Time for that delicious bento box

On Thursday this week I went to the office in Bristol, which was quiet, but the change of scenery and routine was very welcome. It was a nice warm day, but rather overcast. At lunchtime I thought I would venture over to the Temple Quay market and see what was there. I was thinking I might be in the mood for some chicken wings from Gurt Wings, but decided I would have a look around first. I got there quite early and was slightly saddened to see that fewer stalls than there was pre-covid, but pleased however to see the street food market still running. There was quite a range.

Niang’s Thai Snacks:  Authentic Thai street food using organic, free range and locally sourced ingredients.  Dishes include vegan yellow curry, penang pork, crispy marinated chicken and fried spicy noodles.

Alp Mac: Mac & cheese with an array of exciting ingredients such as truffled mushrooms, red wine and blue cheese salami, slow roasted tomatoes and confit chicken. Served with their signature 4 cheese blend sauce and trimmings.

She Sells Sushi: Serving up a new menu that has been going down a treat – outstanding Japanese dishes including chicken Katsu curry, beef Donburi, pumpkin Korokke and smoked tofu curry. Plus kimchi fries, Teriyaki and sushi.

Gurt Wings:  Buttermilk soaked chicken wings and strips, coated in herbs and spices and served with potter tots on the side and dips and sauces including Oh Gurty Carolina, garlic & lime mayo, sweet BBQ and fruit burst habanero.

Gopal’s Curry Shack: Vibrant and creative Indian street food, with contemporary twists on classic dishes made with seasonal local produce.  

Los Hermanos Combinados:  Inventive street food with big Spanish flavours including sugar cured pork belly, slow cooked chicken and chargrilled aubergine.

Woodchop Pizza:  Traditional Neapolitan style pizza made with quality Italian and local ingredients and a sourdough base, cooked in a wood fired oven. 

The Kitchen Chef:  Delicious handmade patisserie and cakes, with chocolate brownies, seasonal fruit tarts, legendary key lime pie, macarons… and so much more!

Such a choice and many of my favourites. I did like the Alp Mac van and their menu looked interesting.

I did think about Gurt Wings but after looking around I realised that the last time I had eaten She Sells Sushi was probably November 2019. I had been missing their bento boxes, so in many ways it was a no brainer, so I went with my favourite bento box with Beef Donburi and an Hirata Bao Bun. The menu had changed, and the choice for the Bao were Pumpkin Korokke or Chicken Katsu.

The Beef Donburi 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.

It was as I remembered, delicious and full of flavour. The beef was meltingly tender and the garnishes added to the dish. I’ve always loved the care and attention that Lisa pays to each and every dish. This isn’t just thrown together to order, this is food artistry made with love and passion. The result is amazing cooking and excellent food. I really enjoyed eating the dish and did think about going back for seconds.

I’ve always enjoyed the Hirata Bao Buns from She Sells Sushi, and was interested to see what the Chicken Katsu version was going to be like compared to the Finzel Flapper and pork belly versions I have had in the past. I did wonder if the chicken was going to be covered in panko breadcrumbs, but it was done in a tempura batter. The steamed bun is made with activated charcoal. It was served with some shredded cabbage.

Though very tasty and really enjoyable I did think the batter on the chicken was slightly soft and lacked the crispness of the Finzel Flappers I have had in the past. I did like it though.

The bento box from She Sells Sushi is one of my favourite street food dishes and I have really missed not just street food in general  over lockdown but this dish in particular.

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.

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.

It’s the most delightful time of the year…

The first post on this blog was the 26th June 2007, however that didn’t mean that’s when I started drinking coffee and eating food.  However it does mean that I didn’t really record some great meals and food.

On this day fourteen years ago, back in 2006, I went to London for a meeting and had one of the most delightful tasty meals that I can remember.

The meeting was at The Jolly’s Hotel close to St James’ Park. The hotel was all dressed for Christmas so was full of decorations and Christmas Trees.

It was a good meeting as I recall, but then it was time for a break. We had lunch in the hotel and we went down to the dining room. In front of me was this amazing display of Italian antipasto, salami, olives, anchovies and a range of salads. I thought what a wonderful delicious looking buffet. However I was little concerned about the amount of salt in the food so I asked one of the waiting staff if there were some more non-salty choices as I didn’t want to have too much salty food. He then pointed me over to the other side of the dining room where there was a carvery counter. I wasn’t expecting that at all. It was probably the best carvery I have ever had. They had a huge choice of meats, I went with some beef and new for me some veal. Adding all the trimmings, I sat down, it was absolutely delicious. The roast meats were tender and full of flavour. The trimmings were exciting and tasty.

After that it was back to the meeting and alas work.

It was one of those meals that I wish I could have again. I always meant to return to eat there again, however I never had a meeting in the hotel again, and never had a chance to go there to eat. Now fourteen years later I seriously doubt that even if I did go there it would be a similar wonderful experience.

