My friends Heather and Alex live on a boat. They have recently moved said boat from a 1,000 berth marina in Brighton to a tiny little enclave just outside Bristol. The setting is pretty idyllic: lines of squat houseboats with names like Katie-Jayne, with terracotta pots full of plants balanced on top. Last weekend was the boat launching party. It’s been out of the water for the last few months, being given an odd sort of TLC that involves its underside being shot-blasted. It has also been given a coat of paint, and now sticks out from its more demure neighbours with its bright shades of green and yellow.
It was one of those perfect summer days that you call up the memory of in the depths of the English winters: sunny, clear and with a gentle breeze. It was also, conveniently, the summer solstice – the longest day. We were sat on the deck of the boat until at least midnight, and there was still a glimmer of light in the sky. We had a barbeque, the sure-fire sign that summer has started. There is a large, Australia-style communal barbeque at the marina. There’s something intensely primal about cooking and eating outside, and watching meat hiss and spit as it cooks over a flame.
I made these mini pavlovas to follow the vast quantites of barbequed meat. I wanted to make something that was creamy and summery, but could be eaten without the need for plates or cutlery. The meringue acts as a little bowl for the marscapone filling and summer berries. I used raspberries, blueberries and some strawberries that I managed to salvage before they went into the Pimm’s. I also added pomegranate seeds, more for artistic frippery than taste, but they were actually surprisingly pleasant.
What I love about Bristol is its vibrant, constantly changing food scene. New restaurants are constantly popping up all over the place. There’s always a new street food craze or pop up restaurant just around the corner. I live near a pretty incredible string of independent restaurants serving food from every corner of the world, as well as many promoting fantastic local produce. The most exciting and eagerly-awaited restaurant opening (at least for me) is Katie and Kim’s Kitchen. Katie and Kim’s Kitchen started life as a food blog (www.katieandkimskitchen.blogspot.co.uk). Through being an avid reader of their blog since I moved to Bristol, I have followed the exciting developments in the duo’s life. They won the British Street Food awards last year, serving cheddar and rosemary scones out of a converted horsebox. Katie and Kim’s Kitchen is their latest venture – a permanent residence in Picton Street, Montpelier.
For the sake of food blogger networking, and general curiosity, I thought it was high time I checked it out. I wandered down with my housemate, Izzy. We were initially just going for coffee and a bit of cake, but one glance at the daily changing menu chalked up on the blackboard and we ended up having lunch. We went for the cheese and rosemary scones that put Katie and Kim on the map, served warm with bacon, poached eggs and spinach. The scones were absolutely incredible: rich, buttery and crumbly, with a tangy undercurrent of cheese and a delicate whiff of rosemary. Combined with salty bacon and perfectly cooked, oozing poached eggs, it was a pretty sublime experience.
But we didn’t stop there. There were freshly baked chocolate éclairs and wobbly custard tarts piled high on the counter. For the sake of research, we had to try both. The chocolate éclairs were delicious – just the right ratio of cream, feather-light pastry and smooth chocolate ganache. But it was the custard tarts that won it for me: buttery pastry with a rich, trembling custard filling. We were given an extra one each to take home too, and they were just as good the next day. Katie and Kim are both lovely – naturally welcoming and generous, with a gentle wit and an infectious passion for food and local produce. They have already built up a loyal following, having only been open for a few weeks. I know it’s a cliché to say this, but I will be coming back again and again, as much for Katie and Kim’s welcoming spirit as for their delicious food.