March 2017 - Bravas and Bakers & Co Shipton Mill Visit
On a beautifully sunny day in March a few members of the team headed to the Cotswolds to have a look at where our wonderful flour comes from.
We started in the classroom at roller mill site, where we learnt about different types of grain, and individual properties of various flours.
We then donned our lab coats and headed outside to see where all the grain (1000 tonnes per week!) is delivered and deposited in to huge silos, where it is stored before being processed in to flour.
Each delivery is tested in their on-site laboratory, to ensure that all the grain that makes it to the mill is of the highest quality. After having a poke around in the lab, we were led in to the unbelievably loud milling room, where the grain is fed through different sets of rollers to be split and ground.
The grain is split in to two main components : bran - most of which is waste, however some is added back in at a later stage to make wholemeal flour; and semolina - the really valuable part, which is ground ever finer until it resembles the white flour that we are all familiar with. Chris pulled out samples of the flour at different stages so we could feel the different coarseness of each stage (excuse the hairnets):
We then set off to visit the stone mill. Half an hour away and down a winding stoney lane stood the historic building, next to a beautiful stream and nestled amongst biodynamic gardens - not a bad place for an office!
We spent the next half an hour climbing up old wooden ladders and ducking around low rafters to see the inner workings of the mill. The huge stone burrs work in pairs to grind the grain - the process is much simpler than the modern roller method, however it is harder to control and the bran and semolina remain unseparated. This is great for a traditional stoneground wholemeal flour but the method is far less suitable for finer white flour.
You will find Shipton Mill flour in all of our breads and cakes. You can even pick up a bag for yourself in Bakers and Co. for using in your own creations at home!
DECEMBER 2016 – BRAVAS VISIT TO PSYCHOPOMP
After the opening of the “Bravas Gin Club” the next step was to create our own “Bravas Gin” and who better than Danny from Psychopomp could help us to do it?
Psychopomp – one of the still used to make our gin.
Five member of our staff went to the Micro-distillery to learn all the secrets of the gin
In front of a nice breakfast G&T, Danny explained us the different techniques that can be in the distillation and infusion process and gave us lots of advices on how to make our own.
Psychopomp – Gin tasting before the distillation
We then selected accurately the ingredients for our recipe. We went from the ñoras
peppers to the cactus flowers passing from olive oil, rosemary and star anise, to
create 5 different gin that represented each one of us and the Bravas ethos in
After more or less three hours, the product is ready! 5 bottles of gin for us to take back at Bravas where we tasted and analysed the final products.
Psychopomp – Final products bottled and labelled
The final step will be to find the perfect combination and work again with Danny’s help so that VERY VERY SOON we will have our own Bravas Gin!
Psychopomp – “just a few” ingredients for the distillation
Little secret: you can make your own gin as well! Just pop in at Psychopomp and book your spot for a “make your own gin on Saturday”.
OCTOBER 2016 – BAKERS & CO. VISIT TO EXTRACT COFFEE
Paul went to Extract Coffee to get some news about our new seasonal beans for our
delicious coffees at Bakers & Co.
We have selected two different varieties, both single origin from Colombia:
The first one comes from the farm “Finca La Casiana” where the Uribe brothers have
been producing coffees since 1987. The farm infrastructures are continuously improving,
delivering quality products using 100% sustainable farming techniques.
The farm has now its own wet mill, water reservoir, housing for workers electricity and internal roads.
In order to gain the consistency of a great coffee in each cup, the farming process
is meticulously monitored with soil analysis, weeding, fertilisation and selective pruning.
The Colombian Casiana Espresso is our current seasonal house coffee at Bakers & Co, with aromas such as plum, walnut and caramel. A wonderful mix for a intense and full- bodied espresso.
The second one comes from the farm “Finca San Pascual” situated in the Andes and
home of new processing methods.
The San Pascual coffee is hand-picked, left to shade-dry for five days and then silo dried. This process ensures an even and relatively low temperature environment, which creates a more homogeneous drying process.
The Santa Barbara Estate, where the farm is situated, employs more than 60 people per
year and provides them and their families with free housing within the farm.
The San Pascual Coffe is our current filter coffee at Bakers & Co. With its floral aromas, stewed plum sweetness and melon notes, it is an excellent option if you like to drink black coffee.
Both varieties are available to buy from Bakers & Co.
SEPTEMBER 2016 - BRAVAS JAMÓN CARVING TRAINING
After a little break in the summer, we are back on track with our trainings!
Our chefs attended the Jamón Carving Training with Jesse from Mevalco, our main Spanish supplier.
