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Poshest film night EVER!

Rick Stein's Sunset Cinema is the pimped up daddy of film nights – great food, epic location and a sexy flick. *ahem, so to speak.

It was the pimped up daddy of all film nights! I swept down the drive in the 30 degree heat to attend the premiere of Rick Stein’s Sunset Cinema courtesy of the Pop-Up Picture Company at Cliveden House. The stunning stately home provided the backdrop (and the history) to a very special night of sex, Rick Stein and Scandal. Hot stuff.

The red carpet was rolled out and led us into the secluded Spa Garden where the cinema has been set up right next to the Grade II-listed swimming pool for the screening of the 1989 Profumo Affair classic, Scandal. It stars a young John Hurt as Stephen Ward, Ian McKellan plays John Profumo and Joanne Whalley is the minxy Christine Keeler. In case you’re not up on the bedroom athletics of past politicians – with so many to keep track of, who can blame you? – The Profumo Affair was a political scandal on steroids.

Lord Astor was famous for throwing the wildest parties at Cliveden. At one of Astor’s saucy soirees, showgirl Christine Keeler was introduced to War Minister John Profumo in this very swimming pool. Keeler became Profumo’s mistress… but was doing her bit for international relations by sleeping with Russian spy Eugene Ivanov at the same time. Pillow talk was pretty potent in the Sixties and it all got a bit messy. It was a massive story that ended in tears, but brings an extra frisson of excitement to tonight’s screening.


The event kicks off with drinks around the pool. I managed to catch a glimpse of the new day spa. Oooh it’s fancy. And sooo nearly finished. Watch this space, Muddy will be reporting for duty once the paint has dried and the finishing touches have been added.

When the clock struck, that was our cue to take our seats on the plush red sofas to be served a Stein-prepared menu of Cambodian mackerel salad and fish pie. But first the Padre of Padstow addressed the warm crowd… love for Rick and general glow from the heatwave. He spoke up his new book Rick Stein’s Long Weekend, his recent trip to Mexico, his love for Padstow and his passion for open water swimming.

The man will eat pretty much anything, but even Stein has limits. “In Mexico they eat every part of a cow. So you’ll get lady parts tacos. And that’s fine, but I’ll never eat dog. I had a dog and I just cannot being myself to do it.” Poor ol’ Chalky, gone but not forgotten. “That said, I  can’t get enough of bottarga – it’s the salt cured roe of grey mullet. Grated on pasta with garlic and olive oil it’s absolutely delicious. You should try it.” I might just do that.

No cow vaginas on the menu, but plenty of fish. The mackerel salad was fresh with a decent chilli kick followed by a comforting chunky fish pie. Now you’d think a fish pie in the heat would be a bad idea, but I thought it was light and the perfect. The egg was a bit of a a surprise, but one that I would definitely try at home.

During the interval we got to sample Tom Kerridge’s legendary Hand & Flowers ice cream. I opted for vanilla with a toffee crumb. It was bloody lush but the toffee got stuck in my teeth. Not the prettiest thing to witness, I can only be grateful that it was dark.

It was a special night. Rick Stein’s food topped off the epic location and its historical link to the film. It was exciting to be immersed in the surroundings that appeared on the big screen. Scandal was perfect premiere material, and the Pop Up Picture Company (the brainchild of Tom Kerridge and three mates) is a corker. Great chefs, classic films in stunning locations. At £60 a pop it might seem a bit punchy but I think it’s worth it.

A night out at the cinema with a Nandos, bucket of popcorn and coke can end up costing as much and it just doesn’t compare. Cliveden’s screenings are ow booked up, but there are tickets available at Chewton Glen from 10-23 July.


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