Even though I live only 5 miles from the Olympic Park, so far I've been determined to ignore the whole spectacle and bask in the sun in my garden with a glass of cold beer. However, as a confirmed foodie, I can't ignore the fact that some of Britain's top supper clubs, along with a few gourmet chefs, are staging a fantastic banqueting experience which changes every night during London2012. They call it Global Feast and it's happening a stone's throw from the main Olympic events.
In the courtyard at the back of Stratford Old Town hall, it's a hive of activity as they struggle to finish the Worldscape dining table. This is a huge sculptural model of the world, 15m by 6m, and they're fitting together extra pieces to raise it to over 2m tall. The idea is that a different world cuisine is offered every night to 80 guests seated around the sculpture. This is a fantastic antidote to the McDonalds and Cola offerings in the Olympic Park, and curating the culinary offerings, is Kerstin Rodgers aka MsMarmitelover who launched the underground restaurant movement in the UK in 2009. She's gathered together her fellow chefs to deliver different menus, from their own parts of the world, for 20 nights.
At the preview, I get a delicious selection of world canapés from Sweden, Singapore, Russia, Congo, China, Japan, New Zealand, East Africa, Persia, India and then I lose count. It's enough to tempt me to sign up for every single night of the feast. Every day the cooking shifts a few degrees eastwards, so it's British night for the opening ceremony, then Northern Europe and finally ending in Brazil, the venue for the 2016 games. I'm told there'll not only be food, but wines and entertainment from each country.
So, given I've no tickets for the opening ceremony, I decide this will be the place to be, a good substitute for a seat at the stadium. I get a chance to absorb the Olympic atmosphere as I cycle past the gates of the park, steering past serried ranks of police controlling the crowds. It's a bit tricky, as they've closed some of the roads to make way for the torch procession. Eventually I arrive at Stratford Old Town Hall, to find a haven of peace and quiet amongst the mayhem.
Tonight, for obvious reasons, British food is on the menu, and I'm welcomed with a Courvoisier cocktail and Marmite on toast canapés wrapped in silver leaf. There are also 2 beautiful Welsh tartlets, one of oak smoked tomatoes and Snowden Black Bomber cheddar, the other of Nantmor Shitake mushrooms with Cotswold truffle oil and thyme. Scottish food is represented by homemade oatcakes with Isle of Mull Cheddar but, best of all, delightful vegetarian haggis bonbons.
We take our seats at the Worldscape table for Aoife Behan's Scottish starter of salad of Strathdon blue cheese with sweet pickled cherries, radishes, peppery leaves and a crunch of toasted oats. It's a great opener for Kerstin Rodgers' main course of global fish and chips - thick, succulent Pollock, on a bed of mushroom peas served with chips in cartographical cones. Great British food done extraordinarily well.
By now the Red Arrows have soared overhead and the opening ceremony is about to start. Denise Baker-McClearn's Welsh dessert of apple and cinnamon tart with Bara brith ice cream and vanilla salted caramel is the perfect accompaniment to Danny Boyle's idyll of sheep and green fields. There's even a glass of smooth and slightly honeyed Penderyn whiskey, her local distillery, to wash it down. As the spectacle rumbles on, we drink more champagne and reflect that we've had the best of British on our plates, and now, on TV, the world is getting a glimpse of the same thing.
Global Feast runs every night until 13th August. Choose your cuisine and book your tickets now.
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