Hello, hello. As is tradition, I am writing this blog post from a café… of sorts. It is actually a bench in the Stansted departure terminal. Fresh from the necessary bacon brioche bun from Pret (do u even vacay if you don’t go Pret????), I thought I would take this time to try to battle the fatigue-induced delirium I am feeling from a 5 am wake-up and catch you up with what I have been eating the last few weeks.
The last few weeks in Bristol have been characterised by a lack of productivity, a few too many visits to my beloved Chilli Father, a lot of cast iron cooking courtesy of my mate Panelope, and a lot of wonderful meat in wonderful bread (the focus of today).
Now, for the post. What is ubiquitous with all cuisines, complete all flavour profiles and textures? Is a favourite all over the globe? It is… the sandwich. A good one is wonderful. Portable, filling, affordable, flexible, and varied. Be it a good white bap with some strong, mature cheddar cheese, a slather of butter, thinly sliced cucumber and a bit of Branston, or these 2 delights I ate recently.
1) LE KEB. EL BAB. THE KEBAB.
It is a sandwich, after all. No being finicky here. Often unfairly labelled as ‘drunk food’ by us wonderfully cultural and finessed Brits, a kebab is a thing of beauty when done well. It is loved by millions of people around the world and is, at its most stripped-down state, meat in bread. Be it in the form of juicy sliced shwarma or the wondrous satisfaction of grilled meat on a stick, a kebab, perhaps more than any food, is the sum of its parts.
Take the one I tried recently from the recommended Persian Grill. Located by the Arches near to Stokes Croft, the inconspicuous little joint used to be a really cool little Persian deli that sold a myriad of spices, pulses and Persian delights both in bulk and at a very good price. Chatting to Bossman whilst I was waiting for my keb, I learned that he struggled to make ends meet. He tried his luck at converting the deli into a restaurant, and the rest they say is…? History.
|The rather un-aesthetically pleasing
cross-section of a damn good kebab
What. A. Keb. Walking into any keb shop with rolling pins on display is a good, goooood sign. It suggests they make their bread in-house and will point to more care and caution in the quality of the food than a keb shop which just buys pre-made wraps. In this instance, the bread was genuinely fantastic. It had a deep, true, floury character which held its own against the fresh salads that were packed within. It had a chew, a bite, and the glorious blisters that bread only gains when baked in a hot, hot oven. The lamb I had was fatty, tender and marinaded in a light citrus which lent itself very well to the richness of the meat. The halloumi wrap I got for Olivia contained, as Bossman incessantly repeated, contained a WHOLE halloumi. Apparently, this WHOLE halloumi was very well prepared.
The chicken, which Dan got, was wonderfully juicy. When I was paying for the kebs he had just prepared, he boasted to me, ‘Find me a better chicken keb in the country, and you can have the next one for free!’ What a pri… nah. It was delicious.
Finally, before I move on to the next star sandwich, the salads. When you enter a dodgy keb place, you will be welcomed by mushy tomatoes, wilting lettuce and grim garlic mayo. The quality of a keb can be seen by the range and freshness of its salads. My fave keb in Bristol, Cedars, may not use meat of the same quality or bake their own bread. However, the salads are divine! It makes it a good, if a little sweaty, keb. Persian Grill shines as a fantastic keb due to its salads. A tangy onion salad with oregano and lemon, wonderfully crunchy red cabbage and lettuce, rather tasty babaghanoush, those yummy pickled green chillies and finally, don’t forget to ask for it, this Persian dried chilli stuff that was lovely.
Persian Grill is very, very good and you will be very full for £5. Can’t go wrong.
2) The Bacon Sandwich of Dreams.
Last Wednesday, Dan and I went on a little adventure to the IKEA in Easton and decided to stop off for some food. I remembered that there was a really lovely Swedish/Nordic/Mumsy café called Dela. I also once went with my papa Steve as a lovely little stop-off on the way back to London. Conveniently placed in the best part of Bristol, near the M4, Dela is a beautifully simplistic and minimalist café. The interior is clean, cosy and welcoming, and the coffee is fantastic. The actual menu is really cool, and it is a bit of a shame I never wrote about the meal I had with Steve. They are known for their sharing plate, which has baked eggs, fresh goat curd, fresh veg and the option of smoked trout (we got it, you should too) for an extra £4. It works out about £10 a person and it a sociable way to sample some of the best British ingredients on offer. I remember it being absolutely spectacular!
|Dela with some lovely cakes
However, on this grey Wednesday, we got the bacon sandwich. What a decision it was. I will try to keep it brief because I think it was the best bacon sandwich I have ever had. For such a simple dish, it is remarkably easy to F this one up. I don’t want any fancy avocado or this or that, a bacon sandwich should be: BREAD–>BACON–>SAUCE–>BREAD.
Done. Simple. No faff plz, nothing else. Each element should be perfectly cooked, sliced, toasted, slabbed upon etc, but it should be SIMPLE. Dela blew me away with the execution of this sandwich. The bread was a thick sourdough, perfectly toasted with a slight rustic burn on it. The bacon was marbled with a sumptuous vein of fat, and it had the crisp-chew ratio on actual point. The quality of this bacon was wonderfully evident, and as you eat the first half, you can rest calmly, knowing that the second half will be even more delectable as the bread soaks up the wonderful flavours of the grease.
|May not look pretty, but good lord.
Dan, a real-life northerner, told me that, apparently, ketchup goes on a bacon sarnie, and that brown sauce goes on a sausage sarnie. I didn’t know this, but that is p cool no? I don’t love ketchup, so I went for the brown. It was homemade, rich, jammy, sour, sweet and truly delicious.
I was feeling rather flush and got myself a Bakewell tart and an Americano afterwards, both of which were very well executed indeed.
It is well worth the voyage away from the Triangle-Clifton-Stokes Croft Triangle and a definite option if you want to treat yourself to delicious and really quite student-friendly food.
Much love. Until next time!