I caught up with David Johnstone in London’s legendary American Bar at the Stafford Hotel. Johnstone who created The Global Party alongside Lord Stanley Fink as a VIP philanthropic event after being inspired by Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’, has now launched The Movement 365, an initiative of The Global Charity Trust raising charitable funds 365 days a year with a simple £1 donation added whilst dining in your favorite partnering restaurants. It makes giving fun and easy for the customers and the restaurants benefit from exposure and the perfect opportunity to help their communities.

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“What I find” says David “is that this helps people try something new – after all if you have a social conscience and like to eat out why wouldn’t you go to a carefully selected and recommended restaurant that thinks like you?”.

 

We didn’t have 80 days to spare so David suggested we go ‘Around the World in 18 Plates’. “As we’re at the American Bar we should start with my favourite cocktail, The Americano. Created by Gaspare Campari in the 1860’s, I’ve always loved it since reading that it was the first drink ordered by James Bond in Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, ‘Casino Royale’,” David said.

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Chotto Matte

Drink in hand, I sit back in an armchair steeped in history and prepare to discuss The Movement 365 and hear all about our ‘Around the World in 18 plates’ tour. He then asks me to close my eyes and listen. The tape recorder is running and I really should savour the incredibly well-crafted cocktail so I oblige.

“We’re going on a journey” says Johnstone, “we’re going to eat some of the most delicious meals available at some of the finest restaurants and with every mouthful we’re making money for good causes. Sounds good?” I probably nodded. “Excellent – then let’s go. First stop is Chotte-Matte here in London which brings together Peruvian and Japanese cuisine in a totally original way. Everything here is excellent – I always have the peppers to get me going and I’ll also like to try the avocado tempura with smoked purple potato”.

“What did you think of the graffiti wall? It comes to life and lights up at night.” he asked. Just when I wanted to remind David that this was a virtual tour, and opened my eyes, I see him sitting back, eyes closed and realised that he was actually savouring these places. I quickly closed my eyes as we ‘arrived’ at the Ancora Venezia in Venice.

“This is all about authenticity. We’re a stone’s throw from the Rialto Bridge and the Carbonara with Sea Bass is divine. Now let’s pop back to London and head over to The Lyttleton for the venison”. The Lyttleton’s Executive Head Chef Carlos Martinez has worked in eighteen Michelin Starred restaurants across Europe and his expertise shines through in the succulence of the meat and the perfect accompaniments of Cabanero cabbage and Rioja pearl barley.

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Salmontini

David then takes us to Congdu in Seoul for the ”best Korean cuisine out there” where we have ‘Japache’ wrapped “like a gift full of surprises”, a bite of abalone, a tinge of sweetness and perfectly seasoned. After Korea its across to Tel Aviv. We have the oven-baked sea fish with truffle sauce in the Ciella Rooftop Lounge at the Alexander Hotel while looking out across the sea. For a moment I feel like I can taste the fish, smell the ocean and hear the energy of Tel Aviv before David suddenly says “time for another cocktail”. I open my eyes and put my hand over my glass, one is my limit, only to see David with eyes closed as he barks out “off to Salmontini in London where their mixologists will create a personalised cocktail to match our mood while we tuck into the roasted Salmon with couscous and a harissa sauce”.

 

It’s not long before we’ve ‘cleaned our plates’ and David says “I think we should stick with London and fish so let’s go to Sixty One in Marylebone which is all about big bold flavours”. This casual remark does not prepare me for what is to come. Slow cooked sea bream with carrots, walnuts and grapefruit, cooked just as it should be.

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M Grill

“Time for a light lunch” he cries, and in a flash we arrive at M in the city. M is a restaurant with two sides: GRILL and RAW. I told David that I’d been there before when I’d had the perfectly aged, wood cooked fillet of Tajima-Gyu Kobe beef.“
David suggested we stay to enjoy a ‘light lunch’ and introduced me to RAW which is all about small, fast and fresh dishes. We settle on the delicate Argentine beef tartare and follow that with the white chocolate and lavender soup with poached rhubarb. Now I’m not much of a desert man but this was one dish that I don’t think could be bettered.

