6/20/2012 10:13:00 AM

10 Things Not to Miss at Taste of London

A Tom Aikens demonstration at Taste of London 2011
Taste of London's coming up this weekend and, depending on your perspective, it's an amazing opportunity to see chefs close up and sample special dishes from a load of London's best restaurants all in one place. (Or it's a bit of a scrum in a muddy field with dishes that might be cheaper and better if you actually ate them in the restaurant.)

Yes, yes, we can't do anything about the weather, or the crowns system where you swap cash for crowns (1 crown = 50p) or the fact that loads of people will be there. It's actually quite a lot of fun, so we say bah humbug to the curmudgeonly types. Here are 10 things we're really excited about at this weekend's Taste of London festival.

1. Simon Rogan cooking at the Action Against Hunger pop-up on Friday 
Not only does all the money you spend at this stall go to charity, but you've got the ace Simon Rogan of Roganic, L'Enclume and Great British Menu fame cooking you a portion of Crispy Herdwick lamb flank with pickled tongues, carrots and nasturtium for just 14 crowns, or £7.

2. Hearing what David Chang has to say 
On Thursday at 12:30 PM, iconic New York chef David Chang will be answering questions in an exclusive Q&A session in the VIP lounge and then signing copies of his Momofuku book. We want to ask him how the heck he makes those addictive pork buns so flippin' tasty, and if he can start making them over here, please. 

3. Checking out Club Gascon's menu 
No pressure, but last year they were awarded best dish of the show for a foie gras and truffle burger. Can this year's "Basque" spicy confit duck with crazy popcorn (10 crowns) or the intriguingly named Marmite Royale with Soldiers (16 crowns) compete? 

4. Trying Opera Tavern's variation on their Ibérico pork and foie gras burger 
It's possibly one of the most delicious burgers in London as it is, but for Taste, they're pimping it, calling it the "Taste Deluxe" version and adding in jamón or truffle pecorino (14 crowns). We're not convinced the original can be beat, but we'll try it just to be sure. 

5. Watching Angela Hartnett at the AEG Taste Theatre 
In a male-dominated world, she's a woman who survived working with Gordon Ramsay, set up her own restaurants and makes utterly delicious food that you really want to eat. In our eyes she can do no wrong, so we can't wait for her demo at 2:30 PM on Friday. 

6. Taking a Vietnamese Street Food class with Angela Malik 
Fancy learning how to cook Hanoi noodles with wok-tossed chile beef for free? You're damn right we do. And even though it's first come first served (sign up as soon as you get there) with classes on throughout the four days, you should be able to squeeze in. 

7. Watching BBQ kings fight it out at the the Weber BBQ Experience 
Every man reckons he's a god when it comes to barbecuing, but the real BBQ guru will be crowned on Sunday afternoon at the British BBQ Championships. We're hoping to swing by to see how it's really done and find out how we stop our sausages from burning and our burgers from falling apart. 

8. Having The Hind's Head on our doorstep 
Heston's country pub is just that little bit too far away in Bray, so it's brilliant that we can sample three of their dishes without having to leave the capital. We're looking forward to tea-smoked salmon with soda bread (10 crowns), braised ox cheeks with smoked mash and oxtail sauce (12 crowns) and jubilee trifle (10 crowns) 

9. Finding out if the Petrus pudding is really worth a tenner 
Given that most dishes weigh in at around the 10-crown mark, Petrus is being pretty punchy marking up a dish, and a sweet dish at that, at a whopping 20 crowns. Can chocolate sphere with milk ice cream and honeycomb really be worth it? There's only one way to find out. 

10. Pottering round the most exclusive, and most gourmet, market in town 
There will be literally hundreds of producers on site selling everything from fine wine and gourmet popcorn to spices you've never heard of and cheeses you can smell a mile off. Ooh, and while you're pottering, potter by stall C3 where you'll find a load of us Zagat types wanting to know what you think about food in London, and giving away a few freebies too. 

Taste of London Festival 2012 is from June 21-24. Standard tickets cost from £24. Click here to find out more.

(Update: They did it again! Pascal Aussignac's Marmite Royale, a duck flan served with a Marmite sauce in a Marmite jar with soldiers for dipping, won Best in Taste at the official judging on Wednesday night.)


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