On Friday 18th June I was lucky enough to scrounge a press pass from a friend in media to accompany her to Taste of London.
Taste of London for me is like going to the Oscars for a film buff…I tend to walk around going “OMG! There’s so-and-so! And there’s so-and-so! Ooh! Drool…”. I get a little star-struck.
Which would explain why when I hit the Le Gavroche stand (not intending to eat anything there, as I’d made a list of the places I wanted to try!) and Michel Roux Jr asked me “Are you ladies being served?”, I responded in my attempt at a nonchalant voice “No, actually, I’m still waiting. I’ll have the beef Niçoise.” Uh oh, instead of sounding nonchalant, I sounded like one of those people who talks down their nose at the waiter. I tried to make up for it with my biggest smile but I think the damage was already done. Oops. I have to say, Michel is even more beautiful in the flesh and I found myself wondering how a man of his age, who was pretty much born in a kitchen, has such a smooth and gorgeous complexion! Michel, if you’re reading this (a serious possibility, of course), tell us your secret! You could make a fortune!
Sadly Le Gavroche’s daube de Boeuf à la Niçoise (braised beef with olives) served with polenta was a HUGE let down, as was my friend’s white bean soup with parsley and Hereford snails. Even I can put more flavour into my polenta and the beef was nice, but nothing special, just a stew really with some punchy olives. I was tempted to go back and complain to the man himself but I, obviously, didn’t have the balls.
A far more successful dish was from Dinings, an unusually named Japanese restaurant in Marylebone which has recently had a lot of great press. I went for the sea bass carpaccio with ponzu jelly and fresh truffle shavings and it was incredible. I love the deeply savoury and salty flavours of Japanese food anyway and this had such a fantastic intense flavour. Dinings is definitely on my next to try list. I poached this picture from the website as I didn’t have my camera with me. (Is that going to get me arrested?).
Next up was The Modern Pantry where I sampled their famous dish of garlicky snails with chorizo mash. I do feel a bit funny about eating snails but it was really the chorizo mash that drew me to it. However, the snails had obviously been marinated in red wine for a LONG time as they were juicy and rich and yummy and mmm… Also on the list now.
Luckily, a press pass comes with its perks and one of these was being able to wangle a free pass to the Laurent Perrier Champagne tasting in association with Daylesford Organic. The was hosted by ‘food and drink expert and BBC Radio 2 presenter’ Nigel Barden. It was lovely to try four of the different Laurent Perrier Champagnes (Brut, Cuvée Rosé Brut, Ultra Brut, Brut Millésimé 2000) all matched with Daylesford food. The most memorable pairing was an incredible Daylesford cheddar fondue with ‘freshly picked green market garden vegetables’ ( I think these were actually pea tops) instead of bread to dip in, paired with Laurent-Perrier Brut Millésimé 2000. I thought this was a great way of making a fondue a summery event and, surprisingly, the Champagne wasn’t murdered by all the cheese.
And so ends Taste of London for another year. I will be back again next year to spend yet another fortune on tiny dishes of fantastic food.