Monthly Archives: April 2015

Food: A Universal Language

IMG_5060 2 With the warm summer months quickly coming up Justin Stathers, the Cafe Supervisor at Deptford Lounge, thinks about the importance of food, and even suggests a yummy smoothie to try out at home:

As I write, the birds are singing and the blossoms are heavy on the trees. Bees and butterflies meander aimlessly across azure skies, and the warm rays of the sun hint almost too optimistically at the summer to come, like a trailer that gives away all the best bits of the film. With this sudden turn for the bright and glorious has come that most mouth-watering of summer’s harbingers, the smell of barbecues wafting over neighbourhoods throughout the land. Indeed, it seems that if we want to celebrate something, our first instinct is to fête it with food.

Wakes and weddings, partings and homecomings, high days, holy days, and rainy days at home all feature food and drink as an essential ingredient to proceedings. What would birthdays be without cake, leaving without drinks, or dates without dinner? Sad and unsatisfying, that’s what. But why is feasting such a universal language? The obvious answer is that it’s essential to life. Our everlasting battle against our oldest enemy, the proverbial wolf at the door Mr Starvation, compels us to spend much of our lives either earning our food (whether by hunting the mammoth amid the frozen taiga or by hiking the margin amid the frozen assets) or consuming it. Indeed, the average UK resident is estimated to spend an average of 31,200 hours eating and drinking in their lifetime. If it takes a mere 10,000 hours to completely develop a skill, then no wonder humans are, as a species, are the ancient Shaolin masters when it comes to the art of food-fu.

Collectively, we are a hungry Paganini playing a Stradivarius made of delicious grub. Whatever the cause of its appeal, food’s been a big focus this month at the Albany, with a grand sprucing-up of the main café, a swathe of delicious new treats for every time of day at the Deptford Lounge, and, last week, Selina Thompson’s moving and hilarious show about our relationship with what and how we eat Chewing the Fat. We’ve also just had the first round of our very own Great Albany Bake-Off, which has already resulted in some truly spectacular creations that, after the judging was completed and the winner declared, were demolished almost as quickly as the loser’s pride. With summer barbecues, brand new dishes, and the inimitable work of pioneering foodie group In A Pikkle all on the Albany’s agenda for the coming months, we and all our visitors will be eating, drinking and making merry to our heart’s content. Oh, and one more thing – just in case the summer turns out to be as good as the trailer, here’s how to make the best cooler ever.

Tropical Iced Smoothie (serves 4)

You need:

1 medium pineapple, chopped or 1 tin pineapple chunks

1 large mango, chopped or 1 tin mango pieces

4 tbsp natural yoghurt

200ml orange juice

Ice

Vodka or gin (optional)

Method: 1. Peel and drain the fruit. Place them in a bowl and freeze overnight. 2. Take a blender and pour in the fruit juice and optional spirits. 3. Add the yoghurt. 4. Add the ice. 5. Pour warm water over the fruit to separate the chunks, and add them all to the blender. 6. Blend thoroughly, pushing the frozen fruit right down into the blades, until the mixture is perfectly smooth. 7. Pour into glasses, garnish with a pineapple slice and cocktail umbrella. 8. Sip, trying to avoid crippling brain-freeze while imagining yourself languishing on a tropical beach somewhere.

Justin Stathers, Cafe Supervisor, Deptford Lounge

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The Penguin in the Room

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This week we opened our doors to Dep Arts and Slung Low for unique family treat Emergency Story Penguin on Wednesday 22 April until this Sunday 26 April. This exciting, interactive family adventure starts in the foyer, takes you on a submarine, out into Antarctica, back onto the submarine and hopefully, if you’ve managed to power the submarine well enough, back home safe and sound with a penguin that you’ve rescued. Sounds exciting, right? We decided to test this theory by inviting two local primary schools in to be the first to go on this adventure. Our Marketing Assistant, Rachel McCall, lets us know how it all went down.

