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Plus! Browns Marmo Jamaica S treet S tores

Tel: 01225 585 100

15a George Street, Bath BA1 2EN

 ClaytonsKitch





Opening Times

2 courses £20 | 3 courses £25

Mon to Thu: 1200-1430 & 1800-2130

Monday – Saturday from 12pm.

Sat: 1200-1500 & 1730-2200

Main menus and more can be found on our website.

Sun: 1200-1500 & 1800-2100

Fri: 1200-1430 & 1800-2200

SHERRY TALE One of my favourite Christmas food traditions is my Christmas Eve fish and chip supper. I drive home to Weston-super-Mare each 24 December via Papa’s chippy and then we tuck in, watching some Dickensian TV adaptation or other and crack open the sherry. This drink appears in many a household’s festive traditions, I bet. So, we’ve made it our Hero Ingredient for our Christmas issue, delving into its history, different styles, and myriad uses in the kitchen. We hope it convinces you that it’s a top sip at any time of year. Remember, sherry is for life, not just for Christmas... This season isn’t all about the chippy, sherry and emergency chairs, though, of course. For some, it’s a challenging time of year. If you’d like to help those less fortunate get a good feed over Christmas, search for Caring at Christmas online to donate. This project is run by the charity Caring in Bristol, which has buddied up with food redistribution charity FareShare, chef Josh Eggleton and The Community Farm to provide seven days of restaurant-standard meals for people experiencing homelessness this winter. The likes of Elliott Lidstone of Box-E and Ben Harvey from Pasta Loco will be in the kitchen during Christmas week, and a donation of £21 could pay for that food as well as shelter and support for one person. Right then, I’m signing off for 2019 – and wishing you a proper cracker.

Jessica Carter, Editor


There’s far more to the sherry world than Harveys Bristol Cream – although that’s still the most popular variety in the UK






08 HERO Sherry good 12 OPENINGS ETC All the need-to-know goss

35 THE DRIP FEED Festive thirst-quenchers for the Christmas season 37 PARTY POTIONS Crimbo cocktails to serve at Yuletide soirées

60 SMALL PACKAGES Where to taste the best of the small plate revolution 67 GRILLED Chef Merlin LabronJohnson reveals his new project in Somerset



CHEF! 24 Venison curry, by Pravin Nayar 27 Smoked parsnips, by Genevieve Taylor 28 Chicken curry mee, by Claire Thomson







KITCHEN ARMOURY 45 SUPPER CLUB A seasonal lunch at Highgrove Gardens with Angela Hartnett

10 Sherry-braised ox cheek, by Freddy Bird 19 Butternut soup, by Nigel Slater




AFTERS 74 Marmo 78 Browns 80 Jamaica Street Stores

+ 82 LITTLE BLACK BOOK Paul Webb shares his favourite local haunts





GREG INGHAM large version

large version

MediaClash, Circus Mews House, Circus Mews, Bath BA1 2PW 01225 475800 © All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission of MediaClash. MediaClash reserves the right to reject any material and to edit such prior to publication. Opinions are those of individual authors. Printed on paper from a wellmanaged source; printer is certified to ISO 14001 environmental management. This month we ventured south to Hive Beach Café to eat local crab, then Furleigh Estate vineyard for some wine tasting in Dorset, and Orestone Manor in Devon to try out its restaurant.


We must remember to decorate our festive bakes before we tuck into the Baileys this year...


M O N K T O N FA R L E I G H Under New Management Experienced Head Chef Open from 12 noon Every Day Food Served Tuesday – Sunday Great Selection of Drinks 01225 859761




As well as sleigh bells and good cheer, Christmas brings with it plenty of shopping – and feeding – potential, as demonstrated by this month’s festive markets... 28 N OV-15 D E C


The 150 chalets of this year’s market are offering, amongst other things, plenty of artisanal food and drink, like chocolate-based gifts from The Bath Chocolate Company, smallbatch gin from Scout and Sage Micro Distillery and jars of (awardwinning) meaty goodness from The Potted Game Company. A brand new vegan chalet will be serving up hot katsu curry, too.

Shoppers will come to the 19thcentury gardens at Arnos Vale today for the quality local craft, and stay for a stroll around the picturesque grounds. Stallholders will include the local likes of Ginger Beard’s Preserves and Boulton Spirits – as well as homeware artisans. There will be an opportunity to fill up while you shop as well, with Sausagenius serving hot food.



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Expect around 30 traders serving up a variety of great-quality food – from mac ’n’ cheese from Alp Mac and vegan kebabs from Koocha to deepfried free-range chicken from Gurt Wings and oozing cheese served over rosemary potatoes by Raclette Raclette. The obligatory mulled affairs will be joined at the bar by booze-spiked hot chocs and beers.

All the Sundays throughout December will see this weekly market take on a proper festive feel. All the ace producers and artisans that the market is well-known for will offer great Xmas shopping potential and be joined by Christmas Tree sales, live music and lots of delicious street food, out in the Tobacco Factory’s yard.



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Local artists, makers and producers will gather in City Hall on College Green for this two-day event. Over 100 sellers will be there with handmade and vintage goods, including great kitchenware and ceramics, and each day will feature different traders. There’ll be a popup café serving up refreshments too – because we all know Christmas shopping is hungry work.

The last Finzels Reach market of 2019 is sure going to be a belter. All the usual street food superstars will be in attendance between 12pm and 2pm, cooking up an array of treats from all over the world – some of which will have a festive twist. Meanwhile, mulled wine will be flowing and St Peter’s Hospice will be providing the Christmas carols.




Hero Ingredients

SHERRY Yes, yes, your Gran likes it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t too. Now – at last, and after numerous false dawns – sherry is well and truly cool again…



as sherry ever really deserved its fusty reputation? Well sure, in a way. For the longest time it was one of the most ho-hum of domestic staples, the booze equivalent of Brazil nuts; everyone seemed to have a dark-and-treacly bottle lurking at the back of the drinks cabinet, to be pulled out at Christmas and consumed in unenthusiastic bird-sips. Only one person actually liked it – Granny. Or so the legend goes, anyway. In all of our lifetimes, interest started off fairly low, then over the decades waned further, sherry’s post-war customer base moving on or dying off, until finally, some 15 years ago, Britain lost its crown as the world’s biggest market to Spain, where sherry came from in the first place. But therein, perhaps, lay its best hope. After all, the sherry they were drinking over there tended to be very different to the stuff they were exporting to us – paler and bone-dry, for a start – and Brits were spending a lot of time on the Costa Brava. Eventually we started to get a taste for it too. These days we still buy gallons of the old-school stuff – Harveys Bristol Cream remains brand leader, as it was 50 years ago – but things are definitely changing. And crucially, the growing reputation and availability of Spanish grub – tapas in particular – has seen more and more of us drinking sherry with food. Turns out this varied and versatile sup pairs with dinner remarkably well – and that’s just the start of it. Sherry hails from Spain’s oldest wine-producing region, Andalusia, down near its southern tip. The city of Jerez – plus nearby El Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlúcar de Barrameda, together making the so-called ‘Sherry Triangle’ – has been home to vineyards since the ancient Phoenicians arrived here around 1100BC. The conquering Romans and, later, the Moors – who renamed the town ‘Sherish’ and introduced the idea of


Falstaff raving about it in Henry IV Part II and distillation – kept this up, eventually creating both guzzling a highly spiced sherry cocktail in The brandy and the idea of fortified wine. Merry Wives of Windsor. Fast forward to the 16th century and, with Charles Dickens loved a sherry-based drink the Spanish in charge once again, sherry was too – he virtually lived on the sherry flip (which being exported right across Europe, being widely mixes it with eggs, sugar and nutmeg) during recognised as the world’s finest wine. Columbus his epic American tour of 1867, and had his took it to the New World, Magellan transported picaresque hero Martin Chuzzlewit refer to the it around the globe, and when, in 1587, Francis sherry cobbler (a sort of proto-Martini, in which Drake sacked Cadiz – a vital Spanish seaport, right sherry is sweetened with sugar and enlivened next door to Jerez – and destroyed a fleet there by crushed ice, orange slices and mint) as a preparing to invade England, he also wound up “wonderful invention”. It’s also heavily consumed liberating nearly 3,000 barrels of sherry. Naturally, in everything from the original House of Cards to he brought it back to England, where it was a Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Richard Griffiths as the massive hit. A love affair had begun and, in time, melodramatic and predatory Uncle Monty was most of the great sherry cellars of southern Spain almost as keen on sherry as he was on the hapless would actually be founded by British families. narrator of Withnail and I, contributing perhaps to Not all fortified wines are sherry – there’s also the stuff’s lingering camp and tragic reputation. port, vermouth and Madeira, all with their own histories – and, indeed, the first sherries weren’t How should we enjoy our sherry? As both actually fortified themselves, relying for their Shakespeare and Dickens knew, it’s surprisingly strength on grapes drying in the sun. Of course, it’s good in cocktails. In Spain, they drink something easier to achieve a similar effect by simply adding called a Rebujito – Fino sherry with lemonade – distilled grape spirit – a ‘brandy’ of sorts – after but there are plenty of more exciting-sounding fermentation, so that’s what people did. Because options out there: the Adonis, say (a less boozy the brandy’s added late, after all the sugar has Manhattan), or the Bamboo or Coronation (both fermented away, most sherry is super dry – if you like more savoury Martinis). Plus, of course, you get a sweet one, it’s because more sugary syrup has can happily swap the vodka, gin or whathaveyou been added in at the end. in many a classic cocktail recipe with sherry. The resulting lightly fortified wines – usually (Think less boozy versions of the Bloody Mary, over 15% ABV – run from the driest whites in the Sangria, Tuxedo or Negroni.) world right through to some of the sweetest, often And you can cook with it too, from such categorised in two broad families: lighter, drier workmanlike tasks as braising meat on the bone styles aged under a living layer of yeast called or deglazing a pan to more substantial roles, such the ‘flor’ (think Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado), as adding winning depth to many a casserole, stew and higher ABV versions which are subject to or pie. It does wonders for pork, sausages, onions oxidative ageing for years in porous oak casks. or even mushrooms, and contributes well to soups These Oloroso sherries – it means ‘fragrant’ in too – everything from oxtail to asparagus. Indeed, Spanish – are still dry, but darker and stronger. sherry works surprisingly well with Which one’s right for you? The vegetables – try it as a coating for roast first thing to remember is that SHERRY parsnips, say – and with pan-fried vintage means nothing – instead, the GOOD! white fish. And it’s a natural addition oldest casks are constantly topped Want some food to desserts – mum’s famous sherry up with newer sherries to maintain matches? Try trifle, of course, but also everything a consistent style, meaning even the these pairings from chocolate cakes to syllabubs. youngest you drink will be at least Fino three years old. Instead, think in terms Olives, anchovies, So, is sherry cool again? It depends of style. cured hams who you ask. In the liquor industry, If you like it dry, Fino and Oloroso Manzanilla it definitely is – sales are up, and by are good places to start. But there’s also Fish, crab quite a bit. But to your mates down the the sharper Manzanilla (almost the pub, perhaps not so much. same as Fino but from a specific town; Amontillado And if you’re not quite there yet it tends to be even paler and lighter), Hard cheeses, fish either, the good news is that giving the rare Palo Cortado (like Oloroso but Oloroso sherry another go will hardly break more elegant), and Amontillado (also Rich cheeses, the bank. For once, the supermarket like Fino, but amber and nuttier). fruit cake own brands are a great place to start, Famous naturally sweet sherries Pedro Ximénez offering both quality and decent value include Moscatel (floral, citric) and Chocolate – and more and more come in halfthe super dark, velvet-sticky Pedro desserts, bottles too. (These are really handy, Ximénez, one of the richest, most vanilla ice cream as sherry doesn’t keep quite as well as treacly wines ever made. Finally, there Gran once thought.) are those sweet sherries made by Our starter suggestion: get yourself a half bottle adding a cooked, highly concentrated grape syrup of Fino, keep it in the fridge, drink it before dinner to Oloroso – think your classic Croft Original and or with ham, cheese or olives, and finish it within Bristol Cream. the week. Then do it all again. Oh, and that dusty bottle of Harveys Bristol As one of the oldest wines, sherry has a history Cream? If you find it too syrupy, try keeping it in other drinks would kill for. William Shakespeare the fridge rather than the cupboard and serve on used to swig ‘sherris sack’ – as Oloroso was called the rocks, perhaps with a slice of orange. You may at the time – in rowdy London taverns, and wrote just gain a new appreciation for that, too… about it over 40 times across eight different plays,



Hero Ingredients Sweet sherry isn’t just for pud, says Freddy Bird, backing up his point with this sticky and decadent dish

Cooking with sherry is always great, but people often forget to use PX, instead always reaching for the dryer sherries. We shouldn’t be leaving the sweet stuff just for desserts – it works really well in savoury dishes too, like this dark and sticky ox cheek dish. Be sure to serve it up with a wine that will cut through that richness. I’ve used turnip tops here because I have so many at the moment, and their bitterness is a great contrast to the flavour of the meat. Kale works well too, though. It’s important to make sure that the cheeks and vegetables don’t catch on the bottom of the pan at any time – if they do then change the pot. Also, hold off on the salt early doors as you’ll be reducing the stock quite considerably.

