It's a ritual for me that started about 3 years ago that I must visit the Taste of Christmas or as I call it 'Pork Fest 2011' (you'll see why soon) event in London. This time especially is a must visit because my food hero, Jamie Oliver is making an appearance.
I arrived on time but the queue to the theatre where Jamie is going to do his cooking demonstration was already a mile long. I thought no chance I'm getting in now. Arrgh!! Then I suddenly realised that I have a VIP ticket and so I asked one of the staff and it's true, with the VIP ticket I was given priority to the theatre which actually was already packed. I was happy nonetheless.
Opening speech and thank yous to the sponsors of the event by the host and then it's time for Jamie. He cooked goose with Asian spices (think of roast Peking duck) which smelled incredibly delicious. He showed us what to do with the leftovers as well, a wonderful warm goose salad. He was funny and charming. Too bad there was no Q+A session with him or book signing.
After Jamie's cooking demonstration, I waited around for a bit to see of I can catch him but there must be a special hidden passage for him and the security was everywhere. I sadly had to abort plan B and C.
Oh well, by this time I was starving and ready to get me some food. If you've never heard about this event before, it's basically a gathering of restaurants and food producers serving and selling seasonal menus and ingredients. I especially love all the free samples. There are sections for cheeses, chocolates, chutneys, nuts, wines and liqueurs, etc, I'm sure you get the idea.
First on my stop was Jamie Oliver's Fabulous Feast and I had the beautiful Royal Berkshire estate pork shoulder rubbed with roasted fennel and sea salt and smashed apple sauce. Yum! This was so good, the pork was tender and the apple sauce was sweet and tangy. I was only a bit worried about the bread. I find often with sandwiches or burgers, the filling/patty is delicious, but the bread is sometimes disappointing. The bread was pretty good too, so I was well happy.
After this quick bite, I returned to the theatre and guess who's next? It was Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall! I almost didn't recognise him because of his new hair. He was absolutely brilliant! So glad I made it again to this event this year.
After the delicious cooking demonstration which I can only smell but not taste, I need more food, like slow roast free range pork belly with Bramley apple sauce, root vegetable mash and port reduction from Roast, one of my favourite food stalls at Borough Market. Cracking crackling I must say.
With the food, I needed some drinks now, so I went to the drinks section and had samples of wines, bubblies and liqueurs. Every year I seemed to discover something new. A couple years ago I was introduced to Todka, that is toffee flavoured vodka. Delicious just with ice or in espresso martini for Christmas morning or frankly any time. This year, I found Amarula, a creamy caramelly liqueur made from marula fruit. I had to get a bottle. I was definitely in my Christmas spirit.
Whilst walking around, this guy suddenly came up to me with a tray and asked, "would you like to try Pussy?" (yes, you read that right). I was like "eh, what?!" Am I still at the same event? or have I moved to London's Sexpo? (a real event by the way which I've never been). I saw the stall and it's true, it's Pussy natural energy drink. The name no doubt grabs everyone's attention. I had a taste and it's actually quite nice. It's made with grape juice, limes, lychees and also infused with six botanical herbs including ginseng and ginkgo biloba.
Few minutes passed and I was hungry again. I do wonder sometime how and where do I store all these foods. This honey-rhum glazed pot roast of pork from Asia de Cuba restaurant was another excellent dish. It was served with sauteed Shanghai bok choy, fried plantains and enoki mushrooms.
With all these savoury dishes, I think I could just about squeeze one dessert and I had been eyeing the lemon cream by Francesco Mazzei of L'Anima. It's layers of sponge cake soaked in limoncello and lemon cream. It was good, but not tart enough for me. Completely a personal thing, I like my lemon dessert really tangy.
I had a wonderful day and was so full. Until next year I guess. Though I am already in the look for the summer event.