Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Mile High club

Diners keen to escape the daily grind of the capital without leaving London should head to the next Mile High pop-up. Having already jetted diners off to buzzing Berirut and cool Copenhagen, the latest pit stop on their route planner was Sicily. 

Given a boarding pass to print out before you arrive at a secret central London location, the aviation theme begins as soon as you step through the door, where you're warmly greeted by a pair of air hostesses dolled up in retro Pan Am uniforms, evoking the glamour and excitement air travel used to elicit.  

Having got our passports stamped, we're ushered to a Campari bar in the departure lounge for an appetite-whetting apéritif. Bypassing the more traditional options of the Negroni, Bellini and Aperol Spritz, I went off piste with a Gatsby-esque Mint Julep made with Wild Turkey Bourbon and Elderflower liqueur, the freshness of the mint invigorating my palate for the feast that lay ahead.

Waiting patiently until our names were called, my travel buddy and I were ushered through the departure gate, and, after a matter of seconds, arrive safely in Sicily, evoked through a dining space dotted with drying laundry, orange scooters and cockerels balancing on crates. A four-course tour of the flavours of the southern Italian region smacked me round the tastebuds like a left hook from LaMotta – the starter: marinated swordfish in orange and cinnamon with fennel and pine nuts was one of the finest compositions I've tried in a while, the tang of the orange and fennel giving the swordfish a ceviche-like freshness. 

A gigantic plate of "Pasta alla Norma" followed. Piled high with gooey cheese, sweet tomatoes and smokey peppers, it's charm lay in its simplicity and ability to comfort. The main event: slow roasted pork belly with braised cabbage, white beans and Sicilian lemon was a class act, the pork boasting a roof of crunchy cracking packed with piggy flavour, while the meat underneath was achingly tender, lifted by the lemon and made more homely by the beans. 

Post feast, the party carried on back in the departure lounge, where the Juleps continued to flow to the sound of nostalgic tracks from the likes of Fleetwood Mac mixed with Daft Punk's ubiquitous Get Lucky. The next stop on the Mile High itinerary is Mozambique on 18-28 September. Tickets cost £65 and can be bought here, while just £5 will bag you a Campari cocktail in the departure lounge – chocks away!

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