Taste of London Winter 2015

Nothing gets me in the Christmas spirit more than an afternoon of great music, buzzing atmosphere and festive feasting. This year, Tobacco Dock played host to another round of Taste of London Winter (can we please go back to calling it Taste of Christmas?). The halls were decked with tinsel, Christmas trees lined railings, lights and decorations hung from the rafters, and it was characteristically freezing – an element I would’ve happily sacrificed. Nevertheless, we bundled up and soldiered on, fuelling ourselves on this year’s gastronomic fare.
Taste of London Winter 2015 Taste of London Winter 2015The Truscott Arms started the afternoon on a delicious note with several winter warming dishes.
Taste of London Winter 2015This take on colcannon was filled with creamy ragstone and topped with basil oil and fried kale – an edible hug in a bowl.
Taste of London Winter 2015Moreish bites of crispy pig’s head were served with a sweet apple puree. The meat was really flavourful and paired perfectly with the tart contrast of the applesauce, bites I could happily replace popcorn with whilst watching a film.
Taste of London Winter 2015 Their icon dish was the most tender piece of beef cheek, served swimming in a pool of smoked mash, topped with crispy shallots. Taste of London Winter 2015 Over at The Bandstand, some really talented bands kept the vibe cool as we wiggled our way around the stalls. Taste of London Winter 2015 Taste of London Winter 2015The Laurent-Perrier Champagne Room was stunningly decorated and filled with minglers slowly sipping their bubbles before braving the cold again.
Taste of London Winter 2015Over at The Fire Pit, Mike Lecouteur from Mews of Mayfair was barbecuing meat fit for a monster, alongside a creamy bowl of lobster macaroni and cheese. Taste of London Winter 2015 Taste of London Winter 2015 Gordon Ramsey’s Maze played ring around the Big Green Egg, with a wrapping queue of BBQ fiends eager to get their paws on slow cooked BBQ pulled beef on a brisket bun. Taste of London Winter 2015The perfect combination of sweet and tangy of BBQ sauce and tender beef rested on a fluffy bun ready for a bite, after removing the pickle, of course…
Taste of London Winter 2015 Kurobuta served their famous BBQ pork belly buns with spicy peanut soy sauce, one of my favourite flavour combinations, despite the cold weather getting the best of the chilly bun.

Awesome charity Action Against Hunger teamed up with five star chefs to create 5* kebabs.Taste of London Winter 2015We opted for Francesco Mazzei’s spicy veal meatballs with Grana Padano and salted padron peppers.  Taste of London Winter 2015 Having experienced a feast fit for a queen, it was time I took my place on the throne… Taste of London Winter 2015 I think it rather suits me, don’t you? Winter is coming… and so is hibernation at this rate. Taste of London Winter 2015 The HBO stall even had a gingerbread scale of King’s Landing! I considered attempting my own form of attack by taking out the towers and eating them one by one… but resigned to a hunt for less destructive dessert.
Taste of London Winter 2015

Glistening in the glow of winter light, Club Gascon was serving some winter-themed treats.Taste of London Winter 2015 Taste of London Winter 2015We went for the oversized black forest macaron, filled with brandy soaked cherries, dark chocolate mousse and chestnut cream.
Taste of London Winter 2015 We watched, mesmerised, as Pan-N-Ice chopped, slathered and rolled ice cream into rolls. Taste of London Winter 2015 Taste of London Winter 2015 This Thai-style method was enticing, but I was too cold to even consider a frozen treat. Taste of London Winter 2015 Sari Cakes hand-decorates each fruit cake inspired by ancient henna creations.
Taste of London Winter 2015 Vicetti’s homemade tarts were beautifully presented, with great flavour combinations. Taste of London Winter 2015The much loved Meringue Girls hosted Saturday’s dessert bar, but were sold out of the good stuff hours before closing. I really wanted a Nutella Cookiemuff topped with vanilla ice cream and salted hazelnut honeycomb crumble, ya know? Taste of London Winter 2015Instead, we waddled our way back to Maze for fried doughnuts swimming in a beautifully tart clementine curd.
Taste of London Winter 2015Taste of London still sits firmly atop my event list. This year saw the least amount of restaurants, but the venue looked beautiful, food was all delicious, atmosphere was amazing, and overall I’d have to give it an A… ^ get it?

