Saturday, 29 September 2018

The Cauldron - Sunday Roast

Now, I’m no stranger when it comes to St Werburgs in Bristol. Within a short stones throw away from my house, this quaint and quirky little corner of Bristol really looks out and supports one another other. But when it comes to eating here, that’s where I’m a stranger. 
I had heard nothing but great things about this husband a wife run little restaurant through the food scene and knew I had to come to Mina Road to see for myself just what the fuss was about. 

Arriving on a wet Sunday lunchtime, I was ready to relax, get cosy and eat a cracking roast dinner. With summer we’ll and truly out the window, it was time to start getting my winter body ready (Let’s face it, this body is a 365 kinda thing but we’ll humour it!).  
Entering this little eatery, it was clear I had missed the memo and everyone and his neighbour was visiting. Having booked our table, we were one of the fortunate ones to get seated. With so many covers, people were being turned away. We sat at a little table for two but with big, homely style dining tables, you could have the option of dining communally which is always nice. I could chat to anyone about food all day long, given half the chance! 
The Cauldron prides itself on using no gas, just big open fires, using their cauldrons. No surprise there given the name. But what is surprising is just how well the food is cooked in this way. 
We quickly poured over the simple roast menu, ordering a Wiper and True beer- neighbours of course- and debated over sides. We opted for a slice of each meat, so we could sample each on offer and I’m glad I did. 

Firstly, I could smell this cooking before I got to eat it. The large open kitchen meant that you constantly had this waft of deliciousness gracing your nostrils, and with every passing of a server, you secretly hoped the plates they were holding were yours. 
The pink meat was soft and juicy with the sweet smokiness creeping through. The first meat, garlic and rosemary marinated lamb with stuffing, the second was crackling griskin pork which cut like butter but sadly no cracking to be seen on my particular plate and the last, the apple wood smoke roasted sirloin of Angus beef. With beef dripping roast potatoes, cumin roast carrots, roasted beetroot, onion and tomato, smoked butter peas and beans and of course a whopper of a Yorkshire Pudding that sat like crown atop a pile of smokey riches. We had to go for a bowl of cauliflower cheese to share because every roast needs it’s creamy sidekick!
The gravy was in a world of its own. Taking a whopping 4 days to make, its flavour derived from beef, lamb and chicken bones and some trotters which adds its glossy shine, cooked in Bertha, a 60l cauldron. 

An extra shot of this simply stunning roast dinner because 1 is not enough!

Wanting to sample just about everything that was on the menu we went for desserts. We wasn’t wrong!

              Wood fired peaches with spiced creme fraiche and a salted caramel sauce and crumble. The scorched skins had caramelised and added a smokey depth to the sweet, juicy peach flesh. The salt in the caramel sauce was a stunning savoury element which cut through the sweetness and lifted the dish. My absolute favourite kind of pudding. 

 Trio of truffles. Fruit and nut, smoked sea salt and milk chocolate. These were incredibly moorish and my poor husband had to shield his share away from this greedy woman. 

I’m very keen to return to The Cauldron to try their main menu. Not solely for the purpose of the food but for their ethos. Supporting local businesses is something that The Cauldron strive upon and is also something very close to my own values. Not only keeping their fuel sources as natural and bare as possible, it goes the same for their produce. With ingredients sourced extremely closely, they also ensure they stock local drinks too. You couldn’t get more supportive and eco friendly than that. 

Friday, 28 September 2018

Autumn Florals ft Matalan

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Matalan headquarters on a press event and met the team behind the brand. Discussing all things fashion, focussing especially on the new Autumn/Winter collection and Christmas party must haves, I got to preview their new key pieces for the new season.
For attending, I was lucky enough to be gifted a beautiful dress. 
This stunning Papaya Curve dress features a split sleeve and collar detail, in a brightly coloured, bold botanical print. 
I couldn’t resist creating a cute fall look with my favourite jacket and boots and teaming my dress to my lipstick. 
The dress is a pull on style, in a non stretch polyester. I stuck to my usual size 22 which fit comfortably but if you prefer a little room, I would recommend sizing up. I loved how it skimmed my shaped yet still showed off my figure. 

You can find this dress here, in sizes 18-28

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

How I Dealt With Anxiety At a Festival - and what I wore!

So this weekend I attended the first festival for me, in over 10 years. 
Approaching the date, I was full of excitement. What I’d wear, what artists I’d see play there, the brands and the people behind them, who I’d meet and of course, exploring a city I’m not used to. But as it got closer, that excitement was quickly replaced by fear. That gripping tightness in my chest, the fear of being lost, the paranoid feelings of people not liking me or people making hurtful remarks. Would I stand out in all the wrong ways? Would I be judged? All these things that I hide deep inside yet tell other people to ignore or embrace. That contradicting feeling only adds to my anxiety and I struggle to keep focus on the simplest of tasks. 
Now this was a relatively small festival. Think a single stage, some food vendors and some fairground rides with no camping. But with all day performances over the course of two days. 

