20 Jun 2011
Every Summer the Taste of London food festival takes place over 4 days in Regents Park. It is by far one of my most favourite festivals and in the past five years, rain or shine, I’ve not missed a single one! This year we managed to survive the recent damp weather relatively unscathed except for a few muddy puddles.
We attended on Sunday, the final day of the festival and also the day with the longest session lasting from 12 – 5pm, allowing us more time for eating, drinking, browsing and general enjoyment! We’d purchased VIP tickets so after a quick glass of complimentary champers in the BA VIP Tent, we set off ready to eat!
First stop on the list was Club Gascon for it’s Best of Taste Award winning icon dish of foie gras burger and summer truffle.
I’d been expecting the foie gras to be mixed in with ground meat of some sort, but was pleasantly taken aback when I realised it was indeed an entire slab of foie gras, some obligatory lettuce and mayo, sandwiched between a soft, squidgy, buttery brioche roll, slathered in truffle oil.
With such a combination of decadent, gourmet ingredients, how could it have been anything but amazing?!
I’d been originally planning to try Gauthier Soho’s Top Dog Deluxe (smoked Strasbourg sausage hot dog, honey bacon and mustard/mayo relish in pain au lait), but when I caught a whiff of the summer truffle risotto, chicken jus reduction and Parmesan crisps as it passed under my nose to another patron, I immediately changed my mind.
I didn’t see any Parmesan crisps, but there was a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan. It was delicious! So chickeny, so creamy, so cheesey! Comfort food at it’s finest.
Roux at The Landau
The salt cod brandade, crisp squid and Espelette pepper from Roux at The Landau wasn’t so mouth watering in appearance, with the prevalence of jet black squid ink in the squid batter as well as the sauce, but fortunately it was very pleasant to eat.
The batter was light and crisp, and the squid was tender. The salt cod brandade was so creamy and moreish.
After the first round of dishes, we were ready for a refreshing palette cleanser. Enter Gelupo’s cucumber, Hendrick’s Gin and rose granita.
Hendrick’s Gin already contains rose and cucumber in addition to the traditional juniper infusion, so the addition of cucumber and rose granita only served to embolden the flavours in the gin.
The braised beef with olives and polenta from Le Gavroche was so tender it could be eaten with a spoon!
Rich in flavour from the jus and olives, I found this dish tasty but also quite salty. As such the saltiness drowned out the creamy polenta.
We had to sample Skylon’s warm smoked Loch Var Salmon, lemon verbena jelly, pickled cucumber and sweet rye after hearing it had won second place in the Best of Taste Awards. In the words of their Maitre d’, “we were beaten by a foie gras and truffle burger, anyone can do that!”.
What struck me about their salmon dish was how well balanced, yet delicate the flavours were. From the lightly smoked, but beautifully cooked salmon to the lightly pickled cucumber. And the rye with it’s sweet, creamy, buttery topping. Excellent.
It was not bad, but not as fabulous as I would have liked. The suckling pig was a touch dry, and the crackling was a tad chewy.
The Modern Pantry
The krupuk crusted soft shell crab, Singapore style sauce, pickled shimeji and cucumber from The Modern Pantry was simply wonderful.
The soft shell crab was very fresh, large and meaty with an excellent crispy coating, and a light sauce tasting faintly of shrimp paste.
The grilled Elwy Valley Welsh lamb cutlets with spiced crushed potatoes from Tamarind were just delicious. Very well seasoned and cooked until tender and juicy.
They also threw in a free Papdi Chaat – spiced chickpeas and whole wheat crisps with fresh mint, sweetened yoghurt and tamarind chutney.
It was certainly an unusual dish and the flavours were not to my taste so I can see why they were having trouble shifting it.
Finally a bit of dessert, Rhodes 24′s lemon tart with fresh strawberries. It was a perfectly baked tart with wonderfully creamy filling.
My only complaint was that it was so sugary. If it’d contain say a third less sugar, I would have found it the perfect dessert!
There were also some great exibitors and some awesome bargains were to be had including:
- A Bonne Maman cooler bag with 4 creme brulees (really delicious), dark chocolate mousse and 2 mini jam pots for £5.
- Any pot of Glorious Skinny Soup for £1 each – I’d recommend the Asian Spiced Tomato, Rice and Ginger.
- As many jars of Gordon’s Seriously Good Comic Relief Sauces as you wanted, for any donation.
- Free drinks from Youngs Pub courtesy of an email voucher.
My fifth year at Taste of London was definitely one of my best yet, with some really stand out dishes. The quality of restaurants and dishes just seems to be getting better and better every year. I’m looking forward to next year’s already!