Saturday, 19 June 2010

Taste of London 2010

Hmm, did I say that the food & wine sellers at Taste of London were not so generous these days? Looks like I'll have to eat my words (if I can fit another thing in!) after I thoroughly abused their abundant generosity this year! I pretty much had to waddle home.....

Well, this year I was much better for taking pictures before greedily stuffing my face - enjoy!:

Good Natured - The lovely lady with red wellies totally spoiled us........and all for free, no crowns needed! Guess they live up to their name! biggrin
Cherry tomato with pesto
Cherry tomato with basil
Strawberries with clotted cream
Scones with raspberry jam, clotted cream and strawberries

One of my favourite stands - I would definitely buy ingredients from here, everything was very fresh & amazing!

Gauchos - grilling & prep...

Gauchos - Bife de chorizo - Argentine Black Angus sirloin, humitas and chimichurri. The steak was as succulent as I always expect from Gauchos, and the humitas which I'd never tried before was lovely - some type of creamed sweetcorn wrapped in corn husk.

The hungry mob!

Whole Foods were offering lovely nibbles

Gin Mare - the guy demonstrating was giving shots with an odd addition - the first tub on the left had olive paste, which he put into the solution in the second tub - after a few seconds it formed a skin and then he put it in the water in the third tub to let it set........

Gin Mare - the odd shot. The gin had quite a kick!! The olive paste had an odd texture - the ball burst in your mouth but you could feel the firm skin it had formed in the solution. Pity I'm not a gin person!

Trinity - chef preparing asparagus and tiny quail eggs on the grill. To the side you can see pheasants eggs, quail eggs and some of the other dishes on offer.....compared to the suckling pig dish they offered, the pigs trotters weren't nearly so high in demand even though they were the 'icon dish', so the guy pictured was pretty much shouting about pigs trotters all day! lol I was one of few who ordered:

Trinity - Pigs trotters on toasted pain polaine, fried quail eggs, sauce gribiche and crackling. My first time trying pigs trotters. They sound odd but to be honest as an Irish person I should have had them before! One of my favourite dishes of the day. The crackling made very satisfying crunching sounds!

Sake no Hana - Quail with sansho pepper. The quail was cooked differently to how I'd ever had it before, and it was very good - the skin was crispy, the meat tender and even the bed of spring onions was devoured hungrily.

Beas Bloomsbury - cupcakes & meringues! I didn't try anything at the time, but it was a very tempting stand. Apparently they do afternoon tea there - must try it sometime.

Beas Bloomsbury

Macsween - Haggis! Very yummy, especially with that dollop of chutney on top

Fino - Cochifrito suckling pig. The meat pretty much fell off the bone, it was so tender.

Asia de Cuba - Jumbo sea scallop with sweet & sour plantains and habanero corn crema. I always seem to get scallops at Taste of London. This did not disappoint! Juicy.

Chapel Downs - actually from a wine stand [I visited the vineyard last year! biggrin ], but they looked too good to resist!

Oysters with lemon and a red wine, vinegar and shallot drizzle. The drizzle was amazing!

I must say that food-wise, I didn't have one thing here that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. The drinks were another matter altogether - but since they were all samples, I really can't complain.

Till next year!

Happy eating,


I've received an email about a Taste of London promo where some of the restaurants exhibiting have Taste of London offers, starting from £15:

Also, those pigs trotters I had at the Trinity stand were apparently voted 'Best in Taste' for the show! The conchifrito suckling pig I had from Fino came second.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Cheap Nom Noms

While London has apparently dropped 13 places down to 16th in the 'Worlds Most Expensive City Survey 2009', it is still quite an expensive place for people who actually live here and feel the other side of the €/£ exchange rates of late that the Eurozone take advantage of.

A friend recently asked me how was it that I can afford to go out so much and afford living by myself with all the bills etc., plus have a dependant (just a kitten, mind you, but a dependant all the same!)?

Indeed - I do get cabin fever, especially lately now I've been trying to budget so this topic is definitely on my mind. Thankfully in summer there are plenty of other things to do in London during the summer apart from eat and drink but that's what this blog is all about, so allow me to divulge all my budget wining and dining secrets!



When I first moved here, it wasn't long before I heard about - this is a website with a huge database of restaurants in London with a good search function so you can choose what kind of cuisine you'd like and what kind of price you're hoping to pay, based on your specific location. Of course, this website doesn't just encompass London restaurants - it also covers other parts of Europe, USA and Africa.

What's good about it is that when you can read reviews other people have left for the prospective restaurants, and to encourage other people to leave reviews you receive points for reviews you leave on restaurants you book through them. These points can then be used for free meals and a few other food related paraphernalia.

They also often have special offers in conjunction with the restaurants - usually 50% off food and the like. My favourite London restaurant Gilgamesh happens to be on Toptable and they always have a 50% the set meal price so I usually book through them.

