Category Archives: Events

Eat Drink Bristol Fashion Preview

With March well underway and a few hot days under our belts (we know – most people wouldn’t consider 12ºC hot, but we’re optimists in Bristol) we reckon it’s high time we started putting winter behind us and looking forward to a great summer of foodie frolics in Bristol and beyond!

Kicking off the summer in style is Eat Drink Bristol Fashion, which runs from May 1st to May 18th 2014. Situated in Queen Square in central Bristol, Eat Drink is a huge pop-up event bringing together the best in the South West’s food and drink. Housed in the massive “teepee village” (yes, teepees!) will be fine dining and street food from some of the best chefs in the region. The event was launched last night at Yurt Lush (appropriately enough, a large Mongolian tent!).

The festival is the brainchild of Josh Eggleton and Luke Hasell, who after collaborating on a pop-up restaurant decided to expand this idea and in 2012 the first Eat Drink Bristol Fashion showcased some of the best chefs in Bristol. In 2013 this grew further to nab the best chefs from Bristol, Bath and the surrounding areas and it’s back for a third year with a massive celebration of the South West. The chefs this year have a total of nine Michelin stars between them – what an amazingly talented region!

Josh, Luke and everyone involved in the festival are hugely passionate about the sustainability, ethics and traceability of the produce they use . This really came across in their speeches about the event and what it means to them, they feel that the more people that know exactly where their food comes from the better and we totally agree! We produce incredible ingredients down in the South West – the mild climate, coastline and rolling fields mean we make some of the best produce in the country. It’s really inspiring to see a celebration of this with input from the growers and the chefs – from field to exquisitely prepared plate.

At 28, Josh – head chef at the Michelin-starred Pony and Trap – has already achieved more than most chefs can dream of (and he’s a really nice bloke – not fair is it?!). He lives and breathes food, and his passion really shines through. He serves what he likes to call “modern British” cuisine at his restaurant, which gives him a lot of license for creativity since us Brits have always been magpies when it comes to other cultures’ foods! We spoke to him about food and nutrition education – he’s so keen to get better education in schools about cooking; not just learning about nutritional values and how to make flapjacks but thinking about the whole growing process as well as how to make simple, cheap meals which make the best use of ingredients, something that we really try to get across on Fats and Bird. Hopefully with inspiring chefs and farmers taking centre stage this summer, the people of Bristol will get as excited as we are about the wonderful world of food.

Luke is a farmer and a firm believer that organic farming is the future of food production. He gave a great (and long!) speech about how everyone needs to reconnect with the food they produce – we were left feeling inspired to go out and start growing our own veg and maybe buy a cow, if only it was that easy!

The event itself is an exciting few weeks packed with fine dining events hosted by some really wonderful chefs, alongside which is Josh Eggleton’s signature “British Tapas” menu, providing casual diners with food from noon until 10pm every day – all with a backdrop of completely free live music. The fine dining begins on Friday 2nd May with a unique collaboration between Valentine Warner and Nathan Outlaw and is wrapped up by Jack Stein on Saturday the 17th, on the way taking in such stellar chefs as Sam Moody (Bath Priory), Peter and Jonray Sanchez-Inglesias (Bristol’s Casamia), Romy Gill (chef-owner of Romy’s Kitchen, and blazing a trail for women across the country!) and Paul Ainsworth (No 6, Padstow). See the full program below!

Fine Dining Programme, Eat Drink Bristol Fashion
Fine Dining Programme, Eat Drink Bristol Fashion

We couldn’t be more excited about Eat Drink Bristol Fashion, and we reckon this summer is going to be absolutely amazing! Tickets go on sale any minute now – we’re checking the website and will let twitter know when it’s up.

We left the launch feeling totally inspired about the Bristol food scene, and desperate to get out there and try more of the amazing local produce that we know is out there. Keep an eye out on our blog for more previews of what’s to come in Bristol this summer!

Advertisements

Top 10 Foodie Moments (Part 2)

Ok so here we are carrying on with our top foodie moments. Check out our post from yesterday to see our numbers 10 – 6. These five were really hard to come up with, we’ve had so many incredible moments, hopefully in another few years we’ll have a whole bunch more memories jostling for top spot!

5. Balcony food in Montefrio, Spain

We have the extreme good fortune of having a family friend who let us stay in her beautiful house in Spain for two weeks in September 2011. Bird had been before with her parents in 2009 and was so excited to show Fats the incredible view from the balcony! We cooked a lot while we were there – the dish in the photo is some chicken fajitas (we think!) but the stand out dish we made while there was a delicious pork and chorizo stew which is basically made the same as this recipe we posted recently, only using some of the region’s famously tasty pork. We ate in candlelight so as to attract as few insects as possible but it also added a little something to the meal! The place we were staying in was not touristy at all; it was a typical Andalucian village, and the food we got was wonderful – especially the pork and chorizo! Going on a self catering holiday is such a world away from staying in hotels, you really get to get stuck in and get a feel for the local food – perfect for us.

Chicken Fajitas on the balcony... Simply wonderful
Chicken Fajitas on the balcony… Simply wonderful
Yes, this was the view while we were eating dinner! The stunning Montefrio
Yes, this was the view while we were eating dinner! The stunning Montefrio

4. Spiced lamb meatballs on our first night in Marrakech

We’ve described how to make these beautiful little meatballs in this post from a while back, as well as the drama of arriving in Morocco! Our riad was a perfect haven, once we’d established we were getting dinner we were seated in one of the recesses off the indoor courtyard, on low seats, dimly lit and served some of the simplest, but most beautiful food we’ve ever had. We started with a salad consisting of lettuce, red pepper and olives with a citrusy dressing. Then onto the main event – a tagine was brought out and the lid was whisked off dramatically to reveal the meatballs covered in baked eggs with their little flecks of smoked paprika. We barely said a word to each other for the first few minutes, we were so busy stuffing our faces! This is one of the dishes we’ve managed to recreate most successfully and still make regularly, we had some friends over for dinner on Tuesday and this made up part of the Middle Eastern spread we served them. The heady mix of relief, extraordinary surroundings and delicious food make this one of our best memories.

