On a cold, threatening to rain, grey London evening we queued with the masses to enter a Taste of London in Regents Park. We were on a mission, Kanga_Rue and I, we were a hunting. Two things on our hunt for Kanga: Trinity's pig trotter on toasted pain polaine, fried quail eggs, sauce gribiche and pork crackling, and the Nyetimber bubbles. For me: Tom Aitkins 7 hour lamb, and Club Gascon's Pimm's foie gras (yes my love of foie gras continues.)
As the gates opened, so did the heavens, and we dashed inside to start what would be a trip for the taste buds all over the globe.
First foodie stop was Dinings. I have a love of Japanese food that spans the Pacific Ocean, and this first plate of the evening just enhanced it. A dish of seared wagyu sushi with sauteed foie gras, finished with a touch of wasabi and drizzled with a sweet soy reduction. It exploded in my mouth, and then settled in to the most glorious velvety sweetness.
We moved on from here, staying under the canopy and delightfully dry, to L'Anima for the smoked purple aubergine and burrata with basil and chilli jam. The aubergine (or eggplant to my Aussie roots) was smooth, the burrata yummy and the chilli jam and basil cut through everything to make an amazing mouthful. Chef Francesco Mazzei was hanging out in front of house, and kindly answered our questions and explained his dish.
But, we must not tarry, as we only have 4 short hours to hold the nosebag in place.
Onwards and upwards! Next stop the Auchentoshan Whiskey booth, for a couple of aged single malts, and very refreshing mix of 12 year old with soda water and orange. Wold have been perfect if the temperature was a few degrees higher!
We whizz by the Laverstoke Park Farm stand - tasting their marvellous buffalo milk mozzarella, assorted biltongs (what is there not to love about dried meat?), organic ales and the most luscious toffee icecream imaginable.
Now we get to put a tick next to one of Kanga's aims, the Nyetimber champagne stand. The south of England shares similar geology and soils to the Champagne region, the chalk seam found there reappearing from under the Channel across the Sussex and Hampshire downlands. We tasted the 2005 Classic Cuvee, which was a bright golden hue, and filled my mouth and nose with vanilla and citrus fruits fill the nose.
After that lovely little respite, we moved onto Club Gascon to tick one of my boxes, with the Pimm's Foie Gras Plancha. A rich, evil, glorious piece of foie gras, oh so naughtily floating in a little pool of Pimms's complete with strawberries and cucumber (yuck), with a summer cloud of foam floating above. If this is English Summer on a plate, I am staying here.
Right next door, was my other tick, Tom's Kitchen. I had tweeted Tom earlier in the asking for his recommendation - the lamb, or the foie gras, and was advised in no uncertain terms to go the lamb. Tom was onsite on Friday night, and was kind enough to come out front and meet us. He is so much cuter in real life, and I am now more than slightly besotted. But to the lamb. It was moist and meaty, with silky caramalised onions and a potato foam (rather than mash). This is a highlight of the event for me. So much so that I went and bought a shoulder of lamb from the boys at Allens of Mayfair and am cooking it Tom's way as I type.
We were on a run, and going for 3 in a row the kitchen next door was recommended to us by a colleague of Kanga's...Trishna's. We had a gorgeous plate of seafood biryani with cucumber and black pepper raita. The rice was perfectly cooked, the seafood fresh and plentiful, and the raita pulled it all together to make a happy place in our bellies.
Time for a drink again, and we headed to the Chapel Down Winery - a glass of bubbles for me, and a pinot for Kanga. The display of Colchester Oysters was too much for me, having not had an oyster in ohhhh 2 weeks? 2 with lemon and Tabasco, and another 2 with red wine and shallot vinaigrette slid down our throats with little sighs of pleasure. Ours not theirs.
Glorious Foods were giving out belly warmer samples (much needed as it was pissing down by this stage). The curry chicken soup, and the roasted squash soup were both very delicious. We signed the petition to get them into Waitrose...fingers crossed guys!
Kanga left me to break the seal, so I went to have another drink. The boys from Floridita London were more than happy to have my custom and I had something boozey and gorgeous...then I had to have a layback, which kinda wiped the memory of what I had...it was minty...I think. The rum was awesome. Hic.
Kanga came back with another of our wants (but not essentials) and the continuation of my infatuation with goats cheese. Whipped goats cheese with pickled beetroot and Regents Park honey from Odette's was light and fluffy and well with the honey cutting through the slight tartness of the beetroot. Tasted as good as it looked.
Kanga was thirsty again, so we headed to the Rekorderlig tent for a strawberry and lime cider, sitting on deck chairs out of the rain. We didn't drink much...really.
We stopped off on our way somewhere and tried some ales and bitters, including Blue Moon from North America, as I have said for years, Americans can make good beer, they just never drink it themselves.
The goats cheese stuffed zucchini flowers, sorry courgettes, were very tasty, and carried on our love affair of goats cheese (I wonder if you could do goats cheese and foie gras together....maybe not). This tasty beastie was from Salt Yard, and having now realised it is not far from my office, a late night dinner will be held there very soon.
Things were starting to get hazy, so we stopped for a few more drinks, two different stands, two different toffee vodkas....hazey hazey...maybe another layback or two...
I got myself together to make a few last minute buys as the stalls were now closing - some lovely garlicky goodness, a few chucks of meat and another stiff drink saw us out the doors and stumbling home.
My only regret is we didn't have more time, as we did not even manage to hit half of the stalls, Kanaga didn't get her trotters and I was still able to walk unassisted home from the DLR (well Hussyband carried the bags, but I mostly carried myself.) Kanga got a cab.