You know when you get the opportunity to do something that means a lot to you as a blogger, so much so that when you come to writing the post you freeze up for fear of not doing it justice? Well this is one of those posts… Here is my review of Eat Drink Bristol Fashion.
You could be forgiven for thinking I was lying when I tell you I’ve recently been for a six course meal cooked by the chef brothers of the Michelin starred restaurant Casamia in a huge tipi in Bristol! And that it was the perfect mix between fine dining and a relaxed atmosphere. No Dinner jacket only or no jeans policy, just good food (really good), and a sociable relaxed environment to enjoy it in. Sounds too good to be true I know. It’s so great to see an out of the ordinary event like this, and what with planning the wedding, the house renovation and being busy in work we needed a bit of a break! This was just perfect.
The event is called Eat Drink Bristol Fashion (EDBF), it was held for the third year running in Bristol over the 1st-11th of May this year. Organised by Josh Eggleton, Luke Hasell, Nick Roberts and Amelie Twine (you can find more info about them on the website.) The event boasted a total of 9 Michelin stars in total over the course of 10 days, as well as Bristol College, and other top local restaurants. We ate there on Monday 5th May, which was hosted by the brothers who run Casamia, and come with high credentials such as running a Michelin starred restaurant, winning Gordon Ramseys best restaurant and this is all by their mid twenties! I was lucky enough to get to meet the brothers after service and have a chat with them about the food served and what they’re looking forward to creating this year.
This was daunting! I’m a health professional who really likes food (to the point I decided to blog about it) talking to some of the most promising hard-working chefs in the UK at the moment, in order to write about it?! I assumed food bloggers would be their worst nightmare; a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing and all that. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. They were so incredibly down to earth and inspiring with their passion for food, that it was really easy to talk to them. Which makes this post even harder to write; I wanted to do them justice. So here is a run through of what we had at EDBF and how we enjoyed, I hope it encourages you to think about going next year.
So where to start?!
Well first off we misread the map so got there a little late. This meant we weren’t in the best corner for photos and out of respect for our fellow diners I didn’t want the flash going off every five minutes so apologies in advance for the quality of the photos. The set up was casual with long tables and communal seating. We were sat next to a couple who had been coming every year since it started, and raved about it, which is a good recommendation.
In the next tent there was live music, which filtered through into the private dining area and created a great buzz. The central tent was also serving food, and as we walked through to get to the ‘private dining area’ we could see big juicy beef burgers being taken to tables. So even if you didn’t have tickets for the fine dining nights, you could still go there and enjoy a great atmosphere and good food.
Being 28, and having spent most of my 20′s putting the hours in to better our careers and saving for a deposit for a house, car etc etc I haven’t had much opportunity to eat at top restaurants. Our biggest night to date was eating and staying at Bath Priory for our 10 year anniversary (we are childhood sweethearts) JUST before it got its Michelin star. So turning up for a 6 course meal with no idea of what was being served was a little intimidating, but also exciting; you knew you had to trust in the chefs. When we were seated there was light and delicious warm poppy seed focaccia bread, served with Jersey cow butter placed along the tables. The menus were printed on rustic brown wrapping paper and simply had the following:
JONRAY AND PETER SANCHEZ
Focaccia Bread, Jersey Cow Butter
Brown Trout, Cucumber, Sea Herbs, Dill
Duck, Carrots, Fennel
This gave us an idea of flavours but not really what we were eating. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the crab and brown trout, as I’d never eaten either, but that’s the great thing about taster menus. The portions are just small enough to have a taste, and satisfy your hunger, plus you get to try things you may not ordinarily order at an a la carte restaurant.
We decided to go for wine, and asked the very helpful waitress to recommend one. As it turns out they had all sampled the wines before the event so she could confidently advise us on what to have. We went for the Cotes du Rhone les Abeittes blanc, Jean-Luc Columbo, France 2012, which we found very palatable, a good medium white wine which was easy to drink.
The crab course was actually a savoury crab meringue with crab infused mayo, served on a rock! Which was inspired by being by the sea.There were comments as we ate, of memories from playing in rock pools springing to mind from the salty seaweed that had been infused through the meringue. I finally know what a real meringue is meant to be like, it melted as soon as I put it in my mouth, I couldn’t get over how light it was. The mayo was really creamy too, in a good way, it complimented the meringue so that it tasted almost sweet and fresh.
Following the crab was the tomato and mozarella dish. This was like a magical mystery caprese salad. You had four different ways of serving the tomato, three ways of flavouring with basil all served on top of aerated soft creamy mozarella. As we were eating it we were trying to figure out how they managed to get that flavour, it was incredible. After speaking to Peter Sanchez-Inglesias about the menu we discovered they had got some of the tomatoes from the Isles of White (they are passionate about well sourced and local ingredients), and the dish had consisted of a dehydrated tomato slice, a smoked tomato, tomato jam and a confit tomato, then they had a basil consume, basil jelly and some fresh basil. Put this all together and we were amazed by all the different flavours you could get from what you’d think was a simple caprese salad. I loved it, and it was a real conversation starter as we were all trying to get out heads around how they’d managed to get the different flavours.
It was then onto the fish course. Now I’m not a big seafood lover, so I didn’t expect to love this course as much as I did. In fact I think it was my favourite. It consisted of slow cooked brown trout (which was a surprisingly lovely meaty fish), which had been blow torched a little on the top. This was served with a creamy samphire oil and fish infused sauce, foraged sea herbs, aromatic dill and cucumber pickled in lemon. Now I don’t know if I should admit this, but my first mouthful took me back to the late 80′s/early 90′s when me and my mum would regularly eat ‘fish in a bag’ in a creamy dill sauce, which I used to absolutely love! This was a bit of a nostalgic moment, as I hadn’t really eaten much fish in cream sauce since then. Obviously the trout was far, far nicer than any boil in the bag fish! But you catch my drift?!
