Major Adventures

Just a bloke's records of how his life unfolds.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Major Adventures: Dans Le Noir

Imaginez-vous ... that you have just finished your GCSE class in Food Technology where you have instructed your students about the importance of being able to describe the sensory properties of food products that you have bought, made or are designing. Of course by the sensory properties we talk of the taste, aroma, texture and mouth-feel,  the appearance  and finally the sound of the food when we bite into  it or as it is being prepared cooked and plated.

Imaginez-vous that you have instructed your students to be more aware of all the human senses when designing, making and appraising their new creations for the final production of their prototypes. Imagine the end user of your product - what do you want them to experience. The smell of the product when it is opened from its packet or as it is presented on your plate. The appearance of the product before or after any further processing before eating; Is the finish appropriate? Does it look appealing? Is it visually stimulating? Would you buy this product when if you saw it for sale at an affordable price? Does it look 'posh' enough to be sold at a more exclusive point of sale? Would you have been better off using the pepper which was redder? The puree is a little lumpy? It looks lumpy - what does it feel like when you eat it? You ask your students to taste it, they don;t like the consistency and texture and comment that it should be smoother.

Imaginez-vous that you have given your students 4 glasses of coloured liquids, green, cloudy yellow, light red and  purple, you ask them what flavours they think that they are about to experience. When the green is presented, students suggest that it would be lime another student thinks that it could be mint because she has had mint cordial on the continent. The cloudy yellow, students all seem unanimous that it must be lemon, then one thinks perhaps pineapple or tropical but then retracts when someone comments that the colour is just like Robinson's Lermon Squash. The red is a little confusing for them, possibly it's strawberry or fruit of the forest. The Purple is decided on as being blackcurrent or apple and blackcurrent.

Imaginez-vous the suprise and confusion on the student's face when they taste the yellow liquid and they taste 'mint' or so they think, the red is in fact lemon and the yellow is blueberry the purple is creamy soda. The students are confused and highlight the importance of being able to associate colour with certain flavours: The importance of sight in the psychology of food and eating.

Imaginez-vous that you have been told that you have a rendez-vous at 7pm at Farringdon station, London and that you are going to a restaurant called 'Dans le Noir' which is literally translated as "In the Black". You walk into this restaurant and are greeted by a team of black clad, ear piece wearing staff who welcome you with a very thick French accent and offer you a locker to keep all of your valuables including wallets, phones, bags and the like. You are asked to choose from the White, Red, Blue or Green menus and select a cocktail or wine of choice. Imagine that you chose the white menu, which is the ultimate in suprise and variety, you chose the 3 course and asked for the mystery wine, where they could choose the colour and style, hopefully it would co-ordinate with your meal.

Imaginez-vous that you are asked to form a chain with your partner and then 2 complete strangers from new Zealand as you are about to be taken into the restaurant and you are being guided by your blind waiter, Asher, into the complete, pitch black, no light for eyes to adjust abyss of the middle of the restaurant. Your waiter/usher, has a memory like an elephant and remebers everybody's name including being able to recall and pronounce Ezio's name without too much of problem. He guides you in and makes you stand waitng for him as he shows Ezio to his place, then it;s your turn ... you take Asher's hand, he then guides you informing you of the walls, chairs and finally takes your hand and places it on the back of your chair and tells you that Ezio is in front of you.

Imaginez-vous that you then have to find everything on the table in front of you as Asher then brings in the bottle wine, which was opneed and then tells you that your glasses are in the middle of the table and you now must progress to pour your wine. He will give you the hint that if you stick your index finger inside the glass you will know that you have poured in a sufficient amount of wine. Entree arrives on the table and you have the immediate wiff of bacon. Locating your fork, you find that your fingers do the exploring int he first place and you pick up the bread from your plate. You sniff it and think nahhh this isnt bread, with more gusto than sense, you bite into bread to find that it is deep fried mozzeralla (or so you think) and then you start to find thin rounds of sausage that you know the flavour of, first you think is this just bratwurst or liverwurst then your memory goes back to Spain and Portugal to the Chorizo. You think that you have finished your first course when you find this round piece morsel on your plate, you sniff it and it's the bacon or pancetta, very thinly sliced you find out when you feel it with your lips and lick it with your tongue. Take the plunge, you bit into it and its the familiar seafood texture of a prawn no no no, scallop. Delicious served with a nice rocket salad simply dressed with extra virgin olive oil.

Imaginez-vous meeting 2 complete strangers in the dark and that you are not in a swingers club or sex on site venue. You are sharing a meal with them. They are New Zealanders. You find yourself speaking in a strange fashion as you can't see the facial expressions. All of a sudden you realise that the conversation lulls and you remember that you just nodded and smiled but nobody received that visual cue. You then tell everyone that incase they missed it that you just nodded and smiled. An amused, polite laugh is echoed across the table. You don't know if you should keep your eyes open or closed as it doesn't matter because you cannot see a thing - You find yourself rolling your eyes up and moving your head from side to side to try and use your other senses because you have temporarily lost your sense of sight.

Imaginez-vous that you, with your company, managed to get through the entree without spilling the wine or making a mess of the food presented to you and that Asher is able to clear the table without so much as a clatter or clang of the dishes, until you do hear a piece of cutlery dropping to group and Asher moans. No one can help him to find the conniving knife as it is pitch black and one can see naught. The main course comes to the table without hitch- it's a definite meat and farce, the first mouthful you reasoned with yourself that it was beef or veal as it was definitely meaty but very tender. The second piece was convincingly like chicken perhaps turkey, no definitely chicken and the side dish was a vegetable mash of celery and suedes. Dessert was a mousse, a distinct hazelnut flavour with chocolate but very sweet, so you hazard at a guess that it was milk chocolate mousse with hazelnuts. You finish your meal within what you think is a very quick time frame and Asher asks if you would like to leave the restaurant and head back to the bar. Your whole table decides it is a good idea to head to the bar and finish the wine. You are lead out, one by one, forming a chain to exit has you had formed upon entry.

Imaginez-vous leaving the complete world of no light to then be confronted with light again after being deprived of light for only an hour. You vision is a little blurry but perhaps it was the wine that you had consumed and snuck another glass whilst no one was able to see :) The waitress seats you at the table and asks you to guess your menu. You are mostly correct, she giggles when you tell her that you think you ate chicken or turkey then tells you that no one gets it right. It was guinea-fowl. The dessert was right except that it was white chocolate, hence the immense sweetness.

A sensational evening out and I thoroughly recommend it to everyone to try out your sense and sensibility in the domain of food - especially if you are a foodie.

Dans Le Noir

30-31 Clerkenwell Green
London, EC1R 0DU
020 7253 1100
Get directions

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