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18 June 2018

london days out | taste of london

taste of london is the highlight of the summer foodie calendar; it's when london's latest and greatest restaurants and drinks brands serve up taster-sized signature dishes, world class chefs cook up a storm live on stage, and 55,000 londoners are given the opportunity to get hands-on and interact with more than 200 brands from across the world from the comfort of regent's park. this year, i was lucky enough to head along on the launch evening with a brand that's been a staple in my home (until this year, and now i just hope my restaurants of choice are continuing this tradition for me) since learning food was more than just fuel: grana padano.

this summer's event opened last wednesday and closed yesterday, and had a host of excellent primary partners to ensure the event ran smoothly - this year that roster included the babes at the grana padano consortium. bolstered by celebrity chef danielo cortelini and professional wine tipster neil phillips, the stall was a joint effort of great wine and greater cheese, with daily tasting sessions and masterclasses from danielo on everything from fresh pasta to truffle arancini and just about everything else you can imagine the head chef at the italian embassy could cook with his unlimited source of matured hard cheese.

the flavoursome pairing of matured grana padano and fresh prosecco doc was certainly a delicious experience. and really, is there anything more italian than cheese and wine? the consortium's stand at taste of london was wholly welcoming and warm, and despite having to sign up to danielo's masterclasses in advance, the team on hand were more than happy to muck in and make it work for newcomers and late comers alike, making sure that everyone had a glass of bubbly and sample of pasta for the show. in all my taste-attendance, it was the first where i myself didn't cook, and i have to say, it made for a nice change to have someone do it for me for once!

tickets for the event are £10, which will only cover your entry to the show. from there it's up to you to explore the stalls and stands at your own pace and peril. there are hundreds of stalls showcasing everything from rock salt to champagne (seriously), and you'll be sure to get your fill of samples and tasters from some of the country's best and brightest food and drink brands. there's no need to take cash, as almost all of the stands will take your card happily (it is 2018 after all), and there's such a variety in the cooked foods too, that no matter your palette, you're bound to find something to satisfy. unless you're a vegan of course, because despite this being london (and again: 2018), there were minimal options. that's not me saying that because i couldn't be bothered, that's direct from the vegan's mouth - a fellow foodie who prefers to be plant powered, but who had to wait to eat properly until she got home as the options were fairly limited.

actually, this year it wasn't all just about food and drink, as there was another option on the block that caused quite a stir as well: fresh flowers. it was almost as if this year's theme was "urban jungle" because everywhere you turned, there was a beautiful display of blooms and foliage, and floral displays that would make any instagrammer's eyes water. freddie's flowers was definitely a highlight (a flower delivery service), as was fentiman's display. tanqueray pulled out all the stops with their neon and orange-inspired living wall for their citrus terrace - and i am definitely here for a gorgeous floral display.

on my way out i quickly stopped at bubbledogs - a restaurant i have yet to visit in real life, because i'd seen on the event schedule-cum-menu that they were serving their signature tater tots as a side... i meeeean, no amount of cheesy pasta will put me off wanting tater tots, so of course i ordered some for dessert. it's only fair, seeing as i had dessert for mains... when i saw the peanut butter and jelly cronut at the popham's bakery stall, there was no way i was leaving that behind. and i can confirm, it was excellent. i stand by my decisions.

as i mentioned, taste hits london twice a year, and the christmas event will be held around the end of november at tobacco dock. the winter one is always full of hot gin samples and clever christmas concoctions, so if food and drink and flowers and happiness are some of your favourite things, then keep your eyes peeled for the next event and hopefully i will see you there!

*i was a guest of grana padano, but all words are my own.