Article
16 comments

Launceston Place at Taste of London

Taste of London

I was determined to have some suckling pig at Taste of London. I tried Fino first, but the queue was outrageous, so I fled. I just hate queueing and will go to the restaurant instead. I was keen to try Launceston Place, so popped over to their stand, and there I spied a little piggy, a very small one on a rotisserie.

Suckling Pig! I was excited. Except there wasn’t any to be had, except that tiny one on a spit. Come back in an hour they said. I spied a little table nearby and in the interim had some very good goose egg and chips, the goose egg was beaten and runny, and poured on top of the shoestring chips. It was lovely.

Taste of London

Time for dessert ahead of mains. I couldn’t resist the strawberries with champagne and clotted cream. I even had a second one. This may explain why I was starting to confuse myself and poor Tristan Welch, not being able to comprehend crown amounts, or how many I needed to pay him. He said with humour, “I don’t know, I am a chef”, I replied, confused and laughing “I am clearly not a mathematitian”. I wonder if I would have been as patient, with myself. I suspect that I wouldn’t have been.

Taste of London

It was now 20 minutes to suckling pig, and people were gathering. I was determined to have a piece of this critter so made my intentions known. Timings were confused – one told me 20 minutes, another told me 5. 5 proved to be true, and I watched Tristan Welch pop back to the kitchen, and remove the piggy from his oven home.

Taste of London

Excited I waited, then watched them run past! Wielding their tiny suckling pig on the spit, they ran around chanting “Last pig from Launceston Place!”. I got nervous! This was the smallest suckling pig that I have ever seen, perhaps a third of the size of the one that we had at St John. I ran after them, and followed them back, watched them remove it from the spit, carve it, slice the truffle, and then received my piggy portion.

Taste of London

Encased in brioche, the juicy suckling pig and wafer thin slices of truffle were heavenly. Occasional snaps of crackling, and hefty with aroma, this was all too brief an indulgence. It was delicious.

Perfect festival food, the turnaround was quick, the flavours immense, and I wanted more of everything. Next step will be to check out the restaurant. And to roast a suckling pig of my own.

http://www.launcestonplace-restaurant.co.uk/

Article
4 comments

Tips for Taste of London

So, you’re off to Taste of London. 4 hours and some of Londons finest restaurants, best producers, and some very fine booze. Just how will you manage?! Here’s my top tips for your trip and the ones that I plan to visit when I hit there later today again.

Trinity London

Taste of London

Head to Trinity for the dish of the festival, selected on Thursday by a group of judges – Pigs Trotters on Toasted Pain Poilane, Fried Quail Egg, Sauce Gribiche and Crackling. A terrific dish, and one that I have sampled at the restaurant, I couldn’t resist it again. Trinity were selling the crackling at £1 a stick on Thursday, and on the quiestest day of the festival, sold 1,000 sticks. You know you’ve got to go.

Taste of London

Taste of London

I also tried their Chargrilled Asparagus, Fried Pheasants Egg and Truffled Homemade Ricotta. Well, it wouldn’t be Trinity if there wasn’t truffle in there, and this was fantastic. I loved the gentle texture and earthy aromas of the truffled ricotta, and dipped the lime green asparagus sticks in there, dragging them through the pheasant yolk before devouring. Delicious! I finished up with a dessert of Homemade Vanilla Yoghurt, English Cherries & Almond Crumb. Creamy and light, fruity with the nutty crumb to finish, it would make a great breakfast too. While you’re there, get Adam to sign a copy of his great new book “How to Eat In”.

Taste of London

L’Anima

Next door is Francesco Mazzei’s L’Anima, one of Londons finest Italian restaurants. I tried the Sardinian Fregola with Seafood Bottarga and Lemon. There were some clams in there too, and this delicious dish spoke of the sea and the fields near it. It’s not easy to find a fregola dish in London, and this is superb, so do try it. There was also a Smoked Purple Aubergine with Burrata with Basil & Chilli Jam which looked terrific and which I plan to try later today.

Taste of London

Taste of London

Action Against Hunger Pop-Up

Actiona Against Hunger are running a pop-up restaurant at Taste. SImon Rogan from L’Enclume was there Thursday, and yesterday I sampled the delights of Valentine Warner, a gorgeous Grilled Roe Deer Sandwich with Tarragon Dressing. It was excellent, the tender delicious warm roe deer encased in toasted sourdough with the fragrant tarragon enveloping. Do check it out today when Paul Merrett will be cooking.

Taste of London

Taste of London
Taste of Barbados

Tuna with lentils, panacotta with plantain, and it’s FREE! Also lovely cocktails for only 6 crowns a pop. The chefs have been flown over from some of the finest restaurants Barbados has to offer. It’s a must.

Taste of London

Taste of London

Chapel Down Wines & Oysters

Pop over to Chapel Down and try one of their terrific English wines, I love the sparkling, and have some of the oysters. It’s something I do at every Taste of London, I recommend you do too!

Taste of London

Taste of London

Nyetimber

With possibly the prettiest stand, and some great English sparkling wine to boot, save some of your crowns for a glass of award winning Nyetimber. A little more expensive, but worth every penny. Try the Forman’s London Cure Salmon with it, a light smoked salmon, which almost has a sashimi like quality to it. Very good indeed.

Taste of London

Taste of London

Sipsmith

Artisan distillery Sipsmith from Hammersmith in London, are dishing up G&T’s made with their fantastic gin. It’s a great product, a great drink, and they’re great fun to boot.Try their vodka too.