This was the view from the roof terrace of our riad. The smoke in the distance is from the food stalls in the Djema el-Fna (the main square) - spectacular!
This was the view from the roof terrace of our riad. The smoke in the distance is from the food stalls in the Djema el-Fna (the main square) – spectacular!

3. Macarons and Champagne in Paris

Yeah, we know, it’s a tad pretentious right? But it also had to be done! We went to Paris in February 2012, right in the middle of a severe cold snap, it didn’t get above freezing the whole time we were there. This was a bit of a double edged sword – it meant no queuing times, we got to the front of the queue for the Eiffel Tower in less than 10 minutes which is practically unheard of! It also meant that we couldn’t bear to be outside for long, our wonderful weekend consisted of dashing from museum to cafe to art gallery to cafe to the hotel to dinner. Not that we’re complaining, there’s never enough opportunities for an espresso  in Paris! This day we’d ventured to Ladurée – famous as one of the best macaron makers in the world. We passed up on the ruinously expensive (but surely worth it!) afternoon tea in favour of a box of macarons packaged in a beautiful pistachio green box to take back to our hotel room. The flavours we went for were rose, dark chocolate, salted caramel and pear and chestnut – all were amazing but we think the rose and salted caramel were our favourites. We also happened to get a free dinky bottle of champagne from the hotel so we had an indulgent half an hour snaffling macarons, sipping champagne and watching the snow from our window.

Brrr... Winter in Paris
Brrr… Winter in Paris
Mmmm..... Slightly pretentiously arrayed champagne and macarons. We were destined to be food bloggers from this moment!
Mmmm….. Slightly pretentiously arrayed champagne and macarons. We were destined to be food bloggers from this moment!

2. Wine tasting on Santorini

So for those of you who haven’t been or drooled over pictures, Santorini was once a large circular island, and was blown up by the volcano in it’s centre which, after a few eruptions left a stunning crescent moon shaped island complete with a jawdropping caldera. Perched on top of the middle of this caldera we found a vineyard with wine tasting facilities. This was actually on the same day as our no. 8 moment – mixed meze – what an amazing day! For the bargain price of €12 we were served 5 generous glasses of wine, 4 normal wines of the region and 1 glass of the local vinsanto – a syrupy sweet dessert wine. Along with this came breadsticks, cheese and olives – amazing value. Perhaps our brains were a bit fuddled even before the wine but we forgot to snap a picture until we’d drunk most of it! We also had the terrace completely to ourselves for about an hour, we made a hasty retreat as a coach party turned up. It was one of the most tranquil hours, sipping beautiful local wine with great conversation, perfect weather and the craziest view!

That view is simply breathtaking - we're so lucky!
That view is simply breathtaking – we’re so lucky!

1. Picnic in a storm in Florence

We’ve already touched on this one in this post but it really is our favourite memory. Funny how the most humble meals can be the most memorable. The day started with a trip to an absolutely beautiful food market in Florence – the Mercato di San Lorenzo – just north of the Duomo. After managing to stop ourselves from buying everything we laid eyes on we ended up with some vine tomatoes, fresh ricotta, a creamy gorgonzola, two slices of different foccacias and some plums. We then hiked up to the other side of the Arno to get the best view of the city. Climbing up through rose gardens to be greeted with one of the most famous vistas.

We were up on the Piazzale Michelangelo admiring David’s turquoise arse when a serious storm rolled slowly in, so of course we hung around watching the spectacle until fat drops of rain started landing on us. Hastily packing up the camera (Fats) and clamping arms down to save flashing everyone as the wind howled (Bird) we scurried down the hill. Sheltering under a tower for a few minutes we eventually decided to just make a dash for it and aim for the arches of the Uffizi gallery.

David's arse has never looked more dramatic!
David’s arse has never looked more dramatic!
Yep, it's heading straight for us. Just a few more snaps!
Yep, it’s heading straight for us. Just a few more snaps!

We made it there just as the heavens fully opened, the sort of rain which causes flash flooding! It was busy with many other trapped tourists… however none of them had brought a picnic along! We opened our beautiful brown-paper-wrapped packages and had the best picnic either of us has ever had. The tomatoes were like nothing we’d ever experienced before – the sweetest, most flavourful tomatoes imaginable (we had been promised as much by the lovely Italian lady who sold them to us), and they complimented the cheeses perfectly. Wherever you go on holiday we fully recommend ditching the restaurants and cafes in favour of a simple picnic from a market for at least a few meals – local, fresh food at it’s best!

The remains of our lunch in our Florence hotel room. What an amazing day!
The remains of our lunch in our Florence hotel room. What an amazing day!

So, those were our top 10 foodie moments so far – they were so much fun to write, and a great way to celebrate our 100th post – here’s to many more! What are your top foodie moments?

Top 10 Foodie Moments (Part 1)

It’s our 100th post! We weren’t sure when we started this blog back in July that it would get past the first month but we’ve absolutely loved writing it, and we’re so chuffed that so many of you read our babbling on. To mark this little milestone we thought we would share with you some of our absolute favourite “foodie moments”. You know when everything just comes together? The food, the company, the view, the atmosphere all combines to make a memory that never fails to raise a smile. Well – these are ours. We’ve split this post into two so as not to cause eye-strain from reading it all in one go! We battled this out over cups of tea in bed one Saturday morning, so many great memories failed to make the top 10… we love eating! So without further waffling, here’s our top moments counting down from 10 to 6.

