Time was when “pop-up” was a term you’d apply to your kitchen toaster.
These days, you’re more likely to hear it used in reference to something more substantial, yet less enduring than your average toaster, namely pop-up restaurants.
Pop-up restaurants are, by definition, transient. Perhaps not as transient as, say, news on Twitter, which can be old within hours but, nevertheless, they have, by their very nature, a short and limited life-span. In a way, they’re a product of the internet era, where attention spans are short, the volume of information is high, and you can only hold people’s attention for so long before they demand something new or at least different. In the case of the recent Jacob’s Creek pop-up wine and dine experience, which took place for four evenings at the end of June, attendees got both, through a combination of new wines and an unusual venue that was guaranteed to captivate.
Old setting for a new phenomenon:
The Jacob's Creek pop-up experience took place in the atmospheric (and not a little spooky) crypt underneath Christchurch Cathedral
I’ll admit that what you will see below was more carefully assembled (to say nothing of being more psychedelic) than my lunchbox usually is, but, in the bento scheme of things, I’m not sure that it counts as being especially kawaii. (If, at this point, you are sporting a blank or quizzical stare, then I should explain that bento refers to a packed meal common in Japanese cuisine and kawaii to the cuteness thereof – and some bentos are, indeed, tremendously cute).
The call to create a bento began (as many things do these days) as a series of exchanges on Twitter, resulting in an invitation from Chef Pandita to take up the bento challenge – a mission that has been variously tagged on Twitter as #bentomadness, #bentocuteness, #badassbento and (my own particular favourite) #halfassbento.
Lunch is served, bento-style
So, how much fish do you think you could scarf down in one day?
If I had been asked that question before attending the fish cookery course in Clodagh McKenna’s cookery school last month, I would probably have underestimated by a long shot.
While I was there, I managed several helpings of gorgeous Thai fish curry, sneaky pieces of fabulous Irish crab from the crab cakes, a glorious pesto-crusted fillet of sole, a more-ish pile of clam-filled spaghetti vongole, not to mention the fact that we were all sent home with the finished crab cakes, some creamy smoked haddock chowder and mackerel fillets with a lovely beetroot and horseradish relish. I feel full all over again just thinking about it.
Clockwise from top left:
Crab cakes; Spaghetti Vongole; Pistachio pesto crusted sole; Thai fish curry;
And yes, I was very full afterward.