Sunday 22 November 2009

Towards a Fluid State - (or how I survived a liquid brunch)

A couple of Saturdays previous saw me invited to a 'brunch' in Hackney's Broadway Market. The event in question was a preview for press and bloggers of 'Towards a Fluid State", which is a forthcoming festival to be held on the 5th December at a warehouse in Dalston.

I had no idea what to expect really, apart from knowing that alcohol would feature heavily. The brunch being run by the founders of 'Tasting Sessions' Angela Newell and Hayley Sudbury, who have held some much talked about events in the past featuring interesting booze, and who's ethos is all about, and I quote "bringing interesting people together over fine drink and food. The events are highly interactive and showcase life and culture across art, design, fashion, music and architecture"

Now I don't know about you, but that sounds like just the sort of thing a sophisticated and hip young groovecat like me should be attending....So, a bright Saturday November morning saw me fresh faced and alert making my way to a cafe in the bustling Broadway Market, and from there being immediately guided down some stairs at the back to a dimly lit basement bar area.

Taking a proffered test tube (as you do) bearing the legend 'Join the movement' and which, when examined, was full of a clear liquid (I subsequently found out it was 80% proof alcohol) I took a exploratory sip....potent, but not unpleasant and tasting strongly of mustard - very strange. At this point I was handed a Bloody Mary and I (rightly) suspected my liver was about to undergo a bit of a workout.

Meanwhile gazing around I realised the space was now filled with bloggers, media, press and some very hip and trendy looking types. Naturally, I was in my element.

What followed next was quite frankly a bizarre experience.
It's hard now to put things in order, or even to adequately describe what exactly I ate or drank. There are two reasons for this.

1) Much alcohol was consumed, and as you can imagine - the brain cells were being killed off at an alarming rate as I became more befuddled.

2) Despite written lists of all the food and drink consumed being handed out at the beginning of the brunch, Angella Newell then proceeded to eat hers and encouraged the by then, rather merry mob of onlookers to do the same. All record of what exactly I partook in is gone forever.
In any case, I'll do my best to record what I can remember, and my impressions. After some pretty good Bloody Mary's, there was barely a pause before we were handed flutes of vintage champagne. We were then offered canapes to taste along with the champagne. These worked pretty well and appeared to consist of caviar on some kind of savoury base, but it turned out the whole thing was made from vegetables cleverly hocus-pocus'ed to throw us.

This was then followed with Whisky - two types, one I seem to remember being rated (by those who know) as one of the best available - matched cheese was offered along with the whisky!
Next - Sake was passed around in traditional square wooden drinking vessels handed out by two men dressed as Geisha's. A representative from the sake producer then gave a small talk on it's properties before we were encouraged to get stuck in. It was extremely unusual, soft, subtle - to me it tasted strangely reminiscent of porcini mushrooms....which is not actually as awful as it sounds. It certainly wasn't unpleasant.

By this point, I was to put it bluntly - munted. I'd started drinking a mixture of very unusual and expensive spirits at 11am and basically hadn't stopped for the past couple of hours. I was musing on just how this was affecting me as a stream of people came running into the room dressed in black cloaks and strange black V shaped hats and proceeded to pass out balloons and pins to the assembled throng, before disappearing again.
We were then encouraged to use the pins to burst our balloons in unison after a countdown, and then breathe in instantly. The smell that hit us was of Brandy, which linked to the next drink experience, a rather expensive blend of Courvoisier cognac which was accompanied by some really rather nice jelly produced by infamous "jellymongers" Bompass and Parr which also had a subtle brandy kick.

Next, events taking a rather strange turn, as I'd only seen him as a contestant on Raymond Blanc's TV series - 'The Restaurant' a couple of nights previously "JJ" in his regular guise as a mixologist, introduced a cocktail which due to some kind of molecular jiggery-pokery was full of tiny capsules, each containing the flavour of a number of different cocktails. The idea being that each sip you took would provide a different taste each time. I'm not entirely sure it worked as stated, each sip tasted the same to me. But, by this point I wasn't in tip-top condition.

