Have you ever heard of ‘Sensory Dining’ or ‘Dining in the Dark’?
Neither had I…..until very recently. And, wait for it, neither has Wikipedia (Did you mean: Dating in the Dark? Err, no!)
Last week I went to The Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh for “an exclusive Sensory Dining experience“. Hint: There was a reference in the invite to “the non-visual senses” and photographs of people wearing blindfolds ….
I could probably write a mini short story about how fab the evening turned out to be. However, the accepted wisdom is, apparently, that blogs should be short. Oh dear! Who knew?
A wonderful and witty host took us through ‘the routine’ for the evening covering essentials such as
- the knife in our place-settings would stay on the table and our water glass would always be in line with the tip of the knife; the alcoholic drinks would be to the right of the water
- we’d eat with a spoon and fork
- the food would be served in bowls
- the place name cards (which initially smacked of a poor joke!) were there so that the waiters could speak to us individually to guide us through the evening ( I doubt if a sensory experience will always include a Spanish waiter whispering your ear throughout !).
- there would be five courses and a ‘comfort break’ after the third course.
As I have come to expect from The Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh, each course was simply sublime. As were the pairings of wine other alcoholic accompaniments (the most unusal was infused vodka, Manuka 42 Below).
We indulged in Ostrich (a bit tricky to descipher when blindfolded!); a Warm Salad of Sweetbreads and Langoustine; Apple Sorbet; Slow-roasted Lamb with Miso and Blue Cheese and Valrhona Chocolate Brownie.
Each mouthful was indeed a sensory experience. And there is absolutely no doubt in my mind , having ‘done it’, that much of our eating is done with our eyes. In sharp contrast, the sensory method is all about taste and texture.
Leaving aside the all-important food and wine, what fun and how revealing it is to eat, drink and converse while blind-folded. Some observations you might enjoy:
- no point in nodding in agreement with a fellow diner’s opinion - they can’t see you!
- no point in using your hands to express yourself either!
- everyone talks louder - instant atmosphere!
- no point in worrying about your lippie!
If you are going to try this at home, forget any white linen tablecloths or napkins.
For starters (pardon the terrible pun!), I’m going to try this on my kids. Like any ‘normal’ kids, they are prone to ‘I don’t like that’ before a morsel has even passed their lips. I’ll keep you posted!
In the meantime, if you can come up with a reason (or even an excuse) to try the Sheraton’s Sensory Dining Experience, I can’t recommend it highly enough. At £70 per head, it is wonderful value for money. Here’s the link: