Monday, 22 June 2009

Taste of London 2009 - A Worker's Tale

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Tristan Welch of Launceston Place

Sunday was quite literally a brighter day for Taste of London 2009.

In return for Thursday's complimentary tickets, I'd foolishly offered to help my cousin Lily run the Yum Yum Tree Fudge stand. I went in the Chester Road Trade Entrance and got totally lost, but thankfully she spotted me wandering aimlessly about.

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Yum Yum Tree was tucked away in the Producers' Section. Using my excellent Blue Peter skills, I co-opted next door's table to make a few multi-coloured posters eg "Perfect for Father's Day (Today!)", whilst Lily and another cousin laid out the fudge.

It was weird but beautiful to see the park devoid of visitors and to see people scurryng around setting up stalls or just chilling before the masses descended.

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Our neighbour was Max - a lovely guy promoting Sweet Freedom, a sugar substitute. We also rubbed shoulders with David's Chilli Oil, Mangajo Juices, and Tracklements.

At 12 o'clock, the PA announced that Taste of London 2009 was officially open. My job was to stand in the sun with free fudgey samples and yell at people to come and buy.

It was hot and embarrassing, but I still loved it - I particularly enjoyed grinning and gurning at the lads from Fishworks who were also touting their wares.

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I got quite good at pitching:

"Yum Yum Tree Fudge! Over 30 different flavours from Goji Berry to Garlic!
Home-made with all natural flavours and ingredients!"


The only horror was having to watch visitors swan past with delicious looking treats and drinks - first a wave of mojitos, next a gaggle of ice poles. Luckily the guy at Mangajo took pity on me and kept me hydrated with their fruity iced teas.

I got a break at 1, so I rushed around to spend my leftover Crowns. The first place I dashed to was the Taste Waitrose stand which offered by far the most attractive sounding dish - Slow Cooked Pig Cheeks with Pea Tops and Seared Scallops (£4).

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It totally lived up to expectations. The pig cheeks were luscious, meaty and soft and went wonderfully with the juicy scallops.

The pea tops were zesty and summery and cut through the richness. There was also a gorgeous, fragrant pool of meaty gravy at the bottom, maybe allspice?

It was so ridiculously good, I would have gladly grabbed another but no time.

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After darting in and out of various producers, next I swung by Launceston Place to catch Tristan Welch dishing up - and hell if he ain't super-cute in the flesh - also see pic at top.

Then to Pont De La Tour again to get another amazing Seafood Platter (£8).

This time I got two fat whelks for my troubles - and I undaintily scarfed the lot opposite someone who I know is a famous actress/singer (blonde hair, fringe, may have presented Loose Women at one point).

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Last stop on my break was L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for the Le Burger au Foie Gras et aux Poivrons Verjut√©s and the Le Chocolat Sensation au Chocolat Araguani, Glace au Chocolat Ivoire et Biscuit Oreo (£3).

Turned out the burger was the size of a golfball, but I still ordered the generous-looking pud quick smart.

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Oh my giddy aunt. One spoonful of Chocolate Sensation and I swear I blacked out through ecstasy.

The white chocolate shards were creamy sweetness, the chocolatey base oozed lusciousness and the dark chocolate Oreo crumbs melted away into heaven.

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Anyway, back to the grindstone after this brief interlude of bliss - this time I was behind the Yum Yum Tree counter and I proved fantastically rubbish at giving prices:

"4 for £1, no, 1 for £4, 2 for £10, no, 3 for £10"

Also I hate to say it, but after five hours, everyone was beginning to look like gannets.

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Some punters were brazen - saying "Four pound? For that little bag? What a rip-off!" and "Will you sell me a bag for £1?".

Come on people, you paid £25 just to get in - you're not poor.

Anyway, I have renewed respect for those in the food industry, especially small producers.

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Time did pass thankfully, and we did pretty well considering the number of people who did drive-by tastings without even looking at us.

Suddenly there were only 20 minutes left - and as Lily wanted to sell as much as possible, I ran back into the open to holler about the Yum Yum Tree Fudge closing sale.

Five minutes left and I realised I still had a wad of Crowns to spend. My cousin told me to go get rid of them, so I ran off like Supermarket Sweep.

First I got the T&T (Tuna & Truffle) Rolls from Sumosan (£5).

These were good and with a nice tang of truffle, but not nearly as delicious as I remember - and also featured one less roll than last time.

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I ducked over to Kai Mayfair next who were actually giving away their Chocolate, Kumquat & Tea Shots by then (usually £3).

I wolfed one of those down - cocoa, citrus goodness with just the right hint of tea.

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The Taste Waitrose Stand was also shifting all their ingredients, so I fought through the crowd to snatch a bunch of goodies including an enormous tub of King Scallops for a fiver and a free bag of Pea Tops.

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Eventually all the visitors were turfed out, even the stragglers, and a sense of happy calm and relaxation descended.

The camaraderie was back in force as exhibitors swapped their stock and chatted as they began to pack away.

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I wandered by Launceston Place again and they were handing out their Rhubarb and Crumble Ice Creams.

It was just as fantastically fruity and creamy as it had looked on telly, and though the crumble topping was a touch too fine, I expect this was because it was the last little bit and I'm certainly not complaining.

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My friend Lou at the French Flair Theatre called me over to get their leftover supplies so my cousins and I ran over to scoop up crates of eggs, herbs, butter, cheese and vegetables.

Lou even introduced me to ze lovely Jun Tanaka and we attempted to preserve the moment for posterity but then my camera totally malfunctioned.

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Finally we were all packed up and ready to roll.

Four adults, a table, a chair, 50 crates and all the leftovers we could carry managed to fit in one car - there's the Burmese spirit for you!

As we pulled away I thought to myself what a ruddy good day I'd had.

Sunday made me love Taste of London again - maybe because my backstage pass made me really appreciate the effort that goes into a festival like this.

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4 comments:

  1. Who says you can't taste a blog; you do realise your blogging productivity and excellence (don't bluhs - it's true) puts professional journos to shame. Combined with the 99% excellent photos (and I envy you meeting Jun) and your engaging writing style and wit means your blog is only one of two I bookmark. Thank you.

    Chumbles

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  2. Wow, all the food looked wonderfully delicious! The worker's tale was even more enjoyable than the visitor's tale!

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  3. Stunning pics as always MiMi, and the one of us in the kitchen is just hilarious. I'm so glad you still posted it even though your camera was obviously overwhelmed by such good looking subjects!!!

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  4. @Chumbles, I could kiss you! Thank you so much :)

    @cabcooks - cheers - it was a better day too!

    @Lou - heh, I knew you'd like it :-p

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Thanks for taking the time to comment!