Not a particularly English ingredient but we love it all the same. Peaches are a stunning, fragrant summer fruit. Although the feeling of biting into your first truly ripe peach of the year is pretty unmatchable. They are really versatile and work as well in sweet as savoury dishes. One of my favourite summer salads is a ball of good quality mozzarella torn over a few sliced peaches, maldon salt, some good olive oil and a few shredded leaves of mint. Try them chargrilled with a bitter leaf salad and a dressing of sweet honey. Or stuff them amaretti biscuits and bake them. Roast them in butter and honey with a few sprigs of them and eat with some nice ice cream? Make sure you enjoy them while they’re around.
As summer gets into full swing many of our favourite fruits are coming into season. Tart raspberries and juicy peaches, apricots and sharp popping gooseberries. But there is one we associate with Britishness more than any other – the strawberry.
Although available all year in supermarkets, we tend to steer clear and use them when they are at their best. A ripe strawberry in summer is a million miles away from a watery imported fruit in the depths of winter!!!
We use them extensively throughout their season, putting them in pimms, jellies, meringues, macerating them in our home made elder flower cordial, serving them with white chocolate parfait…
We know there are few things more pleasurable than eating a big bowl of strawberries with some thick cream, but if you fancy rustling up something a bit different, have a look at these recipes from our kitchen…
Lemon and elderflower posset with elderflower macerated strawberries
For the posset;
600g double cream
125g caster sugar
2 lemons, juiced
4 heads of elderflower, shaken to get rid of any beasties
bring the cream, sugar and elderflower heads to the boil, simmer for 2 minutes, remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 10 minutes of so. Pass through a fine sieve, add the lemon juice and then portion into individual glasses. Set in the fridge.
For the strawberries;
Hull and quarter a punnet or 2 of good quality strawberries, pour over a few good glugs of elder flower cordial (preferably homemade) and leave for an hour or 2.
Serve the strawberries on top of the set posset and enjoy.
Strawberry jelly – this is a million miles away from anything you’ll get in packet. Good to use up any over ripe strawberries you might have…
500g strawberries, hulled and chopped
60g caster sugar
1/2 lime, juice
1 shot of creme de fraise (in the event you have any!)
5 leaves of gelatine (bloomed)
Put all ingredients in a bowl. Clingfilm tightly. Place over a pan of simmering water and cook for half an hour.Pass through a very fine sieve or muslin and discard the fruit pulp (or use for making a fool etc). Don’t push the mixture through! Let it drip by itself or you’ll end up with a cloudy jelly.Now weigh the amount of liquid you have. It should be somewhere between 250 and 350 grams. Slowly add water to make it upto 500g. Warm a small amount of this liquid up and dissolve the gelatine in this. Pass through a sieve back into the bulk of the mixture and stir well. Divide between individual glasses (or, if you’re really cool, pour into your huge rabbit shaped jelly mould) and set in the fridge. Eat with fresh strawberries and some good quality ice cream.
We Brits love a good brew, as a country consuming on average 165 million cups daily, the second highest consumption per capita worldwide after the Republic of Ireland.
Tea first originated in China over 5000 years ago from the plant Camellia Sinensis – the dried leaves, flowers and buds of which are infused to what we know and recognise as tea. The best quality tea grows up high and during harvesting only the top 2 inches of the tree is plucked. Now growing in 52 countries, China still today remains the biggest producer of tea, producing 1,980,000 tonnes of tea in 2014, followed by India then Kenya.
The Dutch first brought tea commercially to Europe towards the end of the 16th Century, with trade in the UK being driven forward by the British East India Company towards the start of the early 18th Century, where our love for it truly began. Containing half the amount of caffeine as coffee and rich in antioxidants drinking those 4 cups of tea a day can only be a good thing surely?!
The reason for this little Blog on tea is that we have recently changed our tea to the Canton Tea Co who are based in our little village Long Ashton. Canton Tea Co take great care in sourcing their teas direct from small, family-run farms. We are now stocking a range of 6 artisan teas, ranging from English Breakfast and Earl Grey (some of the best we’ve tried) to Vanilla Black and Darjeeling all of which can be served along some homemade sweets.
The suns out again. The hay fever has started. Not good news for those of us who suffer throughout the summer months. But for one bright white flower it’s worth it. Elder flowers are one of the most useful wild ingredients the summer larder has to offer. A wonderful aroma and delicate floral flavour. You can do a lot more than cordial with this blossom. It has a real affintiy with summer fruits which are in season at the same time and also marries beautifully with sharp lemon. Deep fried in a light batter and dusted with sugar it’s a revelation. On the savoury side it makes a beautiful fragrant oil and is useful included in cures for certain fish. It is also making an appearance on our bar as it infuses well into spirits and jazzes up a g and t. And as anyone who knows us knows. We love gin. So get out and about and make use of it while it’s here. We’ll give you a few recipes for you to get your head around but don’t limit yourself to these.
