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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!

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Lunch at the Thali Café, Southville

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll probably have gathered by now that we absolutely love cooking – we were trying to figure it out, and we reckon we spend more time awake in the kitchen/dining room than anywhere else in our house! Sometimes though, you just have to get out and treat yourself – of course as a food blogger, you can treat this as “research”!

That’s why last week we toddled off to North Street, a short walk from where we live in Bristol, in search of some good lunchtime grub. We knew we wouldn’t be disappointed, as there are tons of great places to choose from. We learned recently that Bedminster was one of the poorest areas in the country only 20 years ago, but you would never be able to tell from the thriving community that has sprung up in the area, with North Street being a focal point of the regeneration – it’s packed with independent cafés, restaurants and shops, and barely a month goes by without a new place opening up.

We settled on the Southville branch of the Thali Café, a Bristol restaurant chain with a focus on Indian street food-style dishes. The chain started out as a van at a festival, serving one dish, but they soon expanded into their first permanent residence in Montpelier (that’s Bristol, not France… never figured out why there’s an area of Bristol called Montpelier… ). The Southville branch opened last year and we’ve already been a bunch of times, it’s a favourite whenever we have guests staying in Bristol as it’s sure to please. Their Thali is definitely one of the best meals out we’ve had in Bristol, for its deliciousness and its simplicity, but we were keen to try out their lunch menu.

Window Seat Thali Café

The restaurant was pretty quiet at lunchtime – we had no problem getting a great table for two by the window. The walls are covered in framed pictures from old Indian films and painted their signature pink and turquoise, and there were old radios and other paraphernalia scattered around the place, making for a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

Thali Café Inside

Lunch turned out to be quite the bargain! It was £5 each for a wrap or a special, and there was a glass of chai (Indian black tea spiced with cardamom, cinnamon and cloves) thrown in. After agonising over the menu (everything looked excellent) Fats decided on a Pollock Kolkata Wrap, while Bird went for an Uttapam, from the South Indian Specials menu – a soft rice pancake with fresh herbs, tomato, red onion and grated coconut, and served with sambar and coconut chutney.

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First up, the wrap. This was great – big chunks of succulent fish deep fried in gram flour batter that was crisp and not at all greasy, wrapped in a fresh flatbread. This all came served with coconut chutney, which was light and refreshing.

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The Uttapam was light and fluffy, and stuffed with herbs, tomato and onion. It had a great roasted rice flavour, and was perfect for soaking up the delicious sambar (a vegetable stew made with tamarind, one of Bird’s favourite flavours!). Bird’s mum used to live in India and was very jealous when she learned that we could get fresh Uttapam 10 minutes from our front door! We’ve promised to take her for lunch next time she’s visiting.

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These dishes were pretty much perfect, and exactly what you want from a light lunch – filling and full of energy, but not the kind of meal that will send you to sleep for the afternoon. We still felt we had to try one last thing on the menu though – the Himalayan Pink Salt Lassi was calling out to us! This is an Indian-style smoothie made mostly with fresh yoghurt – ours came topped with cumin too. We were slightly worried that it might have been a bit too salty (neither of us were up for a glass of sea water), but we needn’t have been – the lassi was cool and refreshing.

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We left feeling completely satisfied, and like we had got more than our money’s worth. We’ll definitely be going for lunch again, and dinner too – just as soon as we’ve sampled all the other delights North Street has to offer!

The Thali Café have branches in Southville, Montpelier, Easton, Clifton and Totterdown. You can also get a take away – if you buy a tiffin, they’ll fill it up for you -what a great idea!

Thali Café Sign

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!

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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.

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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!

Our Sweet Weekend

It’s been a busy weekend for us, but most of our activities seemed to involve eating and drinking! We just thought we’d post a few photos of our creations and discoveries.

In a fit of excitement over the return of The Great British Bake Off (10 more sleeps!), we baked some delicious blueberry muffins from a classic Mary Berry recipe.  Bezza never disappoints, and these muffins were a doddle to knock up and absolutely delicious.  Traditionally served for breakfast but perfect any time with a good cup of tea (we made Irish Breakfast – a bit stronger than English Breakfast.  Thanks Ireland!).

More muffins

Blueberry Muffins

Bristol has some amazing green spaces, and it’s great to see some covered in wild flowers – perfect for bees and butterflies!  This photo was taken in Castle Park in central Bristol.

