The food festival fail

Here a food festival, there a food festival

These days it’s not hard to find a food festival on pretty much every weekend. If you google food festivals, there are more results than you can poke a stick at, and if you look on Twitter, you’ll find just as many.

As a lover of food, I think it’s great! Many of these small food festivals are about showcasing local producers and chefs, and often there are a few celebrities thrown into the mix – usually, they’re the ones passionate about eating local and pushing the seasonal food philosophy, and they very well should be!

However, I have a problem.

Some of these events just seem like excuses for making a bit of cash for the organiser/s.

There are about 10 stalls selling fudge, 5 selling beer, another 10 selling liqueurs or gins, and another 5 selling jam. The rest of the stalls are people selling handcrafted furniture or jewellery.

And that’s fine. For a market.

Not an event claiming to be a food festival.

The Great British Food Festival

Today, I went to the Great British Food Festival at Bowood House in Wiltshire. The premise seemed fine – some demonstrations from local chefs, plenty of food to eat, loads of independent food producers, a few things for the kids.

When we arrived at 11:30am, we wondered why so many people were already leaving, considering the event had only opened at 10am. To be honest, the only reason we stuck around was to see a chef I like do a demonstration at 2pm.

We walked into the shopping tent to find the handmade jewellery, soaps and pyramid schemes. That was two minutes of my time I’ll never get back.

Then we checked out the two artisan tents. As I mentioned, it was essentially mostly liqueurs, gins, beers and fudge, and many of the traders are ones I’ve seen at events far from Wiltshire. There was even a stall selling Turkish delight that I’d seen in London a few weeks ago (not locally made is what I’m getting at). Pretty uninspiring to be honest.

Mostly people are walking around trying things they have no intention of buying (and look, we’re all guilty of it), but this is people’s livelihoods.

What I was expecting: local makers of breads, cheeses, and oils. A range of cakes and pastries. Locally farmed produce. Meat sourced from British farmers.

After that, we wandered the food stalls for some lunch and, again, it wasn’t very exciting. If I was going to an event called the ‘Great British Food Festival’, I’d be expecting some amazing options from the local area. While I can’t claim each stall wasn’t offering that, there were definitely some stalls who weren’t – in fact, one was offering “100% greek meat”. Let me remind you that we were at the Great BRITISH Food Festival.

What I wanted: people to be proud of their British or local produce. Doesn’t ‘our chicken comes from 2 miles up the road and we want to share it with you’, sound more exciting?

We sat under a tree for the next hour because the event organisers were woefully unprepared for the sun, which was intense, to say the least. More importantly, I wondered what would have happened if it was raining (because let’s be honest, that would have been more likely!).

The entertainment was OK, I guess. Small producers talked about their wares at one tent; at another two there were kids activities; at another, there was the ‘man versus food’ eating events and the bake off – don’t get me started on that! There was also some music, but that’s not why I’m here.

In short, I felt like I’d wasted my day. If I wasn’t hanging out with a friend and waiting for a demonstration (which was the only good bit by the way!), I’d have been there for just 30 minutes.

I get that I’m probably not the target market. But who actually is? Because you could find the stalls at a market and not have to pay an entry fee, and the cooking demonstrations were very short and there weren’t many of them.

Even when you go to the Great British Food Festival website, you can’t find any information about the people who run the event. Where’s the ‘I’m passionate about local food’, ‘I wanted to support local producers’? It’s a lifeless event that could be so much better.

I’d honestly love to chat to some of the traders who go to these events. I hope for their sake they do get something out of attending them.

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Review: Tapas Revolution, Bath

I was recently invited to review one of the newest editions to the Bath food scene, Tapas Revolution – brainchild of Spanish TV chef, Omar Allibhoy. He’s been dubbed the ‘Antonio Banderas of cooking’, so it was hard for me to say no to the offer.

I’m always a bit dubious when it comes to chain restaurants because it often seems that decor and marketing are top notch at the expense of the food, which is often flavourless and boring. Thankfully, Tapas Revolution is not one of those and I was very pleasantly surprised with the whole package.

Tapas Revolution, Bath

The restaurant

Located in Southgate opposite the Bath Spa train station, it has a really great position to greet passers-by and draw them in for a drink and a few bites. The decor is light and welcoming, with a few Spanish touches here and there. You’re eating in a modern restaurant with cultural roots that go back a very long time.

We were seated in a quiet corner booth so we had time to mull over our food choices. It was also a good spot to view the rest of the restaurant from (who doesn’t like to people watch!).

Drinks

We were offered water and then the waitress let us know that it was happy hour so quite a few drinks were two for one. I thought the drinks list was quite good, without being overwhelming.  A good range of wines, cocktails and non-alocholic options options are available, including some Spanish gins, which we decided to try. The Galician Nordes came out in a large glass with plenty of ice and a Mediterranean tonic – I learnt something new because I didn’t know there was more than one kind of tonic!

