2 December 2013

Colour and Cuisine
Da Boes & Motley Collective

A few weeks ago I attended an event hosted by Falmouth-based culinary events company Da Boes, in collaboration with “creative folk” Motley Collective. Having no prior knowledge of either company I was a little nervous about what to expect. A little light Facebooking uncovered that Motley Collective aim to create “visually appealing portraits using paint and props”. Bearing in mind the event was entitled ‘Colour and Cuisine’ this was my first clue that I could be in for an interesting evening. It turned out that the goal of the event was to use food to make as much mess as possible. 

Challenge accepted. 

5 November 2013

Boston breakfast
Boston Tea Party (Gloucester Road, Bristol)

Boston tea Party, Gloucester Road Bristol
I make no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of Boston Tea Party. I am a regular frequenter of the Boston on Cheltenham Road, opting to visit for many reasons, not least because it’s five minutes’ walk from my front door. So on a blustery Autumn Sunday I decided to make my legs work a little harder, and headed off to visit their newest addition on Gloucester Road.

This particular branch opened just a few weeks ago, but is already a huge hitter on the Sunday breakfast scene. Having visited most of the Bostons, the thing that struck me first about the Gloucester Road venue was its style - the place really does look fantastic. And I admit that my expectations were high on that front, because the first thing you see as you’re walking in is a giant mural of a boiled egg. What could be a better breakfast welcome than that?

16 October 2013

No. 12 Easton

No. 12 Easton, Bristol
So it’s a Saturday afternoon and my partner is bizarrely craving salt beef. Now I was worried that this was far too specific a request. However it must have been written in the stars, because this Saturday also happens to be the day that we decide to head over to No. 12 Easton for the very first time. And what is their sandwich special? Oh salt beef of course.

Lots of people have been telling me to go to No.12 after it opened in spring of this year. Now after being there, I’m kicking myself for all the months I’ve wasted! Located on the corner of Easton’s High Street, No. 12 grabs your attention with a very stylish shop front. Especially as it has the word ‘provisions’ above it. That word isn’t used enough. No. 12 is a deli and café, serving homemade grub accompanied by excellent foodie products that are available to buy.

10 October 2013

Crème de la crème
Bell's Diner & Bar Rooms

Bell's Diner, Bristol
Thirteen years ago, my brother, sister and I cooked a meal for my parents’ thirtieth wedding anniversary. Looking back, there are large parts of that evening that escape my memory. I do remember a hugely disappointing main course of home-made meatballs, and I remember painstakingly crafting invitations (for a meal in their own house - genius).  However, there is one memory which has burnt brightly for all this time. And that is of the crème brûlée.

My mum is not a big pudding fan. Unlike me, she can quite happily feel that her meal is complete without a dessert (she is partial to a peanut M & M however). There are few exceptions to this rule but crème brûlée is the most notable. Now, I would forgive you for thinking that this means my mum would be likely to order a crème brûlée whenever it’s on a menu. The truth is far from that. All those years ago on her anniversary, we treated my mum to a crème brûlée made by my brother’s friend – otherwise known in my mother’s eyes, as the chef who made the perfect crème brûlée. After that, there have been years of failed attempts – those with sugar that didn’t produce a true crack, those with custard that was too thick, custard that was too thin and, the very worst offenders – those with fruit in the bottom. None have come close.

9 September 2013

Chinese whispers
Mayflower Chinese Restaurant

Mayflower Chinese Bristol
Like most people, I have a mixed relationship with secrets. On the one hand I love being in on one, and that slight feeling of superiority it gives you. On the other, there’s the dawning realisation that in the food and drink world, that slight feeling of superiority actually makes you look like a bit of a pompous idiot. And of course, nobody likes NOT being in the know. That’s the very worst of all.

Alas, last weekend I found myself taken to a restaurant that not only had I never heard of, but that had been mentioned in the Guardian that week as one of the best tips for the South West, and I hadn’t noticed! What a double blow. I tried to point out to myself that having only lived in Bristol since January, it’s probably OK that I’d never heard of it – and to be honest, one of the best parts of living here is discovering new places all the time - however, it didn’t help the feeling that I’d been missing out. And that is a little irritating.

27 August 2013

The Butchers' Charms
The Butchers' Arms (Eldersfield)

The Butcher's Arms Eldersfield
My blog this week is about Michelin-starred pub The Butchers Arms in Eldersfield. Now I know what you’re thinking...last week I said that this wasn’t a critic’s blog, and now here I am, blogging about a Michelin-starred joint. That doesn’t sound like Avon Gorged.

