Taste of London 2014

I love Taste of London.
Oh, you knew that already? Oh! You read last year’s post? And the year before?!
I’m flattered, really. This also means I don’t have to go on and on about Taste of London being a food-filled hotspot of delectable dishes showcasing restaurants, chef demonstrations, little local products and pop up champagne bars. I can just show you this year’s offerings and get down to the food porn.

But first, get a snack. You’ll thank me later.

Meeting up with my friend, the lovely Parissima, we chattered away as we entered Regent’s Park on a gloriously sunny day.

It seems that the drinks offering grows more and more each year. With tents blasting sweet tunes and serving endless libations, flocks of those more interested in Taste’s liquid offerings wiggled around the bar. As the evening progresses, the dancing becomes more and more spectacular, with particularly amazing entertainment provided by the silent disco and main stage.

Taste of London 2014Nightclub royalty, Mahiki, had a fantastic pop up coconut bar, which proved to be very popular serving their piña colada filled pineapples. The perfect accompaniment to sunshine. Taste of London 2014Ready to eat, we first popped over to Maida Vale sweetheart known for ‘not your average pub food’, The Truscott Arms. Taste of London 2014 Here we tried a delicious dish of slow roasted pork belly with pink grapefruit puree, braised chicory and buttered spinach. Taste of London 2014Enticed by wafting spices, we joined a small queue to sample a little Korean lettuce wrap. This was to showcase a new Korean sauce company, which I can’t remember the name of. If anyone tried this and knows the name, please leave it in the comments so I can update this as it was damn good! Taste of London 2014Amongst the stands serving local products, Noisette Bakehouse caught our eye. How beautiful are these tea cakes? Taste of London 2014As pretty as these were, there was something calling to me.
Alessandraaaaa eatttt meeee 
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Monstrous slabs of salted caramel brownie had me at hello and ended in my stomach. A couple of these were purchased to bring home and it’s safe to say they didn’t all make it back in one piece.

Passing the Chef Stage at the Electrolux theatre, we momentarily watched the lovely and incredibly talented Michel Roux Jr preparing one of his famous dishes. However, we were soon distracted by some samples elsewhere.  Taste of London 2014But, I made sure I snuck back later to say hello to the food icon, who is every bit as lovely as he looks.Taste of London 2014Taste of London 2014Pizza place Rossopomodoro had quite a crowd, all eagerly watching as the hot pizzas came out of the fire. The poor girl serving them was attacked by greedy foodies, leaving the box empty within seconds each time.

Just look at the carnage! Some pretty eager faces there if you ask me. Taste of London 2014 He didn’t seem to mind. Taste of London 2014We then wandered over to the cool corner of the event. Sister restaurants Sushi Samba and Duck & Waffle had pop up bars, surrounded by bean bags for those looking to lounge in the sun with a cocktail. Their restaurant counterparts were serving up delicious dishes nearby.

The lovely Chef Tom Cenci of Duck & Waffle had us try fried chicken necks with lemon, chilli and garlic.
Taste of London 2014This was accompanied by their famous BBQ spiced crispy pigs ears, also lovingly referred to as crack. Taste of London 2014Taste of London 2014Jealous of Tom’s picture, Executive Chef Daniel Doherty insisted he have his photo taken, too. Taste of London 2014Taste of London 2014

From Sushi Samba, we tried the surprisingly stunning Sasa roll with shrimp tempura, quinoa, shisito, coriander, wagyu chorizo, spicy mayo and red onion, which was inspired by Sushi Samba owner himself.

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Their other dishes looked equally appetising, with great presentation.Taste of London 2014

Taste of London 2014ROKA, one of my favourite contemporary Japanese places in London, had an incredible display of lamb chops and baby chicken being grilled.  Taste of London 2014

Taste of London 2014 Instantly in love with this perky looking piñata, I used my smoothest Spanish skills to try and sweet talk the Mexican tourism board into letting Paris take him home with her. No tuve éxito. 
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Enamoured with the flowering tea display, we watched as the balls of tea flowers blossomed when submerged in boiling water. This stand happens to be hosted by a guy who’s spiked hair looks as if he’s wearing a flowering tea ball himself.
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We were told that these make unique gifts and can continue to be used on display in your home, after drinking the tea. Talk about multi-tasking. Taste of London 2014

We continued to graze our way through the tents, sampling oils, meats, cheese and sweets.

