Despite the recent rain, bbq season is upon us, and no camping trip or garden gathering is complete without a few ciders to sweeten the deal.
With honey notes and a golden colour, the medium-dry Thatchers Gold is the flagship cider from one of Somerset’s oldest cider makers – and it’s a great go-to cider on any occasion – but Thatchers Cider have been producing and pressing apples in the Somerset village of Sandford since 1905, and their selection these days is broad.
An introduction to Thatchers Cider and Pasture
To showcase the full range of their cider offerings, the Thatchers Cider team descended on Pasture – the stylish new bar and restaurant near St Mary Redcliffe – last week.
With butcher Sam’s enthusiasm for local produce and Thatchers’ chief cider-maker Richard Johnson on hand, it was the perfect pairing.
Richard introduced us to the Thatchers Cider story – starting over 100 years ago with farmer William Thatcher making cider to help pay his workers, and ending with William’s great grandson Martin (the current managing director) overseeing Thatchers Cider distribution throughout the UK. In between tastings, Pasture’s Sam talked us through the menu selections he’d made to bring out the best in the ciders chosen.
Food and cider pairings
The Thatchers team opened with Katy, a light and softly sparkling cider made from Katy apples, and with it came Pasture’s scallop ceviche with pickled gooseberry and lime – the delicate seafood working beautifully with the light, bubbly cider. There followed five further mini-courses, each paired with a different Thatchers’ cider.
The meaty steak tartare with oyster mayonnaise met its match in Thatchers’ Old Rascal – a peppery 4.5% cider made with Tremlette and Somerset Redstreak apples for a bittersweet flavour. And Pasture’s short rib croquettes with delicate gochujang aioli balanced nicely with the bold and beautiful Thatchers’ Vintage – an oak-matured 7.4% cider with fruity aroma and crisp flavour.
It was a great chance to try lesser-known Thatchers ciders you don’t regularly see in the big supermarkets, and clear to see the thought Sam had put into the food pairings he chose.
If you’d like to give a few of Thatchers’ lesser-known ciders a try, take a look at the full range and buy online here. And for more details on the flame-grilled offerings over at Pasture, check out their website here.
New Year Menu Twist at Woky Ko
Woky Ko launch new menu
Nestled in Wapping Wharf on Bristol’s buzzing harbourside, Woky Ko: CARGO swung open its doors in late-October, 2016 – capturing attention with a bold menu of delicate flavours. Talented chef-owner Larkin Cen has recently added to the family with Park St’s Woky Ko: Kauto, and the two combined offer some of the finest Asian cuisine you’ll find anywhere in the South West.
Woky Ko: Kauto
Woky Ko: Kauto has perhaps become the flagship venue, offering a little more space and a stronger restaurant feel than its waterside cousin. Sleek lines, muted tones and a contemporary feel combine to create a warm and welcoming space, with a row of high stools offering hungry diners that intimate ‘kitchen table’ experience.
There’s a strong crossover of influence and flavour between the Cargo and Kauto menus – with dishes like noodles, sharing sides and baos featuring in both. But with a larger kitchen, Kauto offers a fuller range.
Ramen recommendations (Ramenations? No…)
On my most recent visit I broke with previous form and tried the Woky Ko ramen; a large bowl of steaming noodles swimming in an umami (look it up) broth based on the saltier shio recipe. Larkin has spent hours perfecting the balances of salt, soy and spices across his dishes, and, with delicate jamon bone and rich roasted garlic, Woky Ko ramen is simply stunning.
But yes, I do have form here. On my first Kauto visit I fell a bit in love with the KFC ramen. This show-stopping blend of Korean spices leaves you slurping from the bottom of the bowl – perhaps not very fitting for a stylish restaurant setting, but it’s all too easy to get carried away…
Sichuan ox cheek and hot and sour aged tofu complete Kauto’s ramen offerings, complemented by a mouth-watering selection of sides like onglet steak, tiger prawn toast, crispy duck pancakes and tenderstem broccoli that will change the way you look at greens forever.
New Year deals from Monday to Friday
Woky Ko’s new weekday deals started up recently, offering diners a little added value for money from 4.30pm to 6.30pm Monday to Friday.
Down on the harbourside, Woky Ko Cargo is offering either chicken vermicelli noodles or edamame bean and sunflower seed yakisoba noodles plus a Tsingtao beer for £10.
And on Park St, just opposite the Wills Memorial Building, Woky Ko Kauto’s early-evening deal brings you a free beer, glass of wine or soft drink with any of the four ramen dishes.
Behind the Scenes at Thatchers Cider
I have a confession to make… I’m a cider snob. I like it dry or medium-dry, and cloudy – with the heady scent of fermented apples still brimming in the glass. The kind of cider that’s been greasing the wheels of agriculture and industry in Somerset for centuries. Not for me, the sugary, sweet, supermarket stuff… I’ll have a pint of real zider, and you can leave the twigs and leaves in, too.
