Time for some Portuguese Tastes

Over the last year I have missed going to street food markets, so have been reflecting on nice meals I have had in the past. Whilst going through photographs of my food I realised I had never mentioned Portuguese Taste in all my blog posts on food from St Nicholas Market. This was quite interesting as I realised that I had eaten there many times over the years I have been working in Bristol. It is one of my favourite stalls in the market. They have a real mix of dishes and every day there are different choices.

I had a delicious Portuguese Chicken meal back in December 2017 which consisted of chicken in a cream sauce served with rice, potatoes and salad.

It is a weird thing I find to have rice and potatoes, but that’s how they serve a fair few of their dishes. The menu has some quite inspiring choices and fish makes a regular appearance as does lamb and pork.

One dish I have had a few times is Portuguese Pork Steaks with Egg.

This was the plate I had in April 2016.

Whilst here is the same dish from a visit in July 2017.

The pork can be a little chewy, but the slow cooked onions and egg really add to the dish.

In May 2016 I had this dish.

I think this was also pork and egg dish, but came with a spicy tomato sauce and no salad!

Though the stall is somewhat small, they do have tables and chairs and I would usually eat my lunch inside the stall. Mainly as it was hot, and it came on a proper plate, but was a nice change from eating in the office out of a cardboard box!

That time I had a Smoke Catering BBQ Box

Over the last year I have missed going to street food markets, so have been reflecting on nice meals I have had in the past.

Back in June 2017 I was working in Bristol and looking for a place to eat to have some lunch. I went to the Temple Quay Market which had a wide range of stalls from which to choose from.

In the end I chose the BBQ Box from Smoke Catering. I had really enjoyed the BBQ Box I had in March of that year. It was an easy choice to make as I liked the food.

The box contained homemade slaw, garlic mash and beans. On top of the box was some smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and a smoked pork and chilli sausage. 

Smoke Catering BBQ Box - smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and a smoked pork and chilli sausage

It was delicious. The mash was smooth and creamy with a hint of garlic, no bitterness or harshness. The slaw was fresh and crunchy. The beans spicy and full of flavour.  

The smoked beef brisket was tender and delicious, it was melt in the mouth. I like the tender beef and the crunch of the barbecued outside. I remember when I went to a barbecue restaurant in Glasgow and ordering smoked beef brisket and getting a little disappointed as that beef was dry and nothing like the beautifully flavoured and tender beef brisket from Smoke Catering.

The sausage was very meaty and tasty, the chilli enhanced the flavour and didn’t overpower.

I also enjoyed the smoked and pulled pork, which was tender and tasty, though I preferred the sausage and the beef.

Hopefully some time in the future I can get some more excellent food from Smoke Catering.

Time for tea and a scone

So there we were visiting the Cadbury Garden Centre, in Congresbury in North Somerset. We have been going there for years for garden stuff, other stuff and usually we stop for coffee and cake, or tea and a scone.

Of course with the restrictions in place, they have been forced to close their eating places. So it was nice this weekend with the easing of restrictions that we could go for tea and a scone in their cafe.

They had taken the time during lockdown to refurbish their cafe areas They have gone for a retro Victorian tearoom look to their eating area, Costa has gone and they now resemble posh tearooms. They are very white and bright.

It might be a Blue Diamond thing, as on a recent visit to Sanders Garden Centre they were also refurbishing their eating areas, in a similar but not quite the same style.

They had also lost their Costa franchise as well.

So back to Cadbury, with some restrictions still in place they have moved to table service. So you choose your own table and when you are ready to order you show a green card!

We got promptly served, we chose a tea and coffee, well a flat white, and shared a cream scone. We paid there and then which was convenient.

The service was quite fast, but they did in fact forget our scone as they hadn’t read their ticket properly. The fact that it was the manager who had forgotten was quite amusing, as she told us, she is always telling the staff to read their tickets properly!

The flat white was really good, nice and strong. The tea was served in a lovely china pot and a matching cup and saucer.

The scone was nice and fresh, fluffy and light and came with jam and cream, but no butter. It was rather nice and tasty. We weren’t rushed and after we had finished we went to do some plant shopping.

A shadow of its former self

So our Bristol offices reopened on Monday 17th May following the third lockdown. Since the cover crisis started in March 2020 I have managed to get to Bristol twice last summer to work, but otherwise I have been working from home.

Today I went to the office, made me realise how much I hadn’t missing commuting, and it was nice to have a change of scenery from working from home. It was also nice to have those office conversations that are almost impossible to recreate online or using Yammer!