The food

After asking the waitress for her recommendation, we picked options from almost every part of the tapas menu. I tried to pick a few I’d had before as benchmark and some I’d never had to really see what was on offer. We tried:

  • Pan de la casa – toasted bread, tomato topped with garlic sauce and serrano ham
  • Croquetas de jamon – deep-friend Iberico ham and bechamel croquettes
  • Altas de pollo a la miel y limon – marinated crispy chicken wings with lemon and honey dressing
  • Albondigas en salsa de tomate – beef meatballs in a vegetable, tomato and white wine sauce
  • Chorizo a la parrilla – bread with grilled smoked sausage, piquillo pepper and cider reduction
  • Torreznos con mojo dulce – crispy pork belly with sweet and spicy sauce
  • Calamares fritos a la andaluza – squid strips tossed in flour, deep fried and served with alioli and lemon
  • Berenjenas fritas con miel – crispy fried aubergine with a spiced honey and thyme dressing
  • Patatas bravas – roasted potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and alioli

I’m pretty terrible with numbers and didn’t intentionally order so many dishes, but everything that came to the table was so different and really gave us a good idea of how good the rest of the menu is.

The standout dishes for me were the Chorizo a la parrilla and Berenjenas fritas con miel. The flavourful, only slightly spicy Chorizo was served on fresh bread that was fluffy in the middle and crispy on the outside and a lovely sweet cider reduction, which worked so well with the spice of the dish. The aubergine, was, as promised, crispy, sweet and a little spicy – having never tried crumbed aubergine, it was a really nice mix of textures and I couldn’t get enough of the honey. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the crispy pork belly because there was so much cinnamon in the sauce and even though I like cinnamon it was a bit much for me – in saying that, this is me looking for problems!

My dining companion, despite not being a huge seafood fan, really loved the calamari and was singing its praises on the way home later.

Tapas Revolution, Bath

Tapas Revolution, Bath

Tapas Revolution, Bath

Tapas Revolution, Bath

The best comparison I have for Spanish restaurants are the ones I’ve been to in Australia and they tend to be expensive and the portion sizes small. So, it was with great surprise that we received huge amounts of food and couldn’t finish it all. I also thought the prices were very reasonable, even more so when you get delicious, good quality food.

Overall, I really enjoyed my evening at Tapas Revolution and I’m looking for excuses to go back to Bath so I can have dinner there again.

The details
Tapas Revolution, Bath
Mon-Fri: 10am – 11pm  | Sat: 9am – 11pm | Sun: 10am – 10pm
20a St Lawrence Street, Southgate Bath, Bath BA1 1AN
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Bristol’s Backwell House

One of the reasons I love living in Bristol is the number of stunning food options and importantly, so many restaurants and chefs using fresh, local produce. I love that people are so passionate about what is produced in the region – from cider to pork.

This is most definitely the case at Backwell House, a gorgeous, recently established boutique hotel in the North Somerset countryside near Bristol.  They have just launched a 40-cover restaurant where Chef Ross Hunter has developed a menu that focuses on local produce. So local, in fact, you’ll find that quite a few of his ingredients come from the Backwell Estate itself!

Backwell House

When I asked Chef Ross (who has worked closely with everyone’s favourite chef, Josh Eggleton) what he was aiming to achieve with his menu, he shared that it was about showcasing the produce. For him, choosing three to four stunning local ingredients and really making them shine is the most important thing to him. That’s my kind of philosophy. It’s all well and good spending hours creating foams and gels, but if you lose the fresh ingredients then you’re really just missing out.

The menu is very well priced at two courses for £29 and three courses for £35. It also changes regularly depending on what ingredients are available and in season.  Not only will you get to eat gorgeous food, you’re doing so in the beautiful countryside in a Georgian house (that’s the history lover in me talking!).

Pressed Backwell pork, new season peas, pancetta & tarragon emulsion was first off the ranks. Well-seasoned pork, gorgeous free peas and perfect crackling made for a brilliant starter. My esteemed dining neighbor, Alex (aka Gingey Bites) chose the Brixham crab, beetroot, apple, Nori seaweed, which not only looked stunning but was very tasty too.

Backwell House
Pressed Backwell pork, new season peas, pancetta & tarragon emulsion + potato gnocchi, wild garlic, calcot onion, hazelnuts

For mains, I didn’t want double portions of meat, so I chose the potato gnocchi, wild garlic, calcot onion, hazelnuts for something a bit lighter. Sadly it was underseasoned and the texture was not as light as I’d hoped. The onion was also too crunchy and undercooked for my taste. However, everyone else at the table sang the praises of the Cornish cod, Brixham crab bonbon, crab bisque, kohlrabi, pak choi and the 60 day Hereford sirloin, ox cheek, alliums, king oyster mushroom, beef jus. Alex said the sirloin was as soft as butter and very moreish.