10. Mackerel on the seafront in Brighton

Mackerel is so fresh in Brighton, you can buy it straight out of the old fishermen’s huts on the beach, and they also cook it fresh for you there. A perfectly cooked fillet or two of mackerel, crispy skin and all, in a fluffy bun with salad while you sit with the sun beating down on your back and people watch, just bliss! We got these while visiting Bird’s parents, an ice cold beer in hand, on one of those magical completely cloud-free weekends that you occasionally get in Brighton.

9. Cafe Rouge in Bristol

A bit of a soppy one here… this was our first date *vomits*. We went to Cafe Rouge and then to see The Imaginiarium of Doctor Parnassus at The Watershed. Bird had a salmon salad Niçoise and, like the forgetful sod he is, Fats can’t remember! It was all washed down with a bottle of white wine, lovely service and incredible conversation. The nerves and excitement probably make this memory stand out more than other, possibly better food-wise, memories but it will always be treasured.

8. Vegetarian meze on Santorini

We’d gone for a visit to Ancient Thera during our holiday island hopping in Greece. Ancient Thera is an amazing set of ruins on top of a dramatic cliff (most of Santorini is on top of a dramatic cliff) and although we wussed out and got the coach up there we decided to walk down the other side to see the famous black sands and try to find some lunch. After half an hour clambering down in midday heat we were desperate for a drink and some great food. On inspection however the only place we could see open had some cheesy parasols on the beach and a small shaded garden area outside the restaurant. Too tired and hungry to argue by this point we nipped inside and we were so glad we did! We opted for the vegetarian mixed meze and got two beautiful platters of food – sadly we can’t remember exactly what we had, there was fava, dolmades, vegetables in flaky pastry and many other delights. All topped off with a view of the crystal clear water and black sands, pretty tough to beat!

The restaurant is somewhere down there in Perissa! Shot taken from Ancient Thera on Santorini
The restaurant is somewhere down there in Perissa! Shot taken from Ancient Thera on Santorini
Delicious Meze on Santorini
Delicious Meze on Santorini

7. Nannini, Siena

The. Best. Coffee. Shop. Just incredible. This old-fashioned feeling cafe has great glass counters displaying a mindblowing array of baked goods, every biscuit imaginable, delicate pastries, larger cakes – all you can do is gawp for a good few minutes. You select what you want, tell them what coffee you would like and pay at the counter and then take your receipt round to the coffee bar and tell the barista exactly what you would like. As with most cafes in Italy you will pay a premium for sitting down so we opted to have ours standing at the bar. The coffee was some of the best we’ve ever tasted and the biscuits were divine, especially the ricciarelli which are the famous almond biscuits of the region. We didn’t stop smiling for a moment we were in there and went back for a second helping the following day!

Nanini in Siena
Nanini in Siena

6. Bell’s Diner, Bristol

Bell’s Diner is a delightful restaurant in Bristol, tucked away in the most unlikely of places on a quiet residential street in Montpelier. Our visit was a rather wonderful surprise present from Bird for my 23rd birthday – I was told to dress smart, and be ready at half 7… She picked me up in a taxi and whisked me off for a quite astonishingly good evening of food. This was our first seriously good meal out in Bristol, an eight-course extravaganza of exquisitely prepared food (with wine flight, of course!). On the menu was tomato caviar served in an eggshell, scallop and belly pork served with apple and chorizo, rabbit with lemon risotto topped with Parmesan foam, and more besides! The staff were lovely – we felt very uncouth when we had to ask we should to go about tackling one particular dish, and the sommelier was a lovely, warm, enthusiastic but very shy french man who gave introduced each glass as if he’d grown the grapes himself! Bell’s diner has had a bit of a makeover – it’s now a trendy bistro joint – but we fully intend to pay them another visit.

Stay tuned for our top 5 foodie moments – we’ve loved writing these, they’ve really brought a massive smile to our faces!

Update: you can find our top 5 foodie moments here!

Underground Cookery School

On Monday we had the extreme good fortune to be invited to the Underground Cookery School in Shoreditch, London. Having followed that up with a most excellent dinner with some good friends last night, it’s fair to say that right now we’re both feeling pretty tired. Not since our days as students have we come off the back of a Monday-Tuesday late-night double-whammy! As well as the exhaustion (being a foodie is hard!) we also feel extremely lucky, and we’re excited to tell you all about it (but please forgive us if we start talking jibberish).

The day started off like any normal Monday (work, ugh) but the morning flew by and come lunchtime we were able to sack off our day jobs and don our foodie mantles! We stopped at Friska on the way to the station to pick up some really excellent crispy pork pho (Vietnamese noodle soup – if you’re in Bristol, or Vietnam for that matter, try some!) and pretty shortly we were on our way to the big city.

Crispy Pork Pho from Friska... Great start to a foodie afternoon!
Crispy Pork Pho from Friska… Great start to a foodie afternoon!

Since we had a free afternoon and the whole of London at our disposal, we took a short wander through Hyde Park to stretch our legs and meet some of the locals (swans, a heron and a moorhen!) before heading to the Victoria & Albert museum. It was the first time either of us had been to the V&A, and it’s one of those places we could get lost in for days! Apparently if you were to see everything in the Louvre in Paris it would take you a solid week, and while we’re not sure it’s quite that big, it was nevertheless impressive. We wound our way through some 19th century sculpture, historic Japan, took in the gardens, stumbled around mediaeval Europe and finally, feeling quite overwhelmed, decided it was about time to find some good coffee.

Heron Hyde Park

Swan Hyde Park

Courtyard in the V&A... We've decided we need one for our house
Courtyard in the V&A… We’ve decided we need one for our house
Inside the V&A
Inside the V&A

Deciding to neglect tea and cake in the V&A for some strong coffee we did a quick Google and came up with Shoreditch Grind, a rather trendy looking place right on Old Street roundabout. We weren’t quite sure we were cool enough to go in – there was a cinema sign, neon and plenty of industrial barstools – but we put our best hipster faces on and went in. We knew right away that this was the place for us, the aroma of amazing roasted coffee hit us and shook any thoughts of tea from our minds! Fats went for a flat white while Bird chose a macchiato, both were incredible, they even rivalled our Bristol favourite, Small St Espresso.

