So, according to the introduction by Fay Machler in the (£10) "Souvenir Guide" there would be "Forty restaurants....each establishment offering three of their signature dishes to sample." There were also several wine & beer stands and all sorts of treats to tempt in the punters. Me included.
Having paid my £15 entry fee (the cheapest available) I was greeted by the news that I had to exchange my money for coupons which didn't have a neat rate of 1:1 but 1:2 and though this is simple enough at the start of the day, should I really have to keep calculating and wondering how much I was getting charged for everything and how much I had left?
Then there are the very long queues to exchange your money which encourage you to change a bit more than you might have done just so that you didn't have to get deep-vein thrombosis before being able to buy another drink. But, and here's the rub, should you happen to be left with a wad of TASTE currency you have no recourse to change it back into something valid outside Regent's Park beyond the 18th of June. Solid and simple 'confuse them, they'll think it's holiday money' psychology.
Never mind, how about sampling some of the lovely food? Armed with my crowns I approached the stands to find that each sample (and they were sample sized - not small starter sized) was 6 crowns or £3. So with 40 restaurants show-casing 3 dishes at £3 each, I would have paid £360 to try them all. I would have been very full, to be fair, but it just felt like I was being ripped off.
At the wine stands, where I quickly moved after a scallop and some noodles, it was the same story. No sample shots anywhere, you had to buy a glass of wine which limited how many different wines and stands you could visit. What is the point? At wine shows, entry fees get you samples from every stand, not (just) for people to get pissed but to TASTE new things. You only have a sip of each, that's all you need.
Misleading at best, Fay. In the end we bought a bottle of Champagne and sat in among the crowds, drinking it. Would rather have brought one from home and sat in the nicer part of Regent's Park. The event was sponsored by British Airways whose headquarters were raided the following week amongst allegations of price fixing...