The British Dal Festival Is Coming To Bristol

British Dal Festival transparent logo for web

“Dal is not just an ingredient common to many international countries, but in many parts of the world it is a staple food which nourishes millions of people every day in daily meals, while also having a place at feast times. It is held with great respect as it is seen as the food that is accessible to all – rich or poor.” Kalpna Woolf, 91 Ways

Street Food - credit Love Food
Credit – Love Food

This year the British Dal Festival is coming to Bristol for a jam-packed week of celebration of all things pulses. Between the 19th of March to the 26th, the festival will introducing you to the traditional dals of the Indian subcontinent as well as dishes from around the world including refried beans of Mexico, fava dips of Greece and Britain’s pease pudding.

The British Dal Festival - credit Jenny Chandler (1).JPG
Credit – Jenny Chandler 

The festival aims to educate about the rich heritage, cultural significance and styles of dal as well as getting people to try something new from other continents as well as their own. Some of the planned events are;

  • Running throughout the week a Dal Trail of around 20 of Bristol’s restaurants and eateries, including Thali Café, Gopal’s Curry Shack, River Cottage Canteen and Harts Bakery.
  • Share stories and eat dal dishes from Bristol’s many language communities at a lunch for women and children with community organisations 91 Ways and Refugee Women of Bristol on Tuesday 20th March
  • Enjoy a free dal lunch and buy ingredients for dal at Bristol Farmers Market around St Nick’s on Wednesday 21st March cooked up by The Thali Cafe and 91 Ways
  • Come and grow dal by planting lentils, peas and bean in Bristol’s Millennium Square with Incredible Edible
  • See demos from top chefs and dal experts at our Grand Dal Finale – including Romy Gill, Jenny Chandler and Krishna Dutta. Enjoy street food, market stalls, and children’s activities on Sunday 25 March.
  • Use our free to download Dal Lesson Plan to run a dal cooking workshop and cross-curricular lesson at your school.
  • Become a Dal Champion by entering your favourite dal dish in our dal championship!

Details of all these activities are available on www.britishdalfestival.com where tickets can be booked for the Grand Dal Finale.

Follow British Dal Festival:
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British Dal Festival transparent logo for web

 

Chinese New Year In Bristol 2018

Happy Chinese New Year everyone from this tiger to you!

Chinese New Year is about a lot of things but the bit I am most interested in is the feasting. House hopping and eating during this holiday is part of the fun and Woky Ko at Cargo is bringing back that slice of the action to Bristol on Friday 16th, the year of the dog.

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Teaming up with some of the best traders in the area, they’re offering the public a chance to try some Chinese inspired one-off dishes whilst serving Korean Fried Chicken and Freakshakes from their front seating area. Also getting in on the action are;

  • Berthas: Szechuan pepper & orange gelato, Tuesday 13th – Sunday 18th February
  • Box-E: cured salmon, pickled ginger, sesame and seaweed, Friday 16th & Saturday 17th February
  • Cargo Cantina: Kung Pao Chicken Tostada w/ Sichuan and Habanero, Monday 12th – Saturday 17th February
  • CUPP, Tuesday 13th – Saturday 17th February:
    • Meal Deal available all day – £6 Veg/Vegan. £8 Meaty (choose one of the bubble teas below and one of the noodles) 2 for £5 Bubble Teas – 4 – 7pm
  • Pickled Brisket: Kimchi Rueben & Kimchi Grilled Cheese, Wednesday 14th – Sunday 18th February
  • Root: crispy oyster and sweet chilli, Monday 12th – Saturday 17th February
  • Salt & Malt: Crispy Fried Monkfish Cheeks, Sticky Asian Sauce & Sesame, Monday 12th – Sunday 18th
  • Squeezed: Big Trouble in Little China burger (beef patty, oyster ketchup, ginger buttered Chinese greens, hot you more aioli and a prawn cracker), Friday 16th February ONLY

There will also be red envelopes of good fortune, lanterns adorning the Gaol Ferry Steps,  traditional music, and the University of Bristol Lion Dance troupe plus drummers at 6.30pm.

Phew!

Keep an eye on Woky Ko’s twitter feed for more news and head down to grab your taste of the celebrations!

新年好 / 新年好

Hotel Du Vin, Bristol – Review

French food, to me at least, is inherently comforting. I often find myself craving unctuous and hearty cassoulets, gooey aligot and leek gougère, a dish I made for Sunday Roast every week as a kid until my mother told me no one else liked it. In Bristol, we have a few hearty French restaurants, the gorgeous Bar Buvette (who embarrassingly I’ve only had a cheese toastie in ) who predominantly concentrate on small plates and The Glassboat. Also the chains, Cote Brasserie and, of course, Hotel Du Vin.