SLOW-COOKED OX CHEEK IN PEDRO XIMÉNEZ SERVES 4 2 ox cheeks, cut in half olive oil 2 carrots, roughly diced 1 stick celery, roughly diced 1 large onion, roughly diced 4 garlic cloves, chopped 1 rosemary sprig 300ml Pedro Ximénez 2 ltrs fresh chicken stock (ideally made with a pig’s trotter or two) handful turnip tops knob butter handful chives, finely chopped 1 Lightly season the cheeks. Warm a splash of oil in a casserole dish and brown the cheeks all over. Remove from the pot and set aside. 2 In the same pan, add a little more oil and slowly cook the carrots, celery and onion until caramelised. Add the garlic and rosemary, cook for 2 more minutes and then add all the sherry. 3 Reduce the Pedro Ximénez over a medium heat by about three quarters and then add the stock and let this reduce to about a third of its original quantity. Check the seasoning. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. 4 Pass the lot through a sieve, discarding the vegetables and reserving the liquid. Return the cheeks to the casserole dish, pour in the sauce and cover with the lid. Cook in the oven for 2½-3 hours, until the cheeks are tender and ready to fall apart, and the sauce nice and glossy. If, after 3 hours, it isn’t, very carefully remove the cheeks, reduce the sauce to a glossy consistency on the hob, and then return the cheeks to the pan. 5 For the turnip tops, separate the leaves from the stalks. Blanch the stalks in boiling water for roughly 3 minutes, until they’re tender but still with bite – you don’t want to cook out that bitterness – then add the leaves for 30 seconds before draining. Toss with butter and salt. 6 Plate up and sprinkle the chopped chives on top. I like to serve with proper mash, made with plenty of cream and butter. 10 CRUMBSMAG.COM

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You can purchase any course or tasting as a Wine School Gift Voucher starting from ÂŁ25 the perfect present for any wine lovers!

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Openings etc Taco ’bout a hot new Bath opening...

John Dory with wasabi and pea purée, in case you were wondering

WE SEAFOOD Have you noticed that Gloucester Road has itself a new fish joint? The Palomar – which has moved into the former site of Urban Standard – is an independent restaurant with a focus on super-fresh seafood. Inside, the dining area has a rustic, industrial style, with pendant lighting, corrugated iron and weathered wood. Walls are clad in planks and metro tiling and underfoot are black and white chequered tiles. Everything from slow-cooked octopus with confit potatoes to lime and wasabi-marinated tuna with caramelised walnuts (which we can personally vouch for) is on the varied but concise menu, as well as sharing platters of mussels, prawns and calamari, sold by weight. Brunches are also a-go – think poached egg with langoustines, ’shrooms and truffle oil – as are some pretty tempting yet punchy cocktails.

MEX IT UP Our taco horizons are ever-expanding, and we couldn’t be happier with the newest addition to the West Country Mexicana offering. Dos Dedos recently opened in Bath, serving up tacos and mezcal (happily within spitting distance of Crumbs HQ) in a former art gallery. Having transformed the space into a cool, industrial-look bar and restaurant, the team are serving up four types of taco – beef and black bean chilli, carnitas, chilli chicken and portobello and black bean chilli – with the fresh, authentic tortillas provided by none other than Bristol’s Little Tortilleria. There are also nachos on offer, piled with three types of melted cheese, jalapeños, house salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Wash all that down with a flight of four mezcals, perhaps, or a classic Margarita.


Expect double trouble at this unique new Asian joint

Opening in the space that was formerly Bellita, Cotham Hill’s new Rock Salt has a colourful, vibrant look – and a menu to match. Offering both Indian and Chinese cuisine, the bill of fare is varied, listing familiar dishes as well as some lesser-seen creations. Indian lamb chops – which gave us tingly lips from the punchy tandoor spices – sit next to Chinese crispy beef, an inviting entanglement of deep-fried strands, glistening with tomato and chilli sauce and providing a satisfying crunch. Mongolian chicken, Szechuan beans and dim sum are also on the go, with specialities like Khadai duck and lamb raan, featuring fall-off-the-bone-tender meat. There’s an inventive cocktail list too, including Rose Negroni, Cinnamon Bramble and the signature (not to mention luminous blue) Rock Salt Margarita.




A unique little restaurant has opened on Wells Road. Truffled of Totterdown is a collaboration between cook Tim Owen and vintage shop owner Sharon Lowick, who’s Totterdown has moved her business a new foodie online to turn her hangout... quirky store into an equally characterful dining room, with retro touches and plenty of charm. The food is taken care of by Tim, a self-trained cook who worked in the kitchen of The Star and Dove. He’s been running his long-standing supper clubs in the basement of the shop for a couple of years, and will keep that and his private catering work up alongside the restaurant. Expect the food to be hearty and filling, bouncing between modern British and decadent French in style. Chicken in a white wine and tarragon sauce with confit leg and truffled mash, smoked haddock and saffron chowder with cider and fennel, and veggie black bean stew with charred halloumi are the types of dishes on the menu each evening, while roasts reign supreme on Sundays.

ASK YOUR WAITER Look! It’s Jamie Crowley, general manager of Yurt Lush

So, Jamie, worked here long? Two and a half years. And where were you working before? In London – I was the general manager at pub/restaurant The Three Crowns in Stoke Newington. How long have you been in hospitality? It’s been about 14 years now. And what was your very first job in the industry? Washing pots in an Italian restaurant. What’s the best thing about your current job? The people. The rapport between the front of house and kitchen is amazing.


And how about the most challenging part? Saying no to mates who want me to be out on a Friday night – but they understand I love my job. 

Turning Japanese

Following its recent refurb, 200-year-old pub The Grapes on Bath’s Westgate Street has teamed up with local supper club outfit The Secret Izakaya to launch a brand new food and drink offering in its upstairs space. Budō Bā is an izakaya concept (basically a social, relaxed Japanese pub), the style of venue having taken off in the UK over the last few years. Drinks include Japanese whisky, sake and shochu, while you can expect feeds to come in the form of umami-laced sharing plates, made from local and seasonal ingredients. Everything is cooked up in the open kitchen – as is the way in izakaya bars – in the surroundings of the Jacobean dining room. Sake tasting evenings and cookery lessons are also planned, so keep your eyes peeled for those.

What have you learnt since coming here? I know a lot more about sustainable and organic food now. This is something that is a real focus for us. What sort of customers do you get? The joy of the yurt is that we’re among offices as well as right by Temple Meads, so we get a lot of businesses coming here during the week, then at the weekend we have locals and visitors who come for brunch and our Sunday roasts.


What are the bestselling dishes at the moment? Lunchtime Buddha Bowls and seasonal risottos. And we’ve just added loin of venison and a peanut and mushroom Wellington to our evening menu, which have gone down a storm. What are the bestselling drinks? Bristol Beer Factory Independence and Badlands are our top two, for sure. What makes the restaurant a special place to visit? The yurt is a really unique place. During the winter months the wood burner is lit and it gets pretty cosy. If you were a customer today, what would you order? I’d be straight in with that venison and a Coffee and Cigarettes cocktail – it’s made with Monkey Shoulder, Perique De Tabac, infused maraschino with coffee beans, Angostura and chocolate bitters. A bit of a twist on a Manhattan.   What do you think makes great customer service?  Acknowledgement, attention to detail, putting the customer at ease and product knowledge. Where do you like to eat on your days off? Wilsons. The food is always amazing.

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In T he Larder 2




3 Christmas is made for indulging – and this little stash of extra-spesh treats will help you on your way. Get your self-gifting on... 1 Godminster Black Truffle Vintage Cheddar, £7.50/200g New to this Somerset cheesemaker’s range is this number, pimped up with real black truffle. (A little birdie tells us it’s already been awarded Gold at the International Cheese and Dairy Awards.) Creamy and rich with black flecks of truffle and a bold hit of flavour, this organic Cheddar cheese is one for the Crimbo night board. Available until Christmas from the Godminster shop in Bruton, Better Foods and online. 2 Fussels Truffle Flavoured Rapeseed Oil, £8/250ml This golden-coloured oil is made from rapeseed grown

on a family farm in Somerset. It’s cold-pressed to make sure all the good stuff is preserved – omega 3 (it has 10 times more than olive oil) and vitamin E, for instance. This truffle-spiked oil is nicely pungent and makes a decadent addition to the likes of risotto, mashed potato and soup – basically, all those great winter eats. Just go easy, a little goes a long way. Buy it from Fussels Fine Food in Rode, and The Galleries in Freshford, as well as online. 3 House of Aprés Duette Sparkling Brut Beer, £16/75cl Created by indie Bristol-based company House of Aprés, this beer is brewed by the pros at Wiper and True. It’s

a cross between beer and Champagne – think rich, malty flavours, a dark-golden colour and fine, elegant bubbles. At 11.5% ABV and designed to be served in Champagne flutes, it’s a great celebratory sip for C-Day – we enjoyed a bottle while hunkering down on a wintry night. Buy it from Corks in Bristol or online. 4 Swoon Gelato Chocolates, £1.25 each Having been two years in the making, Swoon’s brand new chocolates have been unveiled. Our fave? Probably the Dulcey blonde chocolate shell filled with nocciola gelato and real hazelnut pieces – or the white choc, mascarpone gelato


and raspberry coulis number. Okay, it’s too tricky to choose between the four verities, but as it’s Xmas, we’ll take them all. From Swoon in Bristol. 5 Chococo Chocolate Salami, £22/350g Handmade in Dorset, this Madagascan dark choc ‘salami’ is a pretty special twist on the meats that star in the Boxing Day cold spread. In fact, it’s actually vegan – as well as gluten-free. Containing fig, date, apricot, raisin, candied orange peel, pecan and pistachio, it has a lovely chew and subtle sweetness – not to mention plenty of festive flavours. Buy it online from the maker.




