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21 June 2016

a taste of london

let me preface this post by saying: a few days after this event, i learnt how to use my camera properly. as in, how to adjust the light, colour, and effects, to make photos look something other than the crap they look in this post. in saying that, i usually edit my photos before i upload them, to give them some semblance of life and interest, but i took so damn many at this festival, that i just.. literally couldn't be bothered. please accept my apologies, and do continue reading anyway. i like to think the information is kind of more important than the pictures anyway, right? good. as you were.

rebekah and i arrived in regents park just after half past five, and were due to be at our first session at six. turns out that on opening night of taste of london, twenty minutes was not enough time to pick your tickets up and get to the tasteology event stage! we hustled and - unbeknown to us, walked the longest way possible around the grounds to find the right place. once there, we slipped in and took to standing in the back row. i'd seen the first episode already, but was holding out for the festival-only taste-along session to watch the rest. 

the half an hour session was so much better than i had anticipated. from sourcing food, to correct storage methods, to the dining experience and how heat affects everything we cook, the short documentary episodes were informative, educational, and ultimately, super interesting to watch. i especially liked the one called "experience" was my favourite, as it actually touches on so many things that are obviously happening, but that are totally overlooked by consumers. 

for example: did you know the weight of the crockery you eat from, and the cutlery you use, will affect what you consider to be quality when you're dining out? that can mean legitimately you could be eating a pot noodle from a marble dish and your brain will assume it's top-quality ramen, despite the taste. presentation and experience actually make up so much of what your brain says you taste, and seeing the science and intelligence behind that really baffled me, and made me really think about what and how i'm dining.

after the session we had about twenty minutes to kill until our take taste further cooking session with jeremy pang, so we had a wander around that side of the market. things of note: there were a lot more booze brands there than normal, and a lot less locally produced and varied traders. sure, more booze brands meant more booze tasters, but where were all the popcorn and raw bars and herbal tea traders that we'd become used to? it seems like they'd been pushed out by the bigger, well-known brands, which.. was a bit disappointing.

i've cooked with jeremy pang a few times now, mostly always at taste london, but i was lucky enough to have a cooking class with him in his own kitchen at the school of wok too, so knew the food we'd be cooking that day would be taayyyssssty, and quick. my two favourite types of food. and, i was right. the two things on the menu that night were chilli and garlic prawns in a lettuce leaf, and a wee scallop-in-a-banana-boat thing that was whipped away and cooked for us in the sous vide oven while we made the prawny thing. 

despite having cooked ourselves a few mouthfuls of tasty seafood, you're only at taste for one thing: to eat all the food. we left the kitchen with street food on the brain, and went in search of the one restaurant i was looking forward to the most: molé taco bar.

i have my favourite mexican restaurant chains, sure, but i pretty much head straight for tacos whenever i hit a street food market. i think because of the onion intolerance, i tend to think that mexican is "safe" because it's pretty fresh and you can leave things out. that obviously slipped my mind when ordering at molé's stand though, but i ain't mad because the pickled onions in the pork pibil taco made the whole thing so colourful, and actually super tasty too. that poisoned pink, eh...

the last of our masterclasses came by way of the fab team over at three sixty coffee. earlier in the week they'd gotten in touch when they'd heard i'd be at the festival, and so asked if i'd like to pop in for a quick how-to on their latest equipment. being the coffee lover addict that i am, i was in no position to say no, and after the half an hour with shaun and the rest of the guys in the stand, i've come away with the realisation that i am not as passionate about the beverage as some people. 

you should have seen the insane equipment these kids were using, and how in depth they chatted about blends, brew time and basic necessities. i also came away with some new kit myself, and i am excited to crack the aero press open and try some of the peruvian blend myself - i'll feature them both properly here soon (in the mean time they're hosting a comp where you could win a trip to cuba just by designing their new packaging! have a go!)

we had some festival money left to spend and were really struggling to do that because of the aforementioned lack of interesting traders. not wanting to keep drinking for no reason we were about to give up and call defeat until of course, we came upon the lovely meringue girls. food-festival regulars, these girls do wicked things with sugar and egg whites, and this year had gone one step further with their after-dinner creations. 

their mini pavlovas with chocolate ganache were a highlight - especially the gin and juniper flavour, but what really sold me this year were the free-from brownies. no gluten, no dairy, and no effort spared, the tiny chocolate squares were decorated within an inch of their being, and so totally droolworthy. not cheap, not that it mattered as we'd basically condemned the last of the paper money we had anyway, so were more than happy to part with it in return for days worth of tasty treats.

brownies in hand, it was time to leave. we had picked up much loot in our travels, and getting it all home was key concern at that point. we'd had another super successful event, with new info, new brands, and new restaurants to check out all now on the list, and lots of people to thank for a wonderful time. special thanks to the girls at dmc pr for their expert planning and promotion of my favourite foodie event. they're very kind to continue to invite me along, and so long as they keep doing that, i shall keep going and have a wonderful time. to aeg, the brains behind the tasteology series: thank you for opening my eyes to what's really going on with my food consumption, waste and perception! many things to consider going forward. 

and to the team at the school of wok and three sixty coffee, thank you so much for your time and patience in your wonderful masterclasses. taste of london would not be the same fun festival if not for all of the hands-on demos and traders willing to get out there and really chat with their consumers, so i thank you a lot for giving londoners the chance to do just that, and in their own back yard too. see you at christmas!

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