Taste of London: The Festive Edition

This Thursday, my friend Louisa and I finally got to go to Taste of London. We have always wanted to go ever since we have both been based in London but have never been organised enough to get tickets. This time we told ourselves, we would definitely book them in advance (and so we did!). We went for the standard ticket option which was only £15 pounds, and I have to say that when you actively choose to make the most of all the events going on it is a great deal.

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Louisa is (like many of my other friends) a foodie like me, so we were both excited and keen to try all the food, take part in the events and get some festive drinks going. From the get go I tried and was quickly swayed to buy some mulled whisky (it is delicious), and we tactically went round trying samples of different cheeses, drinks and food itemsLouisa somehow managed to get a bottle of prosecco for £12 which really got the party going and was an absolute bargain. In hindsight, it was most definitely an error of judgement on the part of the seller. When we went back, we quickly realised the man was not supposed to be selling bottles, gritting his teeth as he awkwardly whispered the managing director was stood behind us and he was about to be lectured. Nevertheless, a personal shout out to the man for getting me tipsy!

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The first thing we wanted to do was watch one of the taste theatres which were free of charge. This is where we got the chance to watch famous chefs cook. We sat down sipped at our prosecco and watched Abdul Yaseen, The Chef behind Darbaar, a new Indian restaurant on the scene. Based on an Indian Christmas, he made an aromatic vindaloo curry with an abundance of fragrant spices. The smell radiated around the room, and while we were not allowed to try it (CRY), his restaurant colleague made a minty spiced cocktail to tantalise our taste buds (that is such a cliche saying isn’t it- but it works). It is safe to say I will be visiting the restaurant in the week as it has left me permanently craving a comforting curry.

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Next, we obviously had to go round and try some of the festive food that the restaurants had to offer. We tactically scoured the menus and decided on our must try items. (i told you- foodies, everything has to be planned).

We went for:

Wagyu Beef with a Bulgogi sauce and mushrooms from Chi Kitchen, a Contemporary pan-Asian restaurant. £10 – (definitely not real wagyu but it was mouthwatering nonetheless)DSC01533.jpg

BBQ pork belly in steamed buns with spicy peanut soy From Kurobuta £6dsc01540

  • Truffle Mac n’ Cheese from Tom’s Kitchen ( Never looks good in photos, so I left this one out – I love truffle though so this was a winner if not a bit too small for £5
  • and finally for dessert a tasty Oreo cookie from blondie’s kitchen accompanied with almond milk for accustomary cookie dunking! – There was the option to have malted milk, but Louisa and I don’t particularly like the taste of it) £5dsc01613

However, I think we would both agree that our favourite part of the night was the live cooking class which were also free of charge and operated on a first come first serve basis. Having got drunker as time went by- we stumbled upon this by pure chance and as the eager beans we are- we made sure to line up 15 minutes before in case anyone dropped out. Our tactic was as follows: people are drinking- drunk people are forgetful- may not show up – we take their place. It turns out, this actually worked.

We managed to get into Jeremy Pang’s School of Wok. We got to make a variety of dishes in half an hour. 

dsc01571dsc01582These included a warming festive chai tea with spices and condensed milk, a steamed cod fillet with sha cha & sweet soy and festive fried rice (cranberries/pancetta/ Brussel sprouts).

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SO GOOD. The staff also kindly went round serving Crispy 5 Spice Crackling which made a perfect accompaniment. It was super fun (and I understand this may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but we loved it) to cook along with the chef and do it all together as a group. We learnt a couple of wok skills, and for our level of tipsiness our food came out pretty amazing.

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London’s New Wok Master (ignore all the mess)


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Drunk and Satisfied

 

Overall, Taste of London was a great event and because it was the festive edition it really got me into the spirit of Christmas. One of my favourite things about this time of year is all the events that go on around London, and this was no exception. I loved the food, but I also loved the vibes and all the things there was to do in the space of one evening.

Safe to say, ill be back next year.

 

Festive Menu at Ma Plucker

Once again, (this is beginning to sound like deja vu- big up Katrina) my fellow foodie and friend invited me along to the Ma Plucker Festive Menu Debut.

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Ma Plucker’s ethos is all things chicken- including fried and rotisserie, as well as yummy guilty pleasure sides like fried halloumi bites. However, we didn’t try the standard menu – we were there to taste the ‘afternoon festive tea’ – done in the spirit of celebrating the festive season of Christmas!

For £18.50 you are given a glass of prosecco or boozy cranberry iced tea on arrival and then unlimited regular cranberry iced tea after- as well as three savoury and three sweet dishes. Katrina and I arrived super early (both hungry and eager to eat some chicken!) and patiently waiting for some delicious goods to come out the kitchen. You know when you’re early to a party, and you sit there chatting but in your mind you’re kind of like…. okay I’m hungry now – that was us.

