Crispy Squid

One dish I eat on a regular basis at restaurants is crispy squid.

I’ve recently eaten crispy squid at Las Iguanas, though the squid in my opinion was rather overcooked. 

I also had chilli squid at Wagamama.

That time I was expecting to have soft tender squid in a crispy batter. What I actually got was rubbery squid in a hard crunchy batter.

The second time I had calamari from La Lola at the St Nicholas Market in Bristol it was excellent.

calamari

The squid was freshly cooked, nice crisp batter, tender squid and was delicious, served with a slice of lemon.

Alas the calamari from Kingfin from the street food markets in Bristol was one of my favourite lunch dishes. You got a decent portion of squid. It was quite tasty, you could certainly taste the difference with the fact they cooked the squid from fresh.

However they have changed their menu recently so you can’t get it anyore.

As well as eating crispy squid I also make it at home. This is a recipe for making my own gluten free crispy squid.

I take some squid, sometimes I use fresh squid, I score the squid and slice into chunks. Other times I use defrosted squid rings that I cut so I get strips of squid rather than rings.

I coat the squid in seasoned gluten free plain flour. This I leave for at least fifteen minutes and check that all the squid is coated in the flour.

I then deep fry the squid in hot oil. Season and serve.

Huevos Rotos with Iberico Ham

Headed out at lunch for a walk. I did visit Finzel’s Reach Market first, but nothing there took me fancy. So I headed over Bristol Bridge to St Nick’s market and went to La Lola. I had enjoyed the paella there earlier in the week.

Though tempted by the calamari, or the paella, this time I went with something different, the Huevos Rotos with Iberico Ham. This is egg, ham and chips, Spanish style! You could have had chorizo instead of ham, but I went with the ham. Took a seat and it wasn’t long before the food arrived.

Huevos Rotos with Iberico Ham

This was chipped potatoes, two fried eggs, aioli, slices of Iberico ham and some breadsticks.

The eggs were freshly cooked, the chipped potatoes were nice. The aioli added a nice touch. I did think the ham was not as well flavoured as I was expecting, so I think next time I get this I’ll go with the chorizo. I didn’t really see the point though of the breadsticks.

I enjoyed my lunch and left with a smile on my face.

Time for some seafood paella

I was thinking about some lunch so I made my way to St Nicholas Market in the heart of Bristol. I did consider getting some barbecue from Low and Slow, but they had a really big queue. In the end I headed to La Lola with a plan to try their paella. When I got there I was nearly swayed by the calamari, but said to myself that I was going to have the paella, so I ordered the seafood paella.

The staff were friendly and welcoming, and I took a seat by the window and waited for my food.

It arrived just a few minutes later, it looked great and was a decent sized portion as well. I only wish when eating in that La Lola would serve their food on plates (or in bowls).

seafood paella

At first, I did think there wasn’t much seafood, but as I dug into the rice there were prawns, mussels and squid. I did like the taste of the paella, which was delicious, though I did think it could have had less salt. There was a whole prawn in the dish which needed to be shelled, but they did provide a lemon wipe which meant it was less messy than it could have been.

As I ate three Spanish women came and sat down on the chairs next to me and started talking to each other in Spanish. I did think if Spanish people were eating here then the food must be pretty authentic. I know the staff are Spanish, but with Spanish clientele as well, they must be doing something right.

Will I visit again, of course.

Time again for La Lola

Bristol Bridge

I was working in Bristol and had intended to pay a visit to Kingfin at the Finzel Reach Market to try out their new menu. However upon visiting the market they weren’t there. There wasn’t a stall that I did fancy getting my lunch from, mainly as I did quite fancy seafood or dish. Then I thought I know where I could go.

Back in December I paid a visit to the St Nicholas Market in Bristol and had some excellent calamari from the new(ish) Spanish staff in the market, La Lola.

La Lola took over the stall, Pure Pasta, an Italian pasta place.

I had enjoyed the calamari last time, so decided to head over there for lunch. It was a short walk over Bristol Bridge to the St Nicholas Market

They had a much wider menu this time, but as I was in the mood for seafood I went for the calamari. I placed my order and took a seat. It wasn’t very long before my food arrived. The squid was served with “chipped” potatoes, salad and aioli.

calamari

The squid as before was  freshly cooked, nice crisp batter, tender squid and was delicious, served with a slice of lemon. 

Like last time, I really enjoyed the squid. The “chips” were also really good, they used fresh potatoes. They were more like thick crisps, as they had cut the potatoes into slices (and cut the bigger slices in half). The aioli was light with a good taste of garlic. As before the salad could have been better, but was fresh.

Overall I did enjoy the dish and I am already looking forward to my next visit to La Lola.

