London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

My Desert Island Meal (in Mayfair!)

Seeing as many of my walks are food and drink themed and usually include a recommendation or two for hidden cafes, unusual afternoon teas or the like people are often surprised to find I haven’t actually visited them all.  I discover new or unusual places at an alarming rate and it’s not possible or financially viable for me to do so unfortunately.

However now and again after a blog post or a tweet I do get the opportunity to experience these places for free in exchange for writing about them. Fair exchange I say! 

My most recent invitation came from the Millennium Mayfair in Grosvenor Square to a pasta workshop for bloggers followed by a meal in their Avista restaurant.

I realised during the workshop where we were shown how to make pasta from scratch that I wasn’t able to multi-task effectively ie to listen to how to make the pasta but to also try to get some good photos. As you can see from my blurry examples I didn’t really succeed in the photo taking. Note to self that if I am invited to a similar event again to sit in the front row for the best view so I can avoid people’s heads/knees!

From what I can remember the pasta was relatively easy to make but you do really need a machine which transforms the dough flattening it and then effortlessly dividing it into spaghetti strands or whatever shape you are making. Looking online these machines aren’t actually that expensive. Maybe something for a wish list in the future.

The Millennium Mayfair on the south side of Grosvenor Square is unusual amongst Mayfair hotels in that it does not offer afternoon tea but Mayfair is rather overrun with hotels offering it. They have everything else that you would normally find in a top class hotel and it is definitely worth visiting. It is also a very welcoming and friendly hotel.

After the workshop we were escorted into Avista their own Italian restaurant. We had all submitted our menu choices earlier but I had slightly misunderstood the request and given them two choices for each course. I eat anything and would have been happy with whatever I was served but I have to say it was more or less my perfect meal.

In an Italian restaurant I would normally stick to the cuisine of that country but one of my favourite foods in the whole world is gazpacho and this one was absolutely delicious.  At some restaurants the soup portion is so big that I am unable to eat my main course. However here the portion size for each course was perfect which meant I could actually eat 3 courses plus some of the delicious herby bread that was on the table before the meal and a couple of the sweets that came with the coffee afterwards. I much prefer that.

My second favourite food is pasta with pesto. Since winning a hamper earlier this year which included an expensive jar of pesto my taste buds have become used to this and I just can’t buy cheap supermarket pesto anymore.  It was especially fitting to have pasta after seeing how it was made earlier in the evening. It was delicious!

Pudding was another favourite of mine – tiramisu. The portion size again was just right.  However I had unfortunately temporarily forgotten that one of the ingredients was coffee and this definitely contributed to my problems getting to sleep that night. I followed the tiramisu with a decaffeinated coffee but the damage had already been done!

Over the meal I got chatting to some of the other bloggers. Quite a few of them were fashion or make-up bloggers subjects of which I know little but we did manage to find some common ground being possible venues for fashion shoots.  I also chatted to Emma Block who does some amazing illustrations and I will definitely be following her work in the future.

It was a very enjoyable evening and I hope I can return to the hotel soon.

The author of this blog (Joanna Moncrieff) is a qualified City of Westminster Tour Guide who specialises in food and drink themed walks in the West End.  Details of all her bookable private walks are listed here and upcoming public walks are here.