Friday, June 16, 2006

Beef 3 - Duck 2

I managed to drag my weary bones to the Taste of London in Regent's Park and it was indeed a taste. I was well prepared and had studied the form of the forty exhibitors and awarded 1-3 stars for each dish that tickled my palate. Though I had no intention to try all the starred dishes, as I possibly would have required treatment after that excess. I started with Le Gavroche and chatted to the Masterchef winner (and asked him about Digger Dean as I suspect everyone does!) I had earmarked a very fine looking braised beef in red wine & creamed rooster potatoes and a cheeky little red number from M&S to accompany. I found a bench to dine at and was joined by a couple who were so truly overwhelmed to see Anthony Worrall Thompson that they demanded I minded their bags whilst they had their photos taken with him. They then proceeded to forward these photos to everyone they knew it seemed. I pointed out Tom Aiken hanging around Yauatcha but they didn’t seem as impressed with him (they should taste his food!)
Next I strolled towards Club Gascon and struggled to choose between the two duck dishes but on the recommendation of the rather delicious Pascal Aussignac, I plumped for the homemade duck mousse, baby leaves and hazelnut oil. I did try and discover the fat succulent leaf in the salad, it reminded me of a cactus I used to have. Pascal did tell me what it was but clearly I was so seduced by his French accent and all the rest of him I ended up none the wiser! Nevermind, I was well fed and should there be a duck-tacular 2, I have some new recipes. All very good so far!
After a glass of pink champagne and a bit of a meander, I polished off one Tom Aiken’s recipes beef shin braised in Guinness with pommes puree & roasted parsnips. This turned out to be the star dish of the night; it was truly sublime. Though I should add that everything I had was fantastic and deserved the three stars I’d allocated, Tom just deserved at least four. And I learnt that he’s producing his first cookbook later this year – a visit to is in order. Despite being fairly sure I’d tasted the best dish of the evening, I batted on! Next I stumbled into the Novelli stand, Jean-Christophe Novelli hadn’t been due to appear at the festival but they squeezed a little stand in from which I got a very gorgeous smoked duck & foie gras parfait with cherries. It was getting more and more crowded and I was relieved I’d arrived as the gates opened. The largest queue of the evening seemed to be at Smith’s of Smithfield so I thought I’d better join in and see what all the fuss was about. Personally I didn’t mind the long wait as I was a little full but I managed to squeeze in the rare breed off the Barbie with hand cut chips and béarnaise. I then realised I had had a fine tasting menu of beef, duck, beef, duck and beef – nothing like variety! My fabulous meat feast was rounded off with Valrhona hot chocolate fondue with marshmallows, biscotti and strawberry kebabs from Boxwood Café. Well, I had to get a bit of Gordon in. I ate this watching the cooking demonstration from Jun Tanaka of Pearl and Steve Pooley of Fifteen. I wasn’t able to fit in any of Angela Hartnett or Marcus Wareing’s offerings but I was able to ask Marcus about his cooking a custard tart for the queen experience. I assured him that I’d Sky+’d the actual banquet as it was on at the same time as the festival so I’d catch up with up all at home. I had hoped to commiserate with Angela but she was busy with other visitors. The very lovely Mark Sargeant was lurking around the Gordon emporiums. Hmmm, I hear he’s getting married soon – such a loss! I really enjoyed the show this year, going by myself did mean it was a little easier to find a spot to perch to consume the delicious morsels but it would be great to share also.

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