We sent DR Social Media Manager, Claire, plus her lovely family to this years Taste of London to bring you a special report on this years 10 year anniversary festival.
Regents Park was fortunately bathed in early evening sun the first evening of the Taste Festival which made the world of difference to how you would enjoy this very outdoor event. Coloured beanbags were scattered on the grassy paths and London workers and tourists alike meandered among the stalls enjoying the buzzy but relaxed atmosphere as they grazed the pop-up restaurants. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Taste is now sponsored by British Airways who had quite a dominant presence at the show with a large cabin shaped restaurant at the centre in which they were sampling their ‘height’ menu. Our taste buds are apparently affected by air pressure and food and wine tastes different at 30,000 feet – who knew?!
Back when Taste started, pop-up restaurants were a relatively unheard of concept – more of an ‘underground’ dining experience. Now the best of the fine dining community have embraced the trend (2 Michelin star Michael Wignall has just finished his successful pop-up run at The Rib Room) and this is the beauty, for me, of Taste. 40 excellent restaurants all jostled together offering a selection of (large) tapas style portions giving you the opportunity to try out dishes from chef’s most of us normal folk would be saving for special occasions.
My two daughters are noodle fans so we started in the Thai Village with Pad Thai – drinks stalls are matched with food stalls so that you can ensure your eats are complimented by appropriate beverages. From there we moved on through the stalls, drawn by the incredible aroma wafting on the air from Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill – which seemed to carry above all the other amazing smells – no mean feat!
Saltwater Shrimp cocktail, Celeriac & pink Peppercorns was swiftly followed by Charcoal grill Dingley Dell pork belly with honey and apple and didn’t disappoint. Cinnamon Club had been awarded ‘Best in Taste’ for their Mumbai mille feuille of spring lamb but it was the Smoked Haddock cake with Shrimp and Coriander mayonaise that actually caught our eye so Mr R and I shared one of those and it for me was probably my favourite dish of the night – salty, smoky and piquante and wonderfully crisp – yummer!
We decided to stick with our asian fishy theme and headed for Tamarind and Keralan Fish Curry – we have experienced Tamarind’s cuisine before and know that spices are well used so the curry had a fantastic kick – not to everyone’s palate but we both loved it.
The girls meanwhile had spotted a lady with skirt like a strawberry field – where you could help yourself to ‘Strawberry Pop’s’. I think the stall may have been advertising some kind of cruise experience so association was fairly tenuous but the girls popped away!
Mr R and I also decided our savoury needs had been sated and indulged a long held dream to order a … Rasmalai!!! Fans of Sanjeev Bhaskar and Goodness Gracious Me will get that reference – for those that don’t its a Poached Cheese dumpling in Cardamom flavoured milk with Strawberries and a sprinkling of crushed Pistachio and you will get none finer than Tamarind’s version.
We had fallen into the organisers hands completely when we purchased way too many crowns. Although the prices are quite fair (£4 – £12 depending on dish) a tip for festival goers next year – you can’t change them back to cash and they are in multiples of 10 which meant we ended up with quite a lot to get rid of as the evening was coming to an end. Fortunately the artisan market held much for us to indulge in and we emerged with bags stuffed with serrano ham, plump olives and stinky cheese.
Funny story I heard on the way out as my youngest daughter lunged for the largest brownie we’d ever seen in our lives. Apparently in the hour closed to the public between sessions (there is a lunch session and a dinner session which is sensible) all of the stalls make ‘trades’! Rich from Flour Power City Bakery had done very well exchanging his fabulous cakes and pastrys for cocktails which sounded like a top deal!
We’ll be back*.
Design Restaurants Membership Club offers fantastic benefits and discounts at most of London’s top restaurants and discounts off of events such as Taste of London. Membership is just £90 for 12 months. For more details go to www.designrestaurants.com.