taste of london two – cocktail hour

 

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i never worked behind a bar in my university days, much preferring to be propped up on the other side nursing a cocktail that hopefully received a nice mates rate discount from one of the many friends i knew that did bartend part-time.

a buddy of mine is an extraordinary mixologist, even winning bartender of the year in london a few years back. i could spend hours gazing in awe as he pours, shakes, flairs and creates extraordinary flavours in front of my eyes. and last week, i finally got my chance to channel my inner tom cruise when sarah and i visited taste of london.  (see her mouth-watering post on the food here).taste of london - cocktail hour

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fellow aussie glen of the cocktail house made us work for our free drinks

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en route to our four-course meal by theo randall, we stopped for a quick refreshment in the cocktail house by first drinks brands. we got chatting to lovely aussie bartender glen, who said he’d let us try some of his finest cocktails on the house… on the condition that we worked for it. i was about to get a little lesson in mixology.

as i shrugged off my jacket and hopped behind the bar, sarah selected her cocktails of choice and watched, highly amused, while i was made to work for our free drinks.peanut buttered, peanut buttered blog, taste of london, the cocktail house by first drinks brand, mount gay rum cocktails,  raspberry collins recipe

peanut buttered, peanut buttered blog, taste of london, the cocktail house by first drinks brand, mount gay rum cocktails,  raspberry collins recipewe chose a muddled raspberry cocktail as my first attempt. glen showed us how to count out a second of pouring per shot of spirits. i managed to splash half the bar while trying to somewhat elegantly pour out my vodka, sugar syrup and lemon juice quantities, eventually giving up the fancy way of holding the bottle by the neck after drenching one unlucky scotsman in vodka.

i was instructed to muddle my raspberries and measure out two parts spirit to one part sweet and one part sour, followed by soda water for fizz. we taste tested and perfected the flavour, finishing off the pretty pink cocktail with a few raspberries and a slice of lime to garnish.

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i had long given up trying to hold the bottles the fancy way

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thinking i’m tom cruise

next was a gorgeous rum cocktail, made with grapefruit juice, sugar syrup and ginger ale. this time i even got to do the fun cocktail shaker thing – can you see the absolute glee on my face in sarah’s pictures? i was having fun.

glen explained that we drink with our noses as well as our tastebuds, so showed us how to rub the oil of a citrus peel (grapefruit, in our case) around the rim of the glass, and even the outside of the glass so the cocktail’s aroma is present on the drinker’s hands, leaving them with the memory of the flavours long after the drink has vanished. a final spritz of citrus oil over the cocktail has the scent wafting towards your nose even before that first taste.peanut buttered, peanut buttered blog, taste of london, the cocktail house by first drinks brand, mount gay rum cocktails,  raspberry collins recipe

peanut buttered, peanut buttered blog, taste of london, the cocktail house by first drinks brand, mount gay rum cocktails,  raspberry collins recipesarah judged that my cocktails passed the taste test, and we walked away with our hard-earned drinks in hand. the soaked bar and bystanders perhaps hinted that fancy flairing is not my thing, but i now have a couple of delicious and easy cocktail recipes in my repertoire to impress guests with. i predict a cocktail party in the very near future. cheers!

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cocktails, taste of london

here’s some glen made earlier

punch bowl, taste of london

huge punch bowl

taste of london

with the promise of sampling sumptuous cuisine from michelin-starred restaurants, decadent flavours from around the globe, and world-class chefs including the likes of wolfgang puck, nuno mendes and david chang showing off their kitchen flair, I was more than just a little excited about taste of london. actually, I was drooling just thinking about it.ceviche, asia de cuba

pork belly, asia de cubawith more than 40 restaurants and over 200 food and drink producers on show we found ourselves completely overwhelmed – there was so much to try. andrea suggested starting at asia de cuba, starting at the beginning of the alphabet did seem sensible,  and our first dishes of the day consisted of pork belly and ceviche – both were beyond divine.  

cocktail tent, taste of londontaste of london bara cocktail at the cocktail house by first brands, taste of londona beautiful bunch of flowers
the meat was melt-in-your-mouth amazing while the ice cream and chilli combinations of the fish fired up your mouth while cooling it down at the same time. incredible.

laurent-perrier tent, taste of londonafter moseying around the stands and nibbling on cured meats and breads from everyone who offered, plus paying a visit to the secret garden area, we decided to take a load off our feet and headed to the wedgwood tent. i could have spent the whole day there – it was ever so relaxing and oh so pretty.

beautiful bunches of flowers adorned every surface and the stunning fine-bone china tea ware were laid out  all around the space to show off the intricate designs. our teas were served in the gorgeous cups and saucers and came accompanied with a card providing information about the blend as well as a miniature chocolate.  my sencha, a green tea, was divine and the paul a young goat’s cheese treat was a little peace of heaven in one tiny mouthful.wedgwood tent, taste of londonwedgewood fine bone chinawedgewood fine bone china

after sampling several different produces we decided to indulge our tastebuds with something a little alcoholic. although the laurent-perrier bar was temping we decided it was cocktail time and andrea somehow managed to wangle a lesson on how to make the perfect tipple. judging from her bar flair mixology might be a good career move for her!

the main event of the day, where we found ourselves the most spoilt, was at the san pellegrino vip dining experience. we were treated to a four-course lunch prepared by theo randall.  what happy girls we were. the food was impeccably presented and we feasted on smoked eel, penne pasta, a fish stew and  for spectacular finish lemon tart, each dish trumped the previous. 
smoked eel, the randallsmoked eel, theo randallpenne pasta by theo randallfish stew theo randall

by the time we put our forks down i could not have eaten another morsel, no matter how badly I wanted to finish off the yummy lemon tart.  next time i’ll remember to take some trousers with a bit of give! we found ourselves in the grip of a food coma, but we didn’t care it was oh so worth it! it wasn’t just the food, we were also treated to a different glass of wine with each plate – who knew fish stew could be complimented so well by a delicious red?  fish stew, theo randallfish stew, theo randall

lemon tart, theo randallwith so much to see and do we found ourselves stretched for time – we only briefly walked past the theatre where the chefs were demonstrating their skills which was a real shame.

plus, we were so full after our tasting experience that we couldn’t sample any more food, we were particularly upset about missing out on the peanut butter ice cream.

despite this, taste of london has proved to be the most delicious event in town and it’s definitely in our diary for next year.

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taste of london