Sunday, 24 July 2011

All Things Italian

Following the runaway success of his first 'All Things ...' venture Vincent Castellano returned to his roots for his next 6 course feast. And once again he delivered. The menu itself was enough to set my mouth watering and I'd been anticipating the meal ever since it was announced.

There had only been 65 covers at the first event. Last night it more than doubled to 150, with 4 long rows of trestle tables stretching the length of the nave, the trademark banners hanging from the pillars and the candles flickering between the arches.

In contrast to the last occasion when we had chosen our own places, we were seated according to a table plan. While this may have ensured that latecoming groups were seated at the same table, it did mean that we were unable to sit with a friend who had booked separately and had been allocated a place at another table. Castellanos would do well to advise diners of this in the future.

The evening kicked off with a warm welcome from Mike Cardwell, a grace said by Jack House, vicar of the parish and an elucidation of the menu by Vincent Castellano himself.

Then it was down to the main event - the food!

First an appetiser - a crisp bruschetta topped with aubergine, cauliflower, plum tomato and buffalo mozarella drizzled with a vivid salsa verde.

I'm a big fan of tapas, mezze and the like and, having been delighted by the All Things Pig platter, I was looking forward to the antipasti board. There were silky smooth anchovies, peppery salami, fragrant mortadella and juicy meatballs, set off by a heap of pickled gherkins and a dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This time Vincent had sourced his bread more locally, from Mark's Bread, just round the corner on North Street.

Oh, and there were also enormous globe artichokes, all shared out between 6 diners.

The starter (I thought we already had!) was a single mushroom ravioli drenched in a creamy dolcelatte sauce and sprinked with dried mushrooms and parsley.

There followed a 30 minute interlude when we were entertained by two soprano opera singers who sang a selection of arias by Puccini, Verdi and a composer by the name of Tosti. They both sang beautifully but I was particularly impressed by the younger woman, who added to the entertainment with her gestures and facial expressions. It turned out that she's the daughter of a couple of Gaswork singers. It really is a small world.

The middle course was a lemon granita made from Sicilian lemons - an mouth puckering palate cleanser to prepare us for the main course which was ...

seared cod (we heard it sizzling during the operatic interlude) on a caponata with a barolo wine sauce topped with a slice of crispy pancetta. The cod was soft and flaky, no mean feat for 150 covers, but I wasn't entirely convinced by its paring with a cold caponata. It took a while for us to be served but it didn't matter. Everyone was relaxed and happy. No one was in a hurry to go home.

At least not until they'd had desert, panncotta with a frangelico and hazelnut icecream, a berry compote and a crunchy biscotti.

The raffle was drawn during desert. We won 5th prize, a Lahloo gift bag containing a packet of earl grey tea and a tin of heart shaped shortbread biscuits. It was my daughter's preferred prize so it was only right that she should have it!

The end of another evening at the St Aldhelm's pop up restaurant. I can't wait until All things Moroccan in the autumn.

For another reveiw of the event pop over to Canapes, Cupcakes and Cocktails, whose author was seated next to me last night.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Wow! Gorillas 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10

On my way in to town yesterday to pick up my younger daughter's Harry Potter tickets, I took in a few more gorillas.

Going Gone Gorilla is in Queen Square.

It's painted in heat sensitive paint changing from black to white to reveal the underlying text which details some of the abuse suffered by gorillas in the wild.

Blackbeardorilla is appropriately situated outside the Llandoger Trow, the 17th century pub that was Robert Louis Stevenson's inspiration for the Admiral Benbow in Treasure Island.

I love this gorilla's facial features!

I was disappointed by the location of Crystal Eyes, in the window of Stanfords on Corn Street, which made it difficult to fully appreciate and impossible to photograph from the street. I guess it's because of the electric light inside the gorilla which shines through holes drilled all over his body.

The Apple of my Eye in Colston Circus was much easier to capture. The street cafe in the background is the Fair Cup which sells excellent fairtrade coffee and reuseable travel mugs. The also give away boxes of coffee grounds for compost.