The Menu consists of three brioche bun sandwiches and three desserts all laid out bare on a platter for you to sink your teeth into.

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The savoury options were:

  • Mini coronation pulled chicken bun 

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  • Mini rotisserie chicken bun with bbq sauce

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  • Sylvia’s festive bap (she’s the Ma plucker mascot- no lie and this had cranberry sauce slathered all over)

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Overall, I have to say that while the sandwiches were tasty- they weren’t necessarily my favourite. I think despite the cranberry, most of the sandwiches resonated with summer flavours for me. Don’t get me wrong – it was yummy and in terms of the theme, it does stick to what afternoon tea would usually serve, but I was secretly hoping for more warming dishes like some crispy fried chicken. I was actually left more curious for the main menu main dishes and will definitely have to go back to try them.

Then, onto my favourite part– the lowdown of the Sweet Treats:

  • Mini mince pies (unfortunately i am not a huge fan of mince pies in general- oops guilty)
  • Salted caramel doughnuts

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  • Ma’s Scoffle (waffle cream and strawberry jam)

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I LOVED THE DOUGHNUTS. I’ve put that in capitals to express how much I loved them. I think I  ate about three because Katrina kindly offered me one of hers (thanks, gal!). They were soft and melted in the mouth. I also really enjoyed the take on a classic scone, and the waffle jam cream combination is especially moorish!

The team also kindly came about offering some of the mini versions of their fried mac and cheese. Again, I love mac and cheese and anything fried, so these really hit the spot and left me craving more.

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Overall, I would say I enjoyed my time at Ma Plucker, and I loved the concept of a chicken shop serving hearty dishes. However, if I had to pick, I would probably go for the main menu which seems to give you a lot of choices to craft the perfect chicken concoction to your own liking and ensures that you can go back multiple times and never have the same dish! 

Winner winner chicken dinner. (pun intended).

Thanksgiving Cooking Event

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to be invited along with my good friend Katrina to another one of her press events. As she knows I am a huge foodie (and an inspiring blogger), she thought the event would be perfect for me.

Hosted by French’s American Mustard, the evening entailed a Thanksgiving feast, incorporating French’s products into the meal and getting the chance to be hands on and cook. In fact, we got to prepare two Thanksgiving traditional dishes all together with Mississipi-born chef Brad MacDonald by our side, whose specialities lie in Southern State cooking. Southern state cuisine is definitely becoming a new favourite of mine, and as Katrina’s family also originate from the South, it felt particularly special that we got to cook and learn some new recipes together. While I am not American, I am slowly starting to be convinced that it is one of the best holidays as the food is always so tasty!

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Set at Food at 52 cookery school near Old Street, the location was cute, quaint and cosy– the perfect place you’d imagine a Thanksgiving meal to be. I felt like I was in somebody’s home with the glorious smell of slow cooked turkey and ham swirling around as soon as we entered. With wine continuously flowing (and probably impairing my ability to do the basic cooking) we all started off making the first dish: potato salad.

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Salad prep

With all our ingredients kindly laid out in front of us, various people around the table took on different tasks. Some chopped the potatoes, others the squash, the chestnuts and the dressing. Consisting of mayo, vinegar olive oil, chives parsley and of course mustard, the dressing was delicious! I’m not sure if it was because I had had little to eat that day or I was also feeling the effects of my red wine, but I kept getting the urge to lick my spoon for more. Garnished with French’s crispy onions and pumpkin seeds everything came together to create the perfect moreish dish.

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There’s a domestic goddess in all of us

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Our combined efforts in action

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The finished product!

Next, after sitting back, chatting and guzzling some more red wine (oops guilty), we all shared the pleasant task of making a Green Bean Casserole. Brad told us that this particular dish was a real reminder of home and it certainly did not disappoint. While I have never thought of having green beans this way, it will certainly be a new preferred method of mine.

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Note to self: Don’t get tipsy and try and pour beans into boiling water

Combining green beans and sauteed mushrooms, every element was merged by the creamy and flavourful bechamel sauce, whisked through with sour cream, mustard and plenty of crispy onions… I may have poured in the whole box at this point, but I have no regrets.

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Testing out the Bechamel (we approved)

Katrina and I both said we really enjoyed the chance to cook with others in a relaxed and comforting setting- it made the event feel like a special homely occasion. But, that was not even the best part of the evening. While we had contributed in making a few of the side dishes, Brad, his wife and the French’s team had also spent the day preparing the other excellent dishes which were on the menu for the evening. These included:

  • Roast Turkey with Tangy Mustard Stuffing
  • Ginger Beer Mustard Glazed Ham (YUM)
  • Mustard Braised Greens with Almonds
  • & Cornbread (Brad’s Speciality)

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The Stuffing Up Close and Personal

I am not even joking – when all the food was laid out in front of us, including the dishes we had helped make a wave of excitement rushed over me as we were finally able to put an image to the mystical smells and taste it all. Everyone rushed to take pictures of the marvellous spread in front of us (including me!).