Time for La Lola

It was a Monday and I was in Bristol looking for a place to eat. I had planned to visit The Real Greek, but they were full and had no free tables. I then decided to head over to the St Nicholas Market Glass Arcade, there would be plenty of choice there. I was thinking that Portuguese Tastes would be an option. As it was late I knew that Low and Slow would have virtually sold out (they had).

Alas Portuguese Tastes was closed, though on the other side of the market was the (new) Spanish place, La Lola

La Lola has taken over the stall, Pure Pasta, an Italian pasta place. Despite my many visits to St Nicholas Market Glass Arcade over the years, I never actually ever managed to get lunch from Pure Pasta. I had seen them fitting out the La Lola stall a few weeks back and liked the look of the menu, but had forgotten to check them out when they opened. 

La Lola have quite a limited menu, which I actually think is a good thing. Two variations of paella, eggs with chorizo or ham, and what I liked the sound of, crispy squid.

Waiting to be served was a little slow, as the couple in front of me were having a long chat (in Spanish) with the member of staff. You know me I hate queuing. However it was getting late for lunch, I was hungry and I did like the sound of the menu. Eventually I was served, maybe I was a little inpatient, I asked for the squid and wanted to eat in.

They have a couple of tables and some benches. One of the tables was free so I took that one.

It wasn’t long before my food arrived.

In a cardboard carton.

I kind of expected and hoped that it would come on a plate. Portuguese Tastes, Caribbean Wrap and The Moorish Cafe all serve their “eating in” food on plates. I was a little disappointed, I think my expectations that there would be plates was based on the display at the front of the stall which showed the (actual) dishes available served on plates.

The squid was served with “chipped” potatoes, salad and aioli.

The squid was freshly cooked, nice crisp batter, tender squid and was delicious, served with a slice of lemon. I really enjoyed the squid and it was certainly what I was expecting. The “chips” were also really good, they used fresh potatoes, I saw them peeling and cutting them up. They were more like thick crisps, as they had cut the potatoes into slices (and cut the bigger slices in half). Again cooked to order. The aioli was light with a good taste of garlic. The only part of the dish I was disappointed with was the salad. Shredded iceberg lettuce, slices of tomato, grated carrot and sweetcorn. All nice and refreshing, however no flavour. I did think that this part of the dish let the rest of the plate (sorry carton) down. I think something like a Pipirrana salad would have been nice. Pipirrana is based on four ingredients: tomatoes, peppers, onions and cucumber, dressed with  olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Now that would have been a nice Spanish option. 

Apart from the salad the dish was excellent. Service (well apart from the slow start) was great, warm, friendly. The chef checked I was happy with my meal for example.

Overall I really did enjoy the food and I look forward to returning to try out the paella, or the eggs. Hmmm choices.

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!

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.

Brazilian Prato Feito

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 March 2017 I went to the St Nicholas Street Food Market in Bristol. There is always a lot of choice in the market itself, but back then on Wednesdays there was a range of additional stalls on Wine Street which widens the choice.

Looking over the stalls I went to the Tia Julia Brazilian Food Stand.

Lots of nice choices, but I went with the Prato Feito. This was a dish comprising of a Brazilian style cuts of rump steak, flash fried on the griddle with onions, peppers and melted cheese. It was served with tomato salsa, pinto beans and rice.

The steak was full of flavour and very tasty, I really enjoyed this dish. I really liked the fact it was cooked to order, so I could see it being prepared.

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. 

More tacos, oh and some nachos!

Crispy Chicken Taco

You can tell when I enjoy something I have it again and again. Its one of the reasons I blog about food, so I can tell I have too much of a good thing. I like to think I try different things, the reality is when there is something I’ve enjoyed, I do have it again and again.

This is pretty much the situation with the delicious tacos from Taco Barra at the St Nicholas Market. Needing lunch again in Bristol instead of choosing something new, I went with what I liked and enjoyed the last time I was in Bristol. Though this time I did go with something slightly different.

Halloumi Taco

I went with two tacos, one was the crispy chicken and the other was the fried halloumi. You have a choice of salsa, I went with mango, and they also include salad. They use white and blue corn tacos which are heated to order. I enjoyed the crispy chicken taco which I had the pineapple salsa. The chicken was tender and tasty, and the salsa was a great contrast to the crispness of the chicken strips.

The halloumi was nice, I had BBQ salsa (or was that just BBQ sauce) which was okay, but I didn’t like it as much as the mango I’ve had before and the pineapple I had on the crispy chicken.

In addition to my tacos, I went with a side of nachos., these had some pineapple salsa and sour cream.

Nachos

They really needed more salsa and more sour cream, I think I would have liked some guacamole with them as well.

Overall I wasn’t as happy as I had been on previous occasions, the food was great, but the BBQ sauce wasn’t great and the nachos felt rather plain. I think I will go with the tacos again, probably won’r have the nachos though.