Death In The Afternoon: a pretty accurate description of my feelings the day after my visit to The Rebel Dining Society’s headquarters for The Green Hour 2.0. The collaboration between Pernod Absinth and The Rebel Dining Society kicked off last year with a series of dining events, liberally lubricated by Pernod Absinth, so excellent were they that Pernod wanted more, and TRDS were only too happy to comply.
Luckily for me too, as with some trepidation, I hopped, skipped and a jumped from my own stamping ground to Vyner Street at Cambridge Heath – the now permanent headquarters of The Rebel Dining Society. Somehow they’ve managed to find somewhere as cool as their name, an old chapel, complete with vaulted ceiling and quirky architectural features, which I enter to greetings from a pair of green lipped ladies. Up, up and up again, past a buzzing kitchen to the heavens, where tables complete with giant fish bowls await. Luckily not a whiff of WKD or metre long straws, instead I’m handed a glass of champagne as I take in the scene.
The place quickly filled up with the kind of crowd you’d expect from somewhere a stone’s throw from Shoreditch, an eclectic mix who provided excellent entertainment when we weren’t either, eating, drinking or making…
This is the second and perhaps most notable element to the nights proceedings. Each Wednesday, The Rebel Dining Society welcomes a new chef into the kitchen and a different mixoligist to the bar. I was lucky enough to receive training from Charles Vexenat, who brought his French charm to the table and got us all involved in the making and drinking of his Pernod based creations. A word of warning to those wanting to attend, it is a matching menu. So the five courses that come wafting up from the kitchen, come with a good kick of cocktail too. Pace yourself.
The ‘meal’ kicked off with a Green Beast, a nice easy one to put us at ease, slugs of Pernod were added to plenty of ice, cucumber and diluted lime cordial. Refreshing, zesty and pretty strong for a girl whose last taste of Pernod was a long forgotten, grimacing memory. It did the trick and whet our appetites for the accompanying first course. A slight mix up on the menu kept us on our toes but we tucked into the tuna tartar with wasabi caviar, dehydrated prawns and pickled ginger with gusto. The champagne and Pernod had definitely kicked in, but from what touched the palate, I worked out that it was a damn fine dish. The wasabi caviar had enough of a hit to tickle the tongue but not so much your eyes streamed, and the dehydrated prawns were extraordinary in their flavour.
Next we were presented with these incredible glass pipes, tiny little fluted bowls with long stems, into which we poured our next tipple, Absinth Opium Pipe. Stronger and fierier then the first, but the novelty of the pipe proved to be a winner on all the tables, so the sipping, or should that be sucking, continued. The accompanying gazpacho jelly with crispy pancetta was deliciously smoky sweet, with the heat from the gazpacho helping to temper the flavours in the pipe. Again, a beautifully
presented dish, which had us all cooing. More alarmingly, a bowl of egg whites were deposited on the table for the next cocktail. Not being a cocktail connoisseur I was unfamiliar with the incredible effect they can have once blended. We were instructed to combine them with crème de peche, ice, lemon juice and more Pernod Absinth. A quick blitz created a wonderfully frothy cocktail, lighter on the palate and finished with a grating of nutmeg fora spicy note amongst the sweet of the peach. The main, boulangère potatoes with duck breast and a wonderful sounding vanilla cloud accompanied this. Unfortunately with it being the first night, timings were a tad askew, and though the food was for the most part excellent, in many cases our hunger got the better of us and there was more shovelling then savouring. The finale of an Absinth Coffee Flip with macaroons and an Absinth jelly topped with popping candy was great fun and a fabulous end to the feast.
The Rebel Dining Societies events are brilliant fun and a perfect example of why supper clubs and similar make for such an exciting and unique way to enjoy food.
For more information on the Rebel Dining Society, or to book one of the remaining Green Room events head to www.therebeldiningsociety.co.uk