Sunday, 6 December 2009

London trip: taste of Christmas

When people go on holiday, some like to engage in cultural activities, some like to visit famous landmarks, but for me, holiday is all about the food. I like to visit museums and historical sites, but with all that sightseeing and walking, I do get hungry and I need to eat.

I always have a great time in London. There are many excitements to see and loads of places to eat. I went with some friends the past weekend and it’s no exception this time, we had a great time. The first night was celebrated at Maze for some cocktails. I had the espresso martini, orange daiquiri and my favourite, mojito. The last time I was in London, the whole place was booked by the casts of Sister Act – the musical, so I was thrilled to be able to go in this time.

Saturday was the day: ‘taste of Christmas’ – food festival. But before we went there, we had breakfast at the Hummingbird Bakery. My friends and I, we all love Hummingbird Bakery. The cupcakes, cakes and pies are all beautiful and scrumptious. I had a cup of cappuccino and a slice of apple pie. Yum!

We arrived at ExCel London for the festival at around lunchtime. There were hundreds of food stands and restaurants in the arena and I imagine this is what heaven would look like. We went from one stand to another, getting all the free samples, beers, champagnes, cheeses, chutneys, chocolates, liquors, spirits, etc. After wandering around, we had to eat, and this is what we had among the four of us (name of dish – name of restaurant):
Dines ham hock with colcannon and parsley sauce – St Pancras Grand

Free-range duck egg with A. Romani Italian truffle – Dolada

Seafood biriyani, white fish, scallops, tiger prawns, squid, cucumber & black pepper raita – Thrishna

Roast Duke of Berkshire pork belly, sweet potato & fenugreek mash with green pepper relish – Modern Pantry

Spiced Hungarian beef goulash with potato dumplings – Baltic

Bentley’s fish pie – Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill

Maldon rock oysters - Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill

Japanese beef roll with yakitori sauce – Sumosan

Christmas pudding ‘cigar’ with cinnamon sugar and mince pie ice cream – Menu

Beef rendang with rice – Awana

Out all of the dishes I had there, the best was probably wild mushroom fettuccine with black truffle, from L’Anima. I’d happily have that anytime.

The highlight for the day was probably meeting Anthony Worrall Thompson. I like him on TV, but he’s more entertaining in person. I arrived just in time for his book signing session and I also had a photograph taken with him. I attended the ‘taste of France’ workshop with him and he was awesome. He made chicken liver pate brulee, monkfish bourguinon and chocolate rosemary custard. Too bad we weren’t allowed to taste the food because he only made a portion for two, and there were about thirty people in the audience.

Before we left, we had some gelato the famous Italian ice-cream for dessert. I had a scoop of tiramisu and a scoop of hazelnut gelato. The perfect way to end the day.

Oh and, like other holidays, you have to get some souvenirs and I did. I bought a jar of chilli jam that will be great with leftover turkey; a jar of almond pesto; and onion marmalade, perfect for snacking with sharp cheeses or I sometimes like to put it on home-made burgers, just like caramelised onions.

We went around for a little walk at Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights and to burn some of the calories we had throughout the day. We got back to the hotel early with a bucket of KFC (to replace the calories that’s been burned) and we watched the X-Factor semi final (Yes, a little sad but true and I don’t care because I love the show).

The next day, we had Sunday roast at Bumpkin at South Kensington. It’s one of my favourite places to eat in London. The restaurant has this countryside feel and it’s just nice, even though I’m a city boy at heart. I had the Leg of Elwy Valley Welsh lamb, studded with rosemary and garlic, mint sauce, served with red wine gravy, roast potatoes, cauliflower and cheddar cheese sauce, seasonal root vegetables and greens. It was good, as always.

And no London trip is complete without a second stop at Hummingbird Bakery. My friend is a hummingbird bakery addict and she needed to get her supply of cupcakes.

I have had a great weekend away, but I'm glad to be back home. :)


  1. we were going to the hummingbird bakery, but went to Candy Cakes in Covent Garden instead: It was a bit of a letdown though - they were pretty but not extra ordinary, and the staff were a bit haughty.

  2. Try to go to Hummingbird Bakery on a Saturday or Sunday when they have the special cakes and pies. Yum.

  3. Too bad we weren’t allowed to taste the food because he only made a portion for two, and there were about thirty people in the audience.