Taste Of London Winter Food Festival 2014

Two weeks ago I received and email informing me that I was a runner up for a competition on Time Out! I had won a pair of tickets to Taste of London Winter food festival, just missing out on the VIP tickets. I was so excited as I simply adore food and absolutely loved the first food festival (Gran Moretti Food Tour) I went to a couple months ago. 2014 has so far been a very lucky year for me for competitions!

Taste of London hold food festivals throughout the year and the Winter edition was bound to be Christmassy. The Tobacco Dock in London was transformed in to a glittery winter wonderland filled with all kinds of foodie delights. I didn't know where to start when I arrived! When we arrived it was already 1pm so the majority of the cooking demonstration were booked up. Luckily we managed to book an afternoon slot for a demonstration at the Electrolux Secret Ingredient room with chef Jeremy Pang.

With over two floors of rooms to explore filled with exhibitors offering samples and products, live music, fire pit demonstrations, several various restaurants offering their best dishes and interactive master classes, there was too much to do to fit in to one day! On the train up, we planned what restaurants stands and dishes we wanted to try and I headed to my first choice, 5* Action Against Hunger.

The Valentine Warner 5 Star Haute Dog from 5* Action Against Hunger

Dedicated to ending child hunger throughout the world, the humanitarian organisation 5* Action Against Hunger, teamed up with various chefs to create their own version of the 5 Star Haute Dog. I chose the Valentine Warner; an alpine inspired hot dog with cheese sauce, apple sauce, diced gherkins, crispy onions and and crispy pancetta. It was very delicious! Nathan chose the Alfred Prasad; a hot dog without a dog, Mumbai Vava Pav with chilli coconut chutney, mint chutney and red onions. He also ordered padron peppers and sweet mango with a cashew and pomegranate slaw. I have to say I personally don't think it was a as good as the Valentine Warner. Why have a hot dog without a dog?

The Alfred Prasad 5 Star Haute Dog with padron peppers and sweet mango, cashew and pomegranate slaw from 5* Action Against Hunger

Next up we headed to the Winter Fire Pit to watch Ross Clarke from Dirty Bones, demonstrate his BBQ tips and techniques. He roasted bone marrow and I got to try the very tasty potato and cow tongue (I think that's what it was!). Clarke also recommended buying mushroom ketchup which I will be on the hunt for now, as it makes everything taste wonderful apparently.

Ross Clarke from Dirty Bones at The Winter Fire Pit
Bone marrow on the Winter Fire Pit
Truffle Mac & Cheese from Ember Yard

Caught between two dishes that looked absolutely fantastic at Ember Yard, I eventually chose the truffle mac & cheese over the grilled octopus. A good decision as it was probably one of the best mac & cheeses I have ever had. The richness of the truffle really brought out the flavour of the cheese sauce and the addition of the breadcrumbs completed the dish. Thumbs up from me!

Short ribs from Barbecoa

I've wanted to visit Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa for some time now. The restaurant is based in St Pauls where I used to work, I have passed it many times wanting to try the fire pit cooked meats and ribs on offer. The next best thing of course was the Barbecoa stall at Taste of London, where I chose the short ribs as the burger was sold out! Not containing any bones, the meat fell apart easily and was smothered in a smoky BBq sauce along with mashed potato. It wasn't the best thing I ate at Taste of London as the flavours didn't stand out for me, but was good nevertheless. 

Chickpea Xacutti in Pao from Assado

The last restaurant stall I headed to was Assado by Cyrus Todiwala. Being half Indian, my parents always cook alot of chickpeas so I simply adore them. Therefore I had to choose the Chickpea Xacutti in Pao; chickpeas simmered in GOA's most unique curry, made using over twenty ingredients and roasted coconut, served in a bun. The flavour of this dish exploded in my mouth along with the spiciness, which was a bit too much for me not being a big spice lover. The chickpeas were so big too which was great! I definitely recommend seeking out the Assado restaurant and trying their spectacular food. I will be planning a future visit. 

Next up I headed over the Electrolux Secret Ingredient room for my cooking demonstration with chef Jeremy Pang.

Chocolate & Chilli Macaroon from Ganache Macaron

But on my way there, the smells wafting from the exhibitors drew me in and I bought an extra special Chocolate & Chilli Macaroon from Ganache Macaron. I also tried Guinness that was made especially for the West Indies, which was amazing! It had a spiced flavour with hints of coffee, which was served in the area in the first half of the 19th century. I'm planning on finding the West Indian Guinness as my dad is from there and he may remember it! Apparently it is stocked in Tesco and other major supermarket. If you loved spiced rums such as Captain Morgan's you may like this particular type of Guinness.

