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

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