Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Bristol

There’s only one thing better than blogging friends

And that’s meeting them in real life and realising that they are as nice as they appear online. There’s always a worry isn’t there? That you get on really well when talking through blogs or Twitter, but when you actually meet face to face and, you know, talk to each other you realise you can’t stand the person. Or their name is really Dave and not Sophie.

So it was that I joined the South West blogging crew for dinner at Namaskar Lounge in Bristol last Friday. A very fine group of bloggers it has to be said lead by our ring leader Jenny without whom we would probably still be discussing possible dates via Facebook. Also in attendance were  Purple MumKnitty MummyCircus QueenMedicated Follower of Fashion and Lewis from BabberBlog who I’d been looking forward to meeting in particular. Not least because he has an even bigger obsession with bikes than I do, plus it’s always good to talk to other relatively new dads.

Being a blogger can be a lonely existence sometimes, if you don’t have close friends that also blog there really is no one to talk to about it. To share tips and tricks with or ask advice. It then feels quite weird being able to talk freely about stats and reviews or quite simply to gossip about the going on’s on Twitter of which there seems to have been quite a bit recently.

Last time I was in Bristol I don’t think Namaskar Lounge existed, I’ve a feeling there used to be a Bar Med or some such sticky filthy place. Now it is a very attractive looking restaurant and certainly a different experience to eating an Indian take away at home! With lots of glass and space it was a breath of fresh air compared to many UK restaurants which are just stuffy.

I of course plumped for my favourite Biryani, I did at least have lamb though for change. There is something so satisfying about having one dish with the rice and meat all in together having been cooked nice and slowly. Love it. Coupled with a garlic naan and I was a happy boy, long time since I’ve been out on a Friday night doing that. The food was pretty excellent as well and I was ever so slightly jealous of the massive onion bhaji’s that Knitty Mummy ordered.

So it was that I headed for home to rescue the lady of the manor from a teething baby with a very full stomach, suitably content after an evening of adult conversation about life and blogging. Looking forward to the next meetup now, although not sure about the potential for some karaoke.

The restaurant were kind enough to give us discounted food for the evening, but no payment was received and all opinions expressed here are my own crazy thoughts.

The Fools Food Heroes – May

Yes, it’s almost the end of the month and I have again almost forgotten to do this months post. No shortage of food heroes to mention though, just a lack of organisation on my part.  So here in all their glory are my food heroes for May:

Wychwood Brewery

This brewery is based in my home town of Witney in Oxfordshire, although quite a well known brand now and available in lots of supermarkets they still brew on their original premises. A friend of mine lives in a house overlooking the yard and on brewing days the smell is just incredible. Hobgoblin is their flagship beer, a dark malty affair perfect for a winter’s evening in the pub. For the summer they have Wychcraft, a much lighter, fresher ‘Blonde beer’ that is great with a summer BBQ and one of the Lady of the Manor’s favourites. You also have to check out their website, a very impressive beast with lots of goblins and dark woods to explore, there is also a tool to find your local pub serving their beer.

DJ Haggett

This is a butchers in Silverton near Exeter, I first visited this place when my older brother lived in Exeter and now make a detour to visit whenever in the area. Quite honestly it is some of the best meat you can buy, but that isn’t why I visit. I go for the pork pies! They’re handmade on site and are 10 times better than those little Melton Mowbray things in the supermarket. Last time I went in there the butcher was telling me how they were freshly made so could be frozen etc, he offered to seal wrap the pie if that was my intention. He was slightly surprised when I informed him I was going to tuck into it immediately. No point delaying these things is there? Unfortunately they don’t have a website, but if you’re interested in visiting you can call 01392 860226 or just visit the village. It’s not a big place and the butchers is right in the middle.

The Lounges

A bit of a different animal this one being a cafe/bar rather than a food producer, but hey it’s my food category so I’ll make up the rules as I go along. This is a small group of cafe bar’s dotted around Bristol, mainly in small neighbourhoods away from the city centre. We lived in many different locations in Bristol over the years we were there and were fortunate to be near 4 of their locations at one point or another. The ethos of this company is to find premises that are a little bit different (an old bank for example) and deck them out with a hotch potch of tables and old church pews and chairs. They serve a simple menu of meals and some tapas style dishes along with one of the best cooked breakfasts in the west. The atmosphere in them on a Sunday morning is just perfect, lots of people in their with their children drinking coffee and eating cooked breakfasts. One of the main things we miss about living in Bristol and unfortunately quite rare to find such a collection of independent cafe’s these days. (it turns out after looking at their website that they have now expanded to other cities, so their may be one near you!)

