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The Big British Invite with VisitBritain & British Airways

The Big British Invite

London is one of my favorite cities to visit in the world, so I was intrigued to receive an invitation to attend The Big British Invite, a collaboration between VisitBritain and British Airways to showcase some of the highlights of British culture that tourists might want to explore.  The Olympics last year as well as the Royal Wedding and anticipated arrival of the Royal Baby, have made the United Kingdom a very popular destination, with 3,000 people a day traveling between New York and London.  The city and the tri-state area generate the largest group of visitors.  This sold out pop-up last weekend in Soho was to display “a glimpse of what is new and now in Britain,” according to the organizers.

Estelle in British Airways‘ new First Class seats

Dan Stevens examining The London Candy Company‘s chocolate creation

For the press preview, we were able to interact with two of the UK’s current cultural exports: Grammy award winner Estelle and Dan Stevens, who appeared on Broadway after having left Downton Abbey.  With them walking alongside of us through the different displays of British food, fashion, and culture, this was a bit like sharing an afternoon discovering the delights of a city with your friend, The Insider.

Our “boarding pass” for this event – Oh, how I wish it had been a real one!

We were treated to a scarf-tying demo by the folks of Liberty of London, sampled treats from local gastropub Highlands NYC, nibbled on teatime fare from Sanderson Hotel‘s “Mad Hatter ‘s Afternoon Tea,” had a seat in a “London cab,” checked out the latest in punk fashions, and took in a few drinks at a pub, among other activities.  It was a terrific chance to dip into a bit of Britain while not having to pack a suitcase or to deal with Customs, but it did make me realize that I’m long overdue for a real trip to London to soak up some of the wonderful things going on over there.

A mock-up of the exterior of Liberty of London – one of the places I like to drop by on any visit

Demonstrating a way to dress up an outfit with one of their fabulous scarves

London cabbie ready to take you to your destination

Black cabs in jelly form for us to enjoy

Punk – part of their history, still influencing the present

A fashion as iconic as the red phone box

Mini sausage rolls with HP Sauce – prepared by Highlands NYC

Sips of Cullen skink – a Scottish version of a smoked haddock chowder

Shortbreads with Whiskey-Chocolate Drops

Bedford Cheese Shop display of Welsh cheese

A nosh of Welsh Rarebit

Then, time to drop by the pub for a Smoky Whiskey Drink called “The Bribe” (think whiskey + cigars)

The Bumbys give a fair and honest appraisal of your appearance – I was too chicken to let them do that!

This was a cool way to experience the latest in the UK music scene – just put on the headphones and dance

It was time for tea with a Matcha Tea Mousse in a Chocolate Tea Cup

Or maybe one of their special tea blends

Or maybe something else from the “Mad Hatter ‘s Afternoon Tea” put together by Sanderson Hotel

This is a perfect use for all those teacups

But, really, what I fell in love with the most was this dazzling display of landmarks made of sweets courtesy The London Candy Company

Big Ben in Cadbury chocolates

Choco-Henge made of Mars Bars

Jigs Patel – owner of The London Candy Company (which is located on the Upper East Side)

Thanks so much to Extra Extra Creative for the invitation to this event.  Getting to taste and experience some of the flavors and fashions of what makes Britain a great place to visit just reminded me of how much there is to explore there in the culinary and cultural landscape.  Hopefully, I can get over there again before too long!

Buon appetito!

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