Saturday, 19 June 2010

Tasty London

What a great way to spend a London Summer evening, attending the showcase of the London foodie scene at Taste of London... if only the weather had cooperated!  But the food, drinks, atmosphere and all the friendly people Aussie_Foodie and I met more than made up for the rain.

We kick started our gourmet evening with one of the most spectacular dishes of the night, the seared wagyu sushi with sauteed foie gras, finished with a touch of wasabi and drizzled with a sweet soy reduction - an inspired execution of ingredients by Dinings.

Next up was L'Anima's smoked purple aubergine and burrata with basil and chilli jam.  Chef Francesco Mazzei  was at front of house briefly and was happy to answer a couple of questions from us.  The aubergine was lightly smoked and was complimented beautifully by the creaminess of the cheese, with a tang from the jam.  If the food kept up this standard, we were in for a night full of treats!

Ever since attending a wine tasting course a number of years ago I've wanted to try the bubbles from Nyetimber.  Touted as the a rival to Champagne, due to the similar geology and soils of the traditional region, we would have happily bought a bottle had it not been for the ridiculous restaurant-sized mark-ups of the prices.  So we settled for a (plastic - ick) glass of the 2001 Classic CuvĂ©e which was delightful with hints of toast and honey.

Club Gascon's Pimm's Foie Gras was a surprising combination of England and France.  The quality of foie gras was unsurpassed and melted with a delicious creaminess.  Combined with the sweetness of the Pimms soaked fruit and foam, this was another highlight of the day... though I don't think it will surpass the the traditional matching of Sauternes.

Earlier in the day Aussie_Foodie had been tweeting with Tom Aikens, from the Michelin-starred Tom Aikens Restaurant - he recommended the lamb... the 7-hour confit Daylesford lamb with balsamic onions and mash.

Melt in the mouth delicious, the sweetness of the onions was a beautiful match, though I'm not convinced by the mash foam... I would have preferred something more buttery.  Mind you, it didn't hurt that Tom came out to meet us in person and that (BoyWonder look away now) he's an absolute cutie!

A friend from work recommended I visit Trishna London - the original Mumbai restaurant is reknowned for it's seafood, so I couldn't go past their Seafood Biryani served with cucumber black pepper raita.  I wasn't previously aware of the restaurant so read up on it during the day and also discovered that they tweet; I was expecting a high standard of ingredients and innovation, but I still wasn't prepared for the utter deliciousness of this dish.  The seafood was perfectly tender, lightly spiced, complementing the natural flavours rather than overpowering.  I'm hoping to blog more fully on the restaurant soon, as this was my top dish of the day, and I'm looking forward to exploring their menu further.

We stopped for a glass of wine and some Colchester Oysters, reminding me that it had been far too long since I'd visited The Company Shed, another blog post coming up perhaps?  Then a stop at Glorious Foods to try their soups, the Sunny Thai Chicken was light, refreshing and full of flavour.

Leave Aussie_Foodie alone for two minutes, and I find her doing "laybacks" across the bar getting free shots!  

Since I was obviously behind on the drinks, we headed to try the Rekorderlig cider...

... kicking back on a deck-chair - in the rain - with a refreshing glass of the strawberry and lime.  It's a hard life, but somebody's got to do it!

Whipped goats cheese with pickled beetroot and Regents Park honey from Odette's was light and fluffy and well balanced by the stickiness of the honey, the crunch of a few well placed nuts and the light pickling of the beetroot.  Another dish maintaining the high standard of the day up.

And in keeping with the, unplanned, goats cheese theme of the day (not that I'm complaining!), was the Salt Yard's Courgette flowers stuffed with goats cheese and drizzled with honey.  In a light tempura batter, the full-flavoured goats cheese was lifted by the sweetness of the honey, our only complaint was that we had to share... now how to convince BoyWonder that we should grow courgettes next year?

It wasn't all amazing.  The rendang from Awana was disappointing.  While the beef was beautifully tender from it's slow-cooking, it just didn't showcase anything spectacular; perhaps my expectations as an Aussie, with our wide exposure to Malaysian cuisine, were too high.  Perhaps I just chose the wrong dish, but for now I'll be sticking with my local, less glamourous, but so far more authentic and delicious Kaya House.

There were a number different suppliers showcasing their products.  One of the first we tried was Laverstoke Park Farm; their buffalo mozzarella was the creamiest I've tried in a long time and the buffalo chilli biltong and dry beef sausage have already been broken into this morning.  The two James' from Field & Flower raise, hang for four weeks and deliver boxed traditional British grass-fed cattle - the colour and marbling of the meat looked fantastic, and I've got some mince for BoyWonder to make into burgers and barbeque which I'll blog on that later to let you know how it tastes.  Lowland whisky producer Auchentoshan won me over as I'm not a fan of the peatiness of Highland whiskys... I thought it an inspired decision to bring home a bottle for BoyWonder to appease him for my shopping, and the tasks I've set for him.

My main regret of the day was not getting to try Trinity's pigs trotters on toasted pain polaine with fried quail's eggs, sauce gribiche and crackling which was awarded Best Plate.  It was my "not to be missed" dish of the day, but we simply ran out of time (gutted)... nor did we try any of the desserts.  Four hours is just not enough time, but I don't think my wallet would appreciate a second day!

Cheers, KangaRue

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