I went out for a walk at lunchtime, something I would generally always do when I was working in Bristol, and something I try and do when working from home. It was nice as it had been sometime since I had done a walk like that. The sun was shining and it was nice to get out and see the centre of Bristol.

I had bought a packed lunch with me, but did think if I see something nice, I might buy something to go with it. I was also interested to see how much impact the pandemic had had on the street food market and other food places in the centre.

As I got closer to the St Nicholas Market I could see that Matina, the Kurdish kebab place was still open, but as you might imagine the queue was nowhere as long as it was pre-pandemic. Their neighbour, Chilli Daddy was absent and all the doors were short tight.

Walking into St Nicholas’ Market it was very much a shadow of its former self. I am not sure if places have closed and disappeared, or were just shut. I am pretty sure that most places have shutdown, though Caribbean Wrap had a sign on their door saying open Wednesday to Saturday.

What was open was the cake place (whose name I can never remember), though their magnificent display of cakes didn’t quite look the same now hidden behind plastic screens. Eat a Pitta was open, but no free samples… I was slightly disappointed about that.

The juice and smoothie place was open, as was Low and Slow with their excellent barbecued and smoked meats. Pie Minister was there selling their delicious pies, and I was pleased to see that Taste, the Portuguese stall was there selling some tasty sounding dishes. The Wokyko Korean Fried Chicken noodle place was also selling their wares. Missing or closed was the Taco Barra, the Italian place, the Olive Grove salad bar,  and the North African stall.

Though I am usually supportive of the market and enjoy buying lunch there, today I wasn’t that hungry and I had a packed lunch back in the office. Though as I expect to be in Bristol more often now, I will be returning to the St Nicholas Market for lunch.

There were also quite a few changes across the centre of Bristol, some places had closed, others had changed hands, but it was nice to see that some familiar faces were still around.

Chargrilled Lamb Shish Kebab

Now as we leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some street food I had over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I just plain forget to write up the meal. 

So this is quite a long wait for this review which was four years ago in May 2017 It was a beautiful sunny day in Bristol and during my lunch break I popped out for a walk and went down to the Temple Quay street food market.

There were lots of choices and lots of people queuing. One of the challenges of the Temple Quay street food market is deciding what to choose. In the end the smell of the charcoal grill and the menu on MurrayMays van was very tempting.

The Lamb Shish kebab was £6.50 which is a more than I usually spend for lunch (well it was back then in 2017). However it sounded so good. It was charcoal grilled marinated salt marsh lamb leg, smokey babaganoush, wild garlic, pesto and preserved lemon. The kebab was served with a house salad, flatbread and dukkah pomegranate.

It looked great, despite the big preserved chilli on top, which in the end I didn’t eat.

The lamb was tender and had so much flavour. I really liked the flavour that the charcoal grilled process added. The accompaniments were excellent and a nice mix of taste and textures.

Despite really enjoying the dish, and having a similar dish in October 2017 as well, I don’t think I have made a return visit to the MurrayMays van. Sometimes I think this is because I fancy something else, or the queue for the van looks too long. However I also noticed on return visits that the  Lamb Shish kebab wasn’t on the menu, and the other menu items didn’t appeal. However now as we ease lockdown and I expect to be in Bristol quite a lot more now, I think I will search out the MurrayMays van and have another kebab for my lunch.

We waited a day…

With the easing of lockdown restrictions, restaurants from the 12th April were allowed to open for outside eating only. To be honest I wasn’t that excited about this, however with my birthday on the 13th we made the decision to go out to eat to celebrate. Last year on my birthday we were in the full lockdown and there was very little we could go and do, so had a lovely celebration at home and we had a fish supper with stir fry. So this year we were thinking could we do something different and could we go out to eat. 

We booked a table at Zizzi at Cabot Circus in Bristol. This is “outside” but is in many ways under some kind of cover as well. So if it did rain, it shouldn’t have too much of a negative impact on the experience. We did wrap up warm though.

We had a warm if slightly confused welcome from the manager and we were shown to our table.

The paper disposable menus provided a wide choice, but I did quite fancy pizza so I went with the Rustica Primavera which has goat’s cheese, artichokes, spinach, fire-roasted peppers, olives, mozzarella, sunblush tomatoes & super green pesto.

It looked great when it arrived.

