FFF review the tapas at Eat Drink Bristol Fashion
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This festival championing a field-to-fork ethos, sustainable food production, ethical food systems and food traceability returned for a third year of eating and drinking in true Bristol fashion. The venture started as a one-off Sunday lunch event put together by Pony & Trap chef Josh Eggleton and is now an essential part of the Bristol events calendar, attracting over 10,000 visitors in 2012.
Bristol’s Queen Square is usually simply a pretty patch in a busy city, but pop in a couple of tipis, lit with twinkling fairy lights and flanked by giant tulips, and it transforms into a wonderland that embodies Bristol itself – laid-back, fun and a little bit eccentric. Indeed, no Bristol-based wonderland would be complete without food – we love it and we do it well. Josh Eggleton is a classic example, and proud author of the British tapas menu served at Eat Drink Bristol Fashion.
There was a lively crowd of professionals and creatives there when we visited one Thursday lunchtime, all rolling up their shirt sleeves and enjoying an hour of tranquillity in this city-centre haven. You’ve got to take your hat off to the people behind Eat Drink Bristol Fashion – what they’ve done is pretty spectacular and the only real shame is that it cannot be a permanent fixture.
Filing in to order drinks and food, we all peeked longingly into the fine dining tent, which was packed (no wonder you had to book in advance). Nevertheless, it was the British tapas that we had all come for.
Emma says: ‘Having previously visited on a Friday evening, and been confronted with a tapas queue that weaved through the tipi beams and stretched out in the cool night air, I was particularly excited at the prospect of taking a seat in the sunshine and finally sampling the fare.
If you’re going to order anything, I say go for the fat chips and curry sauce. It sounds simple, but it really tastes wonderful. It’s a perfect example of Josh raising the bar with a classic British ‘chippy’ snack. With a suitably chunky, crisp outer casing and a steaming, fluffy interior, these chips are super good and the accompanying curry sauce, served in a dinky pot, was amazing (and I’m not even a fan of curry sauce).’
Sally’s verdict? ‘Teepees and smoking trees aside, Eat Drink Bristol Fashion has got the food spot-on. The breaded hake goujons were perfectly crispy and their accompanying tartare a masterclasses in sauce making, proving that careful sourcing always makes a difference. The chips and curry sauce – the recipe for which, courtesy of Josh Eggleton, can found below – were something quite special, too.
The tapas selection is varied and adventurous, smacking of the creativity associated with a festival that's now as much part of the Bristol calendar as the annual balloon fiesta. While the festival seems to have been plagued by a year's worth of weather over its 18-day stay, it finishes on a high this weekend, with sunny skies predicted. I'll be stuck to a deck chair in Queen Square, pint of Thatcher's in hand, slowly grazing my way through the whole menu.’
Jen says: ‘The cynical among us thought the tapas might be on the small and unsatisfying side, but we were pleasantly surprised as the portions were a decent size. I went for the Butcombe and English truffle rarebit, which was enough for a light lunch.
Although it was a weekday lunchtime, queuing for the tapas took about 20 minutes as this is such a popular event. My advice if you’re visiting this weekend: leave yourself plenty of time and aim to spend a couple of hours there tasting tapas and soaking up the atmosphere. I’d like to see a few more outside tables next year, as you can’t beat eating alfresco.’
And me? Well, I loved the macaroni cheese, which had a wonderfully crispy coating, a gloriously cheesy centre, and, with a nostalgic nod to childhood meals of macaroni cheese and ketchup, came served with a grown-up version of the classic tomato sauce. A definite winner. I agree with Jen’s advice, though – get there early if you want to bag a good spot and avoid the queues.
Josh Eggleton’s Curry Sauce Recipe
1 banana shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2tsp of curry powder, medium
1tsp of garam masala
Half a small red chilli
300g of carrots
200ml of water
200ml of coconut milk
Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat and then add the shallots and garlic. Once soft add spices and chilli and cook for a further eight minutes. Then add the carrots to the pan and stir to coat in the spices. Add water and bring to the boil. Simmer until the carrots are very soft. Then add the coconut milk, blend in a liquidiser, and get dipping your chips.