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A little slice

of foodie heaven

N o.99 M a rc h 2 0 20

What do you call a kumquat after it’s arrived? A came-quat




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A n os e y a rou M a s t e rC n d P I NG hef alumnus


E S ’ k i t ch

l iMi t


Our love affair with these pastry-encrust ed delights And how to enjoy the m this British Pie Week


Mas t te e r at







SPLENDID I RECIP SPRING IP E S o t p l ocal from


Talking TV wi th new Rea dy Steady Cook sta r



Budo Ba 2 8 Ma rket Pla ce The Spa ghetti Incident

Orange is the new black

NICE FOR KUMQUAT Frenzied discussions on Twitter about where the first leaves of wild garlic are appearing. Blue-skied (if crisp) days. A zestycoloured Crumbs cover. It can only mean one thing: spring is, well, if not quite here, then definitely imminent. Thank goodness. I like an excuse to hole up at home with a bottle of red and something slow-cooked, declining evening invitations using the weather as an easy get-out as much as the next person – but I was starting to think winter was taking the Mickey for a bit, there. While February and March are transition months at best (2018 taught us that we’re not out of the snow-blanketed woods just yet), there’s an undeniable whiff of better (read: warmer, sunnier, rosé-craving) days ahead. Just in case you want even more to get excited about (greedy guts), we’ve got the need-to-know on new local openings to visit (including a café serving proper feel-good grub and an imminent wine-soaked addition to Gloucester Road), the low-down on a soon-to-air ’90s cookery show reboot starring one of our fave Bristol chefs, and some proper great ideas (even if we do say so ourselves) for how to celebrate fast-approaching British Pie Week (spoiler: it involves winning a year’s worth of pies). As if that wasn’t enough, our very juicy and delicious 100th issue is in the making, too. It’s going to be a stunner. Until then!

Jessica Carter, Editor jessica.carter@mediaclash.co.uk


BARS & RESTAURANTS Bristol’s Specialists in Leisure & Retail Keep up-to-date with our latest news, deals, testimonials and market comment at our website: www.burstoncook.co.uk

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A litt little slice of foodie heaven

No.99 March 2020

What do you call a kumquat after it’s arrived? A came-quat






from top local cooks


lliM Miit M

A nosey aroun MasterCh d

PI NG CO ef alumnus OM BES’ S


Our love affair with these pastry-encrusted delights And how to enjoy them this British Pie Week


e'stthehhee P e's Pi


08 HERO Kum-what? 12 OPENINGS ETC A fresh batch of foodie news 14 SIX PACK Pastries ’til we die


Mas tter te er aatt






Talking TV with new Ready Steady Cook star



Budo Ba 28 Market Place The Spaghetti Incident

CHEF! 22 Lamb, three ways, by Eddy Rains 24 Mushroom pierogi, by Matt Williamson 26 Butternut squash and shallot bake, by UK Shallots


JESSICA CARTER jessica.carter@mediaclash.co.uk DEVELOPMENT EDITOR

MATT BIELBY matt.bielby@mediaclash.co.uk



KITCHEN ARMOURY 39 HOUSE CALL We take a peek at Ping Coombes’ brand new kitchen 47 THE WANT LIST All about that brass


AFTERS 60 28 Market Place 62 Budo Ba 64 The Spaghetti Incident

66 LITTLE BLACK BOOK Adrian Kirikmaa lets us in on the places we’re likely to find him chowing down

50 CRUST FUND We dive into the world of pie, ahead of British Pie Week 54 GRILLED Romy Gill spills the beans on her book, restaurant and imminent TV appearances

11 Megrim sole with kumquat sauce, by Freddy Bird 19 Buttered salmon, by Alison Roman 33 Mackerel with horseradish and broth, by Jan Ostle 46 Pork dumplings, by Ping Coombes 53 Chicken and leek pie, by Jon Simon and Tristan Hogg

DAN IZZARD dan.izzard@mediaclash.co.uk ART DIRECTOR


CLAIRE HAWKINS claire.hawkins@mediaclash.co.uk ACCOUNT MANAGER


SARAH KINGSTON sarah.kingston@mediaclash.co.uk PRODUCTION DESIGNER

GEMMA SCRINE gemma.scrine@mediaclash.co.uk



JANE INGHAM jane.ingham@mediaclash.co.uk CHIEF EXECUTIVE

GREG INGHAM greg.ingham@mediaclash.co.uk large version

MediaClash, Circus Mews House, Circus Mews, Bath BA1 2PW 01225 475800 mediaclash.co.uk

large version

30 THE DRIP FEED Find out what’s new in the wonderful world of drinks… 32 THE WINE GUY Andy causes havoc in Wilsons with Jan Ostle

© 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 had dinner at Box-E over top comedy at the restaurant’s Belly Laughs event, ate a mountain of mussels at Little French, checked out Spoke and Stringer’s new evening menu at its Whiteladies Road gaff, and sampled the grub at Bath’s Bandook

How do you like your pastry in the morning? Smothered in chocolate isn’t the worst answer... 5 CRUMBSMAG.COM



2 7 F E B R UA RY

2020 ORGANIC MARKET REPORT LAUNCH Interested in organic food? The Soil Association will be presenting its report’s findings at Triodos Bank in Bristol. There will also be time for a Q and A session about the future of organic. Tickets are free – register for your seat at Eventbrite. eventbrite.co.uk

Fun direction



There’s plenty to keep you smiling this month, whether you’re an adult (booze!) or little one (pancakes!)

Food photographer Kirstie Young is holding a hands-on workshop at Bristol’s Forge, focusing on getting that styling and lighting spot-on, as well as how to adapt your approach to suit your subject. Tickets £95 from Eventbrite. kirstieyoungphotography.com 6 A N D 7 MA RC H 2 2 F E B R UA RY

PROSECCO FESTIVAL The country’s biggest festival dedicated to Italian fizz is landing at Bristol’s Passenger Shed. There will be Italian-inspired eats to tuck into alongside the wine, and gin from around the world will also be showcased. Tickets are priced from £14.50. Book online. proseccofestival.co.uk

Back for the second year, this beer festival just outside of Bristol will see a range of locally brewed drinks served up to thirsty festivalgoers at Wrington Memorial Hall, with a soundtrack provided by live music acts. Tickets start at £6 and include a commemorative glass with a design by a local artist. wringtonbeerfestival.org

2 5 F E B R UA RY



Okay, okay: pancakes are for adults, too


Get the kids down to The Locksbrook Inn to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. The chef will be knocking out some great pancakes for the little ones to decorate (we can see this getting rather messy). There will be face painting and a mini disco, too. No tickets required, but pancakes are £2 each. thelocksbrookinn.com


PASTA MAKING WORKSHOP Learn how to make fresh pasta at the Coexist Community Kitchen. With a teacher hailing from Rome, you’ll make tagliatelle as well as spinach and ricotta ravioli. Tickets £35 from Eventbrite. coexistuk.org


Hero Ingredients


It’s the tiny fruit with the big flavour – and one of the funniest names in the business

Hereʼs one kind of peel you really donʼt want to, well, peel


K umquat’s such an excellent word to say – go on, give it a go; ace, isn’t it? – that we’d love them even if we’d never tasted one. But the fact is, a hilarious moniker is just the first of their virtues. They’re also pleasing to look at – cast your eye around these pages for proof – like tiny little oranges the size of chunky olives. And even eating them is easy, once you know how: in most cases, just pop ’em in your mouth and chew. Kumquats came to Europe in 1846, brought here from China by Scottish botanist Robert Fortune, who we also have to thank for some 250 other plants, including many roses, azaleas and chrysanthemums. The name comes from a Cantonese word meaning ‘golden orange’, and though few Victorians knew quite what to do with them – even now, kumquats are often considered a little bit weird, more a decorative oddity than anything – they were justifiably impressed by just how hardy they can be. The fruit of a slow-growing evergreen shrub – even the biggest barely count as a ‘tree’ – they’re much sturdier than most citrus, withstanding frost well and only needing heat of 30C or so in the summer. This means many varieties grow pretty well in Britain, with a type called Citrus japonica especially recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society. These only stand a few metres tall, need little pruning, are largely disease-free, live happily in big plant pots, and render fruit you eat whole, skin and all. Perfect. Kumquats generally come in two main types – round and oval – and though all have a sweet peel and relatively sour insides, the balance can be rather different: some, for instance, combine well in the mouth for a brilliant sweet-sour taste, while others are overall just a bit too tart to eat raw, and serve better in marmalades and jams. Nanami kumquats are a particularly popular, appealing and refreshing type, but then – for instance – there’s also the Jiangsu kumquat (bell-shaped and milder tasting), or the Malaysian kumquat, also called the hedge lime, with its especially

Not actual size (we wouldn’t want you to feel shortchanged at the greengrocers)

thin peel. Oddest looking is probably the Centennial Variegated kumquat, with green-and-yellow stripes, but it’s the ornamental Hong Kong kumquat – with its inedible, pea-sized fruit – that’s perhaps the most interesting. Not only the most primitive of all the kumquats, it’s also – as the kumquat is generally considered the most primitive of the citruses – perhaps the closest thing alive to the ancient ancestral species from which all citrus fruits derive.


There’s a ‘perhaps’ in there, you may have noticed, and it’s mostly because people tend to argue over kumquats. Are they all one species, or lots of species? Do they qualify as a ‘true’ citrus? At different times science has divided them into a half-dozen different subgenera or rolled them all into one – for a while they even had their own distinct genus, Fortunella, now no longer used. And confusing matters further are all the kumquat hybrids


out there, some naturally occurring and some deliberately cultivated: the Mandarinquat, the Limequat, the Orangequat and so on. Hmm. Since the earliest historical references to kumquats date back to the Imperial China of the 12th century, people have certainly had plenty of time to argue over them… One thing everyone agrees on, though, is how good for you they are. Kumquats provide oodles of vitamin C and fibre, and useful amounts of B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc and so on. As around 80 per cent of their weight is water, they’re very hydrating and filling too, while remaining relatively low in calories – a great snack, then, if you’re trying to lose weight. (In fact, studies showing obese mice refusing to get fatter when kumquat is added to their diets suggest their weight-loss properties might be even more spectacular, and certainly worth exploring.) But there’s more. In China, Japan, India and the Philippines – all countries the kumquat was known in long before good old Robert Fortune – they became a popular folk medicine for colds and coughs, often smashed into herbal teas with honey, ginger and even salt. As some of the kumquat’s flavonoids have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties too, some credit them with protecting against heart disease and cancer, boosting your immune system and lowering blood cholesterol. In all of this, of course, the fact that we eat their peel is one of the great upsides. How often, after all, do we chuck away all the rich reservoirs of plant compounds found in the peels of other fruit? Assuming you’re buying and not growing your kumquats, chose ’em with a gentle squeeze: you want them plump, firm, organic for preference, and certainly not unripe green or with soft spots or discoloured skin. In the fridge they’ll last a couple of weeks, in a bowl a few days, but be sure to wash them before popping them in your mouth. If yours look like they’re on the turn, be quick and purée them before pouring into a container and popping in the freezer – that will buy you plenty of time to work out what to do with them.

Kumquats lend their bright flavour to dishes sweet and savoury

Speaking of which, how should we eat them? If raw and whole, experiment with rubbing each kumquat between your fingers to release the essential oils in the peel. This is said to mix the skin’s sweetness better with the tart flesh, making them yet more delicious; the longer you chew, the sweeter they become too. (The seeds are safe to swallow, if you like.) In terms of cooking, your first thoughts will probably turn towards pairing them with sugar, spices and spirits for chutneys, marmalades, jams and jellies, but kumquats also work brilliantly in marinades, glazes and sauces for beef, lamb, chicken or duck. They’re especially good in a stuffing for poultry, but be brave – kumquat goes surprisingly well with whitefish like roast cod too, and even the likes of squid. Then there are all the salads. You can slice them with kiwis and mint for fruit salads, or add welcome colour and sour tang to a green salad of endives and spinach. Baking, of course, is another big thing: you can introduce them to pies, cakes and breads with companions ranging from almonds to ginger; you can purée or slice them as dessert toppings; you can candy them, or use them as a


flavour for cookies. Poached in sugar syrup they go beautifully with ice cream, yoghurt or even ricotta cheese, and – whether you’re sickly or not – they make a fine addition to a fruit or herbal tea. Speaking of drinks, let’s not overlook the potential of kumquat-infused vodka or gin. Just soak them in the spirit for a few days before straining. Simple. All of the above adds up to the fact that you really do need more kumquats in your life. The trees are pretty, can be tiny enough to keep indoors (reasonably topically, potted ones are a classic gift for Lunar New Year), hard to kill and give up seemingly endless fruit. (A good job too, as – just like with Pringles – most find that once they pop they can’t stop.) And they’re impossibly charming, getting everything back-to-front compared to other citrus – hey, here it’s the skin and zest that are sweet and the flesh sour, not the usual way around – and not caring a jot. That their season runs December through until April or so makes them the perfect mid-winter pick-’n’-chew snack treat too. Assuming nobody bought you a kumquat bush on 25 January, isn’t it time you treated yourself?


