SUPPERMELIER : uncork the secrets to pairing grape with grub

by Chloé Morris and Daniel Breger for gastroINSIDER, Photos: Cactus Kitchen

Bored by Bordeaux? Perplexed by Malbec? Always drawing a Sauvignon Blanc? Then we might have found just the thing for you. Down an unassuming Clapham backstreet, hidden behind a turquoise door in a converted church, you’ll find the home of the Michel Roux Jr Cookery School and the setting of the Suppermelier supper club we attended.

Yes ‘Suppermelier’ – an intimate wine and food pairing experience with Roux executive chef Toby Stuart and wine expert Raul Diaz. Together, they are on a mission to help people “uncork the secrets to pairing grape with grub”, so think of them as the culinary Holmes and Watson (minus the deerstalker).

On the night itself, we were warmly welcomed by the Cactus Kitchen team who sat us at a large communal dining table where we were introduced us to our fellow guests and hosts for the evening. But social niceties were almost immediately put to one side as all eyes lasered in on the hot, delicious, cheesy goodness that was placed in front of us.

Grilled cheese and sauerkraut toasties might not be the most obvious pairing with a glass of bubbly but man was it good! The crispness of the Champagne cut perfectly through the fattiness of the toasted cheese; so well in fact, that we ate them (and glugged our drinks) at a quite alarming rate. If anything best exemplifies the ethos of the evening it’s this combination – fuss free, easy to prepare at home (after the event we were sent all the recipes and tasting notes by email) and definitely not pretentious. So unpretentious in fact that (spoiler alert) we found out at the end of the night that all of the alcohol we’d been drinking had come from Lidl. Who knew.

To follow, we had three more starters – gigantic juicy grilled prawns, white bean dip with pita bread, and a Burrata fennel salad. It may all seem a bit simple, but remember that these dishes are all prepared by Toby Stuart – a man who’s worked at Aubergine, Clivedon, Richard Neats, Roux, and is now the executive chef for Chez Roux. So it’s rather a cut above your average prawn skewer or bean dip. The communal setting created a great interaction between the guests, as plates were passed around, fingers licked (our own), and conversation flowed.

The focus though was not on the food but on the wine that accompanied it. In fact the food had been chosen to compliment the wine, rather than the other way around. As we ate, Raul talked to us about the wine that was being served, urging us to taste it before we took our first bite and then notice how its flavour and complexity changed after we sampled the dish. He spoke in a way that completely demystified the wine-tasting experience – none of this “notes of oak, soupcon of asparagus” nonsense – and was completely accessible to everyone. We were encouraged to ask questions, disagree with him, even criticise the wine. Most of all, we were encouraged to drink!

Duly sated, we were taken upstairs, into the cookery school kitchen, to watch Toby prepare our main course. This was a nice touch, because it took away the fear of messing up as Toby showed us how ‘easy’ it was to prepare good, simple food (side note: the kitchens are stunning, and we highly recommend you booking in a cooking lesson). As we watched Toby do his magic, we drank; this time the star of the show, a bold, fruity Barolo.

We headed back down to the dining room, glass in hand, to enjoy our plate of perfectly cooked lamb chop, charred sweet potato, and walnut gremolata. Full to bursting, we finished off the meal with an indulgent chocolate pot topped with crushed amaretti biscuits alongside candied orange slices, all washed down with a ruby red glass of port.

The whole evening was extremely good fun, informal, and informative. Both Toby and Raul were eager to please and have a wealth of knowledge that we mercilessly mined. They were warm, welcoming hosts and very open to feedback (as this was their first night). By the end of the evening, most of you will be following @sstobes and @rauldiaz39 on Instagram or Twitter.

Admittedly, the price of Suppermelier does stretch the wallet a little, but if you fancy splashing out on something different then we would highly recommend it. After all, as the old adage goes – “wine: because no good story ever started with anyone eating a salad!”

ICE CREAM II YOU’VE NEVER HAD IT LIKE THIS

This weekend we went to Four Winters in Notting Hill and had a Liquid Nitrogen Knafeh Ice Cream, yummmm! It was so good and even had the right toppings. That inspired us to a put together a little edit of our top three ice cream projects from some of our favourite designers. Enjoy!

GIAPO ICE CREAM

We met Giapo at the International Food Design Conference. He had a pop up shop in town and hosted a workshop, which we of course attended.

A little more about Giapo :

If you’re like me and most of my customers, you’re an imaginative ice cream lover.  During these years running the kitchen at Giapo I saw that Ice Cream had the potential to be more expressive and  gastronomical than what it had been so far. In my mind ice cream had to carry a different narrative.  It goes without saying that ice cream is the most popular dessert food in the world and it did not sound right that ice cream had always been looking pretty much the same on cones, cups and sticks.

