Taste of London: The Festive Edition 2017

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Taste of London: The Festive Edition 2017

London's biggest food event got a festive face lift in time for the holidays this year. We went to the East End to sample the seasonal produce, support British business and, most importantly, eat all the cheese!

The temperature was nearing freezing at Tobacco Dock London, where thousands of foodies dressed in their winter finery were huddled in masses outside the venue's entrance. There was a cheerful hum of chatter amongst the crowd, punctuated by a few distinct stomach growls as they queued patiently for entry into one of the biggest events of the capital's culinary calendar. 

It is, of course, the fifth annual winter Taste of London festival; with the World Cheese Awards and appearances/demonstrations from a lot of big names in the food biz (think Leiths' own Olia Hercules and Dan Doherty of the famous Duck & Waffle), it is second in size only to its summer sister event, drawing in impressive numbers over the three day weekend.

Upon entry, the halls were fully decked to create a magical grotto-like atmosphere, with a dazzlingly large Christmas tree and mood lighting, accompanied by creative food-inspired art on every level.

Each room and hallway offered something new to appeal to every palate. For those looking for a tasty tipple, The King's Ginger were serving cocktails in a quiet speakeasy style bar tucked away on the lower ground floor, while beer buffs got to sample the wares of smaller microbreweries on the "craft beer trail".

It goes without saying that, at Taste, the food is the star of the show. Stalls offered everything from restaurant signature dishes to street-food-inspired light bites, as well as every variation of oil, sauce and snack to take home! Critic's favourite Kricket (try saying that a few times in a row) put on an impressive spread of Indian dishes whilst BAO boasted a small but sensational menu inspired by their namesake.

Although at first glance the maze-like layout of the festival looked daunting, I couldn't have thought of anywhere better to get lost!

Leiths Diploma students were keen to volunteer with the event's charity partner Action Against Hunger, making gourmet doughnuts created by our favourite food personalities. The stall debuted some adventurous flavours in their pastries for a good cause, from Christmas dinner to Vindaloo chorizo, but my personal favourite was the brain child of The Providores' Peter Gordon: a pear and ginger compote stuffed doughnut, topped with crunchy maple corn flakes and a pandan basil icing.

A festival highlight for many was the amount of original and good quality cheese available at literally every turn. After all, no Christmas is complete without an exquisite cheese board!

The Welsh company Snowdonia Cheese captured a lot of attention with their massive range of cheeses in varying strengths and flavours (I'd definitely recommend the Black Bomber or Bouncing Berry). Other "curd nerds" flocked to the Parmesan fair - yes, there was an entire fair dedicated to the Italian dairy product! The World Cheese Awards offered tasting tours to debut the finest cheeses as they went head to head for the coveted title of "World Champion Cheese" over the weekend. Congratulations to the Cornish Kern, what a time to be a British Foodie!

The festive edition of Taste was a great way to kick off Christmas celebrations, giving food enthusiasts a chance to buy some unique and locally produced food gifts for their loved ones (or themselves!) whilst sampling everything the big smoke has to offer. Although it's regrettably over for this year, the flagship festival will return in Regent's Park from the 13th - 17th June 2018.

If you too have a passion for locally produced Artisan Cheeses, join us for an afternoon of tantalising tastings in Best of British: Artisan Cheeses with Tom Badcock. You can also get to grips with alternative and interesting wine pairings to go with a delectable menu cooked by Leiths chefs in Wines from Around the World with Amelia Singer.

Sophie Hibbert

Author: Sophie Hibbert

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