Taste of London. Club Gascon. Marmite Royale. That was my brief. Go along and taste last year’s award winning dish. A dish that won the hearts of the judges I imagine for it’s flavour and originality.
I spent a few summers running the kitchen at Regents park open air theatre but even though ToL was on my turf I never visited until now. When I am ensconced in the suburbs. But I will definitely be back.
I took a great friend of mine along for the experience of tasting this Marmite Royale. After all, two opinions are far more interesting than one. And my friend knows her food. We spent many a Saturday working together in the kitchens before Shakespeare performed his theatrical delights in this beautiful park.
Marmite Royale is certainly a wow dish. Served in a jar of Marmite. A foie gras custard baked in a very low oven for 1 and 1/2 hours in the Marmite jar. Just like a savoury creme caramel. And this caramel is something else. Marmite tempered with sugar or honey, I think, to produce a rich dark intense syrup. The perfect foil for this King of custards.
I love Foie Gras. After all I go on holiday to France twice a year. I respect their food traditions and happen to appreciate the fattened liver of this grain fed duck. How would I describe the flavour of Foie Gras? It’s sort of like eating a pat of meat flavoured butter. It is dense, silky, incredibly rich and tastes expensive.
But what Club Gascon have done with foie gras is something special. It’s the sauce. Oh what a sauce. There just wasn’t enough in the same way that there is never enough of the caramel on a creme caramel. Served with toast soldiers, it made a perfect starter. Marmite, though. Who would have thought?
Pascal Aussignac, the chef who created this dish said his aim was to combine the flavours of Britain and France with a playful approach. He was having fun with an ingredient we call our own. And if you aren’t a Marmite lover maybe this could be the dish to convince you. Although even if you like the Marmite caramel layer, I suspect you may draw the line at a foie gras custard. Would you try it?
My tasting friend thought it was pretty good too but did get about half way through and then declared it a difficult food to take, knowing what it is. I agree. As a chef, I kind of got over what foie gras is. Working with it as an ingredient, pulling out it’s imperfections with tweezers makes you overcome any squirmishness towards it that I think is hard to overcome as a punter. But, then again I do love butchery.
We then went on to have Pine Smoked Lovehearts with Oyster Pearls. Pine smoked duck’s hearts served with pearls made from Tapioca. The two flavours worked together but I really couldn’t get along with the texture of tapioca pearls. Are they in vogue? I saw them on other menus in Taste of London. But why?
To me they were slippery with a wet exterior which I found did not absorb the flavours it was marinated with. The flavours clung to the outside because there was just no way to get through the slime barrier. Hence the pearls tasted mildly of onion which was a little harsh for me to enjoy. The hearts however were beautiful.
Club Gascon’s icon dish for this year was a Foie Gras & truffle burger. I didn’t try it as it was not my brief but now am kicking myself for not spending my crowns (you buy crowns when you enter, money isn’t exchanged here) on sampling one.
There is so much choice at Taste of London. Next year I will plan my evening well in advance and aim for specific stands. Having a strategy is well advised. Especially if you want to see some of the guest chefs at work doing their thing on the main stage.
I was much more interested in the restaurants than the products. Tasting restaurant dishes from interesting places I haven’t managed to visit is exactly what I want to do. (blame being based in Surrey) . All under one civilised roof, with bars aplenty to satisfy your every drink related whim. Particularly the Sipsmith gin.
I love Regents park and I think I like Taste of London too, it’s so civilised. Food, wine, a beautiful setting and friends. So see you next year I hope.
Many thanks to Club Gascon for their hospitality. I was provided with tickets to attend Taste of London. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.