I focused my kitchen work on mashing up ideas from all the humanities including technology, art and science. I am currently doing scientific researches with AUT and Otago University. I run a blog where I write about my kitchen observations and I am the co-author of a few published peer reviewed papers.

Giapo Chirstchurch Hazelnut, Giapo Peach

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LICK ME I’M DELICIOUS 

We had the pleasure of sampling one of Charlie’s ice creams at the Experimental Food Society Showcase. The flavours are mouthwatering (for full list click links below, these are just some of our favourites): Salted Caramel Cookie, Dark Port & Stilton, Chocolate Popping Candy, Raspberry Mojito, Wasabi & Honey, Cherry Brandy Pie, and Dulce de Leche Praline Pecan. The great thing about Charlie is that there is no limit to his creativity! Check out his website to see what else this mad hatter has come up with.

A little more about Charlie:

Charlie grew up on an ice cream farm in South Wales and has a long history of inventing weird and wonderful machines that go bing and bosh and blip.  He set up Lick Me I’m Delicious in 2011 building the first Nitro Parlour in his living room, then he build the nitro buggy, then the edible mist orbs, then a corby trouser press toasty maker, floss whizzers, electric tea cups and all sorts of bits and pieces. He’s happiest when holding a screwdriver and a fork.  

Charlie has also worked on some TV shows, gives talks, makes soup in washing machines and likes to sleep under trees. 

NITRO PODS, PARLOUR, AND BUGGY  (source personal website)

He has invented machines for all sorts of things including ice cream. The links above are specifically for his ice cream creations.

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THE AROUSAL (source personal website)

Commissioned by one of our VIP clients, each ball of ice cream contains 25mgs of viagra and is flavoured with bubbly champagne.  We aren’t able to reveal the identity of the client, but they reported back that they were ‘very happy with the end result’.

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GLOW IN THE DARK ICE CREAM (source personal website)

Working with a group of very clever scientists, we developed the World’s first glow in the dark ice cream made with synthesised jellyfish luminescence which cause the ice cream to glow as you lick it.  At £140 a scoop it is also one of the most expensive ice creams every produced.  Click to watch Charlie explain it all to a very confused ABC news anchor.

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EMILIE BALTZ’S LICKESTRA (source personal website)

We met Giapo at the International Food Design Conference, where she was a keynote speaker and also presented her project that she created for the Museum of Sex in New York for a local news channel. When we came across this project we had a massive smile on our face.

More about the project:

Lickestra is a musical licking performance at the intersection of food design and smart objects developed in collaboration with smart object designer Carla Dianaand composer Arone Dyer of Buke&Gase.

Playing with the experience from tongue to taste, the performance presents a series of conductive ice creams that trigger various baselines and tones when licked.

From improvisation to orchestration, eater becomes performer as the primitive act of licking reaches beyond flavor perception to become an instrument for play.

Lickestra lasts until all the ice cream is licked.

(you need sound to watch this video)

(Edible Stories created this edit, but all images and designer descriptions are from their personal websites)

VENUES II Hidden Gems that do that little bit extra

When we first started we were not accredited in many (or rather any) of the London’s venues, but we still had to wow our clients. One way to get around this issue was either to work within a venue that didn’t mind or to work with the team onsite. In the process we uncovered some great hidden gems that had character, a bit of magic, and most importantly already a story of their own to tell.

We’ve put together a little edit of some of these, and also added a couple that we hope to work in soon.

AFFORDABLE SPACE WITH EVERYTHING YOU NEED

ARCHES AT ST MARY CHURCH, PUTNEY: (allows non-accredited external catering)

Putney Bridge Approach, SW15 2JQ

We hosted two public events here (Alice in Wonderland, Romeo & Juliet) and a press launch for Diageo’s rum brand Ron Zacapa 23. 

BEFORE

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AFTER

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GRAND AND BREATHTAKING

SHOREDITCH TOWN HALL: (allows non-accredited external catering)

380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT

We hosted an Alice in Wonderland themed charity event here for The Museum of Architecture.

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(no event pictures available as this was a private client event)

TOTALLY UNIQUE IN THE HEART OF LONDON

HYDE PARK LOOKOUT: (allows non-accredited external catering)

Royal Parks Foundation, The Old Police House, Hyde Park, W2 2UH

We hosted the Palantir Summer Party within the garden by reproducing the office story. 

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(no event pictures available as this was a private client event)

ROOM HIRE WITHIN A WORKING SPACE 

PRIVATE DINING ROOM, SARTORIA: (resident chef Francesco Mazzei)

20 Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S 3PR

We hosted the launch event for House of Peroni within the private dining room by transforming it into an italian al fresco terrace. 

