Monday, June 20, 2011
One of my favorite events of the summer is Taste of London. The annual food festival takes place every June in Regent’s Park, and the top restaurants in London cook up small portions of their signature dishes. Visitors traipse through the grounds eating and drinking all afternoon, and the end result is pure gastronomic bliss.
This year I was lucky enough to go to Taste of London twice. I had purchased tickets for the Sunday afternoon session a month ago, and last week I was invited to the Friday evening session with San Miguel.
It was pouring rain on Friday at Taste of London, but my group found a spot safely under the San Miguel tent and enjoyed some beers and tapas. I couldn’t stay long, as I had tickets for Zoo Lates, but I returned yesterday and was met with better weather.
I started with a jasmine and miso cured salmon with radish roots and ponzu dressing from the Maze tent. It was light and refreshing, and a great way to start the afternoon. From there I tried the pea and mint mousse with goat’s curd and pancetta from Petrus. Creamy and rich in flavor, it was another winner.
The third delicious dish of the day was an inventive chicken tikka pie with spiced berry compote. Afterwards I was in need of a break, so I made my way to the British Airways tent for a glass of Champagne. The tent was buzzing with the airline’s gold and silver card holders, and I spotted BA chairman Willie Walsh by the wine bar.
After some champagne and strawberry jellies, I was back outside and ready for more Taste of London. I visited Launceston Place for some spit roast suckling pig and black truffle oil, Barrafina for crisp fried baby squid, Asia de Cuba for Asian pesto grilled prawns with wok charred tropical fruit and crisp lotus root chips, and Yauatcha for a dim sum platter.
After all the food, I still had some “crowns” left to spend (yes, Taste of London even has its own currency). It was time for dessert. I started with an amaretto tiramisu from L’Anima, and finished with an excellent Cru Virunga chocolate crackle pot with raspberries from Le Caprice. Despite being decadent, it was surprisingly light and refreshing.
After another quick Champagne stop at the BA tent, I used the last of my crowns to buy a big loaf of banana bread from one of the many non-restaurant vendors at Taste of London. I left the festival feeling like I would never be hungry again, but I think by next year I will be ready to try more small bites from London’s best restaurants.