Rustica Primavera

I really liked the freshness of the spinach, rocket and fresh pesto on the pizza. Though I like goat’s cheese, I actually think that I might prefer this pizza without it. The dough base was nice, and as it was stretched some areas were thin and cripsy, whilst other parts of the pizza were thick and doughy. I liked the olives and artichokes along with the tomatoes and peppers.

I have had this pizza before, and enjoyed it back then too.

Overall a very tasty pizza.

Woodland style pizza

Now as we start to leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some meals I had out over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I forget to write up the meal. 

Back in May 2019 we went out for pizza at Bella Italia at Cribbs Causeway. I had the Funghi Luganica, a ‘white pizza’ with a mascarpone and porcini base, topped with garlic & thyme chestnut mushrooms, pancetta, Luganica sausage and mozzarella.

Funghi Luganica, a ‘white pizza’ with a mascarpone and porcini base, topped with garlic & thyme chestnut mushrooms, pancetta, Luganica sausage and mozzarella

I did enjoy this pizza and it was very woodland like in appearance and taste. It had a woodland or forest feel to it. I really enjoyed the mushrooms, which had very much a roasted flavour, rather than the insipid soggy texture and flavour you can usually find on some pizzas. The crumbled sausage added texture, saltiness as well as a meaty flavour to the pizza. I liked the fact that this was a ‘white pizza’ so no tomato. I do quite enjoy these kinds of pizza, however one day I will try and make my own ‘white pizza’.

I think this was the first time I had this pizza and enjoyed it so much that on return visits to Bella Italia I ordered it again in July at Cribbs Causeway and also ordered it when I was at a branch at Bella Italia in Leeds, which wasn’t as good as the versions I had earlier.

On my most most recent visit to Bella Italia which was way back in February 2020, just before lockdown, I actually went with a Calzone pizza. I don’t recall if the Funghi Luganica was on the menu or not, having checked the current menu it’s no longer there.

Reminiscing on the bento boxes

Finzel Reach Market

Now as we leave the third lockdown I have been reflecting on some street food I had over the last few years which never made it to the blog. Sometimes I just run out of time to write up a review and sometimes I forget to write up the meal. 

Back in May 2019 I had visited the Finzle Reach Street Food market in Bristol. At the market there are various stalls however I was drawn once more to She Sells Sushi. As usual I was tempted by the ramen or the sushi, however I went with my favourite which was the bento box with the Beef Donburi and Hirata Bun.

So I had the delicious Beef Donburi. This is succulent short rib slow cooked in a teriyaki style marinade of soy, fresh ginger and garlic. It was served on a bed of rice  with beni shoga, mayu and spring onion.

Beef Donburi

As usual it was delicious and full of flavour. The beef was meltingly tender and the garnishes added to the dish. 

I had the tempura chicken hirata bun. The steamed bun is made with activated charcoal and inside I had the tempura chicken, known as the Finzel Flapper, complete with spring onions and Japanese mayo.

Finzel Flapper

I do like the combination of flavours and textures in the bun. She also does a pork belly hirata bun, which is just as tasty, but I like the textures you get with the tempura chicken.

Lisa from the stall always takes real care to cook and create great tasting and wonderful looking dishes.

I am looking forward to getting back to working in Bristol so I can once more eat some delicious street food.

Very nice

To actually go out for a coffee, now that’s not something I’ve done in a long time.

I was in Exeter today and I went to Chandos Deli and ordered a flat white. In many ways it was more like a cortado than a flat white, but it was was served in a proper glass (not a paper cup). Yes I had to sit outside, but the sun was shining, so was really lovely.

Yes I have had a real coffee from a real coffee place sitting outside and enjoying every mouthful. 

Very nice.

Old Frankie & Benny’s site to become a Burger King Drive-Thru

Now that the Frankie and Benny restaurant has closed on Flowerdown Retail Park. It would appear that the site will become a  Burger King with a drive-thru. Planning applications posted to the council show how the site will be converted into a drive-thru and local businesses have been consulted on the change.

I am not a great fan of fast food burger joints, so I think the chances of ever eating out there is very slim. If I am going out to eat I like the whole dining experience, queuing for a brown paper bag full of fast food, is not really my thing.

Combine this news with the new KFC opening up at the old Homebase in Queensway, Worle, the closure of Prezzo and Pizza Express, the eating out scene in Weston is slowly turning into one of fast food and drive-thru eating.

With all the exciting stuff that happens in Bristol on the food scene, it’s a pity that Weston is going down this fast food road.