Taste of London Festival

taste of London recipe book

On Thursday night I was lucky enough to be invited to go to the Taste of London festival in Regents Park for the evening with some colleagues. I had no idea what to expect, except that there would be food in abundance! I think Thursday was the bleakest, wettest day we’ve seen in months, so the whole ‘summer festival’ concept was a bit ruined, but thankfully by the time we arrived, the rain had subsided and there were even a few blue patches to be seen. We met in the VIP tent and enjoyed a glass of champagne whilst browsing the hundreds of dishes offered by 40 of London’s best restaurants, and tried to plan our culinary route around the park.

too many choices!

As it turned out, no amount of planning was going to help because the moment we stepped outside and walked into all of the delicious smells wafting out of the tents, any direction was forgotten. My menu for the evening ended up looking like this:

~Krupuk crusted soft shell crab, Singapore style sauce, pickled shimeji and cucumber~

~Wagyu beef burger with truffle and Cantal cheese sauce, served with a Parmesan polenta sumo chip~

~Singapore fried noodles~

~Mexican Doughnuts – sweet brioche doughnuts, rolled in cinnamon sugar and filled with butterscotch sauce, served with a Mojito sorbet~

soft shell crab from The Modern Pantry. photo source: salondeg.com

Our original plan was to find ‘Best in Taste 2011’ dish; Foie gras burger and summer truffle, designed by Pascal Aussignac, head chef at Club Gascon. We got distracted along the way though, and found ourselves at the tent of The Modern Pantry, ordering a plate of their soft shell crab. The crab itself was nice, but a bit over-battered; it was the delicious sauce and pickled garnish that really made the dish – I could have licked the plate if I wasn’t trying to look professional amongst work friends! Once again on our original mission to find the Club Gascon tent, we got sidetracked by another mouthwatering menu item at L’etranger, a restaurant serving cuisine described as French meets Japanese: Wagyu beef burger with truffle and Cantal cheese sauce, served with a Parmesan polenta sumo chip. The man who was serving the dishes spoke to us in French, which was an unexpected bonus, and I thoroughly enjoyed the burger and the cheesy polenta chip. I can’t compare it to the award-winning burger from Club Gascon, but I’m sure it would come close!

Singapore fried noodles from Yauatcha. photo source: mrfoodie.co.uk

We spied a platter of dim sum on the menu of Michelin-starred Yauatcha, a contemporary dim sum tea house, and sought out their tent. By the time we arrived they had sold out of the platter, which was disappointing but we enjoyed a tasty plate of Singapore fried noodles instead, and despite the pieces of egg I spotted and tried to ignore, the noodles were packed with flavour, a great mix of textures, and with just the right proportion of spice.

Mexican doughnuts from Asia de Cuba. photo source: pretentiouscupcake.com

The best dish of the evening was, of course, the dessert, offered by Asia de Cuba at St. Martin’s Lane hotel: Mexican doughnuts covered in cinnamon sugar with a butterscotch centre, served with Mojito sorbet. The doughnuts were hot, sweet and absolutely divine; the butterscotch centre meant they weren’t too dry, and the Mojito sorbet was a refreshing accompaniment to the deep-fried treats. We ordered a second plate of the doughnuts to share because they were just so good! In fact, just writing about them is making me crave them again; I’ll have to visit Asia de Cuba one of these days to get a Mexican doughnut fix.

Taste of London was a great opportunity to be able to sample some of the offerings from London’s top restaurants without having to spend a fortune going to each one. There were so many restaurants whose fare I didn’t get to sample, but I was really impressed with the dishes I tried, and I’d love to go back next year to sample from a few more great London foodie destinations. Stay tuned for some attempts at a few recipes I’ve marked in the recipe book I got on the evening…

Have you been to Taste of London? What dishes did you try, and how were they?

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