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?

FEAST London

FEAST London is a glorious event that takes place a few times a year in different spots around London. Chefs, restaurateurs and food stalls join together to provide foodies with an epic spread.

This year’s first FEAST was located in Tobacco Dock, a cavernous tobacco warehouse which has since been renovated. With a much cheaper entry fee than some of London’s leading food festivals and its East London location, there was a fun, funky crowd wandering around to the alternative music streaming from the speakers.
WEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEASTThe lovely Parissima and I entered with empty stomachs and excitement in our eyes, not knowing what kind of FEAST to expect.
And boy did we get a mouthful.
WEFEASTFirst stop, Coco Face.
Brilliantly branded coconuts with fresh, nutty coconut water inside.
The perfect nutrients to prepare us for the enormous task ahead: eating everything in sight. WEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEAST
We wandered around the stalls, making friends, reading menus and checking out the goods on offer. The spread was unbelievable.

Mishkin’s had cheesy Rueben Hero Melts and Pickles on a stick. WEFEAST

Frederick’s offered fine-dining street food.

WEFEAST

Here we tried the Arancini, fried Sicilian rice balls stuffed with peas and ham.WEFEASTThe hot, crispy balls were the perfect warm up.

The sweet snap of fresh peas went perfectly with the salty ham and cheesy rice filling.
We were ready for more.
WEFEASTA quick stop at the Wine Cellar and we were on our way.WEFEASTWEFEAST

The Wright Brothers were there shucking big, meaty oysters, but it was far to cold to slither one of these down.
WEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEASTThe Last Days of Pisco were serving up a beautiful Sea Bass Ceviche, but again, I was looking for bigger, warmer things. WEFEAST

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And then we came to Bone Daddies. WEFEASTThe much talked about Ramen restaurant seems to always be packed. So packed, that I haven’t bothered popping in to see what the fuss is about.

Luckily, they came to me and I could now sample the soup queue free.
We ordered a bowl to share and I snapped some pics of the terribly camera shy bonedaddies themselves.
WEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEASTI was skeptical at first, but I must say, this is no ordinary bowl of noodles.
The ramen was absolutely delicious, with a spicy broth, crunchy bok choy, a perfectly cooked egg, and al dente noodles.
A heavenly combination which offered a nice warm hug in the freezing weather.
WEFEASTThe venue was filled with fire pits which left the smoky smell of winter in the air. I found the signs surrounding the pits quite funny:
Please do not touch the fire pits…. for obvious reasons.

The pits and heat lamps were scattered around the warehouse which we made frequent stops at to thaw our fingers and chat with other foodies to decide our next bite.WEFEASTThe venue had now started to fill and the atmosphere was great. There was live music playing, people laughing and chatting at the long, decorated picnic tables and as you can imagine, the most incredible smell of food in the air. WEFEASTWEFEASTWe made our way upstairs to the second level of food.

WEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEASTBig Apple Hot Dogs were sizzling on the grill. 
WEFEASTHoxton’s new restaurant Beagle was serving up Buttermilk fried rabbit with black bean salsa, which I now wish I tried. 
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Beard to Tail was serving up BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders and Wild Boar Faggots, a traditional English recipe of meatballs made with belly pork and offal bound with breadcrumbs. WEFEAST Crêpes were cooking. WEFEAST Fried chicken rolls were frying. WEFEASTAnd samples were sampling. WEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEASTAnna Mae was stirring up something good with her pimped up Mac & Cheese.WEFEASTWEFEASTCheesus, doesn’t that look good?!WEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEAST

After enough wandering around, we followed our noses to the famous Pizza Pilgrims.
After a 6 week pilgrimage around Italy, the two brothers, Thom and James, set up their pizza venture selling authentic Neapolitan pizza in London markets.WEFEAST
WEFEASTThey make the pizzas with simple, fresh ingredients and then pop them in their van-turned-pizza oven to bake.
Talk about multi-functional. 
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Just look at that steaming slice of heaven.
It was absolutely delicious. Chewy, crunchy crust with sweet marinara, melted mozzarella and a sprinkling of fresh basil. I doused mine in chili oil for an extra kick.
WEFEASTAfter finishing our pizza, we eyed Elliot’s gourmet cheeseburger. WEFEASTThe burger consisted of a collection of gourmet ingredients squeezed onto the tiniest burger I’ve ever seen. If we were getting technical, this should’ve been called The Elliot’s Slider… or The World’s Tiniest Cheeseburger. WEFEAST
WEFEAST The meat was cooked to perfection, flavours were incredible and I loved the home-made dill butter. But, it definitely left me wanting more. WEFEASTOn the other side of the Tobacco Dock, a self-proclaimed posh violinist was playing Bulgarian folk music. But, we weren’t there for this show.
WEFEASTWe were there for this one.
Er… the one behind the naked Ron Jeremy. WEFEASTPatty & Bun is London’s newest answer to the burger craze.
A stone’s throw from MEATliquor, they’ve brought some serious game to the burger competition.
Yet again, I wasn’t willing to wait in a queue or dine at obscure hours so I’ve missed out on the early Patty & Bun hype.
But strike two on the ol’ foodie bucket list, another one has come to me! WEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEASTA mastered conveyor belt-like prep line was at work before our eyes.
Sauce, sauce, sauce, ketchup, ketchup, ketchup, lettuce, lettuce, lettuce, picked onion, pickled onion, pickled onion… 
WEFEASTWEFEASTWEFEASTIMG_4085We were mesmerised as our masterpiece was created.IMG_4088

WEFEASTWe went for the Ari Gold.
A monster compared to The World’s Smallest Cheeseburger… I mean Elliot’s.
A juicy creation with incredible flavour and the perfect balance of smoky, sweet and sour toppings all piled on on a brioche bun.
I’m debating this even as I type, but this may just be my new favourite burger.
Gasp.

WEFEASTThis funky two piece band decked out in purple velour suits were up next and really got the crowd going. Thoroughly drunk by this point, the crowd was singing along to every word and some ladies even went out on the dance floor. 
IMG_4081IMG_4082Too cold and too sober to continue watching, I was on the move for something sweet.
WEFEASTThis little macaron maid was serving up macaron milkshakes.
I so desperately wanted to try this, but my shaking body and frozen fingers insisted I stay away. IMG_4066IMG_4067 We each got a few macarons to nibble as we made our final trip around FEAST.
The macaron maid herself couldn’t resist a bite of her cookies.
One for the jar, one for me…IMG_4070We stopped by the lovely Meringue Girls stall to purchase some parting gifts. The colourful meringues temptingly line a crate on display. WEFEASTWEFEASTIMG_4071 I selected a few to take away in a delicate box and Paris chose the darling package of mini meringues. I’ve previously been a bit bitter I didn’t come up with this first as I now see them everywhere, but flavour and texture of these are divine and I would definitely recommend trying them. IMG_4075IMG_4077We came, we saw, we FEASTed.
It was a spectacular event and I waddled away with an ache in my tummy and a smile on my face.

The next event has yet to be announced, but you can bet I’ll be there.
Keep an eye on their website and twitter for upcoming events and be sure you book ahead as tickets sell out quickly!