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Friday 30 March 2012

Pulled Pork Cooked with a Heavy Head

Another entry from our barbecue enthusiast Joe. Last weekend he tacked pulled pork, here are his results:

As the competition creeps ever closer we find ourselves BBQing nearly every weekend.  Now it’s just something we do, like you would have a roast on a Sunday. Saturday morning we find ourselves firing up the coal for starters.  It’s also a time to make mistakes so when it comes to competition day we at least know what not to do. 

Last weekend (24th March) was a scorcher, everyone was dusting off their rusty BBQs for the first grilling session of the year.  We however, were on our 6th or 7th BBQ and I got up before everyone else to get it started.  5:30am to be exact and I had a stinking hangover which makes everything a little more difficult. This week it was all about pulled pork.  A favourite in taste but it’s a lengthy cooking process.  

The pork hand (the shoulder also known as the Boston Butt in America) was cooked at 220f for 12 hours. The night before I placed the pork in a brine to add moisture and flavour and I added some spices to the mix.  So in the morning I drained off the shoulder and applied the rub which was made up of typical Amercian BBQ flavours. These measurements are just a guide:

  • 1tsp onion powder
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 4tsp paprika
  • 1/2tsp ground cumin
  • 3tps molasses
  • 1tsp tomato powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp pepper

I covered the Pork in American mustard to act like a glue for the rub which was then rubbed in. It was then cooked using indirect heat.  Basically meaning the coals sit on one side of the smoker and a drip tray at the bottom on the other end below the pork so the meat cooks as it would in an oven.  This is achievable with your average kettle BBQ.  We also added small amounts of soaked apple wood throughout the cooking process the lightly smoke it.

The pork turned out well, we gently pulled it apart with forks and tossed it through a BBQ sauce made with left over BBQ rub, ketchup, American mustard and soy sauce. This was cooked down with sliced onion and garlic.We served the pork in buns with homemade coleslaw on the side. Lovely!

The Completed Pulled Pork
     Thanks Joe it looks amazing, I am definitely coming round next time you barbecue. Next week there should be posts on our visit to No. 4 in Clifton Village and Harvey's Wine Cellars plus I shall be gathering info and photos on food and bars to visit in Islington when we visit there on the Easter weekend.

Thursday 29 March 2012

Spring Chicken Pesto Stew

I have long considered pesto to be one of my favourite ingredients. I remember first trying it as a teenager for dinner, my mum made a bacon, mushroom and pesto spaghetti. It was love at first bite. Pasta has always been my favourite comfort food. When I went to University we had catered halls and for about 3 weeks I lived off of salad and cheeseburgers. I craved pasta like I never thought possible. I had spied an Italian restaurant in the tiny town centre of Egham, called Caffe Piccolo. Memory will remember this moment as me practically prostrating myself in front of my parents pleading to go there for lunch, realistically it was a far more agreeable exchange of ideas. 
Caffe Piccolo as I remember it.
I remember ordering orecchiette with sun dried tomatoes, chorizo and parmesan. I wolfed it down with such joy as you only experience when satisfying a strong craving. After that moment I knew I could not go that long without pasta again, so I began trying numerous microwavable options, to varying results. Boiling pasta in a microwave is a lot more time consuming and frustrating operation than anybody could have imagined, luckily as a student studying arts subjects I had time on my side.

Returning to present day, last weekend I decided to give a new dish a go. Ever since I received a subscription to Good Food Magazine for Christmas 2 years ago I try to attempt at least one new dish a month. Flicking through this month's this Spring pesto chicken stew dish caught my eye, with my new Le Creuset casserole dish yet to be used, surely this was a no brainer?

You can find the recipe online here I tweeked it a little by adding spinach, instead of leeks and taking out the onion. Plus with the dumplings I used grand padano instead of parmesan and mixed seeds instead of pine nuts.
Ready to go in the oven to cook the dumplings
The Finished Article
I have to say this has got to be one of my favourite new dishes for months. Obviously as I was cooking for just Rich and I, I scaled back the mix to pretty much half of everything and still had enough for lunch and dinner again the next night. Chunky bread is perfect for mopping up excess sauce but the recipe also recommends mash, I personally would find that a little filling.  Definitely a good recipe for an informal dinner party or lazy weekend meal. It would easily be made vegetarian by substituting the chicken and bacon for potatoes and parsnips or any solid root vegetables. The dumplings were the crowning glory of the dish,  they soaked up all the pesto juices and weren't over powered by the grand padano. So our friends should watch our, you may be getting this for dinner very soon!