Christmas fudge is a-go at this little Bath shop

WHAT: Fudge (and fudge sauce, and drinking fudge, and fudge experiences...) WHERE: 10 Abbey Churchyard, Bath BA1 1LY WHEN: Mon-Sat 10am-5.30pm; Sun 10am-5pm


udge’s popularity is on the up, reckons Ian McCluskey, manager at Bath’s Fudge Kitchen. He’s been making it professionally for 15 years and has noticed the market evolve. “I think it’s perhaps to do with the popularity of all things nostalgic and vintage,” he says. “Old-school flavours like rum and raisin, and maple and walnut, are definitely making a comeback, too.” Fudge Kitchen began in Bath 35 years ago (there are now seven stores across the country), inspired by a 19th-century fudge recipe that Jim Garrahy brought over from the USA in the ’80s. This ‘slab’ fudge is rather different to that you find in souvenir shops in seaside towns. Its texture is creamy and silky

as opposed to crumbly and grainy. That’s because they use a technique most commonly associated with chocolate. “To get our fudge super smooth, we have to temper it – just like with chocolate,” Ian explains. “This gets rid of the sugar crystals which grow as it cools.” If everyone loved their jobs even half as much as him, the world would be a better place. But then, we can’t all spend our nineto-fives making fudge for smiling customers. Indeed, when we rock up he’s busy cooking vanilla fudge in a big copper pot in the window. Way to lure in the punters, hey? Well, that’s exactly the aIm; most of the small shop is given over to two huge marble-topped tempering tables so that the


curious can watch the entire process, from cooking to cutting. (Yep – all the fudge here is made on site.) The fudge makers double up as entertainers too, talking to the gathering onlookers as they work. Ian pours the lava-like fudge onto a tempering table and, after letting it cool slightly, uses a creamer to work it into a glossy, oozing, golden mass. Soon, he swaps his tool for a ‘loafer’ (not unlike a decorator’s scraper, to our untrained eye), and begins folding the edges of the liquid fudge in on itself until it sets into a long loaf. He cuts it immediately to give us a taste – it’s warm and meltingly smooth. It might look easy, but there’s a whole lot of science to this fudge-making malarkey. “It’s all about the temperature. Even a degree out – five seconds cooking time – can ruin it,” Ian says. That changes batch-tobatch though, depending on the ingredients, the time (the tables warm up throughout the day) and the weather. “We always have to check the forecast.” The team make around eight batches of fudge on an average day – but this shoots up to 20 at Christmas time, to keep up with demand. They have some right crackers (ahem) when it comes to festive flavours, too – think mince pie (made with mincemeat, orange zest, spices and rum), Baileys, Christmas pud, and triple-layered Christmas cake (fruit cake, marzipan and icing, in case that wasn’t clear). That’s in addition to the core range – classic, dark choc and sea salt, salted caramel and Belgian chocolate swirl – and the rotating range of year-round flavours (keep an eye out for the deliciously tart lemon sherbet), which includes three vegan varieties at any one time. Feel free to challenge the team with new flavours, too. Tell ’em we sent you.

Welcome to Mantra, an Indian Restaurant in the heart of Bath, that specialises in serving progressive Indian food. Mantra is a family run authentic Indian restaurant. Our dishes are healthily packed with flavour, crunch, punch and zing offering plenty of choice to vegetarians and vegans. Inspired by seasonal ingredients, our food contains only the freshest produce prepared in a way that captures the amazing diversity of India’s regional cuisines and childhood street food memories. 5, Bladud Buildings, The Paragon, Bath BA1 5LS Tel: 01225 446 332 Email: |


Ki tchen Library We don’t know about you, but our winter cravings are getting out of control. Happily, this month’s new batch of recipe books should satisfy all manner of comfort food hankerings


Flora Shedden (Hardie Grant, £22) The name here doesn’t refer to the Irish Aran Islands or the Scottish Isle of Arran, but the Gaelic word for bread; it’s what Flora Sheddon – memorable Great British Bake Off finalist from the 2015 season – has called her café and bakery in Dunkeld, a village just north of Perth in the Scottish highlands. The book is as charming as she is, mixing personal stories with tips and recipes, and combining ready warmth with cool, Scandi-style photography. It’s divided into loose chapters based on time of day (‘The Wee Hours’, for instance, when they’re up and about making brioche and croissants) and daily jobs (‘Pantry’ is all about restocking the shelves with chutney, frangipani and pickles). This is a book to make you feel good about people, and get you making a few sweet treats too: we’re going to start with the rhubarb pistachio danishes, then move onto blood orange meringue pies and ‘Anja’s appeltaart’, an intriguing Scottish take on a Dutch classic. MATT BIELBY


Christine Muhlke and others (Phaidon, £35) This handsome beast of a book is as much food history lesson as it is recipe compilation, comprising over 200 important dishes from almost as many chefs, and spanning over 30 countries and hundreds of years, starting with gelato – popularised by one Procopio Cutò at his Le Procope café in Paris in 1686 – and

finishing in 2019 with the epic whole turbot grilled by Tomas Parry at Basque-influenced East London restaurant Brat. Along the way we meet Jim Delligatti (who invented the Big Mac), Ottolenghi, Blumenthal, Chang, Henderson, Koffmann, Bourdin and dozens more. The selection is made by international food critics, one of whom – Christine Muhlke – writes pithy, informative text on each dish, while they’re all beautifully illustrated in watercolour. At the back are recipes for everything – in best-guess approximation form where official versions don’t exist. This is a gorgeous coffee table book and a challenging recipe collection – not to mention an amazing piece of cultural history. MATT BIELBY

THE BOOK OF ST JOHN Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver (Ebury Press, £30)

To coincide with the 25th anniversary of the famous London restaurant St John, its founders have released this rather special tome, with 120 recipes populating its goldedged pages. Champion and parent of the nose-to-tail concept, Henderson pays homage to satisfying, bravado-free food, and the multi-layered alchemy of great entertaining. The book references the evolution of the restaurant and shares recipes for its distinctive style of dishes, as well as advice on how to treat lesser-used ingredients such as heart, brain and trotter (the latter is paired with clams in a particularly enticing-looking dish). Of course, it’s not all about offal; the braised lamb with peas, crème fraîche and mint,


crispy duck leg with sour cabbage and prunes, and golden rarebit prove that. Staples like sauces and stocks are given attention too, as are puds, with many recipes accompanied by gorgeous photography of dishes set out on the restaurant’s white paper tablecloths. This may not be a cookbook you’ll use every day, but with its boundary-pushing British cuisine, relaxed and jolly tone and filling, comforting food to share, it’s certainly one to treasure. JESSICA CARTER


Vicky Bennison (Hardie Grant, £20) Vicky Bennison runs a brilliant hit YouTube channel called Pasta Grannies, and in this spin-off book – subtitled The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks – she meets oodles of Italian nonne (white of hair, twinkling of eye) and gets them to share the traditional fresh pasta dishes their families have been cooking for generations. We learn all about the most famous pastas, listed region-by-region, and explore the kitchens of 75 or so grandmothers, with each recipe credited to a particular nonna: think Marica’s strapponi with porcini mushrooms, Benedetto’s pappardelle with wild boar ragù or Lucia’s raschiatelli with salami and horseradish. Perhaps the most blood-stirring is the ‘maritati’ pasta, which means ‘married’ and combines tube-like minchiareddi pasta with round orecchiette, which polite society describes as looking like small ears, but which the nonne clearly mean to represent something more distinctly… female. Saucy! MATT BIELBY

Book of t he Mont h

try this recipe!


GREENFEAST: AUTUMN, WINTER Nigel Slater (4th Estate, £22)

Nigel Slater’s writing is irresistible at any time of year, but with temperatures outside having plummeted and winter appetites raging, his new recipe collection – dedicated to the coldest months and heartiest food – is especially evocative. This is a small but chunky, simply designed book – the follow up to Greenfeast: Spring, Summer, released earlier this year – and will have you feeling nourished just a handful of pages into the heartwarming prose. Dishes – of which there are more than 100 – are meat-free and varied, pulled together by a common thread of simplicity (most ingredients lists stay in single figures), comfort and imagination. Roasted cauli gets doused in a creamy peppercorn, bay and clove-infused sauce; Brussels sprouts are baked with smoked mozzarella, dill and a crumb topping; and mushrooms and ginger bathe in a steaming bowl of stock, marbled with sour cream. (Vegetable stock is a staple ingredient in the book, and Slater shares his recipe for a dark, rich version right at the start.) Even the most devoted fans of summer won’t be able to read this without it stirring in them some affection for the colder weather. JESSICA CARTER


SERVES 4 1kg butternut squash or pumpkin 1 ltr vegetable stock 3 or 4 sprigs rosemary 3 tbsp sesame seeds 3 tbsp olive oil 3 tbsp chestnuts, canned or vacuum-packed 4 tbsp tahini 1 Peel and halve the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cut into large chunks, then put into a large saucepan with the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes until soft enough to crush. 2 Ladle the squash and its stock into a blender, process in batches until smooth and return to the pan. Remove the leaves from the rosemary and finely chop. You need enough to fill a tablespoon. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry, shallow pan over a moderate heat until golden, then add the olive oil and rosemary. Crumble the chestnuts into the pan and cook for a minute or so until all is warm and deeply fragrant.


3 Bring the soup almost to the boil, checking the seasoning as you go, then ladle into soup bowls. Speckle the soup with a tablespoon of tahini in each bowl, then scatter over some of the chestnut and sesame seed seasoning. TIPS Some people don’t peel butternut squash before using it in a soup. Much depends on the thickness of the skin and the age of the squash. If the skin is thin, then it is fine not to peel it. If you are using a pumpkin, remove the skin. It is important to process the soup in batches rather than all at once, when it is likely to overflow. A stick blender works a treat. Use mushrooms instead of the chestnuts. I prefer small brown buttons, sliced in halves or quarters and cooked for a minute or two with the sesame oil and rosemary. A few drops of sesame oil, trickled into the soup as you serve, are worth a thought. I like to eat this soup with thick pieces of toasted sourdough bread, spread with cream cheese.

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ocated just 6 miles from the historic city of Bath, Lucknam Park is one of England’s most iconic country house hotels. The hotel is a Palladian mansion dating from 1720 and offers a plethora of facilities, for those seeking both relaxation and indulgence. Within the 500-acre estate lies two excellent restaurants, an awardwinning spa, cookery school and a beautiful equestrian centre with 35 horses. Lucknam Park’s fine dining option, Restaurant Hywel Jones, has retained its Michelin star for the 15th consecutive year and promises an unforgettable dining experience. Enjoy pre-dinner cocktails in the elegant Library or Drawing room before choosing from the a la carte menu or tasting menus. Within the hotel there are 42 individually styled rooms and suites filled with character. There are also two stylish country cottages set within the estate. Squire’s Cottage is the latest addition to Lucknam Park with a contemporary design, spacious living areas, four luxury bedrooms with en-suites and its own private garden which overlooks the parkland; a brilliant choice for families or groups. In 2020, Lucknam Park plans to open a further two cottages.

ESPA at Lucknam Park, awarded Best Spa in the South West at the 2018 Good Spa Guide Awards, is an idyllic country spa destination. There’s a superb choice of soothing spa days for those in need of some five star pampering; you can even combine your relaxation with an estate horse ride with their ‘Saddle & Spa Day’. Highly trained therapists perform a range of personalised spa treatments in the eight therapy rooms and a sensory test with the ESPA oils guides your therapist to your individual requirements. The Brasserie, which adjoins the spa, offers a seasonal a la carte menu and is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxed lunch or dinner. A brand new studio has been built in the arboretum for yoga, pilates and mindfulness classes.

Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Colerne, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN14 8AZ 01225 742 777; 21





Love a C-Eve curry? This venison number is right up your street


Up your veg game with smoky parsnips this Xmas


This warming noodle soup makes for a belting winter tea 23


Top ginger-peeling tip! Use a spoon to scrape off the skin; it takes seconds and doesn’t waste any of the root


Is C-Eve curry a tradition in your house? If not, you’d do well to make it one, with this top venison number by Pravin Nayar

We’re all kinds of keen to get over to Castle Farm for Curry Night... 24 CRUMBSMAG.COM

C H E F !

VENISON HAUNCH, GINGER, COCONUT AND PEANUT CURRY SERVES 4 2 large shallots, sliced 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1cm-slice ginger, finely chopped 1cm-slice turmeric root (if you can’t find any, just skip) 2 red chillies (or more, to taste), finely chopped 1 lemongrass stick, finely chopped 2 kaffir lime leaves 250ml thick coconut cream sugar, to taste lime (juice only), to taste small bunch coriander and mint (or any other leafy herbs or veg will work) 2 tbsp peanuts, toasted 500g venison haunch steak For the spice paste: ½ tsp turmeric powder ½ tsp ground cumin ¼ tsp chilli powder ¼ tsp cinnamon powder ¼ tsp ground ginger 1 tsp salt 3 tbsp water

Pravin has long been cooking in local kitchens

1 Warm a saucepan with a little oil over a medium heat, and add the shallots, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli, lemongrass and lime leaves. Gently fry until golden, about 3-4 minutes. 2 Mix the spice paste ingredients together and add to the saucepan. Gently cook out over a low heat so the curry doesn’t have a grainy texture. Add 100ml water to stop the paste from burning. 3 Add the coconut cream, sugar and lime juice. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes on a low heat, so it comes together. Preheat the oven to 175C/330F/gas mark 3. 4 Check and adjust the seasoning. The quality of spices will make a big difference on the outcome, so trust your instincts and your palate. Add the herbs. 5 Turn off the heat and let the curry sit to develop more flavour. In the meantime cook the venison. In a really hot pan, sear the venison on all sides and cook in the oven for 5-10 minutes, depending on how you like your meat. 6 Remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and dividing between four bowls. 7 Reheat the curry and pour it over the meat. Scatter the peanuts on top. I like to finish with extra herbs and more chilli, too. Serve with basmati rice.