Hero Ingredients

Freddy Bird rediscovers a forgotten ingredient to make this month’s recipe… I do love a challenge from Crumbs ed Jess when it comes to these Hero Ingredient recipes. [Is that sarcasm I detect there, Freddy? – ed]. This month – kumquats. I think the last time I even touched a kumquat was at cookery school when I made kumquat marmalade. That’s not to say I don’t like them – I enjoy their sweet skin and the sharp hit of the flesh. At this time of year, I regularly use Seville and blood oranges and quite often serve them with fish. Kumquats would work really well, too. In this particular dish, the juice emulsifies with the butter and makes a delicious sauce. This recipe will work with a variety of fish; John Dory, turbot, brill, sole or plaice. I always prefer to cook mine on the bone.

MEGRIM SOLE WITH BROWN BUTTER AND KUMQUAT SAUCE SERVES 1 vegetable oil 1 whole megrim sole (approx. 450g), skinned 25g butter handful blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped big pinch parsley, finely chopped 1 tsp brined capers 1 tsp Moscatel vinegar 3 kumquats, sliced 1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6. 2 Put a large non-stick pan over a medium heat and add a little vegetable oil. Once it’s hot, place the fish in the pan, top side down

Kumquats make great alternatives to oranges in savoury recipes



and cook for a few minutes (this will depend on its thickness) until golden. Don’t be tempted to move the fish around. Then, turn the fish over and cook for the same time on the other side. Finish in the oven for 3-4 minutes. 3 When cooked, set the fish aside and throw the butter into the pan. Allow it to foam and begin to turn slightly brown (it will start to smell nutty), scraping up any bits of fish that might have stuck to the pan. Before it starts to burn, throw in the hazelnuts followed quickly by the parsley, then capers and then the vinegar and kumquats. Remove fairly quickly from the heat. 4 Plate the fish and pour the butter sauce all over. 5 At this time of year, I’d serve it with purple sprouting broccoli to help mop up the juices. littlefrench.co.uk

Openings etc This vending machine has no interest in Mars Bars


The box every Ready Steady Cook contestant dreams of


The Bristol Cheesemonger at Wapping Wharf has just upped its dairy game even further, with a brand new milk dispensing machine. Negating the use of plastic cartons, it allows customers to fill up reusable glass bottles (available to buy for £1) and cut down on waste. The milk itself comes from Chew Valley Dairy, located just to the south of Bristol, which has vending machines dispensing its fresh West Country milk in around 70 local outlets. bristol-cheese.co.uk

Nutritious lunches and decadent cakes are now being served up at Spike Island

A new café has opened at art studio, office and exhibition space Spike Island. Behind the culinary outfit is hospitality pro Shona Graham, who opened Emmeline on Cheltenham Road back in 2016 after running various local pubs, restaurants and events – think Yurt Lush, The Pipe and Slippers and Eat Drink Bristol Fashion. The food at the newest Emmeline ranges from the grab-and-go likes of heaving salad boxes and grilled sarnies to ever-changing hot dishes made from local, seasonal (and often organic)


ingredients, with a focus on health. (Spanish butter bean and sweet potato stew, and chicken gochujang noodle stir-fry are on the menu as we write.) Less health-focused are the cakes, which come from Pearly King. Fresh juices and smoothies and Wogan coffee are for washing it all down with, as are the beers, wines and cocktails. A little birdie told us brunches and Bloody Marys might soon make an appearance in this bright, friendly, plant-stuffed café, too. facebook.com/emmeline.bristol

Heard about the new hangout soon to open on Gloucester Road? It’s called Cave and it’s a two-in-one kind of venue, combining a shop with a bar-restaurant. It’s the creation of Martin Hagen who, originally from this turf, has been in the hospitality biz for 12 years. Wine is a real passion for Martin (him and us both), so Cave will have a focus on the vino, taking inspo from its creator’s extensive travels across Europe in the hunt for the best bars and makers. Whether you pick a grape-based thirst-quencher or go for a beer or cider, it’ll be from a small-batch producer, working with sustainability in mind. If you choose to drink in, you’ll be able to make the most of the relaxed, neighbourhood vibe as well as the grub. Alongside cheese and charcuterie, there will be small plates such as home-cured fish, whipped cod’s roe, and ’nduja and honey on toast. instagram.com/cave.bristol



Wonder if we’ll get a telegram from the queen?




Have you heard? Crumbs is about to reach triple figures – our next issue will be the big 100th! As part of the celebrations, we want to find out which cover is our readers’ all-time favourite. (We know, it really is a tough call, even if we do say so ourselves.) As we’re aware that choosing from so many top-notch options is going to be a taxing affair, we’re incentivising you lovely lot by giving you the chance to win tickets to our very big and terribly important 100th issue party, where there will be food (obvs), drink (of course), local foodie royalty (natch) and live music (why not?) aplenty. To cast your vote and let us know which cover you think deserves to be crowned champion, visit the ‘Crumbs 100’ section on our website.  crumbsmag.com

Say hello to Jacob Norris, head chef at Bocabar’s new restaurant at Finzels Reach

SPOKE TALES These guys’ new pork and bean quesadillas are on point

The team at food and lifestyle biz Spoke and Stringer have been busy bees of late. Following the launch of a second incarnation of the harbourside café-bar-deli-shop last autumn, they’ve also now added a private catering string to their bow, called Healthy Minds. This sees the guys deliver breakfasts, lunches and canapés

to businesses across Bristol, with the food designed to give an energy boost and be packed with the good stuff. That’s not all, though – they’ve also just launched evening services at the new Whiteladies Road gaff, promising seasonal sharing dishes like quesadillas and tapas as well as cocktails. spokeandstringer.com


So, Jacob: when did you begin cooking? When I was 16. ... What dish reminds you of home? Cornish pasties, handmade by my gran and my mum. ... What was your very first job in the industry? As a kitchen porter in a small local pub. ... What first inspired you to cook professionally? Watching the chefs as a young KP and taking in the scent of all the food. ... Where might we know you from? The Spotted Cow on North Street. ... How would you describe your personal style of cooking? Classical French influences, with a focus on bold flavours and artistic presentation. ... What attracted you to this role at Bocabar? The brand has a great reputation and is really focused on provenance. Also, the opportunity to establish a new kitchen and restaurant.

How have you approached the menu? By creating a wide choice of dishes, from breakfast to dinner. The offering changes with the seasons and also includes daily specials, helping the development of the new kitchen. ... What dish on the current menu best illustrates the restaurant and its ethos? The Moqueca. It’s a Brazilian fish stew with a subtle balance of spices and an array of shellfish and crustaceans. ... Which other local restaurants do you like to eat in? The Bird in Hand, the Punchbowl and Thai Garden. ... What are your favourite ingredients right now? Morteau sausage, smoked morcilla, venison and, veg-wise, Jerusalem artichoke. ... All-time favourite cookery books? White Heat, by Marco Pierre White. ... Foodie heroes? Magnus Nilsson and Grant Achatz. ... Current favourite flavour combination? Rhubarb and custard. bocabar.co.uk





Rise and shine Lente repelitium sim repera volor aut ad quis

Noticed this patch has some serious game right now when it comes to pastries? Here are the bakeries knocking out viennoiseries that make it worth rolling out of bed early for... 1


This much-loved café and bakery – tucked away in one of the railway arches at Temple Meads – has no doubt caused a fair few to miss their train. Still, it’s a detour worth taking – even if it does mean you’ll be walking into that meeting a little late. The pastries here are one of the biggest draws too – it’s not an exaggeration to say that people get very excited about the cinnamon rolls. You’ll find them on the counter along with croissants, pain au chocolat (Laura Hart’s favourite, packed with Valrhona choc) and seasonal Danishes, which feature whatever fruit is at its best (as we write, it’s roasted rhubarb and custard – and it's all we can do to stay at our desk and not make a run for it before they sell out). On Fridays, ‘Wunderbuns’ are

on the go, filled with crème pâtissier, chocolate and toasted hazelnuts, and coated in salted caramel sauce. As well as the bakery, you can find some of Hart’s creations at Small Street Espresso, Full Court Press, Little Victories and Earthbound. hartsbakery.co.uk 2


Long a firm market favourite (you’ll find these guys trading at the harbourside and Tobacco Factory on Saturdays and Sundays respectively), Farro opened its first permanent site last year on Brunswick Square in the centre of Bristol. The team of three make croissants that are impossibly crisp, airy and flakey – delicious things of Instagram glory. (It’s these that form the foundation of the rest of their range of


viennoiserie.) Then there are the twicebaked honey almonds, which are flying off the counter right now, and the Canelé de Bordeaux, which go down a storm at the weekends – in their hundreds. As well as the classics, there are some more novel numbers to get your teeth into too, as these guys are constantly evolving the selection and trialling new ideas. Right now there’s a new savoury pastry to try, made with Taleggio, spring onion and cracked black pepper – “it’s essentially a pastry well of molten cheese!” Farro’s Bradley Tapp says. What a tease. farro.co.uk 3

The Bristol Loaf

The cinnamon swirls at this Crumbs Awardwinning café-bakery in Redfield have customers setting their alarms that bit earlier in the morning, to make sure they’re in time to bag one. For those who are too tardy to swipe the last of the cinnamony goodness, there’s plenty more besides,




with the usual suspects joined by the inventive likes of the pecan croissant cake and the new savoury swirls (think pesto, pecorino and pine nuts, or harissa, parmesan and pumpkinseed). This indie artisan bakery – which has a fierce focus on organic ingredients – has also recently launched a range of plant-based pastries: croissants, pain aux chocolate and cinnamon buns all come in vegan form now, with an uncanny likeness to the butterenriched versions. As well as the bakery, you can find The Bristol Loaf’s baked goodness at Better Foods, Poco and Dela. (Psst: it’s opening a brand new bakery in Bedminster soon, too – but you didn’t hear it from us!) thebristolloaf.co.uk

5 stream of treats coming out of the ovens all morning and customers can get their mitts on a still-hot bake when they drop in. To wash it down? As well as a great cup of Joe, Landrace’s barista also makes cordials, kombuchas and other soft drinks. Perhaps go for a 5oz cappuccino or freshly squeezed blood orange juice with that straight-from-the-oven pastry. You’ll only find Landrace’s goods at its bakery, but rest assured it’s a trip worth taking. instagram.com/landracebakery 6


A family outfit that’s almost 100 years old, Hobbs House has seen five generations of baker in its kitchens and is surely one of the best-known bakeries on our patch. Recently, the team have been working to raise the bar when it comes to pastries, undertaking French work experience to get an even deeper understanding of the pastry itself. The classic and almond croissants – the latter seeing a big surge in popularity of late, with its sweet and nutty frangipane filling – have been staples for years, but recently the bakers have been developing fruit pastry that will change with the seasons (once again, did someone say rhubarb and custard?). Cinnamon buns and vegan brioche doughnuts are also favourites. The original bakery might be in the Cotswolds, but you can still get these tip-top pastries on our patch – think the Hobbs House café on Gloucester Road, and also various coffee shops and outlets over Bristol, like Friska. hobbshousebakery.co.uk


Hobbs House



This unique Bath bakery and café – which is about to celebrate its first birthday – is all about the ingredients, much of its character stemming from the fact it only works with stoneground, UK-grown wheat. The flour for its buns and sweet pastries, for instance, is grown especially for these bakers 10 miles away at Westcombe Dairy, before being traditionally stone milled. Perhaps the signature treat here is the morning bun, inspired by the historic Bath variety, which is laminated with cardamom or cinnamon butter. Co-founder and baker Andrew Lowkes gets his puff pastry action on at 5am each day to make sure that there’s a


Rye Bakery

Housed in a former church, this impressive café-bakery can be found in the indie town of Frome. It’s run by local Amy Macfadyen and her partner and head baker, Owen Postgate, who is joined at the stoves by his Royal Academy of Culinary Arts-trained cousin Calum Grisewood-Foley. There’s a host of viennoiseries here, including croissants, pain au chocolat, Danishes and sweet buns. The cinnamon bun is a bestseller – a classic done well. There are always some vegan choices too, mind, given the uptake in plant-based eating. The vegan cardamom buns are a no brainer (as are the new florentines, if you don’t feel the need to stick to pastry, made with extra virgin olive oil and top-notch dark choc). All about the ingredients, the team here make sure everything is locally and thoughtfully sourced – they even now churn all the butter for their pastry in-house using raw organic Jersey cream from cows at Ivy House Dairy, which graze a mile away. rye-bakery.com


In T he Larder

Whether you’re adding to your diet or trying to be mindful of particular intakes, this month’s foodie bounty will have you feeling good...