In fact, the reason I have chosen to write about it is because it was very Avon Gorged. It was a really great experience filled with brilliant food. The kind of food that you want to tell everyone you know about, at the same time as wanting to keep it all to yourself. Right up my street some may say - except that it wasn’t because it was in Gloucestershire.

12 August 2013

Gorging, not grumbling

Clifton suspension bridge Bristol
This week I had a really bad food experience from one of my favourite restaurants.

This is a beginning sentence I really didn't want to write. And in fact, I’m not going to go any further.

Avon Gorged is supposed to be about gorging in Bristol. So that is why I’m choosing not to write about my experience this week. It was bad, but I know that they were having an off day. So I'm going to give them another chance.

Having no individual focus for my blog this week however, gives me the opportunity to mention a couple of places/experiences I hadn't quite got around to honouring...

19 July 2013

Poco and pork

Poco Bristol beetroot hummus and sourdough
I think I used to be a bit snobby about small plates. I’m not sure why, perhaps I’d eaten too many plates of rubbish tapas (hello La Tasca). However, they definitely are big news these days. Certainly I couldn’t get away from them in Vancouver, although I used to think that might just be because everyone’s really skinny there.

There have been a couple of small plate restaurants on my list for a while since moving to Bristol, but Poco certainly was at the forefront. I’ve heard nothing but excellent reviews, not just about the food, but the ethos behind Tom Hunt the founder of Poco. That ethos is local, seasonal and ethical. So the big 3 really. Indeed, the first statement on the website is that “90% of our ingredients are sourced from suppliers within 20 miles of Bristol” which is no mean feat.  

No wonder they’re batting for Best Ethical Restaurant in this year’s Observer Food awards. Excited by all these reviews and research, I rambled down after a few beers in Canteen to whet the appetite, to finally find out what all the fuss was about.

27 June 2013

The pop-up post
Kathers Kitchen at 40 Alfred Place

40 Alfred Place Bristol
Twitter is a powerful thing. Twitter told me about last week’s Bristol Big Market, part of Bristol Green Week. Twitter told me Whitney Houston had died before it had even hit the press. Twitter will I’m sure, keep me updated with all the Glastonbury gossip (and further fuel my jealousy). And so it was through Twitter that I found out about 40 Alfred Place, “the world’s first permanent pop-up venue” nestled in Kingsdown.

What a seriously good idea. This place can be rented for parties and events, be an Italian one night, a Mexican the next and finish the week with a wine tasting. My route to work takes me past 40 Alfred Place every day, yet somehow I’d never spotted it. Now I’ve been however, it’s a different story as I’m constantly looking for any faint signs that there might be a new pop-up night being prepared (the biggest clue is often copious amounts of tealights).

19 June 2013

BBQ, burgers and brilliance
Grillstock Smokehouse

I have a friend who hates any word used to describe food. Well not any word, but those words that people who love talking about food will bash around: delicious, tasty, succulent, smothered, gelatinous, lip-smacking. Oh, you know the sort I mean.

Grillstock Bristol festival
So...I guess he’s going to hate this blog entry, because it’s going to be pretty hard to talk about Grillstock, Bristol’s king of the BBQ, without launching myself into fifty shades of food porn. Indeed, it seems I’m not alone. Nearly every review, tweet or Facebook mention I’ve read of it so far has been dripping in alliterative adjectives (smoky, sticky and succulent – hell, the company’s slogan is ‘Meat, Music and Mayhem’).

So I’ll try my very best but be warned friend, you’re not going to like it. Not one tantalisingly tasty titbit of it.

7 June 2013

Bakery beginnings
Hart's Bakery

It started with a toastie.

Actually, a lot started with this toastie. Mainly the conviction that I can’t keep eating all these amazing things and not writing about them. Being whisked around the finest coffee haunts in the south west courtesy of my partner's coffee habit, it occurred to me that neither of us were talking about the food. And dang Bristol, you do food well. So sorry all, I’m starting a food blog. It was always going to happen. I don’t know why I denied it for so long.

My first blog post is to shout from the rooftops the virtues of Bristol’s Hart’s Bakery. Seriously, listen up because this place is banging. Being pretty housebound at the minute due to tedious back issues, I was driven to Hart’s Bakery last weekend for a small brunch outing – one of the best kinds of outing in my opinion. I had heard a rumour that Laura from Hart’s Bakery does the best custard tarts in town so I was prepared to be pretty happy at the end of my visit. Well, I was (and pretty laden down with various bread and pastry based items too).