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Posts Tagged ‘Bishopston Supper Club’

Granted. I’ve been absent for a long time – family life combined with running your own business can do that to your social networking life – but I’m ready to get back to food blogging. It’s something I really enjoy doing and have missed. I only hope that I can find the time and energy to do it again.

I might have been away from my blog but I haven’t been far from food. It’s just that my approach to food has adapted to suit the limited time available for cooking and, naturally, to my little boy’s developing tastes.

_EP_8202-01For a while, when LC was little, I struggled to cope with not having time in the kitchen after work (cooking had always been my creative outlet and the way I relaxed) but we’re now over some very difficult hurdles and there’s a little more time on an evening to cook. I’m working through recipes in the cookbooks that gathered on my shelves over the last two years and were subsequently neglected as well as rediscovering old favourites. Books like Persiana, Made in India, New Indian, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, Comptoir Libanais, the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook and, more recently, Indian Kitchen: Secrets of Indian home cooking have reignited my passion for cooking and, importantly for me, my desire to experiment and create ‘new’ dishes.

I’ve had a little ‘me’ time when I’ve been able to hone some skills and learn new ones. I’ve been on a baking course with Hart’s Bakery and almost perfected my sourdough, I joined Wai Yee Hong and Bishopston Supper Club for the first ever #dumplingfest and learned how to make samosas with a new foodie friend, Arushi.

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Seeing LC enjoy food and want to spend time with me in the kitchen has really helped. I feel immensely proud when he names fruit and vegetables, can recognise ingredients in a cooked dish or sniffs the air and tells me he can smell that I’m cooking curry! I also felt slightly embarrassed when nursery staff reported how, as they told the children they were going to bake cakes, he jumped it to explain to them all how to make one and listed the ingredients needed.

He wants to help with everything from growing vegetables in the garden to shopping, stirring, whisking and even sweeping up. He’s been a great excuse to make time in the kitchen to do things I’ve never done or haven’t done for a long time; make pasta, stale bread gnocchi, oatcakes, meringues, jellies and cakes. He’s eager to learn, soaks up everything I teach him and demonstrates what he’s learnt in his play kitchen where he makes paella, risotto, pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage sandwiches and a bloody good cup of tea!

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And what about eating out? We still do that, just not as frequently. We have sneaky days off with LC in nursery so we can have breakfast or lunch out, or sometimes both! We eat out at lunchtime with LC and occasionally we indulge in a night out, with the help of the amazing people in our lives who offer to babysit.

The Bristol food scene continues to thrive. The variety and quality of food available is outstanding. We’ve had incredible steaks at The Ox, the most amazing chicken wraps from Matina in St Nick’s market, Sunday lunches with a difference at the Kensington Arms, Yurt Lush and Bishopston Supper Club, tapas to die for at Bravas and Pata Negra, the best brunches at RosemarinoBaker & Co and Souk Kitchen, consistently good food at out local, The Victoria Park, stunning fish and chips at Salt and Malt, spice fixes from the Jamaican Diner, authentic Indian cooking from Romy’s Kitchen, a complete surprise tasting menu at the Lido and fantastic salt beef from Aron’s Jewish Delicatessen.

_EP_3760_1Further afield we’ve tucked in at the Hardwick and eaten the best pea and ham soup we’ve ever tasted at the Hind’s Head. Even further afield we were wowed by the food and hospitality in Copenhagen. Aaman’s open sandwiches, DOP hotdogs and Papiroen street food market were highlights of our trip. Sadly there was no visit to Noma!

So, I’ve discovered that there is still room for food in our lives…it’s just that we’re on a diet!

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We’ve had a busy few foodie months and, after missing out on several occasions because of date clashes, finally managed to get a place at the Bishopston Supper Club on Friday evening. This being only our second foray into the world of the secret supper club (we dined at the Montpelier Basement in November) we were excited to see how our evening with the Resting Chef would pan out.

