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Friday, 16 July 2010

Bompas and Parr's The Complete History of Food


The Complete History of Food is the latest endeavour from jelly makers extraordinaire Bompas and Parr. In association with Courvoisier and chefs and mixologists gathered from some of London's finest eateries, they've taken over a town house in well-heeled Belgrave Square and turned it into a gastronomic spectacle like nothing you'll have experienced before.

You're guided through the house, where each area has been transformed into a fantastical scene from culinary history and each given a different host who has their own unique take on that era's food and drink. So, for example, the medieval age features Courvoisier-based cocktails and tasty vegan goodies from Saf. To add to the experience, these are served in a boat reached by walking on a plank across a flooded cess pool. I'm afraid that's where it begins to become unsuitable for vegetarians as, in the Victorian room - courtesy of Bistrotheque - you feast on delicious duck served with puy lentils, with beetroot and a black champagne sauce. The extra twist here is that the meal takes place while you sit in the body of a model dinosaur, a nod to the famous meal that reportedly took place inside one of the Crystal Palace dinos in 1853. Meanwhile, 'The Future' is looking brilliant if, as I did here, I get to spend it stood on a glamorous rooftop, champagne cocktail in hand, while scoffing Ferrero Rocher shaped duck foie gras coated with caramelised almond and rolled in gold leaf.

That sense of decadence runs through the whole experience, though less celebrated moments in food history feature too. The 1950s love of convenience food is represented by a scratch and sniff TV dinner card while the current obsession with obesity is dealt with by the opportunity to leap around inside a giant inflatable model stomach.

The experience finishes with a Bompas and Parr Renaissance-style feast, where I snapped the photo you can see at the top of this piece. It shows their giant rotating cake which was bedecked with sugar sculptures. You can also just about see the iris jellies that were served with Ambergris Posset, or what those Renaissance folk called 'whale's vomit'. And very tasty it was too.

Like with all Bompas and Parr events the attention to detail is astounding, both in the way each room has been made to look and in how the food has been put together. Everything you eat and drink is carefully outlined to you as you go through the house so you feel like you learn a few things along the way too. More importantly, the charming staff encourages you to socialise, to revel in the fantasy and make the most of the whole experience. Normal eating out will never be the same again.

The Complete History of Food costs £25 a head and runs until 18 July. It looks like the rest of the run has sold out but for future, sure-to-be-amazing, Bompas and Parr experiences keep an eye on their website.

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