When Danny Boyle wanted to ‘celebrate the genius, creativity, eccentricity, daring and openness of modern London’ in his pitch imaging the Olympics opening ceremony, he was talking about Londoners like Alex Haw and the team behind Global Feast. You can still feast off their amazing creation, the 80-seat Worldscape table at the World’s Bar and Bistro at Stratford Old Town Hall throughout the Paralympics til 9 September (see www.globalfeast2012.com).
‘The changing weekly menu will feature the best dishes from around the world including traditional cassoulet from France and mackerel Escabeche from Portugal,’ says Alex Haw of www.atmosstudio.com, creator Worldscape. If my experiences during Global Feast – 20 nights of international feastivites during the Olympics – is anything to go by, you are sure to have an experience of a lifetime. You can organise your own event there or go along for a meal after a day at Olympic Park. I can assure you, you will not find a more original, more welcoming or more inclusive apres-Paralympic venue. Even if you don’t have tickets but want to experience the Olympic atmosphere, go along to Stratford Town Hall, where I spent many memorable summer nights, eating new food, meeting new friends and dancing late into the night. One balmy night in late July, I went to Eastern European night…
Central Line to Stratford station…
Follow the signs to Olympic Park. There were very tall athletes and crowds dressed in various national colours on their way to the stadium, and cheerful Olympic ‘Crowd Managers’ who showed me the way to Stratford Old Town Hall.
Past the glaring lights and characterless chain stores of Westfield Stratford City, you come out to face a glorious Victorian building – Stratford Old Town Hall (above). Enter the Visitor Information Centre (below), and there are no more crowds, just an oasis of calm.
The Worldscape table is housed under a large marquee in a charming courtyard next to a fountain, where many bad impressions of Sylvia at the Trevi Fountain in La Dolce Vita were inebriatedly acted out in the course of Global Feast.
Cocktail in hand (Krupnik, honey-spiced vodka), exquisite buckwheat blinis with sweet herring, horseradish and salmon roe were served by curteous waiters.
Hosts Alex Haw and Sinead MacManus usher you into the marquee where Alex introduces the evening and the Worldscape table.
The culinary curator Kerstin Rogers (aka Ms Marmite of the Underground Restaurant and the girl in Madness’s ‘My Girl’s Mad at Me’) explains why her dress matches the napkins – she was inspired by Maria in The Sound of Music who made matching clothes and headscarves for the children from the same curtain material. Frank Fforde of Rodborough Supper Club introduces his Eastern European menu.
Borscht with sour cream (the best I’ve tasted though it is only my third – but one of them was at the Polish Club), served with garlic bread (not gooey with butter but subtly flavoured with a hint of garlic) and a selection of Polish sausage and lightly pickled cucumber (all delicious).
Journalist Stefan Simanowitz and Melissa Blanco Borelli (aka Havana Barbie), professor of dance at Surrey University – I was thrilled to meet my first Cuban/Colombian!
The main course being prepared in the outside kitchen.
Golonka (pork knuckle) braised in beer (the sauce had a unique peppery flavour) served with lightly pickled vegetables – crunchier and tastier than steamed or raw – and pierogi (yummy dumplings).
Then came the baked cheesecake – sweeter and tastier than German cheesecake – followed by a dimunitive but perfectly constructed Hungarian cherry soup.