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Taste of London: The Food

I started eating injudiciously. We'd been handed a program at the entryway, a list of which of the forty restaurants were serving which three dishes. I wanted to see what the dishes looked like in the flesh, how they were presented, how the fair would work. There were next to no lines at the beginning, so browsing was easy. And so it was only a few dishes later that I realized that the portions were slightly larger than I was counting on, and that I had filled up rather too quickly on heavy meats. I sampled more than I could have on my own, thanks to C., but to do the fair justice would have required coming back several times over the course of the weekend (a small fortune), or else arriving with a far more ravenous appetite than I had.

  • Crab cocktail (Savoy Grill): A cool, low-key crab salad, mixed with finely-chopped celery for a bit of bite, and prettily presented in a little transparent stylized plastic container. Solidly competent, nothing exciting.

  • Potted duck & piccalili (Canteen): Smooth, tasty slice of potted duck shone through despite the overwhelming piccalili. The sauce wasn't bad, mind - coarsely chopped veggies bathed in piquancy - but more than the duck could deal with for most of my bites. Made to order, the combo was served on a freshly-toasted piece of robust bread.

  • Pickled chicken and spiced lamb kebabs (Mela), served with salad, a whole mini-meal. C. quite liked them. He liked them enough that I didn't have the chance to try any.

  • Braised saddle of suckling pig, creamed corn (Bank): C. and I were both struck by the dish, but it didn't live up to our hopes. The whole dish seemed stronger on spice than strength of taste in the core ingredients.

  • Bhel puri (Imli): Crunchy puffed rice, tossed with peanuts and cucumber, suffused with spicy chutney and topped with deep-fried vermicelli - a fun, tasty dish whose heat was deceptively mild at first - and grew. This was C.'s favorite dish.

  • Amalfi fruit salad (Fifteen): By this point, I really needed fruit and salad in my diet to balance out my failing appetite. The fruit salad was comprised of unexciting strawberries and better orange segments, marinated in limoncello and vanilla sugar. The refreshing dish was served in an orange half.

  • Coffee yogurt topped with lovely tart lemon foam (Pearl): With intriguing biscuity crunchy bits on top. The lemon foam was easily the best part of this dish. The rest wasn't bad - but the foam was really good.

  • Chocolate confection (Yauatcha): A flower-shaped confection of dark chocolate mousse and soft cake was enrobed in a solid dark chocolate shell, with an elegantly patterned finish. A purple petal and a slip of silver leaf on the top showed off this lovely dessert's pretension. And a very satisfying dessert it was, smooth, rich, and not too sweet.

  • Peach mousse with prosecco granita (Refettorio): If I had relied purely on the menu descriptions, I might never have sought out the most compelling edible of my afternoon. In the guide, the restaurant had merely listed "Fresh fruit mousse". They weren't wrong, but it was so much more than that.* Creamy pale mousse was redolent with the taste of ripe peach. Topped first with beautifully poached peach slices, still with a bit of bite to them, and then with a playfully sophisticated processo granita, the variety of tastes and textures complemented each other well. This is the one dish which really sold me on the idea of going beyond the fair to try out the restaurant itself.


* To be fair, the menu was subject to change over the course of the fair, depending on supplies.

Comments

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doctor_mama
Jun. 21st, 2006 12:56 am (UTC)
Thanks for this run-down. It sounds like it was a real carnival for the palate.
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