Elder flower cordial- I did say before that you can do alot more than cordial, but this is a good staple to have up your sleeve…
20 heads of elderflower, shaken well to get rid of any bugs
1.8kg granulated sugar
2 lemons, sliced
75g malic acid (you can get this online, citric acid works well too)
Bring to boil all ingredients except the elder flower. Add the flowers and remove from the heat. Leave covered overnight to infuse. Pass through muslin in the morning and bottle into sterilised bottles.
Elderflower creme brulee-this is beautiful served with strawberries or raspberries, this makes 8 servings.
800g double cream
10 heads of elderflower
juice of 1 lemon
10 egg yolks
160g caster sugar
Bring to the boil the cream and add the elder flowers. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse overnight. The next day pass the liquid through a sieve into a clean pan and re-heat, in a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar. When the cream is just below boiling, pour it over the yolks whilst continuously whisking. Add the lemon juice and pour into individual ramekins. Bake in a bain marie in a low oven until just set (with a slight wobble). When cold cover the tops with sugar and blowtorch for a layer of caramel.
Elderflower jelly with strawberries-jelly in the summer is a winner, especially if you have on of those big rabbit shaped moulds. Party on.
170g elderflower cordial
330g water, sparkling water or champagne
4 leaves of gelatine, soaked in water
1/2 punnet of strawberries (or any nice summer fruits)
a few picked elderlowers to garnish
Cut the strawberries into pieces and divide equally between 4 jelly moulds/glasses. Warm a small amount of the cordial up and add the gelatine to melt. remove from the heat and mix in the remaining cordial and water/champagne. Pour this mixture into the moulds/glasses and fridge until set. Turn out or eat straight from the glasses with more fresh fruit, ice-cream, cream or custard. Enjoy.
At the Bird we are constantly trying to source the best quality ingredients we can, whilst ensuring they are local to the restaurant and sustainable. We are so fortunate in the west country to have a tremendous supply of outstanding quality ingredients all on our door step. Powell’s of Olveston in South Gloucestershire are one of these suppliers producing some of the best quality meat the region has to offer. Here at the Bird we use Powell’s for the majority of our meat requirements including our beef rumps and pork shoulders for Sunday roast. So it felt right we go visit the boys and learn more about the hard work they are putting in at their end to deliver such incredible products to our door.
Everywhere you look at the moment you always see beef being advertised having been ‘aged’ for a certain amount of time. The most common are 21 day aged, 28 and sometimes 30. This refers to the time the meat has been hanging since being slaughtered. The process allows moisture to leave the product, drying it out and intensifying flavour. At Powell’s Scott and his team are aging beef to a minimum of 38 days. The meat has hung for such a long time the flavour has developed into something unique and special, we believe it is the best we have tasted from any local suppliers.
We spent 4 hours at the shop watching and learning how a fore and hind quarter of beef is broken down into it’s primal cuts and then down again into the cuts we receive at the restaurant. It was a great experience and we now have an understanding of how labour intensive the butchering process is. We also discovered a few new cuts of beef we never knew existed. Like the spider steak. Below are a few photos we took on the day. Enjoy!
Our May menu is now in full swing, and although the weather may not be particularly full of the joys of spring our menu certainly is. Below are a few photos from our tasting to give you an idea of the treats we have in store for you!
To see the full menu please look at our Food & Drink page. To book a table please call on 01275 395222, email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form on the contact us page.
Here at the bird in hand we have done a couple blogs on gin, but we are passionate about all alcohol including whiskey. On our back bar we have 15 different whiskies but for some of you that means nothing. So here’s a little description to help you out.
Whiskey is like marmite; you either love it or hate it.
So what is whiskey? Whiskey is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties and are normally aged in wooden casks made of white oak. A still for making whiskey is normally made of copper as it removes sulphur-based compounds from the alcohol that wouldn’t be nice to drink. As time has gone on modern stills are now made of stainless steel with copper innards. Whisky can be aged, but can only be aged in casks and not in the bottle. The longer the whiskey is in the cask the more integrated the two become, changing the chemical makeup, taste, and colour.
This is a brief introduction into the making of whiskey but if I was to go deeper I would be writing all day.
So what types of whiskey are out there?
The main types of whiskey are malt whiskies which are made from malted barley and grain whiskey which is made from grain. These are combined in several ways:
Single malt whiskey is made just from malted grain, originally barley.
Blended malt whiskey is a mixture of malts from different stills
Blended whiskey is a mixture of different types of whiskey. A blend may contain different stills so that the blender can produce a flavour consistent with the brand.
Cask strength whiskies are very rare and only the best are bottled this way. Single cask whiskies are bottle from each individual cask, the taste of these may vary from cask to cask within the brand.
Here at the bird we stock 15 whiskies that all vary in taste and strength couple of examples for you are:
Dalwhinnie 15 years: An highland single malt scotch whisky, elegant, smooth and medium-bodied, with a light and fruity palate.
