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Nothing screams summer more than Taste of London at Regents Park in 26 degrees, sipping blush rosè and tasting the cities most famous dishes. And nothing says middle class more than what I just said. If you still don’t know about Taste then you’ve obviously been living under an anti-foodie rock these past few years and you need to crawl back out.
Twice a year, London’s best restaurants come together to create a foodie Mecca in Regents Park (June) and Tobacco Docks (November) – the summer edition is by far the greatest event of the year and back in June I had the pleasure of attending the holy grail of all opening nights.
A Laurent Perrier champagne reception is how all evenings should start. Always. No matter what. We donned our floral headbands courtesy of Maison Des Fleurs and enjoyed nibbles served up by José Pizarro and his team of angels.
Taste is hard to navigate once you’ve had a few drinks and if you don’t have a real plan of what you want to try it’s easy to get stuck in one place or go round in circles. Our plan was to just make our way round as quickly as possible to try as many dishes as we could. And that we did…
Squid Ink Arancini @ Balls & Company.
In my experience it’s not often that the first thing you put in your gob ends up being one of the favourites but this was a gem. Crispy, tasty, hot balls of thick, black, sticky, goopy, deliciousness, topped with aioli and a chorizo crumb. Unexpectedly sensational.
Slow Cooked Octopus @ Ember Yard.
Prawn and padrón pepper pinchos, heritage tomatoes & crispy chickpeas. Hit the spot this did. Over and over.
Esquites @ Corazon.
Grilled sweetcorn, epazote mayo, Lancashire cheese & guajillo chili. Ever since I had a similar version at Tacombi in New York I’ve been replicating it at home and this version absolutely blew me away. This is a serious case of the underdog coming out on top. Don’t underestimate the vegetarian option.
Pork Skin Jhal Muri @ Temper.
Crispy pork skin, puffed rice, tamarind, lime, chilli, garam masala & fresh herbs came together to make the boujiest of bar snacks to accompany my blush rosè. Gutted we didn’t try the goat taco now I’ve heard how great it was.
Chifa Chicharrones @ Señor Ceviche.
Slow cooked, crispy pork belly with smoked sweet potato purée. Up there with one of my favourites. This was absolutely divine.
Fettuccino Cacio @ Sartoria.
The mother of all pasta dishes. Simple but oh so effective. Perfectly cooked fettuccini, the finest Italian cheese and huge shavings of truffle. YES.
Huevo Enhojado & Jamόn Ibérico y su Waffle @ Ametsa with Arzak Instruction.
Translating to Egg in the leaf and Ibérico ham with waffle, these were the two weirdest dishes we tried at Taste. It’s not often I dislike something I eat but this was just plain odd.
Buttermilk fried chicken & Lamb Lamb Lamb @ M Restaurants.
Crispy, Oaty, coated, juicy chicken with a bread emulsion, pickles & firecracker sauce followed by all the lamb… Pressed lamb shoulder, lamb rib, lamb glaze, pumpkin purée, smoked potato & crispy shallots. YAS. M Restaurants is seriously one to watch.
Soft Shell Crab with Papaya Salad & Thai Red Curry @ Chai Wu.
Chai Wu is consistently delicious and ALWAYS has the friendliest staff. That duck curry with pineapple.. praise the lord!
Duck & Waffle @ Duck & Waffle Local.
To my absolute dismay the Duck Burger was sold out by the time we made our way over to Duck & Waffle and I’m still kicking myself about it. The man himself made up for it though and you can’t got wrong with a classic; Confit duck leg, fried duck egg & mustard maple syrup. Dan Doherty I love you.
Salted Caramel Popcorn Cheesecake by Rosie Birkett.
Like I said, navigating round Tate isn’t easy after a few drinks and even more so when you forget what you came to try. By the time I remembered that the thing I was most excited for still hadn’t been ticked off the list, it was too late.
My annual stuffed courgette flower usually comes from Salt Yard at Taste but they’ve been absent for the last couple of years, giving Ember Yard the limelight and I’ve been gutted about it. Laura Jackson’s Deep-fried courgette flowers with ricotta, honey & mint from the Taste Makers of London stand was going to be a fine replacement.
It seems by this point though, that all the most sought after dishes were running out and I was going to have to have to suck it up. I did the childlike equivalent of drowning my sorrows and compensated by stuffing my face with one of my Instagram idol’s cheesecake. It did the job…
Spelt Risotto with Lobster bisque & Calamnsi Lemon, Passion Fruit Meringue @ Les 110 de Taillevent.
Both of these dishes were amazing but I was in a serious food coma by the time I got to this stage of the evening and eating a cheesecake, followed by lobster bisque, followed by lemon meringue was not a good idea. At all. Gluttony in it’s highest form and I quite literally had to roll myself out of there.
That being said, Taste wouldn’t be Taste if I didn’t pop by to see my favourites at La Di Da Sweet Treats for Unicorn Oreos & Syringe It Yourself Cupcakes (my terminology not theirs).
As always my all time favourite outing did not disappoint. Until next year Taste…