A LIFE WELL LIVED

IN­TRO­DUC­ING THE CUL­TURAL ELITE

THISDAY Style - - CONTENT - BY BABATUNDE OLAOLUWA JEJE

It is the prac­tice of this col­umn to bring to our read­ers ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ments in the life­style space when this writer en­coun­ters or ex­pe­ri­ences them. As we al­ways em­pha­sise, knowl­edge is ev­ery­thing…

It started with a tele­phone call and then the black in­vi­ta­tion by email. “A Voltaire Event - Cel­e­brat­ing Art, Food and Wine.” It seemed too in­trigu­ing to pass by and so on the weeknight, I made my way to Vic­to­ria Is­land early, and in­stalled my­self to wait at a favourite spot, so that I would beat the traf­fic that both the rain and rush hour con­spire to cre­ate. It proved to have been worth the ef­fort.

Soon enough it was time to aban­don the easy lis­ten­ing tra­di­tional jazz and head to the venue. Turn­ing off from the ter­ri­ble traf­fic with relief, I en­coun­tered the first of a num­ber of so­cial and se­cu­rity bar­ri­ers which fun­nelled well heeled guests into the venue. Name on the guest list; check. Car scan; check. Ob­vi­ously, none of the last minute ar­range­ments which we so love in th­ese parts would be pos­si­ble here. Off to the car park, el­e­va­tor, and an­other check be­fore we be­held the first floor venue.

Smart, at­trac­tive and at­ten­tive hostesses ush­ered guests to the open air deck for the pre-din­ner cham­pagne. And what a cham­pagne! Bil­le­cart-Salmon Brut Rosé is a king of wines. The palate un­leash­ing beau­ti­ful wild straw­berry fruit flavours, su­per fresh, fleshy and pure. A wine ex­hibit­ing great bal­ance and depth. This aper­i­tif for a spe­cial evening was served with crab, chicken and ten­der beef canapés on a salad bed. All en­joyed on the first floor deck of an equally spec­tac­u­lar venue on the Vic­to­ria Is­land shore with breath-tak­ing views across the Five Cowries Creek…

The rain had forced some de­lay but the wait was not un­pleas­ant as a ma­ture and dis­tin­guished list of guests en­joyed the drinks and canapés as well as the in­spi­ra­tion of spec­tac­u­lar views. The hu­mid­ity was soft­ened by chilled, seem­ingly non-stop glasses of the crit­i­cally ac­claimed aper­i­tif while some young fel­low named Fo­labi who sang like john Leg­end, charged the at­mos­phere.

In an evening of sto­ries the first would be about the cham­pagne it­self, a grande mar­que, which is a flagship of one of the few re­main­ing fam­ily owned French cham­pagne houses es­tab­lished in 1818. The sec­ond pre­saged the prom­ise of post din­ner cigars with the story of Ar­turo Fuente and the don Car­los Beli­coso, one of the smokes most sought af­ter by cigar cognoscenti world over.

As din­ner was an­nounced, the care­fully cu­rated guests were led to ta­bles with place cards and seat­ing de­signed to en­cour­age the con­vivial con­ver­sa­tion that took place through the evening. The menu cards head­lined a culi­nary tale, which would be told by ex­tra­or­di­nary dishes pro­duced by an amaz­ing chef and care­fully paired with ex­cit­ing sound­ing wines. The fea­tured chef and the guest som­me­lier of­fered short in­tro­duc­tions to the feast that was to be de­liv­ered. mean­while Fo­labi, the john Leg­end sound­ing chap con­tin­ued to thrill, now backed with a band.

The culi­nary jour­ney part of the evening now got started. The chef du jour was Chef Bene­dict Okuzu, a pro­fes­sion­ally trained Ital­ian chef, and the menu of Ital­ian food with Nige­rian in­flu­ences com­menced with a Nige­rian Cap­rese Salad paired with Bor­toluzzi Col­lio Fri­u­lano. The wine is straw yel­low with green re­flec­tions; a gen­tle nose, fea­tur­ing bit­ter al­mond with hints of ex­otic and cit­rus fruits; warm, dry and full-bod­ied on the palate, it has a pleas­antly bit­ter­sweet fin­ish. It com­ple­mented the Nige­rian Cap­rese Salad ex­cel­lently. By now, we were be­ing ser­e­naded by the sul­try notes of deb­bie Romeo.

