Taste of London 2015

Food Festival

Yay Wednesday had arrived! So had the launch night for Taste of London. I rushed from work and quickly walked to Regents Park. It took 45 minutes to walk from Victoria. It was a gorgeous sunny summer evening, perfect weather for a food festival and a stroll through the beautiful capital. I collected my press pass and made my way to put my name down for the AEG Let’s Taste Live Cook a long. 

As I made my way to the AEG kitchen I was intrigued by the Celebrity Cruises pop up restaurant. I was asked if I was interested and if I wanted to put my name down. Oh yes I said, then stupidly realised I actually hadn’t purchased any crowns! It was noticed I had a press pass so I was invited to attend in exchange for tweets throughout my meal, excellent I said! No problem! So I’d got a space for the maiden voyage at 6.

I headed over to the Lets cook live stand and put my name down for that. I was booked in for 7. Places are free of charge and on a first-come, first-served basis. It is advisable to book early as not to miss out!

I collected my friend at the gate and we went over to board the Celebrity Cruise. Celebrity Cruises are showcasing their culinary delights from their award-winning menus and inviting guests to join them on a gastronomic journey.


The tastings comprise of three sample-sized food & beverage pairings from three of their on-board dining venues including Qsine where you are able to shake your own cocktail on an iPad. Blu – which is exclusively for Aqua class guests and Luminae which is exclusively for Suite Class guests.


First tasting was Qsine’s Signature ‘Spring’ Rolls paired with Punk IPA (Scotland)


I loved the way the spring rolls were actually served in springs, really cool! They tasted amazing too, especially the meaty one. The tiny bottle of chilli sauce gave them a perfect little kick. The beer was very fragrant and worked surprisingly well.


Next tasting was Blu’s Blackened Ahi Tuna with forbidden rice & baby Bok Choy. Paired with Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)

The tuna was absolute perfection. Stunning dish, brilliant wine pairing too. To think a few years ago this would have scared a fish-a-phobe like me is ridiculous. This was my favourite dish. Delicious!!


Final tasting was Luminae’s Lamb Loin with tangy yoghurt dressing. Paired with Chateau d’Esclans “Whispering Angel” (Provence)

Again another perfectly cooked dish. Lamb was cooked beautifully and the flavours in the yoghurt dressing were fantastic, such a flavoursome dish.

Although these were tastings the portions were still very generous, as was the alcohol. So this is incredible value. It’s amazing to think these high standard dishes are ultimately being prepared in a park!


Visitors can sign up for tastings at each session of Taste of London by visiting the reception desk at Celebrity Cruises’ Lawn Club. Space is limited so bookings will be taken on a first come first served basis.

Website: celebritycruises.co.uk

Facebook: /UKCelebrityCruises

Twitter: @CelebrityUK

Instagram: celebritycruisesuk

It was coming up to 7 so we made our way to the AEG cook a long area. Let’s Taste Live Cooking experience was a chance to cook alongside TV chef Jeremy Pang from School of Wok and discover how to take taste further. The hands-on sessions are an opportunity to try out new recipes, pick up hints, tips and techniques and test out your skills on the latest induction technology.


On the menu was Hoisin cocacola ribs, stir fried Sichuan chicken and steamed scallop siu mai.
We didn’t actually make the ribs but we did make the stir fry and dumplings, not very well but they tasted good, that’s all that matters isn’t it?!


 I really enjoy these cook a longs it’s great to be able to use top of the range hobs and utensils. I do enjoy cooking at home so it’s good to pick up tips from the chefs while they cook.

After all this food my friend and I were really full. So we decided to go for a walk about the festival. We sat down at the Mortimers Orchard Cider Bar. We were generously offers a pint of cider as I had tweeted a selfie. They are running a competition with the hashtag #silentselfie. I didn’t realise you needed headphones so I’m not actually entered but if you stop by their Silent Disco and tweet your #SilentSelfie you will be in with a chance to #win £100 gift card @RoastRestaurant!


 Mortimer’s Orchard is a crisp, refreshing cider made with 100% fresh English apple juice. I do love a cold cider in the sunshine, I usually order the fruity kind but this is gorgeous! It literally tastes like apple juice. Perfect summer tipple.

Time had flown and before we knew it the session was drawing to a close. We took the obligatory snap with the taste sign and headed to the tube.


Amazingly I did not even have to buy any crowns! Usually my husband and I buy around 100 crowns between us. You can literally make Taste as cheap or expensive as you wish. There are so many free samples and demos and cook a longs where you get to eat what you have cooked. Or you can make a list from the restaurant menus and work your way through that. Averagely a dish is 5 crowns. 1 crown = £1

So if you are looking for something to do this weekend I would highly recommend this. Whether you’re a foodie or just looking for something to do whilst in London.

