Category: Drinks


Breaking Bread (or Injera) in Ethiopia

March 11th, 2013 — 7:24pm

Me stirring the sauce for lunch

So my first day in Ethiopia has been spent visiting the homes of families who have been helped by World Vision. Wow. The stories told by the women I’ve met about how their lives have been literally transformed have been incredible. I’ve lots to say and lots to think about.

Today I was struck by how we’ve become desensitised to the significance of sitting down to a meal with other people. I’m talking about the way that people eat in front of the television, or indeed walking down the street. I recently ate a hamburger doing just that. Eating in the street is something that’s simply not done in Ethiopia. Mealtimes are very significant here; food may not be abundant but it is served with generosity, hugely so; I found myself having to refuse at one point today, I was just so full. Ethiopians do not eat alone, they share and also they feed each other, a practice called ‘gursha’ – scooping up a piece of injera plus whatever stews and vegetables are on it, fashioning it into a little bundle and feeding it to the mouth of your family/friend/neighbour/complete stranger.

Today we were invited into the home of a woman called Hannah, literally with open arms. Hannah is a lady who has had support from World Vision, meaning she has gone from literally living on the streets, to having a home, making a living offering a laundry service to people in the community and sending her children to school and college. Her daughter is now studying computer science, volunteers for the Red Cross and wants to become a doctor. Incredible.

Hannah preparing food

Red bean sauce

We arrive at Hannah’s house as she is cooking, her kitchen consisting of a small area for chopping, a work surface and several burners; it’s an excellent use of a small space. Onions and garlic sizzle in one pot, a bright red bean stew plops away in another. A bowl on the floor contains green chillies and potatoes, another a leaf that looks like a cross between spinach and chard. It’s thrilling. The injera is made out the back, in her storage room full of hanging pots and pans and she has a stack to ready to show (and feed) us (they last about 4 days before spoiling).

Storage room, where injera is also made

Injera

The smells tantalise and we sit down to eat; a huge plate of injera arrives, rolled up at the sides like giant cushions and topped with various dishes – it’s a fasting season (for the next two months, up until Easter, many people are Orthodox Christians) and there’s no meat but everything is so full of flavour I am surprised to learn this. There’s a real intensity to the food. Some of the red bean sauce we’ve seen her cook and *cough* I have ‘helped’ to cook by er, stirring the pot a bit arrives and is poured on to the injera; there’s a red lentil stew, potatoes, a yellow lentil dish, whole green chillies and, my favourite of all, the spinach like leaf, flavoured with garlic, onions and chilli.

Lunch!

We all dive in, tearing and scooping; everyone huddled around the small table eating with our hands. Every time we pause for even a single second Hannah asks ‘why you not eat?!’ She has no worries where I’m concerned; I can’t get enough. We feed each other as part of the ‘gursha’ tradition.

Then it’s time for coffee. The Ethiopians make some of the best coffee in the world and there’s a whole ceremony to go with it. First beans are toasted over a fire, the flames fanned with a brush. Suddenly Hannah rushes towards us with the hot pan, flicking water into it as it hisses and spits, steam everywhere; she wafts the pan under our faces to let us smell the beans – bit of a shock that and very dramatic. She then grinds them with a pestle and mortar while burning incense. We drink the finished coffee black with plenty of sugar and BOOM! It’s so strong, and so good. The Ethiopians never drink coffee alone, they will call neighbours around to share it; coffee drinking is when all the issues that need discussing get thrashed out.

Toasting coffee beans

Pounding the beans

The preparation of food here takes time and effort and is so central to cultural practices and economic survival. I share meals with friends and family often, but I wondered today how much the real importance of cooking for others and breaking bread has sometimes passed me by. Mealtimes, in a way, represent stability. A place to cook, a place to serve, a place to share. Hannah can now, thankfully, count on 3 meals a day for her family, when often it used to be just one. She is extremely grateful. ‘Take my kitten!’* She says, half joking. ‘In fact, take me! It’s the least I can offer!’
Tomorrow I visit a group of HIV positive women who are taking part in a World Vision Development programme to improve their lives and the lives of their families by making the Ethiopian staple, injera. I can’t wait to hear their stories.

*I almost took the kitten.

Top photo courtesy of Kayla Robertson – World Vision

23 comments » | Drinks, Eritrean food, Ethiopia, Wine

Top tip for making sloe gin

November 29th, 2010 — 8:40am

The only ‘hard work’ involved in making sloe gin is foraging those sloes. Most recipes also advise you to painstakingly prick each sloe with a pin to allow the juices to leach out in the bottle. Forget this. I recently ran into Sipsmith’s master distiller, Jared Brown who gave me an absolute blinder of a tip – put the sloes in the freezer before bottling. This way, their structure breaks down through the freezing process, eliminating the need to prick.

