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Tuesday 29 May 2012

Barbecue Weekend Bonanza with the Social Smokers

The final countdown to Grillstock has begun so Joe from the Bristol barbecue team Social Smokers UK gives us the low down on his barbecue extravaganza weekend.

The sun is shining, the weather is rejoice, make you want to drink beer smoke some meat… well something like that.

Yes the weekend of the 25th May will go down in history as the British summer of 2012.  I can’t see us having another weekend like that, it was seriously hot.  And we, the Social Smokers, were in our element.  Matt, Jon and I spent the whole weekend in the garden, cooking. 

This weekend we were practising for the chicken and beef brisket rounds of the King Of The Grill competition at Grillstock.
Social Smokers BBQ

First up, a sweet BBQ chicken with a citrus kick! We applied a rub of smoked paprika, salt, lemon zest, garlic granules and black pepper.  The oils in the lemon zest really lift this rub.  With the rub applied they were placed in a tray and put in the smoker at around 350F for an hour and a half. 
Barbecue Chicken
Barbecue Chicken

When crispy and almost done they were dunked in a lemon and mustard BBQ sauce.  The dunking sauce was made with; 
Olive Oil, 
Sprite, (yes you read that correctly
Lemon Juice, 
Light brown sugar and Wholegrain Mustard.  

The chicken was placed back in the smoker for another 30 minutes, this time straight on the grill grates.  The results were very good.  The meat was juicy and the flavour was sweet and fruity.  The skin could have been crispier but that will come with practice.
Barbecue Chicken Mid Barbecue
Barbecued Chicken Bristol Grillstock
Barbecued Chicken Ready to Serve
We had a few drumsticks left over so we decided to make the notorious ‘Death Legs’.  A super-hot Chilli chicken using some of the world’s hottest chillies.  They did not disappoint, the Trinidad scorpion Moruga chilli gave an instant heat whilst the 7 pot chilli had an intense long burn.
Prepped 'Death Legs'
Barbecued Death Legs
'Death Legs' Ready to Serve (if you dare try them)

Roast beef is a traditional Sunday staple in Britain.  We however decided to cook our beef Texan style. Beef brisket is a tough cut that requires a lot of cooking.  We smoked the beef at around 220f for 8 hours.  The rub was a basic BBQ rub of onion and garlic powder, paprika, cumin and oregano, sugar, salt and pepper.  We smoked it with oak chucks that were soaked in water to stop them from burning too quickly and basted it every hour for the first 4 hours. 
Brisket with Texan Style Rub
The mop sauce was made using sugar, vinegar, chilli flakes and dark beer or ale.  After 4 hours the Brisket was wrapped foil and cooked for a further 4 hours. We served the brisket with rolls, coleslaw and BBQ beans. 
8 Hour Barbecue Brisket
Cooked Brisket Complete with Smoke Ring
8 Hour Texas Style Brisket
Carved Brisket

For me brisket is the number one BBQ food.  If you have a kettle barbecue I urge you to try cooking it.  Buy an unrolled brisket with a good amount of fat on the top as this will baste the meat during the cooking process.  Use a decent coal, bricket or lumpwood, not a cheap coal as it will have chemical binders in it which will ruin the flavour of the meat and all your hard work.  I found this out recently when I cooked a lamb shoulder using a budget charcoal from B&Q.  Everything tasted of petrol.  Barbecue Fail!

You can buy a good coal and a wide selection of wood for smoking at

Thanks for the update Joe it looks amazing. Want to follow the progress of this Bristol barbecue team check out their facebook page 

Monday 28 May 2012

Chorizo Baked in Wine

After a mini discussion on Twitter with various foodies I reveal the recipe I made for my chorizo baked in wine tapas dish. This will be a relatively short post being that the recipe is, although not a long one, a very delicious one!

You can use either chorizo ring or whole mini chorizos, this time round I used both as they take on the flavour in different ways. So if you de-skin and chop the chorizo ring into chunks no smaller than 2cm, I find that smaller pieces tend to dry out in the baking process otherwise. You will also need a ceramic or Pyrex baking dish rather than a metal one.

