Last weekend can only be described as the biggest foodie event in my calendar; Taste of London. I attended on both Friday and Saturday and had a whale of a time – I was lucky enough to meet one of my favourite celebrity chefs and even entered a BBQ competition, find out how I got on below!
Taste of London is my version of Glastonbury. Except without the tents. And music. And fields. But you still get to wear wellies, and the weather is still true to form!
Friday was the second day of Taste of London and attending was my early birthday treat to Cupcake Chanelle (titled so because she bakes cupcakes – obviously!). We were a bit apprehensive because of the weather reports but we knew that the British weather wasn’t going to stop us. We had a plan. The last time we had visited we had enjoyed oysters, champagne and rum (not all at once) so that was on our must do list – anything else would come naturally as it took our fancy.
Bustling through the crowds we bought our crowns – the currency used at Taste. One book of 20 crowns (in 2 crown denominations) cost £10. This currency could then be used to purchase food, drinks, shopping etc. we went for two books each.
Here are my highlights from an event dubbed as The World’s Greatest Restaurant Festival.
I was surprised at the amount of vendors selling olive oil. There must have been at least 10 different brands promoting – all offering a different freebie when you bought or entered a competition. Free tea towel here, free bag when you purchased there. Discount when you made multiple purchases. We sampled a LOT of olive oil (it’s all good for you and healthy I kept telling myself as I dunked bread chunks in a wide variety of oil types). One thing I did learn – Bertolli and Napolina aren’t the only brands that exist! Next time you go to a local supermarket check out the likes of Sparta and Esti. You’ll be amazed!
Best Sweet Tooth Moment
Definitely Lindt. They had an impressive stand, endless samples and great offers on chocolate. For the first time in my life I tried Wasabi dark chocolate – a new creation from Lindt and sea salt. Both were really good. I was completely sold on the Wasabi and bought three bars. Lindt were running an offer to buy two bars of chocolate and get the third one free. The cost of this offer was£4 or 8 crowns.
Best Food Stand
The restaurants showcasing were brilliant. There were many cuisines one may not have the opportunity to try had they not been at Taste of London. Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant The Hinds Head were serving gastro favourites. Michelin star restaurant Benares were serving chicken tikka pie. There was something for all. We made a beeline for Argentinian Steak Mogul’s Gaucho for grilled thin skirt steak. A bit later in the day we stopped off at Alan Yau’s Busaba Eathai (tastecard restaurant in Covent Garden) and road testing Jamie Oliver’s latest venture Barbecoa. After all of that we were pretty stuffed.
Our highlight of the day was definitely meeting Michel Roux Jr. Swoon! We were so starstruck when we saw Mr Roux Jr himself in his chef whites (double swoon). He was graciously having photos taken with fans and signing copies of his books. We looked through the titles and I asked him which one he could suggest for everyday use. He pointed out the books he recommended (he spoke to me!!!) and Chanelle and I bought the same book; Cooking with the Master Chef. He signed our books and we had a lovely photo taken with him.
Weber BBQ Challenge
I found out last week that I had been selected as a finalist to take part in a BBQ challenge sponsored by Weber. I vaguely remembered entering the competition where I had to state in less than 50 words what makes me the ultimate BBQ champion. I wish I could remember what my entry was – clearly it was convincing because next thing I knew I was preparing a menu of what I planned to cook for the professional judges on the day! First prize was a Weber BBQ. Second prize was a £150 gift card for Gaucho and third prize was a selection of BBQ accessories. I already knew that I wanted to win the second prize. I had nowhere to put a BBQ and LOVE Gaucho. It was a toughie – I had to do well enough to win second prize but not blow away the judges to scoop first!
On the day I attended and did my best – not even thinking I could possibly win against a bunch of men – especially when one of them had come equipped with a suitcase of tools to use (as a friend later put it “all the gear but no idea”). We had a wide selection of ingredients readily available and we could use as much or as little as we wanted. We just needed to prepare a main and a side dish for the judges. The only dishes I pre-planned was jerk pork belly and a fennel vinaigrette salad. I competed against seven other men – and I came…… *drum roll please*
I won second prize just as I had wanted! A £150 gift voucher for Gaucho – that’s a whole lotta meat!
It was a fantastic event to have been a part of, did you go to Taste of London Festival? Or are you planning to go to Taste of Edinburgh? Let us know in the comments section below!