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You know it’s going to be a good meal when you photograph each other with the food

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As we sat down to eat, each and every dish was tantalising good. For starters, I loved the cornbread; its sweetness went particularly well with the other salty and tangy flavours on the plate. Also, I had never really had a tangy mustard sauce with turkey– in England, it’s all about the gravy- but French’s recipe? Well, it has officially convinced me. I wish I could have had more and more of that stuffing and I was tempted to go up for seconds. However, my eyes always deceive my stomach, and I wanted to have room for dessert (which is always my favourite part of ANY meal). By this point Katrina and I already felt super satisfied and sleepy, joking about how we would have to roll all the way home. (In the end.. it seems people agreed because a lot were ordering ubers– stuck firmly in a food coma and overcome by sheer delight).

I had kept some room for dessert for a reason. The evening ended with cute miniature pumpkin and pecan pies (topped with bourbon whipped cream). That was all I could pretty much still fit at this point- although I did obviously have to try both). Both were incredibly scrumptious and baked to perfection. dsc01212_fotor

Overall I had a great time and felt incredibly stuffed and content. Thanksgiving has also made me realise that nearly any fruit or vegetable can be transformed into a dessert– so that’s another bonus in my eyes. Upon leaving, we were given some of the French’s products we had used and recipes of the dishes, which I hope to replicate and bring to Thanksgiving at Katrina’s house.

That’s the exciting part, this won’t even be my last Thanksgiving meal of the year. 

Murder Mysteries & Fried Chicken

Yesterday, my good friend Katrina was kind enough to invite me along to the American Horror Story Murder Mystery press event. It was to publicise the hotel season’s official availability on Blu-ray and DVD from the 3rd of October (Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment).

NOW you’re probably thinking – wait what has this got to do with food ‘eastlondonfoodgirl’?

Well, when you’re drunk and have been fed in minuscule bits of canapes you automatically need substance… right? We decided to try out Absurd Bird in Soho

…but more on that later.

Certainly, I had my doubts about what the event would be like (American horror story has always freaked me out). Yet once  we were there, I became completely invested in trying to solve the crime, talking to the actors and actresses and trying to outsmart everyone. (TRUST ME you’d have done the same). On arrival, we were each given booklets of critical information- who the characters were, what the hotel was like. More importantly, we were served with kir royales (creme de cassis with champagne- lovely darling) and canapes. My favourites had to be the small zucchini canapes which were rolled and stuffed with ricotta and sundried tomatoes. They also had mini steak tartars, Chicken liver parfait (mine fell all over my crucial mystery info.. it had to be me) and my favourite part.. mini desserts… who can say no to a mini apple crumble or five?

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Studying our suspects (booze included)

Once we were ushered downstairs back into the “past” before and after the murder occurred, we were served with endless amounts of wine (red or white), and I must admit we were all pretty tipsy at this point- maybe this was to increase our willingness to participate and if so it worked. Katrina and I basically believed we were the new Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. We were given clues and had to tactically listen to private conversations. In the end; you had to vote for who you thought did it. Of course, my potential career as a private detective was a massive fail, and we both ended up getting the culprit wrong. Nonetheless, it was a really captivating and fun event that cleverly promoted the series- we even got to watch one episode. – (it turns out that the drunker you are the more surreal the series gets)

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Two aspiring detectives

We then headed to Absurd Bird in Soho. We were both craving fried chicken, and it certainly hit the spot! They had a deal on cocktails until 8pm (£6 on each), so we decided to try the in house moonshine. dsc00279They had many different flavours – we tried both original and apple cinamon.- Naturally, I liked apple cinnamon better- it was sweet enough, but not too sweet that when having your cocktail you feel like you’re eating a dessert (which is technically never a bad thing I guess).

dsc00283For food, they have a twisted take on southern classics: I went for the fried chicken bao buns, and Katrina went for the fried chicken sliders. There is also a range of different side dish options and we went for the sweet potato fries– (they quickly disappeared). It’s a restaurant that’s easy going, the food is highly shareable (bonus), and it has many different choices on the menu to cater to all.dsc00284

The only downside was that ALL the desserts had sold out… every. single. choice. on the menu and we had been pretty adamant that we wanted to try the peanut butter cheesecake.

I mean, doesn’t everyone else look at desserts before main courses? …or perhaps just a restaurant’s menu beforehand?

I know I do.