The Beatnik Supper – Jazz, Poetry & Cocktails

It was four days of performances by various Jazz and Swing bands that marked the inaugural Winchester Jazz festival recently.  It featured acts from not only Winchester, but from all over the UK and the local bars, cafes and pubs also became involved as alternative venues for some toe tapping musical performances.  One of these was an event created by Cabinet Rooms, who decided to hold The Beatnik Supper.

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The Beatnik Supper

The venue for this bespoke evening was at Forte Kitchen, who also provided the catering for the evening.  Upon arrival at the “Jazz Den” we were greeted with a welcome cocktail.  A choice of The Beatnik Cocktail, Ruby Sparkler or The Big Sur Sunrise.  To get into the 1950’s mood, I decided to sample The Beatnik Cocktail.  A careful mix of Amaro Averna (a herbal Sicilian liqueur), Bourbon, Port and Peychaud’s Bitter.  It was very smooth and the sweetness of the port balanced the bitters.  My girlfriend decided upon the Ruby Sparkler, a simple, but effective mix of Port with Prosecco.  The Big Sur Sunrise was the alcohol free option and made from a refreshing blend of cranberry, orange, fresh lime and soda.

When everyone had arrived and we were seated at our tables, Gary was mixing cocktails, while Marcus welcomed us all and gave an introduction to what we could look forward to during the evening.  It started with a recital of an Allen Ginsberg poem, read by Southampton’s first Poet Laureate for Children, Matthew West.

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Matthew West

After the poem, we were served the first course of The Beatnik Supper menu.  The menu was inspired by Gary and Marcus’s travels in the U.S.A. and the Beat Generation of 1950’s America We had a choice of the following:


Clam Chowder with Sourdough bread
Spiced Chick Pea Falafel
Pastrami with Sauerkraut and Mustard on Rye

I decided upon the Spiced Chick Pea Falafel.  It was crisp and the spicing was warming, while my girlfriend had the Pastrami.  A good salted beef and the sauerkraut added a texture of crunch.

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Spiced Chick Pea Falafel
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Pastrami with Sauerkraut & Mustard on Rye

While we enjoyed our food, Duo Theory,  a London based jazz duet made up of Tamas Teszary on the vibraphone and Wu Yen Chan on bass, started their first set of live music, which included a variety of easy listening and upbeat jazz classics, just for us cool cats!

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Duo Theory

After their first set, Marcus read an extract of another poem from Howl, also by Allen Ginsberg before we tucked into our Main Course.

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Marcus from Cabinet Rooms

Main Course

Spaghetti with Meatballs
Spaghetti with a Rich Tomato and Vegetable Sauce

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Spaghetti with Meatballs
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The Jambalaya seemed a very popular choice, but I decided to have the Spaghetti with Meatballs, a dish I hadn’t had in quite a while.  It was superb, the meatballs where soft and well seasoned, the accompanying sauce was balanced, coating the spaghetti and meatballs generously.


Apple pie
Mini Cinnamon Doughnuts with Chocolate Sauce
Ice Cream

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Apple Pie

Once again I decided upon a dish I had not had for sometime, Apple Pie.  I made the right choice, as the pastry was so perfectly short that it melted in the mouth.  Buttery and appley sweet perfection.

Before the evening was rounded off with more music from Duo Theory, Matthew recited another poem. However, this one was rather special.  Earlier in the evening we were asked to write down a list of words that we felt described Winchester.  From these words Matthew put together a spontaneous poem that perfectly reflected the evening and the Winchester Jazz Festival.  I was quite impressed how long the poem was, considering it was an off the cuff piece of work.

Hats off to Cabinet Rooms, they definitely know how to put together a very tasty, clear and articulate Bohemian evening.

Recently Cabinet Rooms have been asked by Winchester City to be their Creative Ambassadors for Food and Drink.

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