Wahaca revisited

Now as we enter a second 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 December 2019 I was heading South of the river in London for an event where I was delivering a presentation. With time for lunch I headed off to Wahaca on the Southbank. This was the branch where I had first eaten food from Wahaca back in August 2016. Then I had really enjoyed the fresh delicious food and thought at the time that I would really like to go again. Since then I have been quite a few times, however I hadn’t been to the Southbank restaurant for a fair few years.

The restaurant on the South Bank, is built from eight recycled shipping containers arranged across two overhanging levels. These brightly coloured containers make for an interesting eating environment. The team were friendly and welcoming.

I went with three dishes from the street food menu.

The Ancho Chicken Tacos was two larger corn tortillas, grilled and filled with grilled chicken and avocado, with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa.

These were very nice, I enjoyed the spiciness of the accompaniments and the fresh tender chicken..

On previous visits I have gone with the steak tacos, though this time I went with the slow cooked beef brisket tacos.

The beef was beautifully tender and I liked the accompanying pickles on top.

My third dish was the delicious crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli.

I’ve had these before and these were really nice. The florets were larger than other times I’ve had this dish, but this didn’t make a difference, it was a delicious plate of food.

Overall I really enjoyed my meal and thought all the dishes were delicious.

Time for Low and Slow

In this blog post I am remembering my most recent visit to Low and Slow, which took place some weeks before the lockdown in February.

Having been a staple of the street food markets for many years I was pleased to see Low and Slow find a more permanent home in St Nicholas’ Market in Bristol. I have eaten there once or twice I think since they moved in, but I have noticed on more recent visits to the market that they have sold out quite quickly of their slow smoked beef brisket, so I have missed out. What was happening was I was going for a walk at lunchtime I would walk through the market see the Low and Slow stall and think, I’ll come back here to get some food for lunch, but by the time I returned they had sold out! So I then go somewhere different.

On a recent visit to the market, I went early and remembering what had happened before, I decided to order there and then, and managed to secure a delicious lunch. I went with the Barbecue Box which consists of a slice of slow smoked beef brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends and your choice of two sides. This time I went with fries and slaw.

low and slow barbecue box

The brisket was full of flavour and had a melt in the mouth texture. It’s so delicious and tender. When I have had brisket in barbecue restaurants it’s never as good as the brisket from Low and Slow. I enjoyed the pulled pork and the burnt ends were rather tasty. The fries added texture and the slaw freshness. It was a delicious lunch and I will miss going back there, as we seem to be in lock down for a while now. I also hope that all the stalls in St Nicholas Market survive the temporary closure, and I for one will be back to support them when the market reopens. 

Boxing Day Beef

A little late in posting, but I do find these posts useful for future years.

I had originally planned to cook three roasts for our Christmas lunch. With limited space in the oven and thinking we might have too much food, in the end I decided to cook only the two three bird roasts and leave the beef joint for another day.

So on Boxing Day, we went with the Sirloin of Beef, dry aged for 30 days.

It didn’t look anything like the picture on the box, but it was probably the best piece of beef I have cooked and eaten.

Time for Tacos and Cauliflower

I have been a few times now to the Wahaca branch at Soho and have enjoyed my meals there, so with time for lunch, I decided to head there again.

It was just after the lunch time rush, so the place was quiet, but I was given a warm welcome and lead to a table. Each Wahaca I have been to, has a different feel and look and the Soho branch has a unique individual environment. There is a somewhat industrial feel to the place, but it’s warm and friendly, not necessarily cold and inhuman.

I looked over the menu and as it has been some time since I last went to Wahaca, there were some new choices on the street food menu. 
I did think about having my usual grilled steak tacos. Last time I was at the Soho branch they did a new (more expensive) version of the dish with ribeye steak. Back then I said:

The new recipe called The Rib Eye, consists of two larger corn tortillas with chargrilled steak and is served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole. You do get more steak and it is very tender compared to the skirt steak they use to do, but it is also more expensive, about three pounds more than the old steak tacos price (60% more expensive). It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the tacos, I did, but I felt that the original recipe was really good and this wasn’t much of an improvement and certainly not a 60% improvement. I probably wouldn’t order them again.

The new version is similar to the original version, but you have to have the cheese, unlike the original version where it was an option. However this time I decided that I would have something different and would not go with the steak.

I did think about having the buttermilk chicken tacos again, I have enjoyed them before. However as I was thinking about having the crispy cauliflower bites, I decided that I didn’t want too much crispy stuff, so decided to choose something else. For similar reasons I also decided not to go with the duck croquetas, crispy duck & sweet potato balls with smoky hibiscus & chipotle salsa, which I really liked the sound of. When the waiter came to take my order, he showed me the specials, there were two, the grilled fish tacos looked interesting and tempting.

In the end I went with some beef tacos, grilled chicken tortillas and the crispy cauliflower bites.

