Going back to itsu

I haven’t been to itsu for a while now, since I stopped working in Oxford, I made quite a few visits there for sushi and pots of noodles. I haven’t been to the branch in London (too many other choices) however in December a new branch opened in Bristol.

As on my previous visit, there was a lot of choice and within the different types of food on offer lots of variation. I found it difficult to decide on what to have.

There is a big choice of salad and sushi in the fridges and then there are the hot options, pots of soup, rice, noodles or dumplings.

In the end I went with the Vietnam beef salad. This was roasted beef, hard boiled egg, spicy sauce, sushi rice, greens & ginger, roasted seeds, chives, red ginger, `no lettuce´ salad and salad seasoning.

Vietnam beef (roasted), hard boiled egg (free range), spicy sauce, sushi rice, greens & ginger, roasted seeds, chives, red ginger, `no lettuce´ salad and salad seasoning

It looked really nice and was well presented. I found the beef tender and actually quite tasty. The salad and rice was also really nice. The overall combination was delicious and I really enjoyed the salad.

Well that was really tasty squid!

It was a Thursday and wanting lunch, well if you are in Bristol then the regular Temple Quay lunchtime market is really the place to be.

It was my intention to visit Low and Slow again after having a really nice lunch there a few months back. As I arrived (early) there was no queue, so I thought I would take the opportunity to check out what else was there at the market. There was a already a massive queue for the Thai stall, one day I might try it, but the queue always puts me off. The dumplings place had a queue and then I saw a new stall. It was called Crispy Squid!

Crispy Squid

Now, those of you who are regular readers of the blog will know that I have a soft spot for squid. It also one thing that when cooked well cane great, however my usual experience is that it is done badly.

So though I really liked the idea of the squid I was slightly sceptical that it might not be nice.

However I decided that it was worth the chance, so I looked over the menu, there were two choices, sweet chilli squid or salt and pepper squid. Both choices were served with potato, chorizo and salad.

I took the plunge and asked for a portion of chilli squid for £6. The lads at the stall got cooking and the dish was freshly cooked to order in front of me.

I have to say it looked fantastic.

Crispy Squid

It also tasted fantastic!

The batter was wonderful and crips and the squid was beautifully tender. I really liked the combination of squid, potato and chorizo, very Spanish and really tasty. I did feel that it was a probably a little too salty for my taste and I think if I was to order it again I would ask to “hold the salt”. The reason I chose the sweet chilli squid as I thought the salt and pepper squid would be too salty!

A little more Mexican street food

Those who read this on a regular basis will know that I have a fondness for the Wahaca restaurants after an introduction to their style of food on the South Bank in London.

Since discovering this delight of Mexican street food and realising they had a branch in Clifton in Bristol, I have been itching to try the food there.

Using a gift voucher I went there for a quick lunch. One of the quirks (or is just a nice feature) of the Wahaca chain is that every restaurant has their own unique style. I think what surprised me most about the Bristol branch was the TARDIS style dimension, it is very much bigger on the inside then it appears on the exterior.

It was quiet early and I think I was the only person the restaurant, which surprised me, I was expecting it to be busier. Certainly I have queued for the South Bank restaurant and down in the heart of Bristol the food places are very busy (even from mid day).

As is my usual lunch, I went for three items from the street food menu. These are small dishes and three is more than ample for lunch (in some cases with the larger ones you could get away with just eating two).

The menu had changed since my last visit with new market treats and of course the regularly changing specials menu.

I was tempted by the new hibiscus glazed wings, alas they must have been popular and were off the menu. Still there were two other things from the new market treats menu that sounded rather nice.

My first choice was the Huitlacoche empanadas. Crispy pastry parcels stuffed with mushrooms, truffley Mexican corn & melted cheese.

Huitlacoche empanadas

These were delicious. The filling though was, as might be expected when using mushrooms was a rather unappetising grey mush. Despite that, I did enjoy the parcels and really liked the presentation. One thing that I have started doing myself which was on this dish was adding thinly sliced radish as a garnish, for crunch and flavour.

My second choice were the crispy prawn tacos. Corn tortillas stuffed with chopped prawn, chillies, spring onion & coriander, cooked until crispy, served with guacamole, tomato salsa & chipotle mayo.

crispy prawn tacos

The tacos had been filled and rolled and deep fried giving them a nice crunch. You could taste the prawn filling and it was still fresh and tasty. The accompaniments of salsa and guacamole worked, but I did feel I had slightly too much chipotle mayo.

For my third choice I went with one of the specials, Beef mole taco, this was unctuous, slow cooked beef shin, cooked in a rich Oaxacan mole. It was served in warm corn tortillas with sweet plantain puree and fiery chile de arbor salsa.

Beef mole taco

You got two beautifully presented open tacos, the beef was rich in flavour, tender and tasty.

Overall three delicious dishes and very tasty.

Smoking the brisket…

Smoking the brisket…

A couple of weeks ago I passed the Low n Slow stand at the regular Temple Quay street food market, alas I was on my way to a three hour meeting and I didn’t think it would be fair to my colleagues to have what sounded like a delicious barbecue box filling the meeting room with food smells. So this week, not having a meeting, I checked the Twitter and saw that Low n Slow were going to be at the Temple Quay Market.

I went with the “ultimate combo” barbecue box, consisting of 12 hour pulled pork, 9 hour beef brisket, burnt ends, served with salad, coleslaw, pickles, a POW ball and homemade sauce. So what are POW balls? Well according to the menu by the stall they are tasty bacon wrapped meatballs with bbq glaze.

This was a wonderful combination of flavours and textures.

The beef brisket was beautifully tender and delicious. The smoke was subtle and didn’t overpower the dish. The crispiness of the burnt ends contrasted well with the tender brisket.

The pulled pork was very tasty and as for the POW ball, this was nice. Like a festive pigs in blanket but bigger, smokier with a subtle sweet taste.

This kind of meal starts to make me think if a proper smoker style barbecue would be a nice thing to have. Well until I make a decision about that, I will continue to visit the Low and Slow stall.

Candy Stripe and Golden

I do enjoy roasted vegetables and my usual recipe consists of parsnips, carrots and onions. Occasionally I will add courgettes and mushrooms.

Glancing at the prepared vegetable section in Morrisons is not something I do very often, I much prefer to prepare my own vegetables. This is because not only is it usually cheaper, but I do a better job than the pre-prepared stuff

I was however intrigued by their “The Best” Root Vegetable Roasting Selection. This contained baby parsnips, Chantenay carrots and interestingly candy stripe and golden beetroot.

Now I couldn’t find unprepared candy stripe and golden beetroot in the store, so I thought, well why not? Even though it is sold as “prepared” I still did some additional preparation. I topped and tailed the baby parsnips, I cut in half the bigger pieces of beetroot and for the bigger parsnips I split them in half.

The pack comes with a roundel of butter, which you remove before you start cooking and add ten to twenty minutes towards the end.

“The Best” Root Vegetable Roasting Selection

I really enjoyed the vegetables, they were tasty and the beetroot was very different and added something special to the dish.