If you really like gin…
Now let’s go from flatshare dining to a bit of a Monday-evening extravaganza. I introduced you to ‘The Grand Journey’ by Bombay Sapphire earlier this week, it’s a bit of an immersive experience held in London to explore what makes this tipple so special. Imagine a gin-themed Secret Cinema and you’d be halfway there.
The event is basically a bit of marketing genius and the reason why I was excited, is because I’m so fascinated with how certain flavours are paired together. I’m guessing that it’s due to my design background and admiration for those who can make food and drink into a bit of a masterpiece (though when I’m at home, my Caribbean Everyday seasoning tends to go on everything).
I was curious to understand more about how the professionals do it, so Bombay Sapphire allowed us to go on a bit of a journey of our own beforehand. Read on to find out what goes into creating those fancy dishes and ways to experience the fun for yourself!
The adventure started a few weeks ago, at Michelin starred restaurant Story for a masterclass with chef Tom Sellers. He created the tasting menu for The Grand Journey, developing dishes around the botanicals of juniper berries, lemon, almonds and angelica root. It was there I met some of the other bloggers taking part, Luiz and Niamh, who casually mentioned their own cookbooks and supperclubs. I guess that’s the best thing about meeting people who are slightly out of your blogging ‘niche’, you learn about different pockets of the industry (plus food bloggers always have endless restaurant recommendations).
We were greeted by a G&T served in the trademark balloon glass and had a little nosey around the open kitchen. I took this opportunity as a chance to pick the brains of the Michelin starred chef and figure out how all this flavour pairing works in the first place. Basically Sellers likes to consider the climate something grows in or the environment in which it lives. For example chickens would feed on corn so that’s a starting point, then some rosemary or thyme. Fruits work well with seafood, so think lobster with pear or crab and apple and if it grows in the ground, it doesn’t go in water. Potatoes are never boiled, even if the recipe calls for a mash and instead baked in the oven to keep things just so.
We had a go at making one of the starters, a hot and cold scallop combo, with apple, radish and a lemony hollandaise sauce, which took less than 15 minutes. Scallops are something I’ve been too afraid to cook for myself, but Sellers made it look easy with the most approximate of measurements and plenty of intuition.
So how you translate 10 distinct flavours into dishes and drinks? After the preview, it was time to try out the journey itself at the art deco Banking Hall building, where the Laverstock Express ‘train’ is located. It stops at each destination where a botanical is found and each destination was represented by a cocktail, dish or aroma. I don’t want to ruin things if you ever go to future events, but it all moves very swiftly, from places like Morocco, to Italy, Germany to Indonesia, illustrating where each of the botanicals are grown sustainably. It’s a chance to try some really unusual ingredients and discover things that you never thought you may like. My favourite dish? Unusually the dessert (I’m usually more of a savoury person), a crunchy salted blackberry and bitter chocolate dish with Angelica flavoured ice cream.
The event is fully booked for this season but be sure to follow Bombay Sapphire so you’re notified when it pops up again (there’s also distillery tours at the Thomas Heatherwick designed building in Laverstock if you fancy a different kind of day out). My plan is to try out the recipes created by Luiz and Niamh, slow roasted pork belly and Saffron & Coriander lamb chops. I think that understanding certain flavours comes from lots of practice and I’m hoping that if I cook enough of the cuisines I like, I might start to experiment a little. Watch this space!
This post is sponsored by Bombay Sapphire