Next, I had the strawberry cannelloni, meringue, Cheddar Valley strawberries – a little play on eton mess. I loved the mix of textures and the use of strawberries. Definitely something I’d eat again.

To finish off, we were offered some housemade petite fours, including raspberry and beetroot marshmallows, apple jellies and orange shortbread. I adored the marshmallows and was pleasantly surprised at how well the flavours worked.

Dessert
Strawberry cannelloni, meringue, Cheddar Valley strawberries + raspberry and beetroot marshmallows, apple jellies and orange shortbread

I enjoyed my meal and the setting in which I got to eat it. Chef Ross has put together an excellent menu and knows how to make the most of the ingredients he has sourced. I can highly recommend a lovely drive into the Somerset countryside to Backwell House for lunch or dinner.

About the hotel

I couldn’t not put something in about the hotel itself because I really enjoyed spending time there. On the outside, Backwell House is everything you’d expect of a Georgian House – well-manicured grounds and stunning views. But inside is a different story. The General Manager and his family have given the house a revamp with their own quirky (often handmade) touches. Like a suitcase sink and handmade bedhead – it’s kind of fun to look for the little things that make Backwell House so beautiful.

The common areas are comfortable and there’s plenty of space to relax with a drink from the handmade bar. The rooms are luxurious and I’m jealous of anyone lucky enough to stay there.

The details:
Menus start at £29 for 2 courses and rooms from £95 to £245 per night B&B
Email: enquiries@backwellhouse.co.uk
Phone: 0117 325 110
Web: backwellhouse.co.uk
Backwell House, Farleigh Road, Bristol BS48 3QA

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Be there or be square: Bristol’s Square Kitchen

Before we got to Bristol, we had booked an AirBnB in Berkeley Square (pronounced Bark-ley for my Australian audience). I had no idea what the area would be like and just hoped for the best. Luckily, it’s lovely little square in Clifton, a beautiful part of Bristol. On arrival, one of the first things I noticed were the restaurants in close proximity. Particularly, the aptly named Square Kitchen, part of the The Square Club.

When old meets new

Berkeley Square was laid out and built in the late 1700s, so it’s made up of beautiful Georgian buildings (which I love). However, when you walk into the Square Club it’s a very different feel, and in fact a pleasant contrast from the outside. Modern art adorns the exposed brick walls, and the furnishings are a mix of old meets new. You don’t feel like you’ve walked into a stuffy fine dining restaurant, but you still know you’re going to get some excellent food.

We began our evening with a cocktail in the underground bar. The Square Kitchen’s extensive drinks menu won’t leave you without choice and it took me a while to decide on what to get. In the end I chose a Caribbean Cosmo at £7.50. It was a sweet tipple, that really made you feel like you were at the beach.

Classic fare

We were then taken upstairs to the dining room where we were treated to a little amuse bouche of ham hock terrine with piccalilli. It’s one of those dishes I usually associate with old-fashioned food, but it was surprisingly light to eat (not just because of the portion size) and the piccalilli picked it up and stopped it from being just a boring piece of ham.


Head Chef Kyle Jordaan aims for a menu that focuses on seasonal ingredients and for good reason: when fruit and vegetables are in season, they taste better, and he makes the most of that.

My first course was deep-fried goats cheese, pickled beetroot carpaccio, garden peas and cider reduction at £6.50. For the price it was excellent. Personally, I get a bit confused when a menu says ‘carpaccio’ if there is no meat involved as carpaccio is thinly sliced raw meat with a vinaigrette, but I just went with it because I really like goats cheese.  It was a surprisingly rich dish – too much gorgeous creamy goats cheese is actually not as easy to eat as it sounds!  In fact, I’d perhaps recommend sharing it with someone because of the richness. Based on what my fellow diners ordered, I think the options are varied enough to have something different and go halves.

For the main, I chose my usual – pork belly. It was served with crispy squid, globe artichoke, white polenta, crispy capers, aioli and gremolata for £15.50. Overall, it was a nice dish, but I did miss the crispy crackling. It was obvious a lot of love went into the dish as each element was cooked really well. I also had some food envy when the assiette of lamb came out though as it really looked like it made the most of the different cuts and their various textures.

A sweet finish

Sadly, we came to the end of our meal. But not so sadly, that meant dessert. At the time we dined at Square Kitchen I was going through a rhubarb phase, so I couldn’t pass up the poached rhubarb, vanilla panna cotta, rhubarb consomme, almond clusters at £6.20. It was my favourite dish of the night – soft poached rhubarb that wasn’t too sweet, thin and chewy rhubarb straps (I assume dehydrated), sweet and luscious rhubarb soup and a creamy vanilla panna cotta to round it all out.  I was actually disappointed that the bowl had such a large lip because it stopped me from drinking the rhubarb – perhaps they do it on purpose.