After chopping the chorizo add between half to three quarters of a bottle of Spanish red, enough to almost cover the chorizo. I then add 2-3 cloves of garlic chopped into strips and scatter around the dish. Add a couple of shakes of paprika and thyme and you are good to go. It should look a bit like this:
Chorizo baked in wine
Chorizo Baked in Wine
Bake it for about 40-50mins on 180-190 with fan or you can go lower for longer if you fancy, for a more intense flavour, I have baked it for up to 2 hours before. When it comes out it should have dropped about half the liquid level and the chorizo should be much darker, see the photo below the chorizo dish, right.
Tapas in Bristol
The Final Product (surrounded by other tapas dishes and empty plates)
Admittedly this isn't the best final photo, We all dug in quite enthusiastically before I got a chance to take a picture. Your guests will not be disappointed serve with crusty bread to mop up all the meaty wine juices and you will be in tapas heaven. Let me know how you get on with this recipe if you give it a go. Later in the week we shall have a report from Joe from the Social Smokers barbecue team giving us an update of his very meaty weekend. Plus the upcoming report of my lunch visit at Hotel du Vin with Bristol Bites.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Refuelling at Mission Burrito

It had been a long time since our last Mission Burrito visit and it seemed the best place to pop in for a bit of post cinema munching. Mexican food is definitely one of my favourites, and it is great to see Bristol now has two central places in which to get a burrito or taco fix quickly.

Mission Burrito, for me at least, pips My Burrito to the post, in taste and construction.  This time round I went for the steak burrito, steak cooked in chipotle, my favourite chilli, sauce and gently roasted. Rich went for a carnitas burrito, slow cooked pork seasoned with thyme and orange zest then cooked for hours very slowly. We always go for pinto beans over black beans because they cook them in pancetta and onions which really add an extra something to the whole of the burrito.

What is really great is that they are very generous with the portions in Mission Burrito and they wrap them so tightly that there is no danger of escaping items or leaking all over your hands that I experienced in My Burrito. Having said that the chicken in My Burrito is superior than the shredded option at Mission Burrito. We also chose a luridly coloured Jarritos soft drink to go with our meal, which actually tasted better than it looked.
Mission Burrito Bristol
Steak Burrito
Cholula Hot Sauce Bristol
Carnitas Burrito with Cholula and Jarritos
These are some tasty and weighty burritos, there is no excess liquid and the flavours really come together I chose the salsa verde to go on mine which was meant to be medium but there was no heat that I noticed but the flavour was good. To add some spice I used some of the Cholula hot sauces they have dotted around the place, they also sell these at the counter. Now there are four types of Cholula hot sauces available that I am aware of. I already buy the chipotle one for cooking with, really zings up fajitas and chilli without being too hot. I order mine online but you can also get them in Asda Bedminster, if you aren't a fan of super hot but still want a little kick this is a great sauce range to go for. I tried the hot garlic one at Mission Burrito and that was another winner, may add it my next chipotle order.
Mission Burrito Bristol
Carnitas Burrito
So looking for your next Mexican hit? Check out Mission Burrito, mind you their Park Street location would be hard to miss. Check out Mission Burrito's website for a full menu. You can compare and contrast Mission Burrito with My Burrito by checking our review here. Next week hopefully will include some lovely Eurovision snacks and a curry review.

Monday 21 May 2012

Pizza for Two at Planet Pizza

Rich adores pizza, I may have already mentioned this on the blog once or twice. One of our couple friends swears by Planet Pizza for their pizza treat fix. There are two Planet Pizza branches in Bristol, one on Gloucester Road and the other on Whiteladies. Being that we live just off Whiteladies, last week we decided to take advantage of Planet Pizza's 2 for 1 deal which is available every Monday and Tuesday all evening.
Planet Pizza Bristol
Planet Pizza
It is quite a strange little venue with the odd space theme and purple walls but actually I liked the homely feeling to it. The place was pretty empty apart from one other couple but we were dining at 6.30 which was a little early for most. We decided to push the boat out and go for a bottle of wine to go with our doughball starters and pizzas.