BEFORE

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AFTER

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ST LUKE’S KITCHEN, LIBRARY PRIVATE MEMBERS CLUB: (allows non-accredited external catering and the option of working with resident chef Daniel Petitta)

112 St. Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4BD

We hosted a series of pop ups within the restaurant : Phantom of the Opera, Matilda, Les Miserables, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, and James Bond. 

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OUT OF LONDON

GIN BARN, NEW FOREST: (allows non-accredited external catering)

Gins Barn, Gins Farm House, St. Leonards, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst. SO42 7XG

We hosted the launch of Rock & Roam by translating the much loved story Secret Garden.

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GROUNDS

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PLAS DINHAM, WALES: (allows non-accredited external catering or they have listed suppliers)

Plas Dinam, Llandinam, Powys SY17 5DQ

(no event pictures available as this was a private client event)

GROUNDS

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EVENT SPACES

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HOPEFULLY IN THE FUTURE

OVAL SPACE, BETHNAL GREEN:

29-32 The Oval, London E2 9DT

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TT LIQOUR:

17 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8AA

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RUINED CHAPEL:

Caroline Gardens, Peckham, SE15

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Hacking flavour perception II design, technology, & gastrophysics

On Monday we left London on the 7:10am on a Oxford Tube bus to Somerville College at Oxford University. The line up promised great things – and it definitely delivered. Because we gathered SO MUCH information, we thought it would be best to break down the content into various posts that will feature over the next couple of months. That way we can go into more juicy detail. Until then, we wanted to leave you with the information provided to us by Oxford University. Enjoy!

 

Event Description:

While enjoying a meal, our brain continuously combines information about what is detected by the tongue with what we smell, not to mention the expectations set by what we see, hear, and feel. Traditionally, researchers thought that the sensory cues that combine to deliver flavour all originated from the food and drink itself. Nowadays, though, chefs, culinary artists, experience designers, and researchers working in technology are increasingly starting to hack our experiences of flavour (hacking the food; hacking the context in which that food is presented; and hacking the senses of the person consuming it): Everything from sonically seasoning your food through to augmented and virtual reality dining experiences. This workshop brings together practitioners and researchers from a number of different fields in order to investigate how our understanding of multi sensory flavor perception (of flavour objects) is being challenged and extended. Hopefully, you will not only get to hear, but also to taste, some of the latest insights and innovations in this fast-moving area.

Schedule:

10:10 Prof. Charles Spence (University of Oxford)

Opening remarks: Hacking flavour perception

10:30 Prof. Katsunori Okajima (Yokohama National University, Japan)

Augmented Reality (AR) & Projection Mapping Food and Drink: Enhancing the Experience with Technology

11:15 Dr. Sebastian Ahnert (University of Cambridge)

The flavour network

13:00 Steve Keller (iV audio branding, Nashville, Tennessee)

Sonic Seasoning: Designing crossmodally congruent soundscapes that tickle your ears and your taste buds

13:30 Dr. Vaiva Kalnikaitė (Nu Food, Cambridge)

The shape of taste to come

13:55 Chef Jesse Dunford Wood (Parlor, London; http://parlourkensal.com)

Theatrical dining: Hacking the diner’s mind by playing with nostalgia and performance at the table

14:20 Demos 

Sarah Hyndman: Tasting typeface

Simon Spence: Bread – Can you taste the difference?

Vaiva Kalnikaitė & Tom Gayler: 3D food printing

Singh’s gin tasting

Kitchen Theory: Colourful jelly tasting

15:00 Prof. Francis McGlone (Liverpool John Moores University)

Brain’s go beyond physics: A notes & chords view of multisensory flavour perception

 

15:30 Prof. Charles Spence (University of Oxford)

Gastrophysics: Measuring the impact of design & technology on multisensory flavour experiences

16:00 Chef Jozef Youssef (Kitchen Theory, London; https://www.kitchen-theory.com)

Gastrophysics: Putting theory into practice– Does the science constrain or promote creativity in the kitchen?

