I have two true loves in this world; this absolute beaut of a city which I call home, and my stunning Temple Cycles bicycle. So imagine my excitement when I found out that the lovely folks behind the Bristol Food Tour were teaming up with Cycle the City to offer a cycling food tour of Bristol! My heart near much exploded, my tummy started rumbling, and I had never been this ready for something in my entire life. Read More
Not many words this evening, folks. I’ve had a pretty tiring day but I’m all tucked up on the sofa watching Autumnwatch by myself
like a loser while Tom is at a gig.
Whilst looking at all the cute fluffy animals and autumnal scenes on the telly it reminded me of my trip t’other day, when I took myself down to Tyntesfield for a little wander about.
It was my first time visiting Tyntesfield, which is pretty surprising considering that I’m a bit of a closet history nerd, and nothing excites me more than the thought of a warm October afternoon wondering around a Victorian stately home, especially if there’s a cup of tea and a slice of cake at the end.
The house itself is absolutely stunning, having been lovingly restored by the National Trust since they took over the occupation of the house in 2002. Whilst I was there they were starting to set up the rooms for Christmas, and I can only imagine how magical this place looks when decked out in its festive finery.
If you’re not bothered about crumbly old Victorian houses [insert disapproving look here] you can pay a bit less and have a lovely wander in the vast gardens and parkland surrounding the house.
Perfec’ for an autumnal stroll while the leaves are still crunchy!
Any more historical houses in the Bristol area I need to check off my list?
A fair few weeks ago, I got a fairly interesting email. It was inviting me to go along to an address on Windsor Terrace in Totterdown and be escorted back in time…
Myself and the boy had been invited along to a preview evening for the recently opened Historical Dining Rooms. Promising an immersive and inventive evening of dining inspired by years gone by, we popped along to see what it was all about.
We arrived at the brilliant Star and Dove pub on St Luke’s Road, and soon saw the sign for the Historical Dining Rooms on the left hand side of the building. We stood outside the door, and rang the impressive wrought iron doorbell. Soon we were greeted by a smartly dressed waitress, who showed us inside.
Once escorted up an impressive stairwell we found ourselves in a wood panelled entrance room. Already, this was so bizarre – it really was as if we’d hopped into a time machine. I wish I’d remembered to put on my corset and crinolines.
We were handed a stout glass of something frothy with a pansy on top. Turns out, it was Mrs Beeton inspired recipe of mainly brandy, so this evening was off to a very good start.
The dining rooms (I hesitate to use the word restaurant, this is so much more than your conventional restaurant) were just as impressive, with exceptional attention to detail. Everything has been done so authentically that you really could have been transported back to the Victorian era. There were vintage treasures tucked into every corner of the room. There was a very relaxed atmosphere, despite the formal surroundings.
Soon it was time for the first of many, many courses. A bit of an unusual start, we were served Parmesan ice cream, decorated with marigold and parmesan oil, from a recipe dating back to 1888.
It was a pretty unusual flavour combo to get used to, to be honest, but was delicious; I particularly enjoyed the big lump of crispy parmesan on top!
The next course was one of my favourites. Yes, it is just bread and butter, but not as you know it. The brown roll was rose and cardamom bread, served with whey butter (a bit cheesier than your average) and lard with crispy bacon bits on top. Yep, bread and pig fat.
I have to admit I was quite squeamish about eating pig fat smothered on bread, but it tasted incredible. One of the things I was already enjoying about this evening is that I was getting the chance to explore and try things which I may have originally not been too keen on, and I was loving it.
Which brings me on to the next course…
I’ve never eaten rabbit before. I never really had any intention of eating a rabbit until it was put in front of me. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive until it arrived. However, rabbit is supposedly one of the more sustainable meats available these days, so that made it slightly better in my book.
This plate was rabbit a few different ways – buttered, roasted, potted and preserved. There was a little loin of the most tender thing I had ever eaten, a delicious lump of buttery roasted goodness, and potted ‘umbles’ covered in yet more lard. Seriously, just writing this paragraph is enough to make me feel guilty about eating a rabbit, but it was quite tasty. I think I may have to be a vegetarian forever just to make up for the shame at eating something I have previously cherished as a pet.
We were soon collected from our table and taken on a tour of the rest of the dining rooms, which looked just as impressive as the rest of the building, and then out through the kitchen on to the rooftop terrace.
Oh. My. Goodness!
It was AMAZING. Properly amazing – so many of the ingredients we had just been eating had come from this little rooftop garden, situated slap bang in the middle of the city. It’s truly astonishing what they had managed to cultivate in this little patch of paradise, from the marigolds that came on our parmesan ice cream to the strawberries in our dessert. They even had bees!!
It’s quite a pleasant change to see a restaurant so invested in their food that they grow half of it themselves. That is dedication.
Installed safely back in our seats, with a fresh glass of wine, it was time for another course (I was about ready to burst at this point).
It was a fish course – ‘stockfish’, salted and fried, with onions in buttermilk, garlic kernels and a sauce of pickled black walnuts.
I’m not usually one for fish, but this was absolutely delicious. I’m really not sure what a stock fish is when he’s at home – a kind of white fish, by the taste of it – but there was an amazing firm texture to it. It was pretty darn salty, but the flavour worked really well with the rest of the bits on the plate, including that long spear of kale sitting atop.
There was a small gap before dessert, just enough time for a quick ‘Punch a la Romaine’ – lemon sorbet topped with meringue sitting in a glass, topped up with hot brandy. The lemon sorbet and meringue melts, and you’re left with a gooey delicious boozy concoction at the bottom of the glass to gobble up. Apparently it was served at Victorian dance parties when they needed a bit more pep to keep going. I reckon Vodka Revs should take note, this stuff is bloody delightful.
