I came to know about this event online two weeks ago and it immediately piqued my interest. It’s a food fair that gathers together some of the top restaurants in London, as well as many other companies selling various food and drink. The restaurant list included big names like Duck and Waffle, Roux at Parliament Square and Theo Randall at The InterContinental.
I was disappointed when I looked up the ticket price as it was about £20 per person. Having to spend another £20-30 inside the fair on food and drink would make the event way too expensive for me. But then I found out that Taste of London was running an IG contest, so I took part in it, hoping to win a pair of tickets.
And I did!
Ecstatic at having won something for once in my life, I went to Regent’s Park on Wednesday as the tickets were only valid for the first day of the event. Before we entered the fair however, we got distracted by the pretty flowers and decided to take a few photos.
At the entrance some people were selling Crowns, the “currency” used in the fair. They recommended that each person spend about £20, but added that many people spend more than that. Each dish costs 4 – 6 Crowns (which corresponds to £4 – 6), and each restaurant also has an Icon Dish which cost 8 – 12 Crowns. We decided to buy £30 worth of Crowns for a start.
After some strategising on what to eat first, we settled on the Crab Soup by Roux at Parliament Square (4 Crowns).
The greenish blob on the stick is a mixture of butter, crab meat and spices, which we were told to stir into the soup before eating. I’m not sure if the crabs they use come from the sea, but I could definitely taste the sea in the soup, which I think comes from the roe of the crab. It’s that seafood-y taste that only shellfish can give, and it was heavenly! Amidst the top notes of seafood, I could also taste an underbelly of Balvenie whiskey. This was easily the best dish we had.
I then spotted the rainbow and quickly tried to get a few nice shots of it.
Next up was another soup, but this time a cold one. It was a seafood ceviche from Lima Floral (5 Crowns). Unfortunately, the freshness of the octopus was marred by the extreme sourness of the soup.I didn’t taste much beside the sourness of the lime. The fish also smelled a little fishy and it was slightly undercooked, though I’m not sure if that was intentional.
Then we had the Prawn Burger Primavera from Club Gascon (6 Crowns). The bun was so fluffy and soft it was like cotton candy–in a good way. The prawn patty was reminiscent of ngoh hiang and was fresh, though somewhat tasteless. They seemed to try to make up for that by adding mayo. I also felt that the bitterness of the rocket leaves overwhelmed the delicate-tasting prawn patty. Overall, though, I still enjoyed this dish.
Our fourth dish was a dessert of fresh Sicilian peach sorbet with baked white peaches, vanilla and moscato by Theo Randall (4 Crowns). This I found only so-so. My friend commented that the peach tasted like canned fruit, which I thought was a bit harsh.
Number 5 was Glenkichie Whiskey Cured Scottish Salmon with Haggis Fritter, Sea Buckthorn Puree & Fennel Salad (5 Crowns). I don’t like innards, but the Haggis Fritter was quite pleasant as it wasn’t overly gamey. I couldn’t taste any whiskey in the salmon though. I tasted like regular smoked salmon to me.
Number 6 was Ametsa Style Paella by Ametsa with Arzak Instruction (6 Crowns). It was another winner. The paella was cooked just right and each morsel was enveloped in the deliciously rich seafood stock. The squid salad was delicious as well. The grey blobs was a mayo-based sauce which I think was made with squid ink. Each mouthful of this dish seemed to transport me to a seaside resort. This was also one of our favourites of the night.
The 7th dish was Warm Salad of Confit Duck Leg, Farro, Beetroot & Salted Grape (6 Crowns). We got this only because the dish that we wanted, the Cheese Croquette with Garlic Pesto, was sold out. We were unfortunately further disappointed by this dish as it seemed like a hodgepodge of different ingredients just haphazardly thrown into a bowl. The duck was also banal and nothing to shout about. There wasn’t any continuity or connection between the various ingredients and it just failed terribly as a dish.
It was already 9.30pm by this point and we had spent 2.5h walking around eating. Stalls were all closing for the day, but my friend still wanted to try the grilled octopus, creamy potato, pimento and egg caviar from Jose Pizzaro. We had run out of Crowns and couldn’t find the person who sold them. Hoping to try our luck, we asked the stall if they accepted debit cards. They did, but only via contactless payment, which both of us didn’t have. Disappointed, we started walking away from the stall.
The guy we were talking to suddenly came running after us, “Ladies! Ladies!”, he called out. We turned round and saw him carrying a plate of food. He gave us the plate, said that we could have it and winked. We quickly thanked him, still stunned and surprised that he had even come running after us in the first place.
It was a plate of 100% Acorn fed 5J Jamon Iberico ham (6 Crowns). I guess he gave it to us as it was the last plate and they were closing. I’m no ham expert but I’ve bought prosciutto before which smelled really badly of pork, and this Iberico had none of that. It was tender and nicely fatty while not being overly salty.
I really enjoyed the evening and there were still so many things we wanted to try, even though we were pretty full by that point. Well, guess I have to save that for next year!