 

Hacking Flavour Perception: Art, Design, Technology, & Gastrophysics

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Prof. Katsunori Okajima (Yokohama National University, Japan)

Food appearance and the environment are critical factors that affect the feeling of the deliciousness of the dishes. However, the effects of food appearance have been unclear because it is difficult to prepare the same foods with different appearances. Therefore, we developed an Augmented Reality (AR) system with a Head-Mounted Display (HMD) that can modify the texture and/or the color of food and drink in real time and keeping the food intact. We conducted a series of experiments designed to investigate how the visual texture and appearance of food and drink influences taste and flavor perceptions. The results demonstrated that people’s perception of food can be modulated by changing the color or the texture of the visual image. Moreover, we developed another Augmented-Reality (AR) system that can modify the appearance of the food and the dish by projecting an artificial image on the food and the dish in real-time. The image of a moving food on a dish was captured with a camera, and a digital projector projected a texture image on the actual food. Results of the subjective experiment showed that the sweetness is significantly modified by controlling just only saturation of the food color without changing the food itself, suggesting that the projective-AR system must be useful for controlling diet and for designing food appearance. Finally, I will introduce a novel modification method of food appearance by using image filters based on the human visual mechanism. This method allows us to control freshness, transparency and doneness etc. of the food naturally and arbitrarily.

[Acknowledgment: This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP15H05926]

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Dr. Sebastian Ahnert (University of Cambridge)

The cultural diversity of culinary practice, as illustrated by the variety of regional cuisines, raises the question of whether there are any general patterns that determine the ingredient combinations used in food today or principles that transcend individual tastes and recipes. We introduce a flavour network that captures the flavour compounds shared by culinary ingredients. Western cuisines show a tendency to use ingredient pairs that share many flavour compounds, supporting the so-called food-pairing hypothesis. By contrast, East Asian cuisines tend to avoid compound sharing ingredients. Given the increasing availability of information on food preparation, our data-driven investigation opens new avenues towards a systematic understanding of culinary practice. Leading on from this we discuss a variety of further datasets on food ingredients and flavour compounds, including chef-curated flavour pairings, aroma compound concentrations, olfactory detection thresholds, and olfactory receptor responses, and illustrate how these datasets can be combined using large-scale data analysis in order to provide a deeper understanding of the impact that shared aroma compounds can have on perceived ingredient compatibility.

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Steve Keller (iV audio branding, Nashville, Tennessee)

Over the past few years, research into crossmodal relationships (or correspondences) between sound and taste has opened the door to exciting new applications of sound in the culinary arts. From gastrophysics and Sensploration to sonic seasonings and flavour DJs, Steve Keller explores the theory and practice of eating with our ears.

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Dr. Vaiva Kalnikaitė (Nu Food, Cambridge)

We are amazing at building things out of solid materials, but we are not so comfortable with making things out of liquids. Yet we are surrounded by living things which can be more than 60% liquid. In this presentation, I’ll explore how to design and build robots that can help us manipulate liquid and use it to make shapes and add texture and flavour to accessorize our food and drink experiences. I will also explore the design of digital utensils to better suit the properties of liquids when served as part of dining.

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Chef Jesse Dunford Wood (Parlor, London; http://parlourkensal.com)

Jesse will talk about ‘The fun factor’ when entertaining at meal times, and the underrated value of performance, humor, surprise, and intrigue at the dinner table.

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Prof. Francis McGlone (Liverpool John Moores University)

In the early 1900’s a psychologist by the name of I. M. Bentley carried out a series of ‘touch blend’ experiments in which he demonstrated that brains go beyond physics when it comes to the skin senses. The recognition that perception is often an illusion will be developed further when it comes to oral sensory processing where it will be shown that understanding the full physical and chemical properties of a sensory stimulus can often tell you nothing about how such matter will be dealt with by the brain i.e. how it will ‘taste’. Perhaps why cooking is an art rather than a science …….until now…..

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Prof. Charles Spence (University of Oxford)

PART ONE: Back in 2011, philosopher Peter Ludlow suggested that modernist cuisine could be seen as a form of ‘food hacking’. Of course, long before molecular gastronomy / modernist cuisine, the Italian Futurists were suggesting a number of intriguing ways in which to play with multisensory dining experiences. This workshop will explore some of the ways in which designers and those working with the latest in technology are increasingly starting to hack our food and drink experiences. While it may not yet be possible to turn water into wine (by hacking the flavour experience), culinary artists, chefs, designers, technologists, and scientists (gastrophysicists) are becoming ever-more successful in their attempts at modifying our food experiences – be it to deliver more stimulating, more memorable, more sustainable, and/or healthier food and beverage experiences. In this workshop, we are lucky to have been able to bring together a number of those working at the forefront of technological development, design, and culinary artistry to share their enthusiasm, experiences, and learnings in this area.

PART TWO: In this talk, I will review a number of the most exciting examples of food hacking that have not been discussed previously during the day. I will also highlight how the gastrophysics approach, combining gastronomy and psychophysics, is increasingly helping chefs and other culinary experience designers to make better evidence-based decisions around the optimal design of food and beverage experiences.

