A nasty tummy bug dumped me into the hospital for a few days. It wasn’t all bad – my room had a balcony with a view of Lord’s cricket ground. It was sunny enough for me to sit outside and watch England play New Zealand; the local team desperately attempting to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Given a cigar and a few pints of ale, I would have happily extended my hospital stay.
There was further entertainment from my nurse, a delightful woman of Nigerian extraction who pitched me a different investment opportunity every day! She first approached me for advice on building a hospital on a plot of land she owns near Lagos. There was to be a full diagnostics suite, consultant’s offices and in-patient wards. I gently suggested that her experience and training as a nurse may not convince investors of her ability to run a hospital. I also warned her of the challenges of building a business in a highly regulated environment.
She took my comments seriously. The next day she showed me an artist’s rendering of a shopping mall she intended to develop on the same plot of land! In the meantime she located me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and sent me invitations to connect! I’m now waiting for the $5 million she promised to put in my bank account “because I’m a good person she can trust”…
My attempts to smuggle a flask of martinis into the hospital failed because Covid restrictions banned visitors. I had almost forgotten that Covid is still amongst us. It bothers me that two years on we still don’t know whether the disease was started by a Chinese man eating a bat, or an innocent leak from a bio-weapons lab in Wuhan. Now the Monkey Pox is upon us, although I have a decent idea of how that started. When you share the planet with over seven billion people, someone inevitably decides that it’s a good idea to shag a monkey.
Inter species sex doesn’t have to be unsafe. Relatives of the Kiwis playing cricket against our lads have practised dubious animal husbandry techniques for generations without suffering an outbreak of sheep pox…
Regardless of how salubrious the conditions may be, a hospital is like a prison. In neither case are you entirely in control of when you can check in or check out. To celebrate my release I decided to stay with a vaguely prison/police theme and headed to Great Scotland Yard – the original headquarters of the Metropolitan Police (the world’s oldest police force). The original 1829 Scotland Yard building is now the Hyatt-run Great Scotland Yard hotel. There’s a criminal theme in the lobby with poignant and moving artworks created by current prisoners (curated by the charity Koestler arts).
The Nordic themed restaurant at the hotel is run by Niklas Ekstedt who was awarded a Michelin star for his original restaurant in Stockholm. The set menu runs to reindeer heart, black pudding, vendance roe – you may feel a tad guilty when you meet Rudolph at Christmas.
Ekstedt’s speciality is fire. He eschews gas and electricity. Everything is cooked on a firepit, a wood fired stove or a wood fired oven. We were invited to watch the first course being cooked – beef fat is heated over an open fire before being poured from a height onto raw oysters. The oysters are then dressed with a nasturtium and beurre blanc. The oysters are warmed through, rather than cooked by the hot fat. It’s delicious – rich, unctuous and utterly unexpected.
I admire Ekstedt’s decision to run an unplugged kitchen. In this age of the internet of things my computer appears to be connected to my neighbour’s microwave. I get an alert every time her microwave dinner is ready. Presumably her microwave is now streaming porn…
Regardless of Eksted’s choice of fuel, this is a standout restaurant. The rest of the menu didn’t quite have the same fiery drama as the oysters, but it was unexpected, intriguing, and delicious. If you visit, go with an open mind. This is superlative food made by a master chef.