Category Archives: Grub & Glug

All things edible and drinkable, and a few that are neither

Coexist vs COVID: cheap food to raise funds for free food

At times like these, I really miss Bristol… This Thursday (2nd October) the Coexist Supper Club takeaway will be a Kurdish feast courtesy of guest chef Arash:

Kurdish Dolma- rice stuffed Trinity Centre Garden vine leaves cooked in a rich, tomato sauce

Green falafel and charred asparagus, leeks and courgettes

Hummus

Kurdish shepherd’s salad

Samoon – Kurdish flatbread (g)

Not too shabby for barely a tenner!

Funds raised through the supper club go towards Coexist Community Kitchen‘s ongoing COVID-19 food provisions service, providing hundreds of ready-to-eat or easy-to-reheat meals to people in the city facing hard times thanks to The Fucking Pandemic And General Imminent Societal Collapse.

Definitely worse things you could do, and the idea of a cheap feed for a good cause from a kitchen in East Bristol rings the nostalgia bell for me – having spent many a Thursday night yarning at the Kebele Kafé. Thankfully I see that whilst Kebele changed its name to BASE, the community food angle lives on, with its own COVID food solidarity efforts and the much-loved Sunday lunch continuing.

What’s your poisson? Best April Fool’s pranks of the day

A couple in particular have tickled me today.

First off there was Bristol Culture with its ‘Costa Coffee takes over Brunel’s Buttery‘ story – just all too believable! I worked myself into a proper rage before I realised…

Then there’s arthouse video specialists Criterion, who went with a pair of Arnie-themed chain-yankers – firstly with a picture of Akira Kurosawa visiting Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of Kindergarten Cop, and then the exciting news that that very film would be getting the full on three disc special edition treatment (“New audio commentary featuring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, author of It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Can Teach Us”).

Any other decent ones you’ve come across?

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Berry Creamy Chocolate Cake

Built for FLAVOUR not LOOKS

I made a cake for the LLF the other day, it was quite nice. She had asked for something chocolatey with lots of cream and berries. I duly rooted around for ideas and came up with this, bodged together from three or four other recipes. It seems to fit the brief.

The way I have written it out makes it seem more complicated than it really is, but seriously, it’s pretty simple to do.

Chocolate sponge cake:

  • 8oz (a regular block) unsalted butter (leave out to soften to room temperature)
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 oz soft brown sugar
  • 8 oz self-raising flour
  • 4 oz cocoa powder
  • 1.25 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Large bar of white chocolate, battered into small pieces
  • Milk (as needed)
  1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 3 (170ºC/325ºF).
  2. Prepare 2 x 8″ cake or flan tins – line with greaseproof paper or baking parchment if not Teflon-coated or similar.
  3. Cream sugar and butter together with wooden spoon until pale and light (about 5-10 minutes).
  4. Add vanilla extract.
  5. Stir in eggs one by one, mixing into mixture well.
  6. Once nicely gloopy, switch to hand whisk and get beating. Transfer to food processor or electric whisk if you’re lazy/pressed for time.
  7. Beat together until there’s plenty of air in the mixture. Don’t cheat yourself – you will know if it’s not beaten enough.
  8. Fold in half the flour carefully with a spatula or large spoon, being careful not to remove all the air you’ve beaten in.
  9. Gently stir in white chocolate pieces.
  10. Once mixture is uniform, fold in remaining flour and cocoa powder.
  11. Loosen mixture with a little milk if necessary – you want a fairly moist batter. Stir through carefully.
  12. Split mixture between cake tins.
  13. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  14. Now prepare your chocolate ganache and berry cream as outlined below.
  15. After 35-40 minutes in the oven, check the cake is properly baked with a cocktail stick or skewer – if it comes out clean it’s ready; if not, give it another 5 mins.
  16. Prick tops of both sponges with cocktail stick/skewer, then pour set aside fruit liquor over top.
  17. Let cakes cool in tins for 10-15 mins, then remove onto rack.
  18. Once fully cooled, assemble cake.
  19. Place one sponge onto board or plate you will be serving the cake on.
  20. Spread ⅓ chocolate ganache around edges of this bottom sponge.
  21. Spoon ⅔ of berry cream over the top of the first sponge, using palette knife or similar to ensure this layer is even and to the edges.
  22. Place second sponge on top, pressing down evenly. Scrape off any excess berry cream oozing out the sides.
  23. Spread rest of chocolate ganache over top of sponge, working outwards from the middle, and eventually down to the edge of the top layer.
  24. Once ganache ‘set’, spread last of berry cream over the top of the cake.
  25. Decorate with any leftover cream and the berries you set aside to defrost.
  26. SERVE!

