From the top of Highgate Hill the city of London below glitters like the Emerald City; I can see all the way into Soho.The lights are crisp in the inky northern darkness and the air is frosty enough to turn the air I exhale into ribbons of steam. Arsenal's Emirates Stadium is a cyber-beetle, a monstrosity worthy of battle with Godzilla, but it is dark tonight because the big match is over at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea has a Champion's League match on tonight and it is crucial they win. I'd keep well away from that area if I were you.
Highgate is a village with a steep cobbled High Street and sharp angled side streets that are worth wandering along, even if they didn't carry you to must-see places like Hampstead Heath and Highgate Cemetery. Yes, Karl Marx's grave is a fulfilling sight. But I was just as thrilled to see Douglas Adams', and really tickled by a tombstone that simply reads "Dead". Anna Mahler's grave, Gustav's daughter, has the effigy of an Angel standing on it with eyes covered in a see no evil pose; she was blind.
Then there was the headless statue in a copse streaming with sunlight. Highgate is the creme de la creme of genteel decay, I aspire to be that eccentric when I decay.
My batcave of choice in this part of town is Dragonfly, an organic market and raw/living foods cafe. The lithe and youthful owner is fond of talking about her Clash experience, having seen the band back in the late Seventies at a club on Wardour Street, Soho while nine months pregnant with her son. The concert going foetus is now an adult, and his mother's right hand man in the shop. Needless to say he's a Clash fan, and was happy to add to the ambience of my first day in London by docking his ipod and opening up his vast collection over the cafe speakers. "Jimmy Jazz" is playing as I write this while sipping a hemp milk smoothie, but I started pounding the keyboard to "I Fought the Law" and "Guns of Brixton".
I always order the wild greens salad with raw falafel, hummus, and sprouts. The falafel is amazing considering it is grain free.It has a melting texture and full mouth flavors of garlic, cashew, and sprouted bean. The cafe is generous with its lashings of raw pumpkin seed oil; a nutty tasting oil that hints of parmesan but rounds out earthy and musty.
In the summer a secluded courtyard is a great place to cool off with a fresh juice, or a wheatgrass shot and raw chocolate. The cafe is experimenting with it's line of raw takeaway foods and desserts. The raw tarts are luscious, and I look forward to trying their raw vegan ice cream.
Both Highgate and Dragonfly are great refuges from the pace of greater London below, being in the know about this place makes me feel just a bit like a local, and who doesn't want to feel like a Londoner?
Next on my Highgate hit-list: The Boogaloo pub, Shane McGowan's boozer. Which will nicely compliment Dragonfly, and the Clash, as the sound of that wild London band--The Pogues--was well loved by Joe Strummer.