For more information and tickets visit http://london.tastefestivals.com/taste-of-london-2015/

Regent’s Park, Outer Circle, London, NW1 5HA

Thank you to http://www.switchedoncomms.co.uk for the Press pass, Celebrity cruises for the complimentary meal and Mortimer’s Orchard for my complimentary pint.

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2014 – My year in restaurants

Afternoon Tea, Brunch, Dining with friends, Dining with Mum, Dining with the Children, Dining with the Husband, Food Festival, Michelin Star Restaurant, Non Michelin Restaurants, One Michelin Star, Pop Up Experience, Three Michelin Star, Two Michelin Star

2014 has been a year of amazing restaurant experiences for my husband and I.  Halfway through the year I decided to start documenting my meals on WordPress to share with fellow foodies and to remind myself of the delicious plates of food that have been sat in front of me.

January
The year started off with my birthday meal at the Midsummer house.  As we approached the restaurant, walking over the bridge, the beautiful fairy lights looked magical.  The food I encountered was also magic.  I loved this restaurant, it was very romantic and felt special, the food was incredible and a perfect destination for celebrating my special day.  I loved the BBQd beetroot.  

February
Birth month for my husband and we dined at the Ledbury for his special day.  The service was amazing we had the tasting menu.  We were actually allowed into the kitchen and got to meet Brett Graham who was very welcoming to us.  

We also got to celebrate Valentines day in style at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.

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March
I took my Mum for Mother’s Day to The Skylounge at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel – Tower of London.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the champagne and cocktails went down a treat!

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Me & my Mummy

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April
We celebrated our wedding anniversary and stayed at Penny Hill Park and we dinned in their 2 Michelin Star The Latymer.  This was an incredible evening away, the hotel upgraded our room, the spa is the best I’ve visited and to have this incredible restaurant located in the hotel made it perfection.

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Gorgeous outdoor pool at Penny Hill Park

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Beautiful roll top bath

May
We ate at the highly anticipated Fera, hubby was desperate to get a table for the opening week but had to settle for the opening fortnight.  I loved this meal.  I loved the excitement in the dining room, I loved the way Simon Rogan presented us one of our courses and I loved that it’s so much like L’Enclume (another of my favourite restaurants).

During May I also experienced the John Lewis Garden Room pop up restaurant, twice

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And attended the ‘too many chefs’ event at the Drapers Arms in aid of action against huger.  10 chefs, 10 different courses.

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I also had a catch up with a dear friend at the two Michelin star restaurant Hibiscus. We ate from the amazing value set menu and had such a lovely time before we knew it we were the last two people in the restaurant.   I loved the ‘Pork Pie’ dish.

June
We attended the best food festival London has to offer, Taste of London.  I have been to most of the London food festivals this year and in my opinion this is head and shoulders above the rest.

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I also had a fab girly night at Shaka Zulu, Camden

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I attended a meet the makers event at Bread Street Kitchen with Gonzales Byass Sherries.

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July
A fantastic Birthday Brunch with my mum at One Aldwych

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We took the kids to The Big Easy

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Had an alfresco lunch at Cha Cha Moon

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I made marvellous macarons at Jenius Social, which was really good fun, and hard work too!

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August
I visited the lovely Tamarind of Mayfair, where I had my first taste of lobster in the form of a masala and I particularly enjoyed the Papdi chaat.  This is a fantastic restaurant the staff are lovely, it’s like being in your local Indian, but they have a prestigious Michelin Star.

This was the month I also faced my fear trying Sashimi at Yashin ocean house and actually enjoyed the experience.

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One of the best and most underrated restaurant I visited this year was Launceston Place.  I was certain this would get a second Michelin star as the food and service we received certainly deserved it!

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September

I dined 100ft high in the sky with L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
London and Alyn Williams at The Westbury.

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I also experienced a kitchen takeover Glynn Purnell at Nathan’s Outlaw’s at The Capital

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October
We visited the sophisticated Alyn Williams at The Westbury, my second experience of Alyn Williams’ food but with my feet firmly on the ground.

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Booked almost a year prior to the visit we eventually visited Tom Kerridge’s famous pub The hand and flowers.  It was great and the food was fantastic particularly the desserts.

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Drakes restaurant Woking was a lovely treat and with no expectations I was very pleasantly surprised.  Great feel to the dining room and fantastic food really liked way the cheese course was presented.