Pravin – who has cooked everywhere from Michelinstarred kitchens in Scandinavia to gastropubs in the South West – was born in Sweden to a family from India and Malaysia, and this heritage informs much of what he cooks at Castle Farm – the loveable tractor shed café which is surely now Bath’s worst-kept secret. Friday night is Curry Night here, with Pravin’s creations featuring South East Asian spices, local meat and fish, and homegrown vegetables and herbs. It’s no wonder they’ve proved so popular with diners. “We happen to grow quite a number of the ingredients for this recipe here on the farm,” says Pravin, “like shallots, garlic, turmeric, verbena, coriander, chillies… That makes this curry a very local one!” When it comes to the leafy herbs and veg, Pravin has used radishes, chard, Thai basil and verbena, but coriander and mint also work well. This winter, Castle Farm is supporting StreetSmart – every time you eat there over November and December, you’ll have the chance to add £1 to your bill to support local homeless charities who are helping those in need over the harshest months.

Castle Farm, Midford Road, Midford, Bath BA2 7PU; 07564 783307;


Celebrate Christmas & New Year at The Mint Room! Check out our festive menus online

Gen, owner of the most organised barbecue ever


C H E F !

PARSNIP ENTERPRISE Genevieve Taylor is encouraging us all to get cooking outside this winter – and with great seasonal recipes like this, we’re sold

The star of this dish is the complex and earthy fennel butter, writes Gen. If you have some glowing coals left after cooking, it’s fun to use tongs to place one on top of the butter slices to melt and sizzle as you bring the dish to the table.

SMOKED PARMESAN PARSNIPS, FENNEL BUTTER, HAZELNUTS SERVES 4 1kg fat parsnips, peeled and quartered lengthways 1 tbsp olive oil 50g parmesan, freshly grated 50g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped few sprigs thyme, leaves picked

Do your C-Day ’snips usually look this good?

For the fennel butter: 1 heaped tbsp fennel seeds 75g butter, slightly softened 1 tbsp runny honey

1 Fire up the barbecue ready for indirect grilling. Once it’s up to temperature, throw on some smoking wood chunks or chips and allow them to catch and smoulder. 2 Tip the parsnips into a fireproof roasting tin, drizzle with the olive oil, season with a little salt and pepper and toss to mix. Rest the tin on the barbecue, well away from the fire. Shut the lid to allow maximum bathing in the smoke. Cook for 45-50 minutes, rotating the tin once or twice and tossing the parsnips about to ensure they are cooking evenly. Add more wood chunks or chips as necessary to keep a fairly constant smoke going.

Recipe from Charred by Genevieve Taylor, (Quadrille £16.99); photography ©Jason Ingram


3 Meanwhile, make the fennel butter. Tip the fennel seeds into a small frying pan and set over a mediumhigh heat on the hob to toast for a couple of minutes. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush to a coarse powder. Add the softened butter and honey and mix together, along with a little salt and pepper. Scoop into a bowl and set aside. 4 Once the parsnips are tender and lightly coloured, remove the tin from the barbecue, shutting the lid to keep the heat in. Sprinkle over the parmesan and toss to coat evenly. Remove the parsnips one by one and rest them directly on the grill bars over the fire. Cook for about 7-10 minutes, turning regularly, until they are deeply golden and crisp. 5 Put the parsnips on a serving plate. Scatter with the hazelnuts and thyme leaves. Top the parsnips with dollops of fennel butter, adding a few glowing coals to melt the butter if you like. Serve immediately.

C H E F !

Recipe from New Kitchen Basics by Claire Thomson (Quadrille, £25); photography by Sam Folan


One well-squeezed lime wedge lurks just behind the bowl there


SERVES 4 vegetable oil 1 red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced 2 tbsp root ginger, finely grated 2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped 500g skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into 4cm dice, or 600g leftover cooked chicken 1 tsp caster sugar 1-2 red chillies, finely chopped (remove the seeds to reduce heat, if you like), plus extra (optional) to garnish 3 tbsp curry powder (mild or hot, as you like) 1 x 400g can coconut milk 1 ltr chicken stock or water 3 tbsp fish sauce 400g egg noodles big handful bean sprouts small bunch coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped, to garnish 1 lime, cut into wedges

1 Put enough oil in a large pan to coat the base and place over a moderate heat. Add half the onion, the garlic, the ginger and the lemongrass, and fry for 8-10 minutes or so, until softened and aromatic. 2 Turn up the heat to high and, if you’re using uncooked chicken, add this along with the sugar and chilli and cook for a couple of minutes, until the chicken begins to just cook. Add the curry powder and stir to coat the meat. 3 Add the coconut milk, the chicken stock or water and the fish sauce (along with the cooked chicken, if using). Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Check the seasoning, adding more salt if required. 4 Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, and drain well. 5 Divide the noodles between 4 warm soup bowls, ladle over the hot chicken and plenty of the broth and garnish with the bean sprouts, coriander, the rest of the raw onion, and extra chopped chilli (if you wish). Serve with wedges of lime for squeezing over.

A great way to use up leftover roast chicken (or Christmas turkey, of course), Claire Thomson’s noodle soup will dispel those winter blues This is a Malaysian curry soup with coconut and lemongrass, writes Claire. Make this recipe when your spirits need lifting and your taste buds need to soar. It’s fairly straightforward and the chicken stock really does make a difference to the finished soup. Slurping noodles, wide and fat and glossy, covered in sauce, is one of life’s more pleasurable experiences. This recipe is a firm favourite with my family and the many extras we feed throughout the year. The more, the merrier.


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I ouK!! newt’s r dedicsection, a all t ted to supphaings ble


Think you don’t like whisky? This new Bristol bar, which is dedicated to the stuff, might just change your mind... Picking your next dram from a long bar list can be whisky business (sorry), but new Bristol venue Black Rock has arrived with a concept that’ll make it easy to pinpoint your ideal tipple. See, while co-founders Thomas Aske and Tristan Stephenson set out to create an extensive stash of liquid gold, they wanted to keep the list approachable. So, they divided the collection into six flavour profiles: sweet, smoke, spice, fruity, fragrant and balanced. This, they hope, makes it much more straightforward for whisky novices to work out which styles they like and discover new favourites. If straight-up whisky ain’t your thing, there are cocktails on the go too – we tried a refreshing whisky and ginger ale concoction that was sweet and moreish while letting the whisky flavours shine. An ideal intro to the world of this dark spirit. One particular cocktail is contained in part of a 216-year-old hollowed-out oak tree. Sitting inside the cavity is a drinks dispenser that actually contains oak panels so that, over time, the cocktail inside matures and changes in flavour. (Just like barrel ageing, but with more, er, branches.) It’s a bit of fun and promises a clever new kind of whisky experience.


If you still can’t find a whisky you like after working your way through Black Rock’s menu, you have our full permission to give up

Join us for a Lunch or Dinner treat this coming Festive season All OHH Pubs will be serving a mouth watering 2 or 3 course Festive Menu, available from Friday 22nd November until Tuesday 24th December. Whether you plan for a business outing, family or friends gathering, contact your preferred OHH Pub for more detail or visit Make the experience that extra special and enquire about our 5 Star rated letting bedrooms

The Old House at Home

Burton, Near Castle Combe, Wiltshire, SN14 7LT 01454 218227 |

The Bear & Swan

13 South Parade, Chew Magna, Somerset, BS40 8PR 01275 331100 |

The Rising Sun

91 West Town Road, Backwell, North Somerset, BS48 3BH 01275 462215 |

The Northey Arms

Bath Road, Box, Wiltshire, SN13 8AE 01225 742333 |


THE DRIP FEED MULL IT OVER Somerset’s Harry’s Cider has launched new flagons of its popular mulled variety. These guys make their boozy juice with apples from the family orchard, using traditional methods to turn them into award-winning West Country ciders. The base cider is slowly infused with aromatics such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to give it that festive feel. Great for gifting, better for drinking. Find it at Bath Christmas Market and online. CHAI BABY Park Street teashop Bird and Blend has released some new seasonal blends for the coldest season. This fella combines the usual chai spices – think ginger, cinnamon and cardamom – with subtle cocoa and toffee flavours. With a backbone of rooibos, this is a naturally caffeine-free blend and can be made with hot milk or water. PJs at the ready, then, for this great new nighttime bev. (These long, dark evenings are


S U P ?



good for some things, at least, hey?) ALE BE DARNED Bath Ales is bringing back its popular Crimbo porter, Festivity, for the 2019 Yuletide. With big toffee notes up front and a long lingering bitterness, this festive special isn’t as cloying or thick as winter brews can sometimes be, and has underlying hints of

Helen Rich, founder of the Taste of Bath hamper biz, chose her house based on its proximity to this jolly local boozer... My local is The Hop Pole on Upper Bristol Road in Bath. The vibe here in three words is friendly, chilled, local. I’m drinking a large New Zealand Sauvignon and hubby is probably having a pint of Bath Ales’ Prophecy.

rum, coffee and liquorice. It’s available until Christmas on draught at selected pubs as well as in bottles and micro casks, direct from the Bath Ales shop in Warmley. FIG DEAL This year’s festive offering from Tarquin’s Cornish Gin sees their original spirit pimped up with dried figs, clementine zest and brandy-soaked cherry

And to nibble I’ll have Nobby’s Nuts (sweet chilli) or a bowl of chips with curry sauce. You’ll find me sitting in one of the smaller nooks, right next to the fireplace. The crowd here is made up of friendly locals of all ages. Families pop in after playing in Victoria Park, thirtysomethings get together for a gossip and the older crowd love it for the proper pub feel. That’s not all though, Chris and his team are lush! Great service, great banter and this makes it a


wood chips to offer a contemporary twist on a traditional pud. Just one whiff and you’ll be thinking of Noel, thanks to the comforting spices and subtly sweet fruit notes. They recommend drinking it with ginger ale or mixing it into a festive take on a Negroni, with sweet vermouth, Campari and a twist of orange. Find it at Corks of Cotham.

real community hub. The garden is pretty lovely, too. If I could steal something I’d take the landlord’s dog; she is so cute! Loves a bit of a belly rub and cuddle. Basically, you should try my local because there are so many chains, posh pubs and gastro places where they want you to book a table. This, however, is a good local boozer, designed for session drinking or a quiet board game.


By Mia Kumari, of The Milk Thistle “If ever there was a time for rich, indulgent cocktails then Christmas is it, and with sales of Baileys rocketing during the party season it’s fair to say we’re big fans of Irish cream!” says Mia. “We wanted to create a vegan alternative, still as rich, creamy and delicious.” 40ml white rum 40g coconut cream 25g oat cream 5g Canadian maple syrup ¼ tsp vanilla ice  Shake up all the ingredients and pour over ice to serve. 


By Milton Haworth, at Bocabar “Serving gin hot brings out the botanical notes that are suppressed when cold, and the waft of heated spices brings thoughts of Christmas to the fore,” says Milton. For the gin infusion: 70cl 6 O’Clock Damson Gin 2 star anise 10 cloves 50ml gin infusion 15ml Bon Vivant tonic syrup cinnamon stick, to garnish orange zest, to garnish juniper berries, to garnish First make the infusion. Add the star anise and cloves to a bottle of 6 O’Clock Damson Gin and infuse for 24 hours before straining into an empty bottle. For the cocktail, add all the ingredients to a handled glass and top up with hot water from the kettle. Stir briefly with a cinnamon stick and finish with the orange peel and juniper berries. 


SPIRIT These festive concoctions are just the ticket for the party season, whether you make them for friends or gulp them all by yourself (responsibly, obvs)...




