After a long, but very fun day at Ascot Ladies Day, doing broadcasting things, and losing money, Rachel and I sprinted back to London to make it in time for the evening session of Taste of London, the annual restaurant, food and wine extravaganza that takes place each June in Regent’s Park.
Last year it was rained on so comprehensively that I remember Tweeting: Get the Taste of London experience by staying at home, pulling on your wellies, ordering a take away and pouring a bucket of water over your head.
The weather was more clement this year, which was fortunate, given that we were both in full Ascot regalia, and I was still wearing my Edwina Ibbotson hat and updo.
Although I had been at the Taste of London preview party the night before, it rather oddly didn’t give any access to the show itself, so we were keen to scope it out properly.
Official champagne sponsors Laurent-Perrier were hosting a ‘Grape to Glass masterclass’, presented by David Hesketh, Master of Wine and MD of Laurent-Perrier UK, and had kindly sent me VIP access, and tickets for the 6pm session: hence the sprinting back to London from Ascot. There was no way we wanted to miss this.
The class focused on the Laurent-Perrier Vintage 2002, Vintage 2004 and the Cuvée Rosé wines.
all paired with substantial canapés. Mmm Laurent Perrier Rose is one of my absolute favourite Champagnes
After tasting the delicious Champagnes, and getting the rare chance to compare several different vintages, we headed out to the showground to get stuck in. I found one of my all time favourite London restaurant dishes at Salt Yard: their stuffed with Monte Enebro Cheese and then deep fried courgette flower, drizzled with honey. I had just one, which was exercising considerable restraint.
We also popped by my friends at both Rosso Pomodoro, makers of some of the best pizza in London, and Cornwall’s St Austell Brewery to say hello.
Whilst Rachel tracked down a plate of Tapa de Ancho (Ribeye) with a Black Quinoa Tamale & Chimichurri at Gaucho, I scarfed a dish of steamed vegetable buns from Ping Pong
We were mesmerised by this giant mozzarella at Obika
and then settled down with an Aperol spritz and some of Obika’s delicious hors d’ouevres
We then decided to pretend we were back in New York by double dipping our evening, and Hailo-ed a cab to a second event — across town. The WTA — the Women’s Tennis Association, were holding their pre-Wimbledon party, hosted by Sir Richard Branson on the Kensington Roof Gardens. They are quite one of my favourite places in London, a 1.5 acre fantasy high above the streets, complete with flamingos and bizarrely Spanish buildings.
In a more enlightened age it’s quite difficult to compute just how transformative the WTA was for female tennis players, when it was founded in 1973 by Billie Jean King.
“By the 1970s the pay differential had increased. As King states, “Promoters were making more money. Male tennis players were making more money. Everybody was making more money except the women”. In 1969, ratios of 5:1 in terms of pay between men and women were common at smaller tournaments. By 1970 these figures ballooned to 8:1 and even 12:1. In 1970 Margaret Court won the Grand Slam and received only a $15,000 bonus, whereas the men could achieve up to $1 million. ”
Do head here to read more.
We sat under a pergola, sipping red wine, and watching the sun set, before slipping out around 1130, avoiding the frenetic dad dancing inside, to head to Soho House for a final nightcap. Old Fashioneds, to be specific.