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I have eaten here before and thoroughly enjoyed it so was very pleased to be invited to try the new menu launch. Hotel Du Vin has decided to go back to what they’re known for and what they’re good at in their restaurants, proper French cooking in a bistro-style setting. The Bristol branch of Hotel Du Vin is lovely. Lots of dark stained wood and candlelight and vintage french pictures, labels and curios on the walls. The wait staff are impeccably dressed but allowed a sense of their own style, It’s nice to see a bit of personality and really sells the relaxed dining experience you’re looking for (no one likes to feel like an imposter when they’re eating!). The chap looking after us, whose name has escaped me, was especially lovely and deserves a pay rise.

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To start we were offered a cocktail each, I requested “something not too sweet” and my friend “something with gin in it”. We were presented with a French 75 and a Bramble and were very happy with the choices. We were also started off with warm bread, butter and oil and left to decide what to eat. The menu is scattered with traditional French offerings such as Escargot a la Bourguignonne (Snails in garlic and parsley butter), French onion soup and steak tartare. I opted for the tartare and my friend the Wye valley salmon with chopped boiled egg, cornichons and onion. We also opted to have our courses matched by the lovely in-house Sommelier Pablo who did a grand job despite the menu only being live since the day before.

 

 

 

The tartare I opted to be served spicy and they delivered. Tender and succulent chopped steak, capers, gherkins and shallots were served with a deeply orange yolk and flakes of crunchy sea salt running throughout, providing surprise nuggets amongst the sweet and sour pickle and capers. My friends salmon was light and fresh and the texture of the chopped garnish was perfect to cut through the richness of the salmon. We finished our plates with many an eye roll, muffled grunts of happiness and smacking of lips. What a pair of uncultured swines.

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For main I opted for the cassoulet, a rich thick stew of white beans, confit duck, Toulouse sausage and pancetta. I reserved some of the bread from the beginning of the meal for mopping and supped my deep red glass of Rioja whilst I waited for it to cool. In hindsight I perhaps should have put the Rioja down as whilst battling with my phone I exclaimed: “wait, I have to agitate my beans!” perhaps a little too loudly for 7:30pm on a Thursday.   It was a generous portion deep with flavour made glossy by the rich, rendered fat running through it from the various meats. A lot of it ended up on my dress after a somersaulting fork incident but the less said about that the better. My partner ordered the Steak haché, a french style chopped steak formed into a patty and served with fries and a peppercorn sauce. It was dusted with a strong seasoning (very salty) but otherwise, she thoroughly enjoyed it, especially with Pablo’s Malbec pairing.

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Willing to exploit our greediness we, of course, were happy to try and thumb in a pudding. I enthusiastically ordered the apple tarte tatin, something I’d not eaten since the last time I tried to make one to impress someone and nearly chopped my finger off. My friend decided on a tarte au citron with a raspberry sorbet. My tarte tatin was slightly on the burnt side where the caramel had caught but the dollop of cream and icing sugar took the edge off that. The lemon tart was a generous wedge, with tangy lemon, crumbly pastry and the punchy sorbet was jaw tinglingly good. We paired our own desserts, as I am not keen on sweet booze I went for a massive G&T (paper straws were a plus!) and my now utterly stuffed mate had a sweet sherry wine with hers.

 

 

 

All in all, bar a few little niggles the meal was absolutely delicious. The atmosphere was wonderful, the staff were attentive and knowledgeable of the menu despite it being new and we both left warm, fuzzy and comforted. I will absolutely be back the next time I have a hankering for cassoulet!

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*Please note the meal was provided free of charge but the review was not shown to Hotel Du Vin before publishing*

 

Yakinori, Park Street- Review

Japanese food is still a cuisine that frightens me somewhat. It shouldn’t, I love noodles, tempura, punchy flavours and okonomiyaki is an absolute favourite, but I just don’t choose to go out for it. Sushi has always underwhelmed me (cue hoards of “you haven’t tried the good stuff”, please don’t) so getting an invite to Yankinori on Park Street meant I got to try something new.

Yakinori serves noodles, sushi and bento with a heavy lean on Japanese dishes and flavours with other east Asian dishes making an appearance on the menu too. With main dishes mostly in the £10 – £13 price range, it isn’t a cheap option but the restaurant is fun with an open kitchen, large manga style graphics on the wall and a rather shocking amount of orange used throughout.

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It didn’t start well, I was told a reservation had been made for me but on entering the very busy restaurant, they didn’t know I was coming. With their 50% off offer through the week, it wasn’t surprising they were packed and luckily there was space at the open kitchen bar. The waiter was obviously struggling to keep up but he was still attentive, explained the menu and helped with a substitution for my dining partner with her fish allergies.

