12:44PM, Thursday 22 June 2017
Spies, sex and Rick Stein all collided for the re-launch of the Pop-Up Picture Company at Cliveden House last night.
On a scorching summer night the audience settled in for a screening of movie Scandal, the 1989 dramatisation of the Profumo Affair starring John Hurt and Ian McKellen, in the grounds of the stately home made notorious by it.
Next to the same swimming pool where a 19-year-old Christine Keeler was first spotted by the then War Minister John Profumo, the audience sank into plush red sofas to be served a Stein-prepared menu of mackerel salad and fish pie.
In hindsight, pie might not have been the best option for a night which barely reached the mid-20s at it coolest.
But nevertheless the food was classic Stein with a light, sweet and spicy salad to start, while the main had an obligingly crispy top, nice big chunks of fish and plenty of mash – although this reviewer is yet to be convinced by the addition of hard boiled eggs.
The Cornish restaurateur and TV presenter also made a brief cameo to take some questions, deftly swatting aside enquiries about ‘Padstein’ and whether there is any truth to newspaper reports that he is that unpopular in the South-west that someone might have tried to burn down one of his restaurants.
But it was the film and the setting that really stole the show.
There was the obligatory ripple of excitement through the audience when Cliveden appeared, scene of decadent parties around the same swimming pool, just to the left of the screen.
There was collective puzzlement at how young John Hurt looked.
And, even if about £60 per head might be a bit steep, there was the chance to watch a little bit of history while sat in that same little bit of history.
Visit http://popuppicturecompany.co.uk/ for more details.
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