Taste of London Winter 2014

Did you go to Taste of Lon…
Taste of Christmas….
No, Taste of London Christmas……..
No! Taste of Winter!

Oh, right. I’ve been informed this year’s food festivities are going by the name: Taste of London Winter.
Whatever its name, you know by now I love it. I love the mosh pit of foodies, friends, chefs, lovers, families and fiends, all scrambling to taste unlimited samples of food, snacks and an absurd amount of booze.

The day began being spoiled by Duck & Waffle protégé, Chris Thompson. A bowl of fried beef tendon with bovril emulsion and togarashi soon appeared.

Taste of London Winter Taste of London Winter Followed by smoked haddock takoyaki with curry, malt vinegar and raisin.Taste of London Winter Taste of London Winter Pandan with white chocolate and coconut ganache was a mouthful of sweetness.  Taste of London Winter Finished off with fried roti with banana and peanut butter.

We were then to vote which dish was our favourite – which would you choose?
After voting for the smoked haddock takoyaki, we skipped off in search of more plates to taste. Taste of London Winter Barbecoa had a predictably long line. We joined the queue catching up on recent adventures before eventually getting our hands on sticky short rib with mashed potato. The meat was incredibly tender, but lacked that smoky sweetness needed for such a sticky bite. Taste of London WinterWe then submerged ourselves in the rows of food stalls, with people pedalling their samples like merchants in a souk. We came across Balsajo, offering up a board of smoked black garlic, which is visually rather shocking. But, this black beauty is something delicious. We happily popped this in our mouths like candy and surrendered to the unexpected sweetness that followed. Taste of London Winter The lovely ladies of Azizi Drinks warmly welcomed us, insisting we try their concoctions. The fizzy drinks are created with hops to give the consumer that ahhh feeling of release after each sip. Yet, the delicious elderflower and rose flavoured drinks are actually nonalcoholic. The drinks were tasty and creators so sweet, I wish them the best of luck with their nonalcoholic endeavour. Taste of London Winter The rain continued to pour down from the heavens, but this didn’t stop things from heating up at Tobacco Dock. Taste of London WinterTaste of London WinterWe found Kurobuta nestled in the corner, a badass Japanese joint which I told you about back when it was a King’s Road Pop Up. We plumped for the BBQ pork belly in a steamed bun, topped with pickled cucumber and spicy peanut sauce. I begrudgingly shared. Taste of London Winter We passed this darling champagne van, sparkling in all its shining, bubbly glory. I sort of wanted to steal it and drive it round the dock, watching all the drunk people chase me with their half empty flutes. Taste of London WinterWe then found New York’s answer to the burger game. Shake Shack were offering their Lil’ ShackBurger, an Aberdeen angus beef cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce. To my delight, given the closeness to Thanksgiving, they served up a deliciously spicy pumpkin pie flavoured custard.

Taste of London WinterThis guy basically served up a platter of dreams to my American heart. Swoon.
Taste of London Winter Action Against Hunger is an awesome organisation working to fight world hunger. Each year, they team up with award winning Chefs to create Taste dishes. This year’s muse was hot dogs, of which we selected Jason Atherton’s creation. His choice of apple puree with onions, topped with crispy pancetta and grilled Gruyere, I’m sad to say, did not please. The combination was unnecessary and altogether, wrong. He’s still a personal food hero, but this is not something to be added to the menu. Taste of London WinterMaida Vale sweetheart, The Truscott Arms had a truly wintery dish on offer. Their roasted cauliflower soup with textures of cauliflower, truffle oil and cauliflower crisp was really good. It was an airy, thick and rich creation with a creamy, truffley punch. Taste of London Winter Taste of London WinterTempted by anything pumpkin, I popped over to Andina for a bite of Peruvian picarones. Rings of pumpkin doughnuts served with purple maize honey.
Taste of London Winter

Running out of time with quite a few Taste Crowns left, we followed the smoke back to Kurobuta for some tea smoked lamb with smoky nasu and spicy Korean miso. A delicious final bite of this year’s Taste.

With a bundle of brownies tucked under my arm for the car ride home, we dashed out into the rain full of food and Christmas spirit.

Did you attend Taste of London Winter this year? What was your favourite dish? Tweet me @Alessandra_LDN or leave me a comment. Don’t be shy.

Oh, and did you see my big debut? I’m trying not to let the fame get to my head. I always knew my shining moment would involve pumpkin doughnuts… What do you think of the video?

Kurobuta Pop Up

Kurobuta has popped up in Chelsea.
The Japanese-Asian Pop Up is the baby of ex-Nobu head chef Scott Hallsworth and is making some serious waves on King’s Road.

Currently nesting in a little, intimate space, Kurobuta’s big bright plans are soon coming to fruition with a permanent location near Marble Arch.

But for now, dinner.

www.alessandrabrian.comWe were seated in the lower level of the restaurant, tucked behind the bar, me with the perfect view of the kitchen buzzing behind my date. This obviously left me a little distracted, but was very kindly put up with as I rattled on about what was happening out of sight.

www.alessandrabrian.comThe first of our order arrived, a plate of sweet potato and Soba-Ko fries with kimchee mayo & jalapeño sauce. The fries were a little lacking in sweet potato flavour, but had a lovely crunch to them. Both sauces were phenomenal and we kept these on the table throughout the night to dip (drown) other things in.

Sushi purists look away now.
www.alessandrabrian.comMy sushi obsession was happily satisfied by the arrival of soft shell crab tempura maki with kimchee mayo. The crunchy, sweet bite of fried crab was full of flavour and paired well with my naughty addition of wasabi and jalapeño sauce.
All sushi is healthy, right? Good, just checking. 
www.alessandrabrian.comThis was followed by one of the specials, foie gras & eel maki. Another sweet and successful, if not unexpected, flavour combination. www.alessandrabrian.com
Having watched Chef Hallsworth blow torch countless buns, giving them a smoky, chargrilled flavour and texture, I couldn’t wait for our next dish.
www.alessandrabrian.comBBQ pork belly in steamed buns arrived with with a spicy peanut soy sauce, which I generously slathered on each bite.

www.alessandrabrian.com These were by far my favourite dish of evening and we even considered a second order. But, there was still another dish to come, so we held off.  www.alessandrabrian.comThis proved to be a good decision as the special of Hamachi collar was great as well. Tender chunks of fresh fish with a nice citrus kick left us feeling full, satisfied…

www.alessandrabrian.comand ready for dessert. www.alessandrabrian.comYou didn’t think I’d leave without dessert, did you?
There were a select few to choose from the handwritten board. I don’t remember the other options, but one of them had chocolate so, easy decision.

A beautiful creation of pistachio, dark chocolate mousse, pistachio cake, pecans, and blackcurrant jellies arrived spread out across the plate. Another well paired dish with deep, sweet bites of chocolate and pistachio accompanied by a burst of sour flavour from the fresh berries and black current jellies.

I could’ve used twice the amount on the plate, but that’s because I’m a glutton.
www.alessandrabrian.comIf you don’t make it to Kurobuta’s current location, be sure to visit them in their new, permanent home near Marble Arch soon for a feast of Japanese junk food.