So, you’ve read a few reviews of The Complete History of Food, I would wager, by now. That culinary dream team Bompass & Parr have once again captured our imaginations. They’ve somehow acquired an enormous abandoned house in Belvedere Square for a few days, and have transformed it into a mind bending, sometimes nerve wracking but always entertaining food & drink experience.
At 15 minute intervals, small groups are ushered through the experiences in waves of anticipation. Greeted by a wizardly looking gentleman, an overview is given, then a cocktail prescribed. I was told that I was phlegmy (I do have a deep voice and I have been out a lot!), and was prescribed a corresponding cocktail to increase my yellow bile. I was feeling quite bilious as it happened but I kept schtum and made my way to the medieval pirate ship, constructed in the garden.
We had to traverse a pool of live eels, via very narrow platforms. My nerves gave way, I am way too clumsy to attempt this, and they kindly let me in the back door.
Inside the boat, the pirate barman from Lounge Lover delivered a cocktail with rose in – fine choice as it is one of my favourite aromatics. I also got a little toast with artichoke and red cabbage. We dallied a little, traversed the eels again (eeeek!) and then 4 of us got into the tiniest service lift and ascended to a roof top bar. We were treated to impressive views, champagne & cognac cocktails and a deacdent foie gras and nut truffle with a port reduction from Alexis Gauthier.
What could be next? I couldn’t have predicted it. Scratch and Sniff TV Dinner in a dark 50’s style lounge. Fun and confirmation that I am not a TV dinner kind of lady. Dinner scratched and sniffed, next stop was a constitutional bounce around a bouncing castle shaped like a stomach that had had too many TV dinners. Clumsiness at the forefront of my mind, and fear of injuring my companions, I bounced tenderly in a corner, and bounced out as soon as it was acceptable. I did love my few minutes in there though, whisked back to childhood.
Down a mushroom lined corridor, we descended the stairs lined with film footage of dinosaurs to the Victorian period and dined in a huge Iguana. A fantastic recreation of a bizarre 1853 dinner where Anatomist Richard Owen and sculptor Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins teamed up to create life-sized models of iguanodon dinosaurs at Crystal Palace, and then invited twenty leading scientists to dine there, some in the models. I knew there was a reason why I did science!
I loved the food here, served by Bistrotheque. Duck confit with puy lentils, beetroot and champagne sauce served with a lovely summer cocktail of Courvoisier with green tea, apple juice and elderflower cordial. The green tea was from my favourite, the Rare Tea Company.
Our final course was served in the Renaissance room, where Bompass & Parr greeted us with in a room like a giant fluffy pink blancmange. Lots of sugar sculptures, a huge cake swathed in pink curtains, and small plates of posset circling it. I loved the posset, it had a gorgeous richness and was velevet smooth. Enquiries as to the ingredients left me stumped: ambergris and cognac – that is regurgitated sperm whale bile and cognac – it was delicious!
I then bounced over to the neurological jelly. The physiologist in me was very curious, and the child in me wanted to play. I inserted my finger and watched the jelly assess my pulse, go bright red and BOUNCE! Well, I blame the eels for that rapid heart rate. We downed a shot of Courvoisier XO and headed for our final drink to the Courvoisier bar for gorgeous cocktails (Parisian Rendez Vous and Sidecars plus one secret warm one not on the menu with coffee beans, orange, cognac and ginger). I settled in and watched a lady with a book she had written on Champagne Exercises, all of the exercises are based around drinking champagne. Maybe exercise is for me after all?! I need to seek that lady out.
All of that fun, drama and excitement is a one off and costs only £25. The attention to detail, the quality and the sheer drama is fantastic. Bargain, I think. Sadly I think it is sold out but if you can get there, do it.