Slept through breakfast. No matter. It gave me an excuse to go to the Charles Holden pub next door for lunch. Had a bitter and watched the end of a rugby game.
I ordered the sausage and mash, which came with onions reduced in red wine. Oh, it was a lovely lunch.
But in doing my research before coming to London, I had my eye on their hot Toffee Pudding. It gives you a foodie hard on.
So, EJ, it turns out, has picked the most difficult thing for me to get in London. There are all these things I could get, but she has her heart set on these Victoria brand shoes. It’s a Spanish brand, but they’re still cheaper to get in the UK. The trouble is that it’s been a pain in the ass to order from their website, and their customer service seems to be out to lunch 23 hours a day. I don’t know where to find them in the wild. And really, they’re ugly shoes. Look like something nurses wear for orthopedic reasons.
She also decided to tell me that I can’t say I’ve been to London without getting a picture in front of Buckingham Palace. I ventured out there and got that done. By coincidence, the changing of the guards happened, so I took some video with my DSLR. Unfortunately, this laptop has gotten so old and lazy that it refuses to download pics from my DSLR. I’ll have to wait until I return to Korea for that.
I needed to be at Regent’s Park by four o’clock for Taste of London. Using the very useful Citymapper app, I checked on different ways to get there. One option was walking, and it told me how many calories I’d burn. Decision made. It was a good 40-minute walk.
I arrived and found the exhibitors’ entrance. Dan showed up, and he gave me a press pass to enter. I found the team hurriedly getting the Korean section put together. They regaled me with tales of the delivery truck being late, that the organizers wouldn’t allow it to go all the way to the Korean section, and they had to carry all the heavy equipment by hand over electrical cables and other obstacles to get at least something put together on time.
When it started, though, Gizzi’s pop-up restaurant still wasn’t finished. Schedules were rearranged, and people ran out to quickly buy decor to turn this tent into something of a proper restaurant. In the meantime, Gizzi showed me around and introduced me to some people, including chefs and food critics from The Guardian and other outlets. The critics were just finishing some judging panel. Since they were stuffed, they had only taken single bites out of their last dish and gave them to us. Pork belly and jowl in cheese polenta. Yeah, pork and cheese grits, really. One of them complained the polenta wasn’t salty enough. My palate has gotten more sensitive to salt in Korea, so it didn’t taste that way to me. I’ve noticed that the longer chefs and writers are involved in the restaurant industry, the more their palates get deadened to salt–the same way musicians’ ears get deafened to sound.
Gizzi introduced me to Chef Theo Randall, and we had a nice chat while she flitted to some other old friends. Next to Theo’s booth was Salt Yard. They specialize in tapas and Spanish charcuterie. They offered us some lovely slices of Iberico jamon. I saw their menu and vocalized, “Oh my goodness.”
“Oh, you want to try that?”
What we received were sliders filled with Iberico pork, Manchego cheese, and foie gras. Ni-i-i-i-ice!
Taste of London is Disney World for food. I wanted to try everything. So many interesting beverages and vittles. Dan opined for the olden days when it wasn’t all about money. Vendors would give out samples for free. I did notice that most booths had food people had to pay for–at pretty steep prices. You’d think after buying a pricey ticket that the vendors wouldn’t want to come across as greedy. But the crowd here is a different kind of crowd, making the type of money I briefly made during my dot-com days. Still, if I was an organizer of an event like this, I’d request that the vendors at least sell their wares at cost and not for profit.
Oooh! A tiki bar! But what’s behind that lovely lady?
Why, a pirate and a professional wrestler, of course.
I also found this cool product. Self-standing knives with this clever knife block.
At another booth, Judy Joo of the Food Network program “Korean Food Made Simple” was giving a demonstration. Dan introduced me to her. I had earlier met the charming Ching-He Huang of “Easy Chinese.” She was also at the demo, and Judy joked that people confuse them. (Read: man, racist Americans)
I also met American blogger Julie Falconer of A Lady in London. Very happy to meet fellow bloggers. I want to hug them.
The Korean section had some popularity. Shin Ramyeon did well. The bulgogi section had some fans. An enthusiastic crowd clamored around the Gochujang Chicken station, which was essentially DalkGalbi without all the trimmings. I was pleasantly surprised by that reaction. We have a bar called The 38th Parallel, that sells soju and somaek bombs. The most popular area by far was Busan BBQ, run by Dahae and her husband Gareth. He was making bulgogi sliders with fine British beef aged 28 days. He told me that when he tried bulgogi burgers in Korea, he hated how sweet they were, so he developed a marinade that made them taste more like bulgogi. He cooked the slightly seasoned beef on the griddle to medium rare, dunked them in the sauce, and served them on buns with mustard-marinated onions. Juicy motherfuckers! Got my new Star Wars t-shirt dirty.
We rushed to get Gizzi’s restaurant set up. Because of all this, her opening was delayed. Service was so delayed that security was kicking us out during dessert. I’d forgotten how strict authority is in the West. Korean security woulda been flexible if you gave them a good enough explanation with the right amount of firmness. Nonetheless, the British security was friendly, and I worked with them to secure our tents.
Gizzi’s food got great reviews from the diners. I’ll go into detail about that in the future.