Posted 1st March 2014
If there is one place that perfectly sums up Bristol’s creative and vehemently independent community, it’s Hamilton House on Stokes Croft. Affectionately known as Hammy House, the once rundown building is home to hundreds of Bristol’s creatives, one of our favourite places for fun, food and music (The Canteen) and now, the Community Kitchen.
If you know and love The Canteen you will know not to expect a kitchen packed with the latest high-tech gear and gadgets. Instead, the Community Kitchen is a homely mish-mash that makes do with what’s available and is well stocked with everything you could possibly need.
I had signed up for the endearingly named Two’s company – seasonal pairings class with Rosie Teare. At £30 it sounded like an absolute bargain, especially when you compare it to some of the cookery class prices out there.
Rosie, who works as a chef at the esteemed destination venue The Ethicurean, began by describing her best (peanut butter and apple) and worst (fish and cheese) flavour combinations. Doing so and speculating about ours, really made us think about the impact that pairing can have, before Rosie reeled off the evening’s seasonal menu:
By this point our stomachs were rumbling and we were ready to get cooking. Our first task was to tackle the beetroot. We chopped it into bite-sized chunks and roasted it in the oven with just water – no oil. Rosie likes to break the rules when it comes to cooking and no oil is one of them, preferring to keep the flavours clean and earthy.
The next job was to make the pork patties. Made to Rosie’s own recipe, we mixed pork mince with a pre-prepared mix of apple, onion, sage and fennel seed, which had been cooked down with, you guessed it, a little water. Pork, Rosie told us, is a great choice of meat at this time of year because pigs aren’t seasonal breeders. That means that pork is at its best all year round, so it’s a great choice for the current hungry gap.
With that in mind, next came the reluctantly named ‘slaw’. Rosie presented us with a bowl full of root veg that I would normally only boil and mash and told us to get peeling, grating and chopping. Tasting as we went – Rosie is a keen advocate of tasting – we set to the cabbages, swede and turnips. I think this recipe might have revolutionised the hungry gap for me. I like to buy seasonally and local, which means at this time of year the pickings are slim, but this way of treating hardy root veg is new to me and has added a new staple to my winter repertoire.
As the evening went on, Rosie’s passion for and knowledge about food shone through. Little tidbits like using vegetable peelings to make crisps or the fact that things that grow together tend to go together, made the class seem even better value.
With the kale lightly blanched and mixed with rosemary, the beetroot combined with both fresh and crisped horseradish and the mackerel in the oven, we laid the table and sat down to enjoy our feast. This really is my sort of food, almost Ottolenghi-style sharing dishes, and the pairs that Rosie had chosen all joined forces to make an incredible meal.
I am also now hooked on the no oil thing. The beetroot was the sweetest I have ever tasted and the whole meal just left my pallet clean and me feeling well nourished. The Tunworth cheese was another revelation. Hampshire’s brie, it is sweet and nutty and when baked in the box and dripping from crisp apple and pear, it didn’t last long!
If you find that you tend to stick to cooking the same meals each week and need some inspiration that is simple and won’t cost the earth, Rosie is your lady. She even gave us her email address and told us we can pick her brains whenever we need inspiration – I think she may regret that!