Sadly, with Taste of London 2020 being cancelled this year and missing the best foodie day of the year. I thought I would put together my dream Taste of London menu from dishes I’ve tried from past years so when restaurants are back in full swing, you exactly which dishes to aim for on the menu!
Starting off back in 2013 it has to be this tasty number from Bar Boulud. Somerset Hot Dog – Cheddar and Pork Sausage, Cumberland glaze and Savoy Cabbage. Cheddar in the sausage is probably my new favourite thing, paired with the savoury cabbage – wow. In a warmed brioche sweet bun, the sticky porky glaze and freshness of the salad topping had use make many appreciate sounds. No barbie is going to be the same this summer, to match up with these dogs.
Barbecoa was our first stop in 2015 with the sinful dish of – Slow Roasted Pit Beef with New York Slaw, Ketchup, Beef Dripping Crumble. Yes, it was definitely as good as it sounds. The fresh crunch from the slaw with the sticky fatty beautifully tender charred beef – wow. And those beef dripping crumble nuggets – Forget about it! (In my best fake New York accent!) Strong start.
Club Gascon served one of my favourite dishes back in 2014, Truffled Crackling Duck Egg. Super rich and sexy. Nestled on a bed of shredded crispy pastry was a perfectly cooked duck egg with a rich crown of freshly grated black truffle on top. Right at the bottom was a rich creamy mushroom sauce that just made the whole plate scream luxury and depth of flavour. A great dish, but was needed to be shared between the three of us due to its richness. Amazing.
Another meaty treat and this time from Salt Yard in the form of Iberico pork ribs with quince glaze and caramelised cauliflower purée. This was the dish I was most looking forward to getting my mitts on when checking out the menus weeks before the event. And they did not disappoint at all. Exceeded to bring me a fabulous plate of food. The purée was silk with the smoky, meaty hunks of ribs balancing on top. Dreamy.
Baptist Grill at L’Oscar in 2019 created the Cheeky Crumpets. Toasted Crumpet, Smoked Bone Marrow Butter, Shredded Beef Cheek, Bacon Crumb. An outstanding delish as well as being my favourite of the festival. Sticky and decadent, with the marrow butter and tender beef cheek, with the crisp crumb and pickled mushrooms cutting through all the richness. These were flying out and fingers crossed will feature on their main menu so you can get yours without having gone to the festival.
It wouldn’t be Taste of London without me having a bao bun. Since my first taste of those ridiculously fluffy clouds like buns, I’ve been obsessed with having more! In 2016, Chai Wu had a classy bun on their menu with Roast Duck with garlic truffle oil. The earthy depth of the truffle oil, with punchy garlic and smokey flesh, served on those oh so delicious cloud buns made for my perfect annual bao treat.
Bao – Fried Chicken Bao with Fermented Hot Sauce, Pickled Vegetables. Softer than a cloud bao bun with tender juicy chicken with an insane crispy coating. Paired with the firey fermented sauce meant we were off to a flying start in 2019.
Also in 2019, Bun House – Pig Bun (Sticky Charsiu & Yam) & Beef Bun (Brisket, Chuhou & Black Pepper). Time for some more savoury items after all those sweet treats. I went for the Beef Bun and my cousin the Pork, again soft cloud-like buns with a centre of tender beef with a slight fire from the pepper to offset the sweetness of the bun.
Probably my savoury dish of the day was from Kurobuta in 2016. Sticky Miso Grilled Aubergine with Candied Walnuts. Beyond dreamy, the combination of the meaty savouriness from the miso with the meaty aubergine, the earthy sweetness and crunch from the walnuts was just on point. One to try and fail to recreate at home!
The winner of the best dessert of the show was from Andre Garrett at Cliveden House with the beautiful Peanut Butter Parfait, Salted Caramel and Raspberry in 2014. I can so see how they won the award. Every element was completely balanced with one another. Chocolate covered popping candy with honeycomb gave a welcomed crunch to the silky smooth parfait which wasn’t too sweet from the peanut butter, as the raspberry helped cut through the richness. My only disappoint was reaching the bottom of the dish.
On the sweet note, in 2015, Barbecoa’s Salted Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Black Cherries, Sour Cherry Candy Floss. I was expecting a great cloud of candy floss but the intense cherry from the compote at the bottom, the floss and fruit leather cut through the creamy salty joy that was the peanut butter. I actually don’t think we could have left the show without trying every peanut butter dish on offer and we managed to do it in the nick of time.
In 2016, Amesta with Arzak Instruction had the stand out dish for me with Trofun ‘The Big Truffle’. Being such a chocolate fan, this was all my dreams coming true in a globe like cocoa dusted truffle. A cold chocolate sauce poured over the candy floss shell just blew my mind at the time as I couldn’t understand how the shell melted but the sauce was cold and a citrus orange hit. Melting away to heavenly to even more chocolatey goodness. One to make a trip to the restaurant to try again. Just perfect.
Berenjak – Baklava Ice Cream Sandwich in 2019. I love baklava and had to try this dessert when I saw it on the spreadsheet of menus. Not only sweet but still with delicious syrup laced pastry studded with emerald pistachio shards. With a slightly sharp ice cream running through the middle to offset the overall sweetness. With the summer days heating up, this is another dish I want to try my hand to try making at home.
You can’t go wrong with fried dishes,Pont St was one of my favourites of the whole festival and when you hear what was being served up I’m sure you can understand. Hot Cheese Balls with Pont St Quince Jelly. Yep that’s right. Hot Cheese Balls. Hot. Cheese. Balls. Crunchy, oozy, cheesy with the sweet tartness from the quince. Amaze- cheese- balls. We totally went back for seconds.
And in 2014 tried from Avenue with the beautiful Mac and Cheese Crisps – Breaded with smoked tomato sauce. Cheesy, fried goodness with the smoky tang from the tomato balancing the richness and vanished far too quickly.
Another iconic fried dish back in 2015 was from The Clove Club – Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Pine Salt. Finally tucking in and this dish did not disappoint. Juicy to almost the point of obscenity in its uber crispy jacket with a hint of alpine air. There is always a fear when strong botanical flavours are used that it will be like gnawing on a car freshener. No fear here and an iconic dish for a very good reason.
Bar Douro – “Alheira” Smoked Sausage Croquettes. Last dish of the day in 2019 (except some repeats on our way out!) And they were complete flavour bombs, again I love any croquettes and will always want to try them on the menu. With the Alheira sausage which is made of bread as well as beef and chicken, all the flavourings of paprika and garlic, makes for crazy good croquettes.
As you can see, I tend to over-order at the festival and even in my dream scenario! There are always so many delicious dishes, can’t wait now to celebrate even bigger at Taste of London 2021!
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