Ever since I met Bompas and Parr back in January, I’ve been a truly devoted fan. I mean, who can fail to like people who make jelly for a living? And when they offered to whip me up some jellies for an upcoming bloggers dinner party (a ‘pork belly summit’ – a celebration of well, pork belly), I liked them even more. I
nearly bit Sam’s arm off graciously accepted, a jelly exchange took place and after some brief unmoulding instructions via telephone – ta da! They were resplendent on the plate, wobbling and sliding around like nobody’s business.
The jellies were based on the shape of cogs and flavoured with Prosecco and fruit. My favourite was this rather glam version with gold leaf in the centre.
As three of the other bloggers were cooking a pork belly dish for the summit, I decided to make something different – another little homage to B & P in fact, something they served up at their Monnow Valley Drive Thru event – the magnificently named ‘Luther Burger’ (below). It is exactly what you think it is by the way – a Krispy Kreme with bacon in the middle. Now before you recoil in horror, think about it – sweet stuff works with bacon – take maple syrup for example. Don’t get me wrong, I found the idea slightly daunting to begin with but I was pleasantly surprised to find it does actually work (although as Sam himself admits – it is a seriously guilty pleasure).
If you think the Luther Burger is wacky, let me tell you that previous B & P events have included a ‘scratch ‘n’ sniff cinema‘, ‘flavour tripping‘ and these past two weekends, ‘alcoholic architecture’ – a walk in, breathable cocktail of (Hendrick’s) gin and (Fever Tree) tonic.
I arrived for my intoxicating mist fix at 8pm to find the charming Sam (Bompas) working the door (top photo), while simultaneously being interviewed, filmed and politely informing curious passers-by that the event was all sold out.
I was becoming increasingly over-excited at the prospect of entering as people started to emerge – slightly sticky and giggling – from the previous session. Before my time arrived however, Sam asked me if I would mind doing him a little favour by ‘doing the door’ while he nipped off somewhere for ten minutes. A few brief instructions, a clipboard thrust into my hands and he was gone. Adapting quickly to my role I placed a hand firmly on the shoulder of a punter slipping past, unaware of the queue. When she turned around I was pleased to see the smiling face of Ms Marmite Lover – chef and patron of the Underground Restaurant and now my partner in boozy crime.
When Sam returned to relieve me of the clipboard I realised that door duty had the added bonus of leaving us firmly at the front of the queue, first to be handed boiler suits and ushered in to the sounds of Spandau Ballet or something similar.
We ducked through to find ourselves in the changing rooms where we donned our oh so flattering boiler suits before twitpiccing ourselves for the amusement of others and moving through to the bar for preliminary refreshments (double gin and tonics).
I even managed to get a sneaky shot into the boys changing rooms (above) – all perfectly clean fun thank you very much – the suits go on over your clothes – although Sam did report that he had to stop a few people from actually stripping off lest all be revealed when the suit starts to get damp in the mist.
Here we paused to arse about taking photos for a bit before following the sign downstairs…
A spooky red lightbulb hung above the entrance door…
And we’re in…and it’s misty and, and…it tastes like gin and tonic! At first, all we do is laugh and tweet and take pictures and laugh some more. I’m amazed I actually have enough signal to receive a phone call halfway through the session, ‘I’m in a breathable cocktail!’ ‘A what?!’
The foggy room was actually very small, there were perhaps just twenty of us in there, all suited and giggling and er, sniffing because breathable gin and tonic makes your nose run…
To create the mist, B & P used the same technnology as the brilliant ‘Blind Light’ installation by Anthony Gormley at the Hayward Gallery back in 2007. Anthony’s mist however, was much denser – you literally couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. I mentioned this to Sam and he explained that, aside from the tehnicalities of vapourising alcohol, health and safety blah blah blah, the Blind Light installation cost a mere 40p per litre to vapourise – gin and tonic costs more in the region of £40.
We emerged after 40 minutes feeling sticky, slightly giddy and smelling faintly of booze. It’s definitely the strangest evening out I’ve enjoyed since some late night shenanigans at Bestival in 2007, which started with me crawling through the back of a sofa and ended with a fortune teller. I wouldn’t be hugely surprised if I heard that Bompas and Parr were behind it.
Keep an eye on the Bompas and Parr website for details of future events.