Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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Moles Taste Fine Tonight
Let me take you by the hand and lead you unsteadily, blindfolded as you are, down into the snouting velvet dingles of the St Werburgh's City Farm Cafe (this review has some nice photos of its amazing hobbity interior), a five minute walk from my home via the footpath through the allotments. That's where I was last night, taking part in a Super Sense event, in which (in company with a random selection of other blindfolded diners, mysterious to each other and to themselves) we were treated to numerous tastes and textures over the course of 3 hours - or so I discovered when we eventually took off the blindfolds at 10.30, a sense of time being one of the first things to go.

If you haven't done a dining in the dark event, I certainly recommend it. We began with cocktail sticks, on which were impaled what turned out to be a piece of goat's cheese, a leaf of apple mint, and a pickled strawberry. Our table did guess all those, but were quite bamboozled by the goat's cheese when it came back a couple of sticks later, this time wrapped in a rose petal: such is the power of juxtaposition. Other notable ingredients (not all on cocktail sticks) included a nasturtium leaf, courgette spaghetti, brown garlic, dessicated coconut, and a lime and chilli chocolate ganache dusted with ground coffee beans, amongst much else. The evening was led by a partially sighted man who more usually sets up outdoor events (even as I write this he is herding a party of blindfolded people through tick-infested Leigh Woods on the far side of the Suspension Bridge - I hope they're wearing trousers), but this was the first time he'd done anything involving food. Apart from the way in which it changed one's perception of the food itself, it also affected social interaction: the patterns of starting a conversation, addressing someone in particular (in a table of six strangers), interrupting, etc., were all quite different. Using a knife and fork was also interesting - though reassuringly possible. At one point we were made to switch tables - and I almost fell over a guide dog.

When we finally took the blindfolds off I was surprised at the appearance of my fellow diners: I'd not had much sense of their various ages at all. We drank some wine, then - somewhat randomly - were given long balloons to make into animal shapes (I abstained), before at length our party dispersed and I started home through the warm night, past the revellers in the Farm Pub next door (also worth looking at: since that picture was taken the conifer has acquired a pair of giant googly eyes) and back up the footpath through the allotments, guided in part (the night being dark by now, even on this solstice eve) by the solar cat's eyes that twinkle so prettily for nightwalkers, but as much by the scent of vergeside nettle and mock orange.

There's a restaurant in San Francisco which does this.

Myself, I'm not eating anything anywhere where I don't know what I'm eating or don't have a say in the choice. (Thus I don't go to expensive restaurants with a single set menu either.) I like a lot of foods that many people don't, but I detest too many that are very common.

There's barely anything I detest these days, though it wasn't always so. I'm not sure what effected the change, but I'm glad of it.

What a charming place! Not so charming prices, wow.

I do not have the courage to eat anything I cannot see, and cannot name the ingredients. (Years of the touchiest guts in the entire continent make me wary.) But I enjoy reading about others' food adventures.

I'm luckily allergy free, d.v. And I know that this cafe sources most of its ingredients about twenty yards away, from the farm over the road. So I'm as confident as is compatible with adventurous dining!

If you haven't done a dining in the dark event, I certainly recommend it.

Do you have an idea of the courses beforehand? It is the kind of food experiment that sounds interesting to me, but only if I can be guaranteed an absence of surprise caffeine, for example. (The lime and chili chocolate ganache sounded great right up to the point where it would have given me a migraine.)

The mystery is part of the pleasure, but they ask on the booking form about any dietary restrictions, allergies, etc., and take those into account.

(Deleted comment)
How fascinating! I'd heard of such experiences before (and was keen to try it myself), but had no idea where or how they began.

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