By Tasha Hartfield, from Circo Circo holds lots of in-house cocktail making competitions; Tasha won the latest with this decadent little number... 25ml East London Liquor Company Rum 25ml vanilla vodka 10ml vanilla syrup 10ml salted caramel 10ml fig liqueur  ice Simply shake all of the ingredients together with ice, and fine strain into a Champagne glass. 


By Christiana Kiose, from The Roseate Villa For this warming sip, you need to make a spiced pear syrup – and we’re about to show you how... For the spiced pear syrup: 4 pears, cored and cubed 1 star anise, plus extra to garnish 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half 250g caster sugar 25ml spiced pear syrup 50ml gin  25ml lemon juice 1 egg white ice  To make the spiced pear syrup, put the ingredients in a pan with 250ml water and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the flavours have infused. Leave to cool then strain and bottle. To make the cocktail, put all of the ingredients (except ice) into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Open the shaker, fill with ice and shake again, then strain into a chilled coupe. Place a star anise on the foam to serve.  


By Danny Walker, of Psychopomp “This is a gin twist on a retro festive whisky favourite,” says Danny. “Christmas Day should be more about the drinking than the making, so we have gone with something super simple. Ginger wine is easy to find and pairs really well with the ginger and cherry notes in our winter gin for 2019.” 30ml Manannan Mac Lir gin 30ml Stones ginger wine ice lemon peel Pour both liquids into a glass, over ice. Stir and garnish with lemon zest (and a Maraschino cherry, if you have one to hand). 38 CRUMBSMAG.COM

Introducing our new...

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Fancy less fuss in the post-coffee clean-up – and a tastier cup too? Of course you do, says Matt Bielby – and for both, this clever swizzle-stick is just the thing What’s your favourite pick-me-up during the day? Me, I have coffee in cafés, but at home I have tea. Me too! Coffee’s much more of a faff to make – don’t you think? – so I don’t mind paying someone else to do it. Adding hot water to a tea bag, however… Well, my dopey old hound could do it. Nah, it’s actually nothing to do with that. It’s more the cleaning up. All those annoying grinds to scrape out of the cafetière with a spoon, and you still have loads left that you eventually have to flush down the sink. Then what you want is this handy little gadget: the Scoof. It’s designed to scoop them all out in a few easy twists, allowing you to then chuck ’em in the food recycling or, if you have one, bung ’em on the compost heap with ease. More advanced Scoofers might even use them as fertiliser, as soil for growing oyster mushrooms, or as a barrier to keep away slugs and snails.

Actually, I was thinking of pressing them into service as a homemade face scrub. Yeah? Looking at you, why bother? Are you being rude? Not at all! (I was a bit.) Moving swiftly on, listen to this: it turns out the Scoof has a secondary use too. You know how you actually get tastier coffee by stirring your cafetière before plunging? No…? Well, you do. And it turns out this thing’s two-headed design means if you swizzle it gently through your brewing coffee you get way more flavour. Inventor Joe Partridge reckons three twists should do it. Who’s he then? A British designer and coffee freak; the Scoof’s his baby. And three, it seems, is his magic number: around 95% of all the used coffee grinds in the average cafetière also come out in three twists, he says. In this case, however you use it, third time really is a charm.


The perfect stocking filler, Scoof costs £9.95; find it at

We didn’t spot Prince Charles at his gaff – it was probably wise for him to scarper before we started nosying around

Supper Club


We do lunch at a royal residence, joined by the prince and princess of the UK’s Italian food scene, Angela Hartnett and Russell Norman




There’s more greenery in this tiny corner at Highgrove than is left in our entire garden


t’s not every day that you have a police officer ask you for identification before you can go to lunch. But then it’s not every day that you’re invited to HRH Prince Charles’ private residence for a bit of munch and a stroll in the gardens (well, unless you’re William or Harry). For its recent series of Talking Food events, Highgrove welcomed a host of culinary superstars to debate hot topics and host supper clubs in the famous gardens. I was there to fanboy over Angela Hartnett MBE, who had come to talk about this country’s relationship with Italian food. She was joined by more food royalty in the form of Polpo co-founder and author Russell Norman, as well as an extra surprise guest, food critic Tom Parker Bowles. Highgrove knows how to set the scene, and today an impressive display of winter fruit and veg decks out the events hall, reminding me very much of a harvest time school assembly (albeit with much more class and far fewer tins of tomato soup). The trio talk about their personal Italian food journeys through the decades. Hartnett’s creativity, grasp of flavour and innate talent helped win her a Michelin star in 2014 and have been well-recognised by Gordon Ramsey (she trained at his restaurants, Aubergine, Petrus and Amaryllis). Cucina is her collection of 140 hearty, rustic recipes inspired by growing up

Angela found it funny to learn she was meant to have organised the canapés



Cucina povera means ‘peasant food’ – and usually translates into bloomin’ delicious, too

with her Italian mother and grandmother. In the 2007 book, Hartnett’s style is presented as Mediterranean cuisine with a modern European influence, taking the form of traditional rustic dishes like rabbit pappardelle and potato gnocchi. So where is this kind of food – the cavolo nero and ricotta tortellini – on the menus at the crowd-pleasing Italian restaurants of the British high street? You know the ones: the red and white checked tablecloths, the giant pepper grinders, the Chianti in the woven basket? Well, these eateries are a bit of a caricature of Italian kitchens, based on our tastes here in the UK, thinks Angela.  “You won’t be seeing a sloppy viscous red tomato sauce bolognese in any trattoria worth its salt,” she says. “Like chicken tikka, in authentic cooking it just doesn’t exist.” Russell Norman’s Venetian-inspired Polpo restaurants are known for their relaxed style and interesting cicheti (Venetian snacks), like ’nduja arancini. “We’ve been brought up on Italy’s greatest hits,” he says. “A giant menu full of pizza and garlic bread that fills our yearning for comfort food. Although there’s nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t represent a country with diverse, regionbased tradition.” Tom joins in – “as diners, we’ve become experts, and expect authenticity,” he says – before the trio reel off half-a-dozen London restaurants that make their own fresh pasta.

Can you make it out to ‘my favourite food magazine, Crumbs’, please, Angela?

Before long, they’re waxing lyrical about the Bristol food scene too – in particular, our very own Pasta Loco. Like a foodie version of Godwin’s Law (look it up), the conversation turns to Jamie Oliver and our high street restaurants, Harnett crediting the Naked Chef with making cooking approachable and helping shape our modern food culture. We’re not all just here to chat, though, there’s lunch to be eaten. And made, for that matter – Hartnett has been put to work in the kitchen, crafting rows of immaculately presented canapés.





Charles might not have been at lunch, but there was plenty of foodie royalty to make up for it

GET THE LOOK! Want to dine like us at Highgrove? Get yourself over to its shop for these right royal buys...

Orchard Dinner Plate, £22.95

Anchovies on toast are a reminder of the ingredient-driven simplicity of Italian cooking, while arancini balls offer up perfectly gooey centres and golden crusts. Mains come courtesy of the Highgrove kitchen team: Normandy chicken, enveloped in a thick, decadent cream sauce and cider celeriac mash. Warm pear and almond tart follows, with a Duchy Organic vintage cider crème anglaise (the organic brand founded by the Prince of Wales), the almond tart soaking up the sweet custard. Lunch finished, the urge to snoop around the gardens before we head off is an irresistible one. Charles isn’t here today, but with nine full-time gardeners, the place is buzzing with activity. Through a series of

tunnels we go, passing a selection of topiary hedges including a Christmas pudding and a toad. The gardens themselves are extensive, each individual area meticulously designed and preened, yet maintaining a rustic and organic feel. Standing at the end of the path that leads away from the main house are two enormous ceramic pots. Sherry pots we’re told, given to his royal highness as a gift. With delivery marked for ‘The Prince of Wales, Tetbury’ they mistakenly – and rather amusingly – turned up at the village pub before being forwarded on to the rightful recipient. But who knows, maybe that’s just where you’re most likely to catch the Prince in person...? 48 CRUMBSMAG.COM

Chelsea Porcelain Teacup and Saucer, £38 Highgrove 2018 Engraved Champagne Flute, £12.95

45 Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2LS

New MoOn Tapas Bar. 9 The Mall, Clifton, Bristol BS84DP Tel: 0117 239 3858 |

New MoOn on the Quay. The Kiosk 3 Hannover Quay BS1 5JE Tel: 0117 927 9689 |

New MoOn on the Quay. The Kiosk 3 Hannover Quay BS1 5JE Tel: 0117 927 9689 |

New MoOn Tapas Bar. 9 The Mall, Clifton, Bristol BS84DP Tel: 0117 239 3858 |


Festive food & drink festival with added sparkle!

Taunton: 30.11.19 Burnham-on-Sea: 07.12.19 Portishead: 14.12.19 Weston-super-Mare: 15.12.19 (Indoors)



T he Want List

After you’ve decked the halls, get cracking on that festive table

Bottle Opener, £9.95 This little guy would make a great stocking filler, and more than earn his keep over the Christmas period. Find it at The Pod Company in Clifton.

Champagne Glass, £10 From ethical supplier Nkuku, this Champagne flute, with its antique gold look, will give the Crimbo table some glass. We mean class. From Fig 1.

Festive Foliage Napkins (set of two), £7.99 Do away with the disposable paper napkins in favour of these new machine-washable numbers, embroidered with mistletoe. Find them in Lakeland in Bath and Bristol.


Sprout Poppers, £4.99 Because nothing says Christmas like an exploding sprout, right? From Graham and Green in Bath.

Deck The Halls Sloth Dish Towel, £20 If we must do the washing up on C-Day, it should at least involve some aptly festive equipment like this ace tea towel. From Anthropologie in Bath.

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Supplying artisan West Country cheeses to the good folk of Bristol

£ 25

The Bristol Cheesemonger is a small, specialist, independently run cheesemongers located at Wapping Wharf. It specialises in seasonal British cheeses with the main focus being locality. Over Christmas there will be a handpicked selection of local varieties to ensure you can choose the best cheeses for your festive celebrations.


For more information visit


A decade of delicious cheeses from this city centre food hall For 10 years Source has sold a great range of artisan cheeses from its food hall. It has a wide range of British and European varieties which have been aged to perfection for your Christmas feast. Orders are very welcome, so pop in and sample some cheese today. You can also order poultry, meat, fish, game and cakes – all your Christmas food under one roof!


For more information call 0117 9272998 or visit


A whole range of cheeses, made at the local dairy in Ditcheat Using a host of different types of milk – including sheep, goat, buffalo and cow – this cheesemaker can sate all customer tastes and preferences. The award-winning cheeses are based on traditional style recipes which have been skilfully adapted by the makers for different milks.



For more information call 01749 860237 or visit


Cheese and beer are a match made in heaven at this local shop

Two Belly cheese & beer

Two Belly is a Bristol shop and bar specialising in cheese and beer. With a counter that hosts UK-made farmhouse cheeses – plus a few continental cousins – and a host of beers, fine ciders and a selection of natural, low intervention wines. These guys are enriching the Bristol cheese and beer landscape while offering an inviting space for people to enjoy them in.


For more information call 0117 973 8702 or visit


Traditional Somerset Cheesemakers The team at Westcombe Dairy produces unpasteurised Somerset Cheddar, Caerphilly and ricotta on their farm near Bruton. These are all sold in the on-site shop, alongside guest cheeses from Neal's Yard Dairy, Westcombe’s own charcuterie and drinks from Wild Beer and Somerset cider brandy.


For more information call 01749 838033 or visit F o r mo re i nf o rma t i o n and te rms and c ond itions, p le ase visit th e c omp any’s w e b site


Fancy a taste of

Mexico? Look no further than



Now taking Party bookings! Our cafe is available for exclusive use (between 20-30 people) Packages made to suit, set menu from £14.00 per person

35 High Street, Keynsham, Bristol BS31 1DP Opening hours: Mon - Wed: 9 - 5pm Thu - Sat: 9 - 10:30pm  Sun: Opening soon! Tel: 0117 914 6561  f daliacocinakeynsham

The full Italian festive feast! Bookings now being taken, check out our website for more details. Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 09:00 - 15:00, 18:00 - 22:00 | Sunday to Monday: 09:00 - 15:00

CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR AT THE GRAPES This year The Grapes will be open for Christmas Day 12-4pm for lunch (booking in advance only) Christmas Day Lunch £85.00 per person for 6 courses New Years Eve £65.00 per person for 6 courses. CHRISTMAS PARTY NIGHTS are available to book now, see online for our menu £25.00 Two Courses / £32.00 Three Courses 14 Silver Street, Bradford On Avon, BA15 1JY Telephone: 01225 938088 Email:





Small plate restaurants so good they’ll get you in the sharing mood



Merlin LabronJohnson gets a good grilling ahead of his new opening



Returning to the West Country from the Big Smoke, Merlin has opened a new gaff in Bruton

There’s no point being all British when it comes to sharing food at The Coconut Tree and Poco (right). Get stuck in!