Chocolate ganache:

  • Big bar of dark chocolate (70-85% does the job) battered into bits
  • 1 big tub double cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp booze of your choice (optional)
  1. Place chocolate chips into bowl.
  2. Heat cream in saucepan over low to medium heat until hot but not boiling.
  3. Pour over chocolate.
  4. Add vanilla and optional booze.
  5. Stir in well with wooden spoon until chocolate all melted.
  6. Switch to hand whisk and go mad.
  7. Once evenly mixed, set bowl aside in fridge to cool.
  8. Whisk up a little every 15 minutes until sponge cakes ready to ensure ganache doesn’t harden.
  9. Assemble cake as from stage 20 above.

Berry cream:

  • Big tray of frozen raspberries, mixed berries, or whatever tickles your fancy
  • 2oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 big tub double cream
  1. Set aside some berries to defrost for decoration when you serve the cake.
  2. Heat together the berries, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan – be gentle, you’re not making poteen.
  3. Keep stirring until the sugar dissolves and the berries start bursting a little and the whole mixture gets a rich, juicy colour.
  4. Spoon out the berries and most of the juice into a dish, and either refrigerate or cool over a bowl of ice.
  5. Keep the rest of the fruit liquor warm until sponge cakes removed from oven.
  6. When cake is ready to assemble, whip cream in clean bowl until you start to get peaks.
  7. Fold in cooled down berries – try not to destroy them.
  8. Assemble cake as from stage 21 above.

Milan’s Magnum

Milan? Why the fuck was you drinking Magnum? Hello? Why the fuck was you drinking Magnum? Why the fuck was you drinking Magnum? Why the fuck was you drinking the alcoholic drink Magnum what Ayesha gave you?

I may be wrong, but I think the young lady inquiring after her friend’s recent choice of quaff by way of mobile telephone on my doorstep just now may have meant Magner’s, but who knows.

Poděkujte mým jménem kuchaři!

It's all about the pork and cabbage, baby

Been busy the last week or so, redecorating and whatnot here at the BunKRS, but it’s pretty much done for the moment.

I just have to show off the top present the LLF got me for my birthday: Food Of Eastern Europe* edited by Lesley Chamberlain. I love my Mitteleuropan grub, and have long wanted to do a grub & glug tour from the Baltic to the Balkans, with a touch of eastward expansion into the Rus’ too, so I’ve been salivating over the recipes in it all day (I even woke up from my siesta dribbling 😮 ). We’ll be getting in some practice at the weekend – we’re off to sunny Praha!

* Not sure the Czechs, Hungarians, Austrians etc would appreciate being called East Europeans, though 😉

A stone’s throw away, somewhere on Stokes Croft…

On Saturday the LLF and I went for a drink with her brother, who is newly pitched up in Bristol. After a false start at the Analphoney (“Bit… Pretentious here, isn’t it?”), we moved on to the Land Of The Trout for a more relaxed few rounds (interrupted only by the arrival and departure of a grazing herd of Blues Brothers stags), before heading home.