A couple of my fellow diners chose the chocolate bomb and none of us were disappointed when the waiter came up with a perfect sphere of chocolate and proceeded to pour warm caramel over it to melt it. I do love a bit of showmanship!

Chef Kyle is taking some stunning ingredients and turning them in to excellent dishes. I can highly recommend making a booking and going for a celebratory meal in the modern meets historical atmosphere or perhaps a Sunday lunch with a few friends.

Details:
Square Kitchen at the Square Club
Opening hours: Mon–Sat: Breakfast, 7–9:30am; Lunch, 12–3pm; Dinner, 6–9:30pm | Sun: 12-4pm
Address: 15 Berkeley Square, Bristol BS8 1HB, UK
Phone: 0117 921 0455
Web: thesquareclub.com

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Bristol Gin Festival from a Finnish perspective

Like Karis, I don’t enjoy ginger but gin has never been a problem. Therefore, it’s no surprise that I was excited to hear the Gin Festival was coming to Bristol while I’d be visiting.

The festival, which has been touring the UK since 2013, was set up at The Station in the Bristol city centre. It’s an easily accessible venue with a great courtyard. We arrived about an hour after gates had opened and the place was packed, music was playing and people were mingling happily.

While the atmosphere was great, the queue to the ticket counter was a bit daunting. I guess that’s the price to pay for an atmosphere like that, but at least the crew were up to the task and the line moved quickly and efficiently, and before you knew it we had our stack of vouchers.

Gin Festival

Vouchers and brilliant glass now in hand, we browsed the comprehensive event guide about all the gins available at the festival. The booklet was complete with drink recipes, gin quizzes, tasting notes and other interesting info. We picked various drinks from the booklet (admittedly, the garnishes played an important role in the decision making) and headed over to the bars. They were divided into four different areas and the booklet guided you to the right corner of the counter. Very efficient! Cocktails were also available, but we stuck to the main feature of the night – gin and tonic.

Speaking of tonic, there was a selection of Fever-Tree tonics available as mixers and the guide book came with recommended tonics for each gin. And the recommendations seemed spot on.

After cruising around the crowded expo hall we headed out to the courtyard to enjoy our drinks. It was surprising and pleasing to notice how different all the different variations were and I developed a new-found appreciation for the different styles of gin and the versatility of such a simple combination.

Gin Festival

What we drank (garnish and mixer):

  • Blackwoods Vintage Dry 60 (mint & lime with Fever-Tree aromatic tonic)
  • Poetic License Old Tom (apple with Fever-Tree ginger ale)
  • Trevethan Cornish Gin (orange and clove with Fever-Tree elderflower tonic)
  • Eccentric Citrus Overland (lemon and thyme with Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic)
  • Kalevala (lime with Fever-Tree Indian tonic)
  • Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger (apple with Fever-Tree soda water)
  • Ely Dark Chocolate (with orange juice)

We really enjoyed our night and the drinks we tried (sadly all agreed that the Ely Dark Chocolate wasn’t to our tastes, but it’s good to give things a go, though!), so thanks to the Gin Festival team!

Perhaps the Gin Festival should come to Finland?

Juho.

Details: The Gin Festival has regular events around the UK, take a look at their website to see where they will be next!

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A Grand old time: Bristol’s Mercure The Grand Hotel

Being in the UK means I’ve had the opportunity to travel so much more. This means scouring travel websites looking for the best deals on flights, accommodation and tours in brilliant locations (and I’ve really spent a lot of time looking!).

Because my wanderlust usually takes me further afield, unsurprisingly, I often forget about what’s happening right here in Bristol. But, I know some of you don’t come from here and perhaps you’ve been thinking of visiting.

When I’m looking at hotels, people often say “it doesn’t matter where you stay because you’ll be out and about and you’ll spend very little time in your room”. I think that’s half true – you spend longer than you realise in your hotel room and the more comfortable it is, the better. I also think it’s nice to walk into a lovely clean room with practical features and nice things to look at.

I was recently invited along to Mercure’s The Grand to see their very funky makeover. I know this isn’t the 70s, but they really have done some amazing work with the refurbishment.

Located on Broad Street in the Old City, close to Broadmead and St Nicks’ Market, it’s the perfect place to base yourself if you’re in Bristol.

The building itself is gorgeous. I couldn’t find any history on the building itself, though it’s Grade II listed. When you see the outside, you imagine you’ll walk into something old world. But after the refurbishment, it’s now a stunning combination of classic and modern. You walk into the lobby and it feels bright, clean and modern, but it the old and new world compliment each other well.