In homage to our sippable Spanish Hero Ingredient, we’ve been investigating our patch’s game when it comes to feasting tapas style. Sure, sharing food is a contentious issue, but even Joey Tribbiani has to admit these local hangouts make it pretty tempting...


he emergence of tapas on our isle changed the way we eat. Nowadays transcending the constraints of traditional Spanish fare, these little dishes have taken on a life of their own. While there are drawbacks for some Moaning Martins – more decision making, having to share with greedy mates, and sometimes bigger bills thanks to multiple dishes – most of us can’t get enough. And for good reason – we have a pretty belting offering of food-to-share on this patch. Bar 44 is one of the joints knocking out tapas in the true Spanish style – albeit with a modern (and up-market) twist. You’ll find seasonally changing plates alongside the core staples that you’d expect in a neighbourhood bar in Spain – think boquerones, jamón

croquetas and Padron peppers – but with a more chilled atmosphere and elegant surroundings. Housed in a former bank, this place sure has some classy feels, but without compromising on those Spanish vibes – spot the cured meats and dried chillies hanging out against old-school metro tiles. Pata Negra is another local Spanish hideout and last year underwent a bit of a makeover, inspired by the bustling bars in the south of the country. The bar area was extended to create seating at the new open kitchen, so diners can watch their food being made. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the choice, go for the sharing feast, which is £25 per person and promises a spread of dishes from right across the menu. Seafood is the star at Wapping Wharf tapas joint Gambas. Focusing on market fish and


seafood, the Spanish-style menu follows the ebb and flow of the ocean’s bounty, meaning that dishes change up daily. Not all tapas is Spanish nowadays, of course. But back in ye olde days – or, you know, the noughties – the phrase ‘British tapas’ just didn’t exist. This is something that Poco – which specialises in this kind of food – realised, after opening its doors back in 2011. “It caused confusion in our early days,” says co-founder, Ben Pryor. “People had a pretty fixed idea of what ‘tapas’ was, but we definitely weren’t just bravas and Iberico ham!” Indeed not. Now a nationally known restaurant with inspirational ethical credentials (it was just given Hall of Fame status by the Sustainable Restaurant Association) and a host of awards, Poco cooks local ingredients in rhythm with the seasons – expect the likes of venison with roast plum, and heritage beetroot with smoked walnut. At its heart, though, is that sharing mentality. “I feel like the rise of small plate restaurants is symptomatic of a broader cultural shift in our society; there’s something really youthful and dynamic about it,” says Ben. “It represents a shift away from the traditional and speaks of closer connection to our European neighbours. (Ironic though that may sound!)” A similar European-style mentality can be said of Muiño on Cotham Hill. Its menu clings to tapas roots, while experimenting with dishes inspired by other Mediterranean regions. This creates a menu where Galacian octopus stew and sherry-braised pig cheeks buddy up with lamb meatball tagine and Syrian lentils with yoghurt and chilli butter.


Root and Flow (bottom right) champion all things veg in their inventive dishes


This malleable concept of small plates that we’ve now adopted means they can echo diners’ ever-evolving tastes and preferences – such as the current move away from meat and animal products. There’s a good serving of plant-first small-plate restaurants on our patch, of which Root is one of the most popular. While not a vegetarian restaurant, it certainly champions fruit and veg above meat and has a kitchen team that never tire of coming up with new and inventive ways to use the two – think lentil and mushroom Kiev, and cauliflower rarebit. Another place focusing on inclusive small plates is Flow, a vegetarian restaurant in the city centre that really makes the most of our West Country bounty, with the team foraging and growing lots of their ingredients. The dishes purposefully have a cohesiveness that means you can mix and

match to your heart’s content, without having a dinner that’s conceptually all over the place. “The menu is designed so that all the dishes complement each other despite being very different,” says chef-owner Jen Williams, noting that this encourages people to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. “It makes for a really informal, fun evening where everyone gets to try flavours they may not have had before and compare favourites, satisfying even the most fervent carnivores!” Vegan chef and owner of Acorn in Bath, Richard Buckley, thinks that small plates are, in fact, the ideal format for meat-free food. An idea he’s putting to the test at his new pop-up at Dela in Bristol. “The whole main course idea is built around having a hulking great piece of animal as your meal, starters and desserts merely acting as a sideshow. We found increasingly that



Pata Negra (right) and Gambas (above) promise different takes on Spanish tapas. In lieu of an upcoming holiday, head here for some sunshine

TRY ME! Duck Bocadillo with confit meat and smoked morcilla, at Bar 44 Sobrasada with crisp poached egg, manchego and honey, at Pata Negra Gambas pil-pil (wild red prawns cooked in olive oil, garlic and cayenne chilli), at Gambas Pan-fried hake with butterbean and piquillo pepper stew, at Muiño The famous Portugese ‘punched’ potatoes with garlic and rosemary, at Poco Roasted squash with kale pesto, at Root

Twiglets, made with fennel and poppy seed dough, glazed with Marmite and served with Quickes Smoked Cheddar custard, at Flow Celeriac terrine with Dorset truffle, roasted beetroot and coffee and walnut purée, at Acorn at Dela Korean-style duck wings with leeks, chillies and peanuts, at The Grace Cheese Colombo (fried cubes of cheese in a sticky sauce), at The Coconut Tree Chargrilled hispi with miso butter and grana padano, at Corkage

we were creating beautiful vegetable dishes and then having to bolt on calories, often in the form of carbohydrates. Small plates allow us to keep the purity of vegetable dishes while also creating really exciting carbohydrate dishes too.” If you’ve not made it down to the Easton pop-up yet, you can expect the same refined style of cooking as at Acorn in Bath (smoked potato and hazelnut agnolotti, anyone?) but with a more casual feel. ‘Casual’ is a real buzzword among smallplate joints, the atmosphere intended to echo the communal feel and sharing mentality that the menus encourage. And, we ask you, does ambience get more laid back than down the local pub? The Grace is a boozer on Gloucester Road that also specialises in small plates. Manager William O’Dea actually puts the pub’s success down to this flexible and eclectic food offering. “Kitchens like ours are flourishing and I think it’s because the sharing approach is way more natural and familiar than the supposedly ‘traditional’ three-course a la carte restaurant menu. The latter is not only a bit staid and formulaic, it’s also actually a relatively recent phenomenon. Sharing menus, on the other hand, allow for much more relaxed and casual dining experience. “This is what people all over the world have been doing forever, so why wouldn’t it feel more uplifting and satisfying than the alternative?” Will’s right there: many food cultures across the globe revolve around the act of sharing.


You’ll find globally inspired small plates all over our turf, not least in Sri Lanken restaurant The Coconut Tree, which has two sites in Bristol, so strong is the demand for its sharingstyle food. The curries, rice and street food from the island nation are designed to order in their numbers and, most importantly, enjoy in good company. “There is a saying back in Sri Lanka: lay an extra place at the table,” says Anna Garrod, “which is about always having room for an unexpected guest.” This kind of hospitality is something that the Sri Lankan founders of The Coconut Tree knew their restaurant needed, and sharing plates – which may feature anything from hot battered spicy cuttlefish to Jaffna goat curry – was a great way to emulate that social feel. Another small plate win comes in the fact that you’re not committed to a whole meal. What if all you want is a few glasses of wine and to kid yourself you’re only hungry enough for a little nibble? This must happen often at Bath wine bar and restaurant Corkage, which has two sites in the city. Followed, of course, by the realisation of said drinkers that they do want a proper dinner after all. (After you’ve tasted the likes of coppa with pecorino, or calves’ liver with caramelised onions, a snack just won’t cut it.) So, grab your mates, go for a big sharing feast and show them that you care by letting them have that last spoonful of your favourite dish. Or, you know, challenge them to an arm wrestle for it...

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Hartley butchers are known for their grass-fed beef, which comes directly from their own farm near Bath. Having been running for over 11 years, the farm shop has forged strong links with local farmers too; Christmas turkeys and chickens come from Castlemead in Radstock, bacon and hams from Sandridge Farm and free-range pork from Orchard Farm.


For more information call 01225 864948 or visit


Top foodie finds at this long-established retailer Dry plucked poultry, aged ribs of beef and handmade, free-range sausages are just some of the highlights in Source Food Hall this Christmas. All the meat is free-range and local and will be in perfect condition for your Christmas feast. Pop in or call up and place your order now for poultry, meat, fish, game, cheese and cakes – all your Christmas food under one roof!


For more information call 0117 9272998 or visit


Traditional, award-winning butchery with a modern approach Newton Farm Foods is a family business with a working farm, shop, café and butchery situated on the admirable Duchy of Cornwall Estate in Newton St Loe, just 10 minutes from Bath. All their livestock is born, raised and grass fed right there, promising full traceability. The butchers are professional, friendly, knowledgeable, and offer excellent culinary advice. The counter displays a fine array of freshly f prepared cuts, roasting joints, burgers, sausages and freshly made meals to go. For more information call 01225 873707 or visit


Free-range Norfolk Bronze turkeys for all your Christmas needs

£ 12

P/KG Farleigh Road Farm Shop, just outside of Bath, has great produce reared right on its doorstep. Turkeys are from Castlemead, just a couple of miles away, lamb and beef come from Beeswax-Dyson, just a few fields over, and pork is from the fabulous Jamie’s Farm. We’ve got your Christmas covered and all the pigs-inf blankets you need!

For more information call 01225 720006 or visit


Artisan butcher with a focus on speciality meats and nose-to-tail cooking Thoroughly Wild’s range contains a host of specially selected meats and cuts – and it can all be delivered to your door. The half salt marsh lamb or and quarter of a free-range pig promise good value for money, as do the seasonal boxes. Try the Winter Warmer box, containing plenty of great cuts for hearty stews and casseroles.


£60 f

For more information call 01749 321021 or visit F o r mo re i nf o rma t i o n and te rms and c ond itions, p le ase visit th e c omp any’s w e b site.



The ‘before’ snap of Osip’s exterior – you’ll have to visit for the ‘after’



Having earned his first Michelin star at 24, this celebrated young chef has returned to the South West to open an exciting new restaurant. He tells Jessica Carter the story behind his homecoming, and what we can expect from Somerset’s most anticipated new opening...

Scenes from Merlin working a frantic Saturday night service. Not. (Yes, ‘not’ gags are back!)



