Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Taste of London 2012 - Regents Park

I have had a busy week in London being asked to write reviews for the Electrolux Cube and with Taste of London for AEG.  I blogged about Taste last year too, and the Festival is still as great as it has been in all previous years Ive attended.  You arrive with gastronomic energy and leave with a full belly and a fond farewell, safe in the knowledge you have indulged in what the Capitals finest eateries have to offer.

Taste of London appears to be growing stronger each year.  For those who know little about it, it is a 4-day food festival, where around 40 of London’s top hitting restaurants come together in Regents Park to let you sample their dishes.  Each restaurant has 3-4 mini dishes you can try, in which you pay for the dishes in a currency of crowns.  There is also a plethora of exhibitors gunning for your attention, with samples of their food and drink for you to try and buy, as well as music, entertainment, and dedicated world cuisine areas.

However, ‘Taste’ offers much more than just a walk in the park.  It’s main sponsors British Airways and AEG (plus several others) also have put on within the festival various, exciting features to make the day more interactive.  For example BA are keen to show you how food 35,000 feet up has an impact on your taste senses, thus giving you the opportunity to learn about ‘Height Cuisine’, and even sample their new first class summer 2012 menu.  AEG are the premium appliance sponsor, and feature the Taste Theatre, where you get to see some of the countries biggest names demonstrate how to cook.  Situated next to that is the AEG mobile academy where you can see in action and ask questions about AEG’s Neue Kollektion, (you must see the steam ovens and a cleverly shaped wok induction), and my personal favourite is the AEG Perfekt Cooking Classes with Angela Malik.  Here you get to use the AEG appliances and cook dishes within 30 minutes.  Angela is the queen of Asian cuisine, and is always on hand to chat with, and show you how to create a great little dish.

Each year’s features are worthy of a visit, and this year my favourites include the Nespresso coffee experience (learn to match coffee with food), The Weber BBQ experience, The Secret Garden (full of all sorts of hidden indulgent extra’s), and the Laurent-Perrier champagne Masterclasses.  Sadly it is not possible to fit all of the activities into your 4-hour visit, so booking these sessions is a must, and you really must do it as soon as you enter, as availability is limited.  My top tip is to check out tastefestivals.com to see what the line-up is in advance, and work out a strategy of what you really don’t want to miss out on and book it immediately as you enter the park. 

As for the Secret Garden (which is in it’s second year), it is worthy of an additional mention as I was privileged to attend ‘The Menu’ in the secret garden which is a unique meal cooked by five world-famous chefs who each cook a course.  Angela Harnet, Bruno Loubet, Nuno Mendes, Wolfgang Puck and Jason Atherton wowed us with their skills, in an elegant enclosure found within the secret garden.  Dishes that got everyone talking were Angela’s first course of San Marzano tomatoes, burrata, basil purée, and black olive powder.  Although a very simple starter, burrata is relatively new on our food menus. It’s basically mozzarella cheese as we know it (but with a mozzarella and cream filling). The thought of being able to re-create this dish at home appealed.  However a simple starter like that is needed when followed by cod and tripe with a stew of onions.  This was everyone’s most apprehensive dish, but turned out to be delicate and flavoursome, with the confit cod bringing an unusual texture to the taste buds.  Wolfgang Puck followed this up with a duo of beef - grilled New York sirloin, roasted baby carrots, cipollini onions, armagnac sauce and an Indian spiced short rib with curried sweet corn purée and garam masala spicing.  This was murderously good, and I can see why this chef has a global empire of restaurants.  This meal takes place on the 1st two nights of the festival.  Each chef comes out to introduce his or her dish, which is a nice touch.  This event is available at an additional cost, but if you’re a real gastro-pilgrim like me, you may just find that the ‘Menu’ is right up your street.  When would you normally get 5 world-class chefs cooking you a meal together in one evening!  Highly recommended!

Taste of London is a super-hot ticket, and I can’t wait until next years show.  This stylish festival of gastronomy never fails to win my heart!

If you can’t wait until Taste of London 2013, then check out Taste of Edinburgh - 6th to 8th of July, and Taste of Christmas in London’s ExCeL - December 7th-9th.  Tickets options vary from standard entry to VIP packages.

