Magical Modern Dance, Tapas and a Glass of Sherry -Moro, Exmouth Market, London

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Cynics amongst you, myself included, may remember having bleak expectations when it came to the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. After the Beckham, Boris, bus affair during the handover, I imagined something very much like that of the closing ceremony to start off proceedings. Even when I heard that Danny Boyle would be at the helm, and of the budget he had at his disposal, I still shrugged my shoulders and said ‘hmm, we’ll see…’.

 
Arms crossed and lips pursed, I hunkered down for an evening of tutting and scoffing. After a little bit of ‘Meh, how twee’, I begrudgingly had to admit that I was impressed by the set of Green and Pleasant Land, and started to warm to the ceremony. When Pandemonium broke loose, with the industrial revolution rising into the arena, I thought it was getting interesting. I sat awestruck when five rings, forged on the stadium floor, glowed orange and rose above the crowd, steaming and raining sparks of silver and gold.
 
With every twist and turn through British history and pop culture, I could feel a swell of pride growing in my chest and thought how magnanimous, inclusive and great Britain actually was. One last rally cry about the games being a misdirection to make people forget about all their pressing worries, faltered, as the flaming copper petals of Thomas Heatherwick’s Olympic cauldron converged and proceeded on high. By the time Team GB appeared to Bowie’s Heroes, I was choking back the tears and even overlooked the hideous white cropped outfits with gold trim, the athletes had been forced to wear.

Has anyone yet explained how, with all the talent in British fashion and design, and the rich history of textiles and fabric production, Team GB got to wear such an outfit? Probably the brainstorming idea of some Siobhan Sharpe-a-like (whilst I’m at it, Jessica Hynes, you was robbed -no disrespect intended Olivia Coleman).

Ahem, I digress…

One of the most startling and beautiful moments of the ceremony to my mind, was the dance piece choreographed and performed by Akram Khan. With a backdrop of a low orange sun, much like Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project, 52 dancers and a nine year old boy, took to the stage. Set to Abide with Me and the muffled heart beat of a drum, it was a moving and compelling tribute to those who’d lost their lives during the 7/7 attacks; the day after London had celebrated its winning bid.

With that in mind, this weekend we went to Sadler’s Wells to see Akram Khan’s performance of Desh. An autobiographical piece, choreographed and performed solo, it tells the journey of both Bangladesh from the time of partition and Akram Khan.  With music composed by Jocelyn Pook; set design and art direction by Tim Yip -best known for his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; animation by Yeast Culture; it was beautiful, magical, exhilarating and darned well moved me to tears.

You can get a flavour of the production here, but if you do get the opportunity, I urge you to go and see it.

Beforehand, we ate tapas at Moro. We had wanted to eat at it’s sister restaurant Morito, but despite arriving before 6pm, it was full and pressed for time, we went next door. It seems a little crazy to feel disappointed at eating in Moro, but the tapas menu next door is more varied and extensive. Rest assured, this disappointment was short lived and having got a seat at the zinc topped counter, we ordered with great gusto.

Moro came onto the food scene in 1997; it was the first ‘foodie’ restaurant I saved up, to eat at, and has been a favourite of mine ever since. Established by chef/owners, Sam and Sam Clark, a husband and wife team: the food served is that of Spain and north Africa, recipes that they had picked up and learned during their extensive travels of the region. Their cookbooks are also inspiring and a joy to read and as you may already know, their third, Moro East records the Hackney allotment community before it was subsumed by the Olympic site.

We started with hunks of excellent sourdough, dipped into a fruity olive oil. Baked on site, this was the first proper sourdough I’d ever tasted and, still brings back that memory. Smoky, garlicky Baba ganoush then arrived, alongside a dish of spicy green lentils tossed in olive oil, cumin and pungent parsley. A plate of white asparagus followed, drizzled with oil, dusted in paprika, and lively on the tongue. Sobrasada, a spreadable chorizo and speciality of Mallorca, was deep orange in colour, smoky, rich and very meaty.  Sardines spiked with shards of raw garlic and red chilli packed a real punch and, slices of Catalan Butifarra sausage, nutty and crisp were served with a dollop of aioli.

A chilled glass of Tio Pepe Fino en rama, is what we drank with our tapas. Knowing little of sherry and, associating it with trifle or the drink of kindly maiden aunts at Christmas, we’d asked for a recommendation. Very dry, a little salty, with a nutty, buttery after taste, it went well with the food. En rama, I understand, means straight from the cask and the sherry is meant to taste as bright and fresh as the day it was drawn, with minimal clarification. It certainly made me think of sherry in a different way.

To finish, we shared some cardamom and rose ice cream. Sweet, milky and perfumed, it was the perfect way to end our meal.

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