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Stream Farm April 2017

Tucked into a secluded valley high in the Quantock Hills of Somerset, Stream Farm nestles in the heart of the countryside, producing top quality organic beef, chicken, lamb, rainbow trout, and more. Stream Farm are unique in their methods of egalitarian share farming – and take agriculture and its methods very seriously. They are proudly organic, and their livestock clearly enjoy a quality of life unrivalled by the suppliers of supermarkets.

Bravas assistant manager Fee, Bravas Head Chef Mark, Bakers FOH member Dani and Season + Taste assistant Emma visited the farm in early April on a sun drenched Friday. James, who heads up Stream Farm, took them around the farm to visit the new life – beautiful calves, born to their pedigree Dexter cattle, grazed amongst the daffodils next to their lake. Dani, Emma and Fee even got to hold Stream Farm’s first lamb of the year – who they affectionately named ‘Dani’ after our own Dani! – who had been born just a few hours before the team arrived.

Before they left, James and his colleagues offered the guys some of their deliciously crisp homemade organic Stream Farm apple juice, along with a plate of their home-smoked, award-studded rainbow trout. Fee, Mark, Dani and Emma were sad to leave this calm corner of the world behind…..but took the trout with them. You can sample the delights of Stream Farm rainbow trout on the menu at Bravas, cooked simply on the plancha, and also in their newest White Russian salad (which you won’t want to miss)!


MARCH 2017 – Bravas go to Sevilla!

On a damp, blustery Sunday in March, we gathered at Bristol Airport at the ungodly hour of 5am to hop it over to Sevilla for a good dose of Vitamin D and tapas. Stepping off the plane into beautiful Spanish spring sunshine, we all breathed a sigh of relief!

15 of us, plus baby Winston, took it upon ourselves to eat as much tapas as possible over the ensuing trip. We sampled the delights of backstreet tapas bar Las Teresas in Sevilla’s city centre, tucked shoulder to shoulder feasting on sweet mushrooms soaked in olive oil and seeped in garlic, delectable jamon, and sipping on sherry. When Kieran and Imogen first took the Bravas staff to Spain 3 years ago, it wasn’t quite so tricky to take 3 of them out to the local tapas bars. With 15 hungry mouths to feed, cramming into bustling bars in Sevilla wasn’t as easy – but all the more fun for it!

We took in lots of supplier visits along our way too – morning sherry and brandy drinking at the Bodegas Romate, where we get our beloved Cardinal Mendoza brandy for Bravas, and Losada, our olive producers, who hand pick – and hand process - our exquisite green olives

La Azotea, one of Seville’s best tapas bars, opened for us especially and created a 12 course tasting menu just for Bravas – complete with classic paella, salmorejo with melt in the mouth mackerel, and simple sweet organic tomatoes with rock salt and drizzles of olive oil.

On our way back from Sevilla, we stopped off at one of Bravas’ favourite haunts – Malaga Market. Birthplace of our now famous aubergine with molasses, we took in the sights and smells of the market, snacking on razor clams, concha finas, and of course, fried aubergine, before hopping on a plane back to rainy Bristol, dreaming of the sun soaked streets of Sevilla left behind……


MARCH 2017 –Intermediate Level Barista Skills training with Extract Coffee

We are proud to serve the wonderful Extract coffee in both Bravas and Bakers & Co, and are always keen on fine tuning our coffee making expertise. There’s no better place to do that than at Extract HQ…..

Our general manager Jose, Bravas assistant manager Fee and Supervisor Edgar joined Bakers & Co manager Paul and assistant manager Beth to take their level 2 Intermediate Speciality Coffee training at Extract’s roastery in St Werburghs, Bristol. This coffee training, which is SCA approved, focuses on taking baristas’ skills in depth – looking at not only how to produce the perfect cup of coffee, but also probing the processes behind this.

The team learnt about coffee cupping – exploring the complexities of coffee flavour – which is a skill akin to wine tasting. They also practised making high quality coffees with stunning latte art as fast as they could – a key asset to any barista’s repertoire!

Join us at either Bakers & Co or Bravas to reap the benefits of the team’s efforts and to sip on a cup of our delicious Extract coffee whenever you like!


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 distillation process.

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 general.

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.