Finally we were informed that if any of us were Cognac lovers - we should speak to the rather glamourous looking Courvoisier representative who had something 'a bit special'. This turned out to be a bottle of L'essence Cognac, blended from eaux de vie from years significant to Courvoisier's history - including some from the Napoleonic era this came in it's own black lacquered cabinet box, complete with internal light (but sadly no blast of dramatic heavenly singing when the doors are opened). The cognac comes in a Baccarat crystal decanter which apparently took forty five artisans to produce, the Courvoisier rep put on special gloves to handle it! The taste? incredible stuff - smooth, subtle - everything your cheap ass fire breathing cognac isn't. But the price of this elegance and sophistication? getting on for £2000 a bottle. I drunkenly put myself down for a dozen.

So, I staggered upstairs and out, squinting into the bright afternoon sunlight. Utterly hammered but pleased I'd been invited to such a bizarre, interesting and surprising event.

Just to gild the lily as it were - I joined some of my fellow food blogger's at the handily located pub down the road, and proceeded to carry on drinking into the afternoon.....

Not surprisingly perhaps, 6pm found me sprawled on my train home from London, no doubt snoring and dribbling....normal behaviour for me on any given night perhaps - but not for a late Saturday afternoon when I was supposed to be taking my parents for dinner at 'The Bell' (See previous post!)

Tickets for the 'full' 'Towards a fluid state' warehouse experience on December 5th are now on sale, starting at £16-50, and can be purchased here:-

If all that wasn't enough excitement for one post, here's a video taken at the brunch, and if you look carefully towards the end, you may see my drunken yet surprisingly boyish good looks briefly staring back at you. Enjoy!

One final important note. Please, always drink responsibly....It leaves more for the irresponsible people like me.


catty said...

As long as you didnt drink so much that you became a man dressed as a Geisha...

Anonymous said...

That looks fantastic. My kind of event. Very envious that you went and clearly revelled in the experience,

Fi Magill

Anonymous said...

I worry for your liver.

Dan said...

Catty - never say never, but unlikely.

Fi - I had a great time - maybe you should try and get down to the warehouse event on the 5th?

Annonymous - why thankee kind annonymous person - I'll pass on your concerns to the liver.

@foodnetworking said...

sounds like a great day, think you did well to keep your photos in focus... will check out the details for the 5th ... thanks

Dan said...

@foodnetworking - Ha, they're not my photos. It was so dark mine came out pretty badly. I asked FluidState if I could use some of the ones they'd posted on Flickr to illustrate the post.

Alex said...

You ate the menus and did synchronised balloon popping? Ker-azy!

Nora said...

What a crazy event, sounds like such fun! And groovecat is officially my new favourite word! :D

Anonymous said...

I wish I would attend! I love discover new and creative way of presenting food and beverage. it makes our world a very nice place to live!

Dan said...

Alex - yep all of that and was bizzare and a lot of fun.

Nora - It was a cracking event and I agree, the use of Groovecat needs to get more of an airing.

Mathilde - Agreed on your point about it making our world a nice place to live, you would have liked this was very unusual and funky.

uma said...

Hey Hip Young Groovecat!
Definitely sounds like my kinda bash, too bad I live miles away. No doubt it was chocks away once you entered the basement, and of course getting hammered at lunchtime is always such fun...

gastrogeek said...

what a great post! It was so much fun wasn't it? I wish I could afford to go along on the 5th. Although on reflection, we probably shouldn't have gone to the Cat and Mutton after - my poor liver...

Dan said...

Uma - hahaha yep agreed on getting hammered at lunchtime. Not so great having a hangover early evening though.

Rej - Thanks! It was good fun. I agree, perhaps the pub afterwards wasnt the best idea, but a great way to while away a Saturday afternoon in good company.

Graphic Foodie said...

Wow! Good job standing upright after all that! Great experience Mr. Groovecat!