If you are a foodie, then this event would have been the gastronomical highlight of your year. Our resident food writer, Syeshia Sweeney, attended the recently concluded Taste of London festival which took place at the Tobacco Dock in London between 17-20 November. So, what did she think of it?
I’ve been attending Taste for the last couple of years and although the summer event in Regent’s Park has a fun buzz to it, the winter edition at Tobacco Dock has a certain Christmassy whimsical magic to it and feels so much busier as it’s indoors. One year, the Gu dessert stand had a swing in the middle of a magical snow garden (well at least that’s how I remember it) and I couldn’t resist a photograph.
If you’ve never been before, what should you expect? Well, plenty of different types of food and drink samples for a start, as well as hundreds of products for sale; everything from mulled cider to caviar, hot dogs and vegan friendly brownies. There are brands you may have come across before and many others that you will certainly be happy to be introduced to. Restaurants such as Hix and Mews of Mayfair were all offering meals for less than a tenner and there were sessions such as cocktail master classes and Christmas dinner tutorials if you wanted to try your hand.
Some of the chefs from the Good Food Show London, (which concluded the previous week) were in attendance: Michelin starred chef Tom Kerridge and Gizzi Erskine, along with Marcus Wareing, Angela Hartnett to name a few. I was thrilled when Marcus was kind enough to take a photo with us, which in my eyes means I’m practically best friends with a MasterChef judge!
As soon as you arrive you are greeted by helpful staff, live performances and DJs providing music to keep you in great spirits. You are also given a little booklet with all of the Taste vendors, chefs and restaurants listed with a very helpful map so you can find their locations and hunt the best deals!
Most dishes were priced at around £6 but there were also “icon dishes” on each menu which were unique to the event so prices varied. Action Against Hunger offered a “Shop & Drop” area to deposit heavy bags, which could be pick up on the way home. Proceeds were donated to their charity. Guilt-free shopping! Action Against Hunger also had a burger stall which smelled delicious.
So what did I try? Apart from tasting various high quality cheese and meats (Lomos and Wild Boar Chorizo). We fancied eating at Bubbledogs but there was a queue so we ventured into the restaurant section. Bubbledogs was offering a Santa’s Sausage with stuffing, cranberry, chutney and crispy parsnips. In the restaurant section we found Tom’s Kitchen, Mole Taco Bar, Oldroyd London and Tredwell’s. I decided to try food from the Taco Bar which I had sampled previously at Taste in the summer and really enjoyed. Mole Taco Bar’s menu included Adobo Spare Ribs, Short Rib Empanada, Crispy Pork Belly Taco and Icon Dish: Cobia Fish and Chorizo Taco. The Cobia and Chorizo Taco was quite dry and the black sauce had an interesting taste that is really difficult to describe but it was almost like a dark fish sauce. It wasn’t to my taste. The pork belly was flavoursome but also a little dry. In the summer I had a really tender moist Oxtail filling in my Taco and it was lovely. I didn’t find the Kurobuta stand but their octopus donuts sounded very intriguing.
The Hix menu sounded exciting (Goat Curry, Crab Sliders, Squash with Goat’s Curd) so after some exploring and purchasing upstairs (and a glass of prosecco of course!) we began to head downstairs to see what else was on offer. Newton’s Appl Fizzics is a really refreshing but healthier version of Appletizer. It’s literally apple (you know, the fruit not false flavouring) and sparkling water and you can tell. It has a clear, honest taste and there is no “E” letter in their name because there are no E numbers in their products. They were also offering cute gift boxes and hampers for Christmas gifts.
Seeds of Change were offering bowls of hot Spirali pasta with their tomato sauce and spinach. Very tasty with Italian herbs.
I was really impressed with Letter BOX Hamper who sell mini hampers in boxes that are small and thin enough to fit through your letterbox, such a great gift idea for foodies! There are differently prepared boxes or you can customise your own.
I was also taken by the stall selling Bonne Maman, you know the Madeline cakes that come individually wrapped? They were also selling Petite Tartlets which were crunchy with a caramel filling, it’s like a round Twix bar, yum!
I also bought some Serbian caviar by Adamas Caviar UK (who on earth do I think I am?), the coloured tin boxes were so cute and I got a little taster. Yes, it is fishy and a little salty so it is best served sparingly on a blini.
I sought out the dairy-free, gluten free bakery section. They had everything from brownies, to macaroons, to cupcakes and pastries. All very reasonably priced.
Oh and how could I forget? The most stylish bottle designs of the Disaranno bottles. Boxes of small ones or one large bottle make for perfect Christmas gifts!
Taste had it all figured out as they were offering a complementary shuttle service to the local rail stations in their BMWi3 (electric) vehicles. As tempting as that sounded, we dodged the queues and went home by foot to try our goodies.
Thank you Taste of London for your hospitality! See you again next year.
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