On the way we stopped off for a few cans of carry-out at The Best, possibly the least appropriately-named store on Stokes Croft. Still, it is open twenty-four hours a day, so who cares if it’s staffed exclusively by obnoxious oafs.

Whilst paying (and BTW, six quid for four Stripes? Are you having a – I believe the word is – bubble?!), the next customer in the queue, a rather handsome chap in his late twenties, well groomed and expensively dressed, turned round to us and with nary a hint of shame, embarrassment or restraint, asked us:

Do you know anywhere around here where I can buy some crack? I really fancy doing a bit of crack.

Well, that’s a question one doesn’t often hear around the streets of BS2. Perhaps he was a stranger in town, here for a business conference with no time to research the local retail landscape.

The LLF looked at him thoughtfully, smiling, before replying:

Aww, why do you want to do that? You look too nice to do crack!*

Leading him to retort (obviously, now that I think of it)…

It’s a fucking good buzz!

And moreish, too.

* Now CONFIRMED as her Very Own Words Spoken Through Her Self Same Beautiful Lips.

Headline Of The Day: ENTER THE DRAGON FRUIT TO BRISTOL

Or, ‘Bristol first to sell dragon fruit’:

With fuchsia-pink skin and green scales, the dragon fruit is unlike anything else in its appearance.

And Bristol Fruit Sales, which is selling the fruit wholesale for the very first time, says it has proving a roaring success with customers.

When the exotic-looking fruit is cut in half it reveals an opaque white flesh dotted with small black seeds.

The unusual looking and pretty skin resembles a flower and is inedible. To eat the fruit, the slightly sweet flesh, which is low in calories, high in vitamin C and a good source of calcium, is scooped out.

David Foster, sales manager at Bristol Fruit Sales, at the Fruit Market in Albert Crescent, St Philip’s, said: “It’s been around since the 13th century and a product that has been grown and sold for many years now.

“Before we would get it in by request on special order and air-freight, taking about three or four days.

“We would sell 10 boxes containing 10 fruits a fortnight.

“Now we have done a deal with a Vietnamese co-operative and our first order of 1,260 boxes, containing 10 fruits each, sold within a day. It was really fantastic.

“They are a very versatile fruit. You can use them in salads, they make great sorbets, they are great served with other fruits – some people scoop them out and stuff the skins with a mix of fruit including the flesh. You can even ferment them to make alcohol, which isn’t as healthy, but tastes lovely.

“The world is changing the way we eat – celebrity chefs and cooking programmes use much more unusual ingredients. It’s a healthy, versatile and unusual fresh fruit and we are happy to be promoting that.

“We have sold them mainly to independents, so they will probably retail at about £1.29 each.”

Kate Odey, 50, from central Bristol, sampled the fruit and said: “It’s a bit like melon. It’s very refreshing.

“It’s got a bit too many pips for my liking. I could eat it but don’t know if I would go out and buy it.”

Native to Mexico and Central and South America, the dragon fruit is also cultivated in south-east Asian countries, such as Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

They are also found in Okinawa, Israel, northern Australia and southern China. Also known as the strawberry pear, pitaya or pitahaya, it is the fruit of several species of cactus. Other varieties come with a yellow skin or can have a red flesh with black seeds.

The flowers of the cactus are large and fragrant and only bloom at night.

Picnic ‘n’ mix

Tomorrow is the inaugural International People’s Picnic of Ashton Court! It strikes me as a jolly good idea. I’ve baked some bread and I shall ransack the cupboards for chutney and jam and cheese and the flatmate’s holiday chorizo and wend my way over for the afternoon (well, via the moggies), and hopefully meet some friends and perhaps make new ones 🙂

Certainly last year’s jamboree on the Downs was more fun than ACF itself seems to have been…

PRSC says: People of Stokes Croft, assert yourselves! (Urgent action required)

Summary

  • The Attic Bar on North Street (right at the St. James’ Barton end of Stokes Croft, formerly the Eclipse) is subject to a planning application which could see it demolished and turned into ‘serviced apartments’.
  • The last day for getting comments and objections to Bristol City Council is this Friday (23rd May).
  • You can see the application online on the BCC website, where you can also have your say.
  • The Attic might not be a great boozer, and it may have been built over the (metaphorical) ashes of rock/goth/pool pub the Eclipse, but it is at least a social space, unlike ‘serviced appartments’, which are creeping up all over the shop, almost as much as yuppie flats and Unite student blocks.