I was surprised by the amount of good vegetarian toppings on offer, some of which were different from the usual. This was actually the same for all the pizzas the toppings varied to a lot of pizza places around which was a refreshing change. I went for one of their specials, Brie and Bacon and Rich chose the Meteorite, a spicy meaty one.
Dough Balls and Wine
Planet Pizza
Brie and Bacon Pizza
The first thing to say about these pizzas is that they are more American pizza pie style pizzas very heavily laden with cheese and toppings, which for a cheese fanatic like me is a welcome sight. The base wasn't actually as heavy as I was expecting I was dreading Pizza Hut style deep pan with a two inch base but these were about a centimetre in thickness.
Planet Pizza Bristol
Meteorite Pizza
Planet Pizza Bristol
Close up of the Meteorite
We both really enjoyed our pizzas they were hot, tasty and ultimately very comforting. Although I wouldn't want to eat such an indulgent pizza all the time this is definitely the place to go for when you want a huge slice of warming cheese laden carb filled goodness. Brie on a pizza is definitely a revelation and I hope it is a recurring special because I would order this pizza again. The two for one offer is excellent value perfect for a  post weekend discussion with friends or a treat with the other half. To see what other pizzas they have check out the Planet Pizza website.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Jambalaya to Feed the 5000

Last night I had one of my get togethers with Jamie and Elisa. I had decided to make jambalaya, which is not only tasty, but fun to say, Rich even has a song about it. My recipe was mostly based on a Gumbo recipe from BBC Good Food and my experimentation learned from much research I did on the recipe. Jambalaya for those not in the know is a Louisiana Creole dish which has it's base in the Spanish paella. There are a few types of jambalaya which is why recipes can vary so wildly as you can see here.

The recipe is pretty meat heavy and can be very spicy, I made mine to a medium level but had Tabasco on the table for those heat seekers. Here is the recipe I used but I doubled the amounts for 4 and so I would have leftovers. I also took out the onion, added lots more cayenne pepper, paprika and Creole spice. I also  chopped Toulouse sausages, for an extra meaty garlic flavour and obviously a couple of mugs of rice. The rice took about 30mins to soak up all the liquid so I left it with the lid on whilst it did with the occasional stirring. Although it is slightly more time consuming than I would prefer a week day meal the taste is worth it. Smoky, spicy very meaty and very comforting. This would make a great easy dinner party piece as it is very easy to double the quantities.

Jambalaya Recipe
Jambalaya mid prep
The great thing about jambalaya is that you can get a little creative with what you put in, to some extent. A lot of Louisianan recipes include seafood as well. I was really pleased with how mine turned out, even though I have made it once or twice before, it was just the right amount of spice. Everyone had seconds and there was a heap left for me to have for lunch today, delicious.
The Leftovers!
Hopefully this will have inspired you to try experimenting with your own jambalaya or gumbo style recipes. With fish this will definitely be a lighter and more Summery option. Next review is from Rich on Planet Pizza which should be up tomorrow.

Monday 14 May 2012

Brunch at Rosemarino

Saturday was the first consistently sunny day Bristol has seen for weeks. It was warm and beautiful outside perfect day for brunch. We had already agreed to meet Jamie and Boz for brunch and they had been dying to try Rosemarino. Rich and I have been to Rosemarino a few times so we didn't need any convincing.

Downstairs the sun shone down on us from the above windows it was a perfect morning. I already knew what I wanted so I sipped my previously ordered Pago cloudy cherry juice, my new current favourite soft drink perfect for a cherry fanatic, whilst the others decided. I was going for mushrooms on toast with parmesan, truffle oil and pan fried sage leaves, for everyone else it was Eggs Royale all round with various sides of bacon. Eggs Benedict in it's various forms, is Rich's favourite breakfast bar none, I occasionally make it for him, having perfected the poach a few years back, but he would be quick to agree that I am far too slack at providing aforementioned dish.
Pago Cloudy Cherry Juice
Pago Cloudy Cherry(hoping more places stock it soon)
Mushrooms on Toast with Parmesan (plus side sausage)

Mushrooms on Toast with Parmesan with Crispy Sage Leaves
For me, a mushroom fan, I have tasted no finer breakfast than this in Bristol so far, it is rich, creamy, indulgent and heavenly. It says a lot about the superior quality of this dish to sway me from Eggs Benedict or a Full English, though I have had Rosemarino's full English before and it is wonderful.  The earthy sage and truffle oil brought out a lot of the flavour of the mushrooms whilst the cream and cheese made it indulgent and helped make a king of this ingredient which is usually treated as a side line in the breakfast line up.
Eggs Royale
Eggs Royale with Side Order of Bacon
Rosemarino Food Bristol
Eggs Royale with Side Order of Bacon
All you could hear from our table for a good 5 mins was the sound of steady enthusiastic munching, peppered with the odd mmmmm and mutterings of 'so good'. The quality of the bacon was particularly praised the sausage too was fantastic, herby and really meaty. The Eggs Royale was declared the best in Bristol and totally perfect, the eggs were beautifully runny and ran into the salmon and through the hollandaise, a taste sensation right there.