So here are a few of the things that I do or did, in order to help my worried brain out a little;

Know my route. 
Ok so this one seems a given, right? Know the stations or roads that you’d need to take to get to the venue so you know you are heading in the right direction. I suffer massively with the fear of being lost by myself and find if my travel route or thoroughfare are listed in some way, I’m less likely to panic. 

Take your time.
If I’m rushed, I have less time for my rational side of thinking things through properly. I try to leave earlier to create a more relaxed journey or pace myself and allow the fact that I may just well be late. 

Take time out
We all know that self care is more than just bath bombs and cleansing, right? It’s knowing how much you can physically cope with within the amount of time to do them in. Taking time to relax your mind and body will help with the bigger challenges. This weekend I made sure I got to sit in the bath the morning before the second day at the festival so that I could hear my thoughts in a tranquil setting. The same goes for when you are at the festival too. Finding a spot on the grass to sit down and take a break for a few minutes is always good. 

Know your exits
So sitting in a somewhat quiet area of a festival is often going to be met with noise, people, sometimes litter and when it all becomes too much, be sure to know where the nearest exit is so you can remove yourself for a short while to gain some space and peace. We were by the coast this weekend and it really helped to look out at the calming water and feel the breeze on my face when I got too flustered. 

These are just a few examples of what helped me this time in an unknown crowded place. Obviously anxiety affects people in a multitude of ways but knowing what triggers you can also be a massive help to ease a bad situation. I made sure to eat and drink well, steer clear of overly crowded spots, keep alcohol consumption to a limit and took taxis to and from the festival to avoid more people when I needed space. I did attend this festival with my husband which helped massively. I know that I wouldn’t have done so well without him, given that our hotel was so far away from the festival and out of town. It took 3 trains from Bristol to Liverpool and I found it mentally exhausting. It’s was such a comfort having someone I knew, with me.

Massive thank you to that not only invited me along to Fusion Festival but for being such wonderful hosts to myself and my husband. 

Irregular Choice - Deckchair Diva

Now, I’m certainly no stranger when it comes to colourful clothes. The brighter my hair, the louder the clothes, the more confidence I feel. 
So when Irregular Choice got in touch and asked if I’d like a pair of shoes to try, I couldn’t wait! Known for their crazy patterns, quirky styles and WILD heel designs, I just knew that they’d send me something simply amazing. 

They certainly didn’t disappoint!! 

Aren’t they incredible?!! With bold, contrasting colours to the toes, heart print to the sides and ICE CREAM SUNDAES for heels, I was simply blown away! Quite literally! I just knew I had to take these out straight away and where else but by the seaside. The sundaes made me think of 50s style diners, full of candy shades of pink and blue and although I don’t live near a diner, I do have some cute beach huts. Wind, rain, all the typical British weather that could blow my way did as soon as I reached the coast. Donning my favourite rain jacket, nothing was going to deter me from releasing my inner ‘Deckchair Diva’.

The Ashville Steak House- Review

Nestled away in a little back street off Coronation Road in Bedminster, you’d find a little pub that from the outside, looks no different to any other ‘local’. But The Ashville delivers so much more than a regulars watering hole, serving up some of the best quality meat South of Bristol. . 

When Socialight first invited me down to try out The Ashville, I had already known what I was in for as I had previously visited for a steak tasting social event. The sheer joy I felt, knowing I was to return to try yet more courses AND enjoy them with my husband was very exciting. 
If you’re no stranger to this blog, you’d be well aware that I’m very much a lover of meat in all forms. The rarer the better in my eyes! 

Arriving on a Thursday evening, I was surprised at just how busy The Ashville was. Not in an overcrowded way, there was a happy atmosphere with a large family party enjoying a feast at their table and several couples enjoying their date nights, possibly relishing a child free moment to chat and eat at their own pace. Something I’ve learned I need at least once a week to keep my sanity!
With its white washed walls, chunky wooden furniture and fairy light covered ceilings, I felt like I had stepped in to a little countryside Inn. I also loved the hand tied table flowers that gave the setting such a personal, homely feel.

We were greeted with a warm welcome from the owner, Sandor, who was friendly and attentive to all guests who were both dining and arriving. 
Seated at our table we were quickly salivating over the quite simple menu. Deciding which cuts of beef to have, which sides and sauces and wether we wanted starters or dessert more. With me, if you put cheese as a starter or dessert, I’m going to want one. So we decided to share a baked Camembert. This was off their Specials board, not the main menu. 

We could hear this little beauty before we even saw it! A hot, bubbling bowl of deliciousness that was the perfect size for one, but maybe on the smaller size for sharing. But for greedy folk like me, it was just perfect to whet my appetite before the main event. I did feel that the salad garnish was not needed but loved the thick cuts of toast for dunking.

Opting for our favourite cut, both my husband and I ordered the 10oz rib eye. I adore this tender cut, with its rich marbling of fat, I’m always guaranteed a juicy steak and this one made no exception. Perfectly cooked at medium rare, this steak was well seasoned and beautifully chargrilled. With each steak comes a generous portion of triple cooked chips, grilled tomato, onion and a salad. For me personally, I found the chips to be quite an effort to eat. Roughly chopped  in shape, these are pretty hard to the outside and not so fluffy on the inside and didn’t soak up the meat juice like I’d expect a good chip to. I’m not a great fan of salad with my steak and did leave it this time but my husband seemed to enjoy his.

