We're obviously a little biased here but we can't help but think that London is one of the most exciting food cities in the world. The only problem is that it's also rather large, and schlepping from one end of the city to the other in the hunt of excellent momos or the very best salt beef bagel can be a bit of a logistical (and geographical) nightmare.
With that in mind, we're delighted that Taste of London is almost here. Returning bigger and better than ever for its 2019 iteration, Taste of London is turning Regent's Park into the largest alfresco summer feast you've ever seen. If you like food, you'll like Taste of London. It's as simple as that. The five-day festival – taking place from 19-23 June – does exactly what it says on the tin by offering you the chance to sample food from London's best restaurants and chefs, all in one convenient (and sunny) place.
The resto roster at this year's iteration will feature more than 40 restaurants, including the likes of Rovi, Brigadiers, Smokestak, Som Saa, Dumplings' Legend, Bun House, Bodega Rita's, Berenjak, Lina Stores, Hoppers, Bao and more. So. Many. More. Whether you're looking for exclusive off-menu items or a high-profile chef masterclass where you can learn a new trick or twelve, here are some of the highlights you should be looking out for:
Chang Sensory Trails
As the official beer sponsor of Taste of London, Chang is joining forces with four London-based Thai restaurants to showcase a range of signature home dishes in what it's calling Chang Sensory Trails. Each dish will be entirely unique and inspired by the respective head chefs of each restaurant. Soho-based Wild Rice will be serving its trademark Thai fried chicken; Nipa will be serving its traditional tod mun pla (a classic Thai fish cake made with sweet chilli sauce, mixed cucumber relish and toasted peanuts); Greyhound Café will be serving hot oil pork knuckle with spicy tamarind curry paste, jaew sauce and sticky rice basket; and 101 Kitchen is creating a spicy fish salad, giving the classic Thai salad an Isaan and Laotian twist. Chang's beer will also be available at all bars throughout the festival, including the Diners Club VIP Lounge and around the Chang Music Stage. Cheers to that.
Grana Padano and Prosecco DOC collaboration
To help keep you easy and cheesy this year, Grana Padano and Prosecco DOC are hosting a joint stand for the duration of Taste of London. It's a bit like when your favourite cartoon characters would crossover onto one another's programmes (Johnny Bravo meets Scooby Doo, anyone?) except this collaboration is going to be a lot more grown up and a lot more delicious. Guests will be able to attend cooking masterclasses with talented chefs like Francesco Mazzei, Robert Chambers and Danilo Cortellini while also having the opportunity to learn all about the world of wine from experts such as Neil Phillips, Emily Harman, and more. As if all that didn't sound grand enough, prosecco tasting sessions will also be on hand to teach you all about the much-beloved sparkling beverage.
In the mood for *Seriously* cheesy pasta? Sartoria will be serving fettuccini out of a Grana Padano wheel all weekend. What dreams are made of.
Æcorn Aperitifs Spritz Bar
Want to drink a sophisticated non-alcoholic cocktail that doesn't reek of an aspartame-fuelled alcopop? The Æcorn Aperitifs Spritz Bar is where you should be spending your time at Taste of London. Blended and bottled in England, Æcorn Aperitifs are made from 100% English grown pinot noir, meunier and chardonnay grapes, pressed early and blended with a range of herbs, roots and bitter botanicals. Simply totter down to the Æcorn Aperitifs Spritz Bar and sample what Æcorn has to offer your palate – as well as ordering from a full spritz menu containing drinks of each of the three (dry, bitter, or aromatic) varietals. There's even the chance to try your hand at a series of masterclasses where you can try all three styles of Æcorn and then make your own perfect spritz. Who said you need alcohol to have fun?
A Taste of the Mediterranean with Belazu
Ingredients company Belazu will be hosting a range of live cookery demonstrations from London's top restaurant chefs and most talked-about food writers and stylists. Just a few of the heavy hitters gracing the Belazu stage include: Angel Zapata Martin, Ramael Scully, James Goodyear, Alexandra Dudley and Romy Gill. Product specialist Bob Curbishley will be co-hosting the demonstrations and running ingredient workshops throughout to give you an insight into the heritage behind Belazu's signature ingredients and latest launches. For an extra-special Taste of London first, Belazu has even created an Olive Bar stocked with a spate of varieties from all over the Mediterranean alongside a range of the company's house-roasted nuts. Expect tasters of the whole Belzau range including culinary pastes, oils, balsamic vinegars, fresh olives and pestos. During the cookery demonstrations you'll also be given the opportunity to win signed cookery books and the chance to take part in chef Q&As, all while feasting on tapas and enjoying a glass of cava or an ice-cold Heart & Soul IPA or Yakima Valley Pilsner from Vocation Brewery.
The Ketel One Kitchen
Vodka is like water, but with consequences. To ensure those consequences are positive ones, the Ketel One crew are returning to Taste with their popular cocktail masterclasses and funky tunes. The Ketel One Kitchen is known for its expertly created classic serves – the decadent Espresso Martini and the utterly sublime Bloody Mary. A twist this year is that the Ketel One Botanical Spritz – which they're touting as the new drink of the summer – will be joining the menu. With three mouth-watering varietals including grapefruit and rose, peach and orange blossom and cucumber and mint, this delicious crisp and fresh-tasting cocktail is the perfect drink to enjoy with your mates.
The Samsung Kitchen featuring Sauce by The Langham
Get a glimpse of a real Jetson's style of cooking at The Samsung Kitchen featuring the new cookery school Sauce by The Langham, where executive chef Chris King will be teaching failsafe techniques to create a perfect fluffy soufflé using Samsung's Dual Cook Flex oven and Induction Hob with Virtual Flame Technology. Sounds pretty space-age, huh? Well, as well as increased kitchen confidence, each attendee will get to take home their delicious creations, and that day's recipe to replicate at home. 'Building Block' classes are ideal for beginners, though the option to ramp it up a level by attending a masterclass with one of The Langham's brigade of talented chefs remains an option for the more experienced. Learn everything from knife-honing skills to how to tackle the finest French classics – followed, of course, by a moment to enjoy the fruits of your labours.
Taste of London runs from 19-23 June 2019 at Regent’s Park. Tickets are available from £23, and Diners Club VIP Tasting tickers – which include three dishes, access to the VIP lounge, fast-track entry, a glass of Champagne Laurent-Perrier La Cuveé and more are available from £73. Find out more and book at london.tastefestivals.com