It's a view from lunch in the sky. Basically with around 20 other diners our dining table, chairs, kitchen & chef were all suspended 50 metres by a crane and treated to a fanastic lunch thanks to J20.
They were launching their new J20 White Blend drinks & although we knew we would get lunch in the sky, we were left in suspense as to what this actually meant (The invite just cryptically said meet in a car park at the South Bank)
I'm lucky to be invited to eat on a number of different “travelling” modes. Lunch on the Orient Express, was amazing, but being suspended like this was a whole new experience.
Once we were strapped in, I wondered what the emergency stickers on the table in front meant. No smoking was expected. No undoing your seat-belt (also expected) the last thing you want to do when you're gently swinging around 30 metres in the air is have any chance of dropping. We were slightly puzzled by the last sign. Was this a version of the no drinking on the London Underground sign? I don't think it was a message to refrain from pouring your drinks on the people below you. Who knows?
Lunch was fantastic and prepared by Something for The Weekend TV chef – Simon Rimmer – who was also equally surprised by the location. I bet it was the first time, he had to prepare food strapped to a safety harness. (Simon's one of first people I've seen from TV who was actually taller than I imagined him – otherwise he was exactly the same affable 'scouser' who manages to make cookery look actually attainable in the hangover Sunday morning TV spot)
The Italian starter of “leftovers” (can't remember it's official name) - peppers, bread, olives, tomatoes soaked in a lovely olive oil & vinegar dressing, matched the J20 White Grape & Kiwi & really well. The guys from J20 are aware their normal drinks are a bit heavy or over-sweet to have with food, & these lighter version really seemed like a refreshing “grown up” version of their stickier counterparts. In fact they even used a wine connoisseur Chris Scott, to work with Simon on producing a soft drink to complement food & not fight against it.
Mains was a sumptuous portion of bangers & mash. Venison sausages, a hugely comforting portion of buttery mustard mash, a fluffy onion ring, in a light pool of a rich gravy. I'd have remembered these bangers & mash eating them on the ground or in a pub, but they were even more memorable while I was suspended in the air. Simon said he was trying to match the slightly peppery flavour of the Red Grape & Blackcurrant J20 and he did an excellent job of this.
The 45 minutes or so we were in the air passed all too quickly. When I first saw the table & crane, I couldn't imagine eating in mid air, but I was genuinely surprised how fast I got used to the gentle swaying and rotation. Admittedly I wasn't sitting on a corner, which I understand was a bit scarier. I also only managed to take one picture looking down (you might just about be able to make out the people by the red carpet and shrubs).
If you're going to the Edinburgh Festival look out for the Dinner in the Sky team who will be serving food there for a while. Normally the aerial meals are only for special corporate occasions and this was the first time they'd operated on the South Bank.
Thanks again to J20 for a most memorable experience and to Simon Rimmer and his assistant for keeping us entertained, well fed and refreshed with J20 White Blend.