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)

See the full article here

POP UP REVIEW II Meet London’s Cuisson and who’s behind it

TESTIMONIAL II Margot tries the Good Life – Peeking into the Secret Garden

Indulge me for a moment, dear Reader.  Picture a beautiful sunset falling into the water at the end of the jetty, wild ponies grazing in the distance, a winding pathway lit with candles and lanterns.  We are met by a lady who hands us a small key.  A key that will lead us into the Secret Garden.

Jerry and I have had some wonderful invitations to events in the past but when Emma Forsyth of Rock & Roam, a new style social club for New Forest residents and weekenders, invited us to her launch party at Gins Barn, near Beaulieu (one of New Forest Escapes’ luxury lets) I jumped at the chance to attend.

A Secret Garden supper crafted by Emma’s team and the fair hands of critically acclaimed London chefs and designers, Edible Stories – just the sound of it was enough to take me back to reading Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s classic for the first time as a little girl.

Image courtesy of Rock & Roam

Image courtesy of Rock & Roam

What a garden it was too, dear Reader.  With such a stunning venue styled with flowers tumbling from the rafters, branches and leaves strewn across tables, candlelight, superb theatre created with sumptuous course after course and even a singing canary in the corner too, the story of little Mary Lennox and the magic of the Secret Garden unfolded.

Secret garden4

From Mary’s days of the Raj with a taste of India served in tiffins, followed by a Bitter Mary to depict orphan Mary, sour and rude, leaving her home to come to England….

Secret garden5

to the loneliness Mary experiences at Lord Craven’s Misselthwaite Manor where she meets a robin, as she explores the grounds, who will lead her to an overgrown doorway

Secret garden3

to reveal the untouched beauty of the deserted garden behind the walls as Mary turns the key

Secret garden2

and the final joy of making the garden bloom with her own hands, bringing her uncle and cousin together again.

Rock & Roam Launch Dinner (47 of 280)

Image courtesy of Rock & Roam

I’m still hoping that every supper I go to is as beautiful as this was.  Judging by the oohs and aahs in the room coming from Emma’s other guests, I imagine that I am not the only one!  Truly a magical evening – a feast for all the senses.  Wonder if the team from Edible Stories would like to set up camp in my kitchen, dear Reader?

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Rock & Roam’s aim is to host pop up events, tastings and experiences that are imaginative, informative, fun and unique so that members and their guests can enjoy the best of New Forest with like-minded locals.  From beekeeping to field photography, gin masterclasses or wild sea swimming, Emma works with a varied team of specialists to put together a calendar full of workshops throughout the year too.  To be honest, dear Reader, if Rock & Roam’s Secret Garden launch supper is anything to go by, then the club’s members are in for a real treat.  This is one for the black book list of Margot loves.

Secret garden 7

See the full article here

INTERVIEW II THE COUTURE WEBDESIGNER MEETS NEIL PRESTON

I had the pleasure of meeting with Neil Preston from Edible Stories early last week (Job title: Event Publisher and Director at Edible Stories). Full disclosure, I went to school with Neil and had not seen him for twenty years so it was nice to catch up as well as learn from a hospitality (dare I say it) veteran.

Neil has vast and varied experience in the hospitality industry. He is well-versed in the operational as well as business sides of things. The advice Neil has for anyone starting in the hospitality industry, which I think translates to any venture, is to get the basics right. The foundation, the core aspects, have to be sound. For hospitality, the three pillars are Service, Food and Atmosphere. Having all round knowledge is important. One has to understand Operations in order to manage successfully. Knowledge about key business areas such as Finance and Marketing are important. You can hire experts wherever you like, but as a manager understanding the essentials is vital.

Neil said that each endeavour should be treated as a project, for example when building a kitchen; one has to look at health and safety, equipment, staffing and have a backup plan!

I was interested in finding out more about his latest venture, Edible Stories.

There is a myriad of eateries consumers can choose from in London…so to differentiate from the norm, one has to think of something out of the ordinary. In fact, Edible Stories’ tagline is ‘Dine with a Difference’. Edible Stories was founded in 2012 by Chloé Morris, a Food Technology and Design expert who had a vision of presenting a unique dining experience. Neil brings his gastronomy experience to the table and together create ‘story’ inspired immersive dining experiences. Rounding out the team is Joanna Helsby who is the ‘Illustrator’/Set Designer.

Edible Stories is currently undertaking a  residency at LIBRARY, a privater members’ club located in Covent Garden, London. The building was used to store records for Westminster Council in the past but is now a Members Club/Boutique Hotel. LIBRARY is a perfect setting for Edible Stories.

Neil describes the offerings as an all sensory experience – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. The team investigate and source surprising ingredients to include in their menus. For example, using the Oyster Leaf (Mertensia maritima) to recreate the taste of Oyster – the flavour without having to include any seafood!

The premise is such: a theme is decided upon and a menu is created around the idea. Past examples include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland and Fifty Shades of Grey. The team can host a party at your home, in a venue of your choosing or at LIBRARY itself. Edible Stories has a balance of clientele, they are popular with corporate as well as private clients. Book launches are fittingly ideal for Edible Stories.