Spanning four generations in the same family, Thatchers is our region’s most famous cider-maker – and their range of produce is broad. Although most of their ciders are slightly over-processed for my liking, they do still make cider the traditional way. I’d say a visit to their orchards at Myrtle Farm in the heart of Somerset’s cider country is a must-do for any cider-lover in Bristol.
Exploring the orchards
My recent visit began in the Thatchers Exhibition Orchard, where manager Chris oversees over 450 different apple varieties. The weather conditions in Somerset offer the perfect conditions for growing apples – with cold winters allowing the trees to lie dormant, and temperate springs promoting bee pollination and blossom-growth. True to form for this time of year, it was pissing with rain as we strolled among the lines of fruit-laden trees – but the apples like a little of that, too.
Hearing how Chris and his team fuse new apple buds to young root stocks to produce varieties like Dabinett and Jonagold was insightful, and his ability to harness the power of nature to produce the finest harvests made for fascinating listening. Our tour continued past the huge apple vats and ancient fermentation tanks to the state-of-the-art canning plant, and it was a joy to hear the various Thatchers team members share their passion for the product.
To the tasting…
Thatchers brought a selection of their lovely cider to Bristol a few months ago, so this was a fortunate second tasting for me. We sampled diverse brews including Redstreak, Old Rascal, Vintage, Haze, Katy, and more – each offering a different balance of scent and flavour to the last. It turns out Old Rascal is the team’s overall favourite Thatchers’ cider – a very fine drop indeed.
Lunch at The Railway Inn
The Railway Inn is Thatchers’ local pub, with a broad selection of beers and ciders alongside a full menu of delicious dishes sourced, of course, from in and around Somerset. The pub has been lovingly converted from its original stone structure to a warm and welcoming space – with traditional snug, open bar area and stylish oak-beamed dining room. There’s garden seating for summer visitors, and a seasonal menu that makes the very most of the region’s natural produce.
Take a tour
If all this talk of apples and cider has got your taste buds tingling, you can find details on Thatchers’ guided tours and tastings on their website here. October is Cider and Perry Month, so now’s the ideal time to celebrate and support our local orchards and cider-makers. Harvest season is upon us too, so if you visit Thatchers there’s a good chance you’ll get to see the trucks arriving from across Somerset – their fruity haul ready for pressing.
If you head over, do book a table at The Railway Inn – it makes a good visit great. I can recommend the Thatchers Gold-battered fish and chips, and the sticky toffee pud hits the spot. Cider’s not bad ‘n’ all. Cheers!
Pata Negra Revamp Kitchen And Menu
Pata Negra Steps It Up for the Autumn Season
Bristol’s proud independent streak is well-documented, and we’re lucky to have so many vibrant and exciting bars, restaurants and cafes to choose from in this city.
If you enjoy visiting and supporting Bristol’s varied independent venues, it’s likely you’ll have a list of places old and new that you’re just waiting for the right time to tick off.
The Ox on Corn Street had been sitting on my must-visit list for months when I went last month, and I was very, very impressed.
But from the style-savvy team behind The Milk Thistle and Hyde & Co, what else could I have expected?
Also on Corn Street, and also run by the same talented team, Pata Negra is another venue I’d been curious about for a while — but on those occasions when I’d peered in past the door, I’d never felt encouraged in. Despite the great location and classical décor, it somehow just didn’t feel tempting.
Fresh changes at Pata Negra
That’s all changed now. In the latest round of developments at Pata Negra, the kitchen has been brought up from the basement to take pride of place at the forefront of the room — and the difference is striking.
You step through the doorway to skilled chefs preparing delicious dishes in their new open-plan setting, with a fine haunch of cured Ibérico ham hanging from the wall.
Further towards the back of the room, welcoming window seats and banks of plush red-leather benches offer the perfect settings for intimate gatherings of friends.
A menu re-vamp for the autumn season
The engine-room of the restaurant is now fully on show, and a menu re-vamp has changed things up for autumn. Diners can expect seasonal twists on authentic Spanish classics alongside new dishes created to bring the best out of the kitchen’s open grills.
Meanwhile, the wine and sherry list showcases the best of the Iberian Peninsula — the perfect accompaniment to the delicious tapas dishes, fresh seafood and decadent desserts on offer.
For full details on Pata Negra’s refreshed autumn menu, head over to the website here.
New Year Menu Twist at Woky Ko
Woky Ko launch new menu Nestled in Wapping Wharf on Bristol’s buzzing harbourside, Woky Ko: CARGO swung open its doors in late-October, 2016...
Behind the Scenes at Thatchers Cider
I have a confession to make… I’m a cider snob. I like it dry or medium-dry, and cloudy – with...
Pata Negra Revamp Kitchen And Menu
Pata Negra Steps It Up for the Autumn Season Bristol’s proud independent streak is well-documented, and we’re lucky to have...
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Sampling The Lesser Known Ciders From Thatchers
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