Macchiato and Flat White at Shoreditch Grind
Macchiato and Flat White at Shoreditch Grind

After working out how to sit on a barstool without almost falling off every few seconds we happily whiled away the hour or so before it was time for our cooking lesson. There was a brief thought of going somewhere else for a slightly more intoxicating drink (Dutch courage and all that) but a candle and a bar list was plonked in front of us so we settled in for a cider (Bird) and a beer (Fats). Minds lubricated and inhibitions fractionally lowered, we headed off to our first ever blogger event!

Dutch Courage!
Dutch Courage!

We’ve been to a couple of cookery schools in Bristol, but the Underground Cookery School is a bit of a different proposition to what we’ve experienced before – they promised a “fun and informal” approach to cookery, as well as a “Hoxton Brasserie” vibe – and it certainly delivered! On entering the stylish and modern underground kitchen/diner we were warmly greeted by Carlos, who immediately thrust a welcome glass of Prosecco into Fats’ hand while Bird dived straight in with some mussel de-bearding. After a few delicious canapés Matt – founder and head chef at the school – gave us a short introduction explaining what was on the menu (moules marinière, ballotine of chicken and tarte Tatin) before splitting us into two groups of 10 and setting us to work.

Canapés on Arrival
Canapés on Arrival

We started off by learning how to de-bone a chicken. This is a great skill to have, and is not something that we have done before. It was great to see an experienced chef do this with such ease, it immediately filled us with confidence! We’re going to blog a tutorial about this sometime soon, so watch this space. Once we’d de-boned it, we took the breast and flattened it with a rolling pin (by whacking it! Great way to unwind…) before laying it on a couple of leaves of lightly wilted cabbage and spreading with a mixture of cream cheese, leeks and bacon (definitely didn’t sneak a cheeky taste of that…) and rolling tightly in cling film and kitchen foil.

Chicken Ballotine
Chicken Ballotine

We were then shepherded quickly to the next lesson of the night, tarte Tatin. This was done in teams, with a couple of us slicing apples, a couple of us making caramel and the rest assembling and covering with pastry. This lesson especially was a great way to get to know some of our fellow bloggers – there was a really great atmosphere, and a bit of competitive spirit (who can assemble the most perfect tarte Tatin? Who can slice the thinnest apples??) didn’t hurt!

Tarte Tatin

Onion slicing like a pro came next, where we also learnt that they make you cry by wafting into your eye and promptly turning into sulphuric acid (we can thank our fellow blogger Heidi for that one!). Throughout the evening the chefs were absolutely great, taking a really relaxed approach and happy to go over anything again if we didn’t quite get it the first time.

Moules marinière turned out to be about the easiest thing we’d ever cooked! Cook off some onions and garlic, throw in a healthy slosh (like, half a bottle) of wine, reduce a bit, then in with the mussels until they open up! Toss in a bit of oil and parsley and serve. Just don’t eat the ones that stay closed.

Muscles

Moules

All of the food we cooked was totally delicious, and we shared a real combined sense of achievement (we were all eating each others’ food, so a bit of trust helped!). The wine and conversation kept flowing through dinner and too soon we had to run to catch our train home to Bristol (but not without boxing up our tarte Tatin for the road).

We had a great time at our first blogger event – we met some really great people and learnt some useful skills! Big thanks to Matt and the team, they really made us feel welcome. We can thoroughly recommend the Underground Cookery School for any event, we can’t imagine a better way to spend an evening. Here’s to many more blogger events to come!

The Underground Cookery School offer team building, hen parties and private events. They can be found near Old Street roundabout in London and at undergroundcookeryschool.com.

Dining

Our Christmas Gifts 2013

Happy New Year! We hope everyone has had a good start to 2014. We’re back at home now after a brilliant holiday with Fats’ family, lots of films, lots of slobbing in front of the fire, a few walks and LOTS of food! We were also extremely lucky and got some fantastic gifts, most of which were food oriented so we thought we would share them with you! It was also Bird’s birthday over the festive period so a couple of these gifts were for that too.

FoodieGiftsNumbered

1. Italian Cheese Kit – this looks like so much fun! Apparently you can make lots of different types of soft cheese with it and it makes 6kg (!!!) of cheese. Looks like any ambitions to lose weight in 2014 are off.

2. Chocolate selection – you can’t go wrong with this… 6 mini bars of chocolate – some milk, some dark, with varied flavours. We plan to use some in cooking/baking and some we’ll probably just scoff!

3. Green & Blacks Sea Salt Milk Chocolate – we love this stuff, it’s beautiful, creamy milk chocolate with little flakes of sea salt. We might bake a bit with it but again, this will probably get nibbled while watching our new David Attenborough DVD.

4. Mini copper pan – pretty much THE CUTEST pan imaginable this was a gift from Fats to Bird, she wants a collection of them one day so this is the first one. It will be perfect for making sauces in, hopefully it will feature in a blog post in the not too distant future.

5. Australian ground coffee and a subscription for 3 months of a coffee club delivery – this is a great gift, we love coffee so the prospect of a different coffee every month is very exciting! We’ll let you know which ones we get and what we think of them.

6. Mason Cash Bread Baking set – a gift from Bird to Fats, this is a terracotta mixing and proving bowl with a lid that doubles as a bakestone and promises to give a great crust because it helps draw moisture away. We’re especially excited to try making focaccia on this.

7. Sloe gin – Bird has been a bit hooked on sloe gin since her grandparents let her try some of their homemade stuff as a teenager. We’ll get a couple of cocktails out of this and feel classy for an evening!