Taste London

While I haven't actually received my card yet, I can't mention food offers in London without mentioning Taste London.

Basically, Taste London is a discount card which has 50% off the total food bill OR 2 for 1 deals with over 1000 restaurants. Surprisingly, there are quite a few well known chains signed up to this - a few include Barcelona Tapas, Bombay Bicycle Club, Caffe Uno, Gourmet Burger, Henrys, La Tasca, Strada, Pizza Express, The Real Greek and Tiger Tiger.

Of course there are some restrictions and drawbacks - many restaurants you need to book ahead, or you can only have a limited number of guests, or the card cannot be used on a Friday/Saturday - or the main drawback for me which was the hefty £69.95 price tag! But now I really can't complain - currently they are doing an offer with TimeOut: a FREE one month trial (no card details needed) & after the one month trial, the card will be offered to you at a slightly less gasp-inducing price tag of £49.95 - which I personally think will be worth it once I've used it a couple of times.

So those are the two main places I would go to for discounts on a wide range of restaurants and bars. However, there are a few places I like to go to which are either a great price in the first place, or do money saving offers not in conjunction with anyone else.


  • Hi Sushi (Camden / Covent Garden): Apart from Saturdays, they do a great all-you-can-eat sushi deal for £15 per person. Fresh sushi, mind you; not the conveyor belt kind. You also get other non-sushi food but the quantities of these are limited. I must say I have never managed to finish off all the things I order! I recommend the Camden one.
Sushi for 3 @ Hi Sushi, Camden

  • Nandos (Everywhere!): Next time you go here, ask for one of their customer reward cards - each time you spend over £5.95 here you get a stamp - if you collect enough stamps, you can get a free quarter / half / full chicken. What I used to do as a student was collect the stamps and keep the full card worth a free chicken for when I was broke. Much appreciated!
  • Abeno (Holborn / Chinatown): After visiting Japan and trying Okonomiyaki (Japanese grilled savoury pancakes) in Osaka in a dark, smokey restaurant with a massive teppan grill, I was dreaming of finding a good okonomiyaki place in London. After asking a Japanese friend about it, I was brought to Abeno near the British museum. Apparently this is where homesick Japanese people go for authentic okonomiyaki. It is considered 'street food' in Japan, and while the prices in Abeno aren't quite street food price, they are still pretty good - roughly £15 per head for great great food. Warning though - the staff don't speak much english so brush up on your Japanese first!
Okonomiyaki @ Abeno, Museum Street

  • Crispy Duck (Chinatown): whenever my craving for roast Chinese food strikes, I always seem to gravitate to Crispy Duck on the main street of Chinatown. They do good traditional roast duck, char siu, crispy pork belly and the like for really great prices, with no pretensions.
  • Dim Sum (Chinatown): Ok, I haven't specified a particular restaurant here (I've been meaning to do a blog post about it which would go into more detail...) but going to yum cha is great when you're on a budget - if you avoid the obviously expensive places of course! In Chinatown I wouldn't expect to pay more than £15 for copious amounts of dim sum and tea.
  • Camden Lock Market (Camden): You can get a pretty diverse range of food from around the world here at great prices if you don't mind either forfeiting seating or sitting on stairs or by the canal to eat. Some favourites include an Argentinian steak sandwich, takoyaki (octopus balls), fresh orange juice, chicken fajitas and some chocolate dipped strawberries.
  • Hotel Chocolat (Online): Ok, this isn't exactly eating out. Or just about London. But as I used to work here at one point and totally got addicted to the chocolate (even ate the dark chocolate here - I used to hate dark chocolate!). It can be a little expensive, but there are ways around it - end of season offers and the introductory chocolate club offer = cheap chocolate nom noms!

  • Dirty Martini (Covent Garden): Happy hour offers are fantastic here - £4 amazing martini cocktails, half price bottles of wine / glasses of champage / bar food and £10 off bottles of bubbly. Happy hour is 5-10pm Monday - Thursday, 5-8pm Friday & Saturday, and all day Sunday.
Martini cocktails @ Dirty Martini

  • B@1 (Everywhere!): They've got a massive range of cocktails to choose from, and their happy hour (which I think is different depending on which one you go to) offers 2 for 1 cocktails. The staff are ultra friendly and seem to be trained to party harder than the customers!
  • Browns (Everywhere!): All their 'Signature Cocktails' are £3.50 from 4pm on Sunday to close of play on Wednesday. Warning - some of these pack quite a punch!
Cocktails @ Browns, West India Quay

These are just a few of my favourite budget places - suggestions of more places are very welcome! :)

Happy eating,


Monday, 7 June 2010

Food Coma

"The feeling of listlessness, bordering on sleep, that one feels after eating a large meal, often caused by a rush of blood to the stomach and intestines during food digestion."
Urban Dictionary