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Chef Jozef Youssef (Kitchen Theory, London; https://www.kitchen-theory.com)

Kitchen Theory has dedicated its efforts towards using the emerging science of gastrophysics as the main focus of our research and inspiration behind our multisensory dining experiences. This talk will highlight a number of dishes which have been developed based on scientific research and executed by collaborating with various partners and engaging the use of new technologies to create immersive, memorable, and delicious multisensory tasting journeys for our guests at The Gastrophysics Chef’s Table in London. I will share the way in which we use gastrophysics to help nudge our guests toward an appreciation of more sustainable sources of food.

All content was provided by Oxford University

CAKE II What you won’t find by typing ‘cake’ into google

We’ve put a little edit together of some of the best and most original cakes and the designers behind them. This should give you inspiration for birthdays, wedding, and your dinner parties.

SUGAR FLOWER POWER : Rosalind Miller Cakes 

Rosalind Miller Cakes was founded when Rosalind, a lecturer in Design at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design applied her artistic skills to cake design. Rosalind’s cakes have earned a reputation for not only being utterly unique, but also continually at the forefront of wedding trends, and her unparalleled wedding cake designs have won her the title of ‘Best Wedding Cake Designer’ at The Wedding Industry Awards in 2012 and 2013 (for which she is now a judge in the same category).

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@rosalindmillercakes: Ivory Cascade, Rose Ombre (11 tier wedding cake, 6 tiers with 5 separators for extra height)

ALL IN THE TOPPINGS : Lily Vanilli 

Lily Jones (aka) Vanilli is a baker and bespoke cake designer based in East London.

She is the author of two recipe books and co-founder of the YBF Awards. She has a bakery on London’s Columbia Road and consults for bakeries and brands around the world.

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@lily_vanilli_cake: Bespoke Cake Design

WHAT A SPREAD : The Curious Confectioner 

With an emphasis on research and education, the work of David Bradley aka The Curious Confectioner is known for its playful approach to the curious and exploratory. Inhabiting the role of artist, designer, gastronome and educator, The Curious Confectioner produces considered works born from a convergence of interests under multiple hats.

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Candyland (250cm x 120cm x 90 cm), The Cornucopian Garden (100cm x 100cm x 140cm)

SCULPTURAL : Michelle Sugar Art 

Michelle Wibowo is the founder of Michelle Sugar Art Ltd, Michelle is a world-renowned sugar artist and cake sculptor with incredible attention to details and realism.

 

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@michellesugarart: Realistic Baby Cake : english fruit cake, marzipan, sugar paste

ANOTHER DIMENSION : Connie Viney 

Connie Viney is known for her outlandish and larger than life sculptures and installations made from cake and icing.

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@connieviney: 8ft Walk in Wedding Cake

JELLY ALTERNATIVE : Bompas & Parr  

Bompas & Parr is globally recognised as the leading expert in multi-sensory experience design.

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@bompasandparr : Jelly with Bompas & Parr, Neon Jelly Chamber

(Edible Stories created this edit, but all images and designer descriptions are from their personal websites)

Sechuan Buttons II Taste Tingling Foreplay

What is a Sechuan Button or Acmella Oleracea: (source Wikipedia)

It is a species of flowering herb in the family Asteraceae. The flower bud has a grassy taste followed by a strong tingling or numbing sensation and often excessive salivation, with a cooling sensation in the throat.

How we applied this ingredient into an event, and a little more about that event:

We have hosted a couple 50 Shades of Grey events for private and corporate clients and so wanted to create something that was playful, tasteful but still had a little bit of a naughty side. So instead we created a menu and dining experience which would explore the senses and how we could manipulate them to create certain sensations.

 

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THE MENU

Safe word: Scallop carpaccio marinated in lemon and soya, topped with sechuan buds, lime espuma & black sesame crunch

SOUND (sound) : The sensation produced by vibrations. Guests will be blindfolded and served their first course. An audio instructions will be given, the voice is seductive but firm, allowing guests to become submissive.

Lick me dry: pallet cleanser (guests will have their hands tied and be instructed to lick the liquid off the plate)

TASTE (test) : The impression of food on the tongue. The first course will evoke a journey of the senses. Allowing your lips, tongue, teeth, and throat to taste each texture and flavour individually.

The Christian Grey: Fillet of beef topped with truffle shards, accompanied with a nori powdered cauliflower puree

SIGHT (sahyt) : The perception of what lies in front of us. Blindfolds will be removed, enabling guests to discover interactive elements on the table : touch me, taste me, drink me, use me, open me.

Pleasure and pain: Frozen grapes, disguised chili strawberry, amaretto spiked cream, contrasting ice cubes, poached chocolate centered pear served with a paintbrush and instruction to take control.