Eaten Alive Smoked Sriracha Fermented Sauce, £3.99/150ml Hot Sauce This hot sauce, like everything else in the Eaten Alive range, is lacto-fermented for up to six months for the deepest flavour and biggest kick possible. Not only will the deliciously smoky and enjoyably pokey sauce pep up your plate but, as it’s not heat-treated, it’ll send some good bacteria your gut’s way, too. Find it at New Leaf Health Foods in Bath and Wild Oats Natural Foods, Bristol. eatenalive.co.uk 2



Squirrel Sisters Peanut Bar, Caramel Protein Bar £1.20/40g Don’t let the phrase ‘protein bar’ put you off here. The Squirrel Sisters (who hail from Bath) have come up with a great snack in their newest release. Chewy and crunchy, sweet and salty, it’s pretty much got everything you want in a healthy mid-morning aldesko bite. And it’s vegan, free of gluten and added sugar, as well as being a source of protein (well, obvs) and fibre. Find it at Waitrose. squirrelsisters.com 3

Camelia Bloomy Rind Fermentino, £8.95/100g Cashews, macadamia nuts, water and a pinch of salt: that’s all that goes into this new brie-like vegan cheese


alternative. Not only is it additive free but totally organic, too. The texture is soft and creamy (it should work well as a sauce) while the flavour promises rich, savoury notes with whispers of gentle sweetness for good measure. Buy it from online grocery shop, Abel and Cole. abelandcole.co.uk 4

Fruitiful Preserves Seville Marmalade, £4/220g This new range of Devon-made preserves has an interesting twist. See, instead of sugar, they’re made with natural honey from the South West, meaning they have all the sweetness you’d expect from fruity jams, but without any added granules. The range includes whortleberry, strawberry and raspberry preserves, as well as zesty Seville marmalade. Buy it from Brockley Stores. waterhousefayre.co.uk 5

Real Good Ketchup, £2.20/310g Made using tomato from the Med, this tommy-k is juicy and rich with a tang that makes it a perfect chip companion. It also happens to have less than 25 per cent of the sugar and salt content of other ketchups, and comes in regular and smoky barbecue. Find it at New Leaf Healthfoods and online. realgoodketchup.com


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Ki tchen Library It’s time to flex your culinary muscles in the kitchen with this month’s diverse cookbook round up

7 DAY VEGAN CHALLENGE Bettina Campolucci Bordi (Hardie Grant, £15) The premise of this book is simple – to show how easy it can be to get more veggies on board without compromising on taste. Without a whiff of preachiness or meat-shaming, this popular cook and writer (who rose to fame with her blog, focused on taking control of her health through food) is laid-back and inclusive. Her ingredients are widely available – and purposefully used in multiple recipes, to avoid waste – while techniques are straightforward and the results are dishes that would fit as well on a meat-eating family’s regular rotation as in a vegan’s repertoire. The seven-day challenge itself is about going entirely plant-based for a week (great for those who are intrigued by veganism but aren’t sure they could do it), and there are meal plans at the back to help, thoughtfully designed for different lifestyles. Don’t fancy a challenge? That’s cool too: just flick through the pages and get inspired by the likes of creamy (and speedy) laksa with mushrooms and kale; black bean, rice and veggie burgers; breakfast burritos, almond cookies and chocolate salami. JESSICA CARTER

THE PLAN BUY COOK BOOK Jen Petrovic and Gaby Chapman (Hardie Grant, £15) We know whatʼs going on behind those eyes as they stare blankly at the kitchen cupboards

at 6pm. It’s mild panic as to what to eat for dinner, coupled with annoyance at having not planned for it. Perhaps these two authors can help with their mathematical formula. Petrovic and Chapman suggest a four-two-one structure to your dinners each week – four meals cooked from scratch (with two of them yielding double quantities to batch up for next week), two banked meals from last week, and one super-easy dinner, like beans on toast or a meal out. This book guides you through the lifestyle changes needed for fuss-free dinners – think streamlining your shopping, making the most of your freezer and divvying up jobs between family members – while holding your hand through every step. Sure, some of it might seem obvious (get the kids on table-setting duty, for instance) but there’s inspiration aplenty to be had. Once you’re into the recipes, the likes of Grecian beef, Middle Eastern meatballs, bean quesadillas and fettuccine carbonara are to be found. A book focused on organisation rather than experimentation, this is one for those who feel the stress in the kitchen. JESSICA CARTER

JAPANESE IN 7 Kimiko Barber (Kyle Books, £17.99) Part of a neat line of well-presented seveningredients-or-less cookbooks (there are Indian and vegan versions too) Japanese in 7 gives you all the tools you’ll need to create the sort of elegant soups, sushi and rice dishes that wouldn’t look out of place in a sleek, minimalist noodle bar. London-based Japanese cookery teacher Kimiko Barber divides her dishes into chapters entitled Fresh (where you’ll find


yellowtail sashimi and sake steamed clams), Fast (beef udon or pan-fried scallops with broccoli), Light (red miso soup of sea bream), Vegan (leeks in ginger miso), Comfort (chicken and miso porridge) and Sweet, which includes Japanese versions of everything from Swiss rolls to panna cotta, swapping out the trad ingredients for things like green tea powder and black sesame seeds. Most important of all is the Basics section, which explains the importance of dashi – a Japanese stock you’ll find in half of these dishes – and tells you how to prepare sushi rice or use a sashimi knife. Most of us never make Japanese at home, yet it turns out to be neither hard nor scary. Who knew? MATT BIELBY

THE IRISH COOK BOOK Jp McMahon (Phaidon, £35) Irish cuisine might not sound like the world’s most exciting but this brilliant beast of a book, heaving with recipes, may well change your mind. Jp McMahon is well known for his weekly Irish Times column, his Aniar cookery school, and as culinary director of the EatGalway Restaurant Group, and here acts as much as historian as chef, taking us through dishes that have much in common with British favourites (there are plenty of pies and stews) but are often intriguingly different too. There wasn’t much in Ireland when the first people turned up here 10,000 years ago, so of necessity they ate oysters and seaweed, berries and nuts; later on everything from deer to cows, pigs to potatoes had to be imported. (If they wanted meat, they had to wrestle with bears and seals.) It makes for a fascinating mix



of recipes, beautifully presented and ranging from smoked eel porridge to hay-flavoured ice cream, boar’s head with pistachios to beef and whiskey tea; there’s even, hilariously, one for that modern classic, the potato crisp sandwich. A magnificent book. MATT BIELBY


From the book!


NOTHING FANCY Alison Roman (Hardie Grant, £22) By cooking Alison Roman’s recipes, some of her abundant coolness transfers to you. Well, it feels like it, at least. The Brooklyn-based food pro contributes to the notable likes of the New York Times and Bon Appétit, and is also a top Instagram followee (try falling into her rabbit hole-like stories). Most importantly, though, she’s an imaginative but fuss-free cook and entertaining writer, oscillating between keen enthusiasm and a life’s-too-short kind of attitude. This is her second book – the follow up to 2017’s Dining In – and is, at the most basic level, about having people over for dinner without pulling your hair out. Recipes range from the shamelessly simple kind (open tin of anchovies, scatter with chilli flakes, serve with crisps) to the more involved (oh hey, soybraised brisket with caramelised honey and garlic), and are divided into snacks, salads, sides mains and desserts. Interspersed throughout are nuggets of (very chill) advice, musings and a whole load of character. The spicy meatballs in brothy tomato and toasted fennel, one-pot chicken with dates and caramelised lemon, and DIY Martini bar will be featuring heavily at dinner parties from here to the States, I bet. JESSICA CARTER

I would eat bagels with lox or gravlax and cream cheese for every meal if I could, but since I can’t (and honestly, really shouldn’t), I have this salmon, which hits a lot of the same notes. There’s plenty of red onion, briny capers and lots of fresh dill. The sesame seeds at the end are optional, but I think they add an even more toasty dimension to the brown butter sauce. Since there’s a lot going on here flavour-wise, I recommend letting this dish be the loudest thing on the table and simply serving it with a perfect, herby salad, steamed broccoli, and maybe some excellent garlic bread.


1 lemon 1kg salmon fillet, skin on or skinless 90g unsalted butter 60ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling ½ small red onion, sliced into very thin rings 2 tbsp brined capers, drained 1 large handful dill sprigs 2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted (optional) 1 Preheat the oven to 160C/320F/gas mark 3. Thinly slice half the lemon and remove any seeds; save the other half for juicing. 2 Place the salmon on a baking tray or in a large baking dish and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 3 Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter has started to brown, 2-3 minutes. Add

the olive oil, sliced lemon and half the onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until the lemon and onion have started to brown and frizzle, 2-3 minutes. You’re looking for kind of crisped, rather than softened and caramelised. Add the capers. 4 Pour the browned butterlemon mixture over the salmon. Place it in the oven and roast until just cooked through but still mediumrare inside, 12-15 minutes; the flesh will look more translucent, less opaque. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish. 5 Meanwhile, toss together the dill and sesame seeds, if using, in a medium bowl. Give a squeeze from the halved lemon and season with salt and pepper. Scatter on top of the salmon, along with the remaining sliced onion.

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Wild garlic is about to boom: catch it in a woodland near you this spring


Spring lamb with the fresh flavours of wild garlic and pea


These mushroom pierogies make for a filling dish



Sweet roasted shallots star in this weeknight winner

As if we needed more reasons to look forward to spring, Eddy has come up with a corker of a seasonal meal

This is lamb hot Eddy Rains is sure getting us excited for the new season and all its foraging potential...


C H E F !

Eddy is usually in the kitchen, not jumping out from behind bushes

Eddy is head chef at The Wheatsheaf – a rural village pub, perched just outside Bath. “This dish is a celebration of spring,” he tells us. “Wild garlic seems to come out earlier every year, and it’s one of my favourite ingredients. My two girls love helping me forage. “If you think the dish is a little complicated, it can be easily simplified (but remain equally delicious) by dropping the crispy shoulder and using just the rack or rump. If I had to choose, I’d keep the rump – it has more flavour and you get more for your money.” If you do include the rack, ask your butcher to French trim it for you, but make sure you ask for those trimmings of fat back for the sauce.

TRIO OF LAMB AND WILD GARLIC SERVES 4 200g lamb shoulder, boned 500ml red wine 700g wild garlic (plus extra leaves to garnish), washed and stalks reserved 1 tsp mint sauce 50g plain flour 1 egg, beaten 60g breadcrumbs 4 large baking potatoes 200g unsalted butter 1 onion, diced 4 sprigs rosemary 150g lamb fat, diced 1 rack of lamb, French trimmed 2 lamb rumps (approx 225g each) vegetable oil, for deep frying 200g frozen peas, defrosted

1 Season the lamb shoulder and colour in a hot frying pan until browned all over. Then add to a large saucepan with half the red wine and the wild garlic stalks. Cover with cold water and baking parchment, bring to the boil, then simmer for 4 hours or until very tender. 2 When cooked, remove the lamb, reserving the stock for the sauce, and shred the meat with a fork into a bowl. Check the seasoning and add the mint sauce. Roll into 4 balls, place them on a tray and leave in the fridge to chill. Once chilled, dust in flour, roll in egg and finish with breadcrumbs. Return to the fridge. 3 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

4 Peel and finely slice the potatoes with a mandoline or sharp knife and melt 125g of the butter. Line a roasting tray with baking parchment and start layering it up with potatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper and adding the butter as you go. When you’re half-way through, spread 200g of the wild garlic leaves over the potato, then continue with the rest of the slices on top. Cover with parchment and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until a knife will pass through with no resistance. 5 Meanwhile, in a saucepan, gently sweat the onion in oil. Add the other half of red wine and the rosemary springs and reduce over a medium heat until you get a syrupy consistency (about 10-20 minutes). 6 Fry the lamb fat until crispy and golden brown. Strain through a colander, keeping the oil for another day (good news for roasties!). Add the crispy fat to the pot with the wine, along with the reserved cooking liquor from the lamb shoulder. Gently reduce until you achieve the desired sauce consistency and the ultimate lamb flavour from the fat. Then strain the sauce through a fine sieve. (The saucy, crispy lamb fat bits are chef’s perks!) 7 Season the lamb rack with salt and pepper, and brown all over in a hot pan. Put the pan in the oven (still at 180C/350F/gas mark 4), with the lamb skin side down. After 8 minutes, stand the rack up in the pan and cook for a


further 4 minutes before removing and leaving to cool. Repeat the process with the rump, browning it first and then cooking in the oven, skin side down, for 8 minutes. Then, remove the meat and leave it to rest for at least 4 minutes before slicing. 8 Heat enough vegetable oil for deep frying in a heavy-bottomed pan to 180C. As it comes up to temperature, deep fry some garlic leaves (about 160C is perfect) until crisp. Make sure they’re dry before you drop them in, and be careful as they can spit. Cook the breaded balls in the oil for 2 minutes. 9 For the wild garlic purée, melt the remaining 75g butter in a pan, add the defrosted peas and the remaining 500g wild garlic. Just cover with water, bring to the boil, then transfer to a blender and blend – do this immediately, to keep the colour. 10 To plate, add a dollop of the purée to the plate and use the back of the spoon to spread it. Portion the potato into four and add it to the centre. Slice the lamb rack and rump, and place on top with a deep-fried ball of shoulder meat. Finish with the lamb sauce.

