Taste of London Returns for 14th Edition

The foodie festival in London’s Regents Park attracts over 50,000 visitors every year. Rupert Parker pops in for a bite

Taste of London Basque Stand

Taste of London Basque Stand

Taste of London Pouring Txakoli

Taste of London Pouring Txakoli

Taste of London Chef Ruben Gonzalez

Taste of London Chef Ruben Gonzalez

Taste of London Pintxtos

Taste of London Pintxos

Taste of London Mushroom and Prawn Pintxos

Taste of London Mushroom and Prawn Pintxos

Celebrity Cruises Burrata

Celebrity Cruises Burrata

Celebrity Cruises NY Strip

Celebrity Cruises NY Strip

Celebrity Cruises Wine Tasting

Celebrity Cruises Wine Tasting

On a sunny June evening, London’s foodies are out in force to sample taster-sized dishes from the capital’s best restaurants and view world-class chefs giving live cooking demonstrations. I head straight to the Basque stand where the head chef of Ibérica, César García, is showcasing the best food and wines from northern Spain to celebrate World Tapas Day. In the Basque country they’re known as ‘Pintxos’ and there’s an array of them ranged up on the bar.

I start with a glass of Txakoli (white wine from the region) poured from a great height by one of the waiters. This oxygenates the wine and makes it slightly sparkling. Then I watch Cesar Garcia, with Chef Ruben Gonzalez, prepare various dishes. These include Spanish omelette and green pepper from Gernika, cod fritter with Vizcaína, an onion and red dried pepper purée sauce, sautéed baby broad beans with Serrano ham and fried quail egg, Guindilla de Ibarra chilli pepper and crab meat mayo salad, and mushroom and prawn in a Pil-Pil sauce.

Later I take in some of the 200 specialist food and drinks sellers on my way to the Celebrity Cruises tent. They’re showcasing dishes from their cruises including Japanese, Galapagos and Tuscan cuisine. Their Michelin-starred Vice President of Culinary, Cornelius Gallagher, is presenting the type of food you can expect if you take a cruise. They’re also pairing the dishes with the wines served on board. My arrival coincides with their Tuscan menu, served in their ships’ Tuscan Grill restaurants.

I start with Burrata, fresh Mozzarella and cream, coupled with a marinated tomato. It’s matched with a Langhe DOC, crisp dry white wine from the Blangé vineyard in Piedmont, Italy. Next are pieces of dry aged grass fed NY strip steak, cooked pleasantly rare, with watercress and polenta. The Chianti Classico from the Peppoli estate in Tuscany is a good pairing, its intense fruit aromas complementing the rare beef. If this is a measure of the quality of the food on board, then gourmets won’t be disappointed.

Perhaps the highlight of the festival is the Taste Residence – Alex Atala of 2 Michelin-starred D.O.M, Ana Roš named in the World’s 50 Best’s Female Chef of the Year and Ollie Dabbous of the Michelin-starred Dabbous offer 4 taster-sized dishes with accompanying wine. You can watch them at work and ask questions afterwards, and it sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately it’s already 9.30 and everybody is being herded out of Regents Park. They’re so keen to close the gates that my bicycle is locked in the bike park and I have to climb over the railings to retrieve it. Good thing I refused that extra glass of wine.

Taste of London has more information about the festival which runs until Sunday 18th June.

For more information on travel to Spain, visit www.spain.info or follow the Spanish Tourist Office on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram. For more information on World #Tapas Day, please visit www.spain.info/en_GB/tapas-day.

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