Now it is really just a case of chucking everything in a bottle.

Sloe gin (makes a 1 litre bottle)

Sloes are the fruit of the blackthorn bush and are best picked after the first frost, when they should be ripe.

500g sloes
Gin (I used Beefeater – not too simple or complex in flavour)
100g-150g caster sugar (I used 100g as I don’t like it too sweet but most recipes use 150g)

Once you’ve foraged your sloes, pick over and wash them thoroughly. You can be diligent and remove all little stalky bits if you like but as you can see I didn’t even bother doing that. Once frozen, sling the sloes into a clean 1 litre bottle. Funnel in the sugar and then cover with gin.

Turn the bottle daily for a week or two, then just turn it (upside down and back again) every week or so. You can drink it after about 2 months but 6 would be better (no-one ever waits that long). When ready to drink, strain the gin through muslin and re-bottle.

10 comments » | Drinks, Food From The Rye, Foraging, Fruit, Peckham

School of Wine at Green and Blue

September 7th, 2010 — 7:53am

School. Of. Wine. I don’t think I’ve ever been more eager to learn. At real school, the one where you need to be an actual child, I was a terror. When I was in attendance that is, because if I could help it, I wasn’t. I turned bunking-off into an art form; me and my bezzie mate and partner in crime, Leah. I remember our classmates reporting back a quote from our French teacher who, frustrated at our continued absence burst out, “sod this kids, let’s all bog off down the pub with Helen and Leah.” My parents actually live opposite one of my old teachers, and one day he dared to ask them what I do now. My mum said his face was a picture when she told him about my career in psychology. I can’t say I blame him. Must have been quite the shock.

So I was clearly more interested in boozing than studying, but my oh my, how things change when the two are combined. School of Wine is a once a week, 13 week course, starting out with the basics of tasting and winding on through viticulture, vinification and various wine producing countries; France; Italy; Germany and Austria; Spain and Portugal; Australia and New Zealand; the USA; South Africa and South America. The course finishes with fortified and sweet wines, followed by the grand finale – sparklers and champers, with CHIPS.

Every Monday night, our group gathered around a long, candlelit wooden table in the back of Green and Blue, an award winning wine shop in East Dulwich, specialising in natural wines. You gather and chat and drink and try to stop yourself from slumping under the table by munching on hunks of bread from the local German bakery.

Kate Thal is the wonder-woman running the show. She delivers most of the sessions herself and the depth and breadth of her knowledge is staggering. I can completely relate to her, because we both hate any kind of pretension or snobbery when it comes to food and drink. This anti-elitism is the absolute foundation of School of Wine. You can always tell the difference between someone who really knows their stuff and someone with their head stuck up their own arse because the former will tell you that there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to tasting.

I’ve been through a couple of phases with wine. At first, it was just the complete and utter unknown, I didn’t know where to start. I learned a little bit, met a few unhelpful people, felt silly and overwhelmed. And then I went to wine school.

I learned about the horrors of mass produced wines; the way the grapes are so immature and badly grown that they have literally no character of their own and are ‘flavoured’ with dirty little teabags of artificial nasties. I learned about my favourite grapes and regions; the former are Riesling and Gewürztraminer, the latter Alsace and anywhere that grows Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Extensive notes back up the classes which steer you and your buds up and down rambling hillsides and through lazy 4-hour fantasy dinners of cassoulet, confit and smoky, iron-rich reds. It was a genuinely emotional journey. A grown man and I nearly shed a tear over a Loire Chenin Blanc and I drunkenly agreed to join the Women’s Institute.

If you have an interest in wine, then go go go. This is not your regular selection, but carefully chosen and genuinely interesting. You’ll taste an average of 11 each week and share out the leftovers between you. Some were cloudy, some keenly crisp; there were chilled reds, vegetal, raw, slightly dirty whites and stickies like distilled raisins. What really elevates this course though, is Kate. She is eloquent, witty and engaging. More than one of the boys had a crush on her. Hell, I almost had a crush on her. I dare you to go these classes and not come away with the utmost respect, not just for Kate but for her entire philosophy. She does it for the love, as do the producers she sources from. Some are so small that they are barely making any money from the backbreaking work that is the reality of making decent wine.