The first main cho­sen by the writer was the Hand­made Lob­ster and Crab Stuffed Beg­gars Purse Pasta on a bed of Basil and Ri­cotta cream. Per­son­ally rec­om­mended to the writer by the Chef, it did not dis­ap­point and it was con­sumed with rel­ish and great speed. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing Can­evel Pros­ecco Val­dob­bi­adene Spumante Ex­tra dry dOCG seemed to have been cre­ated for this dish. Not only did it match the dish per­fectly, it cleansed the palate for the sec­ond main dish — braised, deboned beef short rib that ba­si­cally dis­solved in the mouth. Equally ex­cel­lent was the ac­com­pa­ny­ing wine, dami­lano Bar­bera d’Asti dOCG. This is a red wine with in­tense pur­ple tones and a fruit nose with light spice notes. The sweet tones of deb­bie Romeo had by this time given way to the ex­plo­sive vis­ual dis­play of spritely mod­els dis­play­ing Ituen Basi’s “un­apolo­get­i­cally Nige­rian” col­lec­tion which was re­ceived with great aplomb by the se­lect guests.

En­ter Falana, a fe­male vo­cal­ist and stage per­former with such en­gag­ing en­ter­tain­ment abil­ity that brought some of the guests — this writer in­cluded, to the dance floor!

To round off the menu, dessert was Pis­ta­chio Sticky Tof­fee Pud­ding paired with dami­lano moscato d’Asti. moscato was of course the ideal part­ner for such a sweet pud­ding.

And then, of course, Ar­turo Fuente don Car­los was a prom­ise kept for cigar lovers to round off the evening - An evening for which care­ful thought had clearly been given. From the choice of aper­i­tif, to the de­sign of the menu and ac­com­pa­ny­ing wines, it was ev­i­dent that an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for, and knowl­edge of the best that cul­tures have to of­fer was at play. dur­ing this event, the art was to be found in the food, wine, fash­ion, and the mu­si­cal tal­ent that provided the en­ter­tain­ment for the evening. Apart from Falana who is rel­a­tively well known, Fo­labi and deb­bie Romeo are gems that were scouted by the cu­ra­tors of the event.

Re­spon­si­ble for this very en­joy­able cu­rated event is Voltaire, which was founded in 2016 by peo­ple who de­cided that it was time to pro­vide a haven for the Cul­tural Elite in La­gos, who have a re­la­tion­ship or in­ter­est — whether pro­fes­sional or ama­teur — with the Arts & Cul­ture gen­er­ally.

The name Voltaire was the pseu­do­nym of Franço­is­marie Arouet, a French writer, play­wright, and poet. He was a lead­ing fig­ure of what was known as the en­light­en­ment which is what the Club named af­ter him which seeks to bring to its mem­bers with in­ter­ests, the full spec­trum of the Arts and cul­ture vibe, in­clud­ing vis­ual and per­form­ing arts, fash­ion, film, lit­er­a­ture, mu­sic, pho­tog­ra­phy, his­tory, phi­los­o­phy, etc, to name a few. Voltaire is a hub for cre­ative thinkers and en­tre­pre­neur­ial pa­trons to come to­gether to meet, ex­change ideas, wine, dine and par­tic­i­pate in var­ied events, with Voltaire tak­ing pride of place at the heart of con­tem­po­rary cul­tural life in La­gos.

Be­hind the vi­sion for Voltaire is Ola­towun Can­dide­john­son, a lawyer and a per­son of fine taste who de­mands the high­est stan­dards in ev­ery­thing she does. Af­ter many years in cor­po­rate and com­mer­cial law prac­tice, Ola­towun de­cided that it was time for her to ful­fil her pas­sion which was to open an ex­clu­sive space in a secure and serene part of La­gos, where peo­ple of like mind could meet to en­joy all things “cul­tural,” with a spe­cific em­pha­sis on the Arts as de­scribed above. The name Voltaire gives his­tory and cul­ture by it­self to the vi­sion of a cul­tural elite housed in a sure-tobe-taste­ful city re­treat in the char­ac­ter of a “Lon­don Pri­vate mem­bers Club.” weare­voltaire.com

Babatunde Olaoluwa Jeje be­lieves in fill­ing each mo­ment with the very best ex­pe­ri­ences pos­si­ble. Writ­ing from La­gos, Babatunde is an en­tre­pre­neur, a foodie, a lover of great mu­sic, and a prac­ti­tioner of sprez­zatura. Babatunde will be writ­ing about a Life Well Lived. 21

I have a lot of plans for my busi­nesses, how­ever, my phi­los­o­phy as an in­di­vid­ual is to hand over to God what­ever I in­tend to do, God gives life and He plans our fu­ture, as hu­mans. I will con­tinue to do my best in or­der to en­sure that my busi­nesses grow.

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