Sunday, June 21, 2009

Taste of London 2009

Taste of London is an al fresco food festival based in Regent's Park, showcasing the best food that London has to offer. As soon as the word "food" was mentioned, my ear pricked up and I immediately looked into how I could go. Then I saw the price and baulked. £25 just for entry is a bit steep, I knew I would be forking out even more for food and before you know it, the banks on the phone wondering why you've just spent the lions share of your wages in Regents Park. Anyway, I digress. I was lucky enough to get free VIP tickets through my sisters dodgy connections so off we went.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall at the Taste Theatre

As part of the deal with the tickets we got, we were allowed into the festival 1/2 an hour early. What this meant was no queuing and we got to attend HFW's perfect breakfast. For the first 15 minutes, he bumbled through making a mess of a cheesecake when he finally came clean that his ineptness was due to a bender the previous night (his "chicken out" campaign had won a prize). He persevered and produced a strawberry themed menu with French toast with macerated strawberries and a strawberry thickie. The cheesecake fared less well. Managed to snaffle some of the French toast and warmed to the vinegar and black pepper on the strawberries. Great atmosphere, HFW, a showman to the end!

1st Taste - Wagyu Beef Tataki - Dinings

Dinings, a strange name for a Japanese restaurant, is definitely one of the up and coming restaurants in London. The beef was lovely and tender with a nice zing coming off the dressing. A hit, I want to try the real thing soon. Very soon.

2nd Taste - Grilled rib of 48 day Hereford beef - Quo Vadis

I wasn't sure what to get next but saw these beauties grilling away. I couldn't help myself. I got in line and got some really great beef. The chips were crisp and the beef plentiful. Flavour wise, it was a decent bit of beef well cooked. Lots of little bits of caramelised fat and a nice char. Very happy. Next!

Patrick Williams at the Breakfast Bar

Next up, I went to watch Patrick Williams (chef at the Terrace in Lincoln Inn Fields) cook up a Caribbean breakfast. His rapport with a rather unresponsive audience waned as time went on and I just got the impression that he would rather be somewhere else. Nevertheless, he cooked an interesting green banana porridge and smoked haddock and ackee on melba toast, both accompanied by a different type of Tropicana (sponsors) and both pretty enjoyable.

Jun Tanaka at the French Flair Theatre

I've always been a big fan of Jun Tanaka's. His place at Pearl is great although I haven't been in there in quite a while (must put it on my list) and his food on TV always looks highly appetising. Today, he cooked Monkfish poached in red wine with creamed leeks and a poached pear with chocolate mousse. He was calm and collected, explaining everything he was doing clearly and was generally unflappable. I managed to snaffle tasters yet again and enjoyed every mouthful. I even had my photo taken with the great man!

3rd Taste - Tandoor smoked lamb chops with mint chutney -Benares

I was still hungry and after two demonstrations, it was fast heading towards 4pm and ejection. So I opted for more meat. Good lamb chops, although signs of being rushed. Could definitely have spent a little more time in the tandoor. Not a patch on Tayyabs but that's no surprise.

4th Taste - 7 Hour Braised Daylesford Organic Lamb Shoulder with Balsamic Onions and Mash - Toms Kitchen

Not much to look at but tasted OK. It was getting late in the day and needed to use up my crowns. There were more onions than lamb, the whole dish was a little cold and the strangest thing was probably the mash potato which tasted as if it had been aerated. The flavour in the lamb was ok but it really didn't inspire.

5th Taste - Vanilla and Raspberry Mousse with Raspberry Jelly - Toms Kitchen

Whilst getting my lamb, I went for the sweet at the same time. This was much better presented and bordering on being pretty. The sweet vanilla mousse complemented the tart raspberry mousse nicely. No sign of the advertised jelly but enjoyed it nonetheless.

In between the food and the demonstrations, I wandered around perusing all the exhibitors and sampled bits and pieces here and there. My personal favourites? Beas of Bloomsbury and their cupcake towers, Paul Young's amazing chocolate brownies, some great Italian ice cream and the American Food company where I bought some excellent peanut butter (and would have bought more had it not been quite dear). All in all, a really good day which finished far too early, I could quite easily have spent a few more hours there before we all got turfed out. Its definitely given me a few ideas where I want to go to next, and certainly hasn't dampened my appetite.

Check out the rest of the day here (including guest appearances from a certain Michel Roux Jnr and Atul Kochar).

1 comment:

meemalee said...

I am sooooooo jealous of your photo with Jun Tanaka - mine was a dismal failure: