Federica takes a trip on the Gin Journey to experience gin’s myths, stories and provenances. And you can buy a ticket too.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœAll aboard, ladies and gentleman, all aboard!’ shouts a cobalt blue suited train conductor. On the platform, amidst smoke, gas lights and vintage suitcases, we pick up our G&Ts and make our way to the Laverstoke Express’ dining carriage to take our seats.
This is how the latest immersive dining experience to hit London begins. Bombay Sapphire have launched the Gin Journey, a culinary and multi sensory journey to explore the stories, myths and provenance behind the ten botanicals – sustainably sourced by Ivano Tonutti, Master of Botanicals at Bombay Sapphire – that are used in their iconic gin; it is a cleverly designed session to delight and amuse guests through food, smells, visuals and of course, drinks.
Botanicals also appear in stunning dishes created by Michelin-star chef Tom Sellers. Speaking of his involvement with The Grand Journey, he says:’When Bombay Sapphire approached me to be part of this year’s The Grand Journey, I was excited by the concept and the challenge. The food I create atRestaurant Story celebrates individual stories, be it from memory, history or literature.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœWe wanted to translate that philosophy to The Grand Journey and create intelligent dishes that not only tell the story of Bombay Sapphire’s gin of ten journeys, but also enhance the flavours of the botanicals to work in harmony with the accompanying cocktails. Ultimately, we want to enhance this unique experience for the diners.’
The journey starts with a stop in Tuscany; the wide carriage windows are screens, digitally showing a multicoloured landscape of the country in question, while the sommelier presents us with a bowl of juniper, the first botanical and possibly the most famous of a gin’s infusions.
We enjoy a lollipop of juniper and blackcurrant as amuse-bouche, before being whisked to the second country, Morocco. While green and golden light lanterns and tile motifs flicker from the windows to our tables, we were served a gorgeous tea glass with Bombay Sapphire, Moroccan liqueur and mead to highlight coriander, the next botanical.
It is not only by taste that we experience these ingredients there is scent, too. China and its liquorice reach the table in a mock metal pagoda, from where the aroma pervades the air while beautiful graphics of mountains and lakes fly across the windows and koi carp glide through the tables (the other botanicals we experienced through scent are grains of paradise from Ghana and cassia bark from Vietnam).
Lemon peel from Spain follows, with bright, trippy, giant projected lemons bobbing up and down as we enjoy a starter of hot and cold scallop; a delicate tartare with bergamot and radish alongside a roasted scallop with an intense lemon mousseline.
Orris roots from Italy comes next, with yet another cocktail, Bombay Sapphire with fig and bergamot liqueur, violet tincture, bergamot juice, garnished by a glittered up violet flower and served in a cute, dainty mini coupette.
We travel back to Spain, where almonds come from. Tom Sellers sends out a balanced main of Iberico pork with roasted pears, fresh and sugared almonds and tiny cubes of amaretto jelly. Apart from the meat arriving a little cold, the combination of sweet elements with the pork and the textures is fantastic.
We do not have time to linger on the food that the next cocktail and botanical get to us. The volcanoes of Java, with red hot lava flows that spill from the windows onto our tables accompany a dark, rich cup of Bombay Sapphire, coffee and cardamon infusion, Benedictine and tri-pepper tincture. Those on our table brave enough try a grain of cubeb berry from the Indonesian island to experience this exotic botanical on its own.
Our journey finally ends in Germany with angelica, which the chef sapiently uses in an ice cream, a refreshing, herby contrast to the salted blackberries and bitter chocolate dessert we enjoy to close the meal. We arrive at destination and we make our way to the Bombay Sapphire bar upstairs to enjoy yet more G&Ts amongst gin making tools and botanicals on display.
The Grand Journey is a whirlwind world tour through flavours, taste, scents and imaginative images; it is fast and furious, and it is as fun as it is informative. Catch the Laverstoke Express before it leaves London!
The Grand Journey will take place between until 23rd July at the Banking Hall in London. Tickets are priced at £30 each and can be purchased from:http://www.thegrandjourney.com/