Incidentally, when researching for this blog post I discovered ten years after my first visit, Caffe Piccolo is no longer open for business in Egham, but apparently still has branches in Farham and Chiswick. Pop in for lunch if you find yourself nearby, I remember it being rather nice. Visit their website here.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

The Royal Inn, Portishead

On Saturday we woke late and were mulling over the idea of a picnic on Clifton green but then the phone rang and Jamie said that she and Boz were going to drive to Portishead to walk around for the day and grab some pub food, we were in.

It was lovely to actually feel warm outside, Winter has seemed very long this year and to finally be able to leave the house without a coat was hugely refreshing. We walked around enjoying the sea views until we reached a pub. The pub was The Royal Inn and there were many tables and chairs outside looking over the sea.
Royal Inn Portishead
We stopped for a spot of lunch, being it was the first warm day of the year it was fairly busy with families. We picked up a menu to see if there was anything we fancied. The menu was mostly pub grub fare with fish and chips, burger and sandwiches but with occasional smatterings of something lesser spotted on pub menus, like Coq au Vin.

Jamie decided to plump for the aforementioned au vin whilst Boz went for the pork burger which was on the specials board. Rich and I went for their ciabatta sandwiches. I chose the chicken with salad, sunblushed tomatoes and basil mayo whilst Rich picked the BLT which topped by mustard mayo rather than the usual mayonnaise, both came with salad and chips.

When we went to order the staff were wonderfully friendly and it did almost feel like we were on holiday somewhere instead of just 20mins down the road in Portishead. I am happy to report when the food arrived it far exceeded our expectations. This was good simple meals made well, which some pubs don't always get right.
Coq au Vin Bristol
Coq au Vin
Pork Burger in Seeded Ciabatta
 The Coq au Vin was extremely well flavoured, and we were all impressed when we had a sample of Jamie's meal it was a real surprise and the chicken melted in the mouth with all the tomato and winey juices, plus it was a very generous portion. The only downside was that the mash seemed quite dry. The pork burger was remarked as fresh and tasty but oddly came with a pot of tsatziki, normally perfect with lamb, which did not really go with pork, Boz said he would have preferred a sweet apple chutney or something similar.
Pork and Apple Burger
Close up of the burger
Finally our sandwiches, which we chose partially because we didn't want a big lunch, because the lovely Jayne was cooking us dinner in the evening, which was almost more delicious than I can describe, and also because I actually have a bit of a crush on a well crafted sandwich.
Chicken Salad Baguette
Chicken and Sun Blushed Tomato Salad with Basil Mayo

BLT Baguette Bristol
BLT with Mustard Mayonnaise
These were some of the best sandwiches I've had in a while, and I have been crowned sandwich crafting queen in my family. The ciabatta was crunchy but flavoursome but for me the basil mayonnaise was the crowning glory working beautifully with the chicken, sun blushed tomatoes, of which I am already quite the fan, and salad. The bacon in Rich's BLT was thick and high quality and perfect with the mustard mayo. The chips were as you would want them to be, crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, well recommended.

We all declared that on a sunny day we would gladly return to The Royal Inn to enjoy the warm sea breezes and home cooked food. Definitely go there if you find yourself wandering around Portishead pier and sea front the food is extremely pleasing. To view their menus go to their website the evening menu also looks superb.

Monday 26 March 2012

Lunching at My Burrito

Mexican food definitely ranks as one of my favourite cuisines, so when two burrito venues opened within weeks of each other last year I was there like a shot. Mission Burrito on Park St but I followed up a visit to My Burrito, opposite the Hippodrome, a month or so after that. I kept returning to Mission Burrito but I thought Friday it was finally time to pay my second visit to My Burrito.