Having not been for brunch at Rosemarino for ages it was so great to return and I think we will probably be paying them another visit for Rich's birthday brunch when the time comes along next month. But what I really want to do is to pay them a visit for dinner one evening. The menu sounds superb and if it's anything like as good as their breakfasts then sign me up asap! To check out any of their menus visit the Rosemarino website.

Friday 11 May 2012

Lunch at Cosmo

Bristol Chinese buffet Cosmo was closed for what seemed a long time, promised initially for over two months in reality it stretched out to over four and a half. Most of us assumed it was the big fight back against the monstrous buffet experience of Za Za Bazaar, of which I am not a fan in the least. So last weekend we returned to try out the newly re-opened Cosmo to see what they had done with the place.

And first impressions are good. Inside it looks fresh, new, clean and bright (before hand there was a lot of dark wood and black), a lot of white stations making it look a bit like a 60s sci-fi set, oddly they also decided to make some very strange choices over new seating arrangements, including some right by the reception area. Why would anyone want to sit by the busy and frequently crowded waiting area making you feel like an exhibit is completely bizarre. And also you end up sitting in an area furthest from the buffet, and having to push through anyone else coming into the restaurant.

When we went, the place was absolutely rammed and half of those were children between 6 and 12 swarming all over the new stations. This is nothing against children but I noted that most of them were just getting chicken nuggets and chips, and at a pan Asian buffet, this seems a bit redundant to me as you can get those for half the price elsewhere, but then I've seen plenty of adults doing exactly the same thing.

The back area of Cosmo is much brighter than before and it definitely feels less gloomy, although I did spend a minute or two wondering what the fate of all those fish that previously swam in huge glass tanks in the wall was. On that sobering note our group were swiftly encouraged to order some drinks; cokes all round apart from me, I ordered a pot of jasmine tea, which is perfect for cutting through rich food, a complete revelation to me earlier this year and I am definitely a convert.

The buffet area was rammed, it took all the will I could muster to get up and face those crowds, a feeding frenzy is not exactly my idea of a fun way to spend lunch. After nearly tripping over several herds of unpoliced children in the strangely now narrowed food 'aisles' (which now create huge tightly packed crowds) I tried to make some sense of the order in which the buffet was arranged. Curries were first in the block, the then final two were made up of various Chinese dishes and starters plus the odd tray of British fare, like hash browns, cocktail wieners and onion rings.

Cosmo Restaurant Food
Rich's first plate mostly of Indian based foods
Cosmo Restaurant Food
Rich's Duck Pancake Course
Cosmo Restaurant Food
My first plate

After fighting through the crowds, filling my plate more than I usually would just so I had a nice long wait before throwing myself back into the thick of it, we finally sat down to sample. The curries and other Indian dishes were actually quite nice and not as dry as I was expecting, which was a good thing. The Chinese selection of food was vastly reduced from what it was, which actually I think is a big mistake because what they used to do was fairly tasty. Though not the best Chinese food I've had, it was of a good standard and the selection was nicely sized too. Considering the buffet is labelled as Pan Asian at lunch time they have no Thai or Japanese just Indian, Chinese and some weak looking pasta and pizza - when I last looked Italy was not part of Asia. The black pepper pork was pretty good though and the noodles were pretty nice, and it was good to get a choice of Singapore and standard ramen sized noodles.

Cosmo Restaurant Food
Mixed Chicken Course
There was a big queue at the desserts, I rarely queue for anything especially food, so that really put me off but we waited until the massive line cleared a little before sampling. Traditionally I always get fruit after Chinese buffets so helping myself to my customary bowl of tinned peaches I returned happy. The rest of our party ploughed into the cakes and ice cream with gusto and proclaimed them pretty good.

