I only had two hours to hot foot it around Taste of London this year before jumping on a train to Nottingham and my aim was to try as many dishes as I could in a short amount of time.
I was on a mission – the tube journey on the way consisted of revising the programme and circling every restaurant that I wanted to visit and every dish that I wanted to try. There were quite a few and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to try them all due to time, money and stomach restraints (I did however skip breakfast so I could fit a little more in). To me, there didn’t seem much point in choosing dishes from restaurants that I have either visited before or that are easily accessible to me in terms of price.
I chose to ignore the four lip-synching Malaysian dancers that greeted punters and headded straight to The Grill at The Dorchester where I ordered Pan roasted scallop with sardine pie and a cauliflower puree. A dude in the queue next to me seemed slightly shocked by the portion size and claimed that he wanted to opt for something ‘that fills the hole’ – he missed out. The sardine pie resembled a sausage roll but as you took the first bite, the sharpness of the sardines was surprising – but good!
Next stop – Toms Kitchen to purchase his 7 hour confit lamb with balsamic onions and mash. The lamb was impossibly tender and the ‘mash’ was of a foam consistency. I can’t make my mind up about it. A couple of bites of the balsamic onions made it to the bin as they were slightly too tangy and took away some of the wonderful flavours of the lamb.
I was on my way to find L’Anima when I stumbled upon the food theatre, a great big open tent where different chefs showcase their talent during the course of the weekend. Francesco Mazzei himself was cooking as I walked past so I stood and watched before forgetting where I was going – I never made it to L’Anima.
Le Gavroche received my next 10 crowns. When you arrive at Taste, you need to purchase crowns, which enable you to ‘purchase’ your food and drink. 2 crowns = £1. I ordered Daube de boeuf with olives and soft polenta. It was slightly cold but the beef dissolved as soon as it hit my tongue and the polenta added a welcome roughness to the dish. I didn’t get any taste of olives but that was a blessing in disguise because i’m not a fan.
You can wander around stalls selling fresh produce, sample testers and even play games such as ‘wheel of fortune’ at the Whole Foods stall and ‘hook a duck’ on the Good Natured stall before knocking back a glass of bubbly and heading to the next restaurant.
I was on a quest to satisfy my sweet tooth and was a little disappointed by the lack of desserts on the menu. I spotted Beas of Bloomsbury and yes I do find her pecan pie hard to resist, but remember my objective? So the pudding rather than the name of the next restaurant drew me to spend my last crowns of the day there. I’m a sucker for custard tart (the best in the world can be bought from Birds Bakeries in the East Midlands) so I opted for the Baked egg custard tart with raisin syrup from Rhodes 24. The custard was smooth and silky and it more than satisfied my needs but I would be disappointed to find it on my plate in a fancy restaurant.
Two hours literally flew by and I loved every second of it. Next year I’ll have to look at rearranging fathers day celebrations or get my dad down to Taste for the day.
Oh yea, and before I leave you I just wanted to say thank you to the man who laughed at me for forgetting to take the lens cap off my camera. You made me laugh.
Taste of London
17-20 June 2010