Saturday, June 19, 2010

Taste of damned good decadence

Cakes from Bea's of Bloomsbury

Another year, another Taste of festival, but unlike last year when I was at Taste of Dubai this year I was back in the hometown and loving Taste of London. What was not to love? It was 6pm on a summer's day, the sun was shining and many of the city's most famous chefs conglomerated for what can justifiably be called the London foodie festival event of the year...

Taking a turn around the event with food-lover and very-well-connected-man Adrian Bevan was always going to be pretty exciting. Within five minutes of arriving, we were chatting to Roast (and we all know how much I love Roast) head chef Lawrence Keogh and British Airways's Global Food Design Executive (read head honcho) Mark Tazzioli about the challenges of creating restaurant-styled and standard cuisine at 35,000 feet.

I have to admit that I think a lot of plane food is fairly grim, even after the so-called revolution started by Emirates in the last decade. On the KLM flight back from Tanzania I didn't even bother eating the plonk that they put in front of me... But talking to those two definitely gave me a pause for thought. Of course the airline is thinking about quality but there are so many other factors - this is food that has to fit into a tray, be tilted at take-off and be able to be produced on a mass scale that's unthinkable to most restauranteurs, which also causes a problem with sourcing produce from suppliers.

If you do get a chance to try the joint efforts of these two on the London City-Shannon- New York City Route, let me know what it's like. I'm itching to combine it with a cheeky four nighter trip to New York but might have to put it on hold for a while.

I digress, Keogh was refreshingly honest about the challenges he had setting up the much-loved Roast, overcoming the problems of a fully seasonal menu and a large number of interesting facts about Borough Market (did you know that Borough Market bought the Floral Hall that Roast now lives in from Covent Garden in the 1990s for the bargain price of £1).

Having had enough of talking about food, it was high time we went out and tried some. First on the list was The Cinnamon Club where we bumped into founder and executive chef Vivek Singh. The Spiced Sea Bream went down a real treat, it's always hard to maintain the fresh and delicate flavours of the fish while ensuring that the spices come into their own - it's not hard to understand why Singh has been and continues to be one of the leading protagonists of London's Indian dining scene.

Now that Singh has his hands full with the newish Cinnamon Kitchen too, we were particularly surprised to find that he still spends quite a lot of time cooking the food in his kitchens and overseeing every aspect of the food to the finest detail. We like.

Light and spicy was all very good but our next dish was the antithesis of both these words: Tom Aiken's Foie Gras parfait with onion marmalade. I didn't get a picture, I was too busy stuffing my face with what I can only describe as lashings of foie gras. As portions go, it was huge and I'm ashamed to say that I didn't get to finish it.

The next hour passed in a whirlwind haze of tasting far more than my stomach could comfortably handle... highlights were

Bife de chorizo steak with chimichurri at Gaucho

Tuna and soba noodle salad at Hake no Sana

F**k off huge oysters at Bentley's. freshly shucked and down the gullet.

And meeting The London Foodie, Luiz, who remains a source of inspiration, information and about a million reasons why I spend the majority of my waking life eating, thinking or talking about food.

Of course, half the fun of Taste is wandering around and finding out about millions of small suppliers for all your fave things. I now have a list about a mile long of where I need to buy produce from (goodbye holiday money, hello crazy online food shopping addiction) and will be working through a few of these in future posts. Keep your eyes peeled.

The Barbados food stand

The bread shop

The bread shop


The London Foodie said...

Dear Julianna, thank you so much for the mention, I feel honoured! It was so lovely to meet you at Taste, I have now added you to my blog roll so will be checking your beautiful writing often.

Luiz @ The London Foodie

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