Phew, what an end to last week! As it was Hannah's Birthday we planned a wonderful weekend of exploring Bristol for food & coffee, then headed to Hampstead Heath for Part II with Giulia, Sandy, Wendy & Charles so they could meet Eggs. Giulia titled this gathering... #frenchiepicnic (perfect, I know). Any excuse to sit in a park and relax with good wine and picnic food has to be taken up, and we picked the best day for it!
Our weekend started with Tapas at Seasons - No camera. Just Hannah and I, good food, good drink and excited conversation about the few days ahead. The perfect evening in my favourite place, with the perfect person. I couldn't ask for more.
The next day our alarm sounded at 5:30am, we jumped out of bed, brewed a fresh Chemex and took Eggs for a quick stint around the park before getting on the road. We dropped Eggs off with my parents so he could terrorise Meg all day long and we could explore Bristol to our hearts content. As we arrived in Bristol I pulled out Google maps and found directions for Small St Espresso. The first stop on our itinerary for the day.
Small St was a pleasant surprise of large windows, bare wood, subway tiles and fantastic coffee. I opted for a flat white & sourdough toast with marmalade whilst Hannah had a cappuccino and toasted (?) Banana Bread. She made the right choice, the small piece I had was sublime - warm & melty with a slight chew thanks to the toasting (yes, this was a cheat day). After a brief chat with the Barista about good spots to check out, we headed for St Nicholas Market to look around the stalls and search out Grillstock in anticipation of some amazing BBQ food later that day.
The market was a mix of everything from vegan bakeries to a stall devoted to hot sauce. There was plenty of options for food from all over the world and what looked to be a vibrant atmosphere of vendors setting up for the days business. We grabbed a fresh fruit smoothie to share and looked around some stalls before heading towards the Here Gallery to grab the latest copy of Cereal. As we walked to the Gallery I was hit by a very strange sensation - I was about to walk into a shop to buy a magazine with a cover shoot by someone I've personally met and drank coffee with in New York City. Isn't the world a small place? Thanks to Alice Gao for that little mind bending experience!
Did I mention the weather? No? Well, it was perfect! As we watched Londoners complain about rain on twitter we enjoyed sunshine and people watched in a park as the lunch time rush passed us by and kids ran around clutching freshly served ice creams. It definitely felt like summer.
We'd planned to walk down the river and get lost in the streets of Bristol, as we began walking we spotted Brewdog and the draw of a good beer in the sunshine was too much to ignore. Hannah and I are far from beer drinkers, we stick with wine & hard cider for the most part, but after seeing the guys from Small St Espresso & Full Court Press (more of this later) talking to Brewdog via Twitter I figured it was worth dropping by and I'm glad we did! As we walked in, the barman Matt told us to ignore the menus and talk to him, then proceeded to serve us a taster of each beer they had to tap as well as the history of Brewdog and their beer. Amazing stuff, and extremely eye opening.
We settled on a half of their 5am Saint and started chatting to Matt about coffee. It was then I realised he'd walked into Small St Espresso that morning, ordered his coffee and chatted to the Baristas for a good few minutes before heading to work. He had also been a barista before getting to the craft beer world. So awesome to see how connected the Bristol food scene is! He suggested we check out Full Court Press which thankfully was already on our list and said to ask for a 'Cold Drip'. I was instantly intrigued!
After finishing our beer we walked down the river, slowly heading back into Bristol and towards the penultimate stop for the day with thoughts of a 'Cold Drip' peculating (you see what I did there?). As we walked into Full Court Press the minimalist décor and array of coffee paraphernalia suggested these guys were serious about their coffee and knew how to brew it.
Upon mentioning cold drip the owner Mat's eyes lit up as he pulled out two black medicine bottles perfectly chilled and complete with FCP branding then looked at us mischievously, he clearly knew this was our first time and began to explain the process behind a cold drip coffee. In simple terms you allow the coffee to brew cold and very slow - 4 hours slow to be precise! Upon taking my first sip I was sold, I've never tasted coffee so smooth and deep. The favours seemed so much more pronounced than normal and I instantly knew I needed a cold drip in my life, luckily Has Bean stock them and I've got a birthday coming up.
After finishing I ordered a Piccolo and chatted with Mat about all things coffee, business, his little shop opposite the registry office in Bristol, the London coffee scene and the amount of cameras I carry on a daily basis. We took some Instax of the shop as a parting gift, bought some beans from the local roaster Extract and began the long walk to the newly opened Grillstock restaurant.
Grillstock promised some great BBQ and it certainly delivered. We split the £18 pulled pork, brisket & chicken with fries & cornbread and washed it down with a coke float. I'm glad we did, it was huge and easily enough to satisfy Hannah and I. The service was quick and the food delicious. The décor was a perfect mix of rough & ready and functional with a large communal table to sit around and enjoy some BBQ.
Overall our day in Bristol was perfect, its a city I'll be returning to for sure as there is plenty more to see and do... and eat.
Part II to follow for #frenchiepicnic