This post is published in partnership with Bombay Sapphire, who sponsored this post. It is the second of two posts. In the first, I shared my preview of The Grand Journey from Bombay Sapphire and shared my Saffron and Coriander Crusted Lamb Chops recipe which featured two of the 10 botanicals. Here I share my experience of The Grand Journey itself. Enjoy!
An evening on a train with expertly crafted gin cocktails and food from a Michelin star chef sounds like a pretty perfect evening. Add that this train, the Laverstoke Express (named for the home of the Bombay Sapphire distillery) brings you from Spain to Tuscany to the Moon.
The Grand Journey details were kept firmly under wraps and turned out to be a multi sensory experience in a vintage style train carriage in London’s Banking Hall, led by hugely entertaining hosts serving expertly crafted food and drink featuring the 10 botanicals from Bombay Sapphire. It was a fun and surreal immersive gin filled evening showcasing the 10 botanicals used to flavour Bombay Sapphire in both food and cocktails.
On arrival, we were presented with a G&T in a signature Bombay Sapphire G&T glass with bright blue stem. The train was beside, complete with steam and train noises. The lights were low, and the mood dark, spirits were high. We were beckoned in and took our seats in the low light. I wondered, why so dark? Once we were all seated it was immediately obvious why. Film of the destinations was broadcast on the windows and also on the tables. Koi carp swam around our plates and Moroccan tile patterns danced around one of our drinks.
Ivano Tonutti is the Master of Botanicals for Bombay Sapphire, and he travels the world to sustainably source the world’s finest botanicals for their gin. The food was crafted by Tom Sellers, patron chef of Michelin starred Story in Bermondsey, the drinks were devised by Bombay Sapphire brand ambassador Sean Ware (read more about this and them on my previous post which was a preview of The Grand Journey and included my recipe for saffron and coriander crusted lamb chops).
We started with Juniper Berries from Tuscany. Juniper is a core ingredient to any gin, legally gin is not gin without it. An amuse of a juniper and blackcurrant ice block (an ice lollipop) started us off on our journey.
Next was coriander from Morocco which we experienced as the Maghrebi Hi Ball cocktail, served in a Moroccan tea glass with swirling Moroccan tile patterns on the table. This was a fabulous cocktail with saffron and coriander meeting traditional English mead from Lyme Bay winery.
Liquorice from China arrived in the form of a scent and smoke emanating from a bowl which scented the carriage.
Lemon peel from Spain featured in the hot and cold scallop dish. Cooling scallop tartar with bergamot and radish was served alongside a roasted scallop with bright lemon mousseline.
Back to Italy for our next flavour, Orris Root, which adds floral notes to Bombay Sapphire. Orris root is the root of the gorgeous iris flower so it all makes sense. For an obsessive kitchen gardener who also cooks, this is an interesting detail. A pretty coupette of Bombay Sapphire, fig and bergamot liqeur with violet leaf tincture, bergamot juice and creme de violet was my favourite drink of the evening.
Grains of paradise from Ghana arrived as a scent. Grains of malagueta pepper, a native plant of West Africa, served up in a bowl for us to savour by smell.
Almonds from Spain were paired with Iberico pork with roasted pear, fresh almonds, sugared almonds, amaretto jelly and a pork sauce. I loved this dish, I could have eaten it twice.
Cubeb berry from Java came as a fabulous peppery cup of Bombay Sapphire, coffee and cardamom cold infusion, with Benedictine and tri-pepper tincture. The result here was a cool, rich and deeply flavoured drink, heading towards chocolatey. I will take my coffee like that any time (after 5pm, of course!).
Angelica from the forests of Dresden in Germany arrived as dessert. Angelica ice cream, salted blackberry and bitter chocolate. Angelica itself is quite bitter, heading towards wormwood, and goes very well in gin as a flavour. Otherwise it is often candied (I have had it candied by the native Sami people in Lapland who eat it as a sweet, and also in Christmas cake at home, it is the bright green candied ingredient used).
Cassia Bark was delivered as a scent, along with a moonscape, as even though the cassia bark for Bombay Sapphire is from Vietnam, it is said to grow on the moon (but, you know!). Cassia bark will be familiar to many cooks who enjoy Asian cuisines. It is like cinnamon but with a thicker bark and a stronger flavour.
After The Grand Journey finished, we retired to the Bombay Sapphire bar upstairs to enjoy more cocktails, including a classic gin & tonic, and a lemon and thyme gin and tonic (which I particularly enjoyed).
The Grand Journey takes place in London this week from the 17th to the 23rd July. If you have not managed to secure a space, don’t worry, there are 10 bars across Europe serving limited edition Bombay Sapphire cocktails for just 12 weeks. In the UK, you can enjoy cocktails developed using angelica at The Berkeley Bar in Kensington, cocktails featuring coriander seed at Three Sheets in Dalston, Scout in Shoreditch are working with liquorice, Science and Industry in Manchester with grains of paradise and Panda and Sons in Edinburgh are working with cassia bark. There will also be a series of events at London Cocktail Week from 3rd – 9th October 2017.
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