There cannot be a wine course in London that is better than this one. You can enter it at literally any level and mine Kate’s brain as little or as much as you want. You will feel inspired and if you’re anything like us, you will gush about it for months afterwards. The classes run on Monday nights, which I suppose is my only criticism. Still, it does ensure that most people are available and I still don’t feel right on a Tuesday morning unless I’ve got a sniff of a hangover. So much so in fact, that I’m going right back to school. Secondary School of Wine is nearly upon us, and I’ve got my brand new pencil case.

Do read fellow student Graeme’s post, which is brilliantly written and much better than this one.
Thanks to Ewan-M for the photo of the shop front.

Green and Blue’s School of Wine costs £325 for 13 weeks of tasting, teaching and learning. I was invited to try it free of charge.

Green and Blue Wines
38 Lordship Lane
East Dulwich
London

SE22 8HJ
T: 0208 693 9250
School of Wine

Green & Blue on Urbanspoon

6 comments » | Classes, Drinks, Wine

The Big Peckham Lunch

July 19th, 2010 — 9:07pm

We did it! Yesterday afternoon the people of Rye Apartments came together along with a bunch of my mates for a good old nosh up in the car park. Today I feel totally exhausted but so happy that we managed to pull it off. I’ll be honest, there were moments during our 13 hour cook-off the day before when I was apprehensive. What if there isn’t enough food? What if people don’t turn up? We started at 9am and before we knew it, we were slumped on cardboard boxes in the middle of my flat, dishevelled and slightly sweaty, trying to keep our eyes open to finish rolling vine leaves; it was 11pm. A long hard day and a huge amount of work.

It was important to do justice though, to the stellar ingredients that people donated and I must say a heartfelt thank you to all of them.

On the food front, Riverford Organics donated fruit, vegetables and herbs; Barber’s donated some of their delicious cheddar (which went into a cheese and onion tart, biscuits, scones and pretty much anything else) and Maryland Farmhouse butter. Rachel’s Organic sent milk, yoghurt (a whole lot of yoghurt), crème fraiche and cream, and Pong Cheese a selection of their cheeses including a Camembert, a goat’s cheese, a cheddar and a Bath Soft Cheese. They went into quiches and tarts.

Green and Blacks sent their organic chocolate for our super squidgy brownies and marbled chocolate meringues, and for the cake making, we had flour kindly donated by Kate Thal at Green and Blue Wines and unrefined sugar from Billington’s. The eggs were really special; old breed Burford Browns, Old Cotswold Legbar and duck eggs from Clarence Court. The colour of the yolks was intensely amber. Sally Butcher from Persepolis stepped in on the nuts and honey side of things – we had coffee and walnut cake, sunflower seeded biscuits and cherry and ground almond cake, plus some stuffed vine leaves with raisins. In our cakes and on our scones we spread clotted cream from Rodda’s and Fraser Doherty’s fruity Super Jam and I must mention that they were speedily and expertly mixed by my new pride and joy, which Kitchenaid sent to ease the burden on my puny arm muscles. She is the newest sparkliest shade of grape; I’ve named her Gilberta.

The ever brilliant Paganum kindly donated 3 amazing topsides of Malhamdale Belted Galloway beef, which we used in roast beef and horseradish sandwiches, plus a Thai-style salad dressed with chilli, fish sauce, coriander and the like. Yianni of Meatwagon fame sorted me out with chicken drumsticks from his butcher and of course I had to jerk some, although I managed to rein myself in slightly and Tikka the rest for variety.

On the drinks side of things, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of people who wanted to get involved. We had loose leaf tea from Lahloo, plus a lot of booze for those feeling fruity. Russian Standard Vodka donated 3 bottles for vodka iced teas; The Ship, a brilliant pub in Wandsworth run by a great bunch of people sent over Pimm’s plus all the trimmings – very summery. On the beer and fizzy front we had Moritz and Rothaus beer from The Beer Merchants, there was sweet, fruity cider from Sweden (Rekorderlig) plus Young’s London Gold, Adnams bitter, Red Stripe lager and Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer which everyone loved. It’s available in quite a few pubs around London now – I urge you to give it a try.

For those who avoid the bubbles, there was vino from my new local, The Victoria Inn, the owner of which helped out in more ways than one throughout the whole event, even ferrying over another Kitchenaid in his car. His motto is “the pub is hub”. Bloody nice bloke. Casillero del Diablo provided more wine and there was stonking chilled sherry from Tio Pepe. I think we can agree that there was something for everyone!

To round off the feast, some Bompas and Parr iris jellies with ambergris (that’s whale vomit to you and me) and candied orange from their Complete History of Food event. We wibbled them around and giggled. Hic! They were seriously boozy with Courvoisier. I love everything Bompas and Parr do and you should too.