A gorgeously sunny day in Bristol greeted me on the way down to Mexican flavoured lunch joy, the first few sunny days of the year always brings smiles to people's faces, and it added that extra spring to my step. It was fairly quiet when I arrived which meant I could get to building my burrito right away. I went for a chicken burrito with pinto beans, smoky salsa, salad, cheese and sour cream. The chicken and the roasted vegetables are grilled fresh on the hot coal griddles behind the counter which filled the room with a lovely barbecue scent.

I sat in the little seating area which is made up of some mismatched sofas, tables and chairs and the strong sunshine filled the back of the restaurant and it was refreshingly light and Spring like as I sat down to eat. The burrito itself was very heavy and well filled, it was going to be a challenge to finish it, but I was up for tackling the task.
My Burrito Bristol

Chicken Burrito My Burrito
The taste was good on the whole, I definitely would recommend the chicken, the chunks work better than Mission Burrito's shredded chicken and was well flavoured. However the burrito itself was quite wet inside, more than it should have been, which made it fall apart quite quickly and very messy to eat. The pinto beans were tasty though and the salsa smokiness came through. There was no flavour coming from the cheese at all which makes me believe it is either very mild or there was just not enough of it, and a bit too much sour cream which threatened to over power the whole burrito.

These are fairly minor quibbles however and I would recommend My Burrito to those looking for something fresh and different for lunch, they fill you up without having that heavy feeling in the stomach, you know when your eyes take over stomach size. I do personally prefer Mission Burrito's burritos but I shall review them at a later date so will keep my comments on the comparison to a minimum, for now.

To browse for your lunch burrito choice visit the My Burrito website.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Curry at The Brunel Raj

Since Thursday last week I have had a cold it seemed to disappear Saturday and then come back with avengence  on Monday I needed something spicy to help burn the ill out of my system so after consulting one of my chilli fanatic friends, Phil, we were off. So we have Phil guest blogging as his taste buds were at full capacity as mine were slightly numb with disease, plus he has sampled many of Bristol's curry houses. Over to Phil...

And so it was agreed. Monday night was to be a curry night. Where to go? I consulted the big G in the sky and waded through several pages of search results. It would appear that I indulge in curry too often, I’ve been to every establishment returned by my "Indian BS8" query. Except one. "Posh Spice". Joy.

Upon walking the length of The Mall in Clifton Village it quickly became apparent that Posh Spice no longer exists, presumably it's off pursuing a failed acting career. Not to worry, local favourite The Brunel Raj was only a moment away.  
Brunel Raj Bristol

The Raj is a relatively small venue, with it kitchen situated adjacent next to the dining area. This adds to the appeal, a thick aroma of spices and tandoored meats greets patrons as they arrive, with sizzling plates being wheeled to and fro at an alarming rate. Above the cacophony of amassed Cliftonites conversation was somewhat strained, but the fact that we were lucky to get a table on a Monday night tells you all that you need to know about the quality of the food here.

This evening was no different. My Chicken Tikka Chilli Masala was attractively presented, surprisingly light and with just the right amount of heat. Abby's Chicken Karahi had an earthy and moreish tone, whilst Rich's Chicken Ceylon balanced the coconut and spices perfectly. Whilst no dish was exceptional all were rock solid, and that sums up The Brunel Raj for me. An establishment that cares enough to have its own branded  post-dinner chocolate treats probably cares enough to make sure you have a good dining experience. Until the next time.
Chicken Chilli Tikka Masala Brunel Raj
Chicken Tikka Chilli Masala
Chicken Ceylon and Chicken Karahi
Chicken Ceylon (left) Chicken Karahi (right)

Brunel Raj Bristol Dessert

I mostly would agree with Phil. For me the Brunel Raj is one of the best curry houses I've have experienced in Bristol so far, although I am very fond of Rupsha and Kathmandu. Either way my Karahi was delicious I had never had it before, it wasn't hot as I needed for my cold but one or two tastings of the Ceylon and Chilli Masala was enough to rectify that. Our next curry event hopefully won't be too far away.

Monday 19 March 2012

Mother's Day at Goldbrick House

When Goldbrick House announced it's Mother's Day menu last month I knew it would be the perfect place for me and my sister Lu to take mum. Yesterday was reassuringly bright and sunny outside and we sauntered down the 10mins from our flat to Goldbrick to be greeted by a wonderfully friendly and professional front of house man, I think Lu and mum took quite a shine to him...

