Monthly Archives: February 2009

scratch 'n' sniff valentine

On that almost always disastrous day of Saint Valentine (which is apparently named after a couple of rather unromantic early Christian martyrs) I thought it would be fun to try a different sort of date. The kind where you take your boyfriend to a small makeshift cinema in Soho to see a film about sex and death and eating… Yes, Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover. It’s  one of my favourite films, alongside Delicatessen, but it’s so overpowering that I find it really hard to watch.

dsc00774-11This was a screening with a difference, put on by fantastic jelly men (perhaps the only jelly men) Bompas & Parr. It didn’t actually feature jelly, but was a feast for all the senses. It was also the UK’s first screening of a scratch ‘n’ sniff film. Not knowing quite what to expect we turned up to the Jotta Craft Fair, which is being held in a secret-looking sort of building on Foubert’s Place, just behind Oxford Street, from 14th to 28th February. It was a beautifully sunny day and guests were milling about with champagne flutes of a refreshing gin and dandelion drink. “It’s a Valentine’s colour,” said Sam Bompas, who was meeting and greeting in smart attire. I looked at it carefully and the lovely drink was distinctly brown. Maybe it could be a push to change Valentine’s traditional colour from the red blood of martyrs to something else. Personally I like yellow.

dsc_0137-12After being ushered in and taking our seats for the film, we were presented with the much awaited scratch ‘n’ sniff cards and at various points throughout the film were told to scratch ‘n’ sniff certain numbers. For those that haven’t seen The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover, it’s an incredibly intense experience. Even before you add smell this film really stimulates the senses with exotic costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier, operatic stage sets, claustrophobic lighting, ear-piercingly high choirboy singing and mouthwatering scenes of cooking and eating. The smells that went with it that day included rotting meat, dusty books, flowers and faeces! By the end I felt a bit over-stimulated and dazed.

dsc007771During the interval, we were invited downstairs to share some edible delights: squishy aphrodisiac marshmallows, sherbert dip, popping candy and flavour trips (more on that at a later date…) Taking some of this stuff home in our pockets on the tube felt a bit illicit. Luckily the police sniffer dogs in Camden can tell the different between sweets and drugs.

I bought a real gold foil hotdog and made the mistake of smothering it in ketchup. So I still don’t know what gold tastes like. I have now eaten a tasty coconut cigarette though – are Rizlas good for digestion? We also stuffed ourselves with popcorn, taken from the popcorn machine pictured. All-in-all, a very fun day!dsc00775

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Filed under Events

scratch ‘n’ sniff valentine

On that almost always disastrous day of Saint Valentine (which is apparently named after a couple of rather unromantic early Christian martyrs) I thought it would be fun to try a different sort of date. The kind where you take your boyfriend to a small makeshift cinema in Soho to see a film about sex and death and eating… Yes, Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover. It’s  one of my favourite films, alongside Delicatessen, but it’s so overpowering that I find it really hard to watch.

dsc00774-11This was a screening with a difference, put on by fantastic jelly men (perhaps the only jelly men) Bompas & Parr. It didn’t actually feature jelly, but was a feast for all the senses. It was also the UK’s first screening of a scratch ‘n’ sniff film. Not knowing quite what to expect we turned up to the Jotta Craft Fair, which is being held in a secret-looking sort of building on Foubert’s Place, just behind Oxford Street, from 14th to 28th February. It was a beautifully sunny day and guests were milling about with champagne flutes of a refreshing gin and dandelion drink. “It’s a Valentine’s colour,” said Sam Bompas, who was meeting and greeting in smart attire. I looked at it carefully and the lovely drink was distinctly brown. Maybe it could be a push to change Valentine’s traditional colour from the red blood of martyrs to something else. Personally I like yellow.

dsc_0137-12After being ushered in and taking our seats for the film, we were presented with the much awaited scratch ‘n’ sniff cards and at various points throughout the film were told to scratch ‘n’ sniff certain numbers. For those that haven’t seen The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover, it’s an incredibly intense experience. Even before you add smell this film really stimulates the senses with exotic costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier, operatic stage sets, claustrophobic lighting, ear-piercingly high choirboy singing and mouthwatering scenes of cooking and eating. The smells that went with it that day included rotting meat, dusty books, flowers and faeces! By the end I felt a bit over-stimulated and dazed.

dsc007771During the interval, we were invited downstairs to share some edible delights: squishy aphrodisiac marshmallows, sherbert dip, popping candy and flavour trips (more on that at a later date…) Taking some of this stuff home in our pockets on the tube felt a bit illicit. Luckily the police sniffer dogs in Camden can tell the different between sweets and drugs.