This is the text of an email from Chris Chalkley of the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, which he is asking people to forward to others with an interest in the changes being made to our local area.

The Planning Process… How we can influence what happens in the Croft…

As you’re probably more than aware Stokes Croft is under massive threat from corporate developers who propose to demolish perfectly repairable and in some cases listed buildings and replace them with unaffordable, unattractive new flats, Currently, PRSC know of 7 separate planning applications of this nature that are being considered along Stokes Croft by Bristol City Council. Proposals vary but all threaten the existence of the great variety of exciting underground / cultural assets we have in Stokes Croft and were they to go through, Stokes Croft would look much like the waterfront does now – bland and monotone, sanitised and gated. The exciting mix of creativity that has attracted people from all over the world to the area for decades would be lost to the mists of time…

All planning applications are published online, and anybody can examine the proposed plans and comment on them… The Council are obliged to take account of these comments.

We will from now on make a point of alerting as many people as possible to all proposed developments within the area. We will endeavour to inform you as best we can as to what’s being proposed and how we can all – from our various individual but connected pressure groups / crews – make our feelings about such developments known.

There are a couple of crucially important things to make clear about how we can make use of the planning process:

1) If enough members of the public ‘comment’ on an application once it’s online, the Council are obliged to call an open committee meeting where people can turn up to make their objections known in person.

2) It is our understanding that anybody may speak at the subsequent committee meeting, for up to 3 minutes, to voice their concerns, challenge the legality etc. of the application in question so long as they apply to speak at least 24 hours before the meeting. This is a legitimate method by which residents, concerned parties, activists can directly address the decision makers and show the strength of feeling and raise legitimate objections. It is the first line of resistance, and organisation between concerned groups will make our voice stronger. It is essential to realise that, just because an application has been submitted, the result is not a foregone conclusion…

By using our legitimate rights judiciously, we can bring force to bear… The planners are not used to masses of people demanding to speak…
In essence, engaging with the process by peaceful means, and working together, will buy us all time in which we can form stronger bonds among our various groups and research our objections more thoroughly, making our case for preserving Stokes Croft as the cultural hub it is, a lot stronger.

ACTION REQUIRED NOW PLEASE…

The Attic Bar.. Part of the Full Moon

There is currently a planning application for the demolition and rebuild of the Attic Bar, next to the Full Moon, on North St. at the bottom of Stokes croft.

The deadline for comments and objections has been extended to Friday 23rd May – THIS FRIDAY

Whilst it falls in the curtilage of the Grade 2 listed Full Moon, the Attic itself is not listed, but is subject to Listed Consent, which means the impact of any changes to the Attic has to be considered with reference to the historic nature of The Full Moon. However, The Full Moon will stay as it is. The Planning Application is to fully demolish the Attic bar – originally built in 1715 as the bar for The Full Moon Hotel and coach house. It was probably partially bombed, then altered in 1955 and was fully renovated in 2006/7. While the Attic building has fluctuated in height over the years, and been almost entirely rebuilt, it is said to have retained its ‘character of age,’ in perfect keeping with the Full Moon, the second oldest known pub in Bristol.

The proposed plans show a complete rebuild, with extra height, and space for “16 serviced apartments” above. The design for the new Attic development is modern, with a curved roof and some of the design attempts to follow the style of the original building. The view from the Full Moon’s courtyard in between the two buildings would be arguably less attractive and the general way the open space there can be experienced now will change. The design statement says that this is to extend the backpackers hostel, which would not be a bad thing necessarily. The current owners have a reputable small company with eco-friendly philosophies.

