The Hunger | Supper Clubs: The Gourmand and LimeWharf
— March 15, 2013 —
In this column, Ananda Pellerin and Neil Wissink uncover the secret pleasures of the gastronome
Cod with Gazpacho Granita at The Gourmand Photography by Neil WissinkFrom Dutch still lifes to Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, the dinner table has long been a fecund source of inspiration for artists. Such was the case at two recent London supper clubs, each of which put a memorable table at the centre of the dining experience. With the launch of issue 01, the food, art, and culture journal The Gourmand held a series of dinners at the Protein project space in East London. On display were photos and artworks from the current and previous issue (their inaugural one), including a series by Paul Davis entitled Restaurant Conversations Overheard and Illustrated (“Drink your fucking coffee before I stab you in the eye with this fork…”), and illustrations by artist Jean Jullien – one of which accompanied a Gourmand missive on the horrors of eating sea urchin. For the occasion Jullien also created a sculptural dining table, lovingly referred to as Table Man. With a circular head that doubled as a stool and a big cheery smile, Table Man’s frame was brightly painted to enliven the evening – whether you were eating off his arms, legs, feet or midsection.
"With a circular head that doubled as a stool and a big cheery smile, Table Man’s frame was brightly painted to enliven the evening – whether you were eating off his arms, legs, feet or midsection"
The menu was by celebrated chef Nuno Mendes (who had to leave early to attend the birth of his twin boys), and was inspired by his upbringing in Portugal. Starting with a concert of hors d’oeuvre – pork with fried moss and mushroom powder that tasted like a delicious forest floor, salty cod skins that were essentially a tasty, lighter fish version of a pork scratching – the meal proper featured favourites from his popular Corner Room restaurant, adapted for the occasion. The richly flavoured beef heart with celeriac and buttermilk whey was a big hit, as was the creamy Portuguese seafood porridge, and the inventive combination of Iberico pluma (pork) with yeast, wild garlic and clams. Wine matching was by Wines of Portugal, including the surprisingly pleasant Duas Vinahs by winemaker Antonio Ribeiro, a smoky yet slightly fizzy red Vinho Verde. With Table Man propping us all up, our gathering of 20 happily ate and drank late into the evening.
In another corner of East London, LimeWharf is a new collaborative arts and science initiative on Vyner Street. Over the next couple of weeks they’re holding a series of evenings entitled Kitchen Experiment 01, to celebrate the launch of the multipurpose space. While the Modern Pantry’s Anna Hansen is at the culinary helm, Kitchen Experiment 01 is not just about supper. Throughout the evening there were speeches and interactive games for guests –indeed slightly more than we had bargained for, though the table centrepiece is worth a mention. Called the Worldscape, it is a 15x6x2 metre dining table achingly designed over five years by architect Alex Haw (founder of Atmos studio). We’re told that it uses the Equidistant Cylindrical map of the world, where all degrees are equal lengths in both directions. This map is also called the plate carrée (square plate), giving it its culinary connection. Complex and awe-inspiring, the table – as much an installation as a surface for dining – represents a deconstructed, multi-layered view of the world. And while it’s unconventional shape may not offer the chance to sidle up to the person next to you, the strange contours, levels, and gradations –not to mention the soft lights affixed to the structure – give a magical feel to the space. Definitely one of a kind.
Ananda Pellerin is a London-based writer and editor, and Neil Wissink is a visual artist also based in London. Read more from The Hunger here, and contact The Hunger here.