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One Normal Day
Basque Sheep's Cheese Wins The World Title
Monday, 26th June, 2006  - Alice Normal

The overall winner at the grandiose and mildly humorously titled World Cheese Awards (held at the Taste of London, Regents Park 14 - 18 June) was a French sheep's cheese, produced in the Basque region. Of 1542 cheeses, the Agour Fromagerie's cheese made from the milk of ewes walked away with the title of World Champion Cheese, well it probably didn't walk.

The Taste of London offered a chance for everyone to have a sample of dishes from some of the best restaurants in London as well as some other ones. There were 40 restaurants on show like La Gavroche, Peid A Terre, and Benares. Of course there were the World Cheese Awards and the Cava (yuck, What a terrible drink to wash down my foie gras? The variety of wines available really was disappointing.)

Many of the chefs were there to have a chat with if you so wished, but in the end I really couldn't think of much to say to them. So decided to spend more time just eating.

My favourite taster was Angela Hartnett at the Connaught's king prawn tortellini with a fennel puree. (I also enjoyed The Savoy Grill's fish pie which was delicious but surprisingly no match for Richard Farmer's fish sausages.)

This was the first event I have attended as 'press'... HOORAY, I am the press... I didn't have a hat with my press pass stuck in the band as I really wanted, I just couldn't make it work with my outfit, which was terrific. I wore a Champagne Joseph Perrier T-shirt I have had since I was five, with a black belt and a sixties skirt. The day was lovely and sunny and my hair was shining in it. Whoops, back to me. OK no, maybe I should focus.

I had planned to attend some of the days events, Friday being the best day because there would be less people. The activities on offer were a chef's theatre, with demonstrations by all our favourites, a cooking school and beer and wine tasting lessons. Having drunk a lot of beer and tasted a lot of wine I felt comfortable in missing these two activities.

Now a certain large retailer had a strong presence at the Taste of London, they sponsored the "chef's theatre" along were partially responsible for the over abundance of cava. I attended the chef's theatre on Friday, with Marcus Wareing and Angela Hartnett.

Initially there was some kind of expert telling us all about meat (fascinating stuff). Then out came the chefs, I was very excited to see Angela Hartnett, the chef at the Connaught. She was the only female chef exhibiting at the Taste of London is one of the few Michelin starred ladies in the UK. Angela was wearing open toed shoes which I am not too sure about for safety reasons but it was a warm day and she is a charming lady.

Marcus Wareing is the chef patron at quite a few establishments, Petrus, at the Berkeley and a couple at the Savoy. He has a couple of Michelin stars as well as bluest eyes. The day before I saw him, he was cooking custard tart's for the Queen's 80th birthday, something I am sure he is sick of talking about.

Unfortunately, Angela's voice was on the blink on this particular day, which might explain Marcus Wareing's chatting, although insightful, I think he may talk more than me. OK, well it really wasn't all that well organized this chef's theatre, but a lovely chance to ask questions of the chefs. Angela showed us how to make tortellini and Marcus a quail and apricot dish which was very complicated.

I have had an aversion to quail since the age of seven, when I opened my school lunch box to see my mother had packed me a quail, a whole quail. When I found no one would swap my quail for a vegemite sandwich I broke down in tears. This has had a great effect on me throughout my life - it may take a bit more encouragement from Marcus for me to come around to quail.


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