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Clos Maggiore

I should be full but before I can pause for breath, we nip around the corner to Clos Maggiore which has been voted London’s most romantic restaurant 4 years running and which sells out Valentine’s Day 8 months in advance. David clearly knows the menu of contemporary French cuisine well and goes straight for the braised shoulder of Loire Valley rabbit. After the rabbit, he asks me what I’d like to try. It’s all been delicious so far and I don’t want to break his stride as the virtual restaurant tour is proving most fulfilling. “Some interesting spices?” I suggest. “Brilliant” enthuses Johnstone, “I know just the places for you. Let’s start off at Restaurant J in Stockholm. The fish and seafood casserole is delicately flavoured with Saffron and Sweden is a great place for fresh fish and the catch here is brought in daily straight from the sea – you can’t get any fresher. Now let’s head over to Marrakech and the Kasbah Agafay for one of the best lamb tagine’s you’ll ever taste with just the right amount of spices. The flavour here is all about the ingredients with all the herbs, oils and vegetables produced in their organic garden.”

My spice experience didn’t stop there. We were transported back to London to Red Fort, an Indian restaurant where Head Chef Azadur Rahman and his team of seven chefs selected from across India have mastered the art of Mughal cooking. Every day they use the huge Tandoor ovens to produce over twenty different breads, made to order. At this point my host tells me that spicy food only works for him when done just right and for him it’s important to let every flavour shine through. He ‘orders’ the Scottish lobster with Saffron, garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg which he assures me is how to get a dish “spot on”.

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The Red Fort

I start to tell David about my experiences in East Africa which brings him back from the last morsel of lobster. He sits bolt upright and exclaims “Spices! Africa! Right!” and we’re off again. This time to Senegal where David has picked out two restaurants; Le Bambou in Saly and Rysara in Dakar. Le Bambou is within The Rhino Hotel Resort and Spa which won the Best International Spa Hotel at the 2014 World Luxury Hotel Awards. He explains that you can get the perfect steak at both of these places so we go for the sirloin with Rhino sauce (named after the venue rather than an indication of the ingredients) at Le Bambou. There’s no time to sample the spa today as we zoom over to Dakar for the Argentine Entrecote at Rysara. David explains in fine detail what it takes to make the perfect steak and that the team at Rysara gets it right, so I thought it best to show some worldly knowledge by remarking that Dakar was the westernmost city in the Old World and on the African mainland. “I’ll tell you something really interesting about Dakar”, says David, “it’s the home of R & B singer Akon whose real name is Alioune Thiam”.

“This is going rather well” says David. “I’d like us to cross the pond to the USA but first one quick stopover in Bucharest at the AGO restaurant for the tagliatelle with duck ragu”. I can’t really say no, after all he is paying – I hope! “This is what I call a sensory experience” remarks Johnstone, “here it is all about textures and contrasts alongside presentation of the highest standard”. Sounds delicious.

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Honi Honi

Finally we arrive in the USA. “Let’s go to the Polo Lounge” says David. The Polo Lounge at the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel has been the favourite watering hole for generations of stars and Hollywood deal-makers. “Time for something really special”, he says as he orders the white truffle risotto. “This is made with 4 grams of Alba truffle and is as good as a dish can get – and the great thing is the more I eat the more good causes benefit!
Before our virtual gastronomic world tour heads back to London we stop off at the Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge in Hong Kong. In keeping with the spirit of our adventure David recommends we try the ‘Around The World’ made with four kinds of Rum including the Pampero 1938 and topped up with Taittinger Brut champagne.

Then just like Phineas Fogg on the 80th day we race back to London. At least, we would have done so if we weren’t actually still in London. Instead, we jump in a cab and head over to our final destination. All this talk about food has made me hungry and I’m pleased when we walk through the actual door of Roast. Roast is a great venue, set in the iconic Floral Hall at Borough Market. The building was largely ignored before restaurateur Iqbal Wahhab, founder of the Cinnamon Club, created Roast. “We’ve eaten our way around the world and we’re back in time for dinner so let’s treat ourselves to some perfect British cuisine”.

Before long we are tucking into chargrilled Aubrey’s 28 day dry-aged rib eye steak with chips and béarnaise sauce – and all for a worthwhile cause. “See you in September” cries David “for our next mouth-watering adventure”. Finally full, we part ways. It’s been an epic experience to savour and amazingly I’m already wondering where and what I’ll be eating next.

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