8. Le Creuset Espresso mug – isn’t this adorable? Someone obviously read our gift guide as Bird unwrapped this little beauty on Christmas morning. We’ve heard rumours that Bird’s dad got two of these for his birthday (Happy Birthday for yesterday Daddy Bird!) so we might have to buy Fats one so he doesn’t feel left out.

9. Le Creuset Petite Casserole – this was a birthday present from Fats’ family to Bird along with a continuation of the Olive Magazine subscription that they got her two years ago. It’s absolutely gorgeous, you could make a meal for one or a brunch for two and it would be great for melting cheese in…

10. Handcrafted mug – Fats finally has his own mug! He’s been borrowing Bird’s flowery number up until now but he finally has his own, very manly, chunky mug.

11. Apron – Bird finally has her own apron! This is a short apron (perfect for shorties) with a beautiful chilli print and huge pockets at the bottom.

12. Tapas bowls – this picture really doesn’t do these justice, three gorgeous little bowls which are crying out for a dollop of hummus and some dolmades…

13. Mr Vikki’s Chilli Jam – chillies? Jam? Sold. Apparently this is also great in stir frys so we look forward to trying that out. Made locally to Fats’ parents in Carlisle!

14. Mary Berry Recipe for Life – another birthday present for Bird. Mary Berry is an absolute star, this will definitely be an interesting read and it might have some recipes in there too!

15. Niki Segnet Flavour Thesaurus – another one from our gift guide here, we’ve only had a brief flick through so far but it looks fantastic, perfect for us as there aren’t that many recipes, just hundreds of brilliant flavour combinations which are sure to provide inspiration for more recipes of our own invention.

16. and 17. Cordon Bleu Cookery Book and Mrs Beeton’s Everyday Cookery – these weren’t Christmas gifts but were kindly given to us by Fats’ grandparents, look out for some vintage cooking on the blog!

18. Rachel Khoo Little Paris Kitchen – Bird loves Rachel Khoo, her life in Paris seems like a dream, so we can’t wait to try out lots of these updated French classics.

19. Bordeaux Quay pastry course – this wonderful gift was a present from Fats to Bird for her birthday, in 2 weeks we are off to Bordeaux Quay (one of the best restaurants in Bristol in our opinion) which runs lots of different cookery courses. We’re learning to make several different pastries, both savoury and sweet, we can’t wait! Pastry is something we’ve only really dipped our toes in (not literally…) so hopefully this will help us gain some confidence and insider knowledge.

Before Christmas, we celebrated Bristmas – Bristol Christmas! Bird’s parents dropped off a little hamper and we had another few presents to unwrap before we made our way up north. Bristmas is a tradition we definitely want to continue!

FoodieGiftsNumbered_2

1. and 2.  75 Simple Middle Eastern Recipes and 101 Global Dishes – presents from Bird’s friend who knows her very well! We always loved Middle Eastern flavours but fell even more in love after our holiday to Marrakech so we’re looking forward to trying out lots of these recipes which won’t require a trip back to Morocco to source the ingredients! The 101 Global Dishes looks like it’s full of inspiration too and as it’s produced by BBC/Olive we’re sure they will be foolproof.

3. Moroccan Spiced Chutney – we’ve obviously been banging on about Marrakech a lot! This will probably be lovely with salads, cheese and meats but hopefully we can find some different inspiration in our Middle Eastern recipe book too.

4. Pomegranate Molasses – another Middle Eastern staple, we can’t wait for the weather to improve so we can start having more salads that we can dress with this.

5. White Truffle Oil – a little bottle of indulgence, it suggests using on risotto, pasta and eggs and that is exactly what we intend to do!

6. Lindt Lindor – ’nuff said really. These are a favourite and probably won’t hang around for long!

7. Heston Chocolate Box – sadly we weren’t Golden Ticket winners but we are still the proud owners of a delicious box of typically inventive chocolates with flavours such as Thyme & Rosemary and Earl Grey.

8. Pepper Mill – our current pepper grinder is completely useless and we’re pepper fiends so Bird’s parents got us a replacement, we can season away to our hearts content without swearing at the pepper mill!

9. Confit Duck – gorgeous French confit duck with Toulouse sausages, we’ll save this for when we’re feeling lazy and in need of a treat.

10. Balsamic Vinegar – a timely gift as our last bottle just has a few drops left in it, Belazu is a fantastic brand too so we’re sure this will be delicious.

11. Fats & Bird Merlot! – you may have seen this on our Instagram but it’s our very own wine!!! Well… nearly. It’s a merlot made by Fat Bird which Bird’s dad painstakingly drew an “&” and an “s” onto! It had us fooled for a good few minutes and once we’ve drunk it we’ll definitely be saving the bottle.

12. Steamer – a new steamer to replace our old one which lost it’s lid in the depths of Bird’s student houses, this one is a considerable step up anyway with deep steamer inserts and a base and lid which can be put into the oven up to 180°C.

That’s our haul, we are so lucky to have such generous friends and family and we are looking forward to sharing these with you in more depth throughout 2014!

Last Minute Christmas Gift Guide

We didn’t write this post too early as we didn’t want to make things too easy for our families, but here is a round-up of gifts which we think would make a fellow foodie very happy! Some of the items we’ve linked to are out of stock now on the websites but there’s still plenty of time to nip to the shops to pick up a last-minute present. This post is intended to inspire, and we hope it helps bring some joy to a foodie you love. They range from stocking fillers to big gifts and hopefully there’s a little something in here for everyone.

Gift Collage

Under £10:

Spices – these are the perfect stocking filler, you can pick a couple up for about a fiver and they will make perfect little presents for a foodie to unwrap. We got some saffron last year which we’ve been having fun playing with – you can go for your favourite ingredient (like our current chipotle chilli obsession) or buy something that they wouldn’t treat themselves to! Rose petals would make an ideal gift for a keen baker or anyone who loves Middle Eastern/North African flavours, Chipotle chillis would be perfect for all of the heat lovers out there (Waitrose has a fantastic range of dried chilli varieties if you’re after something hard to come by!) and saffron always feels special. This brand of harissa is gorgeous, the rose really comes through but isn’t overpowering and it has a brilliantly balanced heat.