We were soon on to our final course for the evening, and one I was looking forward to the most. I by no means have a sweet tooth by any stretch of the imagination (I’d much rather a bag of crisps to a chocolate bar) but I LOVE PUDDING.
This plate of beauty is ‘diverse strawberries’. We were speculating about what could possibly make strawberries so diverse right up til the moment it landed on our table. We were served strawberries suspended in a delicately flavoured jelly, with a crunchy granola type thing and thickened almond milk mousse spiced with long pepper. Those teeny tiny berries are bubbleberries – bubblegum flavoured strawberries.
I probably don’t need to tell you that this was absolutely brilliant as well. That spiced almond froth was incredible – there’s something about pepper and strawberries which works really, really well together.
When we had all finished dessert and were polishing off the rest of the sweet wine, the brains behind this eccentric outfit came out to tell us a little more about the whole operation. This has been a long time coming – a few years in the making – and it really does show. There is so much passion and dedication behind this project it’s infectious. Their mission is to celebrate the fantastic cultural heritage we have in this country, and bring people dishes which really represent what’s great about British cuisine.
The thing I loved most about the whole evening is that despite all my speculation I had no idea what I was going to eat – this really is culinary exploration at its finest, and it’s one of the most exciting evenings I’d had out in a long time.
Thank you so much for Caroline and the Historical Dining Rooms for inviting me out for such a fantastic evening, I’ll definitely be seeing you again!
Disclaimer: I was invited for a complimentary meal for the purpose of this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Last week I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Bath Christmas meet up hosted by the lovely Megan over at Briar Rose Blog.
I was particularly excited at the prospect of going to a meet up in Bath because, despite spending nearly a year working just down the road, I had never seen Bath from a tourists perspective. It was nice just walking down the little streets and appreciating just how beautiful it is.
We met in the (fairly new, very nicely designed) SouthGate shopping centre, where we met all the other friendly blogger faces and each got a Christmas card and a present! I had a rather lovely Santa printed scarf from a place called Spoiled Brat; there were so many other treats that everyone was gifted, and I felt very lucky to receive mine – I’m all set for Christmas now!
From here we battled the rain and the crowds in the centre of Bath to make our way to the Fashion Museum. Much like everything else in Bath, this was housed in a very grand looking building, the Assembly Rooms. I was surprised to discover that the Museum had been open since 1963, it was celebrating its 50th year! It contained some of the most beautiful and fascinating pieces I had ever seen, from classic designers like Chanel and Dior to more contemporary names such as Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.
After having a little tour we congregated outside, and a group of us decided to pop round the corner to Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms for a slice of cake and a cuppa. It did not disappoint! I had a pot of Earl Grey and a slice of Vicky sponge, which had fresh cream and strawberries in the middle. Lush. It was a very cute little tearooms, like stepping back to the 40s with its vintage crockery and waitress ladies in pinnies and headscarves.
On our way to the station myself and Miriam from English Mademoiselle Diaries spotted a rather stunning carousel, but unfortunately we did not have the time for a ride!
All that remains is to thank Megan for organising such a wonderful day, I had such a good time and met so many lovely bloggers.
Quite a few of the blogs which I read and also follow on Twitter have recently taken part in the Travel Supermarket Holiday Postcards Competition, and I felt inspired enough to write my own.
In January of 2009 I visited Budapest, as part of a trip organised by my art college.
My photography tutor was a bit of an eccentric, so as a group we were taken to sights which normal tourists don’t usually seek out. I remember walking for what seemed like hours to get to a flea market which was almost deserted, save for a confused old camera salesman who was probably quite surprised to find his stall suddenly overrun with a group of twenty-something photography students.
We took the Metro everywhere – the stations are relics of Soviet industrialism, and are beautiful; it reminded me of something out of Thunderbirds every time we stepped into the next one. The entire city has such a rich history which is evident in the architecture, grand Austro-Hungarian buildings from the turn of the century would stand next to stark, bleak Soviet tower blocks built just over fifty years later.
The brass shoes on the side of the river are an art installation in memory of the Jews who were shot into the river during WWII. It’s quite a haunting site, looking over the river Danube at Buda, they seem to blend into the scene so perfectly but are a stark reminder of the troubled past which the city has. We also visited the House of Terror, which was one of the most moving, humbling and fascinating experiences of my life, detailing the country’s Nazi and Communist occupied history.
It wasn’t all so serious, however. One of the best memories I have from the trip was visiting the City Park, round the corner from Széchenyi thermal baths, with Heroes’ Park just visible in the distance. There was a hot lake in the middle of the park, and we watched a dog swimming away, happy as larry, chasing the ducks floating on the surface. Every time he got near enough to catch one he would get excited and splash around, alerting the duck to his presence which would then, of course, fly away. We watched him do this for a good hour, and despite how dull it may sound it was one of my most contented memories of the trip, sitting with friends having a mutual giggle at the stupidity of one dog, while the dusk settled and Budapest descended into another nighttime.
All these images were taken on Fuji Velvia on a Lomo Smena and a Pentax K1000. The competiton is open until Tuesday, and you can find out more here.
Thanks for reading!
I love history. And engineering. So Brunel happens to be one of my favourites.
After living in Bristol for nearly four years we finally got round to visiting the SS Great Britain a couple of months ago.
It was full of strange waxworks which Tom found terrifying, and I found quite funny. We stopped off for tea and bacon sandwiches at Brunel’s Buttery on the way there (as you do), which is a Bristol institution in itself, and most definitely merits a visit if you are by the harbourside.
What’s great about the SS GB is that when you buy a ticket it’s valid for a whole year, for as many repeat visits as you wish! Seeing as I have a slight obsession with the aforementioned, plus boats in general, I reckon that is most definitely on the cards.