I guess evening is a better time to try it out with more dishes on offer, hopefully they still do dim sum and sushi. Although for £7.99 it is a fairly good deal  for a lunch buffet, I just think that instead of trying to compete with Za Za Bazaar's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cuisine choices, Cosmo should have chosen the path of higher quality Chinese food and do it really well to show how buffets can be done. I've heard fairly good things about Shanghai Night's new buffet so that may be worth a visit soon.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

A Sunday Evening at Hotcha

Rich and I visited newly opened Hotcha on Whiteladies, Rich reviews our meal there.

Hotcha is yet another quickly sprung-up Chinese/Pan Asian food venue (we won't call it a restaurant for reasons that will soon become apparent) to occupy space on Whiteladies Road, their first central location being on Baldwin Street a few months back. And when the Sunday food choices came down to either the much touted "NO MSG" Hotcha or the slightly grubbier sounding Bangkok Street Food (which apparently is actually rather good, and we shall be sure to check it out soon), we went with Hotcha. Basically we chose it because of the name. Shallow I know.

Anyway, for those of you who have read our review on Toro Pan Asian (worst meal I've had in years), and the comments that came after, you could neatly summarise Toro as good for everything in the more secondary fields of eating out (decor, service, price, etc) and absolutely terrible for the actual main event, ie. the food. Hotcha then does an inverse flip and serves great food but falls down almost everywhere else. And as a result is clearly the superior choice.

The venue itself is all clean whites, a bit cold and empty perhaps, but it has a certain minimalist charm. It's pretty much laid out like an eat-in takeaway too - seating is all eight-person benches, with a free-for-all array of chopsticks, plastic (yes, plastic) cutlery, napkins and even branded Hotcha mugs, while to order you have to go to the counter and state if you're eating in or out. In itself not a problem, but my personal advice - eat out.
Hotcha Chinese Takeaway Food
How our meal looked out of the bag, note the lack of plate or empty box to eat out of

A nice touch is that you can openly see behind the counter all the cooks preparing, cleaning, seasoning and cooking all of the food, and it's nice to see it all being done so freshly and skillfully. Other than that you've really no other reason to eat in. We ordered char siu pork, sweet and sour chicken and rice to share. The food is served with each dish coming in its own plastic takeaway box on a plastic tray, which while keeping the price nice and low is a bit of a naff low-rent way of eating, but the flavour and taste of the food itself is great.
Char Siu Pork Hotcha

All of the dishes we tried tasted delicious and everything has a nice lightness to it which means that the sometimes heavy, greasy and oily after-taste you so often get with takeaway is not there and instead you just get a nice feeling of clean tasting freshness of what you've just eaten. Also worth mentioning is that the food boxes all come full of meat and there's no filler in there. So often you'll order a few dishes and a lot of it will be padded out with beanshoots or random other cheap padding, and thankfully Hotcha avoids this route. Each of our main options just came stuffed with the good stuff.
Sweet & Sour Chicken Hotcha
Sweet and Sour Chicken and Rice
Hotcha Food Bristol
A few other notable eyebrow raisers included the very poor quality of the chopsticks on offer, and also the air con. The first pair of disposable chopsticks I went for had a number of splits and massive splinters, so I went for a second pair, which in turn looked like they might spontaneously disintegrate in my hands at any moment. Luckily set no. 3 was absolutely fine. Bad luck of the draw? Perhaps, but generally the disposables I've had in Wagamama, Beijing Bistro, Obento and countless others have been much better looking and felt less rough. My advice, use the plastic forks. And the air con, what about the air con. Yes technically we're in the Spring/Summer crossover now (no it's true, we really are) and granted the cooking staff may be quite warm slaving over the hot woks and pans, but the dining area itself was freezing. Simply put, no-one in there was eating with their jacket off. Luckily the food was so pipingly hot, it helped to fight off the bone-chilling cold air quite substantially.

So where does Hotcha stand then? Venue - basic, Service - perfunctory. Price - very good. Food - great. If you want to try a new Chinese takeaway then Hotcha fills a nice gap in the market (in that good Chinese take-outs aren't quite yet completely saturating the market, unlike the dozens of curry options out there), with good food at a good price. But if you're looking to eat at an actual Chinese venue, then don't bother. Unless you want that authentic eating-like-a-student-but-not-quite-as-comfortable experience.  To view Hotcha's menu visit their website.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

5 Course Menu by Ronnie at Eat Drink Bristol

Friday it was finally time to enjoy my second Eat Drink Bristol event. I had chosen the 5 course a la carte menu from Ronnie's out of all the great choices available. I was so glad I did because it turned out to be some of the tastiest food I have had in a good long while.