Spanish ham carving – Practical guide by Mevalco
Our chefs learnt about the different parts of the ham and how to perfectly carve each of them as well as the right equipment to use: three different types of knifes, to cut, clean and carve.
Our chefs slicing Jamón with the classical carving knife, which provides a slim and precise cut
Jesse also taught us about the different types of Jamón Serrano & Jamón Iberico, the king of the Spanish cuisine.
Beautiful freshly sliced Jamón, we couldn’t resist and ate it all!
JULY 2016 –VISIT TO CELTIC FISH & GAME
We were really curious to see where our delicious fish come from, so we went down to Cornwall to meet the staff of Celtic Fish & Game, our fish supplier.
Fresh Cod Newlyn, Cornwall – July 2016
They are a family business located in St. Ives, which is a very strategic position since they are close to four local ports: Newlyn, Looe, Plymouth and St. Ives. In this way they have access to 40 different species of fish.
Lobsters from Celtic Fish & Game – St. Ives, Cornwall – July 2016
We put the alarm at 5am and (a bit sleepy) went to visit the fish market in Newlyn. Naomi showed us around the market and we had the chance to see the fishermen bidding to get the best price as well as lots of types of fish just caught, straight from the boats.
Newlyn, Cornwall – Early visit to the fish market – July 2016
Later on we went to visit the Celtic Fish & Game premises in St. Ives, where we could see
how the fish are stored, filleted and packed, ready to be shipped to Bravas and Bakers & Co.
They also have an onsite smokehouse where old techniques are used to produce Co. exciting new products with local ingredients.
Fresh mackerel – Newlyn, Cornwall – July 2016
Obviously, we couldn’t leave with empty hands, so we made an amazing fish BBQ and we can definitely confirm the high quality and freshness of their fantastic products!
Lobster salad & clams in white wine - after trip treats!!
JUNE 2016 – VISIT TO IVY HOUSE FARM
We had the chance to visit this amazing little farm in Somerset that supplies both Bravas and Bakers & Co. with their Jersey products. We use their milk and cream for our coffees and to make our cakes and desserts.
Ivy House Farm - June 2016 – Jersey cows
The whole farm is run by the family members, which are involved in every single process
of the business: from milking the cows, taking orders, packaging and delivering.
They produce only what they need for their orders, in this way they avoid any type of waste, focusing on the quality of their products.
Ivy House Farm - June 2016 - Milk & cream separation process
All the cows are divided according to their age, so that they can keep a close eye on the growth of each of them.
Ivy House Farm - June 2016 – 2 months old calves.
Ivy House Farm - June 2016 – 2 weeks old little calve.
Ivy House Farm - June 2016 – Fresh grass where the cows graze regularly
Ivy House Farm - June 2016 – Jose, Ashley, Fee, Sara, Geoff and the little Ted
APRIL 2016 – VISIT TO CHASE DISTILLERY
The visit at Chase Distillery was simply amazing. Guy showed us around the whole building and explained in detail the production process of their Chase Vodka and Chase Gin, truly from Field to Bottle.
Three types of potatoes are used to produce the Chase Vodka: Lady Rosetta, Lady Claire, King Edward
Each 70cl bottle takes 100-200 potatoes to be made!!
First step: The potatoes are mashed together with water. Then yeast is added.
The Fermentation process: The combination of raw mash and yeast goes into the fermenters, they have quite a few of these!!
The distillation process - It takes place in the column still “Fat Betty”, the largest in Europe.
The distillation process: The distillation in Fat Betty turns the alcohol percentage from 82% to 96%. This is used as the base for the Chase Vodka and Chase Gin.
The infusion process - all the botanicals are put in a pillow case and left in infusion in the spirit for about 5/8 hours.
We finished our visit with some gin tasting in this great bar, where we got some pretty good ideas for some new exciting gin & tonics and much more!
March 2016 – Bakers & Co. Visit to San Francisco
Paul and Rupert came back from their research trip to San Francisco with plenty of new ideas for the brunch and supper menus at Bakers & Co.
They explored the city to get inspiration from its vibrant food scene, the speciality openspace cafes, American craft beers and the organic wines from the famous Californian valleys. the brunch and supper menus at Bakers & Co.
March 2016 – Bakers & Co. visit to San Francisco
Sightglass Coffee – March 2016 – Bakers & Co. visit to San Francisco
Wine tasting at La Clarine Farm March 2016 – Bakers & Co. visit to San Francisco
March 2016 – Bakers & Co. visit to San Francisco
Result of the trip is not only a new fresh, colourful and healthy menu but also our special “Bakers & Co. guide to San Francisco”
Pick up your copy and get ready to visit the Californian foodie paradise!
