When I woke up on Saturday morning, the last thing I wanted to do was travel across London to Taste of Christmas at the ExCeL centre. This wasn’t down to tiredness, being hungover or just plain lazy, it was because I couldn’t bear to leave my flat after being burgled the night before by absolute bastards (I could write something ruder, but my parents read this).
In hindsight, I’m really glad I decided to go as I was able to spend the day doing what I do best – trying lots of food. I’m also glad I didn’t recognise all the brands that made up the large number of stalls, as if there had been more than one big corporate brand like Nespresso present, I think I would have questioned the whole event.
My favourite moments were trying the perfectly creamy and soft buffalo Mozzarella by Laverstock Park Farm, sampling Black Garlic for the first time, which I now know is made by slow cooking a bulb of garlic for 30 hours to produce a rich, sweet flavour, and eating too many slices of Scottish Oak Smoked Salmon from the Isle of Skye (this was so good, my dad bought an entire fish for Christmas, yay!).
As well as the stalls, there were a number of pop-up restaurants, including the amazing Cinnamon Club, where we were lucky enough to meet head chef Vivek Singh and his team.
We had already devoured the Stir Fry of Shrimp with Cracked Pepper and Curry Leaf when a lovely member of Vivek’s team gave us a free Garam Masala Christmas Pudding with Thandai Custard. The only downside to eating the perfectly light and fluffy subtly spiced dessert was the feeling of sadness that I couldn’t have it on Christmas day – Heston’s hidden orange pudding better live up to the hype…
I enjoyed the day and came home feeling a lot happier than when I left, probably because I was weighed down with a big bag of chocolate covered raisins from Cranberry and six delicious Hereford Beef and Free Range Pork sausages from Three Counties Fine Foods (some of the best sausages I’ve tasted in a while).
The one downside to Taste of Christmas is the fact it’s held inside. At eye level, it looked like a bustling market, but once I raised my head and saw the metallic roof, I felt like I was in an aircraft hangar. Christmas markets are traditionally held outside, so I’m sure we could all brave the cold if, like Taste of London, it was held in Regent’s Park next year – organisers, take note.