Spent most of bank holiday Sunday at the Foodies Festival in Hampton Court. They are set up at different locations throughout the year. There is going to be one in Edinburgh for example during the Edinburgh Festival in August. Foodies focuses on seasonal food and drink, specialty and local produce and local restaurant talent.
The weather was good, always a real bonus at this type of event. The show itself is not as big or as well attended as Taste, but I have to admit I prefer this one. Very few queues, space to see what you want to see, easy access to tables and chairs.
We attended several sessions at the Chefs Theatre, including the one from Gary Lee of The Ivy, who made a real point of stating that he was not a celebrity chef. The highlight here though, had to be Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi of Caffe Caldesi. Katie had been on Saturday Kitchen the previous day and there was some hilarity as she compared cooking with James Martin to cooking with her husband. The BBC missed a trick not having them both on together. They are a great double act.
There were unfortunately not too many top restaurant stands. Benares was the most high profile one. However there were some very good small stands. They included Lauden, one of my favorite chocolatiers, Doughmasters who made lovely club sandwiches using bread that was baked while you wait (not something you see often) and a stand selling Whoopie Pies – the trend following on from Cup Cakes, I had a maple syrup one, delicious.
On the drinks front, Joe Wadsack at the Cordorniu wine presentation was very good. He is a real raconteur. The El Dorado Rum tasting was fun and the champagne supplied by Eminent Wines (pictured), much to my surprise, really cut through a spicy Jamaican Pattie I had just eaten. So yes maybe good Champagne does go with everything.
Will definitely try and do this event again next year.
Celebrity hang out? I am not convinced. I have been here twice now and if you do spot anyone familiar, it is pretty much a Z lister. Then again I have not really been there on the popular nights. It was so hard to get a table, we just took what we could get. To guarantee a table, you may have to book 3 months in advance.
The venue is not pretentious, it actually very cosy, a bit of a refuge from all the hustle and bustle of theatre land. The food is surprisingly simple and Italian in influence. It is not cheap, but neither is it rip off prices. I particularly enjoyed the honeycomb ice cream desert.
They layout of tables is very good for people watching, no facing the wall for the Gents in this venue. On one visit, we were entertained by the chap at the next table (who had obviously just got back from a holiday in Spain) repeatedly shouting ¡HOLA! to get the waiters attention, the amusing part was when his girlfriend got up to go to the loo, and did not return!
We have been going to several of the restaurants in the Tas group for a good few years now. They are ideal venues for vegetarians as well, as the menu covers a number of interesting non meat dishes.
The first one Tas The Cut is still the best, followed by the Tas Borough High Street. The one in The Cut is very efficient and delivers good quality food. Ironically based on my experience you are more likely to spot a celebrity here, than at the Ivy – the Old and Young Vic Theatres are in the same street. On our last visit the actress Jenny Agutter was dining at the table next to ours.
The Tas group specialises in Anatolian cuisine, and also runs a couple of delicatessens.
They have a larger venue call EV located under the arches near Southwark Tube station. This is great on a summer evening for drinks or for a cheap night out with a large group, as is Tas Pide, which is right next to the Globe Theatre.