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Sunday 20 June 2010

A Taste Of London 2010

Something a little bit different for you hungry folks out there- on Friday, Caskstrength visited the 'Taste Of London' food event held at London's Regent's Park. Now in its seventh year and billed as the world's greatest restaurant festival, Taste of London brings together 40 of the capital's restaurants (many with Michelin Stars) as well as great chefs like Heston Blumenthal, Michel Roux Jr & Silvena Rowe for masterclasses and demonstrations. Arriving on site and you are immediately presented by an extraordinary range of quality food and drink from all around the world, so it was very lucky that we didn't fill up on snacks beforehand!

we'd decided to bring with us a bag of whiskies, including Talisker 10yo and a couple of decent Speysides to conduct our own food matching experiments, however, it turned out that we didn't need to worry about tipples, as there was a favourable showing from Auchentoshan, as well as our friends at Sipsmith London gin and Young's Ales.

When presented with such an array of gourmet cuisine it is hard to know where to start, as each restaurant had presented a sampler 3 course menu, but our first port of call was Tom's Kitchen (run by the superb Tom Aitken) for a sumptuous starter of Foie Gras parfait with grape chutney on a piece of toasted brioche.
The brilliant thing about A Taste Of London is that you can slip seemlessly between styles of cooking, which we took full advantage of, heading to the Argentinian themed Gaucho for something meaty- strips of perfectly cooked Argentine Black Angus Sirloin, which paired very nicely with the peppery notes of the Talisker.

With the sun beating down on us, a little 'between courses' gin and tonic was in order and we slipped over for a chat with Sam Goldsworthy from London's newest distillery, Sipsmith, who make small batches of a wonderfully oily and aromatic gin using a fantastic micro-still called 'Prudence'- check out their website for more details.

Palates refreshed, we went in search of some quality meat again, finding the Launceston Place stand and probably the highlight of the day- a spit-roasted Old Spot suckling pig sandwich, garnished with black summer truffles (which we suspect must be in season at the moment, as everyone was using them!) The musty aroma of the truffle paired very nicely with a little sample of Glenfarclas 40yo which I had slipped into my bag at the last minute, the heavily woody/ sherried notes also bringing out a wonderful sweetness from the suckling pig. Delicious!

Our plan was to finish up with something spicy and fortunately, 2 of the most prestigious Indian restaurants (Benares and the Colony Bar & Grill) happened to have stalls next to each other- no coincidences here though, as they are both the work of the maestro of Indian cuisine, Mr Atul Kochhar. After enjoying his truly amazing seared scallop cooked with chilli, garlic and yuzu butter we plumped for a fine finish- lamb chop with a refreshing mint chutney. I grabbed a couple of tots of Auchentoshan's wonderfully spicy Three-Wood, which worked perfectly against the heat of the lamb and the sweetness of the scallop - an absolute gem of a bottling at under £40.

Speaking of hot and spicy flavours, before we left we popped in to watch a brilliant masterclass on cooking shellfish by none other than the irrepressible 'Saturday Kitchen' regular Silvena Rowe, who has a new eastern european- influenced recipe book out. Flicking through it made us hungry all over again!!

For more info on the Taste Of London festival, click here: