Back in December 2011, the Bristol Foodie females devised an evening of epic proportions; satisfying a selection of sweet-toothed ticket holders with an aptly-named Pudding Club. An evening which, showcasing the indubitable talent from within the realms of Bristol's culinary presence, invited five independent businesses to create a pudding to be expertly matched with a cocktail concocted by the masters of mixology at The Colour Inn. Unsurprisingly met with an overwhelmingly positive response, round two of this gastronomical genius sold out in less than twenty-four hours, a time-frame which luckily, I managed to adhere to; bagging myself a space at the sweetest soiree of the year thus far!
Date and Time: Tuesday 17th April 2012, 19:00
Name of Event/Establishment: Bristol Foodie presents: Pudding Club (#PudClub) at The Colour Inn
Location: Clifton Down, Whiteladies Road - Bristol
Reason for Visit: Plainly said, a combination of my two great loves made this an unmissable occasion
Pudding #1: Pomegranate Trio: Lavender Meringue Nest with Crème Patisserie, Pomegranate and Almond Tartlet (complete with edible sparkle) and Pomegranate and White Chocolate Blondies
Courtesy of: Devilled Egg Kitchen Academy - http://www.thedevilledegg.com/
Cocktail #1: Rose and Lychee Vesper, (served in a frozen shot glass)
Verdict: A fantastic start with commendable presentation and an exquisite arrangement of flavours; most notably, from the aromatic lavender of the meringue which, punctuated with the tangy crunch of fresh pomegranate seeds, simply danced upon the palate – in my view, instantly coining the calibre for the courses to come. Meanwhile, the crisp potency created with the combination of gin, vodka and lychee liquor effectively cut through the buttery disposition of the blondies and appropriately offset the burnt-sugar tasting tartlets with decidedly delicious results!
Pudding #2: Strawberry Bakewell Tart with Gooseberry Cream
Courtesy of: The Townhouse Bar and Restaurant (previously The Picture House East) – http://www.thetownhousebristol.co.uk/
Cocktail #2: Apple Sourz (a twist on the well-known assemblage of citrus, sugar and egg white, this cocktail was served short, over ice)
Verdict: Round two channelled the essence of an English country garden with a bitter-sweet medley of ripe British fruits; sweet Cheddar strawberries and freshly-picked gooseberries (from the Head Chef's very own garden). Here, The Colour Inn 'sweetened the sour' by muddling a little Elderflower into the cocktail’s green apple zing along with a dash of almond syrup to compliment the ensemble with its rich, earthy appeal. The shortcrust of the bite-sized tarts also ate very well; its crumbly moreish-ness the final factor in making this specific sweet a strong contender for the coveted spot of my overall 'pick of the puddings'!
Pudding #3: White Chocolate Pannacotta with balsamic and black pepper strawberries and a peppermint coulis
Courtesy of: Brace and Browns Bar and Kitchen – http://www.braceandbrowns.co.uk
Cocktail #3: Dirty Lipstick, (served in a coupette, this concoction consisted of strawberry-infused rum which had been shaken with balsamic, fresh lime and a touch of grenadine)
Verdict: This course brought about an intriguing fusion of flavours with a distinctive bite…one might say, cream versus kick!? I wasn't sure that I could detect the peppermint to the extent that it was perhaps intended but it was nevertheless a well-executed pud; both in terms of its complex composition, (the pannacotta itself proving beautifully textured with a well-measured white chocolate content), as well as the thoughtful presentation whereby the familiar Brace and Browns branded tapas-bowls had been effectively utilised – a nice touch. Furthermore, with a cocktail that rather accurately reflected the elements of the fare, this could have almost been an extension of the pudding itself rather than a separate entity – consequently, the wow-factor and then some!
Pudding #4: Rhubarb, ginger wine and cardamom trifle – finished with beetroot sugar and nut brittle
Courtesy of: Dinewithi Pop-up Restaurant - http://dinewithi.com/
Cocktail #4: Ginger and Cardamom El Diablo (which, muddling El Jimador Tequila with fresh lime and a little Crème de Cassis, was served 'long' over ice)
Verdict: Round three constituted an inspired contrast of taste and texture whereby thick and viscous met light and sharp – for me, this pudding altered my former preconceptions of the age-old tradition of trifle, bringing to it, an innovative take on its rather more conventional (and in my view, almost haphazardly arranged) attributes. Here, an intricate balance of flavours had been achieved; the warmth of the saffron-threaded custard and marsala soaked crumble giving way to the distinctive smokiness of the cardamom whilst the crème de cassis of the accompanying cocktail teased the sweetness from the overall dish, contrasting the tart of the rhubarb to perfection.
Pudding #5: Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie
Courtesy of: Bellevue Bakery - http://www.bellevuebakery.co.uk/
Cocktail #5: Smoked Rob Roy, (which combined a heavily peated Scotch with Sweet Vermouth and Angousta Bitters in a frosted shot glass)
Verdict: After the initial shock-factor of what is positively, an acquired taste, the rich-roasted notes of what I'd heard described as a punchy digestif began to develop on the palate; encompassing an almost coffee-like quality given its deep, smoky hues. Not particularly enjoying this experience (if I'm completely honest...and I usually am), I promptly followed the somewhat tentative sipping that ensued with confident mouthfuls of pie, which I’m pleased to report turned this course around with the full-bodied indulgence of its choco-nut content! I was impressed that Laura had only trialled this pudding just days prior to the evening in question as, for me, it established the height of faultlessness; subsequently proving my pick of the puddings – sorry guys but once a chocoholic, always a chocoholic!
In conclusion, an entirely decadent evening which, without doubt, raised the bar in terms of what I can now refer to as pudding porn! On a serious note however, this was an event which demonstrated the high standard of culinary craftsmanship within our city, the imagination and skill behind the puddings provided (and, of course the acquisition and understanding behind the cocktails that accompanied them), really putting Bristol on the map in regards to its position within the fine-dining arena. My thanks go to Becci and Gemma of Bristol Foodie who were fabulous hosts, the evening itself proving professionally managed and the venue thoughtfully arranged with admirable attention to detail. They assure me that this is not the final foray of their popular Pudding Club – news which, for me at least, will keep my sweet tooth tingling for a rapid reprise!
NB. For MUCH better (and less tipsily-taken) images of the evening's fare, join the Bristol Foodie's Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/BristolFoodie