Rich was unfortunately too poorly to attend so our friend Phil stepped up to the challenge and continuing in the weather theme for the country we arrived, rather chilly to the giant tepee. Before I continue I must add how difficult a process Amiando, the ticket company used to set up this event, made of actually attending the event. Even though I had paid for my tickets I had been left off the list, apparently I was not the only person to have this happen to. I only found this out when I rang The Muset to find out what time I should show up on the evening, as required to do by Amiando. Luckily Ronnie himself sorted out squeezing Phil and I in on a table and the staff could not have been more sympathetic.

The tepee looked beautiful once again, there seemed fewer tables than when we went for Sunday lunch and the atmosphere was very relaxed. After sipping my large glass of Malbec and chatting to Phil the food began to arrive. Everyone was brought an appetiser of garden pea soup with soured cream foam, this was really delicious really fresh and brought the best flavour out of the peas.
We then had the difficult task of choosing our starters and mains, although the main for me was no contest I was going for Mussel End Farm lamb, herb crust, leek & onion compote and dauphine potatoes. I mulled over the starters with Phil, whether to go for the duck rilette: duck speck, black truffle mayonnaise and pickled wood blewits or the wild mushroom risotto with Champagne. I have a bit of thing for mushrooms, but mushroom risotto is rarely done well in my book. It often comes out bland and very disappointing, I put my faith in many a restaurant hoping this time that they will come through for me when I order it, it rarely does. Tonight however, I was feeling confident of a good result, so plumped for the risotto, whilst Phil went for one of his favourites, scallops.
Wild Mushroom Risotto
Wild Mushroom Risotto with Champagne
I could not have been happier with my decision. My first forkful and I was in heaven. If I had left that tepee after just sampling that risotto alone I would have floated home on a cloud. A big mushroom flavour that really made them the star of the dish and white truffle oil to bring out the earthiness. It was rich, creamy and very indulgent, easily the best mushroom dish I have ever sampled, it was the stand out dish for me and I hoped that one day I would get to eat it again. I noted later when checking their menu that The Muset does do a mushroom risotto on it's lunch menu so with any luck this foodie dream could be fulfilled.
Lyme Bay Scallops
Lyme Bay Scallops with Pancetta
Phil's dish, Lyme Bay scallops, pancetta, garlic puree and sage was also a winner. The scallops were meaty, perfectly cooked and melted in the mouth and were beautifully flavoured, although once he sampled my dish, Phil declared he preferred it ever so slightly to his. So far the evening was a delicious delight.
Herb Encrused Lamb with Dauphine Potatoes 
Phil and I both opted for the lamb, as you can see from the photo, it was nice and pink inside, which is how lamb should be. The creamy garlic flavour of the potatoes really complimented the meat, which was wonderfully juicy, the quality of the lamb was superb. The sign of a good meal for me is when you don't want it to end, although you know the plate won't refill itself you try and eat really slowly to savour each and every mouthful. That was definitely how I felt about the starter and main courses.

I wasn't sure how I felt about having two desserts. I am not an overly sweet toothed being, though don't get me wrong a good pudding can really hit the spot, I usually leave most of the sugar eating to Rich, he is quite the connoisseur.  The fourth course was Ronnie's bread and butter pudding followed by a choice of two desserts or cheese. Normally I am a cheese fiend but I was won over by the sound of strawberry sundae with clotted cream ice cream. Luckily for me Phil picked the cheese so I would get to sample a bit of that as well.
bread and butter pudding bristol
Ronnie's Bread and Butter pudding
My bread and butter pudding some what fell apart so the photo doesn't do the flavour justice. It was very creamy a bit like a creme brulee and bread and butter pudding hybrid, the apricot jam on the top was delicious, which is saying something considering I am not a huge fan of apricots. It was a nice dessert but if I had to pick a course to come last it would be this one, but only because the second pudding was just so good.
Strawberry Sundae with Clotted Cream Ice Cream
Selection of Local Cheese, Pear Chutney and Crackers
The cheese was tasty but what made it was the pear chutney, it was quite unlike any fruit chutney I've had before. I could taste Chinese five spice in it which really worked especially with the blue cheese. Phil was almost positive he had located popping candy in the bruschetta cracker, I thought I could taste it but wasn't entirely sure. It would have been nice to have some sort of indication as what each cheese was and where it was from.