The layout in the main restaurant was slightly different to when Rich and I went in the Autumn for our anniversary it was still wonderfully light in there and still slightly kooky which is what I love about Goldbrick. We had already decided to have two courses instead of three so we would still be able to move later in the afternoon but that didn't stop us ordering a delicious bottle of Italian white between mum and I as Lu doesn't drink.

The menu was full of so many tempting meals that it was difficult to choose what to go for. I eventually opted for the slow braised pork belly with roasted beetroot, colcannon & cider sauce, mum went for the roast chicken with honey glazed parsnips, spring greens & potato rosti and Lu the gnocchi with chestnut mushrooms, spinach & parmesan in a light cream sauce. Whilst we waited we polished off the bread supplied, which I have to say was excellent, quite a heavy bread but very moreish it tasted like soda bread but I could have been wrong, either way it was excellent with lashings of butter. Luckily we weren't waiting long for our mains they looked heavenly when they arrived.
Slow cooked pork belly
Slow cooked pork belly complete with crackling spear
My main was gorgeous the pork fell apart and melted in the mouth and for the first time in my life I enjoyed the beetroot. Lovely cider sauce flavoured everything beautifully, mum I think wished she'd gone for mine, even though hers was also delicious. I couldn't have wished for a better main course, I have tried their pork belly on the evening menu, although it is served slightly differently, I urge you all to try it at least once it is divine.
Gnocchi with creamy sauce
Gnocchi with mushrooms and spinach in a light creamy sauce
Roast chicken breast with potato rosti, spring veg and honey parsnips
For the sake of the blog I had small sample of everyone's dishes and gathered their thoughts on them as well. My vegetarian sister was extremely pleased with her dish it was light but creamy with the lovely earthy and homely taste of sage running through the sauce. The gnocchi was fluffy and toasted slightly on the outside it was so tasty. I have created a similar cream sauce of my own before to go with butternut squash filled pasta where i used crisped sage leaves, single cream and white port as well as cheese.

Mum was pleased with the chicken, it was moist and the rosti in particular impressed her, a light tasting main but full of flavour. She wasn't as keen on the parsnips remarking they were too hard for roast parsnips but n the whole all the food went down extremely well and there were three clean plates to match the three happy ladies at the table.

For pudding Lu and I went for the brownie and ice cream whilst mum went for the Goldbrick House Mess.
Mum's Goldbrick mess was really light and refreshing because it was flavoured very delicately with mint alongside the strawberries, raspberries and cream mix a perfect ending for a lazy Sunday lunch, I actually prefered her dessert to mine. I am not usually one to pick a chocolate dessert for my first choice after a meal, unlike Rich who is a total chocoholic, however I can be partial to a brownie, who isn't after all. I was a little disappointed with mine, although Lu loved it, but it was a little bitter for me and a tiny bit dry but this could easily be my personal preference.
A lovely meal and relaxing lunch at the ever reliable Goldbrick I would definitely recommend it to those who haven't been yet the food is excellent and the atmosphere very chilled, plus the decor is first rate. Mum definitely wants a return visit soon and I still haven't tried their lamb wellington, which I have good authority on being sublime. Tonight I hopefully will be going for a hot curry to try and finally burn the sickness that has plagued me, uncharacteristically, on and off since Thursday.

Friday 16 March 2012

Mini Post about Boston Tea Party

Ever since one popped up in Bath, where I grew up, I have always enjoyed visiting the Boston Tea Party (BTP) cafes. There is something very friendly, welcoming and unassuming about them. Over the years they have added to their menu and it is so much more than a place to get coffee. Although I don't drink coffee, Rich does, I know two coffee addicts who pick Boston Tea Party as their preferred java dose venue of choice.

Last weekend I met up with the girls for a catch up at the BTP on Park Street and I went for my usual chai tea latte, sweet spicy warming perfection, and a slice of carrot cake. A wedge is more like how it should be described, it was enormous, Jamie went for tea and a wedge of coffee cake. Luckily Elisa was on hand to help us out but even between 3 of us it was a struggle to finish!

Carrot cake is easily in my top three cakes of all time (the others being Victoria sponge with vanilla buttercream and a spiced apple loaf) and this one was very nice indeed, moist, textured and vanilla frosting. Delicious.