And last, but by no means least, I’d like to say a really huge thank you to my mate Lizzie. She worked like a dog during that 13 hour cook off and basically kept me going throughout. I could not have done it without her so thank you Mabs, for being a damn good friend. We make a brilliant team.

So that’s it! We used 40 eggs, 3kg flour, 4kg sugar, an absolute shedload of cheese and a whole bottle of washing up liquid (not in the cakes you understand). My friend Rachel made that amazing bunting from my dodgy old clothes which is, quite frankly, nothing short of a miracle. The only slight disappointment was that more of the neighbours didn’t turn up but hey, what can I do; we put on an amazing spread and all they had to do is walk outside – if that doesn’t encourage them then nothing will. The ones that did turn up were absolutely lovely though and I invited a load of my mates anyway so the whole thing went off Peckham stylee. Today is a bit of a come down but I’ll get over it; I’ve already started thinking about a new project to sink my teeth into.

Of course the whole idea was to raise money for Maggie’s and that we did. The donations are still trickling in and we’ve already reached the £200 mark so I think that makes the event a success. Thanks so much to everyone who donated money. You did good. I’ll leave you with a little vid of the cook-off and the lunch itself. Cheers!

46 comments » | Cakes, Cheese, Drinks, Food Events, Food From The Rye, Lovely Food Producing People, The Big Lunch

Cocktail masterclass at Rules

June 10th, 2010 — 11:48am

Brian Silva. What a legend. This guy is what you call a ‘serious’ barman. He is most definitely from the old school. His cool, smooth, easy manner oozes the quiet confidence of experience – 30 years of it. Soft, Anglicised-American tones soothe you into your bar seat as he mixes, muddles, shakes and pours. The man seems part of that bar and it is his own, really; he was coaxed from The Connaught to re-open an historic space – once the favourite hideaway of the Prince of Wales and Lillie Langtry; ’tis the stuff of lore and misty daydreams.

Which all makes me feel even more embarrassed that I said the word “fuck” in front of him. Not intentionally you understand, it just slipped out. I was nervous, you see – jittering together a Margarita ‘the Rules way’ (with a touch of Cointreau) – Brian’s mellifluous instruction guiding me and my foul mouth towards green, salted nirvana.  The alcohol had loosened my tongue – we’d had rather a lot by that point, being two thirds of the way into a three hour class which had started with a straight liquor tasting.

The classes take place on weekday afternoons between 2 and 5pm and cost £135 per person for up to four people. It’s a lot of money. So how much bang do you get for your buck? Well, first Brian shows you around behind the scenes; the bar varnished and twinkling with promise of alcoholic alchemy, framed by dark wood, gilt mirrors and animal horns. He whooshes you through spirits; garnishes; the speed rail; the glasses, tools and potions and curios of his own creation. And then it’s down to consumption. You learn how to make at least four classic cocktails, and finally one or two of your own choosing.

Declan McGurk, supplier of liquor (Speciality Brands) to Rules bar, had started the session with a little spirit tasting. Jensen’s Old Tom Gin, made in Bermondsey, was first to blow me away. Jensen developed the recipe by combing the history books and found that traditionally ‘Old Toms’ were never sweetened with sugar (too expensive); the raucous spirit was instead tempered with extra botanicals, which is just what you get from Jensen’s – a sudden spicy thwack on the nose and lengthy herbal flavour. Grant’s Morella Cherry Brandy was another stunner; a scarlet sweetheart, smelling powerfully of Bakewell tart – all almonds and cherries and sticky summer fêtes.

The ‘classics’ were the best I’ve tasted. There are just 10 on the menu – all Brian’s recipes and all with subtle twists. Of course he can make anything you like, as long as it doesn’t contain any kind of fruit purée, or tacky garnish. In the back room he shows us a plastic bag full of paper umbrellas, which he keeps for the people who hack him off; receiving a drink from Brian topped with such a vulgar appendage could only ever be intended as an insult. Martini’s are always stirred, never shaken and come served in traditional, squat conical glasses. A Blue Moon, made with crystallised violets tastes vaguely of the parma sweetie versions I used to neck as a kid. Brian rolls his eyes when I say this and as well he should – this drink is elegant, mysterious and very grown-up.  These cocktails, from this bar, made by this man, are the antithesis of a jug of ‘sex on the beach’ during happy hour at the student union.

There will never be any throwing of bottles, neon lighting or even music in the Rules cocktail bar. It’s the very definition of understated glamour, an oasis amongst the gaggles of teenage tourists, street performers and gift shops of Covent Garden. If you’ve got the money, this city is your playground and if you can afford this class then I urge you to go. If your budget has more in common with mine, then I recommend you treat yourself to a cocktail every now and then – much more accessible at around the £12 mark.