A close up showing the trademark eyes of this fruity gorilla.

And finally, Distinctly Different at the top of the cascade steps on the harbourside. There must be a reason for its name but I'm afraid I failed to discover what it is. You'll have to wait until I pass that way again.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Wow! Gorillas 2, 3, 4 & 5

I've been down by the harbour quite a bit this weekend and have spotted four more colourful gorillas.

Sabyinyo is one of two gorillas in Millenium Square. How I wish they'd stuck to the original plan to call it New World Square. So much more poetic.

My Kind of Bristol is the second. This is a very clever one. On one flank are written facts about Bristol and on the other about gorillas. I was particularly interested to learn that Gloucester Road has the longest row of independent traders anywhere in Europe. Now there's a statistic to be proud of!

I was tickled to see that some kind soul had left a banana and a handful of peanuts in front of each of these gorillas.

The S Express stands outside the Arnolfini and represents gorillas controlling and occupying a train. Given that it's right next to a statue of Cabot staring up the harbour in the direction of the open sea' it's a pity the gorilla's not facing in the same direction. Hey ho!

There was plenty for him to look at on Saturday, including The Matthew, home after a 4 month voyage.

This flowery gorilla is called Priscilla and she (?) can be found outside the newly opened M Shed.

We popped in a quarter of an hour before closing, just long enough to see photos of our recent yarnbombing extravaganza in the Bedminster section and find our house on the giant floor map. A proper visit is another of my summer holiday projects.

The harbour is a truly wonderful sight on a sunny afternoon.

Wow! Gorillas 1

A week ago Bristol Zoo unleashed a band of gorillas across the length and breadth of the city. You can read all about this exciting project here, so I won't repeat the story here.

They're here until the beginning of September and my summer project is to track down and photograph each and every one of them.

I'm starting with the nearest to where I live. His/her name is Suebo. S/he was painted by Cheo and is one of two gorillas sponsored by the North Street Traders.

I'm very proud of our North Street Traders for having decided to take part in this project. Given the recession/credit crunch, or whatever you like to call it, and the prospect of the largest Sainsburys in the southwest at Ashton Gate, just round the corner, it's crucial not only that we support our local independent traders, but that we work together to make our area a better place in which to live. The recent Upfest weekend and now the Wow! Gorillas (two life size and three mini ones sponsored by three local schools) have brightened up the street and brought smiles to the faces of the residents. That can't be a bad thing. Incidentally Cheo is the street artist who painted one of the shutters on the Rare butchers.

Suebo is positioned adjacent to North Street Green, site of the annual BOB (Best of Bedminster) Show. It's opposite Paper Village, a vertable Aladdin's cave for artists and crafters and the venue for a range of workshops.

I love the colours on Suebo and those funny googly eyes!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Singing on the Water

I've spent the last five Monday evenings learning seven new songs. 900+ other people have been doing the same all over the West Country. Today we gathered in Lloyd's amphitheatre to sing them once through before this afternoon's performance. The occasion was Sing for Water West and we appeared to have been singularly succesful! I woke to the sound of rain, which continued on and off pretty well all through the morning's practice. Fortunately, round about lunchtime, the clouds parted and the sun shone through. By the time we started to sing the ground had dried and the deckchairs were out.

After the concert, which appeared to have gone down well with the crowd, a number of us boarded The Matthew for a trip around the harbour. We cruised up to the Cumberland Basin where the sight of a number of pirates sparked a rendition of our sea shanty. Once we'd started we couldn't stop and the good people of Bristol strolling along the harbourside or patronising its watering holes were treated to an encore of our performance.

Standing on the prow, with a glass of Bounders in my hand, surrounded by people singing for the sheer joy of it, bringing a smile to faces on the shore, made me feel so very happy.

Roll on September and the beinning of the next Gasworks term.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Yarnbombing - 1

This one's for Diane!

Gaol Ferry Bridge, Bristol