March 2016 – Bakers & co. Coffee training at Full Court Press
Lily and Malgosia from Bakers & Co. had a fantastic coffee training with Matt at Full Court Press. This is what Lily tells us about it:
I arrived at Bakers & Co having done all my barista training on the job. There’s no doubt that practice makes perfect. Making what feels like 1000 coffees a day for a few days a week, you’re going to improve: the rhythm of your work will quicken, your base level of confidence with pulling shots and steaming milk goes up (and means that a stream of orders for espresso martinis on a Sunday morning is less likely to induce a meltdown!), and you will get to know the ticks and tinkering of the machines you use.
However, too much focus on efficiency and you may forget about the little bean that has come from far off climes to swirl around the sunshine yellow cups. The training myself and Malgosia received from Matt at Full Court Press reminded us of this fact! What’s more, for me, the experience inspired a new appreciation of coffee that goes beyond just saying “like it, don’t like it” to being able to identify the *tasting notes* and fine-tune the extraction process to get the best out of the bean.
March 2016 - Coffee Training at Full Court Press
March 2016 – Coffee Training at Full Court Press
We started with the fundamentals of origin and learnt what factors have the greatest influence on the resulting flavours of the coffee we drink. Firstly, the higher the traceability of the bean the better: from country, to region, to the farmers themselves. How the coffee plant is farmed, harvested and processed is what makes each batch so unique. After the fermentation process has stripped the coffee berry of its fruit, the leftover beans are often sorted by hand in the various small holdings and then shipped off for roasting. Finding out how much happens before the bean even reaches the espresso machine was a real eye-opener. I expected the training to be entirely technical, but touching upon these foundations first made me truly value the product we have to offer at the restaurant.
With all this effort gone into producing a batch of coffee beans, you have to try do it justice. The process of trying to achieve just that took me back to my chemistry lessons at school; setting certain controls and changing the variables ever so slightly to get the ideal result. We learnt to detect a good extraction, one where middling, sweet caramels are in abundance but initial acidity and chalky after-tastes are avoided. However, there is good coffee and there is what you like. Everyone will always have their own preferences, but it’s our responsibility to offer the right balance for the bean.
March 2016 – Coffee Training at Full Court Press
So, how does this all translate to service at Bakers? Firstly, knowing how much quality control the beans have gone through, I now wince every time I have to waste a shot adjusting the grind (those beans could have been a cup of coffee!). Second, learning how to taste is completely different to knowing what you like. When it comes to adjusting the grinder first thing and tasting espresso, I’ll know what to look for, even though I myself don’t drink espresso. Lastly, I feel I know how to discuss tastes and aromas with curious customers.
For me, that gorgeous smell that escapes from a newly opened bag of coffee beans is extra special now that I know the means by which it came to be in my hands in Bakers & Co. Better still, I also feel comfortable taking time to make adjustments so the extraction is just right. In short, the extra coffee training I received gave me expert knowledge and it gave me confidence. Oh, and the aero press instructions are out the window!
March 2016 - Coffee Training at Full Court Press
Stream Farm - March 2016
We visited this fantastic organic farm based in Somerset. There the focus is on yielding produce of the highest quality, solely from the British countryside.
Season + Taste staff trip to Stream Farm - March 2016 - Beautiful countryside
Season + Taste staff trip to Stream Farm - March 2016 - Pedigree Dexter herd
Stream Farm is one of the finest examples of sustainable farming in the country. Their produce has won several prizes in the Taste of the West competition and Great Taste Awards. The lamb especially is considered the best in the entire country.
Season + Taste staff trip to Stream Farm – March 2016 - Our chef Jordan with his new little friend
Staff trip to Granada - January 2016
This year, for our regular trip to Spain, the Bravas team went on a fantastic trip to Granada, home of the best olive oil in the world and delicious organic wines.
January 2016 - Bravas staff trip to Granada – Visit to the Barranco Oscuro Vineyard
January 2016 - Bravas staff trip to Granada – Food Market
January 2016 - Bravas staff trip to Granada – Lovely dinner at “El Sur de Granada” Gourmet tapas & local wines
January 2016 - Bravas staff trip to Granada – Home-made lunch prepared by the staff
January 2016 - Bravas staff trip to Granada – Delicious tomato salad at the “El Refectorium Catedral”
January 2016 - Bravas staff trip to Granada – Our kitchen staff discover the secrets of the head chef at the traditional tapas bar, Restaurante El Olivo.