Taste of London 2015

Remember London back in June, when the sun shone gloriously on upturned, smiling faces? People spilled into the streets, joyously sharing a pint or two of Pimm’s, lovebirds skipped arm-in-arm through the park, and boats sailed gracefully up the Thames – every drop of sunlight absorbed and every ounce of Vitamin D enjoyed. The winds have changed, literally, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look back on the summer season with fondness. Especially with a flashback to my favourite food-filled event, Taste of London, which is now kicking of with its winter sister, creatively referred to as: Taste of London Winter. To help get you in the mood for the weekend long feast, let’s look back at the main event.  Taste of London 2015I grabbed my dining partner in crime, and made our way to Regent’s Park for an afternoon of gourmand delight. Taste of London 2015Taste of London 2015We first said hello to our burger buddies from across the pond, Shake Shack, guarded by smiling faces, including this posing beauty.
Taste of London 2015After snacking and sampling from an incredible selection of stalls, we stopped by Australian tea brand, T2 Tea
Taste of London 2015
They had a buzzing stall pumping out music and pouring out samples of an endless variety of loose leaf teas.Taste of London 2015We filled up on our favourites before hunting down more treats to try.
Taste of London 2015East London’s star in the sky, Duck & Waffle, were dishing up the classics. Taste of London 2015We decided Duck & Waffle’s Chef de Cuisine, Tom Cenci, looked like a giant chef taking over the Swiss Re building.Taste of London 2015An obligatory order of the duck and waffle never fails to satisfy.
Have you seen Daniel Doherty’s cookbook, yet? Perfect Christmas gift for the foodie in the family, and quite the bargain. Taste of London 2015We couldn’t resist some bacon wrapped dates with linguica and manchego. The perfect combination of sweet and savoury – these filling bites are like candy for adults.
Taste of London 2015 Taste of London 2015Before heading for Round 2, we chilled Mahiki-style in the sun whilst rocking to the beat. Taste of London 2015We soon spotted our other friends from across the pond, New York-style Chop Shop had some wonderfully meaty offerings.Taste of London 2015Creekstone Farms USDA hanger steak was served with a whipped Parmesan & Dijon mustard dressing. Taste of London 2015And smoked creamed corn with barbecued beef short ribs embodied comfort food on a plate.
Taste of London 2015 For those looking to top up with some bubbles, Laurent-Perrier‘s Champagne garden was overflowing with people watchers, and later offered a Champagne Masterclass. Taste of London 2015Lured by the scent of smoking BBQ, we squeezed past the growing queue of Roka‘s Robata grill where Korean spiced lamb cutlets sizzled away.
Taste of London 2015 L’Autre Pied offered elegant portions of scallop ceviche with cucumber, balsamic, crème fraîche and dill. Taste of London 2015And The Truscott Arms served up comforting plates of beautifully cooked beef cheek served with smoked mash and crispy shallots. Taste of London 2015 Taste of London 2015We made our way to José Pizarro where pieces of acorn fed Jamón Ibérico were being expertly sliced straight from the leg.  Taste of London 2015 Taste of London 2015The Palomar oozed cool, serving Israeli influenced specialities from the much favourited restaurant. Taste of London 2015I couldn’t resist one of my favourite dishes of Shakshukit, a deconstructed kebab of minced beef and lamb served with yoghurt, tahini, watercress pesto, tapenade, Harrisa and a mini pita, all bursting with flavour.
Taste of London 2015Chris Thompson, Duck & Waffle protégé, cooked up something fit for the Flintstones, but happily devoured by my dining partner and I. Other foodies greedily looked on, all asking eagerly where they could get their hands on the succulent braised short rib, smothered in vibrant jalapeño miso sauce.
Taste of London 2015Switching tracks to the sweet side, we visited Tredwell’s for some salted caramel soft serve, topped with ginger cake crumble. Taste of London 2015 Taste of London 2015And made sure we said hello to Chef Marcus Wareing, himself. Taste of London 2015
Close to bursting but looking to satisfy our sweet tooth with a final treat, we tried Duck & Waffle’s buttermilk and corn mousse with pistachio and toffee for one last bite.
Taste of London 2015Now that you’re suitably armed with a fair share of foodporn, who’s making their way to Taste of London Winter this weekend? Warning: sunshine not included.

