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Taste of London 2017

Last month was my absolute favourite foodie event of the year, Taste of London. I’ve attended and written about it in 2015 and 2016, and now it’s time for this year’s instalment. And I was craving it more than ever. Food festivals are becoming increasingly popular in this country and I visit as many as I can for both work and pleasure. One of these was the London Evening Standard ‘Night Market’ a few weeks ago which I’d been really looking forward to, but unfortunately it was a big disappointment. There wasn’t many food stalls (or at least, not as many as I was expecting) and because the stalls were street food rather than restaurants with kitchens, the queues were long. Seriously long. In the whole evening I had two dishes and one drink. It was a real shame.

As soon as I walked into Taste of London on a beautiful sunny evening at Regent’s Park, I breathed a sigh of relief. The atmosphere is always fantastic and each year I’m honestly like a kid at Christmas, looking at the printed menu and circling the ‘hit list’ dishes we want to try, much like I used to do with the Argos catalogue in the late 80’s…

Our first stop was Temper, my favourite London restaurant at the moment which I’ve written about on the blog previously. I just love what these guys do and the food is always superb, with a fun twist. At Taste of London they were BBQing a whole goat, with a disco ball hovering above it. Because why the hell not? We ordered the Mutton Roll (smoked whole mutton, spiced and rolled in panko crumb with gochujang sauce) and the Goat Taco (whole smoked goat served on a freshly made corn tortilla, green sauce and chipotle sour cream).

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As always, it didn’t disappoint. Perfectly juicy meat with a spicy kick. Perfect.

Next we moved on to Club Gascon, a restaurant which is actually one of the first I wrote about on the blog, two and a half years ago (please excuse the low res photos if you head over to that post, I was still starting out!) We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and have been meaning to go back ever since. In the meantime, we thought we’d get a mini fix with the 72 hour barbecued beef rib and the Duck foie gras doughnuts.

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Tim said the beef was cooked to perfection (it was gobbled down very quickly before I could get a look in!) but I was stupidly excited about my duck foie gras doughnut. Sadly I was a bit disappointed. I couldn’t taste much foie gras in it and so it was a bit like eating some Yorkshire puddings without any meat or gravy. Not what I expected, sadly.

Our next stop was Ember Yard. We’ve never visited the restaurant but we’re certainly going to after this. We shared the Slow Cooked Octopus (prawn and padrón pepper pinchos, heritage tomatoes, crispy chickpeas) and Charcoal Grilled Ibérico Presa
(morcilla croquetas, steamed garden peas).

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Both were excellent but the latter dish really stole the show for me. I didn’t have high expectations before but it delivered the world, with beautifully tender meat and fresh punchy pea flavours. I recently read the lovely Angie of Silverspoon London’s review of the restaurant and so it’s firmly in our ‘must-visit’ list.

Next we visited Yosma – I rather naively hadn’t even heard of this restaurant but it’s another one to add to the list. We tucked into Pirzola – Barbecued best-end lamb chops, smoked garlic yogurt, wild garlic leaves & simit crumb and Karides – Barbecued king prawns, shaved fennel, dill, Turkish spices. Paired with Pineapple Raki Sour.

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The prawn was really tasty (paired excellently with the fennel, not something I would usually put together) although reading back through the menu, I’m frustrated that I wasn’t given the pineapple raki sour that was listed – there’s so much going on at Taste of London with so many dishes, it’s hard to keep track. But the lamb chop was the highlight here – possibly my favourite dish of the day. Perfectly cooked, gorgeous meat. Sometimes dishes don’t have to be complicated to be the best.

Moving on to something a bit different, we tried out Cafe Spice Namaste where we tucked into Isle of Mull king scallop, soft chilli risotto, ginger drizzle with a shot of Edinburgh Seaside gin martini and Roasted kangaroo fillet Goan style
Chilli, ginger and garlic on spiced rice and lentil pancake.

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Both of these were very good and it was fun to try a more unusual meat. The shot was a nice (and strong!) touch.

Our final dish was a dessert from Oklava, a restaurant I’ve been meaning to visit for ages given the Turkish-Cypriot connection. The dish was Crispy kunefe and cheese pastry, orange blossom syrup, yoghurt parfait, pistachios and apricots. Served with Turkish fizz.

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It was a real taste of home and I was in my element. The perfect way to finish our feast!

And just as much as we ate, we also drank! There are so many options at Taste of London it’s easy to get carried away! We started off with IPAs from Bad Co, a company from a place very close to where I used to live in North Yorkshire – our school bus even went through it! I’m a big fan of their drinks.

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Now it’s tradition for us to get a rum coconut from the ‘pirate ship’ – we’ve done this every year at Taste of London and it always delivers!

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We also ordered drinks were from Fentimans – some gin cocktails and a tequila shot with dry ice for added theatrics (also helped by the guys behind the bar who were really entertaining, if prolonging the process of actually being served your drinks!!)

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And lastly we ordered some rum cocktails from one of the bars, made with the rum we tried during our holiday to St Lucia last year which we really fell in love with.

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I also tried out some wonderfully tasty samples from oyster sauce brand Lee Kum Kee who had a beautifully decorated stand at this year’s Taste of London. I took some time to chat with the team who taught me lots about oyster sauce.

The Lee Kum Sheung business was established in 1888 when its founder Mr Lee Kum Sheung invented oyster sauce in Nanshui, Zhuhai, Guangdong Province of China. Over 125 years later, they have a number of exceptionally high quality products which they sell across the world, including soy sauces and cooking/dipping sauces.

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They kindly gave me some sauces and recipes to take home, so I’m going to be experimenting with some cooking very soon. There’s more information on their website here.

So another very successful (and delicious!) trip to Taste of London – it hasn’t disappointed yet! The Winter edition takes place in November at Tobacco Dock, and I’ll be there to exhibit Comté Cheese. I can’t wait! You can find out more about the event here.

Did you go to Taste of London this year? What was your favourite dish? Let me know in the comments!

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