So although most people already frequent these lovely cafes dotted around Bristol it is always best to go local, so consider popping in to here or anywhere local to support different places instead of the generic coffee places that spring up anywhere and everywhere. Visit Boston Tea Party's website here to get a peak at what they do.
Boston Tea Party Bristol

Tuesday 13 March 2012

An Evening at Beerd

The other week Rich and I met some friends of ours at Beerd, being that I don't drink beer(except fruity beers) but Rich is some what of a connoisseur he was perfect for reviewing this fairly new venue.

One of Cotham and St Michael’s Hill’s latest pub additions, Beerd claims to offer some of the finest craft beers available right now. A first visit just after Christmas had left a less than strong impression, what with a three-drink round coming to more than £20 and a pizza with a crust as hard as rock. Having said that though, with a few friends wanting to try out the new bar and its extensive ale and beer selection, we were more than willing to give it a second try.

A wide and varied selection of beers takes in local ales, weissbiers, speciality American beers, a few light lagers and even a number of super-strength 9% beverages. In fact for anyone who likes beer of any kind, you’d be well advised to check it out at least once. There does come a problem however if beer is not your thing, with just one cider (Bath Ales Bounders), a very small selection of wines (three red, three white, all Italian), and the usual standard spirits (bars of Bristol, take note, if you must serve just one cachaca please do not make it Sagatiba – it is the worst by far). But then again if you’re not looking to have a beer, why are you going to a place with it so prominently in the name?

We had a good few nice tasty drinks that yielded some pleasant surprises (I’m now a milk stout and ginger spiced ale convert), while our non-beering companions enjoyed the white wines but not so much the thin and sharp reds. The best surprise though was the pizza. A relatively small selection offered some subtle variances on the usual suspects and converted welcomingly to a delicious cooked base that was soft and light and pleasingly generously-covered in delicious topping.
Artichoke Pizza Beerd Bristol
Proscuitto, Mushroom, Artichoke and Olive Pizza
If there is a real criticism to be had in Beerd, it’s that the use of space seems a little out of whack, with half the area being notably empty and the other being somewhat over-crowded. That though is a minor concern, and the somewhat pricey beers can easily be avoided if you actually bother to look at the drinks list – do not then walk straight to the bar and ask for a Schneider Weisse or a Bella Roche, or you’ll be looking at buying yourself an eight or nine pound drink, albeit a very tasty one.

Overall then Beerd is a recommended venue to have a look at, especially if you’re looking at having a swig on something more than the usual choices, and it offers up another nice alternative to the frequently lairy Whiteladies Road haunts that more recently have taken a turn for the worst, the ones that have closed, or the louder more rammed options closer to town. Give it a try, sit back, have a pizza, relax and have a dfferent drink to what you’d normally have – chances are that you’ll find a new favourite.

Monday 12 March 2012

After Work Tea at Papaji's

Last week Jayne and I wanted to go for tea and cake after work around Whiteladies, trying to wean myself off Deco Lounge I suggested Papaji's as I had never been. I was excited by the fact they had 74 teas to choose from, although I wasn't sure what the cake situation would be.

When we walked in it did feel like more of a bar than a tea house. I think the balance of a cafe/bar is a hard one one to get right. The Lounges get the relaxed cafe/bar atmosphere just right and Hermanos on the Triangle is almost there I am just not entirely sure about Papaji's. Having said that the cocktails we passed on the way in looked really good and I love the huge wooden tea chest they have behind the bar.

When looking at the menu we noticed that afternoon tea finishes at 5pm, it was now 5.30, could we convince the nice man at the bar to work around this rule? Papaji's serve Glenburn Teas chosen and looked over carefully by their Tea Master Andy Dodd, so we knew we were in good hands. After deciding to go for Earl Grey (Jayne) and Red Chai (me) we were told there were no more cakes left, which was somewhat disappointing, however 5mins later the nice man returned and said he could do us a couple of scones with jam and cream. Tea date was saved!