Best In Taste 1st prize award winner Pascal Aussignac of Club Gascon's Marmite Royale

Angela Malik Cooking class with guest chef/restaurateur/Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers

The 'Menu' at Taste

Wolfgang Pucks duo of beef dish at the 'Menu'

The pop up restaurants at Taste

Friday, 22 June 2012

The Cube - Electrolux

People attend the Olympics and such like events when they are hosted by our own nation, because it's nice to feel like you have had a part in the making of history.  Well for food lovers all over the UK, here is an experience that will rival that sensation.  Allow me to introduce you to The Cube - by Electrolux.  I was asked this week to review this unique dining experience.  Read on to see why you really should make the effort before the end of September to dine like you have never dined before!

2012 is a fine year for London with both the Queens Jubilee and the Olympics to celebrate, and sitting tall overlooking these prestigious events right in the heart of the city, is the Electrolux Cube.  This 4-month restaurant is open between the 1st of June and 30th of September and is situated above London’s Royal Festival Hall.  It is a stunning piece of modern art, mixing a modern structure atop of a classic building, with glass sides offering unrivalled views of iconic sites such as the River Thames, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.

The line-up of chefs (purposely located from various regions of the UK, and holders collectively of 8 Michelin stars) are Tom Kitchin from The Kitchin – Edinburgh, Sat Bains from Restaurant Sat Bains – Nottingham, Claude Bosi from Hibiscus - Mayfair (with all three appearing regularly on Saturday Kitchen), Daniel Clifford from Midsummer House - Cambridge  (who we saw reach the finals in this years GBM), and brothers Jonray and Peter Sanchez, (who shot to fame in Gordon Ramsay’s TV series Best Restaurant in 2010). 
Upon arriving on the rooftop of the Royal Festival Hall, a champagne reception with canapés on the constructed terrace awaits you, before you enter the Cube to sit down at a single long table which seats 18 people.  Should the British weather not be in your favour, I discovered that the dining table has been constructed to allow it to be electronically lifted to the ceiling, thus allowing guests to sip champagne in the comfort of the cube!  Its interior feel is very simple and clean, which reflects Electrolux’s Scandinavian heritage.
Upon being seated, everyone's excitement was clear to see.  The kitchen is not so much open but is part of the dining room space, which allows you the opportunity to get up and interact with the kitchen team, and view the dishes as they are being plated up on the open ‘pass’
The cuisine from each chef promises to be exclusive to the Cube, and is a highly guarded secret until the actual day, which all adds to the excitement, so for people like me who love to look up menu’s beforehand, had to show a measured degree of patience!
2 Michelin starred French born Claude Bosi was our host chef.  He describes the Cube as a unique experience, innovative and experimental, so did his food reflect this?
Without giving too much away (as this would spoil the secret nature of the Cubes menu), our lunch comprised of a seven-course menu, which in my opinion comprised of very classic French style food, but with some experimental Michelin inspired elements!  Shrimp paired with strawberry, chicken with hints of sharp fruits, a dessert with pepper infused cream and white chocolate infused with a spring vegetable, were some of the culinary highlights!  All eaten whilst listening to a play list, personally selected by each chef.
What the Cube offers is the ability to enjoy a fine dining experience, without the anxiety of wondering what everyone around you is thinking, wearing, and talking about, because your so busy interacting with the chef, the food and the company you keep throughout the meal.  For anyone seeking new gastronomic heights, then the Cube by Electrolux will deliver physically as well as metaphorically!
The Cube showcases the link between the new range of Electrolux home kitchen appliances and how they can be used in the professional environment.  Surely an inspiration for any aspiring home cook!
The Cube is in its final leg of touring Europe, having visited Milan and Brussels and is currently in Stockholm and London.

 The Cube by Electrolux in London is open daily. Weekdays Lunch: 12:00. Dinner: 19:00. Reservations required at all times. Set lunch: £175. Set Dinner: £215 (including paired wines). For further updates and the latest news visit Electrolux Facebook Page or visit: http://www.electrolux.co.uk/Cube/London

Kitchen Gadgets Giveaway

To celebrate the make-over of my blog, I am giving away to one lucky follower a Baumatic rechargeable wine bottle opener, Oxo Goodgrips hand held mixer,  and a Kitchen Craft oil drizzler.

To win this prize, you need to:

1) Follow this blog and
2) Answer this simple question:

How many courses were featured in the review of the Electrolux Cube?

Please leave your answers in the comments box below.  Winner will be notified by e-mail. Competition closes 21st July.


Congratulations to Michelle Kirkwood!
Please contact me with you details