We would like to know why the entrance to the new building faces directly onto North Street? If the building is intended to be part of the Full Moon backpacker hostel, as the plans suggest, then you’d have thought the entrance would be within the curtilage of The Full Moon and facing into the courtyard. The one-bed apartments are being proposed as short term accommodation for visitors, and could not be sold individually unless the owners applied to the council for ‘change of use’ (from commercial to residential). With the entrance facing directly onto North Street, the division of the new Attic from The Full Moon becomes eminently possible and and is a point, in our view, worth considering.

The Full Moon and Attic is advertised for sale subject to planning permission, and is being marketed as a ‘development opportunity’.

Importantly, this case (should the Attic be demolished?) goes to a closed committee (i.e. the council will discuss this case alone, without the public) on 30th May. They have verbally agreed to extend the time in which people can make comments until FRIDAY 23RD MAY (this Friday). Therefore, if you have an opinion concerning this proposal that you would like the council to consider at their meeting, you must add your comment, by Friday 23rd May at the latest. You can read the full planning application for yourselves, view proposed plans and make your comment here [on the Bristol City Council website].

If there are sufficient objections, then there will be a meeting which will be open to the public, to discuss this proposal…

Apologies for the lengthiness – it’s a confusing business!

Peoples Republic of Stokes Croft,
Turbo Island Studio,
37, Jamaica Street,
Stokes Croft,
Bristol,
BS2 8JP

Mobile: 07866 627 052
Email: chris@prsc.org.uk

I’ll add more links tomorrow, interweb’s playing up tonight 😦

PS I learned a new word from that – ‘curtilage’ 😀

Related links

Spamski

Polish spam

I don’t know why, but I keep getting drawn to the Polish convenience foods that the local shops seem so full of these days. I think it’s the pretty labels that does it. Pampapol’s klopsiki is rather nice, and Pudliszki’s gulasz is more than edible.

However, I think with Mispol’s ‘Konserwa Turystyczna’ (which, as the helpfully bilingual label informs us, is ‘”Tourist” brand cured pork’) I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Well, maybe not chew, as it’s the floppiest, wobbliest, least solid spam I’ve ever tasted. I don’t even like spam.

Ingredients: mechanically deboned chicken meat, water, pork rinds, pork fat, pork meat (4%), modified corn starch, soya protein, salt, stabilisers: E450i, E451i; thickener: E412, natural spices, natural spice extracts, flavour enhancer: E621, antioxidant: E316, preservative: E250. Contains: soya.

The far side of the moonshine

Kentucky moonshine stillSeems that Gator McKlusky and the Hagg/Duke boys are alive and well in rural Virginia…

The officers, from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, had been pursuing a prominent local businessman for years. At last, a tip had led them to a distillery. Silently, from across the road, they watched who came and went. They sneaked in a surveillance camera. The moonshiners had counter-surveillance cameras of their own.

The cat-and-mouse game that played out less than four hours from the nation’s capital culminated in a raid in which ABC officials, joined by sheriff’s deputies and federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, burst into a barn on the rural property and found four large silver-colored pots used to make moonshine — cheap, powerful, illegal whiskey. That led to the largest federal moonshine case in southwestern Virginia in years and a 31-count indictment filed in November in federal court in Roanoke.

People have always enjoyed their liquor in rural Franklin County, which calls itself the “moonshine capital of the world,” a slogan seen on billboards and T-shirts and even at a moonshine exhibit on the campus of a local Methodist college. A late-1990s federal-state crackdown, Operation Lightning Strike, slowed the liquor trade considerably.

Federal officials say it has yet to recover. But the ABC says moonshining is starting to make a comeback as moonshiners, who have been known to hide their stills behind fake headstones in cemeteries and camouflage them with green paint in the woods, adapt to the scrutiny.