Cute apron – go for a classic navy and white (and look like our very own Fats!), a shabby chic style for a girly girl or an Edward Monkton for all round brilliance.

Nice bottle of wine – you can’t really go wrong with this, as long as you know they like wine! We can’t think of any wine drinker who wouldn’t like to receive a nice bottle. You don’t have to spend a fortune, there are plenty of lovely wines out there for under a tenner.

£10-£30:

Cute measuring cup set – any other Brits out there get thoroughly baffled by American recipes in cups? Be baffled no longer with a set of measuring cups, these ones are particularly cute or check out Anthropologie if you want to spend a bit more.

Cookbook – we are going to be putting together a little post on our favourite cookbooks that we own so we won’t blather on too much but they make a great gift that will be treasured for years (you know it’s a good’un when you turn the pages and they’re splattered with sauce and cake batter!). We don’t own either of these and have our beady little eyes on them.

Coffee/tea set/accessories – how about putting together your own hamper, we especially love Twinings, Pukka, Clipper and Illy, all of which can be picked up in supermarkets/local deli’s.

Cheeseboard with knives – know a cheese fiend? (Everyone should!). A beautiful cheeseboard with a set of knives would make a great gift. Go classic with a wooden set or grab a slate for the more modern of your loved ones! We’ve seen these sets in loads of supermarkets, hopefully there are still a few up for grabs.

Fancy olive oil/vinegar/dips – these make a great gift for any foodie, especially one with a love of Mediterranean food. Fats’ brother got us a lovely set of sauces/dips last year which we’re still using now! These ones are sadly sold out but hopefully it will spark some ideas.

Baking stone – we’re pretty desperate for one of these, having got into our bread baking in a fairly big way. This Jamie Oliver one would be a great gift but if you’ve got a bit more cash to splash check out this beauty from Anthropologie.

Over £30:

Coffee/tea club subscription – we know that Whittard do one but check out your local coffee/tea specialists as there are lots of small companies that are starting to provide this service and what could be nicer than a package of joy-in-a-mug being dropped through your door every month?

Bottle of whisky/fave drink – a bit of a predictable one but very appreciated nonetheless! Or if the person you’re buying for has a favourite drink maybe give them an expensive brand to try? Or how about a fancy liqueur for the budding cocktail artist that they would never normally treat themselves to? Bird has her eye on some sloe gin this year, although it probably wouldn’t compete with the stuff her grandparents used to make!

 Cookery course – this could be a brilliant present, and there is course out there to suit any type of foodie! Artisan bread making, wild food foraging, butchery, cocktail making, tea blending… the choice is endless!

Restaurant vouchers – Bird’s parents got us vouchers for The Olive Shed last Christmas and we finally got round to going in November. It was brilliant! There is something so indulgent about going out for a fab meal without having to worry about picking up the bill at the end! Choose your favourite restaurant for someone to try or just have a search for restaurants in their area that you think they would love.

Le Creuset – pretty much anything by Le Creuset will make you the best gift-giver this Christmas. You could go small – Bird is in love with their espresso mugs, go for some of the beautiful ombre colours in Rose and Coastal Blue for a girly vibe or stick to strong, traditional colour such as Volcanic, Satin Black and Teal for a cooler, more modern feel. For those wanting to splash out then you can’t go wrong with a classic casserole dish, a brilliantly heavy griddle pan or some roasting dishes. Just in case anyone is thinking of treating us with Le Creuset ever, all of our current gear is in Volcanic so we’d love it in that colour *nudge nudge*.

Gorgeous knives – we have completely fallen in love with these knives, the bands of copper are not only beautiful but you know this would cut like a dream. For those on more of a budget we have some James Martin knives which have served us extremely well. And for sharpening you can’t do better than a whetstone or an oilstone, we have one which was found in Bird’s garden shed (really!) but they’re available online from loads of places and nothing will sharpen your knives better.

Hamper of luxury ingredients – there are so many of these about but this one tops our lust list this year!

Hopefully that’s given you a few ideas for any last minute panics and if we’re too late for you then we’re sorry, hopefully we can get our act together better next year!

Jeans for Genes

Jeans for Genes

Another Bird takeover here to share a charity with you that is incredibly close to my heart. Jeans for Genes do incredible work which helps support those affected by genetic diseases and their families. Although each genetic disease is rare, together they affect 1 in 25 children born in the UK and together with their complications, are the biggest killer of under 14’s in the country. Jeans for Genes supports smaller, local charities who do wonderful things from providing support, education, care and much more, without which many affected families would have a much poorer quality of life. If you are able please wear your jeans with pride on September 20th and donate as much as you can to Jeans for Genes – even better if you can organise an event in your work or school, it’s a perfect excuse to get your jeans on and maybe even bake a little something?

This charity is particularly special to me because I have a genetic disease. I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type III, commonly shortened to EDS or HMS (hypermobility syndrome). This is a genetic syndrome which affects collagen (the most abundant protein in the body). I was diagnosed two years ago when I was 21, after a lifetime of health problems, all of which doctors struggled to diagnose. The diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos tied all of my symptoms together, and finally made sense. So for me, being diagnosed wasn’t a sad occasion. It was nice to finally put a name to what was wrong and learn how to deal with it. Ehlers-Danlos has no cure – I am lucky because I have a mild form of it, but it’s severe forms can involve organs and blood vessels and can dramatically shorten your lifespan. The symptoms vary wildly and in childhood, for my form, can be as simple as easily broken bones, easy bruising, joint pain, clumsiness – many things which are either seen as normal and brushed off, or, devastatingly for the families involved, can be picked up as child abuse.

