Tag Archives: food

Who feeds Bristol and what can we do about it?

Did you know that 10 in 35 Bristol wards don’t have a greengrocer? According to where you live in the city, this may or may not surprise you. I live in the city centre and while I hear of people selling fresh fruit and vegetables in the Bear Pit on Pero’s Bridge and on North Street, I can’t think of a single dedicated greengrocer near me. People in Brislington and Lockleaze have none while those in Westbury-on-Trym have four.

Nationally, 75% of food retail is controlled by four companies, collectively known as ‘the Big Four’ and in the city centre there is evidence that there is a higher concentration of supermarkets than in other parts of the country. The big consequence of this is that some people, usually in the poorer parts of the city, have little choice as to where to buy their food (see reports below).

Here are two reports which provide some more information about Bristol food and retail: Bristol Good Food Plan (2013) and Who Feeds Bristol? (2011)

The Bristol Good Food Plan was published by the Bristol Food Policy Council which was launched in March, 2011, at the Bristol Food Conference. It was based on a key recommendation from the Who Feeds Bristol report written by Joy Carey. Bristol is the first city in the UK to have a Food Policy Council.

We now also have a plan about what to do. Stay tuned.

 
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New Year’s menu

Sometimes, I wish that every meal I ate could be sourced from the deli / butcher / restaurant Source but alas it just isn’t meant to be. For special occasions, however, they are the most wonderful resource in Bristol. My household had Christmas dinner from there which we ordered in advance and I also went there for ingredients for my New Year’s dinner.

The main meal was steak and frites. Two aged Aberdeen Angus sirloin steaks were cooked simply on the frying pan after being left out to get to room temperature. They were covered in oil and salt first. That doesn’t require much of a recipe but it may need a little improvement so suggestions are welcome. Maybe I should have tenderized the beef slightly by bashing them with the frying pan first? I shall experiment.

The first dish I cooked was a lovely chorizo, chickpea and prawn stew. It was very nice and could turn out to be amazing with a bit more care and seasoning. I bought tiger prawns from Source that were so big I managed to cut myself three times on the shells as I peeled them. I undercooked the prawns, didn’t have sherry so I used Port and I forgot to add salt and pepper.

But next time the stew will be incredible.

For now, here’s the recipe.

INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp olive oil
4 fresh piquillo peppers, cored, deseeded and cut into 2cm squares
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
150g good-quality cooking chorizo sausage, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 ½ tbsp sherry vinegar
3 tbsp dry sherry
600g drained cooked chickpeas (freshly cooked or tinned)
100ml chicken stock
70g baby spinach leaves, washed
20 good-quality raw tiger prawns, peeled, deveined and heads removed
Large handful of basil, leaves only, torn
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
METHOD

How to make tiger prawn, chorizo and chickpea stew
1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large, wide pan and add the peppers, red onion and chorizo. Cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes again, then add the sherry and vinegar and reduce down.

2. Add the chickpeas, stir and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken stock and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat.

3. In a separate pan, fry the tiger prawns in the remaining olive oil for about 30-45 seconds each side. Once cooked, add to the chickpea stew with the spinach. Let wilt slightly, then scatter over the basil, season and serve.

© Gordon Ramsay
http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/gordon-ramsay/tiger-prawn-chorizo-and-chickpea-stew-recipe

Nectarine & almond cupcakes with basil syrup

This post is about my very brief but tasty adventure pursuing a new recipe by Genevieve Taylor. I became determined to make the peach almond cake with lavender syrup as soon as I saw the recipe.

“I will make this recipe today,” I foolishly proclaimed in a tweet but then struggled to find lavender. Well, I didn’t struggle to find it, admittedly, there was some on the corner of Cumberland Rd but I felt too guilty cutting bits off of someone else’s plant.

I bought the ingredients straight away but I couldn’t really get going without the flowery one so I wondered whether to just skip the syrup.

