Food The Camp and Furnace is one of the hubs of the Biennial 2012’s weekend activities, especially the family programme. It’s also the first year when this building hasn’t featured an exhibition, AFoundation having inhabited its shell for much of the past decade before its closure. I invigilated here in 2006. In 2010 it was the site of Sachiko Abe’s Cut Paper performance/installation piece. Earlier this year it hosted the launch party for Biennial partner The Double Negative. I mention these to demonstrate how the cities and spaces change but how the memories remain.
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On entering Camp and Furnace and after taking care of some private business, I realised this was the perfect moment and with its many corner, cushions and wood fires, the perfect place to have a break from, well, everything. This impression only deepened when I glanced along the bar and saw this sign:
I did ask the barperson if they had any other cakes. She introduced me to some flapjacks sitting on the other end of the bar, but said that the cheesecake looked gorgeous. I ordered the cheesecake and went and sat in a corner amid the cushions and after reading my book for a bit the food arrived.
No, I didn’t photograph it. Because it didn’t occur to me at the time, I expect because on these Biennial visits I’m out of the habit of photographing the artistic endeavours themselves and if this cheesecake was anything it was visually artistic, a creamy concoction spread across a biscuit base which was crunchy without being hard or granular.
Most of this Biennial, most art, is about servicing only four of the senses. Always sight. Perhaps hearing. Sometimes, there’s touch. Sometimes, even, smell. It’s very rarely taste. And although art is all about intent, art only becomes art if the creator says it is, even if they’re wrong. This cheesecake is art.
When Greek physician Aegimus wrote a book on the art of making cheesecakes he must have had something like this cheesecake in mind. With each bite I rolled its nuttiness around in my mouth, its cold creaminess populating the corners of my cheeks. Afterwards, I ran my tongue across my teeth and tasebuds, preparing them for the next sensory onslaught.
More hyperbole: when the empty plate came it was with a feeling of loss and regret. Last week, I bought some Muller cheesecakes in the supermarket. I thought they were nice, as it goes. But I now know they’re a blasphemy in the face of what a cheesecake can and should taste like, what can be achieved.
As I left I took my plate and glass back to the bar and thanked the barperson and took the photo above as a reminder. Sometimes restaurants can work too hard for our favour. Sometimes all that’s required is a lovely slice of cheese cake. I’ll be back. I want to know what else is on the menu.