The fools food heroes – March

For March’s installment of food heroes I have 3 more fine food companies for you, as ever these are companies that are a regular feature in our household and ones that you really do have to check out.

Box Steam Brewery

Tunnel Vision 9 Gallon Cask

You may notice a theme starting in these food posts – beer. The UK really does have some great small breweries and thankfully have become fashionable again. We really should celebrate them and there is nothing I enjoy more than discovering a new one. When we moved to Wiltshire last year we came across these guys based in the pretty village of Box, famous for its rather long tunnel. The beer is sold in a few of our favourite pubs that are conveniently placed on good dog walks. The Golden Bolt is a perfect light, summer beer with citrus flavours, while Funnel Blower is a much darker malty beer. The beer can be ordered from their website in bottles or casks.

The Real Olive Company

I have to be honest, this one isn’t a favourite of mine, but rather the lady of the manor. She LOVES olives and this company based in Bristol sell some of the best. They have a regular market stall in St. Nicholas market in Bristol and also attend some of the farmers markets. They also have a shop and a very nice restaurant that has a fabulous location right on the harbour in Bristol. They sell every type of Olive you could ever wish for along with other tapas style delicacies such as stuffed vine leaves. If you’re a real addict you can also order them wholesale….

Yeo Valley

Ok, I know these aren’t exactly a small, unknown company but I love them. They are in fact local to me and represent everything that a good food company should be. They produce fabulous tasting products, they care about how the food is produced and they try to give something back to the community. My favourite are the Greek Style yoghurt with honey, in fact I have one every day on muesli in the morning.  They also have a rather fab website so go check it out!

The fools food heroes – December

Drum roll please, I am pleased to announce the first ever regular topic on this ere blog! In a change to the usual wordy (ranty) posts that my blog seems to have evolved towards, I’m going to intersperse the heavy topics with something a little more light hearted.

A confession

As you may or may not know I LOVE FOOD, that’s right, I’m a foodie (perhaps even a food snob?). I don’t eat fast food, I spent my student years mainly at home so I could spend money on food and not beer and I buy all my meat from a butcher. I’ll preach to anyone that listens how good a free range chicken is or how much better a homemade cake is vs. one from a supermarket. I’m also pretty passionate about finding local, specialist producers who are making top quality and often unusual foods.

The new regular feature!

So I’d thought I’d start a regular (at least monthly) post to share a few of these producers in the hope of spreading the joy of eating the fabulous food that we make in this little country. There will inevitably be a South West England bias here as that’s where I live, but I make no apologies for that the region is pretty blessed. But I will endeavor to include at least some from other parts of the UK and if you know a producer who sells something amazing then let me know, always on the look out for recommendations. I may well stretch the definition of food to include pubs/restaurants at some point.

December’s selection

Until a year ago I lived in Bristol and had done for the previous 8 years, Bristol is a great city and has a rich food culture. The lady of the manor and I often frequented the Sunday farmers market at the tobacco factory where the first 2 companies always had a stall. Even since moving away from Bristol I still buy products from them and would definitely rate them ‘best in class’!

Pieminster pies

No doubt some of you will have heard of these lovely people, they make the BEST pies ever. Fact. The vast majority of the ingredients are sourced local to Bristol, they use a different kind of pastry for the top and the bottom to ensure the perfect pie and every pie is hand made. The pies even have great names; Moo Pie, PM Pie, Chicken of Aragon, mr porky pie. The fillings are chunky, full or flavour and have something for everyone.  They have outlets in Bristol of course, but also Oxford, Stoke on Trent and London, you can even get them on the Deli counter at Sainsbury’s. So if you get a chance check them out! Oh and they’re also on Twitter

Extract coffee

 My second recommendation and another market regular is Extract Coffee, they sell coffee sourced by themselves and roasted in small batches in Bristol. This means you get the freshest possible coffee; compare a bag from them to one from the supermarket and you will be amazed. The smell of fresh coffee fills the room and has a taste to match. You can order coffee mail order which is what I do now for little more than the cost in the supermarket and it arrives in a couple of days fresh from the roaster. My personal favourites are the pacific espresso and the after dinner blend. Many of the coffees carry fair trade or rain forest alliance certification also.

Walter Rose and Son

Finally I’d like to give a massive recommendation for my local butcher here in Trowbridge. Walter Rose and Son have shops in Trowbridge and Devizes, they sell not only meet but also fresh fish and have a deli counter. These days it’s often hard to find a good butcher, but these guys provide a great service and some excellent meat. It may not be all organic etc, but the quality is excellent. If I had to recommend one thing it would be their homemade sausages, particularly the venison and red currants. Yum! So if you ever in the area pop in and take a look.

I’d love to hear who your food heroes are, whose produce to you buy whenever you get chance?