After sleeping on it for a few days I ingeniously decided that since I had lots of basil growing around the flat (about six plants at last count) why not just use that? Brilliant!

I also had bought nectarines that day as I don’t actually like peaches which explains part of the name.

Oh and the cupcake rather than cake part? Well when it came time to pour the mixture into the already prepared cake tin, I couldn’t find it. The muffin / cupcake tin was right in front though as were the muffin little paper things so voila!

The recipe is available on Genevieve’s site and the cupcakes turned out delicious.

Heavenly cupcakes from La Dame Gateau

First there was a competition as part of a survey by Bristol Bites in which I won third prize which was a box of cupcakes. Thank you Emily!

The cupcakes were hand delivered by Erica of La Dame Gateau and the box was rather heavy.

The selection arrived with a menu and a warning from Erica that the Limoncello one contained alcohol. I made sure that this particular treat stayed for me as I adore the lemon flavoured liqueur.

The poor cupcakes were so large that they barely fit in their container. Chocolate and vanilla, sour cherry and almond, chocolate and orange cream, Limoncello, choca mocha, chocolate and caramel

I gave them some space to breathe and took the opportunity to have a closer look. The cupcakes still looked great.

I saved the Limoncello for later and started with the chocolate and vanilla cupcake.

I pronounced the decadently, top heavy cupcake as heavenly and decided to share the pleasure with friends. My housemate’s response to the sour cherry treat was ‘wow’ and Martin from Bristol Culture was amazed with his strawberry delight.

Thank you Erica and Emily for a wonderful start to the week and for a great suggestion for mother’s day. I will let my daughter know that I have the perfect gift all picked out so she needn’t worry.

http://www.ladamegateau.co.uk

Indian food banquet for charity, 5 March, Bristol

An authentic Indian banquet on Saturday, 5 March, will include 12 traditional Indian dishes, entertainment, a cheap bar and over 100 guests in what promises to be a fantastic evening. The social event will also be raising money for research into muscular dystrophy with tickets selling for £25 per head.

Kharum Arshad, and his team from the Bristol and Bath Fundraising Group, have organised the evening in order to raise funds for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at Oxford University.

Helping to raise funds for this “life-limiting condition” is a personal cause for Arshad  as his younger brother Auzair has the disease which “makes the simplest of tasks like eating and dressing impossible to carry out without care.”

This is a great chance to enjoy a fabulous meal and entertainment while giving something back in return. For more details, use the contact information below, or check out the group’s Facebook page.

There is a raffle for £2 per ticket, with prizes donated by a variety of local companies. Please leave a comment below if you would like to show your support by donating a raffle prize or get in touch with the team directly using the contact details below.

Saturday 5 March 2011, The Elmgrove Centre, Cotham.

Bar Opens at 7pm Seating at 7.30pm. Price per Ticket: £25

Tickets sold in advance. No tickets available on door.

Dress Code: Smart Dress (Indian Attire Optional)

For further information contact Khurm Arshad. Tel: 07920 746058, email: bristol@muscular-dystrophy.org

Thanks to Bristol Bites who recently mentioned this event.

Juniper, Food Review

Juniper seems like a lovely restaurant on Cotham Road South placed on the edge of Kingsdown and Cotham. The area has big houses, quiet roads and seem almost rural rather than suburban. I used to walk around there when I was a little more local and can see how the twilight and the electric lights all help to make the restaurant one further step along a very pleasant route.

The start of the evening is lovely and the restaurant has a very nice ambience as I walk in. There are five tables by the door and their location seems to make for a potentially breezy couple of hours so I take a seat somewhere in the corner. The lighting is low without making the place too dark and there is a genuine sense of intimacy without it feeling like someone’s boudoir.

My dining companion arrives and we are given menus with selections for three courses.

