My last piece on the Taste of London festival extolled many of its virtues. My visit, though enjoyable, sadly, didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
Not quite the weather we experienced
Previous visits to this annual food festival were fantastic and I could not fault them. The weather was always good, which certainly helped as this is an outdoor event, but I came across fantastic restaurants serving great food and independent producers who made the finest food and drinks. I especially remember sitting at the Orient Express stand enjoying champagne in the sunshine with friends old and new and the Boxwood Café’s brilliant tasting menu by Stuart Gillies.
Taste this year featured, as ever, an array of exceptionally good restaurants. I cannot fault the organisers on that front. I particularly enjoyed the shrimp and scallop burger from Scott’s, the Churrasco de Lomo and corn temoles from Gaucho and the braised pork cheeks with creamed potatoes and clove sauce from Petrus.
On the downside it was sad to see that there weren’t as many independent retailers at the show. Gone were the saucisson producers and cheesemakers, replaced by large brands such as Whole Foods and tourist organisations like Jamaica. Yes, there is place for all but I did feel that this year’s festival lacked what had previously gave it credibility – independent, local retailers.
Making stands so expensive has plainly put off many and though the Producers Market contained the odd gem like Nils Oscar God Lager, The Garlic Farm and Sipsmith, the overall feel was far too corporate.
We quaffed several glasses of champagne with Mike and Fi of Lovely Bubbly on their stand. It was a pleasure to see them at the show but when we wanted to sit and enjoy a glass of wine, there was nowhere to go. With champagne and beer bars aplenty, one would have thought the organisers could have made more effort to find space for a decent wine bar of some form.
The show also felt far too overcrowded this year. Even with a VIP ticket, it was a fight to get in and then once inside the restaurants were crowded and the walkways jammed. In previous years, it was much easier to move around the site. This year felt more like a cattle market than an event where tickets cost up to £95 each.
Torrential downpours had plainly not been anticipated but with a lack of boardwalks it was impossible to get to some stands. Could the organisers not have put down a little more mulch?
I hope the organisers take up my points and that next year’s Taste of London regains what made it so classy.
For more information see http://www.tastefestivals.com/london