Well, I have successfully eaten and drunk my way through Oxford, from coffee (and dessert!) at the oldest cafe in Oxford (except, apparently, the Queen’s Lane, which may or may not also be the oldest cafe in Oxford) to brunch at Bill’s, a pint at the Eagle and Child, and the Tesco wine selection.
The first day there, still jetlagged and seriously undercaffeinated, we stopped at the Grand Cafe in Oxford to treat ourselves to a fancy coffee, along with some dessert. They were out of the blackcurrent and violet cheesecake, which was our first choice, but our second choice was just as satisfying: the croquant Valrhona, an odd pastry with a crispy base under mousse covered in chocolate glaze. The chocolate, apparently from the French chocolatier Valrhona. Odd, but delicious!
On Sunday (after a night of Tesco wine, more on that later), we took ourselves to brunch at Bill’s, where I had the veggie breakfast: toast with eggs, tomatoes, hummus, avocado, and mushrooms. Cool atmosphere, with light wood tables, funky chandeliers, and urban touches. We were on the early side for brunch, but it started filling up fast soon after we arrived!
Sadly, I didn’t think to take any pictures of the Tesco wines that we bought, but we enjoyed a really nice rosé, a Spanish garnacha, a Rhone blend, and a white from the southwest of France. Don’t worry, we didn’t drink all of them, but we tried all of them. Tesco is interesting because it’s now the largest retailer of wine in the world, with a lot of buying power in the wine industry, and represents a huge amount of different wine brands. The wines on their shelf are mostly inexpensive (very inexpensive!), but good value, especially for someone on a student budget. There was, surprisingly, a great deal of white zin, which we carefully avoided. We recommend anything with grenache/garnacha for a budget Tesco wine run win.
If anyone’s interested in learning more about Tesco and the advantages/disadvantages to that kind of wine buying structure, The Wine Economist has some interesting things to say on it!
And last, but not least, we had a pint at the Eagle and Child, where the Inklings met to talk about their writing and ideas! Of course we had to hunker down in one of the little nooks with a pint of ale and talk about our literary dreams. We also spent a lot of time talking about the difference between American and British slang, but at least we were still talking language!
Next up: arrival in Bordeaux, the open air markets, the first bottle of wine I bought, and how to do culture shock your third time around