O:TU Sauvignon Blanc

From Marlborough, O:TU has a Sauvignon Blanc and a single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. It’s got lots of character and body and stands apart from the more familiar limey Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough. Buy it by the glass, or the carafe, or order some to be delivered home.

Clonakilty Black Pudding

Promise me that you will visit Clonakilty Pudding folks to try their gorgeous black and white puddings and the Irish ispíní that I write about all the time. They’re fantastic and use recipes that have been handed down through the generations.

Bea’s Of Bloomsbury

I had a bite of a friends Bea’s of Bloomsbury’s cupcake, and well, it’s not your common or garden cupcake, but a flavoursome moist cake with a beautiful fruity cream topping. I loved it, and I will be going back and checking out her shop in Bloomsbury.

Taste of London

David’s Chilli Oil

My favourite chilli oil, David sells only this. It’s not cheap at £10 a jar but it’s amazing, and it lasts forever. His recipe is based on his childhood eating experiences in Asia. The umami hit comes from black beans – whatever he has done with them! Try it.

Isle of Wight Garlic Farm

Fresh garlic, elephant garlic, lots of garlic products. It’s great! I have a bag of fresh garlic now. I am sure that my colleagues will thank me for it on Monday.

Marylebone Village Fayre - Famer's Market

Ones I didn’t try but plan to are: Le Gavroche, Odettes, Salt Yard, Fino & Launceston Place. More info on those soon.

Have fun!

Article
16 comments

Taste of London

Taste of London

I quite like festivals, they’re lots of fun. An opportunity to socialise, try new things, and, come the summer, that might even involve sunshine. This was the case yesterday with Taste of London, an annual food festival that takes place in Regent’s Park and showcases some of the best food that London has to offer. Added to that there’s tastings, talks and demonstrations.

It runs over four days, Thursday to Sunday. Sunday was the day we went, and fortunately for us, had the best weather. We got down there for the opening at 12pm, determined to get the most out of the day. It wasn’t so busy at this point, and almost the first thing I saw was the Aitkens brothers walking purposefully towards the stage, decked out in their whites & aprons, preparing for a demonstration.

Aitkens brothers demonstration at Taste of London

We lingered a while, but we were keen to do some wine tasting. Unfortunately, we weren’t alone, there was already an enormous queue when we got down there, so we decided to grab a bite, a glass of wine and see what else was on offer. At this point it was incredibly busy (it had sold out), so a glass of Chapel Down Rosé Brut was most welcome. I am a very big fan of Chapel Down Wines, and am quite partial to their Chapel Down Bacchus, so I was really happy to get a chance to chat to them and taste some of their other wines, at 6 crowns or £3 a glass, an absolute bargain. My favourites on that lovely summers day were the sparkling wines: the Vintage Brut and the Rosé Brut.

Having missed one wine tasting, we made sure we were early for the Spanish one at 2pm. It was quite interesting but a little quick for my liking, I would have preferred to have a bit more time. I know a bit about wine, but am by no means an expert, so, it was a pleasant hour. Mind, I didn’t use the spittoon as much as I should, or atall. I didn’t see anyone else using it either!

Wine Tasting at Taste London

Next up was a talk and book signing by Jay Rayner, the Observer food critic. He was very entertaining and had some tips for us amateurs. His favourite places to eat in London include one of my favourites New Tayyabs in Whitechapel (I really need to blog about this place – it’s also one of my favourites!) and one I really want to try Aiden Byrne at the Dorchester, especially after tasting some of his food at Taste, more on that later.

Jay Rayner at Taste of London

It was definitely time for some food by now. The choice was immense. It was very difficult! I chose to sample the Warm Salad of English Peas, Flaked Salt Cod and Young Shoots from Arbutus, the Squid Salad with Passionfruit Dressing from Benares, the Meen Kozhambu (a kingfish curry with rice and green beans) from Tamarind, the Beetroot Gazpacho with Avocado Sorbet and Vodka Jelly from Aiden Byrne at the Dorchester and the Spit Roast Belly Pork from Le Cafe Anglais. Worry not for my health or appetitie, these were small portions priced at £4-5 and spread out over a couple of hours. All of it was good but the beetroot gazpacho and spit roast pork belly were superb. The beetroot gazpacho was smooth, rich and fruity, the vodka jelly cut right through it and the avocado sorbet was a treat, I was genuinely upset when it was over. The spit roast pork belly was the best that I have had. Le Café Anglais and Aiden Byrne at the Dorchester are now next on my list.

Spit Roast Pork Belly at Taste of London

What else? Live music including a very entertaining and very summery jazz band. Some cocktail competitions, cookery classes. The culinary glitterati were out in force, I spotted Atul Kochar, Gary Rhodes and Aiden Byrne.

There was so much on and so much to taste, it was impossible to do it all. What did I miss? Arthur Potts-Dawson from Acorn House gave one of the afternoon sessions, I would have loved to try the parmesan custards with anchovy toast from Le Cafe Anglais and everything on Aiden Byrne’s menu. The Canteen hog  roast was very tempting as was the Cinnanmon Club stand. I could list the things I wish I had tried all day, but there was only five hours and one stomach.

What’s the verdict? All in all a very pleasant day, with lots of opportunities to taste great food from great restaurants and new & old food products from producers, small scale and larger, at the producers market. Added to this the tastings, classes and demonstrations, it’s just impossible to choose what to do, five hours goes very quickly! We had lots of fun. It’s definitely worthwhile and I’ll go again.

Upcoming Taste experiences: Taste of Bath – 3-6 July, Taste of Birmingham – 10-13 July, Taste of Cork – 27-29 June.

More pictures of Taste of London on Flickr.