Still pondering whether to get yourself a ticket for this year’s Taste of London? Here’s my snapshot of what’s on offer from Thursday’s opening night. Tickets on the door are £25, slightly cheaper if you buy online. All tickets receive a £5 Crown bonus voucher when your Taste card is activated. VIP Tickets are £65 on the door and you’ll get £20 worth of crowns, a glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne and a recipe book. Kids tickets are all £10.00.
Taste of London Winter is an opportunity for restaurants in the capital, along with producers and purveyors of quality food to come together to be enjoyed by like-minded food lovers. There’s also an opportunity to take part in interactive cookery classes, live demonstrations and masterclasses so it’s a good idea to be on top of your game and plan well ahead.
For the first time, an electronic currency system is in place to buy food and drink and instead of paper crowns you load a plastic card with money at booths, strategically placed around the site, and tap a reader on each stand to pay for your purchase. If you don’t manage to spend your balance (an impossibility) there’s the opportunity to give leftover credit to charity or you can apply for a refund for unused crowns that weren’t included in your ticket price.
Electrolux UK are the headline sponsors and they’ve got some star ambassadors from Tom Kitchen to Francesco Mazzei to help out in their interactive kitchens.
The Chefs’ Secrets stand allows visitors to get hands on and cook with a leading chef. It’s an opportunity to learn the latest cooking techniques using Electrolux steam and induction products. All available on a first-come-first-served basis, so if you fancy it, go there immediately you arrive and get your name down on the list.
This year, they’ve brought a new feature to the show and Secret Ingredient features two chefs Tim Anderson (Masterchef Winner 2011) and Jeremy Pang (Head Chef at School of Wok). Tim will showcase his interest in food science and modernist cuisine and share his secret ingredient whilst Jeremy will show you how to get the most out of cooking Pan-Asian food at home.
Talking of Masterchef Winners, Ping Coombes is headlining the Malaysia Kitchen, a worldwide celebration of Malay cuisine including a Ping-led masterclass and an opportunity to pick up free recipe cards and buy the products to create the dishes at home.
Who says a BBQ is just for the summer? Not me, or Christian Stevenson AKA DJ BBQ for that matter, who was cooking up a porky storm in the basement.
So, which restaurants are showcasing their dishes this year?
Upstairs are stands for Andina, Brindisa Tapas Kitchens, Barbecoa, Benares, Club Gascon, Assado and Gaucho.
Downstairs you’ll find Ember Yard (and their chef slaving over hot coals), Kurobuta. Roti Chai, Shake Shack, 5* Action Against Hunger, Hixter and The Truscott Arms.
Here are a few dishes I chose.
Goan restaurant Assado by Cyrus Todiwala is on Stand R6 and I can thoroughly recommend his Ostrich Bhuna with strips of ostrich fillet, served with saffron pulao (8 crowns or £8).
I always try something from Club Gascon and Pascal Aussignac and this year it was the Squirrel terrine delicacy (7 crowns or £7) the dish at the rear.
And a disappointing Truffled Mac and Cheese from Ember Yard (4 crowns or £4) the flour hadn’t been cooked out and what could have been gorgeous was grainy, which was a real shame.
No trip to Taste is complete without a gin and tonic from Sipsmith (£5) and if cocktails are your thing, get inspired in the Cocktails at Home Masterclass. Thirty minute masterclasses cost a tenner and you’re shown the basic principles of cocktail making whilst preparing two using Haig Club Whisky and a gin based cocktail from Tanqueray or a vodka-based one from Ciroc.
Or a wander around the show picking up tasters along the way. Large chunks of chocolate were on offer from Green and Blacks and tortilla chips by the handful from Manomasa Chips.
I loved the Pontoon Cocktail stand, complete with Pilot and Stewardess found downstairs, serving frozen cocktails for 7 crowns.
Left pining for the slopes of Klosters? No problem Bodos Schloss has recreated a ‘Austrian ski lodge’ with ‘Heidi girls’ on hand to serve drinks alongside sauerkraut and schnitzel, and helping to steady you when the dancing begins.
Taste London Winter is being held at Tobacco Dock, inside. The nearest tube is Shadwell on the DLR and it’s a really short walk across the road and over to the Dock.