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November
This was a casual month where I dined with friends.
I dined at the The Fish & Chip Shop, Islington and it definitely is the best fish and chips I’ve had.  I loved the quirky decor too.

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Another place I visited was The Remedy wine bar, a fantastic little gem. Real cosy place offering great  charcuterie and cheese boards and quality wine.   My friend and I had a fab evening here. I will definitely be revisiting in 2015 for more catch ups with friends.

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We attended Taste of winter for the first time.  Had loads of fun and I tried food from Kurobuta London and it is a restaurant I look forward to visiting in the new year.

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I also attended a SPIES event at South Place Hotel and had a fantastic magical mystery evening.

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December
For the second year running I enjoyed a festive afternoon tea with my friends at the Conrad Hotel, Westminister.  With free flowing champagne for £45 I think this is an absolute bargain! I’m sure to be back again next December.

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So that’s a round up of my year, what a great year it has been too!  Thank you to my hubby for taking me for all these incredible meals and thank you so much to all the restaurants for the incredible food and service received.

Here’s to 2015!

 

Taste of Winter 2014 

Food Festival

With a VIP pass hung round my neck I walked into the buzzing tobacco dock.  This was the opening night for Taste of Winter.  We had arrived later than anticipated as we had walked from Westminster and as we approached to cross Tower Bridge it opened for an illuminous gummie bear to pass under?! I know, Random!!!!

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Tower Bridge opening

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Gummie Bear?

Turns out it was Nicole Scherzinger promoting Candy Crush

Anyway, we headed straight for the Electrolux chefs secrets theatre hoping to get a place on the cook along and luckily there were a few spaces left! The chef hosting the cook along was Rakesh Ravindran Nair from the cinnamon club.

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Me & Rakesh Ravindran Nair

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We made lamb kebabs with mint and cucumber yoghurt.  This is something I often make at home so it was good to be instructed by a professional and to get some tips.  This was really good fun, my husband and I were quite competitive, even though we were cooking together, we both think we’re head chefs! Haha!

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The host was John Quilter, The Food Busker and he was really fun and a great motivator as he walked round poking fun at everyone’s efforts.

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Chef with Food Busker John Quilter

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Our efforts were judged and the winner was rewarded a bottle of Vodka, it wasn’t us, but we were all winners as we got to eat our delicious kebabs.

Next stop was the VIP lounge to collect our complimentary glass of champagne and a copy of The Incredible Spice Men cookery book.  The Assado stand was directly outside the lounge so we got our books signed by Cyrus Todiwala, who was a pleasure to meet.

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Me & Cyrus Todiwala

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Belly of Pork

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Ostrich Bhuna

We ordered the Belly of Pork Assado on Shredded Red Chilli Risotto and Ostrich Bhuna.  The chef even came over while we were eating to see if we were enjoying our dishes, which we thoroughly were.

Whilst walking about we saw DJ BBQ, who I recognised from Food Junkies and Alex James, one of my husbands idols, more photo opportunities!

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Alex James with Hubby

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Me & DJ BBQ

My husband went to the Hixter stand and ordered Yorkshire pudding with whipped chicken livers.

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Yorkshire pud & whipped chicken livers

Next stop was Club Gascon one of our favourites! We ordered the Duck & Dog and the Squirrel Terrine.  Chef Pascal Aussignac served the dishes, and posed for a pic.  The duck and dog was my favourite dish of the night, this restaurant frequently win best in taste award at these events, this was my winner.

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My Husband with Chef Aussignac

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Duck & Dog

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Squirrel terrine

We took our dishes into the Electrolux Taste Theatre to watch a demonstration by Atul Kochhar of Benares Restaurant.  He was cooking with Brussel sprouts.

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Atul Kochhar

To be honest we left early as time was running out and we had loads of crowns to spend!

Kurobuta was the next stand we visited, this was the most popular stand, but they had a very organised system.  So after a short wait I received my BBQ pork belly in steam buns with spicy peanut sauce and Miso Grilled Hot Wings, the food was definitely worth the wait.

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Pork Belly Bun

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Miso wings

We made a return visit to Club Gascon for the Gascon Mess, Chef Pascal was in a playful mood and greeted me through the ‘O’ hanging from his stand.

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Gascon Mess

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We were both absolutely stuffed now, so we frantically went round trying to use up the crowns on our cards but unfortunately the stalls we has visited did not have the terminal for the taste club cards.  Some were only accepting cash too.  Fortunately now you can apply online for a refund for any unused crowns, which was not possible with the paper crowns.  The card is a much better way to pay and it made the transaction quicker, rather than having to stand counting out the paper crowns.

