As an unashamedly greedy foodie this is one of my most favourite occasions and this year’s festival was better than ever. No where else do you have such an incredible opportunity to try out the leaders and influencers of the capital’s restaurant industry in one place at one time. With 50% more new restaurants including notably André Garrett at Cliveden House and Ametsa with Arzak Instruction – the event also featured Theo Randall, Jose Pizarro and Michel Roux Jr in the Electrolux Taste Theatre.
This year taking centre stage was the uber trendy Mahiki with celebrity guest DJ’s, limbo, Maori Dancers and coconut cocktails – although I have to say I felt more at home in the Mortimer’s Orchard Bar Silent Disco being a cider drinker! Also brand new for this year was the Stubbins Food Partnership Kitchen Garden situated within an allotment planted up with herbs and veg. We watched the wonderfully charismatic Robert Ortiz from Peruvian Michelin star restaurant Lima, while sitting in the rustic outdoor theatre.
We left the Roblets happily scoffing free noodles in the Taste of Thailand area with its stunning fruit sculptures – such amazing artwork that you’d rather frame than eat! They then went on to eat the Gai Yang Som Tum at Mango Tree – Grilled boneless corn-fed chicken tight marinated in black pepper, garlic and coriander served with papaya salad. This went down very well with one daughter but the other thought it was weird, not being used to eating fruit with chicken, and that it why it is such a good event to take kids to so they can try out all these great new flavours.
They soon caught up with us chasing down a sneaky margarita at Cafe Pacifico and listening to the mariachi band. There seemed to be lots more tempting free samples on offer this year (great for us total hoggies) and we availed ourselves of the wonderful fresh guacamole and tortillas served with the cocktails and stunning fresh lemonade.
We stopped to watch a fascinating sushi demonstration at Yutaka and yet more delicious complimentary treats to get our taste buds limbered up – the lady demonstrating was charming and we’ve already tried out our new skills with the kit we then bought.
The smell of grilled meat proved too much and we headed to Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa for Crispy Pig Cheeks with Picacalili and Mustard Frills and Smoked Short Rib with Worcestershire Glaze and Horseradish Mash. The pigs cheeks made a welcome change to the pulled pork that seemed to be everywhere last year and the smoked short rib was all earthy deliciousness.
After watching the beautiful people in Mahiki, we refreshed our palletes with a Martin Millers Gin who were serving up interesting garnish combinations – I had melon and mint while Mr R tried the grapefruit and basil. Interesting concept but I prefer my gin traditional with lime – why fix what isn’t broken? We left the Roblets diving into the free samples at the Green & Blacks stand. Although they were showcasing Lemon and Dark Chocolate it seemed to be Milk and Sea Salt that was the big hit.
Awards had been given out for Best in Taste and we were delighted that Design Restaurants favourite, the very talented André Garrett at Cliveden House had won best dessert so the challenge was on to make sure we left enough space. As we missed out on the winning dish at L’Anima last year we decided to put this right and shared this years ICON dish, Fettucine with peas, broad beans and summer black truffle. The fact that L’Anima translates as ‘soul’ was not lost on us as this dish was utter heaven in a bowl. Watch this space as I have managed to secure the recipe and will be publishing this later this month!
Suitably savored-out we fought our way through the crowds to André Garrett – the wonderful backdrop of Cliveden House lending a touch of country class to the line up. With his trophy proudly displayed we had a quick catch up with André and Cliveden GM, Sue Williams, before diving into the winning pudding – Peanut Butter Parfait, Salted Caramel, Raspberry. As I’ve said before on this blog – whichever genius chef came up with the idea of putting salt with caramel should be sainted. André’s version was executed to perfection and quite frankly its a good job it was the end of the show for us as nothing else was going to follow it.
My gorgeous colleague Ali attended the earlier session on Friday and did the Inamo Sushi Masterclass – which appeared to go down extremely well with her kids who were the willing recipients! She also managed to get her book signed by no other than Michel Roux Jr (swoon). Standout dish for her was the 5 Star Haute Dog created by Action Against Hunger Supporters including James Knappet of Bubbledogs and Brett Graham of The Ledbury and all proceeds went to the charity.
If you visited Taste of London this year then look out for a special offer for Design Restaurants Membership coming to you via Taste of London email soon!
Special report by Mrs Robinson