The first dish to arrive were some slow-cooked beef tacos with mild spices, with black beans, served in three soft corn grilled tortillas.

slow-cooked beef tacos with mild spices, with black beans, served in three soft corn grilled tortillas

These were excellent, the beef was full of favour, not too spicy. I really enjoyed the addition of the pickled cucumber on top of the tacos. It was a great blend of tastes and textures. They are certainly something I would order again.

The next two dishes arrived at the same time. One of the things you either like about Wahaca or you don’t is that dishes arrived when they are cooked rather than all coming together. This is fine if you are sharing dishes or eating alone, but less great when as a group or a family you have ordered individual dishes.

The first of the pair of dishes was two larger corn tortillas, grilled and filled with grilled chicken and avocado, with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa.

two larger corn tortillas, grilled and filled with grilled chicken and avocado, with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa

These were generously filled and I really enjoyed them. The chicken was sightly over-grilled for my liking, but they were still nice. I liked the avocado and the green tomatillo salsa added some nice spice to the dish.

My final dish was the crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli.

crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli

These sounded really interesting and they looked great and tasted even better. I was really pleased to have ordered these. The little florets of cauliflower were covered in a light buttermilk batter, deep fried and were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. When I have tried to cook this kind of dish at home, I find that my batter is too thick. This kind of dish and inspired me to try again with a lighter thinner buttermilk batter. The roast serrano allioli was interesting and really worked well with the cauliflower. I think this was my favourite dish of the trio I ordered and would like to have them again.

The service was excellent, warm and friendly welcome, attentive, efficient service. Overall these were three excellent dishes and I really enjoyed them.

That was an unexpected delight

It was a Thursday and I was in Bristol and it was the week that the Temple Quay Market was on in Temple Quay. Sometimes in the winter, inclement weather conditions can mean that the market doesn’t run. On this Thursday though I was lucky, the market was running.

I hadn’t thought much about what I might have, they usually have a really good spread of stalls and food choices. As I walked around I considered what to have, and then in an unexpected twist I nearly bumped into the SheSellsSushi stall. Well that was that I decided I would have something from Lisa’s stall.

I have had quite a few meals from her stall from the Finzel Reach Market on a Friday in Bristol, but as I wasn’t expecting her to be there, it was an unexpected delight that her stall was at Temple Quay. It was a double delight, as the last time I went to her stall at the Finzel Reach Market, it was rather late and she had sold out of virtually everything. This time I was early and there was all those wonderful choices.

I went once more with the Bento Box, and 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, 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.

As usual it was delicious and full of flavour. The beef was meltingly tender and the garnishes added to the dish. I always love the care and attention that Lisa pays to each and every dish. This isn’t just thrown together, this is food artistry made with love and passion. The result is amazing cooking and delicious food.

I once more went again with 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.

he steamed bun is made with activated charcoal and inside is chicken thigh deep fried in a crispy tempura batter and served with a range of sauces and garnishes.

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.

So though I went with my normal order, of the bento box, I also added a side order of Takoyaki in octopus and duck varieties. These are freshly cooked on the stall and always look really nice.

dumplings with tonkatsu sauce, japanese mayo, toasted seaweed and bonito flakes

They are covered in a range of sauces and garnishes, and I couldn’t tell you what they were, but thankfully Lisa on her website describes them as dumplings with tonkatsu sauce, Japanese mayo, toasted seaweed and bonito flakes.  I did enjoy these and I was quite full, as might be expected.

Now though as the summer weather has gone, I might just try out the ramen next time. Oh and one day must try the sushi.

Not that different, just a little different

I know in my last blog post about SheSellsSushi I said that I would go for something the next time I went to Lisa’s stall. Well I did and I didn’t.

I once more 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. Do I know what they are? Well I know what spring onions are, as for the others I would need to Google them.

Beef Donburi, 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, 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.

As usual it was delicious and full of flavour. The beef was meltingly tender and the garnishes added to the dish. I always love the care and attention that Lisa pays to each and every dish. This isn’t just thrown togther, this is food artistry made with love and passion. The result is amazing cooking and delicious food.

I once more went again with the tempura chicken hirata bun. The steamed bun is made with activated charcoal and inside is a couple pieces of crispy tempura chicken.

The steamed bun is made with activated charcoal and inside is chicken thigh deep fried in a crispy tempura batter and served with a range of sauces and garnishes.

I do like the combination of flavours and textures in the bun.

So though I went with my normal order, I also added a side order of Takoyaki in octopus and duck varieties. These are freshly cooked on the stall and always look really nice.

dumplings with tonkatsu sauce, japanese mayo, toasted seaweed and bonito flakes

They are covered in a range of sauces and garnishes, and I couldn’t tell you what they were, but thankfully Lisa on her website describes them as dumplings with tonkatsu sauce, japanese mayo, toasted seaweed and bonito flakes. Again some googling required for some of those ingredients. I did enjoy these, however having had them from SheSellsSushi (and Yo! Sushi) I don’t think they are my favourite dish, so next time it will probably be the just the donburi and the hirata bun. However if the summer weather has gone, I might just try out the ramen. Oh and one day must try the sushi.