Saturday, January 29

The Triumphant Return of Quality Meats

On the third of December 2010, I left a butcher's shop with tears in my eyes. This is not a normal occurrence. Having lived in the Bedminster area of Bristol for a number of years, I'd long been a fan of North Street's finest butchers, named for its owner, Bob Wherlock. Quality meats, excellent service, reasonable prices, this was the place to buy your bacon. And then something bad happened.
Bob was retiring. Frank was going too. Fortunately, Ken planned to stay on and help the new owners settle in. At least there would be new owners. The mantle was being passed on, a sad thing, but also a sign that everything was safe. Top notch pork pies could still be had. And bacon. And black pudding by slice. And then something terrible happened.
The deal had fallen through. The handover was due to happen on Saturday the fourth of December, but somehow, on the evening of Thursday the second, the deal had gone sour. One of the new guys was pulling out. The feast was over. I went in that Friday unawares, hoping to buy something for lunch, maybe meet the new guys. After a brief chat with Ken, I came out with as much meat as I could carry, and a damp cheek. And I wasn't the only one. By close of play the next day, the butchers had received dozens upon dozens of cards, gifts, and good wishes from literally hundreds of saddened shoppers. 
Christmas deposits were refunded, the shop was cleaned out, the shutters went down.
And then a great thing happened.
All of a sudden, in late January, a small sign went up. Re-opening soon! Then another appeared. re-opening Thursday 27th January! Oh happy day!! Oh dreadful job! I had to wait until today, Saturday, two whole days after it's rebirth before I could get down there and witness it for myself. And thank the lord it was all true. There I was, 8:30 Saturday morning, back in the queue, only to be served by Bob himself, helping out for a spell while the new guys find their feet. And it seems like they're gonna do just fine. Eager, friendly, funny, and with the same great products available, they're gonna fit right in.

In celebration of their return, I treated myself to a slightly comical amount of food. But as an example, have a peek at this picture perfect porterhouse steak, purchased this morning, eaten this lunchtime, together with the note explaining my strange early morning absence.

Sirloin steak, rare, onion rings, fat bread and butter,  fresh made Coleman's English mustard.

Monday, January 24

Bristol Food Blogs

Since Knife 'n' Spork recently went all technological with a shiny new Twitter account, I thought it might be nice to say something about the nice people we have met (online) through it and share some of the nice Bristol-based Food blogs I have been enjoying as a result.

Blogging about food does seem to be a very popular past time, and in some ways it seems that blogging is an ideal way to share thoughts about food, partly because the internet is such a visual medium (cue lots of lovely pictures of food) and because it is such a democratic medium (anyone with access to a computer can set up a free blog in which to discuss food they have eaten - this is no longer exclusively the province of the newspaper food critic). Best of all, blogs about food present an opportunity to share a passion, and to share knowledge about all things foodie, especially local restaurants, events, markets and so on. We recently benefitted greatly from this local knowledge, as a recent evening out - to superb Bristol restaurant Flinty Red and elegant but out-of-the-way cocktail bar Whitelock & Grace (will be saying more about that trip soon!) - was inspired by local blogs, and then further encouraged by excited comments on Twitter. Strike one for the internet!

So, here is a very short list of some Bristol foodie blogs I have been enjoying so far (and I'm sure this list will rapidly grow, so look out for a follow up post at some point):

Plein Comme un Oeuf - loving the range of recipes (the picture of a cheese scone at the top of this post followed a recent recipe from here, though they weren't as elegant as hers!) and lists.

Bristol Bites - full of ace restuarant reviews and info about food-based deals around Bristol (I wish I could eat out as much!)

Essex Eating - foodie exploits, with recipes and reviews, with very funny accounts of both. Also is co-creator of the Montpelier Basement (surely a new year's resolution)- a new-ish supper club with a rapidly growing reputation - along with Elly of The Pear Cafe, whose posterous also has lovely recipes and some very mouthwatering photos!