“This lady kind of took me under her wing because she could see [cooking] was something that I really enjoyed. She would actually just leave me to cook for the school. I’d grab some other students and I’d have a budget and would go to the wholefood store and buy some stuff and cook it.” He got hooked, his teachers noticing his enthusaism and change of focus, and encouraging him to get a job in a restaurant. “As soon as I started cooking I had this really clear direction. I was really disciplined, really committed, really ambitious. I didn’t care about anything else,” he remembers. Merlin started working in professional kitchens, exaggerating his age at times to secure jobs – he was still only 15. Eventually, he went to work for the likes of Michael Caines before setting off for Europe. Switzerland was followed by a two-Michelin-starred restaurant in France, and then a prestigious Belgian kitchen where he worked his way up to sous chef. It was here where something clicked for him professionally. “I didn’t realise I was good at cooking for a very long time. I was doing it because I enjoyed it, I loved food and restaurants. But I actually had a pretty hard time coming up in restaurants, especially working in France. There were a lot of times I thought that maybe I should just give up. “[The restaurant in Belgium] just had a different kitchen environment; the team was a lot closer, people would say please and thank you, there was a lot more creative freedom. I thrived in that environment. I got promoted when I was 22 to sous chef – I was basically running the kitchen in one of the best restaurants in the world. So it was there when I really kind of found myself.” At the grand old age of 23, Merlin came back to the UK to open Portland in London. Nine months on, he had his first Michelin star, and within the year was launching a second venue, Clipstone. “I loved it, I loved opening a restaurant in London and being part of the food community. But it was the first time in my life I’d lived in a city. When I was cooking I’d always felt very connected to nature and agriculture and farming and foraging and just being outdoors. I felt like that was what inspired my cooking, and I didn’t really have that in London.” Moving on from Portland and Clipstone, Merlin launched a third restaurant, The Conduit, which he is still very much involved with. But even before then he was fleshing out an idea for a project in the countryside. “I opened three restaurants in London in the space of three or four years, which was really stressful, obviously – really intense – and I just found myself kind of yearning to be out of London all the time.” So, just over a year ago, he decided to leave Portland and Clipstone and start looking properly for his restaurant in the country.

ife is not a competition. Okay? You should bear that in mind for the next couple of pages. See, Merlin Labron-Johnson is the kind of person who can make even the most ambitious of go-getters feel like sorry underachievers. We meet on Bruton High Street, outside his latest project, Osip. It’s still a building site (although by the time you read this it’ll be very much up and running), in the middle of an extensive redesign that will take it from a former ironmongers to Somerset’s most exciting new restaurant. The building has a very long and very evident history; I spot walls exposing their ancient layers and charmingly warped 500-year-old wooden beams as we pick our way through the rubble. The small restaurant (there will be about 32 covers) is the former shop floor, with a Dickensian-look façade of old leaded convex windows. There’s a little nook where the bar will be, and a modest-sized kitchen at the back. We leave the building site in search of a quiet corner and hot drink – both of which we find in neighbouring restaurant and bakery At the Chapel, where Merlin is greeted with familiarity. He’s clearly already making a mark on the small town. This will be Merin’s fouth restaurant opening – and he’s still only 28. The chef, though, explains that he hasn’t always been such an over-achiever. See, growing up in Devon, he was dissinterested in school (“very naughty”, in fact) and got the boot from a number of them. It’s a challenge to imagine this polite and professional guy, who considers each of his words so carefully, in the light that he paints himself in as a schoolkid. It seems, though, that a lot of things changed when he started cooking. “There was this school cook who would make lunch every day, a really, really decent lunch – three courses – and I was one of the only students who didn’t have school dinners because my parents couldn’t afford it,” he says. “So I would basically wash dishes in exchange for school lunch.” Soon, he was promoted to peeling spuds, and eventually was running the kitchen, under the cook’s watchful eye.

After initially sniffing out venues in Kent and Sussex, Merlin was introduced by his accountant to the owners of the site in Bruton – who were already working on turning the building into a hotel. It was a perfect find. Sure, it was quite far from London (he’d still be needed at The Conduit regularly) but it ticked all of the other boxes. “I didn’t want an existing pub or restaurant – I wanted to take a beautiful building that had character and renovate it. Which this was. It also had rooms, and I knew I could probably find some land to grow vegetables nearby, so it was all the things I was looking for.” Another draw was its proximity to home, as well as Bristol and Bath. “It’s the West Country, and it sort of feels like home,” says Merlin. “When I came, it really felt like some of the local towns where I grew up.” It had the same kind of community feel, too, he was about to discover. When word began to spread about the project, he was inundated with messages from locals, offering support and well wishes. Everything from honey from neighbouring beekeepers to gardeners’ gluts of blackcurrants or quinces were offered up to him – even the land he needed to grow the restaurant’s vegetables. It’s clear that this meant a lot to the London chef, not least in the way he talks about it – with energy and surprise – but also because this sense of community is exactly the kind of concept he wanted to build the restaurant on. Connecting with local people who work with food was a priority. “When I think creatively about food, it doesn’t come from me going, ‘I want to make a dish with, I don’t know, artichokes and chicken and cep mushrooms’, for example, then calling up a bunch of wholesalers. It’s much more a case of having this ongoing dialogue with local growers.” Finding out what’s about to be picked and then coming up with dishes to use up the fruits of nearby harvests and gluts is the way Merlin like to do things. “It’s slightly different to the way chefs normally work, but I feel, because you’re slightly more limited, that it’s definitely more challenging; you have



“The food is not going to be that different [to what I’ve been doing in London], but we’re building the whole menu and concept around vegetables – I have to say this with clarity, though, as it’s not a vegetarian restaurant.” Poultry and winter game will be on the menu, as well as roast chicken on Sundays, but there’s not really room for red meat here, says Merlin. For environmental reasons, sure, but also because it just doesn’t feel necessary to this experimental chef. “I like to be able to prove to people,” he says, “without making a big deal of it, that it’s possible to have amazing food without having to have big chunks of meat. I get a lot more pleasure out of cooking vegetables than I do cooking meat; there’s a lot more possibility and potential to do fun stuff.” Merlin’s cooking style has been informed by the contrasting kitchens that he worked in across Europe, he explains. Influences from both ends of the spectrum – the ultra-classical techniques he learnt in France (“I find that approach really cool, really inspiring,” he says) and the experimental, liberal attitude of the Belgian outfit – can be found in his food. “It’s also the simplicity that I really enjoy,” he adds. “I really like just doing simple things very well. And that’s kind of what my food has become now – taking really good ingredients and not manipulating them too much, so they taste and look like the best version of what they are.” Alongside the food at Osip, you can expect a focus on fine cider as well as wine. Herbal teas are blended in house and made from local herbs, and sodas, juices and kombucha are all homemade.


I can’t not bring up Merlin’s extracurricular cooking with him. See, just pursuing “better”, as he calls it, wasn’t enough for this chef. Having moved to London and Excited to make witnessed poverty in a way he hadn’t before, he began to the move to the think about channelling his ambition in a different way. West Country, “A lot of my friends at the time were going out to Calais, Merlin says that into ‘The Jungle’, to the refugee camps and helping out Wilsons, Marmo on different projects there. So I started doing fundraising dinners, raising money for the kitchens that were cooking and Landrace in the refugee camps. It was a very simple exchange where Bakery (the latter I cooked a dinner, a bunch of people would buy tickets, and being run by a all the money I would just transfer to the account of the mate of his) are people in Calais, who would then buy food and cook it for, at the top of his like, 7,000 people.” to-visit list... Eventually, Merlin travelled out to the camps to meet those he’d been fundraising for (“I saw how people were living. You can’t see that and just walk away”) and later began working with Food for Soul in London, cooking three-course meals for the homeless from surplus food. Then, last year, he went to work with Help Refugees, at one point cooking for about 1,000 people a day, with a budget of 35p a head. Throughout his recounting of these stories – which is done without pride; a little reluctantly, if anything – he keeps returning to the same point: he’s a cook, and therefore has the ability to counter hunger. “I guess the point I’m trying to make is it felt like such an easy exchange,” he summarises, modestly.


Osip is all about the fruit and veg harvests – but when there’s the opportunity to put wild duck in golden pastry, it will very much happen

to be a lot more creative and think outside of the box, and it builds a slightly stronger identity. You can’t just do exactly what you want. “But, at the same time, it is exactly what I want to do,” adds Merlin, smiling at the irony. “It feels right.” Osip – which he has given his middle name to – is the perfect size and location to really commit to this concept of restaurant, he thinks, with daily changing menus based on what’s coming out of the ground. “In the evening, there is a menu, but it’s like, ‘this is what you’re having for dinner’. Sort of like a tasting menu, but I don’t really want to call it a tasting menu. It’s a set price and people can call up and ask in advance what it’s going to be, but the idea is that they just turn up and get fed. So that allows us to be super flexible in how we work.” And on said menu – which is accompanied by a lunchtime a la carte offering – guests can expect shed loads of local vegetables and fruit, along with a small amount of carefully chosen meat, and sometimes perhaps some seafood, too.

There are many strings to Merlin’s culinary bow, I’m realising – along with the fact that he’s not one to shout about them. Achieving so much well before turning 30 takes some serious commitment and ambition – not to mention talent. Cooking just brings out that side in him, it seems. “At the beginning, it’s probably safe to say that I was needing the discipline and routine and structure in my life without knowing it at the time,” he says, thoughtfully, considering his entry into life in a kitchen. “The act of cooking is just incredibly satisfying, and it can’t really get boring because it’s something that evolves and changes, you discover new things... “What’s driven me is the constant urge to do something better. I’m never quite satisfied with what I’m achieving, which is kind of frustrating in one sense because you’re always on this quest; you don’t even really know what you’re trying to achieve – it’s just about ‘better’. Probably 90 per cent of my brain is occupied with food and cooking and restaurants. You can’t get away from that.” This promising entrepreneurial chef is a real get for Somerset. Not only does his fierce but conscientious ambition bring excitement for what’s to come at Osip, but his energy and (quickly gained) culinary wisdom paint a bright picture for the restaurant industry, which is falling into the hands of a new generation of chefs.


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New Italian and wine bar Marmo has moved into a much-loved space


Bath’s Browns has a swish new look – but does the menu live up to it?


Jamaica Street Stores is back for good – but what’s cooking?

Browns in Bath has had an impressive face lift...



Consider this the only time you’ll see Marmo empty



If there’s anything that can numb the figurative pain of wet socks and a broken umbrella this winter, it’s to be found in places like these, reckons Jessica Carter


Marmo, 31 Baldwin Street, Bristol BS1 1RG; 0117 316 4987;

here are some dishes on restaurant menus that will always be a little risky to order. Risotto, for instance, not often arrives in the moreish, loose and silky form that we hope for when we order it. Similarly, gnocchi dishes rarely hit the spot in the way that I imagine them to when reading the descriptions, the little potatoey pillows having a tendency to be a touch too dry and stodgy. The gnocchi at Marmo, though, is bang on the money. Super delicate and plentiful in supply, the small dumplings that fill the plate are ideal for


scooping up the juicy venison ragu with, while having a smooth, light texture that sees them almost collapse on your tongue. Nope, not a whiff of chewiness. This is the perfect comfort food to counter the effects of the grey, drizzly day outside (not to mention the brain fog inside, instilled by one too many glasses of red the night before). Behind the recently opened Marmo and its knockout gnochhi are Lily and Cosmo Sterck. The pair studied in Bristol before heading off to London, chef Cosmo jumping straight into the kitchen upon being permanently released from lectures. He worked at the likes of St. John (where he met Sam Leech, co-founder of Birch and now local cider maker, farmer and veg supplier to Marmo), as well as respected restaurants in Paris. Lily, meanwhile, became a lawyer before ditching offices for restaurant floors to hone her front of house knowledge. And Marmo was the end to which they worked. It opened in August in the former Bar Buvette, and the famously foggy windows have been steaming up again with the heat of a full dining room ever since. Wine is a big focus here – there’s a page of regularly rotating by-the-glass varieties and an extensive list


The pork is literally blushing after our compliments

of bottles, all of which are available to take away, too. (Some tables are kept unreserved for walk-ins and drinkers, if you’re just in the market for a casual vino.) We get lunch underway with a dangerously drinkable orange wine. The food here leans towards Italian in style but is infused with British and other European touches, too. The menu is concise, driven by what’s being harvested at the time, and for lunch carries set prices – £10 for one course, £14 for two or £17 for three. Pretty chipper value right there, especially considering the quality of what’s being cooked up. First, mussels arrive heaped in a bowl, slices of leek lolling over the shells and the plump, peachy meat, which is beautifully soft and delicate. The cider liquor is light but delicious – we soak it up with sourdough slathered in sunny-coloured butter.


From the main courses, the pumpkin ravioli is a similarly happy hue, the stuffed pasta rectangles piled up generously, coated with a blanket of parmesan and finished with flecks of black pepper. Walnut halves and sage leaves – deservedly classic bedfellows of the autumnal pumpkin – are tucked amongst the parcels. There are a thousand things pumpkin is better for than wasting as a Halloween lantern – and this is top of the list. There’s always some form of pork on the menu here; the team takes delivery of half a beast each week, butchering it themselves and working their way through the cuts. As such, the pork belly dish has turned into pork collar by the time we order. The meat, juicy and tender, is sliced to show off its pastelpink insides. Earthy flavours of chickpea mash and wilted chard are punctuated by plump, sweet raisins, while tiny golden pine nuts are peppered over the top, lending their moreish flavour along with crunch. The dining room – with its European flea-market finds hanging on the panelled walls, shelves lined with wine bottles and tiny open kitchen – is full this lunchtime. The atmosphere remains buzzy for the whole service, people doing their best to reinstate the leisurely working lunch and eke out their last drops of wine or mouthfuls of pasta. I felt a wave of relief when I realised – on my first visit here in August – that Bar Buvette’s successor is yet another killer hangout, with crave-worthy food and one of the most handsome wine lists in town. And, a couple of months later, it seems the local newbie is only getting better – not to mention more popular still. It feels good to be back on this side of those condensation-coated windows again.