 

Additional senses that we played with during the evening:

SMELL (smel) : To perception of a scent. Certain aromas will be diffused in the room throughout the evening in order to enhance the dining experience.

TOUCH (tuhch) : To be in contact with. Throughout the evening guests will be blindfolded, silk rope cuffed, and caressed. They will have the opportunity to interact with each other and their surroundings. And who knows, maybe even take control.

POP UP REVIEW II We tried Syria’s favourite dishes with a refugee in London

by Chloé Morris and Daniel Breger for gastroINSIDER

It was a night of contrasts; of joy and pain, war and love, indulgence and sacrifice, new lives and the ones left behind. And baklava. It was undisputedly a night of baklava.

In a bare-bricked loft somewhere off the backstreets of Bethnal Green, we gorged ourselves on overflowing plates of incredible Middle-Eastern food.  At the centre of it all, Imad Alanab – a Syrian chef who was forced to flee his homeland and yet manages to wear an eternal smile; far from the country he loves but somehow transported back there, hunched over a stove, enveloped in a haze of familiar smoke and smells.  This is Imad’s Kitchen, this is – for that moment at least – home.

We ate family style, squeezed together, knees touching, elbows knocking, but nobody minded; it only made it easier to reach across for dishes that would otherwise have been out of our grasp. We started with a festival of meze dishes – the obligatoryhumous, falafel and pita bread; tabouleh; a smoky aubergine moutabal; and a crisp fattoush salad (a mixture of tomatoes, onion and cucumber punctuated with pomegranate pearls and thin shards of fried bread). The real star here though was the stuffed vine leaves – soaked and spiced grape leaves wrapped around balls of rice. They were soft, sticky, bittersweet and delicious.

Before we began the meal Imad welcomed us, urging us to “eat, eat, eat and enjoy!” We clamoured to hear more of his story – how had he arrived at this place? What did he feel? What had he seen? How could we help? – however, Imad clearly wanted to keep this, his opening night, an occasion of happiness and celebration. But as with so many refugees – Syrian and others the world over – there is no escaping the terrible sadness of their stories. Thankfully, there is often also hope. In Imad’s case, the restaurants and juice bars he owned in Damascus were destroyed in the country’s civil war. He fled and, after a journey that took him through Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Hungary, Austria, Germany and France, arrived in London in October 2015, eventually bringing over his young family, including three daughters aged six, 10 and 13. He sought refugee status and became an advisor to Unicef campaign #CookForSyria and now hopes that this pop-up (supported by NextGen, AppearHere, Hampstead Kitchen, Cook For Syria, Kasimira Party Organisers) will allow him to rebuild his business in the UK

Judging by the empty plates, it won’t take him long to achieve that goal. We wolfed down the starters and licked our lips as platefuls of kebab hindi (Syrian meatball stew), kabsa (gently spiced chicken with cardoman, rice, and crispy onions) andtabakh roho (vegetable and tamarind stew) wafted under our noses, onto the table, and into our bellies.

We were full to bursting. Sated, satisfied and blissfully happy. Not a morsel more could pass our lips. And then the baklava arrived. From the outside, the syrup-soaked parcels looked like all the other baklava we had seen before. Sugary and inviting sure, but nothing to suggest that eating them would be a transcendent experience; with pastry that melted on the tongue, leaving nothing but rosewater flecked upon our lips. Put simply, they were happiness manifested as baked goods. Go, eat them. Now. Your mouth will thank you. And so will Imad.

(Photos: Cook for Syria)

VOGUE II Wendy Yu’s Guide to Hosting a Chic Chinese New Year Dinner

Photo: Courtesy of Wendy Yu

Roughly a sixth of the world will celebrate Chinese New Year this Saturday—including Chinese philanthropist and front row favorite Wendy Yu. So, how is she making her celebration stand out? “I’ve made mood boards!” says the 26-year-old from the couture shows in Paris. Yu will be heading straight from Paris to London to host an intimate dinner for 15 friends, including Mary Katrantzou and Bottletop’s Cameron Saul. “I usually spend Chinese New Year with family, however I will be transforming my Knightsbridge apartment for the occasion and having my guests celebrate with me the Chinese way!”

Here, a look at Yu’s plans—perhaps they’ll inspire a chic Chinese New Year celebration of your own.

The Mood
Red and gold meets 1930s Shanghai glamour.

The Menu
Authentic Chinese hot pot—“It represents the essence of Chinese food whilst also reflecting what I also love about London—variety, creativity, and adventure.” For the hot pot, Yu prepares a variety of dishes (seafood, meat, and vegetables), which are presented raw, and then each person cooks their own and adds it to their base soup together with condiments and sauces. “It should be especially delicious and interactive in some way, allowing guests to get to know each other and share a memorable experience.” Traditional pudding and rice cakes to follow.