“I could give you a list about as long as your arm of people who I know are in the business full time right now,” said Buddy Driskill, special agent in charge of the ABC’s Lynchburg office. Driskill says the District and Baltimore are prime destinations for the untaxed and unlicensed liquor, named after 18th-century bootleggers who smuggled brandy off the British coast by the light of the moon. These days, people consume moonshine in illicit establishments known as shot houses and “nip joints.”

From the Washington Post (pic from Kentucky Museum & Library)

Kinder justice in America…

Kinder AmericaOkay, so it’s relying on Wikipedia, but apparently Kinder Eggs are illegal in the States:

Kinder Eggs containing toys are not suitable for children under the age of three due to the small parts which may be ingested or inhaled. They are sold all over the world excluding the United States, where the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, prohibits embedding “non-nutritive items” in confections. Additionally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall on the eggs in 1997. Kinder Egg-like confections are available, but only in a form filled with small candies and/or stickers. There are some stores in the United States that sell genuine Kinder Eggs, often in conjunction with other imported British or other European sweets, although their importation is technically illegal due to the 1938 law and 1997 recall.

Personally I’d just ban them on the grounds they’re fucking shit.

(Tip o’ the titfer: Jeff Caylor’s Twitter)

Forget-Me-Knot #001: The ‘Tap Marmite White’ conundrum

Forget-Me-Knots – those reminders you stick on your phone and then forget about, until much later…

FMK#001: Marmite

Months back – August it was – I was visiting my friend Lucrezia and her chum in London, and after perhaps a bit too much booze, the subject of Marmite somehow came up.

Lucrezia’s mucker – let’s call him Ignatius – swore blind that there’s something in the chemical composition of that yeast spread friend of vegans everywhere which means if you agitate it enough, it turns from its familiar dark brown/black colour to white. I’m a little hazy on the details, but it all sounded jolly plausible the way he explained it at the time (and believe me, he explained it at length).

“If you get a spoonful of it, and shake it really vigorously for a few minutes, it really does work,” he assured me.

Libations aside, I was fairly sceptical, but there was no Marmite in the house, it was too late to go on a mission to find a shop that might sell it, so naturally I stuck a reminder in my phone so I could check for myself when I got home.

Well, needless to say, I completely forgot. Until November.

I went down The Farm to meet my flatmate and see a few friends, and somehow I got to flicking through the reminders on my phone. I spotted the Marmite one mentioned it out loud, as you do. Scorn was heaped on me for even considering that it might be true. But still, lingering thoughts… ‘What if it is true?’

The next thing I knew the bloke who’d been sitting behind us appeared from the bar, and thrust a big jar of the black stuff and a spoon into my hands.

“Knock yourself out,” he said.

Well, when an invitation like that comes around, you don’t hang about, do you? It would have been churlish not to get shaking. So shake I did. For rather a long time. A long, long time.

Ignatius, you bastard 😡

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Kick out the jams, sugar thermometers!

Jam jar

If the meeting of fruit with sugar is your thing, then consider popping along to Cafe Kino on Nine Tree Hill (off Stokes Croft, between the Polish ‘information centre’ and the sofa shop at the Demolition Diner junction) on Thursday (that’s 26th July, diary freaks) for the inaugural Recipe Exchange Night.

Whilst the name does have something of a euphemistic feel to it, apparently it will actually be a night devoted to exchanging recipes – this time jams and other fruit preserves, with the holy chutney and similar such savoury pickles provisionally pencilled in for the next.

Oh, and there’s music too, with Eirlys Rhiannon and The Darlings singing paeans to jams and whatnot.

Here’s some spiel:

Revel in the joyful fruitfulness of the summer – and get ready to bottle it up for the winter!

Bring recipes, books to share for the evening, samples for tasting and as much curiosity as you dare…

Jam Recipe Exchange page on Eirlys Rhiannon’s website
Eirlys Rhiannon on MySpace