Toast – Food, Wine, Music and Polo!

Made the trek out to Ham Polo Club, to attend the 10th Anniversary Toast New Zealand Event.  It was a trek, 20 minutes on a very busy train to Richmond from Waterloo, another 20 minutes on a packed local bus – seemed like all the Kiwi’s in London were heading for the event. Then a long walk to get to the ticket office to pick up our complementary tickets (longer because we were wrongly directed to go to the VIP entrance).  We eventually got in, pretty much as the England v New Zealand Polo match was finishing.

There were just two rows of stalls, laid out in the best possible way to cause congestion. I would have been horrified if I had paid for my ticket – ticket  prices were between £20 and £150.   However there was live music and the weather was good.  We stayed for about two and a half hours, which was two hours longer than we would have, if we had not been lucky enough to grab a couple of seats at one of the tables next to the stands and have a few glasses of a rather lovely Pinot Noir from the Saveé Sea Vineyards.

The highlight of the day was actually the walk back from Ham to Richmond.  Next time I will just bring a picnic and find a good spot by the river.

This was a special one off Toast event, so not 100% typical, but based on my experience at this event and my friends experience at past Toast events.  I would not recommend them if you are seriously into Food and Wine.  Toast is really just somewhere to socialise with a group of friends and listen to the music, more a concert than a food event.


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Foodies Festival @ Hampton Court

Spent most of bank holiday Sunday at the Foodies Festival in Hampton Court.  They are set up at  different locations throughout the year.  There is going to be one in Edinburgh for example during the Edinburgh Festival in August. Foodies focuses on seasonal food and drink, specialty and local produce and local restaurant talent.

The weather was good, always a real bonus at this type of event. The show itself is not as big or as well attended as Taste, but I have to admit I prefer this one. Very few queues,  space to see what you want to see, easy access to tables and chairs.

We attended several sessions at the Chefs Theatre, including  the one from Gary Lee of The Ivy, who made a real point of stating that he was not a celebrity chef.  The highlight here though, had to be Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi of Caffe Caldesi. Katie had been on Saturday Kitchen the previous day and there was some hilarity as she compared cooking with James Martin to cooking with her husband. The BBC missed a trick not having them both on together. They are a great double act.

There were unfortunately not too many top restaurant stands.  Benares was the most high profile one. However there were some very good small stands.  They included Lauden, one of my favorite chocolatiers, Doughmasters who made lovely club sandwiches using bread that was baked while you wait (not something you see often) and a stand selling Whoopie Pies – the trend following on from Cup Cakes,  I had a maple syrup one, delicious.

On the drinks front, Joe Wadsack at the Cordorniu wine presentation was very good. He is a real raconteur. The El Dorado Rum tasting was fun and the champagne supplied by Eminent Wines (pictured), much to my surprise, really cut through a spicy Jamaican Pattie I had just eaten. So yes maybe good Champagne does go with everything.

Will definitely try and do this event again next year.


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Thailand Festival at Secretts

A departure from the normal theme for this post, to cover a food festival rather than a restaurant, the 7th Amazing Thailand Festival at Secretts to be specific.

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Secretts farm in Milford, Surrey is a stunning location, especially when the weather is as good as it was today. This is a very well organised and popular event, focusing on both Thai food and culture.


The event included cookery demonstrations from celebrity chef Ob-oom “Mini C” Chutrakul.

Mini C in action

The Festival takes place every two years so plenty of notice for the next one.


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