My dessert was very sweet, mainly thanks to the honeycomb but also very tasty. The strawberries were fresh and vibrant without being soggy like they can be in some desserts and the ice cream was beautifully creamy. There was quite a lot of things to try in this one dessert, as I dug down deeper I found strawberry mousse. I think my favourite bit though was the pistachio marshmallow, totally unexpected, wonderfully quirky and very tasty.

My experience of Eat Drink Bristol this time round could not have gone better and I really hope they do another one next year. After having a quick impromptu chat with Ronnie as we paid for our wine I left with that excited buzzy feeling that I sometimes get after a brilliant meal. Although I was sad for poor Rich missing out on such a great meal we are planning on lunch at The Muset on our next day off. For info on Ronnie's Restaurants visit the website here. Reviews to come include our visit to Hotcha, by Rich and our trip to newly renovated Cosmo.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Sunday Carvery at Eat Drink Bristol Fashion

The past week has been, to quote Blackadder, wetter than a haddock's bathing costume, Sunday was no different. Fearing a completely waterlogged Queen's Square we walked down in time for 12pm, our allotted slot. There was a lot of waiting around not knowing where we should be, we bought some drinks and waited whilst watching the rain pour into huge buckets at the corners of the teepee. Overall I think the ticketing system for this event has been a bit haphazard, having to ring the restaurants for start times and then not even being on the list for the carvery event  even though my ticket clearly stated April 29th. For a new event this is probably to be expected.

We were waiting quite a long time to get seated and started but I have since learned, once I returned home, that there was flooding in the kitchen. In all honesty I am surprised the teepees didn't collapse under the unrelenting wind and rain, so the staff deserve a complete round of applause for carrying on regardless.

Inside the giant teepee was beautiful, lots of ivy and fairy lights made it feel really cosy and friendly. We were sat on one of the first tables so were called to line up for our lunch first. The Pony and Trap team had cooked us a choice of lamb, beef or pork and a variety of vegetables including cauliflower cheese, red cabbage and honey roasted parsnips. What was nice was that you got a giant Yorkshire pudding no matter what meat you chose. I went for the pork whilst Rich chose the beef which had a wonderful pink tinge throughout.
Eat Drink Bristol Fashion Carvery
Roast Pork and all the Trimmings
Eat Drink Bristol Roast Beef Carvery
Roast Beef and all the Trimmings
Rich and I rarely go out for roasts and when we have they have often been a disappointment in flavour or quality, only The Grapes in Clifton have exceeded our expectations with their 24 hour roast pork, although I am not sure whether they still have the same quality of roasts as we haven't visited there for at least a year. My own roasts, especially the potatoes, are worth the couple of hours slog in the kitchen for. This carvery you could tell the high quality of the meat, it was extremely well flavoured and perfectly cooked. I did think they were a bit stingy with the meat portions though, I got two small slices of pork, Rich fared better, but not by much. The roast potatoes were nice but not astounding and the veg was nice and crisp. The biggest surprise for me were the honey roast parsnips, not being a big fan of parsnips, I really enjoyed mine.  One of the diners on our table managed to charm his way into seconds which made him the secret envy of the whole table, I would have loved to try a slice of each meat. It was a nice roast, but I did think I was going to be bowled over.
Apple and Rhubarb Crumble
Apple and Rhubarb Crumble and Cream
Lemon Posset
Lemon Posset with Tea Soaked Prune
Lunch came with dessert which I wasn't expecting so it was a nice surprise. The choices were Lemon Posset with Tea soaked Prune or Apple and Rhubarb crumble. The plus point to the crumble was the rhubarb was definitely the best cooked rhubarb I have experienced. The crumble part was terribly dry, I did not even finish mine. Rich said the lemon posset was refreshingly sharp and cleansing.

I think for £20 they should have thrown in a glass of wine or something as for a roast it was a little steep in price, plus the cheapest bottle of red wine was £18. I really love the Eat Drink Bristol concept and hope that they do the same thing next year because if they tweak a few things it could be the envy of the South. I have a feeling I will have a better experience on Friday when I go to the Ronnie's five course taster menu, which I am really looking forward to.