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12 November 2015

london | the house of peroni

as i mentioned last week, the house of peroni is back on london's brick lane for the second instalment of the year. last summer's installation saw the house bring us flavours and stories from the italian piazza, but upon entering this year's pop-up, it was clear that nothing was the same. met by a large, blue mirror and guided by neon blue lights, we made our way through the entrance and emerged into the main hall where we were instantly impressed by the house's artistic design once more. 

thousands upon thousands of hand-cut leaves in an array of autumnal colours decorated the once-bare walls, and tumbled down around the stone pillars. it was an italian autumn like you've never seen  it before. we met with our barman victor, who talked us through this year's peroni-infused cocktail menu - designed once again by the genius mixologist simonĂ© caporale.

to begin with, jamie chose a capotavola (a resfreshing hops twist to the iconic old fashioned, characterisesd by smooth, round and masculine flavours; inspired by the traditional italian family man who holds a strong place at the head of the table) and i went with a madre biancha (inspired by the pristine whites which "the mother of the house" takes great pride in. the blend of fresh blossom and woodland notes resembles that of the fresh smell of clean linen drying in the warm, autumnal breeze), and we sat out in 'the laundry' while we sipped the first of many cocktails for the evening.

no less than an hour later and we were on to round two - the dessert round. this time, jamie went for the winter garden (inspired by al fresco autumn gardens, a citrus twist on an iconic warm winter mulled drink; citrus ingredients reflect the harvest of fruit in the garden surrounded by seasonal floral aromas), while i opted for the suitably sweet express hops martini (a twist on the classic espresso martini with a new depth of aroma. a blend of tia maria, coffee liqueur and peroni. inspired by the full bodied coffee aroma at the heart and soul of every italian home; perfectly blended to create a smooth creamy finish - and finished with a chocolate stick), and we sipped these while we contemplated our next move, and while we jokingly likened the winter garden's pungent scent to that of... well, sick. i really don't like mulled fruit... all i can smell is vomit. #hardpass

with so many attractions to unlock, we were spoiled for choice; a cocktail master class with the genius mixologist himself? climb the stairs to the candy floss cave above? enjoy a paper-cut fashion shoot? sample some of the two-starred tasties on the a la carte menu? well, when in doubt, why not try them all, i say. we headed to the nonnas in the pantry, picked up some keys for the masterclass with simoné, and headed in.

with an hour with the award-winning mixologist, we mixed up a storm. the cocktail of the lesson was called humble pie and was a combination of gin (yum), apricot liqueur (also yum), agarve syrup (delicious - made from tequila), amaretti crumbs (don't like almond-flavoured stuff, but still tasty), and a splash of peroni to finish and make it fizz. it was like a deliciously drinkable christmas pie, and because of the lack of barmen in the room, it's safe to say that the majority of the cocktails were all quite a bit stronger than they were supposed to be. also, simonĂ© left the booze in the room while he went to do a thing, and.. there were other australians in the room other than me, and... somehow i ended up with a pint of humble pie. and i regret none of it.

eventually, we made it out of the classroom and up to the cloudy cave above. there, we were given cordless headphones that talk you through the ideas behind the experience, while you lounge in a candy-scented ball of fluff and a jester performs a poetic dance and pours lemon zest over your floss and creates a whimsical cocktail full of sugar - it was as weird as it sounds, but in the best possible way. while in the cloud our new friend roberrrrto read us poems in italian, while jamie opted for the english version when it came to his turn. at my turn i announced i was decidedly too drunk to be reading anything off anywhere in that light, and then we bid roberrrrto adieu and went to find food.

back at the bar, and with another unnecessary drink (just peroni piccolo this time) in hand, we ordered a couple bits off the aperitivo menu; we chose the la dispenza della nonna (broccoli, olive and pecorino cheese sformatino), la riva del mare (creamed cod crostino and pomegranate salad garnish), il forno a legna (sicilian pizza with tomato, anchovies, onion, pecorino and oregano), il cugino siciliano (rice arancino, parmesan, lemon scent and chard), and to finish it off, the cannolo siciliano (canoli with orange zest pastry, cream, and pistachios). i have not a single photo of the food, because omg we were starving and needed to get some carbs in to soak up some of that humble pie, but let me tell you this: it was all bloody delicious. two michelin stars? i give it five. five stars. 

in fact, the whole thing gets five stars, because it was once again incredible. the residency runs right through until november 25th, so if you're in the brick lane area and want a really immersive experience, then you neeeeed to check the house out once more. i'll definitely be heading back while it's still on - so many missed photo opportunities!

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