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She went for the chicken kokonatsu curry but swapped the thai red curry paste for thai green curry and I decided to try the tempura bento so I was able to try a little bit of everything. There was a wait of about 40 minutes but we enjoyed our beers and watching the chefs hard at work. It was quite exciting to watch them work at speed on multiple dishes. The place itself is colourful and bright and obviously designed to be somewhere you eat then go rather than hang around in.

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My friends’ curry was a large portion and a very vivid green, the vegetables were in short supply sadly, with it mostly consisting of courgette and bean sprouts and the sauce lacked depth. You would expect with a substitution for things not to be as great as the original but it did end up being a bit of a monotonous bowl of green curry.

My bento wasn’t hugely better, with it being one of the more pricey dishes (£15.70) and promising tempura crab, king prawn, aubergine and squid, sushi, takoyaki , pickles and rice. The portions felt a bit mean and really lacked any flavour, I couldn’t tell the difference between the three seafood tempura and the takoyaki didn’t seem to have any octopus in it. The sushi again wasn’t anything to write home about, it was perfectly fine but I was expecting something a bit more exciting. The presentation of both dishes was lovely, the bento box felt exciting to open and I appreciated the variety of food you could pack into one.

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All in all the food left us a bit cold and if I had paid full price for it, I would have been disappointed. I can’t, however, praise the staff enough, they were wonderfully attentive in a very busy restaurant and the chefs remained chipper throughout a busy service. I’m not sure I will be back but it certainly has encouraged me to seek out a new flavours.

Please note this meal was offered free of charge and was not sent to the restaurant before publishing.

 

Chaiwalla, Stokes Croft

I have properly fallen out with Indian takeaways of late. I have tried so many and every time they arrive late, the food is bland, greasy or cold. The curry houses I love don’t deliver so I am about to call it quits with trying to eat good curries at home.

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There is more to Indian food than curry however, as much as I will miss my chicken tikka masala and garlic naan there is still space in my heart from something punchy with plenty of spice and sweetness. Thank goodness for Chaiwalla who have opened their second spot on Stokes Croft following their sister restaurant in Bath

Their success lies in simplicity. It’s a small shop, there are few options, all of them are veggie or vegan and around £5. They have decorated with beautiful, colourful East Asian fabrics and reclaimed wood making the place warm and inviting. The music is pumping but not too loud and equally colourful regulars stop in for a chat. There is limited seating, literally two chairs and makeshift “sofa” so this really is somewhere to pop in and takeaway if there are more than two people in there. Perfect for someone who is heading home, hungry, and misses a good, Indian feed.

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I went for the onion bhaji wrap and samosa, other options were a hot chaat box, a substantial portion of chickpeas, tamarind and onion curry served with a topping of fried noodles, salad and yogurt dressing. The wrap is a flat bread that is stuffed to bursting with fresh salad, that included carrot, red cabbage and pomegranate seeds, 6 freshly fried onion bhaji’s and a sweet mango chutney which is then rolled into a tinfoil tube for you to eat on the hoof or pack safely away for later. The samosa was beautifully spiced with a crispy pastry and plenty of potato, pea and spice filling meaning tons of flavour inside. Absolutely what you want instead of a greasy, flaccid triangle like those I have been served elsewhere.

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Chaiwalla is definitely on my rotation now and an absolute testament to doing vegan and vegetarian food well. I didn’t miss the meat and will most certainly will be back.

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Wild Beer does Brunch

My mother came to visit this Saturday and she was very excited to hear she had been invited to try the new brunch offerings from Wild Beer with her food blogging daughter. She even got on a bus, apparently not having been on one since she was 18, the older generation are a riot aren’t they?. It was really nice to take my mum a little further into Bristol than between my house and Atomic Burger (she loves that Messy Jessy) and we enjoyed looking at some boats, making fun of the size of The Matthew and discussing cormorants.

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Wild Beer is a brewery in Shepton Mallet that makes some bonkers beers. They’re the experimental chefs of the brewing world, chucking everything from champagne yeast, lobster and mushrooms into their brews and seeing what happens. Most of the time it’s magic. After opening their flagship bar in Cheltenham they turned their attention to the new Wapping Wharf builds and were one of the new units to open. It’s a bright and airy bar with bench seating, encouraging people to share space, a semi-open kitchen and a huge choice of beers to choose from (tasting before buying is highly recommended).

We were seated right by the kitchen pass and head chef Matt went through the menu with us. We, of course, started with a beer cocktail, a Ninkasi mimosa, with the Ninkasi beer made with the aforementioned champagne yeast making it a lighter, drier tasting beer. It certainly packs more of a hoppy, bitter bunch than the sometimes overly sweet prosecco offerings you can enjoy with brunch elsewhere.