Danielle, blogging under the alias the Resting Chef, has worked as a chef in several Bristol restaurants, including Hotel du Vin and H Bar, but now offers cookery lessons and runs the Bishopston Supper Club from her home.

Her ethos is to use locally sourced and seasonal produce to create homely and classic dishes of restaurant quality and with her own creative twist. To help achieve this aim, Danielle has a list of trusted local suppliers including Castellano’s Deli, the Fish Shop and Trethowan’s Dairy but is also often seen tweeting about her foraging efforts in Bristol’s hedgerows and undergrowth in preparation for her supper clubs and to stock up her storecupboard with preserves. No surprise then that the menu was to feature nettles, picked around St Werburghs City Farm earlier in the week.

The local connections don’t stop at sourcing the food. The Resting Chef has teamed up with newly opened Grape and Grind to provide guests with wine recommendations for each course, making it easy to stop in on the way to pick up a couple of bottles knowing that they’ll be a perfect match for the food.

There was a relaxed atmosphere in the dining room and the kitchen when we arrived. A few guests were already there and we had met another as we walked up the pathway to the house. Danielle and her sous-chef and washer-upper for the evening, Georgia, were very calm. There was plenty of time for mingling with guests whilst bringing out an aperitif of Somerset cider brandy with apple juice and our appetisers; crisp ewe’s curd and spinach filo parcels. More traditionally found filled with feta or ricotta, the ewe’s curd was a great local alternative with just the right tang needed to contrast with the irony spinach.

Once everyone had arrived and drinks were in hand we took our seats at the large communal table. It was pleasant to see couples opting to sit apart so that they could talk to more people around the table. One of the beauties of supper clubs is that opportunity to meet new people in a friendly environment and there would certainly be no uncomfortable feeling if you were to turn up on your own, as a couple of the diners did.

Our starter was a Provencal style fish soup with croutons and rouille. I thought that the fish soup would be a challenge for me as I don’t have fond memories of fish soup from childhood trips to France but I was unduly concerned. The flavour was stunning. It was rich, deep and yet still light enough to serve as a starter. Served with fillets of fish and plenty of shellfish it would have made an amazing main course. Wine recommendation: a Provence Rose.

Next up; nettles. The nettles had been blanched then sweated off to form the base of a risotto which was earthy and perfectly al dente. A few toasted pine nuts, shavings of parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil and a home-made stock which had been tended to for hours took the dish from homely weeknight supper to fine-dining. Wine recommendation: Sauvignon blanc.

I was really looking forward to the main course and the accompanying wine. It was right up my street. Braised mutton with white bean puree and greens. Danielle had chosen to cook the mutton in a good red wine with a bouquet garni and the usual stock vegetables.  Mutton has a richer, gamier flavour than lamb and when cooked long and slow, as this was, is so tender it almost melts in the mouth. The cannelini beans on which the mutton sat had been pureed with garlic, thyme and rosemary. A delicious alternative to mash potato. I’m not ashamed to say I wiped my plate clean with the freshly baked focaccia still left on the table from the start of meal. Wine recommendation: Chianti or Barbera.

There was just enough room left for a light dessert! Rhubarb and Moscat jelly with poached rhubarb, bay ice cream and shortbread. The jelly was not over-sweet and had the perfect wibble, the poached rhubarb was so intensely rhubarb flavoured and a vibrant pink and they were both complimented by the fragrant, slightly savoury bay ice cream. My first taste of bay ice cream and one I’ll be looking for again. Wine recommendation: a late harvest Riesling or Tokaji.

Danielle and Georgia, having finished in the kitchen, joined us at the table where more wine, cider brandy, tea and coffee freely flowed with the conversation into the small hours.

Bishopston Supper Club felt more like a dinner party than a restaurant-style experience and yet the calibre of the chef showed in the attention to detail, presentation, depth of flavour and quality of the cooking in every course. The best of both worlds. A fabulous evening. Compliments to the chef!

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