Tag Archives: events

In a pickle about pickles? Learn about kombucha and kimchi and a whole world more at The House of Ferment

The last few weeks have been a little hectic, to say the very least – I’ve moved from Shoreditch to Dalston (for work not actual house move), thereby increasing my hipster rating significantly (I haven’t yet told them that I’m a massive geek – but they’ll learn), I’ve had the mother of all stomach bugs (too much information? Believe me, I could get much more graphic…. but I won’t) and I’ve been helping with the comms for The House of Ferment which launches tomorrow and which is what I’m going to tell you about, right now. Forgive the indulgence, but think it’ll be of interest to you if you’re London based and foodie. I’ll resume usual service about eating out and cooking in soon (and don’t worry Chris, I’m mentioning you now so you don’t feel like I’ve forgotten this blog is secretly about my obsession with you!)

The Science Gallery London in its own words is: “…a space, focused on 15–25 year olds, where art and science collide. A flagship project for Culture at King’s College London, it will engage over 300,000 visitors per year in cutting edge research in science, the arts and design, bringing together researchers, students, local communities and artists in new and innovative ways to stimulate fresh thinking.

SGL doesn’t have a fixed abobe (yet) but last year ran a successful season entitled Frequencies and has followed this up in 2015 with its current season FED UP: The Future of Food. This season launches this week with a brand new installation at Borough Market entitled The House of Ferment.


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The House of Ferment has been developed by the clever folks from Grizedale Arts in collaboration with Science Gallery London. The process of fermentation goes back hundreds of years, but it is making a global comeback and is now the latest craze to excite chefs and foodies across the world. Do you know your kombucha from your nuka, or your kimchi from your borscht? Come along to The House of Ferment to find out more so that when you’re next dining at the latest fancy pants raw food venue, you won’t feel confused by pickles and processes.

The House of Ferment is a multi-functional arts installation incorporating a collection of edible fermented cultures that explores and discusses the processes behind food preservation. Billions of bacteria have been carefully nurtured and developed into six different cultures, each of which produces a distinctive flavour. The cultures have been used to create over 30 peculiar and pleasing products which you’ll be able to try, including sourdough, several kimchi (of Korean origin), nuka (a Japanese bran pickle), local milk cheese and yogurt, nettle ‘champagne’, pickled cucumbers (of Polish origin), sauerkraut, borscht and more unusual products such as kombucha.

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In the installation, the fermented foods are combined with functional elements by selected artists, including a bespoke table by the 2013 Turner Prize winner, Laure Prouvost, and an inimitable vessel by the artist Bedwyr Williams. Further functional works by Sarah Staton and Giles Round are augmented by a new range of kitchen equipment created by Grizedale Arts and the village of Coniston.

The installation will act as a hub for a variety of workshops, talks, performances and a pop-up café. Whilst all events are free, you will have to book in for certain tastings and talks through Eventbrite. The link can be found on the main Science Gallery site or you can see the different events and book here:

The House of Ferment launches on 7 July and is open to the public until Saturday 11 July. it will be at 6 Southwark Street, within Borough Market.

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Gin Gin Gin Gin Gin.

The title of this post was the description of the second to last photo I Instagrammed on Saturday night, after a day filled with drinking gin. I’m pretty sure I thought I was being eloquent and interesting with that but given the last Instagram photo was at McDonald’s, I don’t think my brain was working as well as I thought.

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I like gin. I like gin and tonic. I like gin and ginger. I like gin martinis (dry, with three olives, since you asked.) I like gin in cakes (weird right? But gooooood). I like that it is great in winter or summer. And a discovery in recent years botanicals a gin can make, so the rise of artisan gins has opened up a whole new world of alcohol(ism) for me. And let’s be honest, I’m a bit of a gin snob.

So when my dear friend of 30 years, Sue, who is also a big old alcoholic gin fan suggested we attend The London Gin Festival, I was more than happy to oblige. For education purposes only, of course.

We've been friends for 30 years. This scares me a bit. We're OLD.
We’ve been friends for 30 years. This scares me a bit. We’re OLD.

The London Gin Festival took place at the Camden Centre in Kings Cross last weekend and I believe it pops up around the country inspiring people to try artisan gins. The event is sponsored by Fever Tree, which if you’ve got tonic snob tendencies (I do) is amongst the best tonics out there.

Love this building
Love this building

We were booked in for the evening session, with Sue’s friend Jo, so the three of us sensibly met at lunchtime in order to line our stomachs. Which we did – at Plum and Spilt Milk where we had quite average bar snacks and not bad coffee, followed by a swift round of cocktails at the Gilbert Scott (always a delightful treat), followed by lunch at the Fellow (my favourite Kings Cross boozer) with too much wine. All told, we’d had a few ‘refreshers’ before getting to the gin fest so I’m not sure I was in the right frame of mind to be educated. But I was definitely up for drinking.

The Honeybee at the Gilbert Scott

The £10 entry fee to the Gin Festival presents you with a gigantic glass, a badge, a pen, a catalogue and a order form. In order to get drinks, you need tokens at £5 a pop – so we bought four each. And then another two each later in the evening. We were basically saint like in our gin intake.

The Gin Festival is home to 100+ gins from all over the world. There is no way you’re going to get through 100 gins (at least, not if you like your liver at all) so if you make it to a future event, it’s worth having a look through the catalogue on arrival and choosing a handful that sound interesting to you. It gets quite busy, as you’ll see from the pictures below, but the layout means you’re never really queuing for a drink, you’re mostly being annoying looking at the different gins on each bar.

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We were given a free shot of Brockman’s when we arrived. This had quite a fruity taste, which wasn’t to my liking but one that you could probably drink neat if you like that sort of thing.

We then moved to the nearest bar where I had a very drinkable Steam Punk gin. This was a good every day drinker, nothing to annoy the senses but lots of subtle botanicals including lavender which is one of my favourite things in drinks. Sue had an Old English which again was really simple and delicious.

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We then headed to the American Gin bar and tried three different gins from St George. Wow. These were mindblowing – gorgeous flavours, fresh scents, transporting you to a different world. The Terroir was my favourite with piney, herbal aromas.

There were a couple of others that passed me by – absolutely fine but nothing of note. Until we discovered Opihr. Pronounced O-peer, this was a spiced, perfumed delight, that evoked memories of the Spice Routes and old Asia. With a splash of ginger ale,this was my absolute favourite drink of the evening. So much so that I bought a bottle. I don’t think it’ll last very long.

Pride of place on our booze tray

There was an amazing stand of vintage gins which sadly weren’t for tasting, but lovely looking bottles.

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And if all that gin became too much, there were hot dogs and fancy pants crisps for eating. And there was a band, but sadly the acoustics in the room made it difficult to hear them unless you stood right in front of them.

Gin and crisps

All told, if you like gin and fancy a relatively inexpensive day out where you can discover new drinks and become a gin bore, this is the event for you. All future events are listed on the website here: http://www.ginfestival.co.uk/events/ and you can follow gin news on Facebook and Twitter.