Taste of London 2012

Finally it is upon us, the Foodie Christmas, Taste of London. This is quite possibly my favourite event ever. Taste of London is an annual food festival that is propped up in Regent’s Park each summer, showcasing some of London’s top restaurants and featuring some of the world’s top chefs.

With VIP options and an overpriced entry fee, you’d expect a posh affair with a bunch of food snobs. But every year, without fail, the skies open up giving Taste a very festival element: mud. Girls squeal as their partners drag their designer flats through mud puddles heading for the Rum Bar and others keep to themselves in their respective VIP lounges, not daring to brave the weather, perfectly content sipping their champagne whilst observing the mud bath. But then, there are those of us that arrive ready for combat, decked out in wellies and rain coats with golf umbrellas on hand. We nod in approval at our fellow rain-booted Taste Festival-goers as if to say, “This ain’t our first rodeo.”

Each restaurant at Taste of London has 3 or 4 specials, usually including a dessert or an extravagant, highly priced dish. After entering Taste of London, be sure to purchase some Crowns, Taste of London’s form of currency. Crowns are incredibly sneaky, similar to Monopoly money. £1 = 2 crowns, so if a restaurant has a dish for 10 crowns, that’s £5. Be sure you keep track, or bring someone that’s good at math, otherwise you’ll overeat and overpay on dishes that aren’t worth it. But the dishes that are, are beautiful, several bite morsels of deliciousness.

Ready for some food porn?

The Savoy: Char-grilled dry-aged Lake District Farmer’s sirloin
Absolutely exquisite. The smokey flavour from the char-grill brought out the flavours in the marinade and I must say, it was cooked to perfection.

Bar Boulud: Tunisienne ‘Hot Dog’ Lamb Merguez with Harissa, Roasted Peppers, Brioche Bun, and Mint Yogurt
Best. ‘Hot Dog’. Ever. Absolutely, head over heels, in love. The combined textures and flavours were orgasmic. I love out of the ordinary combinations, and I love reinvented, gourmet fast food. This bad boy tucked away in its brioche bun was a show stopper.

Moti Mahal: Mango Sorbet made with Liquid Nitrogen – I love the texture liquid nitrogen gives ice cream and sorbet. This really packed the flavour of mango and I just loved the mad scientist behind it.

Le Gavroche: Braised Ox Cheek with Olives and Creamy Polenta
Surprisingly average. The polenta gave nothing to the dish and the Ox Cheek was too fatty. There was maybe one non-fatty bite in the £6 dish. If prepared correctly, Ox Cheek shouldn’t be so fatty.

Whole Foods: Pretzel Bite with Branfield ham & Jalapeño cheddar spread
I loved this salty little bite. It was like a reinvented slider, but not. The Pretzel Bread was exactly like a jumbo salted pretzel. The filling was delicious, but there wasn’t enough kick to the Jalapeño. Best part, it was free!

Maze: Lobster and Pork Dumpling with Spring Onion, Lemongrass, and Ginger
Incredible. I enjoyed every bite of this. The salty broth contrasted with the sour lemongrass and snap of ginger. The dumplings were perfectly cooked and I could taste the individual presence of both the lobster and the pork.

L’anima: Burrata d’Andria with Smoked Purple Aubergines, Red Onion Jam, and Hazelnuts
Beautiful, silky burrata on a bed of smokey aubergines; heaven. The tangy sweetness of the red onion jam was the perfect addition to the light burrata, and the hazelnuts added a lovely crunch.

Spice Market: Spiced Chicken Samosas with Coriander Yoghurt
This was excellent. A nice crispy exterior with a soft, stuffed center. The filling and yoghurt had a nice kick that left my mouth tingling.

Spice Market: Black Pepper Shrimp with Sundried Pineapple
Incredible. The sundried pineapple gave such an interesting texture matched with the hot, crunchy shrimp. The black pepper paired with the sweetness of the pineapple was mouthwatering. I loved every bite.

Sake No Hana: Mango and Unagi Maki
Loved the tangy, sweetness of the mango with the soy sauce and sushi.

Sake No Hana: Tori Karaage Fried Chicken with Haccho Miso
This had a lovely texture with the fried seaweed, but I expected it to be sweeter. The saltiness of the miso combined with the seaweed needed a sweetness to balance it. Good, but not outstanding.
My underdressed friend.

After seeing me pose with my underdressed friend, a man from the Rum Bar ran over to me, placed a lei over my head, and proceeded to tell me I was the most beautiful girl he’d seen and that I deserved my new flower lei. Thank you Rum Bar Man!  

Bar Boulud: Berry Cupcake and Chocolate Ecclair
I expected this to be average as i’m a bit of a cupcake connoisseur, but found I was pleasantly surprised. The berry cupcake had a tart, berry filling which paired beautifully with the moist, vanilla cupcake. The chocolate eclair wasn’t overly sweet and had little crunchy toppings.

Pollen Street Social: White Chocolate and Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango, Kaffir Lime, Pineapple, and Pistachio Oil
Wow! I have a bit of a Panna Cotta obsession, but this was nothing like i’ve experienced. It didn’t have the usual gelatin-like consistency, but instead a silky, creamy base. The mango, lime, and pineapple accented the sweet coconut and the pistachio oil gave a nutty essence to balance the flavours.

Rhodes 24: Passionfruit Tart with Passionfruit Caramel and Strawberries
Excellent flavour and texture, but the caramel is what blew me away. The caramel was sweet and salty, but strongly flavoured with passionfruit.

Yautcha: Strawberry & Basil Gateaux
Phenomenal. I have an unashamed Yautcha dessert obsession, and this didn’t fail to meet my expectations. The layers of different textures and consistencies with the dominating flavours of strawberry and basil blew me away. I love this flavour combination.

Yautcha: Mandarin & Pistachio Gateaux
Again, the different levels of flavour and texture are mind-blowing. I wouldn’t think to pair mandarin with pistachio, but it definitely works.

Yautcha: Yuzu Brûlée Tart
Quite possible one of the most beautiful desserts I have ever seen. I hesitated destroying this masterpiece, but then quickly got over it. And let me tell you, it was well worth it. Incredible tartness, mixed with a sweet creamy filling, topped with sour grape fruit pieces and tart mandarin, tiny lime flavoured rocks, and these strange, airy, flavourless marshmallow looking cubes. Yautcha, you’ve done it again.

Happy, little foodie.

Excuse the windblown look, as always there was quite the storm brewing overhead. I’m sure you’re starving now and I have just the solution for your grumbling tummy. I suggest heading over to Regent’s Park for what’s left of Taste of London and eating to your heart’s content. If you miss it, there’s always Taste of Christmas to look forward to!

Let me know which dish you enjoyed most in the comments.

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6 thoughts on “Taste of London 2012

  1. Brilliantly written piece of journalism and superb pictures. Well done Alessandra, so proud of you. xx

  2. What an amazing time you had! It reminds me of an event I went to in Brooklyn a few years ago at an art museum–there was a garden decked out with crazy architectural installations, and Jean Georges, David Chang and 10 other great chefs were there cooking up plates to taste. The lines were really long at each station, but there was great music and a bar, and the people-watching was, of course, off the hook. Alas, to be in Alabama now! 🙂

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