When Two Palettes Collide
Broaching something as subjective as taste is never going to be easy, introduce the idea of food as art, and we’re on wonderfully ambitious ground. Taste naturally takes many forms; we eat it, wear it, live in it, drive it, watch it and listen to it. Our individual and shared taste as a society is as fascinating as it is infinite, so strap yourself in as we explore food as an artistic entity.
Food and art have always been a pretty steamy couple. For centuries food has featured heavily on the canvas of still life, and now, it has become the canvas… “Artistic” food has moved on from the hellish carved radishes of the 70s (think micro-sculpture/dated dinner party nightmare), via strategically arranged prawns trapped in jelly surrounded by distressed slices of apple. This happened. More recently, 3D printers have been programmed to create sushi made from the saliva of paying customers… let’s move on, and hopefully upwards to a rather more endearing example of food and art sharing a sense of place.
Art Afternoon Tea at the Rosewood Hotel in London. This is where fine dining and interior design rub shoulders beautifully in the hotel’s stunning Mirror Room.
Luxury Gentleman’s Club meets Rock Star Chic
The aesthetic is luxury Gentleman’s Club meets Rock Star Chic; supple, sumptuous leather furniture is cut with brittle, sharp lines of mirrored glass, the lighting is subtle and considered. This is high-end comfort with an edge.
These movie-set curves and lines reflect the drama on the plate, framing both what and where you’re eating. It’s here that Executive Pastry Chef Mark Perkins paints his plates with sharp artistic strokes. In 2017 he launched his art-inspired afternoon tea, celebrating the styles of Rodin, Kusuma and Banksy.
Sweet treats based on Van Gogh’s best-known work
Currently you can experience some sweet treats based on Van Gogh’s best-known work. Fancy telling your friends you’ve eaten Vincent’s ‘The Starry Night’ in cake form? A delicate balance of sponge, mirin gel, yuzu, cheesecake and biscuit, allows you to do just that. What’s that you say, can I eat the ‘Sunflowers’? If you like the combination of lemon olive oil cake, citrus cremeux, chocolate mousse and a chocolate sunflower, then the answer is a big fat yes. This stuff not only puts our old friend the carved radish firmly on the naughty step, it sends it straight to bed.
I’m now going to blur the line between food and art further still. I hope you’re sitting down because there’s also a children’s afternoon tea that actually allows the kids to compose their own lunch; paint tubes filled with jam and lemon curd, palette knives to swirl the sweet toppings, the young patron is both artist and diner simultaneously. These tiny diners will never forget painting their own meal, they will grow with a sense of art and food being one and the same, an understanding of the aesthetic combining with texture to create a plate.
Of course, there’s still great fun to be had simply squirting a ketchup smiley face on cheese on toast, indeed I defy any adult not to get a buzz from this – revisit it, it’s a joy. This is just as valid as food becoming art, and a great leveller for those who can’t draw for toffee. But it would appear that the new sophisticated touch driving the afternoon tea experience at the Rosewood has not only elevated the concept of food being art, it has torn up the colouring book and put it all on a plate.
If you eat with your eyes and your mouth, tuck in.
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