The Dress Code
A touch of red. It allows guests to make a special effort to dress up but it’s also attainable—plus, setting a special theme makes the party stand out. For her part, Yu will be wearing a red Fendi dress, a lantern clutch from Charlotte Olympia, and a pair red heels from Dior.

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The Table Top
“We will have miniature orange trees dotted to symbolize prosperity and good luck,” says Yu. It’s a fantastical (and high-fashion nod) to the indoor trees at the spectacular Dior Couture show, which inspired Yu to make her event especially whimsical.

The linen will be red, with scattered gold coins and with gold-rimmed china by Wedgwood. “And many lanterns, and rooster references as we are celebrating the Year of the Rooster.”

The Traditions
“Lucky money” envelopes for each guest, and Yu suggests a Chinese card game called Dou di zhu (fight the landlord).

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The Seating Plan
In the spirit of the New Year’s positive horizons, a plan is essential—“it is really important to ensure people come away having made new friends and aren’t bored by the conversation.”

The Parting Thought
Let the Fire Rooster inspire you to share your New Year’s wish. “The Rooster means prosperity, strength, and good luck, which I think is relevant to the year ahead. I’d love to travel to Antarctica to see penguins, run a marathon!”

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On Tuesday 31st of January Edible Stories will be hosting a very special Chinese New Year for Wendy Yu and her A-List guests.

RECIPE II Edible Stories Braised Short Beef Rib in Ron Zacapa Reserva

From the whole team at Edible Stories, thank you for indulging in our many stories to date. Since we started creating events in 2012, we have grown, travelled and hopefully conquered the appetites of many, including yours!

Our events this year range from a Tuscan feast set under a flowering canopy complete with chirping crickets to a futuristic dinner with robot bar staff, a Haitian beach club charity event to a living comic book showcasing the works of Sarnath Banerjee, an underwater gin tasting to a magical secret garden set in the woodlands of the New Forests. (to name only a few)

We love to work with both corporate and private client events that tell a story. If we haven’t already, we hope to bring yours to the plate in the 2017. May it be scrumptious!

Have a delicious Christmas and a mouth-watering New Year.

In anticipation of all the end of year festivities, we have gifted you with one of our favourite winter recipes. 

Edible Stories Braised Short Beef Rib in Ron Zacapa Reserva

Ingredients:

1kg short beef rib
300 mls of Ron Zacapa Reserva
200 mls of water
700 mls of red wine
500 gms of carrots, sliced
500 gms of white onions, sliced
4 bay leaves, whole
1 tbs salt
1 ts cinnamon

Step one
Ask your butcher for a three inch cut short rib cut, also know as the Jacobs ladder.
Make up your Zacapa Reserva marinade, for 1 kilogram of meat – mix 300 milliliters of the rum with 200 milliliters of water, a table spoon of salt and tea spoon of cinnamon. Take your whole piece of beef and place it in a deep tray with the marinade, ensuring the fat side of the meat is face down in the marinade. Cover with cling film (to make air tight), then leave it in the fridge for 48 hours.

Step two
After the marinade has soaked into the meat, drain the left over marinade into a deep baking tray add 700 milliliters of red wine, four bay leaves, 500 grams of sliced carrots and 500 grams of sliced white onions. Then place the beef bone side up to ensure the meat is in your rich revamped marinade. Cover with foil (double layered) again ensuring it is air tight. Place it in the oven at 130 degrees and leave for 7 hours to braise slowly.

Step three
After the braising, carefully take the foil off and drain the juices passing your well cooked vegetables through a sieve giving you your rich Zacapa Reserva sauce. Cut your beef into the desired portions – which should be so succulent and tender the bones should be falling off the meat.

To accompany the dish, we suggest you prepare roasted root vegetables.

Added bonus: We added hay to the dish and gave our guests a candle. They were asked to light the hay on fire in order to create a memorable ritual. This will also add a nice smokey flavour to your dish.

Background: We created this recipe for the Ron Zacapa 23 launch back in 2014. It was such a delicious and memorable dish, that this year we decided it was time to share it with all of you.

Now go enjoy these wonderfully rich flavours!

POP UP REVIEW II From London to Portugal on a plate

by Chloé Morris and Daniel Breger for gastroINSIDER

Last Saturday, on a bracing winter night, GastroInsider was transported to glorious Mediterranean climes by the amazing duo that is Adam Rawson and Sofia Gonzalez Eirin. Granted, we traveled there by train (rather than plane) – to The George & Dragon in the British Algarve, Fitzrovia – and journeyed across the lush Portuguese landscape through food (rather than foot). But what a journey it was; all eight courses of it!

