Published on July 14th, 2014 | by Lumy George0
Taste of London 2014
Nothing honestly gets my juices flowing more than waking up to clear blue skies, realising its either a Saturday or Sunday and that my day predominantly would be filled with eating. As I’m sure all those London food enthusiasts will appreciate, all these things very rarely occur on the same day. Waking up on Sunday the 22nd June with the sun bursting through my window, knowing I would be spending the day in Regents Park at the ‘Taste of London’ festival in partnership with Electrolux, my juices were in full effect.
Arriving at the festival, the air was a sticky warm with the only comfort coming from the rare brush against the skin of cool air. Even with the heat, there were a lot of people clearly excited about the prospect the food delights that lay beyond the entrance. Whilst I couldn’t wait to try the various new creations from some of the UK’s top chefs, I was also very interested in the ‘Electrolux secret ingredient’ master class hosted by Jeremy Pang. Having spent the whole of last year’s festival solely eating and with a home move looming on the horizon, I thought that it’d be a good opportunity to convince the Mrs that Electrolux appliances were the way forward.
On walking into the festival itself, a smile broke across my face. It was really good to see so many enthusiastic Londoners, hustling between stands. Some like myself had that lost kid in a candy store look, not knowing which way to begin. Others were focused on executing that famed skill of holding bags, eating a plate of food (some with forks), listening to the other half and weaving in and out of the traffic of others doing similar.
We started by walking around through the small producers indoor market style tent. I loved the vibe and feel in here. The energy from the various small producers excited to get their product into interested hands was fantastic. Not only this but the quality on display was equally incredible. So much thought and love was on display, be it in some fiery hot sauce, obscure flavoured cheese or delicate handmade macaroons. The walk around started to develop my appetite and it was agreed that the time had come to commence with the eating.
In all honesty, there are so many establishments worthy of visiting at taste. I tried to visit those places that, to me, held positions at the far end of my criteria spectrum. This meant they were either offering something completely new to me or were doing something I knew very well so would be able to give the most thorough of critiques. Best from the category of something I knew well was the offering from Haymarket’s ‘Chop Shop’. We tried the icon dish, pieces of hanger steak with Chop Shop house sauce and the interesting pulled pork sausage roll. Both were delightful in different unique ways. The steak, although in strips, was cooked so as to retain its moistness. The sauce on top added a herb finish which cut through the bold flavours of the steak.
In contrast the pulled pork sausage roll brought a unique twist to a familiar classic. Full of flavour, as expected from well-seasoned and slow cooked pulled pork encased by a light and delicate puff pastry. This dish was perfect for the taste festival, different, strong in flavour and a snack you’d crave more of.
Another notable standout for me were the dishes from Soho’s ‘Yauatcha’. Dim sum is a new found love of mine, so I was very interested in experiencing the modern yet authentic pleasures being served. The icon dish, offered the chance to try one each of the three dim sum available. A venison puff, wild mushroom dumpling and scallop shui mai. The first thing that caught my eye was just how delicate and yummy the three pieces looked on the plate. Dim sum has this way of exuding class yet still maintaining a sense of simplicity. All three had wonderfully distinct textures with the scallop being light and delicate in flavour but also simply melting in the mouth. The venison in the puff was able to carry a far stronger flavour, but was well balanced by the pastry.
With all the eating, time seemed to have flown by and we were forced to begin a brisk walk in order to arrive at the Electrolux Secret Ingredient class. Luckily, we were just in time and after sitting at our assigned table, we excitedly waited for celebrity chef Jeremy Pang. It lasted for roughly 30-45mins and demonstrated the various techniques one could employ in their home cooking through the use of the Electrolux CombiSteam SousVide oven. This seemingly conventional oven has an ingenious lower section which houses a SousVide vacuum. This helps infuse and intensify flavour by sucking the air out of your seasoning bag, squeezing and locking in the taste and nutrients of your ingredients. Because of the tight locked in effect, the effects of an overnight marinade can be achieved in a few hours. The oven also has a built in steamer meaning you’re able to just pop your well-seasoned and full of flavour meal into the steamer, keeping it succulent and full of its original goodness.
Jeremy also advised of a tip he uses at home, mentioning that Sunday roast cooked in the oven at 160deg and with 20% steam produces a perfectly cooked, succulent and juicy joint. He himself prepared a wonderful steamed sea bass with chilli and hoi sin dressing. It was a perfect display of just how effective the SousVide seasoning was, the fish carrying the delicate flavours locked in. Naturally this oven doesn’t come cheaply although I would say for those wanting to take their cooking to the next level, and with a little bit of spare change (well a lot of spare change) the CombiSteam SousVide oven should be considered. For me I think, every juicy meat dish or well-balanced fish dish I served my girlfriend would be my answer to her inevitable moans that such a piece of kitchen equipment was far too indulgent.
As well walked out of Regents Park for another year, I still had the big smile across my face. Yes I might have left far heavier than I arrived but isn’t that the whole point of ‘Taste’? Great chefs coming together, striving to be more imaginative than the next guy, showcasing to the public what has got them to where they are now. It brought together on one hand classic London food as well as current street food trends. As a fan of food and an ambitious home cook, this year’s festival taped opened my eyes to new dishes, restaurants and cooking techniques. Next year, make sure you get yourself down to ‘Taste of London’ in Regents Park, it’s a finger licking good day out.