I can’t wait to see who turns up to Taste of London 2016! Who’s ready for Christmas?

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Foodies Festival: Clapham Common

Every year the Foodies Festival sets up camp across the UK, always visiting one of London’s local commons.

This year Clapham Common played host to the feast and London shone in glorious sunlight for the first time since the long, cold winter.
Foodies Festival: Clapham Common Everyone came out to play, baring pale skin and greedy grins at the endless food & drink options. Foodies Festival: Clapham Common Our first taster was of Soho’s Randall & Aubin.
Foodies Festival: Clapham Common The grilled Cambrian Mountain Lamb was wrapped up with couscous, mint yogurt & salsa. Foodies Festival: Clapham CommonThis was a good starter, but we were ready for more.

We wandered the stalls with smoky smells of grilling meats, flowing drinks & smiling diners in search of what to sample next.
Foodies Festival: Clapham Common

Foodies Festival: Clapham CommonFoodies Festival: Clapham CommonFoodies Festival: Clapham Common The next pit-stop was Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa, his upscale BBQ restaurant which I highly recommend giving a try.

Foodies Festival: Clapham Common I couldn’t resist the slow pit-smoked pork shoulder with BBQ sauce & spring onion coleslaw. Not only is it reasonably priced compared to the more expensive dishes served in his restaurant, it was absolutely delicious. Tender pork, sweet-smokey BBQ sauce and a cool crunch from the coleslaw made the perfect flavour combination, and I found myself having to fight for my half of the sandwich. 
Foodies Festival: Clapham CommonFoodies Festival: Clapham Common Sample after sample of lean meats, crunchy popcorn and delicious dips began to fill us up. But we weren’t ready to wave the white food flag just yet. Foodies Festival: Clapham Common Foodies Festival: Clapham Common

There were plenty of other tempting treats on offer, but our last dish was too good looking to give up.

Street Kitchen’s Buffalo Bill Burger was just what I was looking for.

Foodies Festival: Clapham Common

Aged burger, organic cheddar, pickled red onion, smoked mustard mayo all piled onto a brioche bun.

Hello handsome! Foodies Festival: Clapham CommonFoodies Festival: Clapham Common

Served with a side of rosemary chips, this was a winning burger that will definitely be added to my London Burger List.
Doesn’t everyone have a LBL? 
Foodies Festival: Clapham Common
After filling ourselves with savoury samples like piggies, we were on a sweet tooth mission.

We tried sweets, ice creams and cookies before stumbling upon the Marshmallowists.
After an opportune meeting, Smart & Simms combined industry knowledge with Chocolatier experience and created delicious homemade marshmallows which they now sell online and at food festivals.  
Foodies Festival: Clapham CommonThey create incredible flavour combinations packed into a sweet, squidgy marshmallow which will surely satisfy any sweet tooth. Foodies Festival: Clapham Common Foodies Festival: Clapham Common Foodies Festival: Clapham Common Foodies Festival: Clapham Common Foodies Festival: Clapham Common Foodies Festival: Clapham CommonI grabbed a box with one of each flavour to take with me which would be used in effort to subside my food festival withdrawal symptoms later that evening.
IMG_0760 Foodies Festival: Clapham Common

Cheers to a beautiful sunny day in London filled with fun, music and food!
Make sure you catch the next one as this isn’t a food festival to be missed. To find out more about tickets and dates, look here.

Taste of Christmas 2012

As you may remember, I visited what I call “Foodie Christmas” earlier this year at Taste of London in Regent’s Park. For foodies, this “Christmas” happens to come twice a year.

Every holiday season, a massive space in Excel is decked out with Christmas trees and filled with food stalls for a weekend of getting into the holiday spirit by stuffing your face. There are restaurants serving miniature versions of their signature dishes, stalls selling gifts to get some Christmas shopping out of the way, and samples of booze, chocolate, and cheese galore.

This year there was a combination of Restaurants and Street Food Vans serving up their best dishes at very high price. Taste Festivals have their own currency called crowns. I’ve explained this all here, but two crowns is worth £1 and most dishes are around 10 crowns, which you nerds have already worked out is equivalent to £5.