The Wheatsheaf, Combe Hay, Bath BA2 7EG; 01225 833504; wheatsheafcombehay.com

Matt was the guy behind the food at gone-but-notforgotten Bristol restaurant Flinty Red

ʼshroom service Bristol chef Matt Williamson gives us his take on Eastern European dumplings

A good dinner-party starter is one that won’t have you breaking into a sweat when it’s time to serve supper, writes Matt. These little dumplings are the Polish equivalent to Italian ravioli. Give yourself some time and a clear workspace (with the radio on) and these pierogi are easy to assemble. You will need a pastry cutter or a sharp-edged bowl of about 10cm diameter to cut the rolled dough into little rounds. As with most things, practice makes perfect.

MUSHROOM PIEROGI SERVES 6 350g plain (or ‘00’) flour, plus extra for dusting 1 egg, lightly beaten 120ml water 2 tbsp sour cream, plus extra to serve For the filling: 1 onion, finely chopped 3 tbsp butter, plus extra to fry the pierogi (optional) 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 250g mushrooms, finely chopped 15g dried mushrooms, rehydrated, drained and finely chopped 2 tbsp parsley (or dill), finely chopped, plus extra to serve 3 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs


1 Make the dough by mixing all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Knead for a few minutes until the mixture comes together as a soft smooth dough. Cover in plastic or a clean tea towel and leave to rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. 2 To make the filling, fry the onion in the butter over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft. 3 Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add all the mushrooms. Turn the heat up and cook until the mushrooms give up their water and it has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the herbs and breadcrumbs. Spread on a plate and leave to cool. 4 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3mm. Using a pastry cutter, cut out 10cm rounds of dough (you should get about 30 rounds). 5 Hold a round of dough in the palm of your hand. Put a teaspoon of the filling in the centre and fold the dough over the filling. Set the dumpling on your well-floured surface and seal it tight by crimping with the tines of a fork or your fingertips. The pierogi can be frozen at this stage (or keep them in the fridge, but they’re more likely to stick together), or boiled ready to be reheated in butter later. They may stick so keep them apart using greaseproof paper. 6 Boil the pierogi (from frozen is fine) until they float, then continue to boil for 2 minutes (3 minutes from frozen). Alternatively, you can double-cook them: boil until they float, then fry in lots of butter. 7 Serve with sour cream seasoned with salt and pepper and scatter with chopped herbs.

Recipe from The Lazy Weekend Cookbook by Matt Williamson (National Trust Books, £20); photography by Jill Speed

C H E F !

We love a dumpling, and these Polish versions are the perfect comfort food


Chris and his family are responsible for a sizeable proportion of the UKʼs shallot production

BAKED SHALLOTS AND SQUASH WITH A CRISPY ROSEMARY, CHILLI, ORANGE AND OLIVE OIL BREADCRUMB TOPPING SERVES 4 12 shallots, peeled 5 tbsp olive oil 1kg butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 5cm chunks 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped 1 tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped 1 orange, zest only  120g fresh breadcrumbs

Kitchen Garden Produce dates back to 1979, when Chris Kitchen and his wife Ann began farming on 22 acres. It was in ’86 that they decided to start growing shallots, and are now one of the UK’s biggest producers. “Shallots have always been the foundation of some of my favourite traditional dishes,” says Chris, “so it’s really nice to see them being used in a different way that keeps up with modern trends.” This filling recipe from UK Shallots is good and approachable for busy homecooks on weeknights: the number of ingredients is minimal, the oven pulls most of the weight and the end result is full of the good stuff. Serve as a main course with salad and crusty bread.

Thatʼs shallot! This satisfying family supper combines sweet roasted shallots and butternut squash with a crispy, herby breadcrumb topping

1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. 2 Place the shallots in an ovenproof dish and toss with 1 tbsp of the oil, season with sea salt and black pepper and place in the oven for 15 minutes. 3 Remove the dish from the oven and add the butternut squash, making sure the vegetables are well coated with the oil. Cook for a further 15 minutes. 4 Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan over a moderate heat with the garlic and cook for 1 minute, taking care not to burn the garlic. 5 Add the chilli, rosemary, parsley and the orange zest, stirring all the time. When thoroughly mixed, add the breadcrumbs and season. Cook for a further minute then take off the heat and set aside. 6 After the 15 minutes are up, remove the shallots and squash from the oven and spread the breadcrumb mixture over the top. Reduce the heat to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and return to the oven for a further 25-30 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are a deep golden colour.



C H E F !

The shallots are left whole in this recipe – great news for susceptible, weepy eyes 27 CRUMBSMAG.COM


WHAT SUP? Total melon Make a pitcher of this fresh, juicy number for your next party, why don’t cha?

This vibrant green cocktail, whose colour reminds us of one of our fave ’90s childhood films, Flubber (c’mon, we’re not alone there, are we?), was created by Sabreena Strange from The Common Room in Bath. Currently on the menu at this popular late-night hangout, it’s a delightfully melony concoction, which balances sweet liqueurs with refreshing flavours.

EMERALD QUEEN MAKES 1 30ml Midori 20ml Peach Schnapps 20ml vodka 15ml fresh lime juice ice lemonade, to top up For the fresh honeydew melon juice: 1 honeydew melon sugar 1 To make the melon juice, scoop the flesh out of the melon into a jug and weigh it. Add ¹⁄₁₀ of the weight in each of sugar and water. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend well, then filter through cheesecloth. 2 To make the cocktail, shake all the ingredients together with 15ml of the fresh melon juice and ice. Strain into a glass over more ice. Top with lemonade and garnish with a melon crown, if you’re feeling fancy.

Made with fresh melon and lime juices, this luminous drink is a real thirst-quencher





S U P ?






Co-founder of porky biz The Jolly Hog and restaurant Pigsty, Olly Kohn can’t get enough of the laid-back vibes at his local boozer…

FREE CHEERS! Drinkers at No.1 Harbourside, Old Market Assembly and The Canteen can now clink glasses filled with low- and no-alcohol spirits and beers, thanks to the group’s launch of a new range of hangover-busting sips. The news comes as the numbers of non-drinkers proliferate and stats show that almost half of us want to cut back on the liquor. Booze-free versions of gin,

FIRE IN YOUR BELLY The Wasabi Company, which grows much of its firey green produce in the South West, has launched an innovative vodka, distilled in small batches with real wasabi. What’s that you say? The perfect sushi accompaniment? Our thoughts exactly! This fresh and crisp spirit has the fiery character that the brassica is known for; get your snout involved for a big whiff of full-flavoured mustard. One to try out in a Bloody Mary, we reckon. thewasabicompany.co.uk

bourbon, and rum – made by specialist producer Lyre’s – are now stocked on the backbar and feature in new ABV-free cocktails, while brews such as Lowlander 0.00% Wit, Brooklyn Brewery Special Effects and A Shipful of IPA by Brutal Brewing will give beer drinkers some low- and no- alternatives, too.  oldmarketassembly.co.uk


Thornbury-based drinks producer Bramley and Gage has just canned its gin. Don’t worry, we mean ‘canned’ in the good sense – you can now get your hands on premixed 6 O’clock London Dry gin and tonic in aluminium. There’s also a lightcalorie, low-alcohol version – how on-trend of them – which promises to pack the same crisp, refreshing punch as its boozy sibling. With the days (finally) getting longer, we can see these being supped at food and music festivals and (don’t judge us) on the train home after a long day. You know it. 6oclockgin.com


My local is The Dog Inn, Old Sodbury. ... Three words Iʼd use to describe the vibe are community, family, cosy. ... I’ll have a pint of Bob, and a large gin and tonic for my wife, Ella. ... And to nibble on it’s got to be cheesy chips – I like them with loads of vinegar. ... Food and drink aside, the pub’s best asset is the great garden and open fire. ... The crowd here is made up of local families. It’s just down the road from the local school and village hall. ... If I was to steal something from the pub I’d take the excellent atmosphere on Christmas eve. ... Basically, you should try my local because there is a great community feel with lovely local people and they do a top pint of Wickwar Brewery’s Bob.  




Classic cut-your-mates -out-of-shot profile pic

A snifter with

JASON MEAD We catch up with one-third of the brains behind supersuccessful Bristol cocktail bar Hyde and Co, which is celebrating 10 years of mixing up a storm this month…

So, Jason, what inspired the idea for your first cocktail bar, Hyde and Co? I think the three of us – Kevin Stokes, Nathan Lee and I – all got a bit disillusioned with the Bristol scene in the noughties. We wanted to create somewhere that we would like to drink, as we were all getting a bit older and more discerning. ... And how did the concept come together from there? Nathan had been to New York City and sampled some cool speakeasies, and I had just come back from Ibiza where I’d had a bar. We merged our tastes together and bought most of our furniture from local antique shops, such as the former Rachel’s on North Street. 


A decade on (time flies when youʼre drinking cocktails, hey), what are you most proud of? The fact we are still here after 10 years is a testament to ourselves and the people we employ. It makes you proud when your staff stay – but also when they go off to work in some of the world’s best restaurants and bars. It’s also great to be regarded as an institution in Bristol. ... Talk to us about the way you've seen our local cocktail scene change since the barʼs inception. There was a great scene that came about after Hyde started in 2010, with the likes of Red Light and The Colour Inn (now HMSS) and obviously our next bar, Milk Thistle. More recently there have been a few new bars like Crying Wolf and Filthy 13, which have caught my attention too – but there’s still not a lot else. There’s definitely cyclic change and I can see the chains coming back and taking over... ... And how about consumers – how have we evolved as drinkers and what have we been demanding more of? I think people are generally savvier with where they want to drink or dine. There’s been a massive shift in the way consumers (especially the younger ones) eat and drink and we are proud of the fact that we have always tried to stay ahead of the curve with things like lower alcoholic cocktails. ... Youʼre known for picking up on emerging trends and giving Bristol first-of-a-kind venues. Where do you look for ideas and inspiration?  Most of our places have come from an intuitive love of bars, design and architecture. We used to have a mantra that the building we took on dictated the aesthetic and the offering – 10 years on it’s the other way around.  ... And how do you make them resonate with the Bristol audience, which is perhaps less trend-orientated? It’s about giving your customers a great experience; we always try to give the best product, atmosphere and service. Everyone loves a great experience – on-trend or not! ... What are your future plans in the local cocktail scene? We’re so grateful to everyone who has supported us or helped us along the maddest 3,650 days of our lives – here’s to the next, which will include a new cocktail bar in central Bristol… hydeand.co

The Wine Guy

Return of the mackerel

Give him a minute; Andy always gets a bit overwhelmed at Averys

This month, Andy Clarke revisits a favourite neighbourhood restaurant – the kind where he’s unsurprised to find them setting hay alight in the kitchen... 


t’s June 2018, it’s the hottest day of the year and I’m stood in the kitchen of Bambalan (accompanied by Crumbs’ editor Jess) over a hot grill, blackening red peppers for romesco sauce ahead of a charity dinner. It was great fun. Exhausting, but fun! And just when we needed a break in the prep, a man brandishing a long sausage (quiet at the back, there, please) enters the kitchen. I had no idea who he was, but I’m not going to turn down home-cured meat when I see it... That man was Jan Ostle, head chef and co-founder – along with partner Mary Wilson – of Wilsons restaurant in Redland. This chef has worked at The Square (under Phil Howard), The

Clove Club, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, and The Hand and Flowers with Tom Kerridge, and was previously head chef at The Kensington Arms. I had often thought of going to his Chandos Road outfit, but hadn’t yet gotten around to it. In fact, it was yet another eight months before I booked a table and finally got to eat Jan’s food. His modern, intuitive cooking style and the relaxed feel of his neighbourhood restaurant made an impression on me. Keen to not leave it too long before returning, and wanting to find out what’s currently exciting Jan’s creative palate, I headed back to see him recently. There’s always a flurry of excitement surrounding the latest creation here, 32 CRUMBSMAG.COM

and right now mackerel is taking centre stage. It’s abundant off West Country shores and is a fantastic sustainable option for restaurants. Jan’s take on it is ingeniously simple – it’s served in a broth with grated horseradish. The broth is made from hay-smoked mackerel bones and kombu (edible kelp). This adds an umami flavour to the fresh, blowtorched mackerel and there’s a fresh, almost menthol quality to the horseradish. The simplicity of ingredients here and resulting flavours are a nod to Jan and Mary’s trust in great produce, which is at the heart of their sustainably sourced menu. To find a couple of decent sips to go with it, I headed down the hill to the ancient cellars of Averys. I had white Burgundy in my mind, and I know there’s a great range there. Chablis provides exactly the amount of fresh minerality and orchard fruit to work with this recipe. The Domaine des Malandes Chablis has a vibrant green apple nose – and this continues onto the palate. The crispness of this unoaked wine is perfect with that broth, which is not as smokey as you think. The texture of the wine develops in the mouth and is sublime with the mackerel, and the finish allows the horseradish to tantalise your tongue, rather than blowing your head off! This wine, made from 100 per cent Chardonnay, is produced on a family estate and is a great example of what Chablis should be like. Okay, I know white Burgundies are reliably food-friendly, and I’m no slacker, so here’s something a little less obvious for your empty glass. It’s a Portuguese white and is a real surprise. Quinta dos Carvalhais Encruzado is from the Dão wine region and is made from Encruzado, a grape not nearly as well-known as Chardonnay, but a great match with the mackerel, nonetheless. Unlike the Chablis, the wine has been aged for six months in oak barrels, so it is slightly


S U P ?

