After having had the best day ever at Taste of London during summer, when I heard that there was to be a festive winter edition, I was all over it like a hot rash.
Thus when Saturday 21st November rolled around, and with my favourite people joining me for the day, it’s fair to say that my excitement levels were reaching nigh on Christmas levels.
Tobacco Dock’s in east London could not have been a better location for the event. The Victorian architecture combined with modern fittings and sprawling indoor & outdoor areas was the perfect setting for the winter instalment of the world’s greatest restaurant festival.
For the uninitiated, Taste offers up signature dishes from London’s hottest restaurants, invites you to watch top chefs put their individual twists on winter classics in live demos, get hands on with interactive masterclasses, indulge in EPIC food & drink tastings, and sample unique ingredients and festive foodie gifts amongst the markets.
It is a foodie’s dream.
Better than that, the festive edition is a foodie and Christmas nutcase’s dream. With decorations, festive music and seasonal foodie delights to add to the event’s usual repertoire, for me, it was the PERFECT day.
Michael & I and two of our nearest and dearest, Josie & Rory (whom we holiday’ed with in Sicily), arrived around midday.
First on the menu (and closest to the entrance) was Kurobuta.
Into our goblet’s went the BBQ pork belly in steamed buns with spicy peanut soy (£6.00).
And Nasu Dengaku: sticky miso grilled aubergine with candied walnuts (£4.00).
Both dishes were completely INSANE and my favourite of the day. (We went back for more later.)
Since falling in love with Kurobuta’s offerings at Taste of London I have done some internet stalking and have discovered that their Marble Arch branch is offering an amazing ‘brunch’ (12-5pm Saturday & Sunday) menu at £45 with unlimited booze and all of their signature dishes thrown in, which I will 100% be attending in the very near future.
The indoor areas offered welcomed respite from the freezing chill that had decided to set in for the first time that day.
Suitably festively decorated.
Josie & I spent a long time eyeing up the Dessert Bar.
But thought it best to stay on the savoury just a little while longer.
Champagne bars were (thankfully) aplenty and kept us fuelled throughout the afternoon.
We went in for the apple glazed pork belly, grain mustard and sage mashed potato (£6.00).
^ His & hers. I.e. swimming in gravy vs. normal human amount of gravy.
We were pretty disappointed by this dish. The pork was dry with a huge amount of unrendered fat and chewy vs. crispy crackling.
The spicy crab cake with red pepper relish (£5.00) fared much better.
Whilst the truffled macaroni cheese (£5.00) was rather average.
At this point we went on a tour of all of the independent curators. It’s fair to say that you could easily visit Taste of London, not spend a dime and leave with a full (and very happy) belly.
SO MUCH FREE FOOD.
^ Shotting champagne became a new and much-loved hobby for the day.
Every possible food item can be found, from savoury to sweet, with influences from the world over.
Bella’s Bakery was certainly very inviting.
‘Downstairs’ provided the space for live cooking demos, musicians and Q&A’s with top chefs.
A fan of the big GR, Maze Grill and, of course, a burger, we joined the snaking queue to get our greedy teeth stuck into one.
5 minutes later and we had slow cooked BBQ pulled beef brisket buns (£6.00) on the table.
As well as the soft shelled crab and snow crab slider (£7.00).
Both ‘burgers’ were unfortunately rather underwhelming. The brisket didn’t have that desired depth of smokiness to it and the relish was a little bland. I preferred the crab version for its contrast in textures but it still wasn’t much to write home about.
Pic’s Peanut Butter, however, got me all fired up again.
Pic’s PB is made using ONLY the good stuff. No added salt or palm oil. AND tastes as good as the crap stuff. Particularly when heaped on a biscuit and doused in chocolate.
Despite it still only being November, Taste succeeded in making me feel incredibly festive.
Jose & I found a sign that suited our feelings towards diets to a tee.
Whilst we stocked up on more goodies from Kurobuta, the boys checked out Snaps + Rye’s (a Danish eatery I might add)’s offering.
With the benefit of toasting themselves too.
After more free food and (lots of) bubbles guzzling, we chose Mole Taco Bar to be our next feeder of choice.
Guacamole with beetroot chips (£4.00) was an uneventful plate. I’m also certain that they were completely ordinary (and stale) tortilla chips…
The Baja fish taco, spicy slaw, tajin, casabel aioli (£7.00) wasn’t much of an improvement.
The culmination of ingredients was utterly tasteless.
However, spirits were lifted when I spotted one of my favourite chefs, Marcus Wareing, who made my day by having a good chinwag with me and letting me to take a photo of us together.
(Love you a bit.)
Naturally I then felt compelled to use our last crowns on dishes from Tredwell’s.
The truffled potato croquettes (£5.00) were delicious.
Piping hot, gooey and crunchy, they were little cheesy carby masterpieces.
The salted caramel soft serve and ginger cake crumble (£4.00) was a little too one dimensional for my personal liking (I’m all about the crunch), but the flavour combination was nice enough.
Our last stop of the day was the Laurent Perrier champagne house for a final round of bubbles.
It was beautifully decorated and the perfect place to relax our bulging tummies.
It’s a good job Michael & I didn’t have a dinner party to go to just 2 hours later…
All in all, I had an EPIC day at Taste of London. So many laughs, so much festiveness, so much champagne and delicious food.
Although the restaurant dishes are pricey, I like being able to mix & match food from lots of places that I want to visit. However, I will admit that they are overpriced for the portion size and the standard that is produced by a pop-up kitchen en masse.
Nevertheless, I will be going back in a heartbeat when summer rolls around (and making a reservation at Kurobuta imminently).