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Being French, Paris couldn’t resist a big chunk of cheese to take with her, served by this lovely lady who was a bit camera shy.
Taste of London 2014Taste of London 2014 Taste of London 2014Ready for more proper plates, we visited contemporary Italian restaurant L’ANIMATaste of London 2014Here we tried burrata, pappa al pomodoro and anchovies. A stunningly simple combination of classic Italian flavours.

Hanging up our savoury hats, it was time for a sweet mission.

Taste of London 2014Having previously spotted macaron on the menu, we headed for Duck & Waffle’s graffiti styled tent. 
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A mound of dark chocolate mouse with a pistachio macaron hat, griottine cherries and crystallised white chocolate made for one helluva mouthful. Or two. Or five. (sorry Paris)  Taste of London 2014Next door, we spotted Valrhona chocolate ganache and knew what was next. Sushi Samba were serving a bamboo boat of Valrhona dark chocolate ganche, coffee mousse, tonka bean ice cream, caramelised macadamia nuts topped with lemon sorrel. Absolutely divine.

At some point during our venture, we spied a delicious looking creation, the details of which we only knew contained peanut butter. Sold on this minor detail, we searched endlessly to finish our feasting with what we believed would be the best. Although we were both stuffed to the brim, we continued our hunt through the maze of stands.

By the time we found it, overexcited as we may be, we discovered we didn’t have enough crowns left. Explaining our tragic story to the lovely gentleman behind the counter of the André Garrett at Cliveden House stand, he ever so kindly took our remaining crowns in exchange for the dessert. This turned out to be some of my best bargaining yet, because this baby turned out to be more than worth it!

Taste of London 2014A creamy peanut butter parfait topped with warm salted caramel and incredibly tart raspberry compote turned out to be one of the best things I had tasted all day and quickly made me forget just how ridiculously full I actually was.

We soon got carried away chatting to the lovely Chef Ed Dutton, who admitted to have been enjoying piña colada pineapples all afternoon. He soon snuck away and returned with a a little taste of fromage frais mousse with coconut, raspberry and lime from L’Autre Pied. I asked him to pose with it, and this is what he came up with.

Taste of London 2014 An impressive lunge, I must admit, but the dessert definitely stole the show.
Taste of London 2014Thanks Taste of London, for another amazing evening of edible entertainment and over indulgence. I can’t wait until next year!

Did you go to Taste of London this year? What was the absolute best thing you tried? Leave the dish and restaurant in the comments or tweet me!

Taste of London 2013

This year Taste of London returned to Regent’s Park for its 10th annual event.

To celebrate the benchmark, I decided to join in on the feasting for two days in a row!
Greedy, I know.
But this meant two days of dishes to taste and two days of pictures to share with you!Taste of London 2013For the first time in all my Taste experiences, wellies, hoodies and umbrellas were not required to trudge through a muddy battlefield of feasters. The sun teasingly shone in bursts through the clouds and the grass of Regent’s Park was nice and dry.

I entered Taste of London to find a sea of already overstuffed bodies resembling the bean bags they lounged upon. Each year Tasters stock up on crowns and try to taste as many dishes as possible in the mere four hour slot.

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Off to the left, a royal blue sign post signified the entrance to the Taste of Thai section. It had a great turn out this year filled with great Thai restaurants and stands giving away samples of exotic foods. I tried crackers, curries and coconut waters straight from Thailand and even spotted Blue Elephant.

Taste of London 2013The market marquee was buzzing with people swarming the rows of companies selling and sampling their snacks and products. Each had creative stands and goodies on display, all of which were so tempting that I couldn’t help but tuck into my fair share of samples. Taste of London 2013 Taste of London 2013 Taste of London 2013

Having thoroughly enjoyed my starter of samples and purchased some Ganache Macarons to indulge in later, it was time to move on to bigger and better things.

