The Spice Of Life
Although I love eating, I'm not exactly a fantastic cook and I usually favour simple recipes when cooking for guests. But there is one thing I love, it's adding some spices to simple dishes as it can make such a huge difference. I've also started to cook my favourite Indian dishes from recipes I find on the BBC or on Veg Recipes of India. So when I was offered the chance to snap a blending Masterclass at Bart, I jumped on the occasion.
Located in Bedminster in Bristol, you can smell the presence of Bart's offices before you actually see them. It's funny how I felt transported to a souk or a street market as I passed by some enormous bags of spices from which emanated the most amazing flavours. Unsurprisingly, the staff are so used to it they couldn't help smiling at my beaming face.
The event, attended by some great culinary talents like Jenny Chandler and editors of the well-known Crumbs Magazine and The Curry Club took us from the origins of the spice trade to the evolution of the British palates with the arrival of migrants from the Indian continent and the West Indies. It was also really interesting to find out more about the cultural differences within Europe when it comes to taste and the spices used. In the UK, it seems that we're more and more savvy when it comes to blends, we want the original and traditional stuff! Yotam Ottolenghi, I'm looking at you :)
For the practical part of the masterclass, it was pure joy to tuck into all the spices, herbs and condiments that were available for us to create our very own blends. Not as disciplined as some of the participants, I didn't really write down the ingredients of my mixture to keep a recipe, but rather joyfully created a mish-mash of all the things I love, so in went the posh black salt, the pink peppercorns, the cumin, garlic, coriander, the paprika...the list doesn't stop here but I can't really remember how far I went. Our precious creations were then taken away while we tucked into some amazing food prepared using the most delicious blends, before they reappeared for us to try them on some chicken and halloumi.
I cowardly let the others try my blend first, and when no one collapsed I decided to give it a go, and to my utter surprise it was really good, and I suspect Bart will be secretly trying to recreate it...not!
A big thank you to Deborah Lewis at the Mint Collective, and the team at Bart Ingredients for making us feel so welcome.
Words: d̶a̶n̶ Virginia / pics: Virginia
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