I absolutely love going to Taste of London – the first time I went was in 2010 as part of my hen party (which also included afternoon tea at The Ritz, karaoke and Louboutin shopping at Harrods!) and it was such a ball I’ve been dying to go back for ages! This year the stars aligned and I managed to visit the June festival for the Friday morning sessions.
If you love food and you love the London restaurant scene, you should definitely make sure you pay the event a visit! Here’s my guide to the best the event has to offer…
Photo opportunities aplenty – if you didn’t get a photo of the Taste sign, then you missed out! It’s quite the done thing, you know…
Part of a successful Taste campaign should always include a careful read of the menus – make sure you don’t miss out. We headed to Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa first for some slow-roasted pit beef with New York slaw, ketchup and beef dripping crumble. The mouth watering, smoky beef was so flavourful it actually almost tasted like rich pulled pork – and the slaw was an unexpected highlight!
I tucked into this delicious harissa glazed aubergine with coconut and coriander at Tredwell’s, and even got to meet the charming chef Marcus Wareing – the man behind the restaurant! Lovely guy! I also really enjoyed a cappuccino from Nescafe’s Milano machines – really delicious coffee (and a great group of baristas too!). I had to snap a photo of this cute Bonne Maman van (and snaffle up some samples of their galettes – the lemon and poppy ones are fab!). The trend for this show (or maybe it was just me…) seemed to be burgers, buns and sliders, and this Icon dish from Pont St. was a great example – the Belgrave’s bespoke burger with cheese, truffle mayo and red onion chutney was a lovely, meaty mouthful.
One of the restaurants I was most looking forward to visiting was Bluebird Chelsea – once the haunt of the Middleton sisters (pre-wedding, naturally), this has long been on my wish-list! One of their chefs recommended I try the spit roast saddle back pork bun with sticky cider BBQ sauce, and it was a delight – but there was also lobster mac and cheese on offer, as well as yellow fin tuna sashimi, which is apparently a very popular starter at their restaurant! I’m definitely going to have to pop along to try their menu out properly soon!
I also loved these gorgeous henna-inspired Sari Cakes – bespoke, hand made and utterly beautiful, these fruit cakes were delicious and a work of art!
I’m a sucker for a good gin and tonic, and totally fell in love with Pinkster Pink Gin – apparently the nation’s third favourite gin! Just look at that gorgeous rose coloured liquid – can’t you imagine settling back in the garden with a glassful this summer?
(By the way, lest we forget this is also a fashion blog, I have to do a quick accessories mention! I was definitely glad I brought my compact Mulberry Lily – I love the bright colour and the fact that you can fit in so much more than you think is possible into this handy little bag! I saw at least two other Lilys being carried at the event, a yellow and a cream, so I was in good company. I teamed it with my favourite French Sole sandals, and a pink Hush shirt – finally feeling summery for the first time this year!)
Sometimes, it’s the simple things that make a big impression, and these mangos from Pakistan definitely proved that less is more. They were so delicious we ended up picking up a bag full for a curry night we’re doing tomorrow – the perfect, simple dessert!
Another restaurant that was on my hit list was Duck & Waffle, whose Icon dish was their famous crispy leg confit with fried hen’s egg and mustard maple syrup – again, convincing me I absolutely have to head to the restaurant as soon as humanly possible!
Restaurants are only part of the attraction at Taste – there are scores of exhibitors ready to knock your socks off! I had to take a snap of this baobab at the Aduna stand (I didn’t get to try their baobab superfruit bars but they looked amazing!), I also picked up some Somerset charcuterie for Father’s Day on Sunday, and drooled over the viennoiserie at The Bread Shop’s stand. After all that excitement, I was over the moon to discover my highlight of the show – BBQ pork belly in a steamed bun with spicy peanut soy from Kurobuta. Savoury, sweet, punchy, rich – this was an absolute stunner, and if you only try one dish I’ve recommended, make sure it’s this one!
One of the coolest stands at the event was the Havana Club, which was on hand to give visitors a mojito masterclass! At Casa Havana’s mojito shack, one of the bartenders, Alex, led myself and three others through the steps to make this classic Cuban drink – and I even got to keep the can afterwards! (Okay, this was one of the main draws for me!). I’ve never crushed so much mint into my hands before, but apparently this is the secret to a good mojito – and it was pretty darn good, even if I did make it myself!
At Taste this year was a special stand with a different restaurant for each of the days – Friday was Bubbledogs! I couldn’t resist trying the Horny Devil Dog and the ranch tater tots, and they were both utterly filthily delicious. Gooey, greasy, spicy – this might not be the most subtle food, but it certainly delivered the flavour smash it promised! Then it was onto Spice Market for a spiced chicken samosa – a perfectly balanced dish of crunchy pastry, crumbly, spicy stuffing, and cooling, creamy coriander yogurt.
I couldn’t believe how quickly the four hour session flew by, and we still had plenty of crowns to spend, so we hustled to our final two destinations – Artusi for the best pork I’ve had in my life (their Icon dish of suckling pig with mustard), and Chop Shop for the intriguing BBQ glazed short rib with smoked creamed corn. The smoky flavour of the corn made this dish unlike any I’d ever had before, and the combination of the sweet and smoky starch with the rich umami short ribs meant we really ended this trip on a highlight!
If you want to go to Taste of London, there’s still time as the festival is on all weekend (until 21 June)! Head to http://london.tastefestivals.com/ for more information and to purchase tickets. Don’t forget to order your crowns – but remember, you can also purchase them onsite too! Read the menu before you go – you can find it here.
And, if you missed the festival, you can click on the restaurants’ names above to be taken directly to their websites where you can book yourself a table – I know I will be!