The most delicious dates of the summer are just around the corner. Taste of London returns to Regent's Park between June 16th - 19th. The 2011 lineup of the foodie festival boasts eleven Michelin stars and 40 restaurants participating in total. This year's event will also feature cooking demos from the likes of Tom Aikens and appearences by Michel Roux Jr, Silvena Rowe and Chris Galvin in the new Secret Garden as well as the British BBQ Championships.
That gastronomical rollcall should be enough to tempt your taste buds, but just in case you have doubts, the MyDaily team previewed some of the offerings from this year's group of newcomers.
When the invitation arrived we were slightly unsure if food designed to be served in one of the city's biggest parks could really be what the Master Chef crew would refer to as "fine dining of the highest order", but from carpaccio at Scott's, to Thai tasters at ORA, and finally dessert at Le Caprice, the proof was in the pudding, and the starter, and the main, and the wine for that matter!
We kicked off our lunch at Scott's. The famous London eatery lived up to its reputation as both celeb hot spot - we spotted Ronnie Wood dining alfresco - and as a gastro giant.
We ate: Octopus carpaccio with slow roasted Datterini tomatoes, capers and rocket. Refreshing and delicious, but luckily it left us with plenty of room for our next two stops.
We drank: Chapel Down Bacchus white wine (a crisp and affordable bottle from the UK)
At ORA we were treated to tasting portions of everything they are serving at Taste of London and a few surprise extras courtesy of head chef Tamas Khan.
We ate: Grilled tuna and green mango salad with chilies, lemongrass, fresh herb tamarind dressing; grilled duck breast topped with sweet and sour tamarind; green curry chicken with Thai aubergine served with Thai jasmine rice; satay chicken; and a surprise pudding of Thai mango on coconut rice. The plates sounded familiar, but trust us when we say these Thai bites were miles ahead of your favourite takeaway.
We drank: Domaine Wachau Terraces Gruner Veltliner 2009 Wachau (This is our hot dinner party tip, it sounds impressively fancy but you can pick it up at Waitrose for less than a tenner - we won't tell if you won't)
Our final stop was legendary St. James's haunt Le Caprice, celebrating its 30th anniversary since its relaunch and its first year at Taste of London. We felt very grownup and professional just walking through the door, until they served us popping candy and our squeals of delight showed our true colours (and mental age).
We ate: Cru Virunga chocolate crackle pot with raspberries. Basically the poshest and most decadent set chocolate custard you can imagine topped with homemade popping candy.
We drank: "Calcarole" Recioto della Valpolicella by Roberto Mazzi (a sweet red, perfect for chocolate lovers).
We left our preview feeling very full and very spoiled indeed. We also learned two important lessons. One, Taste of London deserves its delicious reputation. Two, we really need to work on our pacing if we have any hopes of sampling all 40 participants!
For tickets and prices visit tastefestivals.com/london and for a complete list of participants check out the list below.
For your chance to win two VIP tickets to the event, enter MyDaily's Taste of London competition!