Although the tea took a while to arrive, expert brewing I imagine, when it did the smell of mine alone made me smile the description in the menu for Red Chai was:A mean rooibos based chai recipe blended with aniseed, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves & ginger pieces." Some people who know me will already be aware that I am a cinnamon junkie so this was always going to be my first choice. I had milk and sugar in mine  and as you can tell from the photo the result produced is perfect golden colour cup of tea, completely joyous. Both Jayne and I were not disappointed by the quality of the tea it was so well brewed that I am already craving my next Red Chai hit.
Papaji's Tea Bristol
The scones were warm when they arrived and a true delight very light in texture and the jam was a good quality raspberry. As you will see from below I am a jam then cream girl, don't judge me, I think it looks and tastes better, much to my mum's constant disagreement. Both the tea and scones definitely perked us up after a day 'at the coal face'.
Papaji's Cream Tea Bristol
Cream Tea at Papajis
I was really pleased by the high quality and taste of the tea and scones from Papaji's I just think at the time we went it was a bit transitional and considering they market themselves as a tea house (albeit part time) it definitely felt more like a bar, that specialised in tea. But I will be going back for more tea, and later on in the evening, cocktails. I also noticed for Rich they did Asahi beer on tap, and a lovely garden in which to enjoy it in when it warms up a little more. I shall do an update on the cocktails when I get to them. Visit the Papaji's website here.

Next post this week hopefully will be on our visit to Beerd on St Michael's Hill. 

Friday 9 March 2012

Rich's Wonderful Stir Fry

Rich has recently got really into stir-fry which gives me an opportunity to relax and play computer games whilst he cooks. Here are his tips for a delicious stir-fry outcome.

Stir-fry. Quick, simple, tasty, and most importantly healthy. For anyone who moans all too frequently of their inability to cook anything, or at least anything with vegetable in, surely the stir-fry is the easy answer? Granted you can still burn the food, under-cook it or even set the wok and then the kitchen on fire, but really all of these things can be relatively effortlessly avoided. (Hint, if the oil in the pan catches fire, don't throw water on it, I'm looking at you, Kathryn)

For your standard stir-fry I've done here for Abby and me, you will need a small number of elements; diced chicken, vegetables, noodles, sauce, oil, wok, hob.

Get your hob on your oven up to a high heat, put the wok on, wait two minutes, then add a splash of oil. Common sense and experience will guide you here. Once the oil is fizzing away nicely (ie proper hot), add in the chicken, add a splash of soy sauce and cook both sides until they start to brown just lightly. Now add in all your vegetable with a little more soy. Generally I always use carrots and peppers, as I like the flavour and also they easily cut into strips, but brocolli, green beans and other mini-veg are all good too.

Now you can go with just meat 'n' veg stir-fry, or you can add some noodles in with the minimum of extra fuss. To do this just add the noodles you have to the veg 'n' meat mix after the veg has been in for about a minute. Keep stirring the food ensuring everything gets exposed to the heat. You want to aim for about five minutes all-in-all here. And then you'll want to add a good sauce. Sweet and sour sauce is always a good bet (though I prefer hoisin, char siu or a sweet chilli, S&S is a safe all-rounder) and the best way to do one of these is get the following:

1/3 mug rice vinegar
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp ketchup (controversial but it helps create a nice consistency in the sauce)
2 tsp cornstarch
3 tsp water
2 tsp soy sauce (I like dark but any is good)
1 thinly diced chilli (if you want extra zing)

Splash the sauce on and stir well. After just over a minute you're good to serve and eat immediately. If you're unsure try a small piece of the vegetables to see if you deem it cooked. Serve with rice if you want, or you can flavour the the whole mix with some egg, or you can do this with beef instead, in which case cook the meat much less, or you can do this without meat and just have it vegetarian...the options really are limitless.

Once you master the basic elements it's all very simple and easy if you want to extend or modify the way in which you want to cook and serve the food up. Also if you struggle with making a decent sauce, there are plenty of good ready prepared ones out there you can buy for relatively few pennies. Having said that it is good to master your own sauce preparation as it's so easy to do, with just a small amount of practice.

Nom, as my better half would say.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Chicken and Bacon Pie for British Pie Week

So this week is British Pie Week I was contemplating buying some of the amazing Pieminister pies to have for dinner one night but I thought, 'why be lazy?'. I already conquered my pie making fears a month or so ago plus mum gave me some pie dishes for my birthday, surely it was time to attempt pie number two? Although if you are going to buy, Pieminister are the way to go, faultless pies, my favourites are Chicken of Aragon and Moo and Blue.