Andy storms the kicthen at Wilsons


richer – and surprisingly Burgundian in character. It’s not overtly oaky in flavour, which would jar with the clean umami flavour of the broth. The wine gives pear on the nose and palate, which is lovely with the charred nature of the fish skin, and it finishes with a light peppery note, a bit like radish. Just fabulous with grated horseradish. And here’s a tip for you: as the dish is intentionally not served piping hot, make sure your wines aren’t ice cold – you’ll get a lot more from them that way. You could even serve these at room temperature. Trust me – over the years I’ve done a lot of research! Andy Clarke is a food TV producer and writer; follow him on Twitter and Instagram @tvsandyclarke

Quinta dos Carvalhais Encruzado


Averys is offering discounts on both wines to Crumbs readers for instore and telephone purchases. Get Domaine des Malandes Chablis (usually £18.99) for £16.99 and Quinta dos Carvalhais Encruzado (usually £22.99) for £19.99. averys.com

SERVES 4 4 very fresh whole mackerel 40g kosher salt 1 ltr water handful dry hay 100g kombu 200g fresh horseradish  1 Fillet the mackerel and remove the first layer of skin. Take out any pin bones using tweezers. Reserve the bones.  2 Dissolve the salt in the water and add the mackerel to the solution. Leave for 4 hours.  3 Place the mackerel bones on a cake rack and put the hay underneath in a deep heatproof tray. Set fire to the hay and allow it to burn, being very careful of the flames, before covering the bones with tin foil to smoke them. 4 Place the bones in 2 litres


of filtered water and bring to a simmer over a gentle heat. Drop the kombu into the simmering water for 2 minutes, then remove. Allow the broth to gently simmer for 2 hours, then pass through a muslin cloth to strain. 5 After the mackerel has been in the brine for 4 hours, remove and wash. 6 Ladle a small amount of the smoked mackerel stock into each warm bowl. 7 Burn the top of the mackerel with a hot ember from a barbecue or a blowtorch, being careful not to cook the mackerel but warm it. Slice and add to the bowls. 8 Grate the horseradish and arrange on the top of the fish. Serve immediately. wilsonsbristol.co.uk

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WHATʼS ON AT LUCKNAM PARK Treat yourself to something different at LUCKNAM PARK with these tempting activities. Time for two Valid until 30 April 2020 It takes two to spa! Take a little time out to relax, indulge and catch up with a friend or loved one. This indulgent spa experience includes tea or coffee and pastries on arrival, a 45 minute ESPA treatment, use of the spa facilities, a robe and slippers, and a two-course lunch in The Brasserie with a glass of wine or soft drink. Available Monday to Friday, 9am2pm for £260 (for two people). Meet the sculptor: a Chelsea Flower Show preview by Hamish Mackie 13 March 2020 Take in the elegant surroundings of Lucknam Park, joined by renowned Wildlife Sculptor Hamish Mackie ahead of his exhibition at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. You will enjoy a traditional afternoon tea before heading out into the estate to discover the collection. The event commences at 2pm and is priced at £40 per person. Full payment is required at the time of booking and is non-refundable. Floristry Workshops 16 and 17 March 2020 Perfect ahead of Mother’s Day. Lucknam’s talented florist will share top tips and trusted techniques to help you craft your very own professionally designed arrangement. The experience

includes tea or coffee and pastries on arrival, all the materials needed and a two-course lunch in The Brasserie with a glass of wine or soft drink. This event runs 10am-2pm, and is priced at £75 per person. Full payment is required at the time of booking and is non-refundable. Rejuvenate and Reconnect New for Spring 2020 Begin your day with a 60-minute wellbeing class before relaxing in Lucknam’s award-winning spa. After delicious, seasonal cuisine in The Brasserie you will head over to the Equestrian Centre to participate in an Equine Connect workshop. In this unique session, you will be working in the round pen using the horse’s natural instincts and methods of communication. This experience is available Tuesday to Thursday and is priced at £155 per person (minimum of two people). Mother’s Day Dining 22 March 2020 Set in 500 acres of parkland, Lucknam Park is an idyllic spot to treat your mum. You can choose from a traditional afternoon tea experience or a hearty Sunday lunch in the hotel’s relaxed restaurant, The Brasserie. The threecourse lunch is £40 per person, and the full afternoon tea in the Palladian Mansion 35

starts at £40 per person – both include a special gift for mothers. The Sleep Retreat 23-25th March 2020 An exclusive two-night retreat to help you re-discover how to sleep well. Through guided meditation and hypnotherapy, fears, worries and overthinking habits are released, allowing a peaceful state and more control over your thoughts. Sound bath meditation will promote healing on a deeper level and a therapeutic session at the Equestrian Centre will teach you how to connect with a horse. Rates start at £462 per person, per night (based on a Classic room). To book an experience, get in touch with Lucknam Park by telephone or email

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You don’t know rack Not until you’ve seen these ones, says Matt Bielby. Ornate, elegant and tailor-made in Bath, the platedrying pals are Cath Kidson’s faves, you know

That’s a plate rack, right? For drying crockery on? Yep, if you don’t mind them dripping on whatever’s down below. Alternatively, mount yours away from the sink for groovy plate storage. Cath Kidson’s had one of these since the early ’90s, apparently; she loves it, and even used to sell them at her first London shop. What colour’s hers, then? Not sure, but it’s probably the original Art Nouveau design from the early ’70s in plain wood. These things started out as a collab back then between colourful

British inventor-adventurer Jeremy Fry and his French architect pal Didier Bertrand. I’ve heard of Jeremy, haven’t I? He’s certainly a fascinating figure: part of the Fry chocolate family, he raced tiny-engined Parsenn hillclimb cars, founded local engineering company Rotork, was mentor to James Dyson, pal to movie director Tony (Tom Jones) Richardson, owned and renovated Bath’s Theatre Royal (and was chairman of the Arnolfini over in Bristol), and was almost best man to Lord Snowdon and

Princess Margaret. At one point he lived at Widcombe Manor, perhaps Bath’s poshest house, and when he died it was at the palace he owned in India. Blimey! So what’s he doing messing around making plate racks? Initially Jez and Dids just made a dozen of them for family and friends, but years later Jeremy’s son, Cosmo, got more serious about the idea, manufacturing them in Somerset and Vietnam (an unlikely-sounding combination, but there you go) to sell at Cath

K’s. Later still, Cosmo got Carl Toms – the theatre, opera and movie designer, perhaps best known for Raquel Welch’s fur bikini in caveman-versusdinosaurs epic One Million Years BC – to come up with two complementary styles, including a Gothic version. Cosmo’s recently started making them again, alongside wall-mounted bookshelf versions, at a Bath workshop. Sound good, but I’m not much of a goth. (Well, not since my teenage years.) But that’s all right: they still offer the swirly Art Nouveau

original, plus an Arts and Crafts version too. Ready-tohang models – think readyto-wear but, you know, plate racks – come in unpainted wood or 16 different Formica colour finishes, or you can get more bespoke versions tailor-made. And if you really love the look, you can get them to do you a similarly styled bookshelf version, too.

Cosmo Fry’s plate racks cost from £495; cosmofry.com



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 info@thekingsarmsbradford-on-avon.co.uk

House Call


We heard on the grapevine that Bath cook, author and former MasterChef winner Ping Coombes has a brand new kitchen – so promptly invited ourselves over for a gander and a bit of lunch...


We certainly didn’t leave Ping’s hungry, having nose-dived into these pork dumplings


Ping keeps her intriguing collection of dried ingredients on display in Kilner jars

We’re into the colour of these walls – and love the name of the shade even more




We’ve got Pingʼs students to thank for today’s dumplings


ing Coombes is one of Bath’s most loved cooks. Our affections can be traced back to the 2014 series of MasterChef, when we watched as compliments tumbled out of the mouths of John Torode and Gregg Wallace as the pair tasted her food inside our TV screens. Originally from Ipoh in Malaysia, Ping has lived in our fair city for 10 years. She runs a massively popular Malaysian supper club – which happens twice a month at The Good Bear Café in Bear Flat – and has just launched a cookery school too, where she teaches students how to recreate her trophy-worthy yet down-toearth food. Her home, which is just outside the city, tucked among the pleats of rural Wiltshire, was taken on by Ping and husband Andrew as a project about four years ago. It’s a rather historic building too – the first in the village to have a flushing toilet (fancy!), she tells us – and once housed the village post office. Although the kitchen needed a significant overhaul, the pair were careful to not jump into its renovation too quickly. “We knew there was lots of work we wanted to do, but my mother-in-law told us to live with the space first,” Ping says. “It was dingy, horrible and damp – but I did a lot of cooking and recipe testing in there. It served me well!” When the couple eventually decided on a plan – an extension to the side of the building to house a new kitchen and dining space – it took almost a year to find the right architect practice to work with. Find it they did, though, in the form of Mark Wray Architects in Bath. The team was given a precise brief: this room needed to be a family space but also had to incorporate a semi-professional kitchen (for those cookery classes), and have lots of natural light (a windowed front and several skylights in the slanted ceiling take care of that job). The new kitchen was picked from Howden’s paintable range and is formed of rich-green cabinets with brass handles, topped with marble-look quartz work surfaces. The large island, which has storage hidden all the way around, has Novy induction hobs in its surface (“I love them – they’re so intuitive”) including a special version designed especially for woks. The concave design affords the rounded underside of the Chinese-style pan an even heat. This sleek and modern kitchen blends seamlessly into the more retro and eclectic dining area, where plants fan out


The sleek, contemporary kitchen is offset with some gorgeous retro furnishings

42 42






This Victorian washstand was a great find for £35 (some people have all the luck)

It was essential that this kitchen had plenty of natural light for Pingʼs cookery classes

their large leaves, framed pictures made by friends hang on the wall (which is painted in Farrow and Ball’s excellently named ‘Elephant’s Breath’, in case you were wondering) and pre-loved furniture brings a unique character and shows off Ping’s creative side. Ping wanted to use reclaimed materials here; even the bricks for the extension came from Frome Reclamation. They’re left bare, some coated in old layers of paint. “And this Victorian washstand, I found for £35. I had no idea where I was going to put it, but I had to buy it!” A glass-fronted cabinet displaying a collection of crockery was a Gumtree find, as was the mid-century shelving unit, complete with bar compartment. It displays large Kilner jars of popular Malaysian ingredients like dried anchovy, shrimp, scallop and cuttlefish, and palm sugar and shitake mushrooms. Much of it Ping brings back from her annual trips home to Malaysia, but she’s also a regular at Bristol’s Wai Yee Hong. When she first came to the UK though, some 20 years ago, speciality ingredients like these weren’t so easy to find, meaning Ping was challenged with creating dishes that hit that comfort spot in the same way as her childhood food, but made using different ingredients. “Challenges like this really push your boundaries as a cook,” she says. “It’s really useful to be able to substitute. While the food isn’t necessarily totally authentic, it’s inspired by my home, my upbringing.” This is the premise of her recipe book, Malaysia – recreating the culturally diverse Asian cuisine of her home country (“the main ethnic groups there are Malay, Chinese and Indian,” Ping explains), using ingredients that you could find easily in a Western supermarket. When lunchtime rolls around, Ping retrieves a tray of pork and spring onion dumplings, made the day before on one of her classes (she teaches in her home as well as at schools such as Bertinet and Divertimenti), which people come from far and wide to attend, learning how to create everything from classic Malaysian dishes like beef rendang to street food, such as nasi lemak. We fill our boots with the flavoursome little parcels, which bathe in a dark and savoury dressing. Then we make our way back to Crumbs HQ, harbouring some new kitchen goals and having made Ping promise us that recipe... For more information on Ping’s supper clubs and cookery classes, visit pingcoombes.com



Ping counts the number of helpings weĘźve greedily taken of those dumplings






KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL Favourite condiment? That has to be Laoganma Chilli Oil. ... Tell us about a memorable meal you’ve cooked lately. Braised pork belly with preserved vegetables for a Chinese New Year feast with friends. ... The look of your kitchen in three words? Warm, inviting and light. ... If you could change one thing about your kitchen, what would it be? To have more drawers. ... Why is your kitchen awesome? Because it is beautiful and functional – everything I envisaged and more. ... Most prized item? My Magimix. ... Unexpected item in your cupboard? I have an instant noodle drawer! ... Most used kitchen tool? My Tog knife. ... One thing besides cooking that your kitchen is used for? My girls build dens underneath the rattan chairs, pretending they are in prison – then they escape and run around the kitchen island pretending it is an actual island!

These Malasian-style parcels of joy are simpler to make than you may think

MAKES APPROX 30-35 500g pork mince (at least 10% fat) 1 medium egg ¼ tsp ground white pepper 1 tsp chicken stock powder mixed with 4 tsp water 1 tbsp light soy sauce ½ tsp salt ½ tsp sugar 2 tbsp cornflour 1 garlic clove, minced 2 spring onions, finely chopped thumb-sized piece ginger, grated ½ tsp sesame oil 1 pack dumpling skins For the black rice vinegar dressing: 5 tbsp black rice vinegar 2 tbsp light soy sauce 1 heaped tbsp chilli oil with bits (I use Laoganma’s) handful coriander, chopped 1 spring onion, chopped 1 Place the pork in a mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients except for the skins. Mix well with your hands. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight or at room temp for at least 30 minutes.