Feeling pretty stuffed and suffering from a case of meat sweats, we ploughed in regardless and ordered a dessert to share. A generous slice of ginger cheesecake from the Specials board was the perfect ending to our meal. 

Our meal, although complimentary, was offered in return of a review. All opinions are my own. 

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Sholay Indian Kitchen- Review

This month I was kindly invited down to Sholay Indian Kitchen at Wapping Wharfs Cargo development. Yet another offering in the ever diverse combination of food retailers that reside there. 
Sholay is run by the team behind the award winning The Mint Room in Clifton. Focusing on Indian street food, what this shipping container lacks in space, certainly makes up for in its food. Keeping its menu simple yet full of flavours whilst using the freshest, local produce. 
The container itself is compact but tastefully decorated with quotes and images from Bollywood films, including a beautiful mural that really takes centre stage.

Having been sat at our table on a particularly wet and rainy evening, we found Sholay to be rather busy but this didn’t distract the staff being super attentive and accommodating. 
The menu itself was simple and varied. Dining with my 16 year old daughter was no challenge, we wanted one of everything! With her being pescatarian, she found a wide range of things she could eat without feeling like she was missing out, something that we really appreciate.

Ordering a signature mojito, one rum and one virgin, we agonised over what dishes to order. There’s very little in the way of description on the menu so it was a little bit of a pot luck when it came to choosing. 
Waiting for our first lot of small plates, we gazed across the long shared bench at our neighbouring diners to guess which dishes they ordered, the open kitchen wafting amazing aromas our way and making us ravenous. Patience isn’t one of my strong points at the best of times! 

Being a meat lover, my first choice was the peshwari lamb cutlets (£8.50). Glazed with a house made marinade, grilled to perfection, served with house salad garnish.

Our favourite dish of the night, chilli paneer (£5). The menu stated that it was ‘practically addictive’ and they weren’t wrong. Sticky and tangy sweet with beautiful charred edges, we ordered a second plate! 

The kale and onion bhajis (£4.50) were everything a bhaji should be. Crispy yet light and full of punchy spice. 

Spy the second plate of paneer? 

For my main meal I went for Grandmas Curry. A medium spiced, hearty curry that tasted not too different from my own. On the bone chicken, vegetables and generous chunks of potato made for perfect comfort food and the side of bread was used for mopping up the left over broth. Just what I needed on this wet evening. 
My daughter went for the masala fish and chips (£12). The fish was firm and flaky, but a little on the dry side and lacked on flavour. A side of chutney would of been preferred over the pot of ketchup but the fries were crisp and seasoned beautifully. 
With more soggy customers turning up and the container getting a little more cramped, we finished our meal and left. Not before being offered a choice of kulfi for our travels. Went opted for the honey rose and it was the perfect way to end the meal. Sweet and creamy and reminiscent of milky lollies from my youth. We sat under a sheltered spot by the harbour and took in the twinkling lights of Bristol before heading home.
You can find them here;
Sholay Indian Kitchen, Cargo 2, Wapping Wharf, Bristol BS1 6ZA

Although I was offered this meal in exchange of a review, all opinions are my own.

Friday, 3 August 2018

The Jetty Bottomless Brunch

I don’t think there’s anything that can put a smile on my face more than the words ‘Bottomless Brunch’. Add to the fact this was coming from one of my favourite restaurants in Bristol, I knew I had to go!

Arriving on a particularly nippy Sunday morning, I was greeted with a smile and shown to a cosy booth with high backed sofa seats and was promptly offered a glass of Champagne as I waited for my other guests to arrive. If this was the way things were looking for the rest of brunch, I was in for a treat! 
My two friends arrived, again, offered some more Champagne and we got down to choosing who was having what first. With options varying from simple overnights oats and granola, classics such as Eggs Benedict and Full English to the more adventurous dishes like Maple glazed confit duck on waffles and bacon and maple syrup pancakes. I’m such a big fan of sweet and savoury foods so they were definitely on the cards! 

I started out with the Jetty’s own take on the Eggs Benedict, ‘Jetty Benny’ was avocado, poached eggs, crispy bacon and a beautiful Hollandaise sauce a top an crisp English muffin.

The pancakes were a big hit, my two favourite being the caramelised Apple and cinnamon cream and the bacon and maple syrup. 

The dishes were small and light, so that you could actually make the most of sampling your favourites from the menu without filling up too quickly. 

We decided to end our meal with a beautifully made Bloody Mary- I like mine spicy - And the duck waffles. This dish was one of my favourites of the morning but did feel that the skin was far too soft. Confit should always produce the crispiest of skins! 

The Jetty Bottomless Brunch was great value for money, costing £39.50 with Prosecco or Bloody Marys and £54 with Champagne or Espresso Martinis. Service runs from 12-4pm every Sunday at The Bristol Harbour Hotel