Taste of Everything {Review – Taste of London Festival, London}

WARNING: This post may cause an extreme case of hunger, envy and large bouts of jealousy. You have been warned.

This time of year is my highlight in my foodie calendar. No the it’s not because there’s bountiful fresh fruits, barbecue’s on the go and excuses to drink midday in the sun. No I love this time of year because it’s TASTE OF LONDON time!!!!!! I’ve been a couple of times and I swear it just gets better and better each year. Other food festivals should take note as this is how you do a food festival.

Basically, it’s a gathering of some of the best restaurants in London showing off their dishes allowing greedy people like me a chance to try out some world class food. I love it. I went with my cousin and friend, we took it rather seriously this year. There may of been a colour coded spreadsheet made to make sure we didn’t miss any of the dishes we wanted to try. In fact we ended up spending 60 crowns (the festival money) in the first hour of getting in there. Pop up your feet and feast your eyes on these beauties.

First place that we attacked was Flesh and Buns. I’ve been dreaming of their pork belly steam bun with pickled green apple, mustard miso sauce since I last had it for the first time at their restaurant back in November. And it didn’t disappoint at all. I still love the those tender buns, crispy pork with the richness off set by the beautifully fresh green apple. Great way to start the day. We also tried their icon dish of grilled seabass steam bun with kimchi and coriander miso. The seabass skin was wonderful and crisp and the flesh meltingly tender with the fragrant coriander miso and fiery kimchi just balanced completely. I could of just stayed here all day but there was plenty of dishes to try out.

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Don’t stare in the eyes for too long by MEATliquor or you might get lost….

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You know that I love MEATliquor from going with the Scoff Saturday girls. We pretty much eat the whole menu and we’re rather feral about the whole thing.  Although one thing was missing. Monkey Fingers. That’s right, that is the name of them. We missed out as they are on the MEATmisson, Hoxton menu but I got my paws on some! Battered chicken fillets smothered in their home made hot sauce with blue cheese dip. Oh and the token showing of celery. We ate some really refined food the rest of the day but you know what I had a huge soft spot for these sexy beasts. There’s just something so good about fire, batter and cheese. Fit.

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I told you we did refinement later and the next two dishes were exactly that. From Club Gascon we just couldn’t decide what to get so we got two dishes from them.  First to be consumed was the Duck and Dog. Tender shredded duck piled in to a sweet bun that didn’t hang around for too long.

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The second dish which was a stand out dish for me was the Truffled Crackling Duck Egg. Super rich and sexy. Nestled on a bed of shredded crispy pastry was a perfectly cooked duck egg with a rich crown of freshly grated black truffle on top. Right at the bottom was a rich creamy mushroom sauce that just made the whole plate scream luxury and depth of flavour. A great dish, but was needed to be shared between the three of us due its richness. Amazing.

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We were never too far away from having another meaty dish. And straight from the barbecue Roka‘s icon dish of Kankoku fu kohitsuji – lamb cutlets with Korean spices. Lovely and pink, deep charred flavour with the sweet and heat from the rub. I may of gnawed on the bones like the cave woman that I am. Lip smacking good.

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Another meaty treat and this time from Salt Yard in the form of Iberico pork ribs with quince glaze and caramelised cauliflower purée. This was the dish I was most looking forward to getting my mitts on when check out the menus weeks before the event. And they did not disappoint at all. Exceeded to bring me a fabulous plate of food. The purée was silk with the smoky, meaty hunks of ribs balancing on top. Dreamy.

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You know I’m all about the meat but sometimes you need some sweetness in your life and for me we had to try the dessert from my favourite restaurant Duck and Waffle. I couldn’t persuade my fellow dinners to try the BBQ spiced pigs ears or the Fried Chicken Necks – wusses, as I know how great those ears are. But we did get a plate of the super sexy Pistachio Macaroon – dark chocolate mousse, griottine cherries, crystallised white chocolate. I mean seriously, how great does that sound. In fact I turned my back on my fellow dinners to talk to the very talented head chef Dan Doherty and nearly didn’t get any of this superb dessert. The freshness of the pistachio with the deep richness from the chocolate was a dream. Just everything worked beautifully. Excuse me while I just book my next visit to Duck and Waffle….

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After a like stroll and refresh in the champagne tent, as you do on a Thursday afternoon, we got straight back in to the meaty treats. Bar Boulud last year served up one of my favourite dishes so was looking forward to trying something else from them this year. Hot Dog Lyonnais: Pork Sausage baked in Brioche, Truffle Pistachio, Cornichon and Mustard. A fiery little number with the mustard and peppered sausage packing a punch. Delicious paired with the soft sweet brioche and pistachios.

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The next two dishes were a perfect moment of food selection. The sun should of shone down on our plates at that very moment. From Barbecoa’s barbecue divine beef in the form of  Smoked Short Rib with worcestershire glaze and horseradish mash.  I can’t convey to you how perfectly cooked this beef was. I stared at it and it just fell apart (this may not be accurate…) but my god with the mash. Hubba Hubba. Just perfection in beefy form. The depth of flavour was insane and done so simply. A*.

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What do you follow that sexiness with. Well more sexiness of course! The winner of the best dessert of the show was from Andre Garrett at Cliveden House with the beautiful Peanut Butter Parfait, Salted Caramel and Raspberry.  I can so see how they won the award. Every element was completely balanced with one another. Chocolate covered popping candy with honeycomb gave a welcomed crunch to the silky smooth parfait which wasn’t too sweet from the peanut butter, as the raspberry helped cut through the richness. My only disappoint was reaching the bottom of the dish.

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Back to the savoury treats, Yauatcha was a stall I just didn’t get around to last year so really pleased I got to try the Venison Puffs. Buttery flaky pastry encasing peppery sweet tender rich venison. Simple and not over complicated but utterly delicious.

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We then visited their neighbours at Sixtyone  for the petite Chocolate, Yuzu and Mandarin dessert.  Vibrant flavours that cut through the chocolate and giving the palate the wake up that was needed. The textures of the crunch with the citrus jelly was fabulous.

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Once again we couldn’t stay away from the meat for too long. If you’re going to get some steak there’s one place you want to get it from and it’s Gaucho and their Churrasco de Chorizo – Spiral cut, marinated for 48 hours in garlic, parsley, aji molido and olive oil.  Just simple and so flavoursome the quality of the meat just shines through. Cooked to perfection and the light char just enhanced an already incredible plate of food.

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Needing a sweet treat we swung past Tartufo to try out their Original L.A Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream. Being totally honest I wasn’t a fan. For me there was too much cream on top and the butterscotch was a bit grainy. Sorry not my favourite but will have to try out their rest of their menu another time as it does sound great.

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Skipping over to try some Spanish cuisine over at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction with a colossal plate of the delicious Jamón Ibérico sobre Almohada de Pan con Tomate – Iberico Ham over Bread and Tomato Pillow. The ham was just insane, some of the best I’ve ever eaten. Additively meaty and lapping up  not so guilty the flavoursome fat marbled meat. Perfect.

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Ending on a high note and with very full stomachs, our last dish was from Avenue with the beautiful Mac and Cheese Crisps – Breaded with smoked tomato sauce. Cheesy, fried goodness with the smoky tang from the tomato balancing the richness and vanished far too quickly.

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I had a brilliant time at Taste of London and only wish there was more time in the day to try out more dishes but I think we did pretty well with all of those goodies. World class food that I can’t wait until next year to try another around.

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