So I went for a puff pastry chicken and bacon pie I looked over a few recipes, and as always took what I wanted from both and created my own dish. Chicken, lardons, potato and carrot cubes all went into the main mix as well as making a roux with in the main mix then adding creme fraiche  herbs and some roulĂ© cheese.

I was very proud of it, was tasty and very comforting on a chilly night, definitely has encouraged me to try more pies, which is just as well as mum also got me the Pieminister book for my birthday.
Chicken and Bacon Pie
Chicken and Bacon Pie Pieminister
Tonight Rich is making one of his amazing stir frys, he will be blogging about that tomorrow, exciting. In the meantime if you haven't indulged in British Pie Week go get some pie, be it cherry, apple, steak, chicken or cheese and potato, the possibilities are endless!

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Sunday Dim Sum at Dynasty

On Sunday we finally got to sample the celebrated dim sum at Dynasty on St Thomas Street. Armed with an expert, our friend Jamie, we headed down from the flat in a lucky dry patch, on an otherwise wet day. Although I have had the odd dim sum before at Chinese buffets, mainly gyoza and char siu buns I had never devoted a whole session to them.

We were surprised by how busy it was, these dim sum were clearly well renowned. We let Jamie order with guidance to avoid the snail involved dishes. With 12 dishes carefully chosen and some three roasties rice to go with we sipped our Chinese tea awaiting delivery. Everything arrived promptly and it all looked delicious.
Three Roasties Rice 
I have been well informed by Jamie that these are the best and most authentic dim sum in Bristol but Wong's is the place to go for the best three roasties rice, we were however quite pleased with it when it rocked up, honey roast pork is definitely one of my favourite Chinese dishes. The dim sum quickly followed and the talk slowed to a minimum except to occasionally to check what dish was which.  I couldn't fault any of them, however I had a few favourites, the prawn wonton with salad cream dip, yes you read that correctly and it worked very well. The crispy squid was very tasty also, as well as the pork dumplings and chicken rolls wrapped in bean curd. I think my favourite, by a whisker though was the yam croquettes they were amazingly delicious, Jamie told me how hard they are to make as you have to get the yam so smooth.
Prawn Wonton
Yam Croquettes and Crispy Squid
Jamie assures me that next time we should try the crispy chicken feet, I am curious but not committed to that yet, however definitely cannot wait to go back for more of their dim sum it was the perfect way to spend a Sunday. I would advise people get there early or book because it was so busy at 1pm when we arrived we were lucky to get seated. Our next Chinese mission hopefully will be The Mayflower where Jamie can guide us round more of the authentic delicacies! In the mean time, here are some more photos of our dim sum.

Siu Mai Dumplings with Pork and Shrimp

Monday 5 March 2012

Brunch at Deco Lounge

I love The Lounge bars that decorate Bristol and beyond, I used to live down in Southville close to the original Lounge where it all began. Now I live close to Deco Lounge in Cotham and they are both so relaxing to visit. There is definitely something about the atmosphere at The Lounges that I go back for again and again. Last weekend I ended up at Deco Lounge twice, Friday night was a catch up with some girl friends where we partook in wine, spicy cashews and fries and Saturday Rich, myself and our friend went for brunch.

Our friend and I went for the Lounge Breakfast, a full English, whilst Rich went for the Lounge Eggs, pretty much eggs Benedict, which looked so tasty I was almost wishing I had ordered it. Rich went for bacon as well as salmon and it was very nicely presented, he ate it all without letting me have any, so it must have been good! The full English comes with the usual trimmings, for me the thick cut bacon and herby sausage patty are the best in this breakfast, the mushrooms were bland and they clearly had used low sodium baked beans, which is not on at all! Having said that it was tasty on the whole and I still think the atmosphere at Deco Lounge and it's Lounge brothers and sisters is hard to beat. Definitely worth going any day of the week for coffee, a glass of wine or just some nice home cooked style food or tapas.

Although their breakfasts are good I personally think Rosemarino does a better brunch, I would travel far for their mushrooms, with parmesan and sage on toast with truffle oil. Now there's an idea for next weekend...