Mercure The Grand, Bristol

Local artists

The team who designed the new look and feel of the hotel worked closely with Upfest to give the hotel the ‘Bristol’ feel. More than 500 pieces of art have been created by local artists. So often when you walk into hotels, they are bland and clinical, you could easily imagine yourself in any city in the world because there’s no art or even personality in the hotel, let alone the rooms. I think it’s brilliant that Mercure has taken the opportunity to make use of Bristol’s creatives to make the hotel something to write home about.

Mercure The Grand, Bristol - Art

Comfortable amenities

The rooms aren’t just pretty. They are practical too. The beds are amazingly comfortable and the bathrooms are classic and clean.

Mercure The Grand, Bristol - Room

Keepers Kitchen and Bar

As part of the refurbishment, the restaurant has had an even bigger makeover and it’s not your usual boring hotel restaurant. As you’ll see from the photos below, you’ll note that Keepers has a theme – honey! Their plan is to eventually have bees on the roof of the hotel, so they can use (very) local honey in their cocktails and on the menu.

Mercure The Grand, Bristol - Keepers Kitchen and Bar

Mercure The Grand, Bristol - Keepers Kitchen and Bar

Mercure The Grand, Bristol - Keepers Kitchen and Bar

Mercure The Grand, Bristol - Keepers Kitchen and Bar

Speaking of cocktails, they have a brilliant range on offer in the bar, including three honey-based cocktails.

Mercure The Grand, Bristol - Keepers Kitchen and Bar

On the food side, the restaurant has a solid menu to please everyone. We were treated to anti pasti, pizza, and small versions of mains from the menu, including mushroom pappardelle, pan-fried sea bass, glazed pig cheeks (my favourite from the night), and the Keepers posset made with honey, of course.

Mercure The Grand, Bristol - Keepers Kitchen and Bar

Mercure The Grand, Bristol - Keepers Kitchen and Bar

Mercure The Grand, Bristol is the perfect place for a staycation or if you’re just visiting, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Details
Address: Broad Street, BS1 2EL  Bristol
Telephone: 08713769042
Web: mercure.com

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Not all gingers are soulless – The Ginger People products

Getting more ginger into your life

A few months ago, The Ginger People got in touch to see if we wanted to give their products a go. As someone who isn’t keen on ginger and as I’m currently living in Bristol, I asked Mel if she was keen to try them. Her immediate response was something about a bear in the woods.

The lovely team at The Ginger People sent over their organic ginger syrup, organic crystallised ginger, organic ginger juice and organic pickled ginger. Mel was in heaven and proceeded to go on a ginger binge, essentially gingerising (just invented a new word!) all her food. Since that time, Mel has moved on from But first, we eat!, but I interviewed her last week for her feedback.

Mel is a huge ginger fan. I remember a shopping trip to Sunnybank to buy ingredients for our Chinese New Year celebration. We needed a small amount of ginger and she had used all of hers. Instead of buying a small piece (like I would do), she brought a one kilo bag! I told her she was crazy and she just said I was “missing out”. So, her being in heaven was an understatement when she received a package full of ginger goodies.

Ginger has a lot of uses, including the all important flavouring of food, and it’s well known for coming to the rescue when your stomach is upset. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find good fresh ginger unless you know where to look and not all ginger products have a good flavour and texture or they’re full of chemicals. These particular products, in the Mel’s words “actually taste like ginger”. Given creative license, Mel has come up with a few very easy ways to incorporate more ginger into your life:

Organic ginger juice

Mel said she was actually pleasantly surprised when ginger made a difference in the muscle ache she gets from triathlon training. Turns out, when she got home from training in the morning, she had been putting ginger juice in her water to mix things up a bit and her muscle aches weren’t as bad as the mornings she didn’t. She also said it’s brilliant in ice cold sparkling water (and I gather it would work really well in cocktails)! Since receiving the initial bottle of ginger juice, she’s bought two more because she uses it so often.

Organic ginger syrup

When she needs a quick treat, Mel loves the ginger syrup on ice cream and pancakes. When she needs something a little extra on her breakfast, she’ll pour a little over her yogurt and muesli.

Organic crystallised ginger

You may remember your grandmother always having easy access to crystallised ginger because it’s supposed to aid in digestion and it’s great for an upset stomach. Mel also used hers in baking. She whipped up some delicious ginger nuts with ginger chunks and I’ll post the recipe up soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

Organic pickled ginger

Not just for sushi, Mel loves to top her stirfries with a little pickled ginger for a fresh zing (if she isn’t already using the ginger juice). She may or may not eat it straight from the jar on occasion too.

Mel really enjoyed testing these products and wholeheartedly recommends anything from The Ginger People. She has a couple of recipes to share from her testing of these products, so make sure you check back.

If you’d like to buy The Ginger People products, take a look at their website. I think it’s pretty cool that the same people who started the business 30 years ago are still running it. They source their ginger sustainably and don’t use any nasties!