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BROWNS Back in 1998, when it first opened, Matt Bielby was rather partial to Browns in Bath. But (perhaps like many of us) he’d not been in years. How does its spruced-up reinvention shape up?


nce upon a time, back in the day, the great restaurant chains – the ones that defined the genre – were new and fresh. Pizza Express expanded hugely from its established Soho base in the ’90s; All Bar One was a child of the same decade; Côte got going some 10 years later. They’re all still out there, some of them even have a good offering, but walking past them’s not hard. One of the daddies of this kind of dining is Browns, a brasserie and bar in the grand café style that launched in Brighton in the early ’70s and soon spread to a half dozen university towns, like Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford. Offering large cool buildings, done up in slick but simple style, and great service, they were a cut above what most of the high street served up, and – when bought by Bass Brewery – the ’90s saw their offer survive the expansion to many more towns. Eventually there were 25 or so of them, and I remember going to the Bath version regularly towards the end of that decade; it felt like a treat. I’ve not been so much recently – but perhaps now’s the time to rediscover Browns, which has just enjoyed something of a refresh. Though the long-established Bristol restaurant – at the top of Park Street, in an especially impressive listed building that’s been the City Museum and Library and the University Refectory in its time – was spruced up a couple of years back, Bath’s has been looking pretty tired for ages now, the white paint chipped, the pot plants looking sorry for themselves. Visiting post-refurb, however, you can’t fail to be impressed. The building itself has always been one of the most striking-looking places to eat in the city – few outside The Botanist can compete for spectacle – and walking in now you see it with fresh eyes. The Old Police Station on Orange Grove was built in 1865, a handsome Georgian two-storey affair by a local architect, Major Charles Edward Davis; he would go on to build the Empire Hotel next door. It also held



the local Magistrates Court with cells in the basement (now the loos). There was no separate fire brigade back then, so the city’s fire engine was kept in a shed behind, with each constable trained on its hose pipes. This was a working police station until 1966, when everything moved over to Manvers Street, but there are references to a rich history still to be enjoyed here, not least in the many black-and-white photographs of mightily moustachioed gentlemen with shiny buttons and impressive helmets. That aside, the feel is more Great Gatsby than Dixon of Dock Green. The entrance hall opens onto a tallceilinged space of pillars and nooks and crannies, which becomes spectacularly double-height in the centre, around the bar. ’Twas always thus, but none of it’s looked this good in years: the walls are now sage green, the leathers and velvets of the seating are reds and blues, and strikingly tiled and wooden floors draw attention to themselves. One more addition: a baby grand piano, which is played live for guests on Thursdays and Sundays. The overall impression is less tired colonial bar from the English Raj – all ceiling fans and bentwood chairs – and rather more colourfully Art Deco. It’s a nice place to be then, totally tempting as a place to rock up for drinks, but what about the food? The all-day menu inevitably feels a little all-thingsto-all-men – but then that’s Browns all over. Just as it was in its early days, when Oxbridge undergraduates would rock up with their folks and everyone could find something to enjoy. Pan-seared wild Atlantic scallops, with smoked pancetta, caramelised apple, parsnip purée and a grain mustard dressing (£10.25) was the costliest of the starters – most being under £8 – but tasted special enough to justify it; almost sweet enough to be a fishy pudding – if you can imagine such a thing. Devon crab and avocado (£9.50) came with the crab stacked on top of roughly cut chunks of avo, packed into a neat circle. The meat was delicate and fresh –

subtly sweet – and the fruit underneath at just the right point of ripeness, if rather fridge cold. Alongside was brown crabmeat mayo and some lightly toasted slices of sourdough. For mains was steak – recommended by our server and sourced from Browns’ own farms. The 7oz fillet (£25.50, slightly more expensive than the marginally larger ribeye or sirloin) came with skinny fries and lightly-dressed watercress. I went for peppercorn sauce from a choice of three, and we shared a couple of sides: moist and tasty roast portobello mushrooms (£3.50) and Tenderstem broccoli with savoury nut granola (£3.95), the latter element offering a pleasing contrast of crunch. The half roast chicken (£16.50) – the menu makes a point of telling us it’s ‘British’ – comes with Boulangere potatoes, creamed leeks and a decadently rich red wine Bordelaise sauce. The bird had a nice golden skin, the butchered half hiding a pile of creamed leeks beneath; it could have been juicier, but there was plenty of sauce to add moisture. The spuds lived in their own little iron pot, sliced up nice and thin under a golden topping. These too were fine, but though the edges were nice and crispy at the top, the layers at the bottom remained slightly undercooked.   For pudding were the recommended creme brûlée (£6.95) and salted caramel profiteroles (£7.25), the first large and creamy with a couple of biscuits on the side, the latter light and airy – a great way to lighten up such potentially heavy elements as salted caramel and toffee sauce.  All in all, then, a good meal – and served with professionalism and knowledge, too. (We enjoyed well-picked glasses of individual wines to match each course.) Browns has always been a sophisticated mainstream choice, but Bath’s venue has never looked better than right now. It’s not crazy-cheap exactly, but the crowd-pleasing food and beautiful design mean a good experience seems virtually guaranteed.


A menu where everyone, from teenager to grandparent, fussy eater to greedy guts, can find something they like

Browns, Old Police Station, Orange Grove, Bath BA1 1LP; 01225 461199;




JAMAICA STREET STORES Recently reopened, this much-loved Stokes Croft joint has started a new chapter with a refreshed menu, finds Jessica Carter Parmesan and Gouda were strong lunchtime themes on our recent visit

Jamaica Street Stores, 37-39 Jamaica Street, Bristol BS2 8JP; 0117 924 9294;


ristol has more than its fair share of uber-cool, Instagram-worthy restaurants. Industrial interiors, potted plant jungles and edgy soundtracks aren’t usually more than a short stroll in vintage high-tops away in this city. If I didn’t know better, then rocking up (as I inevitably do) to these kinds of digs in my chunky knitwear and garishly coloured backpack, with a rush-induced sweat about my brow like a schoolchild who overslept on the first day of term, would have me come over a little (lot) self-conscious. I do know better, though. I know that however cool and bohemian our Bristol venues seem, I’ll fit right in with my dishevelled disposition, needy dog and an average luggage load of three bags (no, not including the ones under my eyes), because this is a city that knows how to do hospitality. However cool (or not) you may be. Jamaica Street Stores is one such stylish hangout. Foliage-infused warehouse feels preside (the former printing space shares a building with art studios), with concrete floors, vintage school-style chairs, huge hanging pots overflowing with greenery, unplastered painted brick and an ace playlist compiled by someone unmistakably cooler than you (and me, easily). It’s also super friendly and relaxed and has a menu with more than enough substance to back up that style. Happy days. Opened in 2017 by a group of creative, food-loving friends, this place was making local press – not to mention countless people’s Twitter feeds – back in August this year, when it sadly and suddenly shut its doors, a sign hung up in the glass thanking customers for their business. See, most of the owners had fingers in other pies, and as various commitments grew and opportunities presented themselves, it seemed like the right time for them to shift their focuses elsewhere. Not Charlie James, though. The co-owner and former River Cottage head chef had other ideas and, bringing in his brother Phil (who was working in Charlie’s old RC role), he turned the closure into but a brief hiatus, reopening the restaurant after a matter of weeks. If you’re a fan of River Cottage, you may well notice some crossover in the menus, with the brothers having given new life to some of the dishes they


came up with during their time there. The bill of fare has also moved away from small plates in favour of a three-course format, although lots of the dishes come in small or large sizes (meaning if sharing is caring as far as you’re concerned, you can still do the small plates thing). We’re quick to order the Fowey mussels cooked with leek, bay, cider and cream (£7/£12) and served with focaccia, while it’s with heavy hearts that we pass up on the raw venison with salted egg yolk. The squash risotto (£7/£11) with aged Cornish Gouda and crispy sage – got to love some crispy sage, especially in autumn – is silky and decadently cheesy, with hunks of soft orange veg sat on top. Mushroom ragu (£13) sees chunky slices of golden ’shrooms in a blonde sauce – all creamy and buttery – served alongside crispy fried wedges of polenta, pimped up with a whiff of truffle. A generous dusting of finely grated parmesan has settled on the dish like snow, melting into the warm sauce. Penne pasta comes muddled with venison bolognese (£8), the minced game a really pleasant, more earthy alternative to the regular beef. That, along with the rich tomato sauce it was slow-cooked in, and the addition of more of that Gouda, means I shamelessly hog this plate which I’d promised to share, practically nose-diving into it after the first bite. My greedy basset hound was giving me her best eyes, but she knew well enough this bol was a lost cause. Dessert is a wintry dream. Toffee apple cake (£5) is served with silky cinnamon ice cream, shards of hazelnut brittle and good slathering of toffee sauce. I missed bonfire night this year but this toffee-coated dream almost makes up for it. Loads of us were glad to hear about the reopening of this place – the rest probably never even realising it had shut, thanks to the speedy turnaround. All that matters, though, is that now’s a better time than ever to visit. Unless you’re a basset hound. I mean, you’re welcome in, but you’ll get none of my lunch.




PAUL WEBB The co-founder of Somerset’s Black Bee Honey shares his favourite foodie hideouts…

Sunday lunch? The Packhorse, South Stoke. It’s a beautiful old pub in a lovely spot just south of Bath, which has been bought back to life by the locals. Quick pint? The Bruton Castle. Jim’s a great landlord and there are always some entertaining locals at the bar. I had my 40th birthday party there. Cosy pub? I like to grab a spot near the fire at The Bull Inn. Comfort Food? Takeaway pizza from At the Chapel. Top curry? Some really fresh and interesting Malaysian curries are served up at On the Brook on a Friday night. Best brew? I love Comins Tea in Bath. Rob and Michelle are huge tea geeks, so you get an education as well as a great cuppa – and you leave feeling very zen. Belting breakfast? A croissant and coffee at the Rye Bakery in Frome. We’ve spent half our lives in this place since moving here. One to watch? The locals are getting very excited about the new restaurant Osip opening soon in Bruton. The whippersnapper of a chef held a Michelin star for Portland in London. Something sweet? We take our two-year-old son to Palette and Pasture in Trudoxhill, which makes ice creams and sorbets using the milk from its own dairy herd. On our last trip we came home with a tub of spiced apple sorbet, which was delicious. On the hit list? Three places: The Pony and Trap in Chew Magna, Brassica in Beaminster and The High Pavement in Frome. With friends? Roth Bar and Grill after a walk around the Hauser and Wirth gallery and garden. Best atmosphere? The Sheppey Inn is always great – we love to drive through the levels and a take a trip to one of the nature reserves to watch the murmurations at this time of year. The food and beers are great there too!

Quick! Now add this little lot to your contacts book... The Packhorse, Bath BA2 7DU; The Bruton Castle, Bruton BA10 0AW; The Bull Inn, Bruton BA10 0LN; At the Chapel, Bruton BA10 0AE; On the Brook, Bruton BA10 0QP; Comins Tea, Bath BA1 2AN; Rye Bakery, Frome BA11 3BY; Osip, Bruton BA10 0AB; Palette and Pasture, Trudoxhill BA11 5DL; The Pony and Trap, Chew Magna BS40 8TQ; Brassica, Beaminster DT8 3AS; The High Pavement, Frome BA11 1DS; Roth Bar and Grill, Bruton BA10 0NL; The Sheppey Inn, Lower Godney BA5 1RZ;


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Crumbs Bath & Bristol - Issue 96  

Crumbs Bath & Bristol - Issue 96