I refuse to let my diagnosis define me or my life. Yes, some mornings are difficult – one of my knees may be partially dislocated meaning I can’t walk. Sometimes when I get home in the evenings after a particularly tough day I am so tired and in so much pain Fats has to help me to bed. But day to day, I live a normal life. I limit my painkillers, I work full time, I go to the gym, I go for long walks and (as you may have guessed by now!) I love to cook. This may change as I get older, osteoarthritis is almost certain, and many people with my condition use a wheelchair either part time or permanently but I am doing what I can to put this off. I am having regular physio and doing pilates and similar exercises to build strength in my core muscles so that they are able to do the job that my wobbly ligaments can’t, I eat healthily to keep illness at bay and to help my energy levels.

Not all children born with a genetic disease are as lucky as me to be able to live a “normal” life though – for many they will struggle with movement, communication and may have to have regular medical interventions which are a huge strain on them and their families. By donating whatever you can to Jeans for Genes you could help make a child’s difficult life a bit easier.

You can follow Jeans for Genes on Twitter here, find them on Facebook here or check out their blog here – get the word out there!

Strawberry Weekends Forever…

We’ve been trying to make the most of the summer sun, while it lasts – we love autumn (the colours, the food…) but we’re not in a rush to see the back of the warm weather. What better way to enjoy the sun that a leisurely walk surrounded by some great scenery? Somerset (the land of cider, ooh arrr…) is a great place for it, and we found a great one this weekend.

South Bristol is a wonderful place to live – we can hop on a train at Parson Street or Bedminster station and in 5 minutes we’ll be in the middle of the countryside. It’s a really underrated part of Bristol, but don’t tell anyone – it’s quite nice to keep it quiet for a little while! Yatton station is a 15 minute train ride, and that’s where our walk started.

The start of the Strawberry Line
The start of the Strawberry Line

We followed the Strawberry Line for about an hour before lunch. The walk is as scenic as the quaint name – apparently given for the excellent strawberries of the south Mendips – would suggest. The path is extremely popular with cyclists (Fats loves cycling, Bird not so much – long story…) and they were out in force this weekend.

The walk we had found on the internet had suggested that we loop back round when we reached Congresbury and head back to the train station, but after sitting down for some sarnies (British for sandwiches – home-made white bread with local Somerset cheddar cheese and onion chutney) we decided to go on a bit of an adventure.

The church at Congresbury. The only way this could get more Somerset is with a barrel of cider and Phil Harding.
The church at Congresbury. The only way this could get more Somerset is with a barrel of cider and Phil Harding.

So we got our OS map out and plotted a walk that would take us through Ball Wood and up Cadbury Hill. This is an ancient late Bronze-age hill fort – about 3000 years old – though the last time it was occupied was during the Dark Ages. We fell in love with some of the houses on the way down, but thought it would be a bit cheeky of us to start snapping pictures! You can see the route we took below, so check it out for yourself if you’re ever in the area.

Walk map
The route

After wandering back through Yatton towards the station, we arrived on the platform just in time to see our train pull up – pretty fortunate since they only go once every hour!

PhotoGrid_1377967968897After all the walking, we thoroughly deserved a hearty meal, so we threw together a really easy curry, using half a jar of Patak’s Rogan Josh curry paste, along with a couple of sweet potatoes, some frozen spinach, peas and cashew nuts. Divine! Check it out on instagram.

After last year’s wash-out summer in the UK the recent sun has been most welcome, long may it last!

On Holiday at Home

This weekend we had Fats’ brother and his girlfriend staying with us so had loads of plans for a packed weekend. Unfortunately Bird then got ill, and then gave it to Fats so we were feeling a bit under the weather! So this is what we did on our pared down bank holiday weekend:

Friday
We mainly spent the afternoon catching up because we hadn’t seen them since we went to Marrakech in March, and they live in Edinburgh so not exactly handy for a cuppa, and before we knew it it was time to make some pizza! If you’re wanting to share some homemade pizza with friends you can find our recipe here. After a bottle of wine and a few beers we decided to call it a night so we were full of energy for Saturday.

Saturday
After an amazing breakfast of homemade bread, scrambled eggs, fried mushrooms and fried bacon with cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and basil we headed up to Clifton to truly do the tourist thing.

Saturday breakfastWe walked up past the floating harbour, college green and park street so as to take in lots of the main Bristol sights, before wandering the leafy streets of Clifton marvelling at the massive houses and cute little boutiques.

The steam train at the harbourside
The steam train at the harbourside

Then we got onto the main event – Brunel’s Suspension Bridge. Even though we’ve been here dozens of times it never fails to take your breath away.

Suspension Bridge

We walked over it and took a few snaps and then decided to go and warm up with some chocolatey goodness! Bar Chocolat is the only place to go to in Clifton if you’re in the mood for chocolate (when are you not?!), they offer amazing real hot chocolate where you can choose your chocolate (white, house blend or dark) and then add flavourings such as cayenne pepper, orange oil, malt extract or flavoured syrups and then add toppings such as marshmallows. Bird opted out of hot chocolate as the cakes were calling! The hot chocolates had were house blend with hazelnut syrup, house blend with orange oil and dark chocolate with orange oil. We’re both massive fans of chocolate with orange, and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. There is a jaw-dropping selection of amazing looking cakes on offer, Bird plumped for a dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate, orange and almond truffle cake to go with a lemon & ginger tea. The cake was perfect, moist but with a nice crumb, with a perfect balance of flavours.

Feeling suitably tubby and satisfied we meandered back towards the house stopping off in M Shed on the way. M Shed is a fairly new museum to Bristol, it opened just over two years ago and tells the story of Bristol through the ages, often through the voices of the people. It’s a really engaging place to visit, plenty of interactive displays – great for all ages!

