About Time: You Discovered Taste London with BestSecretBy Angelica Malin
Hurrah, it’s here! Taste of London, the foodie extravaganza with incredible restaurants, food and wine producers, and an exciting line-up of cookery demonstrations, has finally come around.
We popped down to Taste London with BestSecret – an invite-only fashion website dedicated to the best designer clothing – who are this year’s WiFi sponsor. They are giving away £250 to spend on BestSecret to the ‘best dressed dish’ at Taste – all you have to do to win is share your photos from Taste on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with the hashtags #BestSecret and #TasteofLondon to be in a chance of winning. You can follow them on Twitter here and like them on Facebook here. They have kindly given access to the first 100 About Time readers who apply, and you can apply here.
Get yourself a map, an empty stomach, and prepare to fill up on some of the city’s finest fare. Don’t forget you need to purchase Taste Crowns – each Crown is equal to £1. And be warned: it’s like monopoly money. Look out for the ‘Icon Dish’ of each restaurant – a signature dish that made their menus famous. Here’s our guide to the best on offer at this year’s festival – happy eating, London:
Start your night at Mele e Pere’s vermouth stand; the amazing Italian trattoria in Soho is serving up Taste Specials, including a special Negroni and a sensational fizz with Prosecco, raspberry and vermouth. Warning: it’s strong. But really really good.
Theo Randall is touted as one of the best chefs in London, and with this dish we know why. The Penne Rigate is a vegetarian pasta with slow cooked violet aubergine, fresh plum tomatoes, basil and Parmigiano Reggiano – the pasta is perfectly al dente and comes with lots of freshly grated parmesan. Truly delicious.
Massis Tea is like none other. By balancing the aroma and colour of their secret loose leaf tea with the silky texture of perfectly steamed milk and flavour of choice, MASSIS tea have produced a mouth-watering experience that will leave you wanting more. At the festival they are serving special tea cocktails, their famous Tey Latte and iced teas, too. Well worth a visit; pop down and chat to their friendly owner.
Celebrity Cruises are hosting a special #LawnClub event, where throughout the festival there are one-off talks and tastings. You need to try one of their wine tasting sessions; expect 3 wines, paired with sensational dishes such as seared tuna with ‘forbidden’ rice and pak choi, and only the crispest Sauvingon Blanc. You’ll learn some basic of food and wine matching, as well as hearing about the great food and drink on offer on their exceptional cruises. Get down.
If you like a slightly unusual tipple, you have to check out The Pickle House; their owner Florence was inspired by the States to create a pickle-infused whisky, which is now sold in bars such as Hawksmoor and The Folly. Their creations are unique, and oddly moreish – try the pickly whisky in their special Bloody Mary shots with horseradish and lots of black pepper, or the slightly lighter take on a Moscow Mule with pickled whisky, ginger beer and fresh lime. Heavenly.
For Bloody Mary lovers, look no further than the Ketel One Masterclass, where you’ll learn the basics of creating a perfect Bloody Mary, including which garnishes and seasonings to add into your drink. Sessions take place hourly, check out the Taste website for more information.
7. Best Experience: Cocktail Making in VIP Lounge
If you’re lucky enough to sneak into the VIP lounge, grab yourself a jar (to be purchased at the bar) and let the guys from Diageo teach you a thing or two about cocktail making. You choose your poison, let about adding citrus and aromatic flavours, and to make your at-home cocktail creations look professional. Really fun, and the same price as buying a ready-made cocktail.
A creamy, delicious dish of pureed aubergine, with quite the chilli kick, and yogurt, this dish is the kind of thing that put Duck and Waffle on the map. The coal-charred comes with sumac and sriracha, to give it a spice hit. In fact, their whole area is super fun – they’ve even brought along their own tree. Check out the adjacent Sushi Samba for their prawn sushi, truly amazing.
Well-loved smoke restaurant Ember Yard is a big hit with meat lovers for their lamb chops, but this vegetarian dish is a surprising treat. Their asparagus, pea and Goats Cheese Croquettes with wild garlic pesto are a great way to start your experience at Taste, and are really satisfying. If you like meat, then try their salad of confit duck leg too.
Central London’s famous Aqua Kyoto knows a thing or two about flavour pairing – they recently created a floral-inspired menu that was simply to die for, and did things with edible flowers that shouldn’t even be legal. Their sushi at Taste is incredible – spicy tuna roll with ponzu jelly pearls and crispy shallots, it’s spicy, sticky, sweet and crunchy at the same time, and just works.
I have no words to describe this dish, but I’ll try anyway. The fish is so fresh, so perfectly moist and well seasoned, it literally melts in the mouth. The Kombu roasted Chilean seabass is served with a spicy shoshu ponzu sauce. In the words of my boyfriend: “it tastes very Kurobuta”. Why? I asked. Because it’s incredible, but takes just a touch naughty too. Too right.
Of course, you can’t miss Primrose Bakery, they serve the best cupcakes in London. Try the chocolate or red velvet one, you’ll be missing out if you didn’t.
An iconic dish, no two ways about it. Their salted caramel soft serve is a thing of legend, and served with honeycomb, is the perfect sweet ending to your Taste experience, we’d say.
Because two things that shouldn’t go together in a pasta dish sometimes just do. This dish is so naughty, and yet so right. Served in the lobster half shell, it’s also seriously Instagrammable. Try it alongside their take on an Eton Mess in ice cream form, and consider yourself a happy camper.
The Murgh Handi Lazeez is dish that you’ll see in most people’s hands throughout the festival, and we know why. The chicken tikka, in smoked tomato sauce with brown garlic, dried fenugreek leaves and cumin pulaoIt’s one of the tastiest curries you will ever try, and goes to show that fussy food doesn’t mean better – simple, satisfying, rich in flavour, it’s the perfect warming dish after one too many gin and tonics.
For something different, try the salmon ceviche with harissa, pomegranate and crushed savoury abadi cookies at The Palomar. It’s rather sweet, but also incredibly delicious, and not like a traditional ceviche at all. You can’t miss their Jerusalem-style polenta too, it’s famous, and for a reason.
Photos by the exceptionally talented Naomi Gabrielle Photography – see her website here
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