Wednesday saw two classes from Invicta Primary School come in for the first of two days of staff-led workshops and an exclusive showing of Emergency Story Penguin. Now I won’t lie to you here, myself and the rest of the team doing to the workshops were a little nervous, we were about to be swarmed by 60 five to six year olds, this is enough to put the fear in anyone who has made the conscious decision not to work as a teacher, but non-the-less we had done our prep, had a couple of coffees and we’re hyped up to go. The students arrived absolutely buzzing with infectious energy and within five minutes we were totally hooked on working with them. We took them on a tour around the back stage of the theatre, gave them a go at radioing the technicians and cuing the lights and sound effects, asked them to make their own play, and tested their theatre knowledge (which was impressively advanced). They then went to see the play, and we met them hour later to see how it had gone, the feedback was a thrilling mixture of ‘YAY’, ‘awesome’ and ‘that was so cool’; we’d call that a success!

And so Thursday morning dawned, and us weary work-shoppers dragged our aching bodies out of bed and into the Albany just in time to prep for the next school, St Winifred’s RC Infant School, who arrived with 60 new excited students. Once all florescent vests had been piled in a corner, we got down another day of workshops, theatre tours and Emergency Story Penguin shows. By the end of the day we all agreed that, although exhausted, we were sad that we’d only planned two days of schools and that it’s definitely something we’d love to do again.

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Some of the audience feedback from our schools performances.

Rachel McCall, Marketing Assistant, The Albany

There are still three days to catch Emergency Story Penguin. For more information and to book tickets, click here.

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An Interview with Riot Jazz member Sam Warner

Riot Jazz Band_-_sea_shot_2_3The raucous sounds of Riot Jazz comes to the Albany on Saturday 11 April, and in preparation for this twisted mix of funk, soul, hip hop and wild jazz we asked band member Sam Warner a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:

Who and what are your musical influences?

When Riot Jazz first began it came out of the brass band movement over in the states which was going in a new direction due to bands like Youngblood brass band and Hot 8 brass band. We took this sound and developed it based on the varied musical influences of people in the band. I would say now our influences range from different styles of electronic music such as drum n bass to funk, hip hop, balkan brass and afro beat. The list goes on and on as we’re always trying to incorporate new sounds within the brass band format.

Do you think the Manchester music scene varies from the London music scene? How so?

The Manchester music scene is much more compact but stills offers a diverse range of different genres. As long as you know where to look you can find most things the London scene offers. It really is an incredibly musical city with lots of great bands and musicians doing some amazing things. We’ve been playing at The Riot Jazz night regularly up there for the last 4 or 5 years. This is a night that strives to put on good live music and so we get to hear some great acts coming through.

What was your first experience as a musician?

My first experience of performing to a lot of people was when my school jazz group won our music for youth competition and we performed at the Royal Albert Hall during the proms. An experience I’ll never forget and one that really gave me the drive to become a trumpet player as a profession.

Who’s the messiest person on the tour bus?

We’re all pretty good to be honest although Nick (one of the trumpet players) does enjoy taking his shoes off at any given opportunity which can sometimes be quite pungent! We’ve all grown quite accustomed to each other due to sharing beds and spending a bit to much time together.

Who in the band has the weirdest musical background (any death metalists)?

Unfortunately no death metalists although that would be a great style to explore! A fair few of the guys come from classical or jazz backgrounds like myself. Our sousaphone player is actually an excellent jazz piano player! Steve our drummer has a masters in composition and writes regularly for orchestras (check out his other project Kaleidoscope Orchestra). One of the greatest assets of the band is the fact everyone has such varied musical tastes which I think really reflect itself in our music.

How did you all meet?

The band came together thanks to two doctors (Tom and Axel) who were studying at Manchester University and wanted to start a student night called Riot Jazz. Nick, one of our trumpet players was approached and asked to put together a brass band for the night and so The Riot Jazz Brass Band was formed! A lot of the band already knew each other from playing in the Manchester uni big band or other ensembles. We’ve lost and gained various players along the way but essentially the core of the band has stayed the same since the beginning.

To hear more from the Riot Jazz guys come along on Saturday 11 April, 7.30pm (doors) for a night of the funkiest brass you’ll ever hear – get your tickets here. Check out their song Corn on the Cob for a sneak preview:

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