Thursday, September 24, 2009

Drinking In The South West

If you're planning a night out pubbing in the South West, or you're coming down here on holiday and would like some recommendations for places to try, give West Country Pubs a go. Honest, no-nonsense reviews written by pub-goers, not journalists.

Make A Real American Classic!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sue's Snack Shack, Horfield Common, Bristol

Back before Southmead Test Centre closed this was a favourite stopping-off point for orange-tabbarded motorcycle instructors who brought their yellow-covered students, following behind like ducklings, here for a break and a de-brief. The ducklings may have departed, but Sue's still holds sway as the the premier tea spot on Horfield Common.

It's tradional British roadside fare, griddled just-about-anything with or without onions. And, of course, tea. The tea's with you in a flash, the food is cooked or reheated to order: all as it should be. There's no rush here, most of the clientele are regulars who're glad of a break and a chat with friends. Even in vile weather, which isn't exactly uncommon around here, the view across the common is a fine one.

The delight above is a Cheeseburger without onions, or indeed relish of any sort. I like onions, but they don't much like me so I chose not to go for them. I also chose not to bother with relish, which was I think a mistake as the cheese - a hand-cut slice of generic cheddar - didn't offer the degree of lubrication my preferred slice of processed stuff would have done. Still, for £3.20 I ate enough to keep myself going for the rest of the day and got to spend a few happy minutes gazing over the common with a really very nice cup of tea. Can't be bad :)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Inner Fire, Fishponds Road, Bristol

There's no shortage at all of Indian restaurants, takeaways and delivery services in Bristol, that's for sure. To stand out, then, one would have to be very, very good indeed. Such a place is Inner Fire, which you'll find in Fishponds Road, just a few steps from Eastville Park.

Inner Fire offer takeaway, delivery and a full restaurant service - note that if you collect rather than opt for delivery you'll get 10% off. Cool.

The food is, quite simply, superb. None of the homogenised effect you often get with UK Indian food, the flavours all speak for themselves but meld into a totality that far exceeds the sum of the parts, and it's all so fresh! A proper review and some pictures in the not too distant future, I hope.

In the meantime, give them a go, you won't be disappointed. Call them on 0117 965 7999.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Winsborough's Fish 'n' Chips, Shepton Mallet

Winsborough's is Shepton's "other" chippie - it has something of the architectural style of an American roadside diner and you'll find it at the Charlton crossroads. There's ample parking available, but be aware that the opening hours are a trifle strange.

The place is pretty popular, both with "eat in" diners and the various take-away crowds - the early evening cod-and-chips-for-dinner type and the late-night chips-to-soak-up-the-lager lot.

So what's the food like? Well, nothing too special to be truthful. I've paid a few visits to the place and have found the quality to be consistent, so I'm not looking at a one-off sample here. The chips - which come in *enormous* quantities, BTW - are leathery (but that is I guess pretty traditional) and require mayo to give them a lift, at which point they're fine. The cod is (just) OK portion-wise and the batter's fine, but every time I've eaten at Winsborough's the fish has been decidedly stale. Not good, not good at all. The onion rings are, frankly, inedible. Please don't bother with these.

As you can see, the stuff comes packaged in "take away boxes", of which I'm no sort of fan, though sadly even kebabs are coming in the things these days.

Overall impression? Good friendly service, substantial (except for the fish) portions, but the food itself just isn't up to scratch. Steve's is only a short walk from Winsborough's (and there's parking there too) so if you're more concerned with quality than with quantity I imagine you can guess what my advice is. Oh, and Steve's delivers, too...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Steve's Fish 'n' Chips, Shepton Mallet

Steve's is Shepton Mallet's original Fish & Chip Shop and is located in the centre of town, opposite The Bell. It's got that real chippie look and the awkward access that tells you that if there's any sort of queue whatsoever the food must be good. I get stuff from there regularly: this note is to show you what you'll get should you choose to visit and to provide a baseline for judging other local competitors...

As you can see, the F&C comes in traditional newsprint (albeit unused, thanks to the usual EC idiocy) and features those proper, bloated, really-cut-from-a-potato chips. By the time you get them home they're no better than lukewarm, of course. Yummy (especially with a good shot of Mayo). Try that with a little cardboard thing of McFries!

The fish? Gorgeous crisp batter, beautifully moist just-cooked cod. Perfect.

I know other people don't rate this place, but I really can't fault it. I've never had a bad meal from Steve's and every time I walk past I get this urge for a fish supper...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It

OK, so here's the score. You have to prepare a "gourmet" meal for four bearing the following in mind:

1. You're in a bunker following a nuclear strike. Consider this to be a home-made bunker, not a second-hand ICBM base, so you're going to be limited in terms of the types of food you will have available, the sort of cooking facilities you may have and the amount of water you can afford to use;

2. You should be aiming not just for taste but also to take specific account of the nutritional requirements of the people in the bunker in the situation in which you all find yourselves.

Your task is to provide a menu/recipe for your meal, an explanation for your choices and details of what's in your bunker. There's a decent prize for the winner, who will be the one who produces the most with the least and who, IMHO, offers the best chance of cooking through disaster to survival.

If you need clarification, please leave your questions via the comments facility. Good luck...

UPDATE: The winning entry (actually the only entry) is The Boss's Salt Cod and Ackee meal which cleverly fits all the parameters of the contest. Full details of the meal (and pictures) to follow.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Bunker Challenge

Hey, a competition, with a real prize!

Full details to follow (setting the ground rules is proving a little more complex than I'd initially envisaged), for the moment the title should be enough of a clue, but if not then think tinned food and limited cooking facilities...

UPDATE: MouseMan and I have been working on the specifics of this contest. Expect full rules by the end of April and then you'll have a whole month to get your entry in as the closing date will be 31st May 2006. Good luck!

UPDATE: The Boss won the contest (and a rather nice Cannon scanner) with her take on Salt Cod and Ackee. Full recipe and pictures to follow.

Beer-Buggered Chicken

The late, great Martin Dyson gave me this recipe. He swore it works, and I'm still prepared to believe him, despite the failure I'll describe here. The basic recipe is very simple - ram an opened can of beer into a chicken, wrap the thing in foil and shove it *into* your barbecue coals whilst you cook other food.

Should work, yes? I'd say so, though from personal experience I would point out that aluminium cans burn given half a chance, something which has a fairly negative effect on any chicken they may happen to be stuffed up at the time.

Anyway, perhaps you'll be able to do a better job, so here's my pictorial guide to the process. Firstly, we take a chicken, some beer and some herbs for stuffing the bird (in this case lemon balm, which I find very fine for stuffing chickens). Season the outside of the chicken, too.

Now, insert the the herbs and the opened can. Might be worth making sure either that the neighbours aren't looking or that you're not alone when you do this. You have been warned.

Next wrap it in cooking foil...

Shove it in the barbie...

Get cooking...

And some while later, I hope after you've removed the other food, you'll get the most awesome volcanic eruption as flames and white ash burst forth from your chicken package. At least I did. There was *nothing* left.

Please give this a go and, if you produce something you can actually eat, tell me what it tastes like, I'm dying to know!