2 To make the dressing, mix everything together and taste. Set aside. 3 Prepare a small bowl of water and small dinner knife. Line some baking trays with grease-proof paper. 4 Place a dumpling skin in the palm of your hand. Using the knife, scoop up some of the filling and spread it onto middle of the skin. Dip your finger into the bowl of water and run it along the edge of the skin, fold upwards and seal. Pinch around the filling to make sure there is no trapped air. Leave it like it is or pleat as desired and place onto trays. Repeat until the filling or skins are used up. (Don’t overfill the dumplings, else they’ll break when boiled.) 5 Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a large pinch of salt. Boil the dumplings for 6-8 minutes until they float to the top (you will need to do this in batches). Alternatively, you can pan-fry the dumplings over a medium heat with a good slug of oil until each forms a crispy bottom. Then add a large splash of water and cover to steam for 5 minutes. 6 Spoon the dressing over the dumplings or serve it on the side as a dip.


Colour-dipped Chopsticks, £16 Modern and minimalist, these handpainted chopsticks are a bit of what we fancy. From Anthropologie. anthropologie.com


T he Want nnt List

We were so into Ping’s green and gold colour scheme that it’s made its way into our Want List this issue too...

Brompton Cook Book Stand, £25 When you’re done with your recipe book, this fancy stand happily folds away. Find it at Vinegar Hill in Bath and Bristol. vinegarhill.co.uk

Seagrass Leaf Placemat, £10.95 We love the blue-green hue of this natural woven placemat. Find it at Graham and Green in Bath. grahamandgreen.co.uk

Kyo Bowl, from £29.95 By Nkuku, this bowl is perfect for fruit and will look rather handsome in the centre of the dining table. From Fig 1 in Bristol. fig1.co.uk

Stoneware Jug, £12 By Bloomingville, this lovely glazed jug is part of a wider collection along with matching jars and mugs. From Mon Pote in Bristol. monpote.co.uk


JUST A PUB, NOTHING MORE, NEVER LESS. www.theravenofbath.co.uk 01225 425045 | 7 Queen St, Bath, BA1 1HE





Get ready for British Pie week with our pastry-wrapped guide


Local chef Romy Gill on life, food – and becoming a TV celeb!




Romy will be gracing our TV screens this season in the new series of a much-loved ’90s cookery show

Pie hard

With British Pie Week just around the corner, we take a look at the history of the pastry-encased (depending on how precious you’re going to be about it) dinnertime staple, and hunt down some of the best local examples...


ineapple on pizza. Chorizo in paella. The order in which cream and jam appear on a scone. There are lots of culinary debates we can (and regularly do) get ourselves into, but the issue of what constitutes a proper pie might just be one of the most quarrelsome. While most of us don’t lose any sleep over (despite having all fallen victim to) casseroles with pastry lids referred to as ‘pies’ on menus the country over, it’s a contentious issue for many. In 2015, a government petition was even started online to urge “the implementation of criminal sanctions upon the owners of food outlets that serve items described as pies without a pastry base.” Sure, you may be thinking that’s a bit extreme – but the 6,000-odd people who signed it don’t. Neither are the folk at The British Pie Awards prepared to negotiate on these pastry-based terms. To enter the competition – which takes place during British Pie Week (2-8 March this year), each submission must be “a filling wholly encased in pastry and baked.” “It’s important to ensure a fair competition and to celebrate the art and science of piemaking,” awards organiser Matthew O’Callaghan tells us.

“To us, a casserole with a lid on it just isn’t a pie!” That’s right: lattice-topped creations can do one. Stews with puff-pastry roofs will get laughed out of there. And don’t even mention potato lids. Pasties, though, are fair game, as “they were the forerunner of pies and fulfil our definition of a filling completely enclosed in pastry and baked,” says Matthew. The British Pie Awards were founded in 2009 to celebrate this historic culinary staple and promote the art of pie-making, their organiser tells us. “The British eat over £1 billion worth of pies a year and we believe they are the main British contribution to world culinary heritage – we do pies like no other country in the world. “Some pies were in danger of being lost or the recipe changed out of all recognition, like the Melton Mowbray pork pie, for instance. Pie-making is a blend of art, science and craft; the BPA celebrates this – and the piemakers.” There sure is something very British about pie. Think cold pork pies at a picnic. A beef and ale number down the pub in front of the fire. Apple pie, drowning in custard, after the Sunday roast. Yes, and the teatime squabble over what constitutes an example of one. So very British.


A Pieminister pie and a pint – the stuff of soggy Tuesday evening dreams



Pieminister launched its own version of a Sunday roast not long ago – and it really is something to behold...

Despite all that, though, the pie concept doesn’t come from this isle. (It’s not all bad: we can still claim sandwiches, sparkling wine and, oh yeah, only the bloody World Wide Web.) It’s the Romans (what surprises!) who are widely credited with developing the pie as we know it today. The concept – a filling encased in dough – can be traced back much further, though, to ancient Egypt. (Mind you, the versions those guys were knocking out were rather distant relatives to the beef and Stilton fella we might tuck into down the pub.) After some product development by the ancient Greeks, the Romans took up the baton and had the ingenious idea of using pastry to contain meat and all its juices. The thick crust acted purely as a container, though – the original lunchbox, if you will – and wasn’t for eating, it’s thought. Anyway, we all know how the Romans spread everything as efficiently as office aircon does a common cold, so that’s how they came to us here in the UK. (Pies, that is, not colds.) By the 1300s, ‘pie’ (or ‘pye’, as it was often spelt) had made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, so it’s safe to assume Brits were eating their fill of the things by this point. The crusts were still substantial, to the end of making it possible to eat the thing just with your hands. No messing. Pies were kicking around any feast worth its salt, but they were all of the savoury kind – and that includes fillings of live birds and small boys. No joke. (See, having things jump out of pies was a bit of a party trick back in the day.) It wasn’t until the 16th century that sweet pies started to proliferate, with the first cherry pie supposedly served to Queen Elizabeth I. Half a millennium later, and humans have all but perfected the pie, with traditional fillings ranging from beef and ale (classic) to chicken and mushroom (comfort ahoy) and ham and pea (a dark horse that’s all too often overlooked, in our opinion). But the fillings aren’t the only differentiator between 21st-century pies. As well as the kind you’ll find in restaurants, there are the likes of pork pies (eaten cold and filled with pork stock jelly) and chip shop-style. The latter is the speciality of Bristol institution Clark’s Pies. Having started as a table perched outside Mary Clark’s little terraced house in Cardiff, the biz came to Bristol in 1929 and has been stationed at its current North Street premises since ’35. Back in the day, hundreds of workers from the W. D. and H. O. Wills factory across the road (now the office space, café-bar and theatre known as the Tobacco Factory) would pop over for their lunch, forming queues that stretched right down North Street to Raleigh Road.

Tristan Hogg and Jon Simon still haven’t had their fill of pie, after 17 years

Clark’s Pies, which is now run by Mary’s great-granddaughter Dawn Clark and her partner Keith Prested, is known for its thick-shelled bakes, the robust layer of pastry making them great for eating with your hands, on the go – no need for the oft-seen foil tray. The signature offering contains beef, ox kidneys, potatoes, onions and gravy, just as Mary made hers at home, more than a century ago. “The Clark’s Pie hasn’t changed much at all since it was first made,” says Keith. “Perhaps we have more meat and less gravy nowadays, only because we have to ensure trading standards are adhered to in respect of meat content. “The range has grown slightly over recent years, though – we now do a steak and ale pie and a chicken balti pie.” Making more than a thousand of its signature pies every single day, Clark’s supplies chip shops and takeaways across the city and beyond. More recently, in 2003, Pieminister was born in Stokes Croft. This speciality pie



THE FREE RANGER: CHICKEN, CIDER AND LEEK PIE SERVES 6 1 free-range British chicken, about 1.5kg 1 carrot, peeled and cut into quarters 2 celery sticks, cut into quarters 2 onions, cut in half 1 whole garlic bulb, top sliced off 6 sprigs tarragon large knob butter 3 chunky leeks, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced 200ml dry or medium cider, preferably Orchard Pig 2 tbsp plain flour 150ml single or whipping cream ½ lemon, zest only 3 tbsp chives, chopped 660g shortcrust pastry 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten, to glaze 375g rough puff pastry

Pie, mash, peas. What a team

outfit now has a nationally known string of restaurants and its pies are stocked in grocery shops across the country. Behind it are Tristan Hogg and Jon Simon, whose mission was to update the pie and make it more relevant to younger audiences. “We’re a nation of pie lovers, but for a while there – back in the ’80s and ’90s – we forgot just how good pies could be,” says Jon. “Made well, they’re the perfect comfort food for British weather, designed to cheer us up and warm us through. “We both noticed while travelling in Australia in our early twenties, though, that pies had a really different image over there. Places like Harry’s Café de Wheels in Sydney were pulling in a young, cool crowd. Generally, the quality of ingredients

GET YOUR PIE FIX The Raven serves hot Pieminister pies with mustard mash and gravy, including the Raven Ale pie, made especially for the Bath pub with its own beer. Among the contemporary global food on offer at The Botanist in Bath, you’ll find a collection of pies, both traditional (steak and ale) and more modern (’shroom and squash) in style. If you’re after a meaty pie to cook at home, Bristol biz Wild and Game makes some corkers from wild meat, including a grouse and pheasant number to be eaten cold, like a pork pie.

didn’t seem a top priority for shop-bought pies in the UK back then. More often than not, fillings were a gloopy mess of mystery ingredients, topped with a soggy grey pastry lid. “We believed that we could change this and revive the great British pie. We wanted to create a fun brand that our generation would love and trust and that we’d enjoy working on.” And the range continues to evolve even now, 17 years later. As their customers’ tastes have developed, Tristan and Jon have challenged themselves to become more and more experimental. “We would have said a few years ago that a great pie is about creating a really fantastic slow-cooked casserole then encasing it in pastry,” Tristan tells us. “That’s still the case for many of our classics, but we’ve experimented in recent years with different cooking methods. “For example, our new vegan Evergreen pie is cooked fast to retain all the lovely goodness of the greens in a blitzed-up raw blend of garlic, ginger and soy, while giving the flavour an aromatic punch. “And then there’s our Hopper pie, which we made for British Pie Week a few years ago using sustainably-sourced crickets. We knew our customers would try it for novelty’s sake but we actually had a great response to the flavours and ingredients.” These guys are getting right in on the British Pie Week action again this year, promising all sorts of events and competitions. (Important: you could win a year’s supply of pies. For reals. Keep your eyes peeled for that one.) If you’re not craving a pastry encrusted treat right about now, to be frank, we’re not sure quite what’s wrong with you.


1 Put the chicken in a large pot with the carrot, celery, ½ an onion, the garlic bulb, 2 of the tarragon sprigs and a little salt. Add enough water to almost cover the chicken. Cover the pan, bring to a simmer and cook very gently for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Leave until cool enough to handle, then remove the chicken from the pot. 2 Strain the chicken stock into a clean pan (discard all the vegetables except the garlic) and boil until reduced by half – the flavour should become concentrated. Meanwhile, take the skin off the chicken and discard. Tear the meat into shreds. 3 Cut the rest of the onions into medium dice. Melt the butter in a pan, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the leeks and cook until softened. Pour in the cider and simmer until reduced by about half. Stir in the flour, cook for a few seconds, then add 400ml of the hot chicken stock, plus the cream and the lemon zest. Bring to a simmer – the mixture should have a nice, creamy pouring consistency. Add a little more of the hot stock, if necessary. 4 Chop the remaining tarragon and add to the sauce, then remove from the heat. Squeeze in the flesh from the garlic bulb and stir in the chives and chicken. Season with salt and pepper and leave to cool. 5 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Roll out the shortcrust pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick and use to line a large ovenproof dish, such as a baking tin or lasagne dish. Fill with the chicken mixture and then brush the pastry edges with a little beaten egg. Roll out the rough puff pastry to about 3mm thick and use to cover the pie, trimming off the excess and pressing the edges together to seal. Brush with egg glaze and make a couple of small holes in the centre of the pie to let out steam. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. This pie is great served with roast potatoes and spring greens. Recipe from Pieminister: A Pie for All Seasons, by Jon Simon and Tristan Hogg (Bantam Press, £17.99)


Romy’s got a lot on her plate right now – and we’re not talking about lunch

Romy Gill

Jessica Carter pays a visit to this chef, restaurateur and food writer at home and, between mouthfuls of roti and daal, quizzes her on her career so far – one that will see her star in a new foodie TV series this spring...


he past six months have been some of real change for Bristol-based chef Romy Gill. Sat in her Thornbury kitchen at the dinner table (she’s only gone and made me lunch!), we do a quick recap. First came the release of her debut cookbook, Zaika, in September, followed by the closure of her popular Thornbury restaurant, Romy’s Kitchen. It was around this same time that it was announced she was to be amongst the chef line-up for the reboot of Ready Steady Cook, set to air this spring. (That’s right, get your green peppers and red tomatoes at the ready!) Romy, who grew up in West Bengal, East India, could not have predicted when she arrived in the UK at 22 that all this was in store for her here. In fact, trying to get a food career off the ground was far from her mind – she had other hurdles to overcome. “When I came here everything was different,” she says. “The culture, the language... Of course, I could speak English, but I couldn’t understand some people because the dialect was different. I didn’t have any friends and the weather when I came was so dull – the excitement soon turned into misery!” Romy found the food she grew up with – like so many people who move abroad do – to be one of the biggest comforts she could turn to. So, she started cooking to sate her cravings, but also to make new friends, often creating feasts for people to share in her kitchen at home. “I loved dinner parties,” she tells me. “I used to have lots and lots. I think that was my way of coping with missing my family and friends and things. Food kind of saved me in that sense. “I felt happy cooking. Learning how to cook with different vegetables or fruits I could get here that I’d not seen before – that really gave me comfort.” Romy wasn’t always so keen to spend time at the stove, though. Growing up, she was far more interested in running around and playing cricket or badminton with her brother and his friends than helping her mum in the kitchen. That said, mealtimes were still a priority. “When I was very little, I just wanted to eat – that was all I wanted to do! I didn’t want to help my mum in the kitchen, I always had the biggest excuses. “I’d eat the food that she would make me at home, but maybe I didn’t like something so I wouldn’t eat much, and then I’d go to my friend’s house or my neighbour’s house and say that my mum hadn’t fed me,” she laughs. “They knew she had, and that I just wanted to eat the food that they were having too.”