Important note: While Mel received these products for free, she only provided me with honest feedback.

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Bristol’s Wapping Wharf, have you been yet?

As a foodie who arrived in Bristol in October last year, one of the first things I heard about was the Wapping Wharf development with all the amazing independent traders, located behind the M Shed in the heart of the city. I went ahead and added a few places to my already growing list of must-try establishments, but didn’t get around to trying anything until recently. Luckily, I got to try five places in one amazing food and drink session with Bristol Bloggers.

Wild Beer Co

Wapping Wharf, Wild Beer Co

We started at Wild Beer Co‘s second establishment, a collaboration with Hook Restaurants – Wild Beer at Wapping Wharf. They have an insane 22 beers available – and they change fairly regularly so you don’t have to drink the same thing more than once, even if you go back twice a month! Obviously, their partnership with Hook means their food focus is on fish and chips.

Wapping Wharf, Wild Beer Co

We were delighted with a range of goodies from their menu, including their classic panko crumbed fish and chips (with one of my most favourite things – hand cut chips!), chicken tacos, vegetable tempura, and a massive fish sharing board, with a load of fresh seafood and fresh foraged goodies. Everything was light and easy to eat, and would match perfectly with so many beers (which is the point, right?).

Wapping Wharf, Wild Beer Co

Speaking of beers, there were so many to choose from I went with ‘Fresh’, a tangy pale ale as recommended by fellow blogger Dan. I only had the one drink, but I could easily go back for more. I asked the assistant manager what she would recommend if you could only have one beer at Wild Beer Co and she waxed lyrical about Sleeping Lemons. When I return I know what I’ll be choosing.

On a related note, Wild Beer have some cool fermaculture events and beer dinners. Check out their Twitter feed to stay up-to-date.

Details
Wild Beer at Wapping Wharf
Units 6-8 Gaol Ferry Steps, Bristol, BS1 5WE
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 12pm to 11pm; Sun 10am to 11pm
Web: wbwappingwharf.com
Phone: 0117 239 5693

Pigsty

Wapping Wharf, Pigsty UK

I had been hearing so many amazing things about Pigsty, particularly about their epic scotch eggs, so I was really stoked to be trying some porky goodies.

It’s located in the cargo part of Wapping Wharf, so it’s very small…or one could say it’s…concentrated. What I’m saying is, make a reservation so you don’t miss out.

Pigsty is the brainchild of The Jolly Hogg team, makers of tasty pork sausages which you can pick up in quite a few supermarkets. Given the feedback they have received about their products, launching a restaurant for the food-loving people of Bristol was the obvious next step. Pigsty serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with a focus on local, RSPCA approved produce, and a menu that will open your eyes to the delights of all things pork (not that I needed any help, I love pork!).

Wapping Wharf, The Jolly Hogg, Pigsty UK

We were offered drinks from their range of local producers, including Wiper and True (I’m a fan of their pale ale!). Then the meaty offerings began – starting with their Pig Board, which can only described as a carnivore’s dream – perfectly roasted pork with stunning crackling, hoguettes (croquettes to everyone else) with baconnaise made with real bacon, a divine mound of pulled pork, one of their famous scotch eggs and salad (but you don’t make friends with salad). Eyes around the table got too big for their bellies on sighting this intense platter and it disappeared pretty quickly. Next up, we had more hoguettes, the Pig Mac burger and a Whole Hog burger (including that very fine roast pork and crackling). Unfortunately, by this point I was really full – as we all were – and I could only manage small bites of the burgers. I could have gone back for more if I knew I wasn’t continuing the food adventure.

Details
Pigsty UK
Units 1&2 Goal Ferry Steps, Bristol, BS1 6WE
Opening hours:
Mon-Fri 7:30am to 10pm, Sat 8:30am to 10pm, Sun 9:30am to 8pm
Web: pigstyuk.com
Phone: 0117 929 7700

Bristol Cider Shop

Wapping Wharf, Bristol Cider Shop

Even though I’ve only been here a few months, I have the impression that the Bristol Cider Shop is a Bristolian institution. I was really impressed with their range and with the fact that they only stock ciders that are produced within 50 miles of Bristol – now that’s drinking local.

The Bristol Cider Shop recently moved to Wapping Wharf so they could expand their offering. They stock more than 100 varieties of cider and perry (draught and bottle), plus other apple products like cider brandy, chutneys and vinegars, hampers, gifts and books. They also host cider tasting sessions at the shop, and tours so you can see the farms and meet the producers.

Wapping Wharf, Bristol Cider Shop

Our quick session at the Bristol Cider Shop started with some delicious mulled cider and a taste of some stunning cider brandy. You could probably spend an entire day at the shop trying the different brands and varieties – you’d go home really drunk and still not try half of their offering.