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We opted for the eggs florentine and shakshuka for our breakfast. The other option that caught my eye was the rarebit on toast but I wanted to avoid anything too cloying, I had a hangover, sorry mum. The dishes were generous with their portions with both of us admitting we were nicely full after finishing.

The Florentine had a good dollop of rich, buttery and lemony hollandaise sauce, the poached eggs were, of course, served with a soft yolk and the english muffin (from Marks Bread) was a very decent size. My shakshuka came with two baked eggs (again still runny!) with an incredible depth of flavour in the sauce, plenty of peppers, cumin and onion and exactly the right level of spice for the morning, a good kick that doesn’t send you coughing. The sourdough (again, Marks Bread) was the perfect vessel for both loading up with sauce and mopping up egg yolk.

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We were surprised with my favourite thing, BREAKFAST PUDDING from Matt who was very keen for us to try one. The thing with pancakes is that they seem like a great idea, but halfway through a stack, you get bored with the stodge and the sweetness. These, however, were really, very good. Totally vegan and gluten-free and made with oat milk, banana and blueberries, I was sceptical that these would be any good (my mother is still questioning how one milks an oat). However, the pancake was cooked until the outside caramelised and then was served with fresh fruit and gorgeous warm maple syrup. This made them one of my favourite pancakes I’ve had in Bristol. A surprising thumbs up from someone who lives on a diet of eggs, milk and gluten.

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We really enjoyed our brunch and we didn’t miss the meat at all. Suprise! The entire menu is vegetarian and vegan. The beer pairings are a welcome change to the heartburn-inducing prosecco offerings in most other places. The brunches are all in the £8 region so one of the more affordable places in the city centre too. I will be back for that rarebit very soon!

*Please note I was asked to come in and try the brunch free of charge, the review has been written honestly and not sent to Wild Beer before posting*

 

The Parlour – Review

The Italian restaurant has always, to me, had an air of the old-fashioned. A world cuisine that in the UK at least was heavy on the checked tablecloths, carbs, candlelit eating rooms and breadsticks as standard. You went because you needed a feed, you bought into the romance of carbonara and liked to be treated a bit poorly by the waiter.

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Not anymore! As someone who didn’t really bother with Italian food as “well, I can do that home” I have been shown that is no longer the case. Already a huge fan of the neighbourhood restaurant Bomboloni, who serve nonna portions with a modern flair, I was interested to see what ice-cream parlour cum restaurant The Parlour would be offering.  On the corner of Cheltenham Road and Zetland Road, owner Nicolo has been smashing ice-cream (their apple pie ice-cream is fantastic) but wanted something more from the space. With his family connections to the C & T Licata and Son deli, an Italian delicatessen on Picton Street, he and head chef Jack (with previous at Poco and the Cherry Duck) have created an Italian menu that screams authenticity without a breadstick in sight.

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Pasta is made fresh upstairs and sauces are made with ingredients that are sourced as close to the restaurant as possible. They also make beautiful focaccia, brushed with the most flavoursome olive oil and heady with rosemary, delivered to your table fresh from the oven

The Parlour has, at this time retained the very stark look of the original parlour with white walls and wooden seating, but have tried to warm the atmosphere up a bit with art on the walls, wooden panelling and an extension of the bar. You can watch the bread being made from scratch and the staff are incredibly keen to talk about the menu and the ingredients.

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We enjoyed plenty of fresh bread, a Caprese salad and a game terrine to start. Both were excellent and generous with their portions, the salad especially was absolutely beautiful with creamy mozzarella, juicy, well seasoned and flavoursome tomatoes and lashings of that fruity, nutty olive oil. The terrine was packed with sherry-soaked raisins and was served with a fruity chutney that complimented the slight irony flavours.

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For main we, of course, had pasta. My colleague had the wild boar ragu on pappardelle, a thick, unctuous meaty ragu on freshly made pasta, it was absolutely divine. The El Comado is a ragu made with chorizo, roast pepper, aubergine and a good kick of spice. Served over a bowl of thin spaghetti and plenty of parmesan cheese this was a lighter option than the boar and just as tasty. With the sauce mopped up with the last of the bread, we didn’t think we could manage a pudding.

Though of course, we had pudding because I am a complete glutton.

We shared a dark chocolate and salted caramel fondant and were very impressed. It was light, it was full of glistening chocolate sauce and it was polished off far too quickly for two people that had eaten as much as they had.

The Parlour might not be the cosiest place to reenact your Lady and the Tramp fantasies but hit all the right spots when it came to service and food. Quite frankly that’s the important bit.

Find The Parlour at 243 Cheltenham Rd, Bristol BS6 5QP. Their Facebook, Twitter and Website here.

*Please note I received this meal free of charge through my job but loved it so much I wanted to showcase it here. The Parlour didn’t see the review before I released it.*