These poppy seed cakes from Zaika – it means ‘taste’ – make great snacks, dipped in chutney


This community of friends and neighbours is how Romy developed her knowledge of food from across the subcontinent. In contrast to the way much Indian food is presented in Britain, it doesn’t have national commonalities. “There’s no such thing as ‘Indian food’,” she says. “Indian food is very regional, every household will cook differently: methods, techniques, everything. “I think with Dishoom [the small group of Indian restaurant in London] coming, a lot of things changed for British people in terms of Indian food. Their food isn’t just good, but it’s accessible for everybody, the students, the families – everybody could go there and eat. And it’s tasty – it’s not the generic food that people can be used to. Dishoom brought us food that was from the different regions. “Of course, before that, there were Michelin-star Indian restaurants, but not necessarily everyone could go there. So good, regional Indian food was here, but it was high-end food.” It just so happened that Romy lived in an area of real culinary diversity. See, her parents – originally from Punjab in the north – moved there for her father to take a job at the steel plant, one that people came from all over India to work at. “So my food when I was growing up was not just the Punjabi food that I would eat at home, it was food that I would eat at other houses, and the street food,” she says. “We were very much a community that always stuck together and cooked together. Any excuse for a party – birthday, anniversary, or religious celebration, everyone would come together and bring the food from their own house and we would share.” The dinner parties she threw in her new English home – and the resulting friends that the colourful spreads would net her – were the seedlings of Romy’s future food career. Encouraged by her guests, she started to teach her cookery, hiring the local community centre to hold classes. “I think that kind of gave me the encouragement to be able to do all of this,” she tells me. “You really have to come out of your shell.” Then she started making street food – samosas and such – before eventually opening her restaurant, Romy’s Kitchen, in 2013, which wasn’t without its challenges. “The restaurant was in the pipeline for a while. It took three-and-a-half years to get the planning, then nearly nine months for the builders to finish it, and in between I had to fight for a loan because none of the banks would help me. But then the BBC came along and asked me to feature on the national news in a piece about the government giving loans to the

banks to give to small businesses, except they weren’t handing it out. Thankfully, it worked and they started to.” The restaurant became popular with locals, and soon enough diners were travelling from all over to visit. Romy had the lease here for 10 years, giving it up in autumn of 2019 when new owners took over the building and rates increased. The food she cooked here, and indeed still does cook at events and for recipes, is about making use of the UK’s native bounty to create a new take on the kinds of dishes she grew up eating (and bribing neighbours to give her a taste of). She calls herself a British-Indian chef. Before landing in the UK more than two decades ago, Romy had never laid eyes on asparagus, for instance, and took it upon herself to experiment with all this novel produce in the Indian meals that she missed so much, by combining them with spices. And this practice has informed her cooking ever since She pulls a jar of garam masala from her kitchen cupboard that her dad gave her, having ground the whole spices himself. It smells warm, aromatic, even a touch sweet, and unlike any shop-bought version I’ve whiffed. This is a trusty spice blend for Romy, who has some definite favourites. “For me, it’s the cumin. Cumin is the most versatile, earthy, warm... Then, when you chew it, it’s the lemony flavour that comes out. But I’m also totally in love with Nigella seeds. “Then there’s a spice blend which is in the book – you can make it or buy it – called panch phoron, which is five whole Indian spices. If you were to leave me on a desert island, I’d want those spices!” This kind of Indian cookery with a British edge is exactly what her book is about. The plant-based recipe collection that makes up Zaika wasn’t, interestingly, the original book she planned on publishing though, she tells me. “I just wanted to do a book about the kind of food I grew up eating, my mum would cook and the ingredients that you can easily find. And growing up, for my parents, meat was not a necessity. Also, I’d seen people in India who didn’t even have clean water – how were they going to get meat and have milk? “So I wrote to my publisher and was, like, I know we’re supposed to be doing this book, but how about a vegan book?” Make no mistake, though: this is no vegan chef. “I’ve always said that I eat meat, and we made sure the book was not criticising eating meat. I just wanted to show how people eat in India and also how people can introduce more vegetables to their diet. Years ago, the meat was very good quality in this country; we’d support our


You’ll find Indian sweet treats, like jalebi, in Romy’s book too

local butchers. We don’t do that any more and now you can buy a whole chicken for just a few pounds – how can you justify that? Writing the book was for all of that.” Soon to make her debut on Ready Steady Cook – the whole series of which she’d just finished filming in Glasgow when we caught up – Romy is about to have yet another lifestyle overhaul, no doubt, as a TV personality. And the show is a particularly apt one for her to be a part of. “When I came to the UK, at that point, 26 years ago, there was Keith Floyd on television, Two Fat Ladies (I used to adore them!) and Ready Steady Cook. I just got hooked – I always wanted to go and sit in the audience. And now I’m one of the chefs on that iconic programme.” The well-known show ran from 1994 until 2010, presented by Fern Britton and later Ainsley Harriott, with two pairs of contestants pitted against each other to cook the best meal from a bag of ingredients, with the help of a chef. The new 2020 version of the show sees Rylan Clark-Neal take the role of host.


JACKFRUIT SABZI I was born and grew up in a township in Bengal and I was very fortunate that we had various fruit trees, one of which was a kathal tree, from which we picked sweet jackfruits. When the fruit was in season my mum would use some for making sabzi, some for pickling and she would leave a few fruits on the tree to ripen. Jackfruit is such an underrated fruit, and for years we couldn’t get it unless you went to a speciality shop, but now all the supermarkets stock it in tins. The moment I saw tinned jackfruit it gave me so much joy that I bought it and called my mum for this recipe so I could make it the very same day. It’s a dry dish that’s great served with a wrap, pitta bread, roti or as a side with rice and dal.

A super quick and easy jackfruit dish, great for cramming into pittas

“The contestants they’ve got – my god, they’re amazing. They empty their bags and then you just have to think what to make from it all. For me, the challenge was creating Japanese or British food – all kinds. I was amazed even at myself! “It was also great seeing the other chefs put ingredients together that I’d never have thought of. I learnt so much.” Those other chefs, of which there are three, each bring a very different element to the show, says Romy. “Ellis [Barrie] is so funny; he’s the youngest one, he’s like a hyper child but in a fun way, he’s very generous. Akus [Petretzikis] is from Greece. He’s very famous there, everybody knows him, so for him to come and be doing the Greek food… He fitted in so nicely. Anna [Haugh] is the most hilarious woman I’ve ever met, she’s so wonderful and is a great chef and is going to go a long way. And then Mike [Reid] is so cool, so chilled out, so calm. He really brings out the calmness in you. Just like Ellis’ hyperness brings out the energy in you and Akus’ competitiveness brings out the competitor in you... And then on the top was Rylan. He just eased us into

it so well. There’s a focus on up-to-date food themes in the episodes too, including cooking on a budget and minimising waste. “It was all very sustainable. There was no plastic, and even the oil that we used would get collected. No clingfilm, no plastic bags or jugs.” Romy has heaps more plans in the pipeline. By the time you’ll be reading this, she’ll have taken part in Fortnum and Mason’s Culinary Salon along with columnist Meera Soda and the co-founder of Dishoom, Shamil Thakrar. “It’s all Indian chefs – it’s a huge deal to be part of it,” Romy says. “And I’m so proud to be doing a vegan dinner at the James Beard Foundation in New York, too. I’m also doing some recipe cards and dinner events with Riverford. “Eventually, I will open another restaurant. But I don’t want to do it just for the sake of it, so I’m taking my time. I’m also writing my next book, but it’s going to be very different to Zaika…” There’s plenty more to come from this ambitious chef, then.


SERVES 2 2 tbsp sunflower oil 1 tsp black mustard seeds 6 curry leaves 2 small onions, sliced 3 tomatoes, chopped ½ tsp ground turmeric 1 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp garam masala 1 tsp mango powder (amchoor) 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder 1 tsp salt 1 x 400g tin jackfruit chunks, drained wraps, pitta bread or roti, to serve 1 Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat, then add the mustard seeds. 2 When they start popping, add the curry leaves and immediately add the sliced onions and cook, stirring continuously for 5-6 minutes until the onions are golden brown. 3 Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and cook for a further 3 minutes. Stir in all the spices, chilli and salt and cook for 2 minutes. 4 Add the jackfruit to the paste, stir it in well and cook for 4-5 minutes. 5 Serve with wraps, pitta bread or roti.

Recipe from Zaika by Romy Gill (Seven Dials, £20)

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60 28 DAYS LATER We reflect on our first experience of 28 Market Place

62 GRAPE EXPECTATIONS The new food offering upstairs at The Grapes, by Budo Ba

64 PASTA MOUSE Underrated StoCro pasta joint, The Spaghetti Incident

Beware the noren! (TBH you’ll probably be fine, it’s only our Charlie Lyon who seems to struggle) 59



28 MARKET PLACE Somerton’s Christmases have all come at once with the launch of this triple threat, thinks Jessica Carter


he changes to number 28 Market Place in Somerton are pretty subtle from the outside. The familiar sight of the white leaded windows and painted door with brass lion-head knocker doesn’t give much away as to what’s been happening on the other side of these centuries-old stone walls. A total overhaul of the interior is what – a textbook restoration of a 17th-century Grade II* listed building. You know the kind of kit out: to highlight its historic character while also making it impossibly cool and contemporary, but with an understated edge. It now contains a restaurant with adjoining bakery and wine shop – the latter two gracing the former with their bread and booze. That front door spits you out happily at the bar, in a cosy dining area with crackling log burner. Walk past said bar, though, and you’re into dining room number two, with a glass roof and geometric tiled floor, where bountiful dried foliage is draped along the width of the walls, weaving through the lamps. In the centre of the room is suspended a hanging garden, the rich green leaves dangling alongside wicker-shaded pendant lights. Walls

What do you get when you cross seasoned London chefs with the West Country’s bounty? (Well, this – obvs)



The dishes here are as handsome as the oh-sotasteful interiors

are a patchwork of exposed brick and plaster, painted in a very precise shade of off-white. Such impressive scenes are to be expected from owners Vanessa and Ben Crofton. This is not their first rodeo. The pair have hospitality experience a-plenty across hugely prominent restaurants: Ben (a Wiltshire native) served as director of Soho Farmhouse and Babington House and met LA-born Vanessa when they were both part of the team that launched Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood. This pedigree extends to the kitchen team too: head chef Dan Fletcher previously led the kitchen at Fenchurch at the Sky Garden and counts the esteemed likes of The Square in Mayfair and Tommy Banks’ Black Swan among his former workplaces. (You might recognise his name from the telly, too; the Yorkshire-born chef repped the North East in 2018’s series of Great British Menu.) Chefs sometimes move in packs, relocating to new restaurants with current or former colleagues, and this has been the case at 28 Market Place, with several members of the kitchen team upping sticks and moving to Somerset from the capital.