However, if trying a few ciders and learning a few things about cider in the process is your thing, their tasting sessions are for you. They do a range of sessions including:

  • Introduction to Cider
  • Specific cider types, such as their upcoming Welsh cider session
  • Cheese and cider sessions

In the short time I was at the Bristol Cider Shop, I didn’t need much convincing to attend a tasting session in the near future. Support local by drinking local, take a look at the sessions you can attend here.

Details
The Bristol Cider Shop
Unit 4 Cargo, Gaol Ferry Steps, Wapping Wharf, Bristol BS1 6WE
Opening hours: Tues-Sat 11am to 7pm, Sun 11am to 4pm
Web: bristolcidershop.co.uk
Phone: 0117 929 3203

Little Victories

Wapping Wharf, Little Victories, Small Street Espresso

As someone who isn’t into coffee, Little Victories didn’t pop up on to my radar before we did our tour. However, I’ve bookmarked it to take hubby in the very near future because I know he would love it.

Little Victories is the sister cafe to Small Street Espresso, which owners Chris and John set up in 2012 in the Old City area of Bristol. They had one main goal in mind – bringing great coffee to Bristol, based on the experiences they had in Melbourne (hooray, Australia!), London, Bath and beyond. As a first run, Small Street Espresso was set up on a tight budget with the coffee as the focus. This time around, after seeing signs for the Wapping Wharf development wanting independent traders, Chris and John wanted to create something a bit different and a little more decadent. From this thought, Little Victories was born – a laid back cafe/cocktail joint with clean lines, serving top notch sandwiches and cakes, a huge range of coffee and some super sexy cocktails. I won’t lie, it was a bit like being back at home in Aus.

Wapping Wharf, Little Victories, Small Street Espresso

We were lucky to try their espresso martini and their cold press negroni. As someone who doesn’t drink coffee, I couldn’t do the espresso martini, but I gave the cold press negroni a go – and it was gooooood. Their range of sandwiches and cakes are so good too! I can definitely recommend their lemon cake – supplied by Harts – so moist and tangy. They also have other tidbits from local producers, like salted smoked almonds which I could have eaten all day, and the biggest (and tastiest) olives I’ve ever eaten.

Wapping Wharf, Little Victories, Small Street Espresso

Details
Little Victories, Wapping Wharf
7 Gaol Ferry Steps, Wapping Wharf, Bristol BS1 6WE
Opening hours: Mon-Tues 7:30am to 4:30pm, Weds-Fri 7:30am to 9pm, Sat 9:30am to 9pm, Sun 9:30am to 4:30pm
Twitter: twitter.com/LittleVicsBris
Email:  hi@littlevics.co.uk

Chicken Shed

Wapping Wharf, Chicken Shed, EatDrinkBristolFashion

Our last stop on our Wapping Wharf adventure was the Chicken Shed, one of Bristol Chef, Josh Eggleton’s projects.

At the top of Cargo 1, Chicken Shed has a nice view of the whole development and is quite large in comparison to some of the other eateries downstairs.

Wapping Wharf, Chicken Shed, EatDrinkBristolFashion

They serve free-range, slow grown, GM-free meat from local suppliers, with the philosophy of ‘Happy chickens + happy planet = happy dinners!’. They aren’t your run of the mill chicken restaurant, because not only will you find filthy fried chicken options on the menu, you’ll find things like grilled chicken hearts and deviled livers. I think it’s great that they are aiming for a beak to foot approach.

We began our chicken feast with a seriously spicy Bloody Mary cocktail, made with horseradish vodka. This Aussie girl hasn’t had much in the way of horseradish so it was an interesting experience. Then the food came – deviled chicken livers, grilled chicken hearts on a bed of tzatziki and chermoula, southern fried chicken, spicy chicken wings, coleslaw, spicy fries, a green salad, and a range of dips from house-made aioli to fire-breathing hot sauce.
 Wapping Wharf, Chicken Shed, EatDrinkBristolFashion
I don’t know how we did it. But, we got through most of it. Even though we were very full, the food was excellent and it’s hard to stop when the food is good. Surprisingly, the pick of the night from was the grilled chicken hearts – really well-seasoned and stunning tzatziki and chermoula to finish it off. It was their special for that day, so I hope when you go, you’ll get to try it too.

Details
Chicken Shed
Cargo, Gaol Ferry Steps, Wapping Wharf, Bristol, BS1 6WP
Opening hours: Tues-Thurs 12pm to 10:30pm, Fri-Sat 9am to 10:30pm, Sun 9am to 6pm
Web: eatdrinkbristolfashion.co.uk/chickenshed
Phone: 0117 930 0260

I had a great time checking out what Wapping Wharf has to offer and it was great to meet some fellow food lovers and bloggers in the process.

Honestly, Bristol is a pretty lucky city to have such amazing independent traders offering such amazing food. I have this cool idea for a progressive dinner, doing a different course at each establishment. We’d have to roll home, but I know it would be so worth it.

