Monday, 2 August 2010

Eating Lunch 100ft Above Edinburgh

By Diana Srougi

Our sister site, Fluid Edinburgh has been hanging out high above the Scottish capital lately.

Scotland is reputed to be the land of food and drink, which is why 2010 has been designated Year of Food and Drink, the first of a series of years focusing on Scotland’s best features. From the 1st to the 31st of August, inhabitants of Edinburgh are given the opportunity to celebrate their pride for their nation’s culinary expertise, as Skyscanner presents the very first edition of Edinburgh’s Festival in the Sky, made possible by event organisers, DADA Ventures.

This thrilling experience consists of dining 100 feet over Princes Street Gardens, while enjoying a stunning panoramic view of Europe’s most spectacular capital. How does this work? A 22-seat dining table is lifted up in the air by a massive crane, leaving it to dangle over the city for about 25 minutes, after a quick safety briefing by the sky hosts. Up there, one can enjoy a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner skilfully conceptualized and created by Cook School Scotland’s top chefs, led by Britain’s first 3 Michelin starred Chef Steven Doherty, who is also the festival’s Chef Director. The food is freshly cooked at their headquarters, transported to the site in West Prince’s Street Gardens, and served to guests on the highest and most unique dining table in town.

Guests arriving between 10am and 11am can enjoy an innovative breakfast composed of Scottish terrine, bilini with smoked salmon mousse or ham cream cheese mousse, and Dundee cake with Patterson’s marmalade and butter. If that sounds lovely, the light 12pm to 4pm lunch is exquisite. On the menu: pressed pork and caramelised shallot terrine with baby capers and whole grain mustard, smoked Scottish salmon with plum and apple chutney, mixed leaf summer salad with a soft herb dressing and a delicious selection of Arran cheese with Oatties. High tea is from 5pm to 9pm, and is similar to the lunch dish, with the added Rannoch Smoked Venison and Celeriac remoulade. Between breakfast and lunch times, and again between lunch and dinner, diners have the possibility to enjoy a sky-scraping Gourmet cooking demonstration and taster given by a Cook School Scotland Chef, along with a whole 45-minute sky experience and light dish. While booking, guests may select the vegetarian option for any meal. Before and after every lift, diners can make themselves comfortable in the Sky Gardens lounge and enjoy a cold glass of wine or champagne served by an incredibly friendly festival staff.

Exciting special events are also scheduled during the first half of the month. On August 3rd at 7pm, Glasgow’s very own award-wining comic Hardeep Sing Kohli will rise up with 22 lucky guests as the sun starts to set upon the city. Then at 10:30am on August 6th, the fortunate folks who bought tickets before they sold out will have their first laugh of the day at the Faulty Towers Dining Experience, Australia’s world famous show, brought to the heights of Scotland’s lovely capital. Finally, on August 12th, 14th and 16th at 8pm, diners can enjoy the sweet sound of Edinburgh Studio Opera in the sky! Who knew so much could occur so far up over a city’s skyline.

Come rain or come sunshine, the festival will go on everyday as planned, for a rainproof cover protects the dining table. This is Scotland, after all. Organisers say a minimum of 12 to 14 lifts are expected to ascend, although Festival in the Sky has the capacity to manage 23 “flights” a day. This makes it possible to dine around a full table, or in small groups. By the end of the month, an estimated 682 lifts will have taken off. As the table rises, sky hosts give their guests a brief tour of Edinburgh, finger-pointing The Mound, The Royal Mile, and needless to say the imposing and dramatic Edinburgh Castle. Once the 30m point is attained, the platform stops rising and dangles over the Gardens, while guests enjoy their rotating seats and their delightful meals, while mingling with other culinary enthusiasts. Organisers suggest warm layers of clothing, for it could get a bit chilly up there. Also, in case of wind, it is advised to hold on tight to the champagne glass (we wouldn’t want to lose that). But no worries; if anything does fall, it lands safely within the secured parameters.

Festival in the Sky may be just premiering in Scotland, but has successfully taken place in 30 other countries all over the world, in major cities such as Paris, Las Vegas, Monaco and Istanbul. It’s about time Scotland’s inhabitants and visitors are given the opportunity to experience the thrill of high dining! Guests will without a doubt enjoy the event as much as organisers took pleasure in creating and preparing it. Happy sky-dining!

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