As we were released back into reality, fuzzy warm and unsteady, eyes blinking through the shock of sunlight, I felt as if I’d emerged from the set of an old movie; the star of the show – Brian Silva.

Rules
35 Maiden Lane
London
WC2E 7LB
Tel: 0207 836 5314
www.rules.co.uk

Rules on Urbanspoon

For information about the Rules cocktail master class, contact Brian at brian@rules.co.uk and please see his comment below.
Classes costs £135 per person, take place on weekday afternoons  from 2-5pm and you can have up to 4 people in a class.
I was invited to try the masterclass free of charge.

18 comments » | Bars/Pubs, Drinks

Some Food and Beer Matching: Mixed Results

November 12th, 2009 — 3:07pm

I am a big beer drinker. I love it as much as I do wine and increasingly, I love it more. Nothing can beat the refreshment of an ice cold burst of hops and bubbles. When I was tempted by the offer of this food and beer matching hamper from the people at Innis and Gunn, I put the feelers out a little and asked my beer blogging pal for his opinion on I & G (I’m not familiar with their beers and tend to stick to what I know – Brew Dog) and he directed me to this post where opinions are pretty much divided. It seems many beer aficionados feel they have ‘moved on’ from I & G but some still enjoy it as much as ever. I had to try it.

I must admit, my little face lit up when I received the hamper. Arbroath smokies, smoked salmon, smoked venison; a delicious looking, if rather smoky, range of foods. We laid the whole lot out in one big spread (complete with tartan tablecloth) and got right down to business.

Our first match was the I & G ‘Blonde’ with Inverawe organic smoked salmon: skilfully smoked fish which surprised us with its cheeky waves of smoke, then salmon, then smoke and oaky depth. A slosh of Blonde in the mix made our tastebuds happy with notes of caramel and vanilla winding down to a slight bitterness to foil the rich, meaty fish. Overall I enjoyed this uncomplicated match, although I probably wouldn’t drink the beer on its own as I prefer a bit more of a challenge and punch to my tipple; this was a little too mainstream for my taste.

The ‘Rum Cask’ was paired with cold smoked venison from Rannoch Smokery: wintry, dark and surprisingly sweet with an irony, gamey tang and a texture like the missing link between raw meat and jerky. Together with a slurp of fruit, spice and rum scented beer it combined into something luxurious and festive. My favourite match by a deer-roamed country mile.

After three successful combinations (some hot, buttered Arbroath smokies were also devoured in minutes), we moved on to the cheese. The first to step up, a Strathdon Blue from Ruaraidh Stone, Ross Shire, was very mellow and creamy; easy-going, not particularly sharp or salty but pleasantly earthy and subtle. This was matched with an IPA, which unfortunately didn’t stand up to the challenge very well. The cheese, although mellow, was a blue nonetheless and all we got was a big hit of cheese and a vague taste of alcohol from the IPA, with the exception of a slightly malty false start.

The second cheese match, a smoked cheddar and I & G ‘Original’ fared slightly better, with Chris rather ‘getting into it’ after a few mouthfuls. The cheese had an incredibly light texture almost like it had been whipped and a rich, subtly smoked flavour. For me though, this cheese was a little bit odd; I found the taste and texture rather alien and artificial (Chris finished the lot). The beer did well to punch through with a hoppy bitter finish, but for me the cheeses came last in the race; a shame as I really like the idea of matching beer with cheese. If anyone has any suggestions then do please share them.

Things rather tailed off here, as the oatcakes-jam-beer combo went straight into the ‘let us never speak of this again’ category and we just concentrated on finishing off the beer, which, incidentally, I rather enjoyed. The Blonde was a touch dizzy and vacuous but the rum cask aged number was more of an exciting lean towards the dark side. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable learning experience and a definite kick up the bum to start matching more food and beer. I’m keen to start using more in cooking too, after success with the Punk IPA batter for posh fish fingers and plans in place to use one of the darker beers in a stew.

I think Innis and Gunn have done well to match these beers with foods but have perhaps been slightly distracted by the concept, which is to use products from the surrounding local area; some of the matches seemed to require too much stretching of the imagination. The savoury, smoked foods (cheese excepted) though, worked an absolute treat and I can see myself enjoying a beer and cold collation come Christmas. Then I’ll switch to sherry for dessert.

11 comments » | Beer, Drinks

Alcoholic Architecture with Bompas and Parr

April 30th, 2009 — 2:06pm

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.

11 comments » | Drinks, Far Out Crazy, Lovely Food Producing People

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