Combine a beautiful London blue sky, a gorgeous park, incredible food and drinks, what's not to love? The first Taste Festival was in London in 2004. Now you can find them in most major cities. It's a five day festival of eating, drinking and entertainment. There is also a sprinkle of travel thrown in to spice things up.
During these five days, Regent's Park is transformed. London's hottest restaurants set up and offer a sample menu of their best dishes. The options are endless and you can quickly figure out the most popular offerings by the lines. There are also master classes, cooking demos, a VIP experience and so much more. The currency for the day are Crowns which you can purchase at special booths dotted around the site. It can be an expensive day, but it's a fun splurge.
As we're becoming pros we had a very specific plan for the day. As soon as we entered the gate, we made our way directly to the Celebrity Cruises Lawn Club. They offer an incredible tasting menu experience throughout the day.
We missed it last year and were not going to make that mistake again. We signed up for the first session of the day.
One of our favorite things about cruising is the food. We haven't yet cruised with Celebrity but we hear that exciting cuisine is one of the things they do exceptionally well. And their Great Adventures shore excursions with Ben Fogle are getting rave reviews. The three course tasting menu with drinks pairing is the perfect sampler experience.
Our hosts were Celebrity's Senior Traveling Corporate Executive Chef, Thomas Syzmanski and Wine Writer, Oz Clarke. Celebrity's Head of Sales, Michael English was also on hand to greet us.
The music, atmosphere and warm greeting definitely got us thinking about our next cruise. It's been way too long. Then they started with the food and we were completely swept away.
First up were the Qsine's Signature "Spring" rolls (served in springs obviously). One was a veggie option served with a sweet chili sauce. Warm and crunchy and oh so good.
But, that second one was was over the top. BBQ pork with caramelized onions and a little squirt (or four) of barbecue sauce. So tasty! I tried to eat Matt's too but he was having none of it. It was served with a raisin slaw and paired perfectly with Brew Dog's Punk IPA.
Next up was Blu's Blackened Ahi Tuna with forbidden rice and baby bok choy. If you're a regular reader you know that I'm trying to outgrow my unadventurous eating habits. Because fresh tuna is best served very rare, it's something that I've not tried. But I was not going to leave that table without tasting everything on offer. When a dish is created with this much love and expertise, it's going to taste incredible. And it did. It was served with Wairau River New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Lastly, we were served Luminae's Lamb Loin with a tangy yoghurt dressing. The perfectly cooked lamb was served with a Moroccan sausage, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes and fava beans. It was creatively paired with Chateau D'esclans "Whispering Angels" rosé and I could hear the angels whispering as we ate all of this delectable food
Celebrity Cruises outdid themselves again this year. It's an additional cost over the price of admission to the festival, but completely worth it. We left with an invite to lunch on one of their ships in Southampton. Matt went just a few weeks ago (I'd already left for Texas) and hopefully he'll be telling you all about it in an upcoming post.
After that amazing food experience it was time to explore the rest of the festival. You can't know how excited I was to see a booth serving iced tea. I so miss iced tea.
T2 is an Australian Company that sells an extensive variety of loose leaf tea and tea accessories. After tasting their iced fruit teas at the Taste I visited their shop on King's Road to purchase my very own T2 The Jug. Now I can have iced tea any time I want in just about any flavor you can think of.
There are hundreds of producers and brands set up at the festival. You can taste flavors from all over the world. Plenty of places to have a cocktail, wine or beer. It's the best place to people watch.
Ketel One Vodka had a Bloody Mary workshop going. I loved the kitchen they had set up.
There were forty restaurants set up and serving, but we were pretty full after our time at the Celebrity Cruises Lawn Club. However, we are not ones to pass up a burger. Particularly if it's a Dead Hippie Slider from MEATLiquor.
My mouth is watering just writing this post. So much amazing food, so little time. I can't wait for next year.
What's your favorite dish from Taste of London?