Before I head into my Harry Potter potion tutorial (nerd alert!) I put together a SEE + EAT + DO guide of my trip to London and Oxford. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a couple of things I really loved.
HITCHIN LAVENDER FARM // HERTFORDSHIRE
I was lucky enough to be in England just before lavender season ended. I decided to take a little road trip about 1.5 hours outside of London so I could take some fresh lavender home with me to try in recipes. For a small fee, they give you a pair of scissors and a paper bag to fill with as much lavender as you like. Fair warning though, if you have a fear of bees this will require you to come face to face with your fears. I swear some of those bees were as big as birds and were probably trying to pollinate my hair (which I may or may not have dyed purple just for this occasion). I just pretended they didn’t exist, and I left with 0 stings. There is a cafe and shop at the farm where you can buy various sweet treats, soaps, and lotions made with lavender. Lavender season runs from May to September. // More information on their website: hitchinlavender.com
SKETCH GALLERY // LONDON
If you want to feel like you are taking your afternoon tea down the rabbit hole, go to Sketch. Pink velvet chairs, egg shaped toilets, with quirky and mildly inappropriate artwork make for the most unique atmosphere in the city. The tiny sandwiches were to die for. It’s a little on the pricey side, so when your server comes by to ask if you would like more of something don’t be shy and go ahead and tell them. They will pack up everything you can’t finish in an adorable pink bag at the end of your meal if you just ask. Be sure to make a reservation as far in advance as you can. We did the first seating and we had the place to ourselves for a bit before it got pretty crowded in there. So make one early in the day if you don’t want too many other people in your egg toilet selfies ;) // afternoon tea reservations: sketch london tea
THE STANDARD // OXFORD
I would do the 11 hour flight from LA to London just to eat here again. I think this was the best meal we had during the trip. They serve many delectable bengali and south asian dishes. I recommend anything with prawns. And of course, 5,000 orders of garlic naan. // reservations: www.standardoxford.com
PIEMINISTER PIES // THE COVERED MARKET OXFORD:
Inside of the covered market in oxford is a great pie shop that you can probably spot by the long line coming out of it. Probably you will be extremely overwhelmed by your choices, as you likely have never seen so many combinations of meats and such to go inside of a pie shell. Americans aren’t as into savory pies. My only experience with savory meat pies up until this point were of the gross sodium bomb variety from the frozen section of the grocery store. So just nod when they ask if you want everything with it, choose your pie (I got free range chicken and ham hock) and ABSOLUTELY SAY YES TO THE CRISPY SHALLOTS. These were my favorite part of the meal. After the mashed potatoes, gravy, and minty mushy peas are all globbed onto your plate you probably have enough food to feed two people. Though I am still not 100% on board with minty mushy peas I can still appreciate that they were very well made. // www.pieminister.co.uk
HARRY POTTER LONDON TOUR
If you’re a Harry Potter freak, like me, you can scope out some of the locations where they filmed some scenes from the movie. If you fail to book a Warner Bros. studio tour in a timely manner, like me, this is a good way to soften the blow of not being able to pretend that you finally got accepted to Hogwarts. My favorite was the Oxford Divinity School where the infirmary and dance lesson scenes of the movies were filmed // a comprehensive list of locations: TOP 10 HARRY POTTER LOCATIONS IN LONDON
This is the perfect gift for the Harry Potter obsessed person in your life, especially if you want to give them something a little more creative and grown up. If they happen to be a foodie, even better. When my close friend's birthday rolled around, I just knew I had to make her something Harry Potter related. I have to admit that I probably got more joy out of making this gift than she did receiving it.
What I used to make my potions:
- FELIX FELICIS- I infused honey with the lavender I picked at Hitchin Lavender farm for 3 days, then added gold colored sprinkles to it. You can infuse your honey with anything you like (or the person you are giving it to likes) such as vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne... or nothing at all. The honey was thick enough to suspend the sprinkles which I thought was a nice touch.
- BUTTERBEER ELIXIR- I used THIS butterscotch recipe and made sure it was completely cooled before pouring it into the bottle.
- MERMAID WINE- I infused gin with lavender and left the flowers in there because I thought it added to the look of the potion. You can use any alcohol or infusion you like.
- POLYJUICE POTION- You can use store bought jalepeno hot sauce or make it from scratch using this recipe HERE