Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Couscous is local too

Felt the need for a break from the book so we went down to the centre of Bristol for the weekly farmers' market (where I got an amazing fish bargain, of which more tomorrow)

I'd also heard there was a Portuguese food shop round the back which I thought might be the best place to buy salt cod. There's a dish I remember having way back in Oporto which was a bit like a fishy gratin dauphinoise based on salt cod, potatoes and cream which I thought would make a good addition to the book.

The very nice woman behind the counter explained exactly how to make it but I rapidly realised it wasn't going to be a quick (or, of course, particularly healthy) option. What I should do, she said, was just cook it with potatoes, lots of onions and olive oil which sounds typically Portuguese but not quite so delicious. It'll keep for a few days though so I've got time to think about it.

The whole area is brilliant for adventurous foodies. The Portuguese family who own the shop (O Celeiro) also run a tiny restaurant and takeaway, there's a South African shop called Kalahari Moon (I think, although that does sound more like a place that sells crystals, always possible in Bristol), a Caribbean wrap stall, great cheese and olive stalls and an excellent Moroccan restaurant which serves couscous and - wait for it - o ye felafel lovers, felafel!

Of course we had to try it and I have to say it was very good. Quite different from the Israeli/Egyptian kind - curiously soft so they must have either added a lot of water to the chickpeas or incorporated some gram flour (the latter, I suspect). The spicing was spot on though and they served it with a really delicious yellow pepper and sultana relish I hadn't come across before and which would be good with carrot too, I think.

It also brought home that buying and eating local isn't just about supporting my charmingly old-fashioned neighbourhood shops but the rich variety of different food cultures that Bristol has to offer. I don't think I could live in a better place.

No comments: