Sunday 21 June 2009

Taste of London, Regent's Park

Kingfish Marinated in Carrot & Passionfruit with Avocado & Salad - Pied a Terre

Taste of London is a restaurant festival, held in Regent's Park over a weekend. Restaurateurs and chefs have stalls selling sample dishes in exchange for crowns, (£1 for 2) the festival currency.

This year's festival was met with some controversy in the blogging world. The PR company for Taste contacted a few bloggers and asked to advertise on our sites, but didn't offer any tickets to the event in return until asked specifically, and flat-out refused any requests for crowns. It seemd the PR company just wanted some free advertising and it didn't sit well. Instead, Taste Fringe was created by Susan over at Guardian's Word of Mouth blog. So, armed with a press badge, I set out to eat as much as I could lay my grubby mitts on whilst posting my thoughts on Twitter.

Some highlights:

7 Hour Braised Daylesford Organic Shoulder of Lamb with Balsamic Onions & Mash - Tom's Kitchen

The lamb was very tender and was a deeply savoury dish when combined with the balsamic onions. The mash was very light, almost like a foam. Excellent texture contrasts. It wasn't a particularly summery dish though, but I'm happy to eat stews in the blazing sunshine.

Seared & Marinated Scottish Salmon with a Jalepeno, Grapefruit, Fennel & Coriander Salad - Boxwood Cafe

The salmon tasted as though it was marinated in dill, and while seared on the outside it was raw in the middle. This was a pretty big portion, but it was so light and fresh that it didn't dent the appetite too much. The fennel worked really well with the fish, as did the chunks of juicy, slightly spicy grapefruit.

Lamb Cutlet with Ajo Blanco - Fino

Fino's lamb cutlets were tender enough for your teeth to sink in like butter. They were juicy and perfectly cooked.

Celeriac Baked in Ash with Hazelnuts, Summer Truffle & a Kromeski of Wild Boar - The Ledbury

When we approached The Ledbury, we were invited to sit down at a prettily made table and was served this. The commis chef, Tom, explained to us that only two portions can be made out of a whole celeriac. This was so delicious; the celeriac reminded me of a Chinese stew, when you braise daikon with meat - it was juicy, ever so slightly bitter, yet balanced with sweetness. The hazelnuts went really well with it, as it did with the Kromeski (a parcel of meat in the Polish style), which was rich, slightly crispy and unctuous inside.

Strawberry & Hibiscus Bellini with a Warm Vanilla & Strawberry Doughnut - The Ledbury

As if I needed any further confirmation that The Ledbury is at the top of my wishlist, we were served this bellini. We actually giggled when we took the first sip - it was the best dessert or even drink I've had in a long time. The foam tastes intensely of strawberries and of summer, whilst the slightly floral notes of hibiscus resonates throughout the drink. The little doughnut served warm was cute, though a little superfluous in my eyes as it was all about that drink. The best dish of the day.

And the not-so-highlights:

Penne with tomato sauce and pancetta (I think - I missed the menu listing for this) - L'Anima

This was a bit disappointing - pretty stodgy and tasted like a pretty basic tomato sauce with some tough-as-old-boots pancetta thrown in. We were impressed with their fettucine with wild mushrooms and summer trufffle though.

Foie Gras with Sweet Soy Roll (on the right) - Dinings

I only tried to foie gras and sweet soy roll so I can't really comment on the rest, but I found the flavour of foie gras with the texture of rice to be quite an unpleasant combination.

Lamb Sweetbreads & Lamb Tongue with Parsley, Mint & Pearl Barley - Hereford Road

I found this to be the most disappointing dish. The parsley was overwhelming and the sweetbreads and tongue were a little bland. The pearl barley didn't add much to the mix and I didn't detect any mint.

I'm glad I came to Taste London, even though it was very last minute - I leapt out of bed at 12pm on Sunday to get there for 2pm. It was a beautifully sunny day and there was a good atmosphere to the festival. However, I think it would be an extremely expensive day out; tickets are at £25 and most of the dishes were at 6 - 14 crowns (£3 - £7). There were a few 'icon' dishes that weighed in at a whopping 24 crowns (£12), including this wild mushroom and summer truffle fettucine. If you consider the level of cooking on offer, this may not seem much but I would balk at the £25 ticket price.

My full set of photos with descriptions can be viewed here.

You can also have a look at the full set of Twitter updates by clicking here.


Christie @ Fig & Cherry said...

Sounds fun Lizzie! I went to taste of Sydney a few months back and am surprised to see that some of the dishes were similar (the cocktail and donut and the capaccio fish).

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great day had at #tastefringe! I agree with your thoughts on the pricing.

theundergroundrestaurant said...

I noticed you can't spell hazelnut either. I don't know why, but i have a blockage about this word.
Wanted to go on Sunday, but I drank too many daiquiris on Saturday night and was physically incapable of getting out of bed all day.

Hollow Legs said...

How strange - I spelt it once correctly, and then again incorrectly. Thanks for pointing it out. I should know better really, my mum's name is Hazel!

Ollie said...

It was a great day, wasn't it? Those kremeski were divine - I was thrilled to try that dish. I've had foie gras with sushi once before: it's a truly horrifying combination.

Helen said...

Yup, very similar posts - no surprises there then! I am still giggling about the pervy panda. We must visit the ledbury for a blow out asap.

Anonymous said...

Ledbury is indeed at the top of its game right now. I had recently revisted the place and it is cooking to as high as a standard as when I went last year.

p/s eating with plastic plates and forks must be a right b*tch though...

youngandfoodish said...

L'Anima ran out of paccheri at the Taste fest. So chef Francesco Mazzei substituted penne in his pasta with n'duja and ricotta. That's why you didn't see penne on the program. N'duja, I've learned only by googling it, is a creamy sausage and, like Mazzei, is of Calabrese origin.

Hollow Legs said...

Christie - That is very strange that they'd have the same dishes - I guess these are the kind easy to do on a large scale production?

eatlikeagirl - Sounds as though you had a good one too!

Ollie - I'm glad you agree, I've read some good reviews about that combination at Dinings. Bleurgh.

Young... - I thought that might be the case. Penne is also my least favourite shape. It was very disappointing.

Helen - yeah defo. So, when we win the lottery?

genuiness - Not really. I go to festivals every year and I can handle eating off paper plates for 4 days on the trot.