I asked Neil about how the event’s subject matters are decided upon. Sometimes it is the client’s idea, however, the plan is to try to tie in the themes to what is happening in the literary or pop culture world today. For instance, the latest idea is themed around James Bond, with the new film ‘Spectre’ about to premiere, this was an opportunity not to be missed. The event’s name is ‘For your Eyes Only’. Guests are invited on a secret dinner mission to find the man behind S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

From the Edible Stories website:

“This carefully themed dining experience brings to life the well loved stories by writer Ian Fleming through a dining experience where the guests are “00” agents.

On the night…..

You will be escorted to a Martini Reception with caviar canapés and a private message from your hosts for a sinister plot… But keep an eye out for an undercover agent in the field for a special message…

You will then be invited to dine in the St Luke’s restaurant for a four course menu with a difference, playing on your senses and always keeping you alert to the mission. The food, the interaction with the people at the table and your environment will allow you to pull together the clues and gradually uncover the mission which will reveal itself at the end…

On the Menu….

.A Smoking Walter PPK Parfait

From Russia with Love but beware if your drink is spiked you may need help from another agent…

Diamonds are forever on this plate

Casino Royale Roulette, uncover a hidden secret on your mission…”

By tying this theme to a current event makes great business sense. Whenever a new Bond film is released there is a multitude of marketing surrounding it, especially around product placement…so why not capitalise upon something relevant? This can be applied to most industries…link your product to something in the public realm…make use of pop culture.

The Edible Stories team is now thinking ahead for 2016 in terms of deciding on themes and ideas. For Christmas, they are hosting a Dickensian Christmas Carol, with LIBRARY being a perfect setting to evoke a Victorian London atmosphere.

If you are thinking of organising a corporate event or a private party and have some literary ideas, get in touch with Neil or Chloé to discuss…they have some great ideas and the skills to bring stories to life using culinary techniques.

TALK II Food & Rituals

Wednesday 24th September 2015, 6:30pm for 7:00pm start
Rituals are characterized by formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism, and performance.

If it be by choice or infliction, rituals can be performed for various different reasons. Many of the most known rituals are considered taboo from an outsiders perspective. For the third Culinary Salon by foodie experts Chloé Morris and Caroline Hobkinson, shed a light on a series of Food Rituals through:

Placentophagy (health), Animal Sacrifice (cultural & religious), & Fasting (religious).

 

TIP II How to create a tasteful but still slightly naughty dining experience

50 Shades of Grey
How to create a tasteful but still slightly naughty dining experience

From your local hardware store:

– zip ties
– masking tape
– rope (thickness of choice)
– black light
– red light bulbs

For the softer touch

– black velvet cloth
– gold and black silk fabric
– red / black candles
– blindfolds
– peacock feather

The added bonus

– envelopes containing a contract sealed with a wax stamp
– extract of the book printed out and burnt around the edges
– black and white body photography

Now, you can use all of these if you want, but pick and choose what you like and also consider the size of room that you are working with.

It’s time to get creative! Cut strips of silk for additional blindfolds that can also be used to tie hands together, give your guests a little room to play and explore.

For the table, place a black table cloth down, add candle holders of all different shapes and sizes around the middle, this should be simple and elegant (remember what Christian Grey’s apartment looked like). And then improvise, add zip ties here and there along with rope knots that can be places between your candle holders. Have elements on the table that guests can taste, touch, drink etc. This will never leave a silent moment during your dinner, as guests will be continuously stimulated.

The perfect decor will come to life through the lighting in the room and the background music. All the small touches around the room that will grasp people’s attention is what will make it a truly unforgettable experience. Replace your lightbulbs with some red ones and dim the lights right down, light some candles around the room, and see how it all comes together. You want your guests to be playful and interact with each other. Make it a discovery, allow them to look around the room and come across something new every time they turn their head. Be it a certain book, light coming through a cupboard door, a picture on the wall, or a paintbrush replacing their dessert spoon.

For the music, choose something sexy, something that is not repetitive, but rather, even makes you tingle inside.

Something like this works on me : How does it Feel Now by Akua Naru

RECIPE II Raspberry & Mint Berries

Hansel & Gretel
Raspberry & Mint Berries
Left with Two or Three Berries

Ingredients – 

8g Sodium Alginate
3g Xanthan Gum
15g Calcium Lactate
450g Mixed Berry Coulis (blended raspberries)
1ltr Water
50g Sugar
5 mint leaves

Utensils –

Sieve
1 Deep tupperwear with lid
1 Large surgace tupperwear with lid
Slotted spoon
Electric scale
2 Saucepan

Instructions –

It seems much harder than it really is, so if you follow the steps and make sure not to leave things in for too long plus your measurements are accurate, you should be just fine!

First things first. Make your berry coulis. Do this by adding your berry of choice, in this instance, we chose raspberries. Add them to a blender and mix them up, if you want to have a more liquid consistency, we recommend adding some raspberry juice or other – apple might taste nice too. And don’t forget those mint leaves. Stick them in, so they are blended in with the fruit.