Auto mobile company Ford presented their Protege Project, introducing four up and coming chefs who have each created four elements of development dishes. The four elements are presented in small taster amounts for the the public at Taste of London to taste and vote which chef's they like best. 

The first table displayed spoons of Tarragon Puree. This wasn't to my taste as I dislike anything that tastes like aniseed or liquorice.

The second tables offering was one of the best, Sea Buckthorn Dressing which would be perfect for salads. Inspired by Scotland, the main ingredient is the wild buckthorn berry. The dressing was bursting with flavour and offered a unique taste.

The third table offered a porridge consistency topped with almonds on spoons. The whisky and apple shone tastes shone through, however it was nothing compared to the Buckthorn Dressing of Table two.

Table four contained spoons of the best salted caramel I've ever had. The Hebridean Sea Salt Caramel had a thick consistancy with a powerful sea saltiness punch. I couldn't choose just one winner, so I voted for Table two Buckthorn Dressing along with Table Four's Hebridean Sea Salt Caramel.

After indulging in mulled wine and winter spiced gin punch, I headed over to the Electrolux Secret Ingredient room to experience a cooking demonstration with chef Jeremy Pang. Being the head chef of School of Wok which is London's top Oriental & Asian cookery school; Pang showed us his secret ingredients and tips on cooking with woks using Electrolux appliances. Pang's techniques were impressive and made it look so easy! Along with the host, the atmosphere was friendly and open with the chance to interact with the demonstration and try the food at the end. I even was given a book of Electrolux recipes to take home and asked Jeremy to sign it for me. He was a lovely, sweet guy!

I had a great time at Taste of London Winter, I would recommend going to the summer edition in June. I will definitely be going as I had so much fun!

Jeremy Pang doing his thing

Scallop with glass noodles and crumble topping
Salmon (I can't remember what it was, but it was good!)

I'm still absolutely devastated that I forgot to go to Gu Puds Garden of Temptation. Well there is always next year!

This herb cheese is soooo good! I think it tastes like pizza haha

I came back from Taste of London Winter with some exciting goodies I purchased!

West Indian Chef Bernie's stall was packed full of people trying his Caribbean sauces. I loved the banana ketchup which tastes exactly how it sounds, however it was the Very Hot Sauce which caught my eye. My dad is West Indian and he has never eaten anything hot enough for him, so I bought the sauce to give to him for Xmas. Watch this space to see if it can beat his taste buds!

Being a big cheese lover, the Snowdonia Cheese Company wooed me with their samples on offer. After a while of deciding between the Green Thunder (cheddar with garlic and herbs) and Stokers Natural (naturally smoked cheddar), I settled on the Green Thunder which has since been gobbled up on crackers.

Anything with the word 'peanut butter' always draws me in easily. Especially to try delicious samples at the Authentic American Food stall, which also had home made Boston baked beans brewing in an open sauce pan, specialist BBQ sauces and chilli foods. I just knew the Jalapeño Jelly would be perfect for Nathan, so I sneakily bought jar for his Xmas stocking. It was very spicy to say the least and would be the perfect pairing with cheese and crackers.

Goodies I bought (L-R): Snowdonia Cheese Company, Green Thunder cheese / Chef Bernie, Very Hot Sauce / Belvoir, Apple, Plum & Cinnamon cordial / Authentic American Food Company, Jalapeño Jelly / Teapigs, Winter Spiced Tea

When it comes to cordials, Belvoir are the best. I was extremely pleased to see a Belvoir stall and instantly went to try samples of their latest flavours. The Apple, Plum & Cinnamon cordial was by far the most festive and tasted wonderful with the addition of hot water. I've been drinking it instead of tea ever since!

I picked up the small sample of Teapigs Winter Spiced tea at an amazing stall that stood out for me. It was a fairly new company called Book & a Brew, which specialises in monthly delivery boxes containing a book and a tea to match. I think this is a great idea! The book is chosen from a wide variety of genres and is based on reviews, whilst the teas come courtesy of Teapigs and Taylors of Harrogate. It's £12.99 for a monthly box and £14.99 for a one off box, with an option to opt for coffee instead of tea. Kids boxes are also available for £12.99, which contain a children's book or colouring book along with a healthy drink. I'm seriously considering buying the one off box to try out!

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