Sunday, 29 June 2008

Taste Festival 2008 - what we ate!

I already posted a little bit about my visit to the Taste Festival on 21 June 2008, but have finally found the time to write about what we ate whilst we were there. This blog was supposed to be a blog of my recipes, but now it seems to be turning more and more into any kind of food experience! Still, its all good and fuels my love of food. As I said earlier, the Taste Festival was a chance for chefs from all around London to showcase their food, and for foodies (like me) to taste it all. Each resturarant had three dishes on offer, and there were about 40 restaurants in total. My girlfriend and I sampled about nine different dishes in total. We could have stayed and had more, but unfortunately we ran out of time, stomach space and money.

The first thing I tried was from Trinity, in Clapham. They are AA restaurant of the year for 2007 and 2008 and you can read more about it on the website. The dish I ate was "Pigs trotters with crackling on pain poilane with sauce gribiche" and as you can see there is also some green puree which I think was pea. I had never eaten pigs trotters before, and it was delicious. The only way I can describe it is as the essence of pig concentrated. Very tasty.


The next stand we called on was Fortnum & Mason, and I am sure most people will have heard of them before. The delight you can see below is twice baked goats cheese souffle with fig and onion marmalade. This was my girlfriends choice, she is crazy about goats cheese in any shape or form, and unsurprisingly she loved this dish. I had a little nibble, and I thought the onion marmalade was top notch.

Now this is a proper posh meal, as served on the Orient Express. It was a lamb nicoise salad, a bit of a twist on the classic tuna nicoise I think. The lamb was loin of Farmer Sharps Herdwick lamb, and then served with beans, olives, sun dried tomatoes, quails eggs (just like normal hens eggs but smaller if you ask me), mint, olives, and I think the purple things are some kind of rare breed of potato. I am a big fan of lamb, it is my favourite meat ever - so juicy and flavourful.

Next stop on the foodie tour around Regents Park was the stand from Broad Stripe Butchers. The only reason we stopped there was to enter a competition for a top chef to come and cook for you and eight friends at home, but then we were given a free sample of the sausages in a cute mini hot dog bun, complete with mustard and a flag as well. A good example of a tasty sausage! Worth buying if you ever find them in a shop near you. I believe they do mail order meat as well.

Now onto the pies - this one is from Bumpkin, a sort of old fashioned traditional country style food. This pie was packed with chicken, leek and bacon in a very creamy sauce. Just the right amount of puff pastry on the top, and no pastry sides balanced it out very well.

This next dish was probably my favourite of the whole day, just because of the novelty of its presentation, and because it was so tasty and unusual. As you can see, it looks very much like a Mr Whippy ice cream cone, so much so that I was tucking into it and a girl asked me where I got it from, thinking it was ice cream. As she was a Muslim, I was a little embarassed to tell her it was roast middle pork risotto topped with creamy apple sauce and some pork crackling, from Launceston Place. It was delicious, the apple sauce, despite its appearance, was not too sweet, and went very well with the creamy risotto beneath it. The crackling was not as good as that which came with the pigs trotters, but did make the dish look like a 99 ice cream.
Also from Launceston Place, due to their "Buy One, Get One Free" offer was smoked salmon with watercress. Nothing too amazing about this one you may think, but it was smoked right in front of me before serving. The dish below came with a lid on, and just before it was served, some wood chip smoke was puffed into the tub before it was sealed again. This gave the fresh salmon a very rich smokiness, both in flavour and even more so in the aroma. The food from Launceston Place was excellent, and I spoke to the chef as we were planning on going there the following day for Sunday lunch, he said he was not working in the restaurant as he was at the festival, but his sous chef would look after us well.

Nearly at the end of the Taste journey now, we got a taste of India from Cafe Spice Namaste in the form of Xacutti de cabrito - Andrew Sharps' renaissance herdwick mutton curry made using twenty two ingredients and served with pilao rice. Apparently this is the worlds most complicated curry, as it has so many ingredients, but it did not taste complicated, all the flavours were well balanced and the mutton was incredibly tender too. I suppose you could not really pick out the individual spice flavours, but that for me was the good thing about this dish - it was such a good balance of flavours.

I had read about this last dish in the Metro paper the day before we went to the festival, so I wanted to try it. The staff of the paper had some of the chefs from the festival in their staff canteen cooking up some food for them, and this dish by Aldo Zilli sold out the quickest. It was a lobster ravioli with shellfish cream sauce. A great dish to finish the day with, and I can see why it sold out so quickly, filling, comforting, warm and tasty Italian food.

So that is all my tastes from the taste festival. You may be thinking, what about the sweet things?! Well, I am not so bothered about puddings but my lady did try some chocolate brownies and some ice cream from a couple of places, and I obviously had a little bite. But I forgot to take any pictures of it!

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1 comment:

Ruth Elkin said...

What fantastic food to be able to taste and enjoy! I really wanted to go to one of these but dates and locations didn't work. Glad to hear how it all went though!