When you have your coulis mix it with the calcium lactacte and xanthan gum in a saucepan and bring to boil.
Pass the mixture through a fine sieve and allow to cool. Push down on the sieve, to get as much liquid through as possible.
Place the ltr of water over a low heat.
Mix together the sugar and sodium alginate.
Add the mix to the water and stir until dissolved, taking care not to boil.
Strain into a deep container and cool.

To form the ‘berries’, scoop some of the calcium lactate mixture with a dosing spoon and carefully place it into the sodium alginate mixture. Repeat the process taking care not to let the ‘berries’ touch each other.

Coat each berry with the sodium alginate mixture and leave for about 10 minutes. Don’t leave them in for any longer, as a hard shell will form over the mixture and it will become really chewy.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the bubbles and place them in a bowl of warm water in order to remove any excess alginate mixture.

Store in water until you are ready to serve. I put these on leaves that I bought from my local garden shop and then treated so they would be hygienic enough to serve food on. But you can serve these on a spoon, you can even stick little micro herbs on them as leaves to completely fool your guests.

INGREDIENTS : MSK SPECIALIST INGREDIENTS

EVENT II Alice in Wonderland

To celebrate it’s first birthday – LIBRARY presents Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, as it celebrates its 150th anniversary.

LIBRARY is a private members club in the heart of theatre land on St Martin’s Lane focused on literature, theatre and design. Alice’s Wonderland, a Culinary Adventure celebrates LIBRARY’s first anniversary as it showcases the club’s literary, design and theatre credentials in this immersive dinning experience. The club’s interior design took inspiration from Alice in Wonderland for its Yew tree staircase and the Chef’s Table, also from Yew.

Be whisked into a magical kingdom of mystery, fun and a unique dinning experience.  The four week pop up will showcase a journey of surprises with a series of adventures planned throughout.

This sensory dinner will take place at our St Luke restaurant. It will be transformed for the occasion and every dish will correspond to a specific ambiance change. Starting at £65 for a sitting, the four course menu highlights include: Two sides of the mushroom, a white rabbit, and painting the roses red.

 

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 09 July until Saturday 08 August 2015, Alice’s Wonderland also allows the unique chance for non-members to enter through the doors of the exclusive club on St Martin’s Lane and carry on the night in one of the clubs renowned bars.

 

More info & tickets : http://www.designmynight.com/london/whats-on/food-drink/library-presents-alices-wonderland-a-culinary-adventure

TALK II Food & Hunger

Wednesday 24th June 2015, 6:30pm for 7:00pm start

For the second Culinary Salon by foodie experts Caroline Hobkinson and Chloé Morris we will have a close look at Hunger:

What does it mean to be hungry? Choice or infliction. Hunger is what drives our love and hate of food, wars and reduces us to wild savages. What are we using to stave it off? We take a close look at Thinspiration sites, Food banks and Cotton balls.

Panellists include a Politician, a Dietician an Anorexic and a Thinspo campaigner

INTERVIEW II THE SYBARITE meets Chloé Morris, Creator of Edible Stories

A STORY WORTH EATING. THE SYBARITE MEETS CHLOE MORRIS, CREATOR OF EDIBLE STORIES

Chloé Morris is an artiste, director and storyteller. A graduate of interior architecture and product design, Chloé spent 7 years in Paris before venturing into an MA program in Narrative Environment at Central Saint Martins in London. A fascination blossomed in telling a story through space and food which ultimately led to the formation of her company, Edible Stories. Its uniqueness and memorable affair has since garnered momentum as an experience one will never forget, and has since gone on to create pop-ups based around theatre classics and movies like Grimm Brothers and A Midsummer’s Night Dream. The edible stories are perfect for a private 18thbirthday celebrations to evoking pleasure through the senses in a 50 Shades of Grey themed event for valentines day.

Edible Stories livens up spaces with food, music and décor. Chloé wants her guests to take the experience as they will – to essentially let go of their boundaries and enter a world of play that engages the senses and ultimately enables them to create their own memories from the dining experience.

As of now, Chloé prefers to dabble in one-off events – a testament to how she goes about providing an Edible Stories experience – that no two events are alike. The longest space in her series however, is a 4-week long hosting of musical inspired pop-ups to pay tribute to some classical productions from 17 April – 15 May at the private members club, The Library – a perfect location in the heart of London’s theatreland. Envisage Les Miserable, Phantom of the Opera to Matilda all brought to life through the use of food.

If you want Chloé to host an Edible Stories for you, a meeting would go something like this: a proper tête-à-tête in order to be better acquainted with each other, and more importantly, for Chloé to see whether both parties can get along – a vital aspect that Edible Stories adheres to as “there has to be that relationship before anything because we’ll be spending a lot of time together”. She’ll then find out the client’s wishes and put together a proposal in the form of a conceptual framework that will be presented and furthermore to discuss menu options, the space in which Edible Stories will work along with the finer detail. At the end of the day, Chloé’s events are – in her words – “key in hand, which means you give me what you want and I’ll create it for you and all you need to do is arrive – you don’t need to host or worry about anything.  We’ll take care of management, cleaning, all of it”. Now, that is a story worth eating.