Sunday, 25 November 2012

Dining in the Dark at The Living Room in Oxford

I was invited to a Dining in the Dark event at The Living Room in Oxford and I was very intrigued. The idea was to try some of the food from their menu, whilst blindfolded, and then to guess what it was you were eating! Three of us were there for the taste off; the lovely Jo from Comfort Bites, my other half (The Accidental Food Photographer) and myself. There was a trophy to win for the most organoleptically adept and so we donned our blindfolds for the first taste.
You can tell a lot by smell, I found, but the taste and texture were better indicators of what it was that you were eating. I thought it would be pretty easy and I was quite surprised at how hard it was to identify something like broccoli! The first thing was a butternut squash and dolcelatte tart; not something I would ever order but I really enjoyed it. Although I thought it was pear, walnut and blue cheese. Close I suppose.
There were two things that I tried that I was really surprised by: Moroccan lamb with giant couscous and the homemade vegetarian Glamorgan sausages. I would be unlikely to order either of these but after having tried them I was surprised how much I liked them. 
The lamb was lovely and spiced without being too powerful and the giant couscous was a revelation; I thought it would be like frog spawn but I can't wait to start experimenting with my own! The vegetarian sausages were great too; a really interesting texture and unusual flavour they are definitely worth a second try.
I also discovered that there are things I'm not so keen on even when I don't know they're in there. I have an inexplicable hatred for lemongrass and the vegetable laksa was really not for me. At least I know I definitely don't like lemongrass and it's not just because I think I don't.
We also had some fillet steak where we had to guess the flavour of the butter; I wasn't very good at that! They were garlic butter and Bloody Mary butter; the latter being something I'd not tried with steak before and it was really interesting.
Another of the things I tried was macaroni cheese and we had to guess the added flavour; it was truffle which was fighting its way through at the end of the mouthful. This was something to order on a rainy day; real comfort food.
When it came to dessert it was the texture that gave away the flavour rather than the flavour itself. The passion fruit and coconut crème brûlée being easily identified because of the passion fruit seeds. The basil grande is the kind of pudding I would order as it sounds interesting but I was rubbish at identifying the other flavours apart from basil. The booze in the description of this pudding would have stopped me from ordering it; however, it was so subtle I didn't even notice!
I think the cocktails were the most difficult to identify. One of them that was green tea I thought was peach and lemon! Even obvious things like berry flavours were hard to work out when you can't see it. The one that looks like a mini beer was a Manhattan and the white part at the top was like vanilla ice cream.
Overall I enjoyed the experience and I enjoyed the food. It was good because I learnt that I preferred the things I wouldn't normally order than the things I would usually choose. I think in the future I will remember this and give some different things a try. I didn't think I did very well at guessing the flavours, however, it turned out that I won!
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20 comments:

  1. this sounds like such a brilliant experience! I am going to have to get some passionfruit and coconut creme brulee!

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  2. I am always learning new words from you, Caroline! Love 'organoleptic' - what a tasty way to see if one indeed, 'suffers' from such a condition. :)

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  3. They say that you eat firstly (possibly mainly) with your eyes - maybe that's a way of not putting on weight!
    I think that far too many people are overly influenced by words on a menu. Myself, I like fairly simple dishes in which you can really taste the ingredients, as opposed to those fancy dishes which all have 25 or 30 different ingredients, all conflicting with each other!

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  4. Brilliant!! Well done for winning and what an interesting experience for you. You really are a real foodie :-) Brava!

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  5. Yum! That all looks great. I love that they did vegetarian sausages. Wish I could have joined you! Looks like you had a lot of fun :)

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  6. What a fun night! Lots of good food it looks like, a fun contest and you won! Congratulations!

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  7. Congratulations! That sounds like a really fun event, I would have loved to do something similar :)

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  8. Oh that's a fantastic idea. Well done to you too for winning!

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  9. What a fun experience! I've always wanted to try something like that.

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  10. Quite an experience it must have been trying to eat without seeing. I have seen such in tv programs but personally have not done the same.

    The lamb is my fav and would love to have a try. Surprised that you could not digest the taste of lemongrass. I use plenty of them for my cooking and its so easy to be grown. Lemongrass is also one of our famous local herbs we can't do away for our savory dishes.

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  11. What an awesome experience my friend and congrats on the win :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  12. That sounds like a very fun experience!

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  13. Lamb is popping up everywhere and so, I must take heed and find a beautiful rack somewhere soon...love this post---what a fun trip!!

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  14. So funny - I did this exact same evening at the Living Room in York a couple of weeks ago (and I won too!) You had some different dishes though, we didn't get to try the macaroni cheese! I was the only one on my table who liked the vegetarian sausages so glad to hear you liked them too!

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  15. How interesting! I would have loved that experience. Is it the taste or texture that you don't like about lemongrass?
    BTW, caught your tweet about your radio "gig". That's great news. Is there any way you can record it? It would be good to listen to :-)

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  16. This sounds fun and definitely helps work those taste buds. I'm not sure how well I would do though.

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  17. Congratulations!!What a fun event to try such lovely assortment of dishes!!Never heard of Giant Couscous!

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  18. What a fun (and kinda crazy!) dining experience!

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  19. What a great event. Sounds all very interesting. I guess I wouldn't be able to recognize things correctly.

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  20. What interesting experience Caroline!! Now I feel very tempted to try something similar in order to test my senses. Well done!

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