Our companions on this trip were two couples who have been following Adam around London, as he pops up wherever he sees a fit. In this instance, Taberna Portuguesa was inspired by Adam’s latest trip to the country; this is what he does – he travels, eats, gets inspired, eats some more and then puts his own twist on his favourite dishes for us lucky Londoners.  On this occasion he didn’t only serve us up the eight courses, he also came to the table to tickle our tastebuds with sardine roe (salty and unctuous) and fermented capers (sharp and full of flavor), both of which he had snuck though customs on his way home. The meal was even finished off by a choice between two traditional Portuguese digestifs – ginjinha or what Adam referred to as ‘firewater.’ We played it safe and went for the ginjinha (a super sweet cherry liquor); the firewater we’ll have to leave for another time and place.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, getting drunk on cherry wine before we’ve even told you about what we ate. How very rude of us. It was a one off – so we wouldn’t want to give you food envy. Let’s just say it included contraband, the best salt cod we’d ever tried, goat – which we’d never tried, and one of our top 5 desserts – Pastel de Nata. That’s all we can share for now – as we can imagine the envy is already building up.

Overall, the experience felt extremely personal – every dish was served either by Sofia or Adam personally, accompanied by an explanation of what inspired it and how Adam had reinvented it. We were stuck by how passionate Adam was about the food he was serving and bringing the best of Portugal to life.

After dinner we were able to catch up with Adam and ask him all about this exciting venture. His two years of sampling cuisine all started with a trip the couple took to San Sebastian where they discovered ingredients such as Idiazabal cheese, cider, txakoli, slow-cooked baby pig and lamb and, of course, the beef from the old ex dairy cows. Once back in London, they hosted a San Sebastian pop up and its success led them to host a range of pop-ups in random locations, showcasing all the places that they had visited. Adam ended up doing so many trips that he now needs to return to five or six of them to freshen up his memory and allow him to bring those wonders back to our rainy country.

Other than the first place that triggered this successful string of events, we asked Adam what his most memorable location was. Without hesitation he answered that Croatia blew him away. Whilst there, he visited a string of restaurants – varying from fine dining at Marina in Novigrad, to mama’s food at a restaurant called Stari Podrum, near Trieste, which was probably his favourite. Dishes such as fuzi, atypical pasta covered with fresh truffle, gnocchi with braised beef, and wild asparagus scrambled egg were standouts. Also Toklarija near Buzet was on his hit list! We wanted to know about what inspired him to create the menus – was it the restaurants, the people, the ingredients? He admits that it can be a combination of all these things but also depends on the place in question. He told us that he spends a lot of time thinking about dishes he could cook back in London when he was walking around. His tip for a Croatian get away would be hiring a car when you arrive because you must drive round and embrace what a beautiful country it is, from the coastal towns of old Pula and Rovinj to the stunning inland villages of Groznjan and Buzet.

We then wanted to know what his worst food experience had been. Again, without missing a beat, he said Morocco. The fact that it was so full of tourists was a big problem for him as Adam likes to go off road and there were people everywhere. And with that came a lack of good meals, except for the rare occasions where he was invited into someone’s house or found a spot that was truly for the locals. One thing that made us laugh was that he learnt a really important lesson – never to ask a Moroccan man where to find good food, as apparently they don’t have a clue (supposedly the women are the ones that cook and know where to find all the best produce)! However, he did bring a bunch of things back from his Moroccan trip, including tagines, amazing spices from Essaouira, such as zingiberaceae, black cumin, paprika, ras el hanout and cumin (and a couple of pair of fake branded shoes, obviously!)

So what was the best ingredient he had brought back from his travels? This year it was Kokotxas (Hake throats) from The Basque Country, and it seems like it’s become a little bit of a habit to wrap things in ice and sneak them through customs.

With of these amazing places and subsequently delicious pop ups we thought it might be quite hard to find the appropriate venues to host them in. But what truly inspires Adam about a London venue was his flexibility to have a burger menu, sharing menu, and tasting menu. Sadly, size constraints often take over.

What’s next for this wandering chef? He actually is going to come back and plant some roots in the UK. But before he can open up his Notting Hill joint called LayLow, he’s going to go on one more trip to Japan and work at the chocolate show in Fukuoka (and bring us back an inspired pop up).

If you haven’t yet experienced Adam’s food – head over to The George & Dragon, Fitzrovia on the 18th for the Wanderlust event for the 9 course meal where he shares some of his favorite dishes from his journeys. You can get your tickets here.

(Photos: first, second Hot Dinners. All the others our own)

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