I love Bristol as a city. Stay for a while and then it will get under your skin, you’ll not want to leave. It unfolds and develops, showing off what makes it such a unique place. Want to know a secret, it’s the people that make it so special.
In 2015, 91 Ways To Build A Global City, was a charity set up to unite the 91 languages spoken in Bristol. It is a way for people to share their stories, culture, journeys and recipe to connect communities through food. One way they bring people together is their fantastic supper clubs, by showcasing a menu and story of someone in the community. The money they raise at these dinners helps fund the work in the community whether it is working with over 55’s to alleviate loneliness by making meals together, supporting food banks and the refugee women of Bristol.
I’ve been to many of their supper clubs over the last 18 months and now have a large collection of friends who jump to come along when new events are announced. Not only you have an amazing authentically cooked multi-course meal, but you get to hear the stories behind why the dishes are so special, whether due to the seasonality of ingredients, the dishes used in times of celebration or simply their parent’s favourite dish to cook whilst growing up.
I always leave the suppers which not just a full stomach but a warmth of sense of being connected to the people I’ve shared the meal with. You never know who you’ll be sat next to and the stories they have to tell over dinner and literal breaking of bread. The meals are cooked and served by wonderful volunteers and the evening is a summary of what makes Bristol a lovely place to live in and be a part of.
I’m going to share with you the meals I’ve attended, if you want to join me at one, check out the 91 Ways website to see the upcoming events to get involved in.
Norah of Nouna’s Kitchen created the menu for an absolute Egyptian feast for us. She spoke about her background, having studied in Cairo having a tiny oven to bake her celebration cakes (which she was known for on campus for) to her move to Bristol where she had family and got a kitchen she could cook more than cakes in. Having not visited Egypt before I was excited to see what we would be having. Before each course is served the chef’s talk about the dishes and the influence and history of the dish.
When we arrived, golden fluffy bread, Houmous and Egyptian Tzatziki where laid out on the table to snack on whilst others arrived. The tzatziki is similar to that of other local countries such as Greece and Turkey but with herby zaatar sprinkled over the surface.
Then on to beautiful platters of Garden and Rocket Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Marinated Red Onions to go with the Egyptian Goulash. Not like the Hungarian type but layers of filo pastry with a meat and cheese filling.
The main was Koshari, which is made of rice, lentils (Indian influence in Egypt), macaroni pasta (Italians influence in Egypt), with chickpeas, spiced tomato sauce and crispy onions. With a side of beef koftas too! Such an unusual dish which I would have never thought as Egyptian if given without knowing!
Dessert, which being Norah’s passion, was very much looking forward to it. Basbousa Cupcakes with semolina, yoghurt and coconut drenched with syrup. Served with Muhallabia, a light set milk pudding with crushed pistachios.
Was cooked by Claudia based on the food from Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio and her grandmother’s recipes. The dishes were focused on the seasonality of the ingredients as was on a very snowy night in January. A rich hearty menu that was full of comfort and flavours.
To start, Homemade Rosemary Focaccia to be slathered with Cavolo Nero and Walnut Pesto with Crispy Guanciale (cured pork cheek), full of flavour and loved the walnuts in the pesto with the irony earthy cavolo nero.
A very seasonal dish of rabbit, which is an abundance at the time of year. Rabbit Stew and Fresh Herbs with Fennel and Orange Salad, Fennel Pollen Dusted Roasted Potatoes, the fennel and orange add lightness to the dish and the potato made sure not a drop of the sauce was lost or missed.
The vegetarians got the Homemade Spinach Gnocchetti with Gorgonzola and Radicchio, which I was lucky to tuck into as well that a friendly neighbour shared with me. Unlike ‘normal’ gnocchi dumplings, these were more strand coated in the ridiculously cheesy sauce!
To finish, which was a struggle when so full of the previously wonderful food. Ricotta with home forage rosehip syrup, filo shards Millefoglie. Almost like a deconstructed cheesecake with the bonus of the crisp filo against the creamy ricotta.
Malaysian Hari Raya meal to celebrate the end of Ramadan and cooked by the lovely ladies of Malaysian Kitchen, who do their own supper clubs in Bristol. This was our delicious starter- Pie Tee- crispy pastry shells filled with crisp vegetables, served with a chilli sauce. Far too addictive to nibble on! Great way to kick off a wonderful evening and celebration.
The BEST chicken satay I’ve ever had. Marinated for 24 hours in a delicious spice and herb mixture before grilling to be served with the biggest vat of homemade peanut sauce to dunk into (or to eye up to drink…) with a cucumber and onion salad and rice cubes.
Nyonya Laksa – rice noodles served in a creamy coconut broth with shredded chicken, bean sprouts, fried tofu, mint leaves, fish balls, boiled egg and the most incredible homemade sambal for a fruity kick. Yes I splashed this all over me whilst slurping up the noodles and broth. Loved the personalisation of everyone adding bits to make it their own.
To end such a wonderful meal, the divine Bubur Pulut Hitam – Black glutinous rice porridge cooked with coconut milk and palm sugar. Oh boy, I want to end every meal with a bowl of this deliciousness!
Has that excited you as much as I love attending them? It’s a truly wonderful charity to be involved in, even if it’s by having a delicious meal with friends.
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