I’ve never been one for music fests, always deterred by the thought of large crowds and muddy fields. How ironic then, that I found myself traversing both (and quite enthusiastically, I might add) at a different sort of festival… Taste of London!
The iffy weather non-withstanding, Londoners turned out in hordes for the city’s ultimate celebration of all things food, which is back for it’s annual run at Regent’s Park with over 170 dishes on offer from the city’s buzziest restaurants. Not to mention, the exciting master classes, pop-up bars and club houses, and even a safari camp hosted by Mr. Fogg!
The event is a wonderfully interactive way of meeting your favourite chefs, discovering new brands and eateries, or even sampling the menu at restaurants, which are otherwise impossible to get a reservation at (because, London.)
So whether you’re heading down to Taste this weekend, or simply looking for top tips on places and things to put on your radar, here’s the best of my experience at Taste of London this year…
… Starting with the #EveryDayI’mTrufflin moment at Sartoria, where we slurped up a plate of fettucine slung over with Grana Padano, peas, broad beans and ALL the fresh black truffle generously shaved on top!
Exquisitely simple yet oh-so-rich, it’s definitely convinced me to visit the Mayfair-based fine dining Italian restaurant, to try more of Chef Francesco’s cooking!
Speaking of Grana Padano, we tried more of this hard, slow-ripened cheese from Italy at a special food & prosecco pairing hosted by Grana Padano in conjunction with Prosecco D.O.C. – the versatile Italian sparkling wine produced in north east Italy!
The highlight here was definitely meeting Masterchef finalist and head chef at the Italian embassy, Danilo Cortellini, who cooked up the prettiest tortellini I ever did see – soft, multi-coloured parcels of pasta enrobing a mousse-like, melt-in-your-mouth blend of Grana Padano and Béchamel sauce.
It was a pleasure to chat with Chef Danilo afterwards – I’m definitely hoping to make it to one of his supper-clubs soon!
The cheese and truffle train continued at Ember Yard, where my friend Anisha scoffed down some mood-alteringly good croquettes with truffle aioli – the crisp golden exterior giving way to a soft, melty mix of summer truffle wild mushroom and pecorino.
At Theo Randall’s, we were tempted by his orecchiette pasta, festooned with slow cooked violet aubergine, fresh plum tomatoes, basil and ricotta salsa… But as it was quite similar to what we’d had at his stall last year, we decided to move on to Frescobaldi instead – London’s first stand-alone restaurant from the formidable Frescobaldi wine-making family of Tuscany.
While we enjoyed the wine & prosecco pairings here, I have to admit that our dishes fell disappointingly flat. Anisha’s squid ink pasta was much too salty and there was not an ounce of freshness in my burrata, which was woefully lacking the soft, creamy texture I love of this summer cheese…
But our Indian palettes were suitably mollified at Trishna.
Sweet and spicy, tangy and crunchy all at once – the aloo papdi chaat (one of my favourite Indian street eats) was undoubtedly the star of the show…
… As was the uttapam at Hoppers.
Luckily there were no queues here (as you’d otherwise expect outside this very popular Soho eatery) and I was able to get my hands all-too-easily on this fluffy South-Indian savoury rice and lentil pancake, generously stuffed with spicy-fried potatoes alongside a flavoursome tomato and coconut chutney!
Other old favourites encountered included Kurobuta (the very trendy Aussie take on a Japanese izakaya), for its heavenly sticky miso-grilled aubergine, textured with candied walnuts.
As for desserts, the social media frenzy had us head to Duck and Waffle for anything but-your-average soft serve – this Golden Graham ice cream cone was topped off with salted caramel sauce, roasted hazelnuts, a crunchy marshmallow and a chocolate flake!
We also feasted our eyes on some wondrous works of dessert art, including henna-inspired cakes from Sari Cakes… and slurped up some rather lush, all-organic and natural ice lollies from Lickalix, infused with the freshest of flavours (a strawberry mojito for me and a cola one for Anisha, which tasted much like a Haribo popsicle)…
The caffeine junkie in me learnt a thing or two as well, courtesy the coffee masters at ThreeSixty˚, who were demonstrating avant-garde brewing methods such as the siphon and the V60pour-over. Under their good tutelage, I also had a go at creating my very own latte art – not bad for a first attempt, eh?
If you’re a coffee lover with a creative streak you should definitely think about participating in their ongoing #MyThreeSixtyDesign competition to design the packaging for their new Cuban Cumanayagua coffee!
So despite the grey and dreadfully overcast weather, it was a fabulously tasty evening that quite literally flew by.
Even though we’d been eating non-stop since the time we entered, we left still wishing we’d been able to cover a few more restaurants (#FOMO) – Vanilla Black and the Mirror Room at the Rosewood, to name but a few… Definitely a sign of a good time, methinks!
Did you make it to Taste of London this year?
Which was your favourite dish from the festival?
I attended Taste of London on a press invitation. All restaurants visited were of my own accord.