I choose the red mullet with a seafood combination comprised of crab, crayfish and smoked salmon for a starter. The main is pan roasted duck with cheesy potatoes and a selection of vegetables and the dessert is a pistachio crème brulee. Where available, I will always choose the crème brulee and my expectations are high.

The starter’s mix of seafood is delicious and provides a very fresh offering that is both savoury and sharp. The golden fried red mullet piece that sits on top of it may have been cooked well but is not very flavoursome. I look around for some salt until I catch myself and just try to enjoy it as best I can. It was underseasoned and disappointing.

The duck is very well cooked and is a nice sized portion. The vegetables are ominously full of brussels sprouts which while not really a problem for me, bring to mind a Christmas dinner rather than a special night out at an enchanting restaurant. The cheesy potato dish is not particularly appetizing and for a £17 main I am not particularly enthused. I have had amazing potatoes at Graze at very reasonable prices and I feel embarrassed for this place which can’t compete with a gastropub, although admittedly there are few restaurants that can at the moment.

I couldn’t imagine that they would go astray with my favourite part of the meal, the crème brulee, but again it was slightly disappointing. The sweet was served at room temperature and while the sugar on top was indeed caramelized the rest had a Mediterranean feel and a thick and granular texture, which left me uninspired. It just didn’t fit in with the rest of my dishes.

My friend’s dessert was added to the menu just that day and promised a bit more of a wow factor. It was a tasting platter of chocolate consisting of five items: a chocolate brownie, a white chocolate trifle, a cookies and cream white liqueur and some other type of cake. I’m not sure if it lived up to expectations but it looked ok rather than fantastic.

I may be a little harsh in my recollection of the dishes but let me point out the prices on the menu: £7 for a starter, £17 for a main and £7 for a dessert. If you were to add some wine to the £31-each selection then the cost for two would come to around £100 and that would be an extortionate amount to pay for what felt more like a roast dinner suitable for the weekend.

This place has all the characteristics that could have made it a special experience worth coming back for and instead it turned out to be quite humdrum and average. A shame.

Juniper, 21 Cotham Road South, Cotham, Bristol, BS6 5TZ, 0117 942 1744

Côte, Bristol – Review

The Bristol branch of the Cote Brasserie, which opened today in Clifton, takes up a fair amount space with four or five dining areas and it provides a comfortable setting. There are 19 restaurants in England and they all provide simple bistro cooking with a selection of classic French dishes such as moules frites and duck confit while also serving a rapid menu that includes steak frites and a lighter menu with options such as tuna Niçoise and risotto vert.

I visited today, with my friend Martin, for lunch and there was complimentary filtered water for the table and a few waiters were on hand for a prompt response to requests such as more water and plates for the bread and starter.

The menu suggests that the bread (£1.60) is a freshly baked sourdough served with butter although it seemed like a nice ciabatta.

To begin with, we shared a dish of moules marinières (£5.75), which was mussels cooked with white wine, garlic, shallots, parsley and fresh cream. It was a nice enough version which did not disappoint with its selection of delicate small mussels mixed in with paler and bigger ones.

We both ordered the steak frites (£9.95) for a main which is a thin tenderised piece of meat flavoured with pepper and a herb butter. The dish was well seasoned and the steak was tender without being soft. The frites were served in a small black cup-like tub within which they nestled against some grease proof paper. They were seasoned just right and were probably just as enjoyable as the steak. A side dish of French green beans was chosen as an accompaniment and they were a bright green colour and crisp.

There was no dessert this time although if I had made a choice it would have been either the crème caramel, which is the restaurant’s speciality, or the crème brulee. I may go back again soon just to try the dessert.

Côte won the Good Food Guide award for “Best Value Restaurant in the UK for 2009” and with 50% off until 27 January I would suggest that the value will be exceptional. You will need a voucher (found here) for the discount and do book first as the restaurant was quite busy with people taking advantage of this opening treat.

Côte, 27 The Mall, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 4JF, 0117 970 6779 http://www.cote-restaurants.co.uk