I bought a real gold foil hotdog and made the mistake of smothering it in ketchup. So I still don’t know what gold tastes like. I have now eaten a tasty coconut cigarette though – are Rizlas good for digestion? We also stuffed ourselves with popcorn, taken from the popcorn machine pictured. All-in-all, a very fun day!dsc00775

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Filed under Events

vanilla beach icecream

Spot the difference – one is a sandy beach on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands…

sandy-beach

The other is the contents of a vanilla pod floating atop of a pan full of double cream and milk…

dsc_0046-1

Vanilla Icecream (from Gordon Ramsay’s Just Desserts – makes just over half a litre of incredibly rich icecream)

250ml whole milk
250ml double cream
50g caster sugar
1-2 vanilla pods
6 large free-range egg yolks

1) Put a bowl in the fridge to chill at least a few hours before making this recipe. Also, if you are using an icecream maker, make sure it has been in the freezer for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

2) Put the milk and cream in a heavy-based saucepan with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Split open the vanilla pod(s) and scrape the seeds into the mixture. Add the empty pod(s) too.  Slowly bring to the boil.

3) Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and sugar together with a balloon whisk until pale and creamy.

4) When the vanilla cream mixture is about to boil, take off the heat and pour about a third into the eggs, whisking well. Then pour the rest in slowly, whisking continuously.

5) Return the mixture to the pan and cook on low, stirring continuously until you are able to coat the back of your wooden spoon with the mixture. Careful not to overcook it.

6) Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into the chilled bowl. Place in the fridge to chill and stir occasionally to make sure no skin forms on the top.

7) Then pour into a shallow container and freeze. Take it out and beat thorougly at least three times during the freezing process. If you have an icecream maker, just pour the mixture into the clever machine and be smug.

Beach photo by Mora McLagan.

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Filed under sweet things

the underground restaurant

I haven’t posted anything up here for nearly four weeks and feel somewhat shamefaced about it. But, thanks to MsMarmitelover and her inspiring living room, now known as The Underground Restaurant, I’m back in the posting saddle. In the chic, chandeliered home of this photographer/writer/cook I met two fellow food bloggers – the lovely London Eater and the infamous Bellaphon. They both gently persuaded me that it really is best to keep up with the blogging.

dsc00767The concept of a restaurant at home is a good one, fully explored by Jim Hayes, an American in Paris who hosts up to 120 people for Sunday dinner every week. You get the thrill of eating out, but at less expense, less choice and the bonuses of nosying into someone else’s home environment and of meeting new people.

I went with my friend Michelle, someone equally excited by new eating experiences as I am. Our evening didn’t get off to the best start. We hurried for the Silverlink from Camden to Brondesbury only to see it chugging out of the station a minute early, leaving us stranded on the platform with a couple having an increasingly violent domestic, resulting in police, tears and threats of being sectioned.

We finally got to MsML’s Kilburn abode at about 8pm, with the help of an equally confused Bellaphon, found wandering about the street, and some clueless passers-by. It was a joy to be welcomed in to her warm house with a glass of kir. We stood around chatting, admiring the white wooden floorboards, beautifully laid tables, black & white photos and a stylish daughter/waitress in a black & white dress to match, until MsML’s sister heralded the meal with a call to take our seats.dsc00770

So, what was dinner chez MsMarmitelover like? We had fat, juicy kalamata olives to nibble on before the arrival of the starter: an intense tomato soup with plenty of garlic and a deliciously thick texture, as the seeds were left in. This was served with homemade rosemary and garlic focaccia. For mains we had a generous portion of creamy potato and smoked salmon pie with shredded carrot and celeriac (or at least I thought it was celeriac after a couple of glasses of BYO wine…)

dsc00772Then came the fresh-tasting palate cleanser of elderflower jelly, brought along by Bompas & Parr.  And finally, there was a divine bitter chocolate pot, topped with candied orange.

At £10 a pop, this was a bargain and something a bit different.  It will be on every Saturday and I highly recommend giving it a go. Contact theundergroundrestaurant@gmail.com to book a table.  Please note: the price may be going up.

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Filed under restaurants, Underground restaurants and secret supper clubs