10 unmissable stands at Taste of London 2016

10 unmissable stands at Taste of London 2016

by Great British Chefs 16 June 2016

Heading to London's biggest food festival this weekend? Check out our list of the things you simply have to try, from deep-fried octopus to cereal-flavoured ice cream.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Last night the best and brightest of London’s restaurant scene gathered together to celebrate everything great about the city’s food and drink. Marco Pierre White and Pierre Koffmann reminisced about the old days at the AEG Taste Theatre, our own Robin Gill was named Restaurateur of the Year and hordes of hungry revellers traipsed their way around countless stalls offering incredible food and drink. It can all be a bit overwhelming when you first get there as there’s so much to see, so we’ve put together a list of the truly unmissable dishes, drinks, stands and sights to give you an idea of what to expect and where to go first.

1. Octopus doughnuts at Kurobuta

Scott Hallsworth is known for his izakaya-style small plates, serving up gourmet versions of Japanese bar food with a trendy punk rock vibe at his Kurobuta restaurants. He’s managed to bring the same atmosphere to his stand at Taste, serving up pork belly buns, tuna sashimi pizzas and miso-grilled aubergines. But our favourite dish of the whole festival was his Japanese octopus doughnuts; chunks of deep purple tentacles cooked sous vide and deep-fried in a beautifully light and seriously crisp batter, served with umami-infused mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce. We could’ve happily eaten a bucketful.

2. Iberico ham from José Pizarro

We were very glad to see the return of José Pizarro’s simple plate of jamon iberico, hand-carved by an expert right in front of you. Don’t be tempted to skip it just because it isn’t a cooked dish – what initially looks like a very simple plate is in fact one of the most delicious things at Taste. Proper jamon iberico is actually quite hard to find – it’s a seasonal product, and José gets it direct from the very best producers in Spain. If you do choose to get a plate, take time to appreciate the taste – let it sit on your tongue for a while and it’ll slowly melt, releasing its incredible savoury flavour.

Scott Hallsworth
Scott Hallsworth's octopus doughnuts were our favourite dish at the festival
Jose Pizarro
However, José Pizarro proved incredible produce is all you need with his plate of jamon iberico

3. Wine tasting at Celebrity Cruises

You can’t miss the Celebrity Cruises Lawn Club – just look for the grass, deck chairs and decking. Sign up to one of their wine pairing sessions with Oz Clarke for the chance to taste some truly tasty vintages, all perfectly matched with some of the Michelin-starred dishes they serve on their luxury cruises. There's also a special surprise from us from Josh Eggleton on what you might expect on July's luxury cruise, Jet Set Sail.

4. Try authentic Turkish food at Taste of Turkey

Ever tried Hünkar Beğendi (Sultan’s Delight)? If not, you’re in for an absolute treat – tender pieces of lamb with tomatoes, pine nuts and herbs stirred through a silky aubergine purée. It’s one of the amazing dishes being served at the Taste of Turkey stand, alongside smooth Turkish coffee (perfect if you’re in need of a pick-me-up after consuming vast quantities of food) and beautiful baklavas of all shapes and sizes. Be sure to sign up to one of the free masterclasses (first come, first served), too, giving you the chance to get hands-on with one of the most popular cuisines in London today.

Pierre and Marco
The capital's best chefs were out in full force, with legends such as Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White taking to the stage
The Pilsner Urquell tent was immensely popular, thanks to the freshness of the beer

5. The Special Guest Restaurants stand (presented by Great British Chefs)

Yes, yes, it’s our own stand, but we really do have some amazing chefs coming over on Thursday (Adam Gray), Friday (Andy McLeish) and Saturday (André Garrett). Adam’s hot Lincolnshire smoked eel, Andy’s roe deer pithivier and André’s English trifle are our hot tips for some cracking dishes, but everything on the menu is delicious and a fantastic way to discover why these chefs are at the top of their game.

6. A proper pint of fresh beer from Pilsner Urquell

Right in the centre of the festival is the Pilsner Urquell bar – just look for the giant tanks that are shipped over direct from the Czech brewery. This method of transportation means the beer is still unpasteurised and tastes as fresh as it does back in its native country. It really is a satisfying pint – crisp like a lager but with bags more flavour – so if you feel like a break from all the food, grab a chair and indulge in a bit of people-watching.

7. Golden Grahams ice cream at Duck & Waffle

Dan Doherty will of course be serving up his most famous dish of confit duck leg, fried egg and waffle in a mustard-maple sauce, but it’s his soft-serve ice cream that seems to be piquing everyone’s interest. Flavoured with Golden Grahams cereal, customers are able to fill their own waffle cones, before going to town on the various gourmet toppings (think crunchy marshmallows and homemade chocolate flakes). It’s one of the best desserts at the festival – after all, the best part of a bowl of cereal is the infused milk at the end. Turning it into a smooth, tasty ice cream is pure genius.

In the market for a new knife? The Japanese Knife Company have some incredible blades on show
Cyrus Todiwala
For something completely different, try Cyrus Todiwala's spiced kangaroo fillet

8. Cyrus' kangaroo fillet

Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen – headed up by the fantastic Cyrus Todiwala – will be serving up classic dishes from the restaurant such as Goan coconut curry and onion bhajis. But especially for Taste, Cyrus has chosen to cook something never associated with Indian cuisine – kangaroo. His spiced kangaroo fillet is slow-cooked to keep the notoriously dry meat succulent, then simply served in a sourdough roll with salad. If you’ve ever been to one of those ‘exotic meat’ burger stands at other food festivals, where you can eat ostrich, kangaroo or bison burgers, this is a completely different experience – kangaroo is often dismissed as a novelty meat, but done properly it is something special.

9. A proper G&T from Fever-Tree

Craft gin is huge in the UK, and Fever-Tree is fast becoming the tonic of choice to serve with the hundreds of bottles out there. Head to their pop-up bar for a wide array of the best gins, perfectly matched with different flavoured tonics and garnished to perfection. If anything, sipping on one will give you enough time to work out which restaurant stand you’re going to head to next.

10. Exquisite knives from Japanese Knife Company

Fancy a memento to take home with you after eating and drinking everything you can get your hands on? Swing by the Japanese Knife Company, which has some of the most beautiful knives we’ve ever seen on show. The staff there are experts on everything sharp, and are on-hand to give you advice if you’re in the market for some new steel. Even if you’re not after something to take home, it’s actually quite fun to just give some of the knives a go, slicing through tomatoes and potatoes like butter.