Then came the duck. A hint of summer, as Peter indicated. This was a soft and tender Creedy Carver duck, slow cooked in a sous-vide, then roasted and blow torched before coating with a honey glaze, and crystallised fennel seed and pollen. It was served with a simple carrot puree, which for ‘simple’ was amazing, I never knew carrot could pack so much flavour. It also had shaved fennel bulb and a duck jus to finish it off. I love fennel and I love duck so this was a big hit for me. The crystallised fennel seeds were another talking point, it was almost like aniseed popping candy- we couldn’t figure out what it was, which was another great topic of conversation around the table.
With this course I decided to try a glass of red, and opted for the Vina Real Crianza, from Spain 2010. I thoroughly enjoyed this wine, and it was nice to have with the duck.
The following course was the Orange and Rosemary dessert. My god it was amazing! It was a surprise too, as it consisted of orange jelly cubes (and I don’t usually like jelly), blood orange puree, orange granita, and a rosemary custard aerated through a syphane. On top of this was freeze dried orange segments (done in liquid nitrogen) which turned out to be one of the nicest things I’ve ever tried. It was like an orange honeycomb, again (this is a returning theme) we were all trying to work out how they did it while we were eating it. The idea behind this dessert was orange rosemary, which is actually a herb! I loved this course, I could quite happily have stolen the persons next to me and eaten theirs too.
The final course (yes that’s right we has two desserts) was the strawberry and tarragon dish. I love strawberries but not so fussed on tarragon so I was intrigued as to how I would feel about it. It consisted of star anise and tarragon infused meringue shards, strawberry sorbet, macerated strawberries with fresh strawberries on top, chantilly cream infused with star anise and a vinegar glaze. The first thing I noticed was the peppery tarragon, followed by a sweet after taste. Every other mouthful after that was sweet and fresh. It was like the first mouthful was preparing you for the rest of the dessert, I guess you could say it was complex because different flavours hit you in succession rather than all at once. This was really good, but I must admit I was sad at the same time as it meant our meal had come to an end, and I had enjoyed it so much!
A brief nerdy thing I picked up on were all the beautiful plates were made by Churchill China. I’ve recently discovered Churchill and since noticing them, every time I turn over a plate I like guess what stamp is on the bottom? Churchill! I think the way you serve you food and the crockery you use definitely adds to the overall impression, and to be honest I’m a little obsessed with crockery. So a big thumbs up for the presentation and crockery used on the night from me.
After the meal, and after putting up with me quizzing him about the menu (I don’t think I could have coped not knowing what the elements of each dish were- it was so fun eating them and trying to work out how they did it), I asked Peter and Jonray about how they had enjoyed working with EDBF, what their summer inspirations were and we also had a brief chat with Josh Eggleton.
Peter explained that although you wouldn’t usually think serving 70 covers in a field all at once would work, it did, and was a good challenge. When discussing the upcoming summer menu he explained we were given teasers for summer in the courses that night with duck, foraged herbs and sea trout. If you’ve never heard of Casamia, it’s the family restaurant run by the Sanchez-Inglesias brothers famed for being Michelin starred, having 4 AA rosettes, winning Gordon Ramsey’s best restaurant, and more recently winning Bristol Good Food award (to name a few accolades). Now you won’t find all these awards on their website, they focus on the food, and also are big on seasons, with not only their menu changing with the seasons but also the restaurant’s décor and scents. They are passionate about well sourced local ingredients, but also memories and nostalgia that is brought back when you eat certain things. For this reason they’ve been working on a dish which strays away from local ingredients to create a tropical fruit dish for this summer, as it’s such a favourite with us Brits- who hasn’t had a fruit salad as a child? and who doesn’t have bananas in their fruit bowl? I can only imagine the creative way they think up of serving this.
They work incredibly hard to create each dish, Peter was describing how they have a flat above the restaurant where they have a development kitchen, and they usually prepare each dish at least four times before it makes it onto the menu (wouldn’t you love to make sure that none of those tester dishes go to waste?!). For them it’s all about breaking down trends and bouncing ideas off each other to keep each other on their toes. I asked how it was to work with a sibling, after all it’s not always easy going into business with family. But Peter and Jonray have a great relationship where they keep each other down to earth and focussed. They’ve been working together for over twelve years so have found the perfect equilibrium and are clearly going from strength to strength.
We saw Josh Eggleton and Luke Hasell at the end of the night and it was great to see how involved they get, you can tell how invested they are in the EDBF event. They were also both incredibly down to earth.
So in a nutshell, we had an awesome time at EDBF, and I would absolutely go again! We were paying customers to this event and the tickets cost £70 each. Considering the atmosphere and quality of the food I think this was well priced. There were cheaper tickets available to the event, so it’s not restrictive if you’d like to go but don’t have the budget. Next on my list are Casamia and The Pony and Trap. The Sanchez-Inglesias brothers and Josh Eggleton were so lovely and the food and atmosphere so relaxed and welcoming in EDBF I can’t wait to see what they’re like on their own turf.
Thanks to Jonray and Peter Inglesias, Josh Eggleton, Luke Hasell and the people at Plaster PR for taking the time at the end of a busy night to have a chat with a nosy blogger! We’ll be back next year.