Taste London is an event I have hankered to go to ever since it launched and so was beyond thrilled when Wales the True Taste invited me this year. Not strictly in Fulham but every foodie’s heaven I thought I had to share the experience, especially as I have been totally converted from a Lamb hater to Lamb lover, something I never thought I would say.
I have always hated Lamb and found it grizzly, chewy, fatty and bitter, apparently this was because I had been eating the wrong lamb...it wasn’t Welsh! I soon learned upon arrival that Welsh Lamb is some of the best-produced meat in the world. With its mountains, pastures, salt-marshes and wild herbs, the wild landscape of Wales creates a magical process, which in turn produces melt-in-the mouth aromatic, juicy lamb every time (look away veggies!).
It’s not just the Welsh who think so, I was lucky enough to be a guest of a private demonstration by Italian chef-extraordinaire Francesco Mazzei. Foodies may know that Francesco Mazzei is the chef patron of L’Anima in the City of London. He has been cooking for over 30 years and opened his restaurant in 2008 to critical acclaim. Growing up in Cerchiara, Calabria, he learnt about provenance and cooking at his mother’s side and by the time he was nine, was working in his uncle’s gelateria where he learnt to make ice-cream and pastries.
It was fascinating to hear an Italian speak so passionately about Welsh meat, and a real education about the fantastic produce that we have here on our doorstep in the UK. When Mazzei had the opportunity to meet the Welsh Lamb supplier, Elwy Valley Welsh Lamb, the fact that it is a family-run business instantly impressed him. He often describes the relationship like “having our own farm next door to us in the City of London.” Jess and I are constantly banging on about the importance of local, authentic and family owned businesses and so as you can imagine this was music to my ears.
Watching Francesco create his favourite Welsh Lamb dishes was truly inspiring, not only because I find anyone who can cook with such ease and elegance inspiring but because he was able to marry perfectly the most delicious Italian oils and flavours with the Welsh Lamb. What sounded in theory like chalk and cheese, tasted in reality like champagne and oysters (not literally!).
Other award-winning tastings on the stand also included:
--Abergavenny Food Festival