Everything We Ate At Taste of London
Christ we ate too much. I’d always scrolled through (slightly drooling) other people’s snaps from Taste of London, but I’d never actually been able to attend. So when Cafe Pacifico (that place in Covent Garden who make award-winning margaritas and which I’ll be reviewing later this summer) got in touch to see if I wanted a pair of Taste of London tickets (for those of you who don’t know, it’s a food festival featuring dishes from some of the city’s best eateries) so I could check out their stand, I jumped at the chance to be able to get in and eat as much as humanly possible across the festival. So, this is everything we ate and drank at the festival.
We figured it was a good idea to get something to eat before we grabbed a few drinks, so we went for three dishes from the list of things I wanted to try I’d made before we arrived (yes, I am that person who read all of the menus in advance and made a plan!) First: Club Gascon‘s Lobster Doughnuts. Now, when I was putting my ‘hit list’ together I typically focused on restaurants I really want to eat in before moving on to see what else looked delicious. London has a good track record for savoury doughnuts stuffed with luxury ingredients, but these I must say were rather disappointing. A little fatty, I think out of the whole stack only one had a hint of lobster about them. There was a good dipping mayo, though, but overall it was a disappointing start.
Things looked up as we checked out James Cochran EC3 for their Jamaican Buttermilk Jerk Chicken with Scotch Bonnet Jam. While I think the whole jerk thing could have been played up a little more (I like jerk that punches you in the face!) but the chicken was stunningly crisp on the outside, and succulent and juicy on the inside. And wow did the scotch bonnet pack a punch, in the best possible way! I’m still excited to check out the restaurant at some point.
Sadly going back to a dish that was a bit of a let down, I was really surprised not to enjoy the Sweet Potato Fries with plum Ketchup from Bao. Now, I’ll tell anyone who will listen that Bao in Fitzrovia is one of the best places I’ve ever eaten at. Also, I have no doubt that if we’d had the steamed bun they had on offer at Taste of London it would have been one of the best things we’d eaten there. However, the fries were slightly underdone, the fat from the frying soaked the bottom layer, and these were also lacking in the delicious plum ketchup to lift them. A bit of a let down.
Things were looking up, however, when we arrived at our hosts Cafe Pacifico. They mixed us up two of their award winning margaritas. I’m a sucker for any frozen watermelon drink, and this one had a beautiful, subtle flavour pumped with a fantastic hit of tequila. One of the best examples of such I’ve ever had. The Passion Fruit margarita was even better; fresh and zingy, and on the back of these I’ve already booked a table!
Three of our favourite dishes came next. We shared Bombay Bustle’s beautifully fragrant lamb biryani (which has now been bumped up the ‘to visit’ list to somewhere near the top of all Indian restaurants) but then I only got to steal a bite of J’s next dish, which was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Neither of us had ever heard of Asia de Cuba, a hotel restaurant in Covent Garden, and nore did we have any of their dishes on our hit list. However, it took his fancy as we passed and this coffee rubbed steak was divine, and the impossibly smooth miso wasabi mash and charred cherry tomato only lifted it to a whole new level. Even looking at the picture now has both of our mouths watering. This is actually a dish on their main menu, and we’ve earmarked a trip there to eat it again for a special occasion (one of the really great things about Taste of London is it is a chance to sample some rather pricy restaurants without fully committing to a meal!)
The other very best thing we at were the Truffle Shu Mai dumplings from Duddell’s. A total bargain at only £4 for two (probably the cheapest thing I had at the festival) I don’t think words can actually subscribe how good they were – and that is rather embarrassing for a food writer to admit!So tender with a mouthwatering seafood centre, you could smell the beautiful perfume of the truffle as they were carried out of the kitchen, but without it being overpowering at all. I know I’m sounding a bit like a broken record now, but this, along with the also impossibly good Cointreau Pork we also need to go to Duddell’s asap.
I was basically full, so after flying the flag for excellent English, Kentish sparkling wine from Hush Heath, who had all of their wines available by the glass where I went for their classic pink sparkling wine (though regular Instagram followers will know how utterly, truly obsessed I am with their Nannette’s rose) I finished on dessert. There was a couple of directions I could have gone in, but I was very, very happy with the Pistachio and Chocolate soft serve from Sartoria. Granted, I was not quite sure where the chocolate was, but the beautiful, rich, nutty gelato topped with meringue, amaretto and a salted pistachio drizzle was one of the best ice creams I’ve had in a very long time. It made for the perfect end to everything I ate!
However, the there was still another hour left of the festival once we were stuffed full of food! While Hush Heath make my favourite English rose, the crown for my favourite French pink wine has to go to Mirabeau, a brand that has been making waves on social media recently (with the help of my friend Claire’s stunning photography!), I’ve been a fan of for quite a few years and I’ve not yet had a chance to introduce you to properly! Their wine is fresh, clear and fruity, and just screams summer. A glass of it in hand just makes everything seem a hell of a lot sunnier! They had a beautiful tent set up where we spent the rest of the afternoon sipping wine, swapping stories and talking about all the delicious things we’d eaten that afternoon.
Oh, and we also spent it cooling down with their fantastic rose popsicles they had made for the festival (though, I’m rather jealous of the USA only wine cans they’ve also launched this summer!) Honestly, Taste of London was a fantastic experience and it was a great way to get to know so many places to eat in an afternoon. Be sure that this is not the first post like this you’ll see; I’m sure it will become a fixture in my summer diary!