The doctor diagnoses your ‘humour’: whether you are choleric (red haired, skinny, angry), sanguine (plump with rosy cheeks, enthusiastic), phlegmatic (shy, rational, observant) or melancholic (creative, self-reliant). All medicine used to be based on these four medieval humours. I once had my chart analysed by an astrologer who used William Lilly’s methods. They use a points system with planets (in their fall or exaltation for instance) to determine your type. I was overwhelmingly Jupiterian, Sanguine, with some melancholic Saturnian notes.
Making our way across a bridge to a ‘flooded’ banquet in a ship, apparently there were eels in the water.
I had the antidote to my choleric mood, a reviving mead and spiced liqueur with truffle popcorn.
Each person had a different cocktail depending upon their humour. The cocktails were made by Saf mixologist Joe McCanta.
A very small lift. When I lived in Paris, I had an even tinier lift, fitting only 3 people.
A helper leading the way. The post war period brought a new way of eating: processed food was considered very modern, the equivalent of molecular gastronomy today. I’ve talked about this before on my Elvis meal post. This room was set up like a 1950s living room and we were given Scratch n sniff cards to ‘eat’ our TV meal from. The smells were remarkably strong. I went to John Water’s Odorama film Polyester and I still have the scratch n sniff card from that. On it were numbers 1 to 10. When a number popped up on screen you had to sniff the relevant ‘disc’ on the card. Some of the smells were pretty unpleasant: farts for instance.
Next up was another ‘modern’ food room: you had to take off your shoes to enter a food based bouncy castle with huge colourful inflatables of chips and peas. Everybody entered into it and started giggling and jumping up and down like 5 year olds. Great fun!
We were then lead up to the roof where there was a ‘living’ bar made out of herbs and plants (rather like a sedum roof). We had a cocktail developed by Paul Tvaroh of Lounge Bohemia, with fizzy grapes.
Then a hallway with lots of tiny mushrooms (through the looking glass?) downstairs to the ‘restaurant’ proper.
The whole event was housed in an elegant building in Belgravia Square.
This room recalls an avant garde 19th century restaurant held inside a dinosaur!
Unfortunately the only dish was meat which I could not eat. A veggie option would have been nice but perhaps it wasn’t authentic to the era…
A sculpture of the gherkin, one of London’s architectural landmarks, made out of gingerbread.
Into the renaissance sugar room. A giant turning cake with tiers filled with pastel sugar sculptures. We had dessert, a delicious jelly and a little cocktail.
The jellies were made with ambergris, a substance that sperm whales regurgitate, that was traditionally used to ‘fix’ perfume, and is found naturally floating in the sea or on the beach.
Sam Bompas, the Walt Disney of food!
A table with a sensitive jelly that wobbles according to your heart rate!
Lastly the elegant bar where you could get Courvoisier based cocktails. It was a good place to talk to others who had also gone on the ‘rides’. I met an American couple who having heard about my notorious Harry Potter dinners, failed to grab a ticket and hosted their own simultaneous Harry Potter dinner! They showed me photos, it looked fantastic!
I also met Claire, who is a series editor on Masterchef. My teen once applied for me. I got a phone call but didn’t hear anything more. Claire said the issue was probably that I wasn’t considered an amateur. Trouble is, I’m not sure I’m a ‘professional’ either! She said the inclusion in the last series of food blogger Justcookit! was heavily debated: was he a food pro? I felt that having a food blogger on the programme was a good thing, showed Masterchef was keeping up to date with new directions in the food world. Food bloggers are one of the tightest communities on Twitter and, as with all new media, things seem to be tilting towards online content. (Will be interested to see the results of The Times paywall experiment).
I said that the standard of contestants seems very high, that they often look like they’ve had professional training. Claire explained that they learnt their skills during the Masterchef process, for instance, the test where they work in a real restaurant is held on only their second day. Scary stuff. Claire said that you can never tell who is going to get through: some of her favourite applicants don’t make it, it’s very unpredictable. We also talked about a recent incident between bloggers and John Torode. Apparently John Torode was scathing about bloggers, which was possibly not a good idea at a bloggers event, but he was hurt by a negative review of his restaurant by one of the attendees. This was interesting to hear because one assumes that someone of his stature would not be affected by a negative online review but of course, he’s human, just like the rest of us, and passionate about what he does. Often a restaurant blogger is someone who happens to have enough money to eat out alot (hence the typical restaurant blogging demographic of people that are young, childfree with straight well-paid jobs). Of course, if people are paying for a product/service then it’s good to have their feedback. But there are times where you get the feeling that bloggers, like some journalists (but with no editorial filter) are more interested in making a name for themselves or creating a controversial blogpost than giving a fair summary. I would also argue that it’s unfair when reviewers don’t complain to you directly at the time but save their venom for their anonymous mutterings on the interweb. As both a restaurateur of sorts and a blogger, I see things from both sides here.
A drinks menu projected onto the side of the bar.
This exhibition/event/installation was educational, stylish, fun and interactive. The Complete History of Food is an adventure theme park devoted to food, reminiscent of Disney. I mentioned this to Sam Bompas and discovered that he too is a huge fan of Disney theme parks. (Actually my daughter’s father helped to build the Peter Pan ride and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Eurodisney. Originally the park was supposed to be ‘dry’, with no alcohol served. The American powers-that-be tried to ban alcohol from the building site of Eurodisney. The French downed tools and refused to work until their lunchtime pastis and pichet de rouge were reinstated! Now Eurodisney serves alcohol in the theme park too, just like French Macdonalds.) What I also liked though was the slightly amateurish feel about it, like a squat party in a grand house, a far cry from Disney sleek. At £25 entry it was also a very good deal.