So the time had slipped away, the session had flown by, tobacco dock is a great location although it did take a while to get to know the layout it was very cosy and really suited the winter theme.  There is so much to do and get involved in, so many food outlets and stalls to browse.  There are lots of free samples too, so it can be as expensive or as cheap as you want, it’s great for foodies or just a great night/day out.  Its a great way to meet and interact with the chefs.  Taste of London and taste of winter, as a foodie, are by far my favourite food festivals.  So I look forward again to the summer and Taste of London in Regents Park.

Taste of London 2014

Food Festival

I bagged myself tickets for the opening night to Taste of London 2014. I had been the previous year so was very excited as to what this year had in store. My husband, John, and I went straight from work, so it was a highly appreciated date night for us too.

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It was a gorgeous sunny evening. We arrived at 5:30, as it officially opened. Last year we had queued eagerly to be at the front so we could get our names down to cook along with Tom Kitchin. This year we just concentrated on the food. 50 crowns in hand and a previously highlighted menu at the ready we were ready for a Taste of London experience.

So the first stand we came across was Andre Garrett at Cliveden House. Here we sampled the Malt glazed pig cheek, creamed potato. It was delicious, such a generous portion and a great way to kick off our experience. This stall got a second visit for the Peanut butter parfait, salted caramel, raspberry. This was definitely a sharing dessert it was so rich and again the portion was huge, for us anything with peanut butter is a winner.

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Conveniently next door was Shake Shack. John has been on about this place for ages so it was great to finally get to sample their wares. Presented was a perfect looking lil’ shack burger along with a pair of cool shades and a sweat band. I do love a freebie!

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Next stop Bar Boulud. I was really excited to try the Po’ Boy Tunisienne. A huge crispy battered soft shell crab in a bun. It was a real show stopper and very popular. This was a great dish.

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Next was the dish which was later awarded Best of Taste, the Croque Gascon from Club Gascon. Crispy Barbecued foie gras, an obvious winner! I found this dish quite rich and the portion of foie gras was huge! My husband wolfed down what I couldn’t manage. Our tummies were now getting quite full so we decided to share dishes. I don’t know why we didn’t think of that sooner. This was definitely a case of our eyes were too big for our bellies.

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I wandered to Assado, whilst my Husband queued at MEATliquor. I chose the Beetroot, vegetable and coconut puff. It looked like a pasty when presented not at all how I had imagined, but it tasted great and had a very pleasing kick to it, the lady serving was very welcoming and relaxed.

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MEATliquor, this had the biggest queue of all the stalls. My Husband bought the Double bubble cheeseburger slider, I queued up later in the evening and I purchased the monkey fingers. It was a fantastic burger and I can see why there is so much hype about MEATLiquour. The monkey fingers, which were basically boneless wings in hot sauce, were great too but they’ve absolutely nailed it with their burgers. We will definitely be visiting a MEATLiquour branch very soon.

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I was flagging at this point and relaxed with a Blackberry and Elderflower Pimms.
John was still participating in the food marathon and his next dish was a Classic Summer Truffle Risotto – Parmesan, chicken jus from Tartufo. This was really tasty and very morish. The truffle bubble on the counter was very impressive. A return trip was later made to this stand for The Original L.A. Butterscotch Budino with caramel sauce and whipped cream, another stunning dish equally as delicious as the risotto.

I had my fill of savories and now wanted to have some desserts. My first choice was the Bleeding heart stand for the strawberry macaroon heart. This stand also had an impressive queue. I had seen pictures of this dish on twitter and was excited to try it. It tasted of Eton mess and it was the prettiest dessert of the night I felt happy devouring it.

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Back to shake shack to sample their famous frozen custard, Fromage Blanc Strawberry Swirl

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John checked out the Avenue stand to try the Mac & Cheese crisps: breaded, smoked tomato sauce

The last dish of the evening was Flesh & Buns Roasted pork belly mustard miso & pickled green apple (steamed bun). This was so good. Even though we were so full we could have easily eaten one each of these delicious buns.

Well we were out of crowns and our bellies were out of room and had to relieve the baby sitters.
We had a fantastic evening and saw a few famous faces as we walked around. It was great to see Michel Roux Jr greeting fans at the Le Gavroche stand, we also spotted Neil Rankin, Russell Norman and Gizzy Erskine. I am such a fan of this festival, it’s a great way for the restaurants to showcase their talented chefs and amazing dishes. I was pleased to have gone on the opening night but then jealous of all the tweets over the weekend and it made me want to return. I do love Taste of London, but now my ever expanding bucket list has expanded even further! Roll on Taste of Winter 2014.