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Chop Shop

There’s something about a place that doesn’t even pretend to be good for you that I openly, unashamedly appreciate. A blunt show off, proudly catering to your filthy desires in a confined space of misbehaviour and indulgence. With a New York-cool façade, imported from our neighbours across the pond, Chop Shop is the Haymarket heartthrob tempting you to act upon your lustful inclinations.

Start at the bar, where Vlad will help you pick your poison and shake up a house cocktail, spiked with sweet and sour accompaniments.
P1020795The Passione Arrabiata is a sinfully sweet combination of chilli-infused tequila, tart passion fruit and a generous squeeze of lime. Ask nicely and you can have yours altered to be less naughty – or more! Chop ShopHaving sipped your liquid courage, venture past the wall of embedded butcher’s knives into the New York-inspired, London-embraced interior; a world of contradictorily edgy comfort. The obvious, exposed brick walls are lit by immense, reclaimed tiles, softening the warehouse feel.

P1020798P1020799But, you’re not here for the cool interior. You’re here for an indulgence of impressive scale with thoughtful twists on satisfying classics. And that’s exactly what you’ll get.
The menu is dominated by a tantalising list of chops and steaks, accompanied by a selection of jars, crocks, planks and other cutely named serving styles we’ve grown annoyingly fond of. IMG_1584A pretty pot of white onion mousse with parmesan and chervil oil is easily slathered on toasted chunks of grilled sourdough.

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As well as duck liver mousse, cut with fruit mostarda. These were a comforting introduction to the evening’s feasting, a toe in the pool before diving head first into gluttony.

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Crispy hot wings kicked in protest with their addictive, fiery sauce, made even more irresistible when drowned in Cashel blue cheese dip.

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The showstopper of all starters, if such decadence can even be labelled as such, was a wicked dish of cottage pasta pie. Hidden beneath a molten layer of cheese were tiny, tender bites of basil gnocchi accompanied by tender pieces of braised oxtail. This was one of those dishes you pine for once finished.

IMG_1602Temporary sorrow was soon replaced with predatory instinct as a carnivorous dream arrived at the table. A veritable feast fit for a table of ravenous kings and queens, complete with 35-day aged Cumbrian bone-in sirloin for two, a patty melt sandwich of dry-aged beef burger smothered in onions and cheese, market fish with pea and pancetta, and an immense pork chop.

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American-sourced Creekstone USDA hanger steak was tender perfection, an easy winner, which was subtly fought for with rapidly darting forks across the table.

IMG_1595The steaks and chops can be excessively topped with things like fried eggs, roasted garlic, red wine bone marrow sauce, and even a vodka bacon peppercorn sauce. However, none of this is truly needed for such finely sourced meat. An obligatory order of fried onion rings and rosemary chips played accessory to the mass consumption, as well as honeyed carrots and creamed spinach.
P1020815Even the vegetables are impure in this place.
P1020816Tempting coronary implosion, we stuck around for dessert. A glass of butterscotch custard with salted caramel and Chantilly cream was sweetly satisfying, but gobbled up too quickly for me to snap a shot. Chop ShopSticky date pudding was a necessary evil to end the feast, each bite a decadent squeeze dripping with warm toffee sauce.

Chop Shop is the cool kid on the block, looking to lure you and get you hooked. Service, lead by the charming Alastair Gallichan, is welcoming and knowledgeable, with friendly staff willing you to succumb to temptation. Give it a visit and tag me in your food porn @Alessandra_LDN so I can ensure you’re sinning correctly.