When a notification comes up on your facebook for a local restaurant is running a sherry and Iberico pork evening, you know that is only one option for me and that is gather meaty friends and book tickets. Pata Negra is still fairly new to Bristol and I just haven’t had a chance to head to this Spanish tapas restaurant but as they are part of the group that includes my favourite steak restaurant The Ox, I had high hopes and wasn’t disappointed.
When this is the street sign that welcomes you, it’s not going to be a vegetarian meal….
The first meaty treat was the 36 month hand carved Jamón ‘Pata Negra’. Fed on acorns, with the Pata Negra (Black Hoof) pigs laying down the fat as marbling than a thick surface layer like more English breeds, means that when craved to wafers the fat and flesh just melts on your tongue for an intense meat treat. This was all polished off with a glass of crisp Fino sherry that helped cut through the richness of the pork.
As the weather is slowly getting more pleasant and the warm days are getting more frequent, I am slowly catching up with my lovely Cocoa Runner Parcels, not sure how I actually have the will power not to tear into these beauties as soon as they land on my doormat.
This months parcel had two new bean to bar producers, with a comparison of two bars from the same maker to compare the range they are producing as well as a long time favourite producer. I kindly let my parents join me in a tasting and to see what they though of the bars.
One of the first new producers is Hoja Verde. Proving that Ecuador beans are great to be produced into a bar there as well as being grown there. These guys started a successful flower business and was looking to sell chocolate alongside their blooms. In doing so they decided to make their own. I had the Ecuador 80% to try. A very smooth mouthfeel, with the flavour of the bar developing more you allow it melt over your tongue (if you can be patient enough!). For a high percentage bar the thoughts on this from my family was that it wasn’t a changeling bar to eat, just an all round enjoyable bar to have to get a nice rich hit of chocolate.
Welcome back to the second part of our adventure around Istanbul. Check out part one here if you missed it on Friday. Again this post is a tad picture heavy so grab a glass of Turkish coffee and dive in.
On our second day we hit up all the cultural sights and wonders that make Istanbul so special. We managed to avoid all the queues by heading out early but actually I think we were a early in the cruise season to be overcrowded. We started out at Hagia Sophia, which was utterly stunning. With the morning sun streaming in through the windows upon the mosaic walls. A former Greek Orthodox basilica then later an imperial mosque which makes for an interesting mix of architecture and cultures. The Hagia Sophia was used as inspiration for the Blue Mosque.
You might want to get a cup of tea or something stronger to get through this post. There might be many many many food pictures in this post. For my wonderful sister in law’s and amazing friend’s 30th Birthday, we went for a group trip to Istanbul to celebrate their joint birthdays. I hadn’t been to Turkey for nearly 20 years so was looking forward to exploring a new city for the week.
My brother did an incredible job arranging the trip for 7 picky people and my small input to the trip was arranging for us all you head out on a food tour. I love a food tour. I’ve done them in Rome and Lisbon before and know that they are such a great way to discover a city through their food heritage and history. There are a few out there for you to choose from, but I went from Culinary Backstreets. We went for the Hidden Beyoğlu tour which was the actual district that we were staying in. Meeting our lovely guide Senem first thing we started out 5 1/2 hour tour exploring all the delights on offer.
There aren’t many blogs that would start a blog with a picture of cucumber and tomatoes but hey that’s the kind of girl I am! We started with a traditional Turkish breakfast including the aforementioned cucumber and tomatoes.
This may of been one of my favourite plates of food we had the whole holiday. Kaymak, Turkish clotted cream from water buffaloes milk then honey poured over the top. I would say its lighter than English clotted cream but still a rich and decadent start to any morning spread over Simit ( Turkish bread which is the cross between a sesame seed bagel and pretzel and utterly delicious).
As the weather is starting to warm up and the evenings getting longer, the delicious smell of charring meats dancing along in the warm breeze. That’s right it’s barbecue season! Which means the levels of meatiness in my life sky rockets.
Last week I tried out Spitfire Barbecue on the edge of Bristol harbour when there was a glimmer of sun light with two meat minded friends. There may of been many whatsapp messages back and forth before the meal to decide what to order, which turned into just copying out the menu to each other as to what we wanted to try.
We tried on three main dishes and then all got stuck in to the meatiness so there wouldn’t be any jealous looks across the table.
Firstly was the Spitfire Ribs, which we went for a big portion (comes in small, big and huge), dusted in their own Pitfire rub, smoked low and slow for 15 hours. The cut was one I hadn’t seen that often, of the pork ribs with the belly still attached to it. Resulting in a insane amount of meat on the ribs that just slipped right off the bones. The smoke flavour gets right into the flesh and the fat from the belly over the low cooking process basted the meat below. Delicious.