We snaked through stalls looking for delicious dishes to spend our crowns on. Taste of London 2013 Taste of London 2013 Taste of London 2013Taste of London 2013Taste of London 2013

Gordon Ramsey’s Maze was surrounded by people responding to shouts of Bang Bang Chicken.
The wrap looked invitingly easy to eat and with a name like Bang Bang Spicy Chicken Hand Roll, I had to give it a try. Although it was strange to have chicken in a hand roll where traditionally fish would be present, the flavours worked surprisingly well and it was quite good overall.

Taste of London 2013Taste of London 2013 Taste of London 2013Several stands over, a heaving queue gave way to smiling faces hovering over Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa Burger.

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I was ravenous by now became enamored by Jamie’s buns.Taste of London 2013

Taste of London 2013 Ahhh, the always attractive burger bite.

The burger was great. It was quite simple with a tender piece of meat topped with Westcombe chedder, roasted Heirloom tomatoes and charred red onion, but really hit the spot. Taste of London 2013 Taste of London 2013

More wandering lead to New York’s Graffiti stall, creatively covered with well…graffiti.   Taste of London 2013Here I tried a pork belly bun with red onion and a sour chutney.
It was different to any bun I’ve ever tried, but had an interesting flavour combination.  Taste of London 2013 Taste of London 2013Taste of London 2013 I soon spotted Bar Boulud and had lovely flashbacks to the previous year’s Taste of London dish which resulted in our eventual dining in the restaurant.

An order of the BBQ pulled pork slider with smoked pork shoulder, red cabbage slaw, homemade BBQ sauce and jalapeño mayonnaise had me smiling from ear to ear with BBQ sauce dripping down my chin.
Another winning dish from BB.

Taste of London 2013Benares’ fennel infused lamb chop with mint chutney was an incredible flavour combination, which really complimented the meat.

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Roka had a BBQ grill set up grilling lamb chops and chicken wings at a manic pace with a growing line surrounding the smoke filled tent.
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Although there was a long wait, the few bites of chicken did have a great smokey, salty flavour and left me wanting more.
Taste of London 2013Taste of London 2013Taste of London 2013Taste of London 2013I then found L’autre Pied, and on display next to a stunning shell filled with ceviche of hand dived scallops with black quinoa, creme fraiche, radishes, fennel & dill was a shiny gold trophy.Taste of London 2013

Their ceviche had won the first place Taste Award and there was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to try this winning dish.
The scallops were beautiful and I loved the crunch in each bite from the black quinoa. It was very fresh and I did enjoy it, but I felt it could’ve used a kick of acidity to really enhance the flavour combination.
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Around the corner, I found another beautifully displayed dish at Club Gascon.
A bowl of gleaming oyster pearls topped with pine smoked lovehearts easily caught my eye.
IMG_1513Upon trying the dish, I discovered that lovehearts are indeed duck hearts, which had a smokey, earthy flavour from being grilled on a skewer of pine needles. The oyster pearls were made from tapioca mixed with onion and parsley. It was very interesting and overall I enjoyed the flavours, although it was not something I would typically order.

In a large canopy near the event’s entrance, Ping Pong had a dim sum demonstration. Foodies eagerly followed the Chef’s movements to create their very own dumpling. Taste of London 2013We soon became hungry from watching the dumplings demo, and to our delight, discovered that behind the demonstration steaming hot buns were being sold for only £1!
We quickly snatched up a pork bun each, slathered in spicy chili sauce.  Taste of London 2013These were absolutely divine.
Warm, spicy comfort food that sticks to your ribs with incredible flavour that definitely had a lasting crave-worthy effect as I spent the rest of the night considering going back for more. Taste of London 2013On my way around the stalls, I was handed a miniature can of something sweet.
Easily drawn in by miniature bottles, I gladly accepted and gave it a try.

