Meeting Michel Roux Jr at Taste of Christmas 2013; Tobacco Dock, East London

25 Nov

Turkey, gnocchi, warm gin brews and Michel Roux Jr, yup – it can only mean one thing – Taste of Christmas 2013!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… Everywhere you go. Especially in Tobacco Dock which was taken over last weekend for the annual Taste of Christmas festival. I had wondered why they had moved from the venue of last year, Excel. All became clear when I watched the news on Saturday morning and saw that a 50th anniversary for Doctor Who was taking place at Excel, meaning that Taste of Christmas had to move their set-up to Tobacco Dock, East London.

tobacco dock

In hindsight it was a blessing in disguise as Taste Festivals couldn’t have chosen a more fitting venue for the wintery event. Previously a warehouse for storage of tobacco in the 19th century and now a grade I listed building, this partially open roofed venue houses many nooks and crannies over two floors and is a perfect Charles Dickens styled location. It was wintry, twinkly and spectacular.

Taste of Christmas takes place over four days from Thursday 21 November starting in the evening and ends today Sunday 24th with an unbeatable restaurant and chef line-up. I visited on Saturday with my friend Yvette and her six year old son Dylan. Dylan is a big fan of the culinary competitive TV show Masterchef and had one agenda for Saturday – to meet Michel Roux Jr and Monica Galetti!

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The VIP ticket is priced at £64 or £70 on the door. This price is very good value as it includes all of the above plus access to the VIP lounge.

tobacco dock vip bar

The Taste of Christmas VIP lounge was sponsored by Bombay Sapphire, complete with staff in colour themed uniform

tobacco docks vip bar

tobacco dock vip bar

The mock water fountain in the VIP lounge was filled with candy canes!

Access to the VIP lounge also meant you got a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne, £20 crowns plus a copy of the new recipe book from either Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall or Michel Roux Jr. The books alone are RRP of £25 each!

michel roux and hugh fearnley whittingstall books

It’s a must to wear comfortable shoes to Taste of Christmas. It’s a long day, which you will spend most of on your feet, apart from when you stop to eat at the restaurants.

Yvette and I had standard tickets to Taste of Christmas, however when we arrived we enquired about upgrading our tickets which the staff were only too happy to do. This cost us £45 each to upgrade from standard tickets to VIP. We felt it was worth it for the extras you received with VIP tickets plus with Dylan it was perfect for us to escape to the VIP bar for some much needed respite and of course a drink!

bombay sapphire gin and tonic at tobacco dock vip bar

I was very happy to rest my feet whilst sipping a Bombay Sapphire Gin and T

So with over 150 exhibitors and restaurants taking place, here were the highlights of the day.

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Move over mulled wine, there’s a new winter tipple in town. Gin. Sloe Bloom was just one of the warming drinks we sampled at Taste of Christmas. It seems that gin is the new trendy drink to add spices and apple juice to, warm up and then serve. Even if you’re not a fan of gin you will probably like this because the addition of gin is very subtle, and the other flavours permeate through to deliver a rich warming Christmas drink.

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You can’t visit Taste of Christmas (or any Christmas festival for that matter) and not sample turkey. It’s a must! Kelly Turkeys were at Taste of Christmas this (and last) year cooking mammoth sized turkeys which they would then slice in front of a salivating audience and allow us to taste samples. It was extremely delicious. They also had pork and redcurrant sausages on offer to taste and sample. Yvette and I both bought a pack.

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The Polka Dot Dolls

Vintage 1940′s singers The Polka Dot Dolls provided a lovely background to Taste of Christmas singing delightfully rich harmonies capturing the romance and emotion of the war era. Everyone surrounding the bandstand had toes tapping to their swing numbers. They sang a perfect version of White Christmas.

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Disco Bistro menu consisted of disco burger with pineapple bacon jam, chicken wings and Shoreditch hot smoked salmon with linseed cracker, cream cheese and pickles

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I opted for the K-Pop Chicken Wings; buttermilk fried chicken wings, chilli vinegar, seaweed and sesame crunch

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The Truscott Arms had a wide menu including roasted gnocchi, ballotine of woodlands turkey and suckling pig with crab apple

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Roasted Gnocchi with Mixed Wild Mushrooms and Parmesan was delicious

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Finishing off with something sweet, Yvette, Dylan and I all sampled the Barbecoa Brownie – with caramel popcorn and salted caramel sauce

Amazing selection of food. So much to choose from but only so much to spend! I opted for food at The Truscott Arms and chicken wings from Disco Burger. Yvette and Dylan had burgers and dessert from Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa. You can’t go wrong opting for Mr Oliver to feed a child! Simple and delicious.

Unfortunately Monica Galetti was nowhere to be seen at Taste of Christmas. She had attended on Friday, so we missed her. We were pleased to see that Michel Roux Jr was going to be signing copies of his book, and even more pleased when he walked past ever so casually as we were walking through the festival! We queued for half and hour and Dylan’s wish came true. He met Michel Roux Jr and had his book signed. Cue a happy wobbly toothed six year old.

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Ending the day star struck from meeting Mr Roux Jr. it was safe to say we’d had an enjoyable time at yet another fantastic London festival.

I can’t wait to start using my cookbook and eat my sausages!

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