The space is a bit overwhelming and doesn’t exactly have that intimate Christmassy feel. The live band playing Christmas hits does however make you wiggle around the room, ready for more edible Christmas cheer. If you plan on visiting next year, you could wander around the stalls and have breads and oils, cheese and dips, and crisps and roasted garlic spread as your appetisers before working your way around the mains. However, I prefer tackling the restaurants and street food vans first, and then working my way around the stalls to ensure my favourite dishes aren’t sold out.  Taste of ChristmasMy first sample was from Peruvian restaurant Lima. A woman greeted us with a large plate of Sea bass ceviche, with white tiger’s milk, glazed sweet potato, and Inka corn. The sea bass was incredibly fresh and went beautifully with the texture of the sweet potato and crunchy Inka corn. Leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk, is the Peruvian term for the citrus-based marinade that cures the seafood in a ceviche, which gave a lovely citrusy hint to the dish.

IMG_6714Next to sample was Salt Yard, a tapas restaurant with Spanish and Italian influenced flavours.

Taste of ChristmasHere I tried the Truffled Mac & Cheese, the perfect foodie comfort food. The dish was hot and cheesy with incredible flavour, a cheesy breadcrumb topping for texture, and the perfect hint of truffle.

Taste of ChristmasMark Hix, chef and restaurateur, brought his food truck to the festival.

Taste of ChristmasHix’s Fishdogs consist of a fried coley fillet in a bun, with minted mushy peas and tartare sauce. The fishdog was good, but nothing too exciting as I couldn’t taste the minted mushy peas.

Taste of ChristmasAs Jamie Oliver had opened Taste of Christmas, he of course had an enormous stall covered with Christmas decorations serving up traditional British food.

Taste of ChristmasFrom his fabulous feast stand, we tried the Christmas Dinner sandwich, complete with turkey, stuffing, rocket, and a tangy cranberry sauce.

Taste of Christmas From The Lawn Ranger, a grass-covered street food van, The Bowler’s meatballs were rolling out.

Taste of Christmas I sampled the Jingle Balls made of free range pork shoulder and beef chuck balls winter spiced with red onion and tomato sauce, cumin, soured cream, and fresh coriander and the Excithai Balls of free range pork shoulders and beef chuck balls with a coconut curry sauce, crispy onions, sweet chilli jam and fresh coriander.
Although they were a bit cold, the flavours were marvellous and the meatball itself was incredibly tender.

Taste of Christmas

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Taste of ChristmasComptoir Gascon, a gourmet bistro, was serving up something that particularly caught my eye. Taste of ChristmasA foie gras and truffle burger.

Let’s just say, I wish I had ordered the duck burger instead.
The amount of foie gras was overwhelming, bun was too dry, and truffle seriously lacking. Not impressed. Taste of Christmas

We then wandered the stalls looking for gifts and sampling everything in sight.

Taste of Christmas Taste of Christmas Taste of ChristmasI may have stolen a sample or two…or 10 from the Ferrero Rocher Man.
I was more than happy to celebrate their 30th birthday with them.
Taste of Christmas Taste of Christmas Taste of Christmas Taste of Christmas Taste of Christmas Taste of ChristmasHow adorable is this little lady!? Don’t you just want to steal her and set her up in your kitchen to make all her magical, grandmothery comfort foods all whilst wearing her little apron and hat?

Taste of Christmas Taste of Christmas Taste of Christmas Taste of Christmas One of the most innovative things I saw at Taste was 2grams Christmas Cards. It’s the Christmas card you can have and eat, too. They’re made from gingerbread with messages stamped onto icing. Find out more about them here. Taste of Christmas Taste of Christmas Taste of Christmas Taste of ChristmasEdible Chocolate Candlesticks would make a nice talk-piece for the dinner table.
Taste of ChristmasHow realistic are these edible Chocolate socks?
Perfect for a stocking stuffer.

Taste of Christmas Taste of Christmas Taste of ChristmasAs always I left with a skip in my step and ache in my tummy. 
This year wasn’t as good as previous years due to the lack of restaurants participating, but it’s still one of my favourite parts of the holiday season.

Did anyone else visit the festival?
What was your favourite dish?