It was a sweet, fizzy lemonade drink, which to my amusement was named Ting!
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(Carribean accent) Look mon, it’s Ting n’ Ting!

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A firey wood burning oven drew us towards the Rossopomodoro stand. Taste of London 2013

Taste of London 2013Italian men were shouting and laughing handing out slices of pizza, all of which were snatched up by greedy hands within seconds of its immersion from the oven.
Taste of London 2013Sweet, chewy dough topped with tangy tomato sauce, melty mozzarella and a peppery bite of basil transported me back to dinner by the seaside in Italy. Taste of London 2013Heading over to Duck & Waffle, I finally got to meet Chefs Daniel Doherty & Tom Cenci. One being the duck, the other being the waffle, their culinary skills are a constant pleasure to enjoy. Taste of London 2013The thing about D&W that I most enjoy, is the constant element of surprise in their varying dishes. There’s no set cuisine, which results in something to please anyone’s palate.

Trying the smoked haddock chowder, with slow poached hens egg, and curried puffed rice I thought, how strange. 
But I loved it.
Two of the best reactions when it comes to dining, in my opinion.
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Duck & Waffle’s spicy ox cheek doughnut with served apricot jam did not fail to please either.
Hot, soft doughnut coated in a spicy sugar filled with tender, rich ox cheek was comfort food heaven.
The apricot jam adds a tart kick to marry the flavours to one another.
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Try not to smile on a bad day after tackling this mouthful.Taste of London 2013
Next door, D&W’s sister restaurant Sushi Samba was serving some stunningly presented dishes. Taste of London 2013

We plumped for the Wagyu Nigiri ponzu with foie gras and shavings of Peruvian chocolate.
It was a simple bite of quality Wagyu with a hint of sweetness from the flakes of chocolate. I could’ve done without the clump of rice, but I would still happily have this again.

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Taste of London 2013Another Chef groupie moment then occured.
I spotted Michel Roux Jr. across the room and swept over beside him within seconds.
He was very friendly and incredibly patient with all the fans wanting to take photos and get signatures.
I decided to have a picture snapped to add to the collection, but was overall elated with the chance to meet such a culinary legend. Taste of London 2013Taste of London 2013Taste of London 2013 Taste of London 2013 Taste of London 2013After more stall wandering, it was time to subside the sweet tooth.

This incredible machine is something I will have to have installed in my future home. Taste of London 2013

Gordon Ramsey’s Maze not only has a custom ice cream machine, it pumps out creamy red velvet ice cream!
The “Red Whippy” red velvet ice cream comes out hot pink, is swirled into a waffle cone and topped with crumbs of red velvet cake and white chocolate.

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Taste of London 2013Opera Tavern had a lovely cold chocolate fondant with salted PX caramel and hazelnut praline. It was a yummy, chocolatey treat with pieces of caramel and hazelnut to add a crunch to the rich fondant.

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I had spotted something a Sushi Samba earlier that piqued my interest.
Chocolate chili peppers with Peruvian chili mousse, a red pepper tuile, raspberry & red pepper sorbet and chocolate crumble was nothing like I’ve ever had before.
A bite of the sorbet flooded my mouth with flavours of a red bell pepper. Although I thought it was initially strange to have a vegetable flavoured sorbet served with dessert, when eaten with the chocolate crumble and spicy chili mousse, the flavours mixed incredibly well and left a fruity, spicy aftertaste. Taste of London 2013As time was running out, we decided on a final dessert to try.
Alyn Williams at the Westbury had a Caramelised white chocolate pannacotta with passion fruit foam and pieces of honeycomb. This again, was a strange, but successful flavour combination. The passion fruit foam had such vibrant flavouring that it brought out the sweetness of the pannacotta and honeycomb. Taste of London 2013Taste of London 2013 Taste of London 2013London was a real babe over the two days I attended Taste of London Not a drop of rain on this year’s feasting and everyone smiled through the sun & fun of the days’ festivities. Taste of London 2013I loved every minute of my two days at Taste of London and am looking forward to next year’s event.
And as you can see, this year I really got my fork stuck in!