There's also What's Hot in Bristol - excellent for local deals and recommendations (like this one of Whitelock and Grace - definitely an influence).

Thanks guys! Looking forward to finding more internet-based foodie peeps....

Sunday, January 16

The Contos

One of our number has another blog, in which he chronicles meals which include a fried egg on them, it's called 'put an egg on it!'. We noticed early on that one of his favourite places to put an egg is a vegetable stir-fry with noodles. When I first saw this I thought he was flat outta his mind, then I tried it and I realised he is a genius. This dish is now a staple in our household, and in honour of him we call it 'The Contos'. We ate it last friday:

(that isn't a super orange yoke, but a dash of chilli/ginger/garlic sauce - it was gooooood)

Scotch Eggs = Yes

So I was obviously going to call this post Scott's Eggs, but all joking aside, it just doesn't sound like something you'd want to eat, does it? Anyhoo, today I made some Scotch eggs for the first time. This was a recipe free event, guided only by the voices in my head, and what I thought seemed right. It's fair to say, they turned out pretty good. 
Hard boil some eggs, just long enough that the white won't fall apart when you crack them - about a 7 minute simmer. I did some some nice Free Range Burford Brown-shells,  as well as your standard Free Range Oganic Whites. Tasty food comes from happy animals.

Wrap each egg in some wonderful skin-healing sausage meat. I added plenty of salt pepper and thyme, but next go around will see more experimenting with mustard, and hopefully black pudding. 

Wrap 'em up, nice 'n' snug.

It's about this time that you'll want to make yourself some nice 'Meat-Goggles'. Don't hold back. You're worth it.

When they're all shapely, roll 'em in some plain flour.

Now you, or your glamorous assistant, can roll those bad boys around in plenty of bread crumbs. We found it best to wet your hands first, dampening the floured balls so you get a better crumb-to-stickyness ration. And yes, that is a technical term. I saw it in a maths book once.

They should now look a bit like this. Tempational.

As you can see from Ben's little man-paws, this isn't all hard work - it can be great fun too!

Once the little beasts are all crumby, put them in some hot-hot oil, and keep it all movin' around for a while.

Be careful not to set yourself on fire, but do cook them evenly. Once they're browning all over, after about 8 minutes, it's time to take those puppies out and let them dry off on some kitchen roll, or a nice thick tea towel if you're feeling wasteful. 

If you're as lucky as I was, they'll look as sexy-eggulitious as these.



No... Sorry.
And there you have it. I'd like to thank Ben for his assistance in the creation (and eating) of these tasty treats, and Emmett, for not biting my fingers off when he didn't get any.

Wednesday, January 12

Egg Porn.

My Pickled Egg Debut

I've always been wary of pickled eggs. While they might be a fairly good flavour of monster munch, I couldn't really get my head round eating a real life one (though probably something to do with my slow start with eggs in general). But having got to like other pickled things - particularly gherkins, which I now adore so much that I wanted to make my own this year (as can be witnessed here) - when Scott made his own pickled eggs, I couldn't really resist. What follows is my mini-exploration of the pickled egg:

Step 1: Scott reliably informs me that pickled eggs should consumed from within a packet of cheese and onion crisps. So, out comes the egg (from its pickling home - full of dill and garlic - in which it has been sat for at least a week)...

Step 2: ... and into the crisps it goes, with a general splash of vinegar to make it feel at home. It sits in here for a few minutes, while I eat at least one half of my sandwhich.

Step 3: I eat the egg, and it turns out it's not as scary as I thought. I particularly enjoyed the extra vinegary crisps and I did quite like the egg. My only criticism is that it was quite dense and eggy, and although I realise this makes me sound like a right wimp, maybe a little bit much for this moi all at once.

So there you have it. A little foray that turned out pretty OK. Wild, huh?

Tuesday, January 4

Christmas: over and out

The festive season was filled with food. Here is just one example of the tasty treats being sampled on Christmas day:

Blinis with soured cream and lumpfish caviar (to accompany present opening, of course).