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I went for a bike ride down to Chew Valley reservoir on Sunday morning and when I got back this delicious macaron was waiting for me!  Bird had picked it up after ballet from Crumpet Cakes at the Tobacco Factory Market.  This one was espresso flavoured, we also had lemon and a stunning raspberry and white chocolate.

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Finally it would be a crime to forget about the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.  It’s been on since Thursday and twice a day we have had a multitude of balloons flying over our house.  Here’s a snap of our favourite!

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Hope everyone had a great weekend!

The Stable – Review

We’ve just got time tonight to write our first restaurant review!  (That is if we can see through the cider haze…)

The Stable is a brand new restaurant/bar on the Bristol harbourside.  Their tagline is “Pizza, Pies, and Cider” and though it would be hard to disappoint with such an awesomely simple concept they really deliver.  It is set inside one of the old warehouses by the harbour.  Inside the spacious, high-ceilinged restaurant long tables are arranged with benches, which really helps to create a west country farmhouse atmosphere.

We both grabbed a cider as soon as we got there, as part of the “Tuck-in Tuesday” special offer – a pizza, a cider and a side salad for £10 (bargain! Living up to my “Fats” moniker) – and ordered a Harbourside Herbivore (West Country blue cheese, spinach, potato, roasted red onion, tomato and mozzarella – Fats) and a West Country Porker (Bath Pig Co. chorizo, mozzarella and rocket – Bird).  Both were delicious!  Thin and crispy bases, incredibly tasty toppings.  This place really stands up for itself as a pizza restaurant in a city where it’s not difficult to find amazing pizza.

The West Country Porker
The West Country Porker

Of course it would be sacrilege to visit without trying the cider, even on a work night…  Between us we tried quite a selection (although we didn’t quite feel up to sampling all 30+ varieties).  Our favourite was Devon Red – tangy and sweet, perfectly refreshing.  We can’t wait to try the rest of them, although we might have to spread it out a bit between visits.

Pizza and Cider - inspired combination!
Pizza and Cider – inspired combination!

The Stable comes highly recommended, make sure you get there soon!

The Curious Incident of the Giant Magical Teapot

This weekend it was the Harbour Festival in Bristol which is always worth attending if you’re in the area. It’s a riot of sound, colour, smells and people absolutely everywhere! Spread across several key sites alongside the water in the city there is live music, dance performances, street performers, local producers selling their wares, amazing freshly cooked food, local beer and cider tents… sounds pretty good right?

Snapshots of the day
That’s two more Gromits ticked off!

We headed down at about midday on Sunday and were both starving so we got stuck into some burgers fairly quickly, I went for a classic local beef burger and Fats chose a venison burger. They were delicious but gone in no time so after a quick wander we picked up a fresh strawberry and cream tart to share.

Oooh you tart!
Oooh you tart!

One thing I was very excited to see was the giant Clipper tea Magical Teapot and it did not disappoint! There were girls in cute teaspoon embroidered dresses handing out free tea samples of their Big Bright tea and a wheel where you could spin for a chance to win a Clipper mug and guess what?

This image in no way captures how bonkers the display was... there was green smoke and everything
This image in no way captures how bonkers the display was… there was green smoke and everything
Mugshot
Mugshot

We tried the Big Bright tea that night and it was delicious, it’s perfect for summer when we don’t fancy black tea as much because it is light but still with great depth of flavour. We’re already big fans of Clipper (their tea and their ethics) so will definitely be purchasing this when the samples run out.

Flushed with victory we wandered round to the Cascade Steps and spied a new restaurant, The Stable, which we are now desperate to try – it’s right on the harbourside and serves pizza, pies and cider which sounds absolutely perfect for a summer evening. Apparently they have over 60 different types of cider available! Look out for a review coming up very soon I hope. Having just been on their under-construction website it turns out they have an all you can eat toast bar from 8-11 which might just be the most genius idea we’ve ever heard.

Bristol has to be one of the best cities to live in during the summer, we both came here initially as students and we never realised what we were missing during the break – there is a festival of some kind on almost every weekend, but the Harbour Festival is one of the biggest and best. Can’t wait until next year!

Fats and Bird feeling reflective..... geddit?
Fats and Bird feeling reflective….. geddit?