Amazing second hand/antiques shop in Clifton
Amazing second hand/antiques shop in Clifton
Clifton Arcade
Clifton Arcade
The "National Treasure" Gromit in M Shed
The “National Treasure” Gromit in M Shed

We went to see The Boy Who Cried Wolf at Bristol’s Old Vic Theatre and it was really fantastic – this week is the last week of it being on, if you’re in the Bristol area we urge you to go along! Two years ago we saw Treasure Island at the Old Vic, this was an outdoor production because the theatre was being renovated and it was outstanding, the set was so innovate, the cast was so talented so when we heard that they were doing another outdoor production we had to go along. As the name suggests this is a collection of Aesop’s Fables adapted for the stage by award winning author Michael Morpurgo. They were performed by an incredibly talented cast of just 5 people who sung their way through the fables. Although it is aimed at children, it is hilarious for adults too, we left feeling extremely happy and uplifted.

By this point it was just after half past 8 and we were getting hungry! We went to our first choice, No 1. Harbourside which we’ve had lunch at a few times and always delivers simple, wonderful local food for amazing value. At No 1. you get a free bowl of soup with every main meal – on Saturday this was carrot and coriander. It had a gorgeous spicy kick and was just the right amount, the perfect starter. Then onto the main courses – our guests both went for the burger which was huge and came with a generous portion of well seasoned french fries.

Fats chose hanger steak which came with mustard, rocket and roasted vine tomatoes while Bird chose pork belly (with crackling to die for!) which was served with roasted chicory and fennel and broad beans all in a rich gravy. Sorry there are no photos of any of these, we were so hungry by this point we just dived straight in!

Sunday
This was a little more like a normal Sunday as our guests were visiting some friends of theirs who live close to us so Bird went to ballet while Fats went for a bike ride to Bath. Back at the house, freshly showered, we put together a lovely lunch of leftover Serrano ham and goats cheese left over from the pizza making, served with leftover homemade bread, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and a salad made from 3 tiny courgettes Bird picked up at the market sliced into ribbons with a potato peeler dressed with fresh chilli, lemon juice, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

Courgette salad

Lunch leftovers

Feeling suitably smug after exercise and a healthy lunch we cracked on with making some brownies! We will do a separate post on these but suffice to say we were inspired by Bar Chocolat’s chocolate, almond and orange cake and decided to go one step further and add raspberries! Those of you who follow us on Instagram will have seen a teaser.

It seemed a crime not to tuck into these so we spent Sunday evening, when our guests came back, snuggled up watching Shaun of the Dead, drinking tea and eating freshly baked brownies!

Monday
The last day of the weekend and it really came through for us – the sun shone! Sun + bank holiday never normally happens in the UK so we decided to make the most of it. We sent the boys off for picnic supplies and then headed to the park with ham and tomato sandwiches, cheese and caramelised onion relish sandwiches, root vegetable crisps, fresh anchovies in a lemon and herb dressing and fresh strawberries. After a laze in the sun we headed to our new favourite place The Stable to try their cider tasting board. You get a third of a pint of 5 different ciders/perrys to try for £7.50 – we got 2 boards between the four of us so that no flights back to Edinburgh were missed! About an hour and a half later we headed home, distinctly merry and still arguing about whether number 4 or 2 was best…. or was it 5?

Cider board
We had a fantastic weekend with some amazing friends, some fabulous food – we think it’s the sign of a brilliant time when you have such a great time even when you’re feeling ill! Thanks Bristol for another gurt lush weekend!

Making Sundays Special

Sunday… that day where you wake up, watch some tv with your cuppa, glance outside to see that it’s a bit grey, make another cuppa and then somehow it’s 7pm and you don’t know what you’ve spent the day doing. No longer. We have been determined lately to make our Sundays count and it seems Bristol agrees with us! Our little routine is that while Bird goes to ballet, Fats goes for a bike ride, we reconvene at the homestead at around 12 where some tasty treats are usually waiting (having been hunted down in the local market by a hungry Bird) and then find something to do for the afternoon.

An Instagram! Abbot's Pool in Bristol.  Good for fishing, apparently.
An Instagram! Abbot’s Pool in Bristol. Good for fishing, apparently.

Today was Bristol’s second ever Make Sundays Special day so it was kind of a no-brainer! This is a new scheme where one Sunday a month some of the main roads in the city centre are pedestrianised and filled with all manner of weird and wonderful things – games for children, sofas to chill out on, street performers, bands, street food – there is never a dull moment! We missed the first one so decided we absolutely had to make it to this one and it didn’t disappoint.

We started off by doing a quick circuit of Baldwin St and Corn St to scope out the prime food choice and settled on paella which was beautiful – perfectly cooked saffron coloured rice with chicken, chorizo and mixed seafood. We then took a wander through St Nicholas’ Market which is an indoor market in the heart of Bristol, open every day it sells incredible food as well as records, fabric, clothing, books and a myriad of other items, it’s well worth checking out if you’re ever visiting!

PhotoGrid_1376857722955

After watching some street performers we nipped into town to pick up a few books, 3 new fiction books (one for Fats, one for Bird and one to share) as well as a really exciting new cook book “Around The World In 120 Recipes” by Allegra McEvedy. We spent the afternoon flicking through this on our sofa and it looks incredible, plenty of simple recipes, fantastic flavours and a chance to introduce ourselves to some exciting new cuisines – we can’t wait to share our attempts with you.

New book!  Absolutely can't wait to try some of these recipes out, they look stunning.
New book! Absolutely can’t wait to try some of these recipes out, they look stunning.

Then, both pretty exhausted after our morning exercise and a wander into and around town, we picked up a couple of treats to sustain us for the walk home – Fats went for an iced hazelnut coffee and Bird chose a strawberry and balsamic sorbet which was delicious. Fats spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden, full post to come (first gardening post!) but here’s a sneak peak.

_MG_2452

We plan to make every Sunday special, fun- and food-filled, and we’re so glad that Bristol is doing so along with us – no doubt where we’re going to be on the 29th September!