Taste of London Winter 2014

So I’ve been quite lucky recently. I entered a competition on the lovely Rachel Hosie’s blog (Handbags and Cupcakes) and won 2 tickets via Electrolux to the Taste of London Winter at the Tobacco Dock in East London.

I went to the Taste of London in Regent’s Park in the summer and had the most amazing time and got to eat some incredible food. So I was really looking forward to this.

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I went on Thursday evening after work on their opening night. The venue is a strange one, you’re inside but outside so it was a little chilly, but we were lucky that it wasn’t raining. Although, I’m sure the people who went on Friday weren’t so lucky with the weather.

DSC_0864I loved the sparkliness of it all! It really made me feel like winter had arrived and Christmas was around the corner.

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And would you believe it – we bumped into the one and only Michel Roux Jnr just as we entered the building! We were a little star struck and I felt a bit paparazzi stalkerish, snapping away on my DSLR camera, but it was a great start to the evening for sure.IMG_4481

We also got to see twice Michelin starred chef Atul Kochhar at the Electrolux Taste Theatre. I actually went to his restaurant Benares back in the summer for my birthday and had a wonderful dinner with my friends.IMG_4496

Then the eating began…! There weren’t as many food stands as the summer event, but there was plenty to choose from for sure. I mainly tried to go to the restaurants I haven’t eaten at yet, with a few favourites thrown in too.

We started off at Assado by Cyrus Todiwala where we tried the Chickpea Xacutti in Pao – flavoursome Goan chickpea curry served in a bun.DSC_0860

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We went to Ember Yard to try their creamy Truffled Mac and Cheese, and boy was it good! I loved the crumb on top, it rounded the texture and flavour off so well. I could really do with some of this right now…DSC_0866

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Although I’ve been to Kurobuta a couple of times now, my friend was yet to try their incredible Nasu Dengaku (miso grilled aubergine) so it obviously had to be done! Love the candied walnuts served with it.DSC_0865

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The 5* Action Against Hunger stand is always a must – 5 top chefs each put together gourmet Haute Dogs in 5 varieties to please everyone’s tastes. And to top it off, all the proceeds go to charity. I even ended up buyng raffle tickets from them – you never know eh!DSC_0883

I went for the Haute Dog designed by Alfred Prasad of Tamarind restaurant – the ‘vada pav’ which was a spiced potato ‘hotdog’ with chilli coconut chutney, mint chutney and red onions.IMG_4485

My friend went for the hotdog designed by Jason Atherton with an apple puree, onions, crispy pancetta and Gruyere.IMG_4486

I am yet to go to Shake Shack, so I wanted to try this to see what the fuss was about. My friend had the Cheeseburger and I had the Lil’ Shroom Burger which was actually rather nice.
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We also tried their Pumpkin Pie flavoured frozen custard… this was interesting. The consistency was certainly different, much thicker, but I kind of liked it. The crunch from the crumbled biscuits was definitely welcomed.IMG_4487

I’ve heard good things about Gaucho before, but the only thing I could eat from there was the dessert – the Dulce de leche cheesecake. DSC_0859

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The Gü Garden of Temptation was surprisingly one of my favourite things from Taste of London. We got to see the lovely Head Chef Fred do a demonstration, making a Lemon & Chestnut dessert which was delicious. I loved the set up too – like a mini winter wonderland. I also got to have a go on their swing!IMG_4502

Can you believe these baubles are made out of purely chocolate? Every single detail of it! There were a few things around the room just like it, all so impressive.IMG_4494

I was asked to help ‘assist’ in piping the first layer for this dessert, which was a little embarrassing, but no-one else was volunteering to go up so I thought, why not!IMG_4504

Andina was the last restaurant I ended up going to. I wanted to try their Peruvian Pumpkin doughnuts, served with purple maize honey. Pumpkin seemed to be the running theme, and actually I was pleasantly surprised by the lightness of the doughnuts. Although, the honey sauce may have been a bit too heavily spiced for my liking. After that I could not eat another bite!DSC_0935

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Asda Extra Special had a lovely warm and cosy demonstration area set up too, which had a lot of pretty food on display.IMG_4501I kind of have a weakness for palmiers, and when they’re shaped as Christmas trees, how can you resist?

DSC_0903It was really nice to discover the B-fresh  cold pressed juice stand. These types of events are great places to sample food from all sorts of producers and it’s where I like to give new brands and businesses a try. I sampled the orange and carrot juice and fell in love with it’s sharpness.

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Loved their variety of flavours as well. I’ve started making my own smoothies at home but I’m not brave enough to do full-on healthy green smoothies just yet, I really don’t know how people do it.IMG_4497

The Meringue Girls had a stand there of course, bright and full of creative displays. I always end up being drawn to them!
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In summary, it was a very different experience from the summer Taste of London and definitely had a different vibe. This is great for people who like to drink – there was alcohol everywhere! In fact, that was the only thing I was slightly disappointed about, just because I found it very hard to find anyone selling non-alcoholic drinks (other than that one juice stand & a few coffee stands).

I liked how all the stalls had standard food allergy and ingredient signage, which I’m sure was very helpful for those with special dietary requirements.

The new top-up card system certainly sped up the ordering process, but the downside to this was when it came to sharing dishes with friends. It was harder to split the cost, especially if you don’t want to have a ‘joint account’. My friend and I made it work because we pretty much shared everything.

Overall, I preferred the summer event, but still had a lovely evening, which is nicely summed up by these photos 🙂
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