Stimulating the Senses

Posted on Sunday, 13th December 2015 is a fabulous new website featuring popup events, “secret” dinner parties and other foodie adventures, ranging from the sociable to the fanciful, the delectable to the unpredictable. But it’s more then just a website where you can find a meal out. Instead, it’s intended to be a social dining revolution, matching friendly guests with awesome chefs and great food at unique venues. What makes special is that most of the pop-ups featured on the website aren’t everyday occurrences. They take place somewhere unexpected, often in private residences, and are designed to offer a unique social dining experience.

Take the Stimulating the Senses extravaganza that I attended recently at Parlour in Kensal Green. The masterminds behind the event were Chef Jesse Dunford-Wood and experimental psychologist Charles Spence who collaborated with Heston Blumenthal on the Sounds of the Sea, a dish that features on the Fat Duck tasting menu. The pair joined forces to produce an unforgettable multi-sensory dining experience that tantalised and teased during the course of the evening. Playful experiments were conducted during the dinner, centring on the effect of sight and sound and how it affected our reactions to the food. Charles Spence himself was on hand to carry out the experiments with the results being revealed at a later stage. Stimulating the Senses - London Food Blog Stimulating the Senses

The menu for Stimulating the Senses was kept under wraps throughout the meal so that we had no way of knowing at which stage we were within the culinary journey. This made things extremely fun, as if we were making a secret journey through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The meal began with a number of inventive and delicious small bites such as McTucky’s popcorn chicken nuggets, a moreish chestnut hummus with rosemary pitta bread
 and raw sea bream with citrus fruits and olive oil from a spoon. Stimulating the Senses - London Food Blog  - Popcorn chicken Stimulating the Senses – Popcorn chicken

The next course was delectable – a duck liver pate with fig and honey which was designed for sharing. Chef Jesse claimed that this dish was one of the reasons that his wife married him, and understandably so as it had the creamiest of textures and the loveliest of flavours. Also for sharing was a pleasant vegetable ravioli with goats’ cheese and a fabulous ‘Back Door’ smoked salmon and crispy smoked salmon skin. Stimulating the Senses - London Food Blog  - Vegetable ravioli Stimulating the Senses – Vegetable ravioli Stimulating the Senses - London Food Blog - Smoked salmon Stimulating the Senses – Smoked salmon

A caviar blue cheese custard with hazelnuts popped up next. Served warm in egg shells, it was a rather wonderful custard. It was very tasty, and neither too blue in flavour nor too cheesy. Stimulating the Senses - London Food Blog - Caviar blue cheese custard Stimulating the Senses – Caviar blue cheese custard

The main course was next, or rather a variety of potluck main courses brought out for us to share. There was a cow pie
, chicken Kyiv
, sea bass with cardoon pinenuts and rosemary, a
 wild mushroom flan, and a bantam egg with Jerusalem artichokes. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try everything but was told the fish was delicious (and no doubt this was the reason I missed out as the other diners quickly gobbled it up). What I did try I enjoyed, particularly the moist ball of a chicken Kyiv oozing with butter, and the tasty mushrooms in a mushroom flan. Stimulating the Senses - London Food Blog  - Chicken Kyiv Stimulating the Senses – Chicken Kyiv

‘A Miracle of an Intermediate Course’ was next, consisting of a miracle fruit with a shot of lemon juice and a slice of lemon. A miracle fruit is a berry that, when eaten, causes sour foods such as lemons and limes to taste sweet if you eat these after having the berry. What a miracle of a palate cleanser!
The evening flowed from course to course, as if on a crescendo of excitement, and finally ending with a huge bang. The final course was “Puddings Ranging from the Sublime to the Ridiculous” and it made for a spectacular finale to what was a wonderful gastronomic and tantalising experience.

The dessert was ‘staged’, with all of us firstly being presented with a headset. While we listened to a range of Disney tunes such as Mary Poppins, we watched Jesse and his team of skillful chefs at work, plating up a huge array of desserts on the table right in front of our eyes. The whole experience of listening to music and watching them work was truly unforgettable. It was as if we had been transported into this magical, surreal world where artists were at play, and it made for an incredible final act for what was a fairytale dining experience. What’s more the desserts were delicious. There were probably close to twenty different desserts – too many to list here. All were for sharing and included a variety of macarons, soufflés, lemon tarts, fruit tarts, chocolate tarts as well as an assortment of cakes. My favourite was an incredible baked Alaska which was delectable with its fluffy lightness and delicate sensibility. Stimulating the Senses - London food blog Stimulating the Senses – Check out the headphones! Stimulating the Senses - London Food Blog - Puddings Stimulating the Senses – Puddings Stimulating the Senses - Puddings Stimulating the Senses – Puddings

Stimulating the Senses was one of the most inventive and unusual and (not to mention delicious) dining experiences that I have had this year. It was stimulating at so many levels, not only in terms of the senses, but challenged the status quo of what can make dining out fun. The event ran for two nights only and was priced at £99 per head including all drinks. But check out for more incredibly events.

Overall rating: 4.5/5


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One Response to “ Stimulating the Senses”

  1. Supanun Says...

    Wow! it sounds good!