Not everyone here is a seasoned city slicker, though: the front of house guys are mostly young, bright locals – they circle in stone-coloured aprons, serving artfully presented dishes to fellow Somerton residents with familiarity. To begin, shallot’s sweetness and tang are right at home among 36-month aged parmesan in a delicate tart (£9), the filling loose and silky and the pastry crust fine. There’s also agnolotti, the little pasta parcels – which are cooked briefly, for a confident bite – packed with brown butter-roasted Jerusalem artichoke (£8). The backbone of this dish is its beef and bone marrow broth, which gets poured over at the table. Rich and dark, it’s punchy with savouriness and not a little addictive. Wiltshire red chicken (£22) has been acquainted with the oven for not a hair longer than necessary, the curved strip of flesh plump and almost bulging, jacketed on the outer side with honeycoloured skin. It hugs a wedge of soft Delica pumpkin, which is heaped with a mound of its seeds and flecks of gold chanterelle mushroom. Slices of dry-aged saddle of lamb (£26) sit in a dark jus and sport a thick layer of tender fat, the flesh as pink as a holidaymaker’s shoulders after an


afternoon in the Spanish sun. Its orzo accompaniment comes in a separate bowl, the thoughtful carb alternative slicked in a velvety sauce and finished with a chunk of slow-cooked, flaking lamb shoulder. That’s topped with curls of crisp Jerusalem artichoke, for a welcome bit of crunch. Sure, ice cream is a bit of a kid’s dessert, but seeing as this place has its very own version made in the bakery, and it comes in fresh-tasting, grownup flavours like Ivy House Dairy milk and spiced orange and ginger, the choice is entirely validated, as far as I’m concerned (£6). It goes without saying that the dairy isn’t the only ingredient coming from local farms and suppliers here; the West Country’s bounty could no doubt turn any newly inducted London chef into a kid in a sweet shop. This three-in-one newcomer has very clearly been bestowed with a lot of investment (love, time, effort, cold hard cash), and I’d happily invest another of my evenings in it, too.

28 Market Place, Somerton TA11 7LZ; 28marketplace.co.uk

JAPANESE JOINTS If you’ve not yet heard of this cool little restaurant in Bath, you’re not alone

BUDO BA Offering something new to central Bath, this welltucked-away restaurant is a welcome addition to the city as far as Charlie Lyon is concerned



here are curtains hung in doorways in traditional Japanese premises that act as dividers. They’re called noren, and were used to help cool homes, shops and bars in summer, while keeping them warm in winter. They act as a kind of salutation to visitors and can vary in length, from short, head-height pieces of cloth to floor-length curtains.  Protocol says you should breeze right through them, pushing apart the panels confidently – not act like a complete uncultured berk as I do on my first visit to Budo Ba, ducking low under them, lurching forward and stumbling into the bar, providing a decent bit of entertainment for already in-situ drinkers. Luckily, proprietors David Line and Susannah Lemon don’t bat an eye and are quick to sit me down with a warm welcome and cool beer. Dignity restored. Sort of. If you haven’t yet heard about this place yet it’s not surprising – it’s been kept on the down-low, having opened in November last year above The Grapes on Westgate Street. The slow build of interest isn’t down to worrying management but purposeful tactics, the team enjoying the chance to transition from supper club set-up (theirs going by the name of The Secret Izakaya) to professional kitchen environment.  But, slow down a minute. What exactly is an izakaya bar? These Japanese joints, not dissimilar to Spanish tapas bars, serve up Japanese beers, sakes and whiskies (the likes of which you won’t find elsewhere


The mackerel sashimi is delicate and fresh, the wasabi eyewateringly fiery

in the city), as well as small plates. Food and drink take equal importance in the traditional outfits, which can range from the Michelin-starred to humble neighbourhood premises with just a few seats. Much like a British pub, really. Climb the stairs to your right as you enter The Grapes and you’ll find bar seating at a small kitchen, where David and his sous chef dart back and forth, plating pickles and grilling skewers while talking to inquisitive folk who love to perch and peer. Through a second doorway is the restaurant space (which is used for yoga and life drawing in the week), where wooden floorboards and long communal tables sit beneath an ornately panelled Jacobean ceiling. We pull up pews and move swiftly from soy-toasted pumpkin seeds to pickled shiitake mushrooms (£3.50), which burst with salty, earthy flavours and a hint of sweetness. There is cucumber too (£3), which has been steeped for three days in sake kasu (the rice leftover from the sake-brewing process) giving the discs an aromatic, liquor-rich tang. When you consider that one of these carefully planned dishes will probably set you back around the same as a bowl of chips from a chain pub, you’ll enjoy them all the more, too. “Have you had sake before?” Susannah asks. I have a flashback to a cheap-as-chips noodle bar in Bristol in the noughties, where everything tasted better after a few pints but still the sake made you wince. I reply in the negative. So, after asking about our favourite style

of white wine, she picks one out for us and we take a break from our grazing to sip on a tiny ceramic cup of Gozenshu 9 Mountain Stream. It’s surprisingly smooth and fragrant, with a warm hint of the cask it’s been ageing in for a year. Now we’re on a sake roll, and order the miso and sake mussels (£6.50), which come in a bowl of thick and creamy miso broth. The plump, fresh molluscs are extra sweet and the rich broth has a glorious warming effect, brought about by togarashi spices (traditionally a blend of chill, pepper, poppy seeds, citrus peels, ginger and seaweed). Mackerel sashimi (£6.50) appears as a delicate, finely sliced fillet with a silver skin that shimmers in the low light. Each slice makes an elegant mouthful, with sweetness coming from the rice vinegar it’s marinated in, and a fiery afterburn from the creamy wasabi. The


sea bream tartare (£6.50) could have been chopped smaller for me, but the citrus yuzu marinade is zingy and fresh, creating an exciting little plate. Under a ‘limited supply’ heading are chicken oysters (£4.50). The nuggets of flavoursome meat from the back of the bird are made even more delicious with a salty and warming teriyaki sauce. All through the dinner, David and Susannah are in and out of the dining room, checking on guests and answering questions. And that’s what really makes the night memorable. We may be in a restaurant, but Budo Ba still has that cosy, friendly supper club feel. Budo Ba, upstairs at The Grapes, 14 Westgate Street, Bath BA1 1EQ; thegrapesbath.co.uk


THE SPAGHETTI INCIDENT Charlie Lyon has accidentally bypassed this inconspicuous G-Road Italian for the last time...

The plates here may be made to share, but we’re certainly not going to judge you for scoffing ’em all yourself

Is there a more comforting, carb-a-licious foodstuff than pasta? We think not

The only restaurant in town with a live-in Vespa




ow do you stand out in Stokes Croft – the vibrant creative, cultural heart of Bristol – where a host of top bars and world food joints already fight to boom? It’s this question that The Spaghetti Incident, an Italian pasta joint that opened in March last year – plus many more businesses besides, I should imagine – is ever-trying to answer. Owner Oliver Underwood knows the home-cooked food at his place will go down brilliantly, if he could just tempt passers-by to take their first step in through the front door. It’s a tricky one, as there’s just so much on offer in close vicinity – with Instagrammable small plates at Jamaica Street Stores, colourful Mexican fodder at Masa and Mezcal and, just a couple of doors down, Caribbean Croft restaurant and rum bar, where the bright, rustic branding is drawing people in on this grey Wednesday evening like the Siren does a sailor who’s been stranded in an office for eight-and-a-half hours. For Bristolians at the moment, it feels as though Italian food is like that favourite knitted cardi. You haven’t slipped it on for a while because you have all these other new clothes – vegan threads made from new-fangled fibres and the minimalist-shape outfit you bought back from Norway. But when you don that chunky fave again – so comforting and functional – you wonder why you don’t wear it all the time. Owner of The Spaghetti Incident, Oliver, was brought up in Rome by

German and British parents and has worked over Europe (including his home city, where he had a successful joint), getting a good grasp of the British restaurant scene along the way. He doesn’t believe in serving anything other than homemade, so everything – from the pasta to the Italian sausage – is created from scratch, in-house. By the time we pull up our pew in the dining room – the light, wooden interior is broken up with pops of lime green and pot plants, and the kitchen is open for all to peer into – it’s aperitivo o’clock. With our Negroni (priced at a very reasonable £7, FYI) and glass of crisp house white come a couple of deep-fried olives, stuffed tight with sausage meat. (We thought we were special but, apparently, this is simply how Oliver treats all of his customers between 5pm and 7pm, serving homemade snacks along with drinks.) J and I kick things off with the slowcooked wild mushrooms with potato and truffle velouté (£6), which is as dreamy and creamy as we hoped and I savour the garlic and truffle tang. A cocoa pasta leaf sits on top – an intriguing edible decoration with a slight bitterness that gets gobbled up quickly. It’s attention to detail like this that really warrants more bums on seats than are here tonight. Bean stew (£7) is made thick with cannelloni and borlotti beans and that homemade sausage. What, with this and the mash, I’m in comfort-food heaven. The crunchy topping with almonds and pecorino adds winning bite.


The main menu – split into traditional Roman and more novel, contemporary pasta creations – is full of dishes that are difficult to bypass. We resolve to return on sunnier days for the Devon crab mezzelune in crab bisque (£16) and the parsnip gnocchi with Stilton and walnut sauce and red wine poached pear mousse (£14). Instead, we pick classic winter warmers. J’s pile of rich tagliatelle is smothered generously with a chunky ragu (£14). The meat has been slow-cooked on the bone, meaning the hunks are full of flavour and super soft, coated in a light tomato sauce and tangled through a nest of silky tagliatelle. My large parcels of pasta are stuffed with mortadella ham (£14) to make piquant and salty bites, and are slathered with a tangy tomato sauce and lashings of pecorino. The portions are generous, the value is great. I also manage a forkful of carbonara – with crisp, salty pancetta and a lightly creamy sauce, given a nice kick with coarsely ground black pepper – and a homemade tiramisu (£6), served in a Kilner jar. It’s perfection. With this contemporary pasta place sitting somewhere in the middle of oldschool Italian trattorias and nouveau concepts such as Pasta Ripiena, it’s one to please the masses.

The Spaghetti Incident, 36 Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3QD; 0117 330 1401; spaghettiincident.co.uk






This seasoned chef, food development manager for St Monica Trust and former Crumbs Awards judge shares his favourite local foodie finds

Breakfast? Hart’s Bakery. I’m a massive fan – if I have a breakfast meeting in Bristol, it’s usually at Hart’s. Best brew? Chandos Deli on Henleaze Road. I’m a flat white man and love the locally roasted Wogan coffee. Sunday lunch? That’s an easy one – The Bank Tavern. It’s the best roast (best in Britain, mind!) and is great value, too. Quick pint? The Old Duke is a proper boozer. I’m a massive fan of live music and it’s always on here – and for free. Cheeky cocktail? Bristol Spirit. I’m partial to a Negroni and Sam’s are the best (especially the XL ones I had from her at the Crumbs Awards). Posh nosh? Bulrush. George is a great chef and his mind-blowing food is very creative and modern. It’s the future. Food on the go? Matina, St Nick’s Market. The first time I had it, I was walking by on a freezing cold day and couldn’t resist the temptation. Hidden gem? Wilsons. I had the best red mullet soup here – it will stay with me forever. One to watch? Bar 44. Lovely selection of tapas and Bristol’s finest sherry. There’s also a great private dining space in the vaults downstairs. With friends? Bianchis. I love what Dom and Ben have bought to Bristol: lovely, tasty Italian food and great wine.

Comfort food? Seven Lucky Gods – chips and curry sauce. That is all! With the family? The Kensington Arms for great food, great service and lovely private dining upstairs. Best curry? Urban Tandoor, the best soft-shell crab! Something sweet? Joe’s Bakery – my favourite bakery in Bristol. Belting burger? Squeezed. Alex is a legend and taught me how to make proper Mexican eggs. On the hit list? Little French. I’m a big fan of Freddy’s food and love working with him. Super service? Pasta Loco. Dom offers an exceptional level of customer service, professional, knowledgeable and comforting. Grocery shop? The Fruit Box Company holds community fruit and veg sales at the Chocolate Quarter and is run by fellow Bristolian, Ali Biggs.



Quick! Now add this little lot to your contacts book... Hart’s Bakery, Bristol BS1 6QS; hartsbakery.co.uk Chandos Deli, Bristol BS9 4JP; chandosdeli.com The Bank Tavern, Bristol BS1 2HR; banktavern.com The Old Duke, Bristol BS1 4ER; theoldduke.co.uk Bristol Spirit, Bristol BS5 9BQ; espensenspirit.com Bulrush, Bristol BS6 5TZ; bulrushrestaurant.co.uk Matina, Bristol BS1 1JQ Wilsons, Bristol BS6 6PF; wilsonsbristol.co.uk Bar 44, Bristol BS8 4HG; bar44.co.uk Bianchis, Bristol BS6 5QB; bianchisrestaurant.co.uk Seven Lucky Gods, Bristol BS1 4RW; 7luckygods.com The Kensington Arms, Bristol BS6 6NP; thekensingtonarms.co.uk Urban Tandoor, Bristol BS1 1DE; urban-tandoor.com Joe’s Bakery, Bristol BS7 8NZ; joesbakery.co.uk Squeezed, Bristol BS1 6WE; bristolsqueezed.weebly.com Little French, Bristol BS6 7QB; littlefrench.co.uk Pasta Loco, Bristol BS6 6JY; pastaloco.co.uk The Fruit Box Company; thefruitboxcompany.com

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Crumbs Bath & Bristol - Issue 99  

Crumbs Bath & Bristol - Issue 99