THIS GIRL COOKS (AGAIN)

After my previous roaring success at cooking (This Girl Cooks) this rather grey Saturday seemed the perfect time to roll up my sleeves and give it another bash. What culinary heights could I scale, what flavour combination could I innovate, what fabulous feast could I unveil? I searched and pondered trying to find the perfect challenge until eventually it came to me… vegetable soup! The jewel in any chefs culinary crown, I think we can all agree.

Recipe:

1. Look in your fridge, what vegetables do you have? Congratulations, whatever is there is probably fine.

2. Find your favourite Harry Potter film (Order of the Phoenix) online and start watching while you chop all your ingredients into tiny cubes. Don’t weigh the ingredients, it’s probably fine.

3. Ooh Umbridge is such a villain isn’t she? All pink and evil with kittens and a twinset.

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4. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry your cubed veg for a few minutes until it starts to soften.

5. Add some stock. If it doesn’t look like you’ve added enough add a bit more. Add a bit of salt and pepper if you like, why not? You’re cheff-ing like a pro now!

6. Dumbledore’s Army training montage time and Ron promises to go easy on Hermione seconds before she blasts him across the room. Incidentally that scene always makes me think of this  – Harry Potter told from Hermione’s perspective

7. Leave the soup to simmer for 10 – 15 minutes – this is probably just enough time to call your Mum.

8. This is not enough time to call your Mothership – turn the hob off when you can and settle down to find out all about the latest gossip from tai chi.

9. It’s probably about an hour later by now – return to the hob and blend the soup until it’s smooth.

10. Harry this is obviously a trap what are you doing??  Sirius is fine! Why does nobody listen to Hermione? Jesus Christ. Preheat your grill to about 200 degrees.

11. Taste the soup and season if needed. Cut off a wedge of camembert and place in an oven proof ramekin under the grill for as long as the next bit of the film is.

12. “Get away from my godson!” It’s not quite the almighty “not my daughter you bitch!” but then we can’t all be Molly Weasley.

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13. “Nice one James!” Oh Sirius, right in the feels. Pop in some toast.

14.  Nooo!! Sirius!! Just when it was all going so well.

15. In between sobs it’s now time to make your chutney. Do this by having a Mother who delights in making chutney and regularly gives you jars. Done.

16. The camembert should be gorgeously gooey now and piping hot all the way through. Ahh Harry’s giving a pep talk to his friends about life being worth living while wearing a corduroy jacket… he’s just the worst sometimes. Also on a fashion note was anyone else really disappointed with Dumbledore’s costumes throughout the films? In the books they sounded so wonderfully colourful – scarlet, emerald and violet, embroidered with golden stars! Yet in the films he’s always in some form of grey dressing gown! Hmm.

17. Congratulations, you now have vegetable soup with baked camembert and homemade chutney! Mischief Managed!

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CAFE REVIVAL

New restaurants are bursting onto the Bristol food scene like 4th July fireworks and trying to keep up is like trying to jump onto a very delicious bus primarily made of artisan burgers (Asado and Burger Theory – looking at you here). There’s no cuisine craving that cannot be catered for – burgers, sushi, steaks, bao, noodles, fish, street food, curry, modern British, fine dining, cheap eats, vegetarian, vegan – you name it and I guarantee you there is somewhere is Bristol that excels itself at that very speciality. Yes ‘new’ in Bristol is the Big Thing.

So, on a beautiful sunny Friday, when your Dad offers to take you out to lunch anywhere you fancy, and in a city of infinite new choice, where do you choose? That’s right, somewhere old.

Cafe Revival located next to St Nicks market on Corn street is Bristol’s oldest coffee shop, it’s been serving up cappuccinos (or Ye Olde Cappuccino as they would have been… probably, I dunno) to Bristolians for over 200 years.  Set across 3 floors there’s an array of nooks and crannies to explore; though my favourite place to sit is one of the corner tables on the second floor by a window. The ground floor cafe is great to grab a quick bite and the 3rd floor ‘Snug’ is perfect if you need somewhere quieter; but for me the second floor has the right amount of bustle and on a warm day when the windows are open you can hear the buskers outside. I’m aware that sounds potentially terrible but luckily in Bristol we’re not just a culinary blessed city, we’re pretty musically blessed too (mainly – no Wurzels tweets please).

The Fathership landed into the city centre bang on time (he is ROCKING that bus pass, city driving and nightmare parking is for LOSERS ) and arm in arm we stroll over to Cafe Revival. With only minimal elbow shoving from me, we manage to bag my favourite table and settle ourselves in to look at the menu. As usual I offer to pay and as usual we laugh and laugh at what a hilarious idea that is. Sometimes, if I’m feeling extra hilarious, I might even hold my purse for a while and wave it around a little – a jolly charade that elicits even more mirth! Ho ho ho, daughters eh?

We peruse the menu with lunch options ranging from sandwiches, soups of the day, hearty salads, hot wraps stuffed with delicious combinations, jacket potatoes heaving with fillings and toasted paninis. None of it is groundbreaking, it’s not ‘fusion’ or concept dining – it’s just really solid tasty lunch. We both plump for a classic BLT sandwich and coffee, the Fathership dutifully disappears off to the bar to place our order. And pay. Obvs.

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After a short wait creamy coffees are cheerfully delivered followed by the main event, the BLT. Is there anything better than a really good BLT I ask you? It’s comfort food for the soul, one of life’s simple pleasures (especially when your Dad is paying). The sandwich is delivered hot, the thick cut bacon fresh from a sizzling pan. The lettuce is crisp and the tomato ripe the bread soft and thickly buttered. It is a classic BLT, only let down by the side salad that has been drenched in dressing most of which I leave. But overall it’s a winner, how can it not be with bacon that good? And for under a fiver it’s a bargain too, that’s a lot of lunch for your buck!

We munch contentedly as we put the world to rights and all too soon it’s time to go back to the office. As I wander back I think about what Ye Olde TGE would have been like 200 years ago, how would she be spending a sunny Friday lunchtime?

Probably happily munching on a BLT at Cafe Revival while her exasperated Ye Olde Dad picked up the bill. Again.