Phew. What a weekend. Despite making it to and back from London without actually eating an actual meal, per se, it was foodie heaven from start to finish. Well, the crummy almond croissant at the airport on Friday morning notwithstanding.
The first hour was spent taking a toddle around, sampling various wares and deciding I needed to maintain a good element of sober, as the London Tube awaited at the end of the day. The Oiishi Japan section was really eye-catching, loved the line up of Sake men!
The Restaurant Experience bit works a lot like the Taste & Foodies festivals, in that you buy tokens which are then exchanged for mini-versions of meals from various restaurants. I had two extreme hits, and one just shy of miss, so a good innings! I tried:
Thomasina Miers’ duck liver and hazelnut ravioli with sage butter – this was amazing. There was a kind of candied texture to the filling, loved the hazelnuts, and they certainly weren’t shy on the butter!
From chef Helena Puolakka’s Skylon – Fragrant Pork Belly with Beetroot and Chestnut. This was a very good sized piece of pork belly, and considering had been put together in a tiny kitchen the size of a shoe-box, I was really impressed. The chestnut pieces were slightly difficult to grab with the plastic cutlery, but lovely, and the beetroot was fantastic, if a little meagre.
From Urban Caprice/The Ivy (and really to use up my last 3pennies) I had a dessert of Scandinavian Iced Berries served with white chocolate sauce. It was really good once I figured it would be best to mix the whole lot up, but not exceptionally refined or complicated.
I’d pre-booked a place at the Cupcake Masterclass with Mark Tilling, under the Squires Kitchen umbrella. It was ridiculously fun and tres messy. Thanks must go to the very nice girl who sat next to me, and let me take photos of her chocolate art. I definitely need to improve on all skills , but it was so cool to work with chocolate for the first time. At risk of loosing any minor credibility I may possess, I’d like to state for the record that not only was the chocolate hot, so was chef Tilling.
Wandering into the now sunny arena, timing was perfect to tune into the absolutely amazing sushi art demonstration by Ken Kawasumi of the Tokyo Sushi Academy. My basic knowledge of Japanese was thankfully unncessary as there was a really good translator to talk the audience through the various techniques, ingredients and history of sushi-making. It was quite inspirational actually – I really wish I liked salmon.
I clocked into the Invention Test, which was a really good display of ‘punters in the kitchen’ and is definitely something I’d consider taking part in next year. It works like a mini-version of the TV show, where you get a bunch of ingredients and have to put a meal together. It was all within a very short space of time though – only 30 minutes. Hats off to the nice lady who won, as really I think hers was the only one that you might have actually wanted to eat. Impressed that people managed to burn meat and balls up rice in such a short space of time.
Fans of Saturday Kitchen wouldn’t have been disappointed with chef James Martin’s chefing display. No photos of this part, but some butter-tastic Madeleine cakes, a nice easy starter of sardines with ratatouille-style chutney, and beef for the main course. He was a great host, years of doing telly cooking have given him a good easy style of presenting.
Just before leaving I stopped by Laverstoke Park Farm‘s lovely stand. I can’t tell you how good their buffalo mozzarella is. And apparently had just been made the day before. So good. So good.
Photos of the day (not bad considering I was busy munching most of the time) can be found on my Flickr site here.