fantastic example of the Victorian's obsession with all things Gothic.  It is octagonal in shape and is galleried on 5 sides.  The sight lines to the stage are excellent.  The detail in the craftsmanship is wonderful. 
The Main Auditorium at Union Chapel speaks for itself; it creates an ambiance and intimacy between audience and performers unlike any other venue in London.

It has great acoustics and has a very intimate feel for such a large space; it is a perfect setting for a performance."

Straight No Chaser is an a cappella group that originated in 1996 at Indiana University.  

In 2006, this performance from 1998 was posted on YouTube and went viral with over 14 million views.  SNC, made up of former members of the college group, signed a record deal in 2008 and have been touring and performing since.  

Wow!  They are absolutely amazing.  You completely forget that there are no instruments or tracks behind them.  

Close your eyes and picture being in this space...

hearing this songIt was pretty magical and brought tears to my eyes.  (Yes, I realize it's a Madonna song, but go with me here.)  

They sang a good mixture of songs and entertained from the beginning until the end.   This is their first British tour and the crowd absolutely loved them... standing ovations and stomping for an encore.   The 9 members (1 was at home with a new baby) even seemed moved by the special venue and the reception that they received. 

Here is a quick shot from my phone... not great quality, but you get the idea.  If you ever get the chance to see them live, take it!

It was a great experience all around.  And, in spite of the fact that it just came together (and I didn't get a new pair of black pumps out of the deal), it was definitely one of those nights.


  1. I call nights like these, 'happy accidents' and I love them!! :)
    (but I also love eating cheesecake in my jammies while watching the Gilmore Girls but tell anybody)

  2. Interesting that you were in Islington, my son works in the Ark (further down Upper St), you could've popped in to see him :-) But on seconds thoughts after what I've heard about the Ark, you probably made the right choice in the Canonbury Kitchen!!

    1. I will have to put the Ark on our list of places to try!


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