How much fun can you have with seven strangers and a blind fold? Quite a lot, let me tell you after our Dining in the Dark experience at the Living Room in York, this week.
Mandy and I had been invited to compete against a group of local food bloggers in a light hearted competition to see who could identify ingredients from their new autumn menu. One small problem – we had to do it blindfold.
We’ve always steered clear of restaurant chains, usually because there is not much room for creative cooking when the menu is handed down from corporate HQ and anyway they have huge marketing budgets, so don’t need any help from the likes of us.
But we’ve a soft spot for the Living Room ever since they sent a team of young bar staff to put on some lively cocktail demonstrations at the York Food Festival. So in the spirit that it might all be a bit of a laugh, Mandy and I went along on Wednesday night.
With blindfolds on we were given small tastes from the new menu then tested on them: ‘What are the other elements in the starter of smoked ham and fig? Answer: goat’s cheese mousse, raspberry and beetroot vinaigrette.
‘What is the meat used in the burger?’ Answer: pork and chorizo. And so it went on with Moroccan spiced lamb with apricot, dates and almonds; sea bass with orange scented broccoli; coconut and passion fruit crème brulee and a very good Eton mess with basil leaves.
It’s a lot harder than you’d think, but it does make you think about what you’re eating. We found it even trickier to place the flavours in the cocktails: Black cherry and vanilla Manhattan; Quincessential Cobbler and Green Tea Daiquiri – ‘It tastes like shoe polish… in a good way.’ But we were having such a good time that other diners were asking: ‘Can we have what they’re having?’ We reckoned Living Room should set up the game for the public.
When the marking was done, it was a close run thing, but the winner was Elly McCausland of Nutmegsseven. She was presented with the trophy and we all reeled happily home.