I can highly recommend visiting each of the places above – each of them offer something different and each offer something amazing.

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Cocktail fun at Be At One, Bristol

Before Christmas, hubby and I were lucky to attend a Cocktail Masterclass at Be At One here in Bristol.

We arrived at 4pm and were greeted, seated, and offered a Bellini of our choice. I chose the classic peach and hubby had a mango. Both were delicious, of course. We settled in at the bar while we took in our surroundings – classic decor and comfortable places to sit, a perfect spot for a Sunday sesh or a big night out.

As there were only four of us in this session, we each got to make two cocktails from their extensive menu. And when I say extensive, I really mean it. The only downside is making a decision because you want to try everything. However, the crew at Be At One are all really experienced and could offer a recommendation – I just told our bartender, Matt, what drinks I like (including Singapore Slings and French Martinis) and he told me what he thought I’d enjoy – I had the Monte Casino (gin, apricot brandy, lemon juice, orange bitters and apricot jam) and the Island Fox (gin, Lanique, orange marmalade, grapefuit juice, lime juice and sugar). I really enjoyed both and loved that they included some ingredients I hadn’t come across in cocktails, like jam and Lanique (a rose liqueur). It was also really nice to try some different cocktails, that I may not have otherwise ordered if I’d been out and about in a loud or crowded venue.

Matt showed us a few tips and tricks and stepped us through each of the cocktails we made. It was a hands-on experience that allowed us to try something different. We also walked away with some new skills, which is always a winner for me.

The Masterclass is £25 per person for a 90 minute class. In that time you’ll get to make a cocktail of your choice (and if you’re in a small class, you’ll get to make two!). The masterclasses are great for birthday shindigs, hens or bucks, Christmas parties and something just for fun!

Details:
Be At One, Bristol
55 Queen’s Road, Bristol BS8 1QQ
Opening hours: Mon-Sat – 4:30pm-2:00am, Sun – 4:30pm-11:00pm
Website: www.beatone.co.uk
To book:

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for… Swoon Gelato

Do you know the difference between ice cream and gelato? I didn’t until recently when I was lucky to attend a bloggers’ evening at Swoon Gelato for a sneak peek of their Christmas treats.

If you were wondering, the answer to that question: gelato contains less fat (win!) because the recipes use less cream. It’s also churned slower than ice cream which means it contains less air and has a super creamy texture. Swoon likes to say that all of this essentially means you can eat twice as much (and I think they make an excellent point).

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Swoon treated us to some absolutely stunning gelato and gelato-focused desserts, all made here in Bristol.

Pat and her team got things started with mango gelato Bellinis! Genius! I’ve tried putting mango sorbet in lemonade before and it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. But, prosecco and mango gelato worked really well – I can definitely recommend it for your next shindig!

Swoon Gelato - welcome
Swoon Gelato mango Bellini + Pam’s welcome + what you don’t see from a blogger event

Next, we were treated to Swoon’s core range of gelato and sorbetto. As always, I used the salted caramel flavour as a benchmark to compare against other gelato and ice cream I’ve tried. It was perfect – just the right amount of salt, plenty of caramel, and as mentioned previously, super creamy. While I really enjoyed everything I tried, their core flavours that I highly recommend are: salted caramel (obviously), chocolate and chilli sorbetto (which is a must-try if you love rich chocolate with a little kick, plus from memory I believe it’s vegan), and pistachio (the best version of pistachio I’ve ever tried).

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The dessert cabinet at Swoon.

As a little twist, Pam gave us the chance to make some gelato with the chef (who has trained extensively to make the best gelato at an actual gelato school – though, in Italian it sounded so much better). While I was helping with a batch of creamy vanilla gelato, everyone else crowded around the cabinet and tried some of the Christmas specials, including a mince pie flavour!

Swoon Gelato
Making gelato.

After successfully creating a batch vanilla gelato it was time to test Swoon’s Christmas dessert range. They have a lot on offer, and we tried: the Italian version of buche de Noel – a sponge roulade filled with, you guessed it, gelato; pannetone filled with gelato; and some stunning macarons filled with gelato (it’s hard to find a good macaron, but these were chewy and crunchy – perfect with the creamy gelato).

Swoon Gelato
Some of the desserts at Swoon.

By this point, I think it’s fair to say we were all in sugared out, but content. I can honestly say I adored everything I tried and I’m looking forward to taking hubby to test it all out in the very near future.

Thank you so much to Pat and the Swoon team for looking after us and sharing your delicious gelato and sorbetto.

The details:
Swoon Gelato
31a College Green, Bristol BS1 5TB
Open: Every day, 10am – 10:30pm
Web: www.swoononaspoon.co.uk

Karis Sign Off-01-01

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