Macallan gold: A highland single malt again, Citrus and boiled sweets rule the palate, along with hints of ginger and cinnamon, while softmoak tones reveal toasted apples. A light whisky, easy to drink and perfect for creating whisky cocktails.
The Balvenie 12 years: A single malt, smooth and mellow with beautifully combined flavours ~ nutty sweetness, cinnamon spiciness and a delicately proportioned layer of sherry.
Hope this helps with your whiskey knowledge because I know its helped us
Bird in hand
The time of year for a plethora of local producers and food business’s to gather under one roof to recognise all the talent and hard work within the Bristol food scene is swiftly approaching.
Last year we were proud to be the Winners of best front of house and runner up in the best pub food category. This year we’re very happy to have been shortlisted in the category for Best British and would like to thank anyone who took the time to vote for us.
Below is an interview with Bristol Good Food awards from our Front of House manager Rachel about last years win.
Bristolian Rachel Shaw is Front of House manager for The Bird in Hand, winners of Best Front of House (sponsored by Wine & Spirit Education Trust) at Bristol Good Food Awards 2014.
The Bird in Hand was the second venture for Toby Gritten and Dan Obern after opening The Pump House, which won Best Restaurant at BGFA2012. The Bird in Hand is a village pub in Long Ashton that is food led, focusing on local, foraged and seasonal produce. The pub also stocks over 50 gins, carefully selected wines and an array of local soft drinks.
We spoke to Rachel to find out about the art of award winning service.
Hi Rachel! How does it feel to be a winner at Bristol Good Food Awards 2014?
It was really great to be recognised for our hard work by both the general public and the good food award judges. A big surpise, but a good one.
How did you get started in the restaurant trade?
Good food and drink has always been a passion, so three years ago I decided it was time to make a career of it. Having dabbled in bar and restaurant work I decided to take up a full time position at The Pump House then I moved on to The Bird in Hand.
What do you love most about being involved in the Bristol dining scene?
I love the fact that the Bristol food scene is ever growing and evolving. Having lived in Bristol the majority of my life I have seen the food and drink trade go from strength to strength and feel proud to be a part of it. I also love the fact we are dominated by independent businesses full of passionate individuals.
You are clearly very popular with diners in Bristol. Why do you think you received so many votes from the public?
To have received votes from the Bristol public was very humbling. We do what we do because we love it and we hope that this is reflected both in the food and service we provide.
Bristol has got a fantastic food culture, where else in the city do you like to eat?
Many, many, many places! For brunch it has to be Bakers & Co. For Lunch or Dinner it’s always Flinty Red, Bells Diner, The Ox and Souk Kitchen.
I’m also really enjoying the pop up Bar Buvette at the moment for its great charcuterie and cheese and brilliant wine offering by the glass.
If you could choose someone to come and experience your food, who would it be and why?
Posthumously it would be Keith Floyd – a Bristol legend.
For us, there is nothing better than sitting in the sunshine and having an ice cold gin & tonic. Gin is having a “moment” right now, with a new gin being brought to our knowledge nearly every week.
As you may or may not know, here at The Bird in Hand our small (but perfectly formed) bar holds a collection of around 50 gins – most of which are British. Each gin having it’s own story and characteristics.
When making gin the only real rule of thumb is that it must contain juniper – this is the flavour that we most commonly associate with gin. Then comes the interesting part – other botanicals can be added, with no limit as to how many can be used the options are endless, one of our gins contains 47! Botanicals that are often used are liquorice root, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon and coriander.
To give you a couple of examples;
Dr J’s – a very savoury gin containing coriander & macadamia nuts – Garnish; a few salty capers
Sibling – a fruitier gin made using the botancials blueberries & vanilla – Garnish; frozen blueberries & orange zest
Knowing all this we believe garnishing your gin is very important to bring out the most of the flavours in your glass. In our little freezer you can find an array of homemade garnish including pomegranate & cucumber ice cubes.
We hope we will see you shortly sat in our beer garden sipping on a fine G&T!
After a few years of less than proper efforts to sort our kitchen garden out (last year we grew some radishes). This year we are on the case. Rob has joined the kitchen team and with his enthusiasm for gardening everyone is getting involved.
The food miles from the roof behind the pub to the kitchen are zero, and you cant cook a fresher ingredient than something you’ve just pulled from the ground. It makes sense. We’re also growing a few things that we haven’t been able to get our hands on from suppliers but we love to cook with.
So far in the ground we have; radishes, courgettes, broad beans, salad leaves, tomatoes, beetroots, nasturtiums, borage, lovage, thyme, mint, rosemary and lemon verbena.
Not bad for a square roof about 6×10 metres we reckon?
Throughout the summer we hope to keep you updated with our garden successes and failings and we’ll also be posting pictures and recipes using the produce we’ve grown here. Think stuffed courgette flowers or lemon verbena ice cream.
Hope you’re all enjoying the sun.
Bird in Hand