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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A Saturday Night Catch Up at Al Bacio

Last weekend our good friends Kathryn and Gavin came down to visit from London and a big catch up and as I had been dying to try Al Bacio after hearing from friends that it was rather good, I booked us in for Saturday evening.  Located in the space formerly occupied for years by Sands and after that Sahara, Al Bacio is a fairly small restaurant but the night we were there it was very busy. Rather glad to be out of the cold we were directed to our table and coats were taken. They seem to have a lot of waiting staff at Al Bacio, but for good reason because their service operation was pretty slick, friendly unobtrusive Italian waiters who seem passionate about the food they are serving and offering up the odd joke.

Having already looked over the menu several times online before our visit I had mostly decided what to order. I was impressed by how many fish dishes they offered up and not just the usual couple so definitely check out the specials menu if you are a fish fanatic. I decided to pick the calamari for starters and classic Italian dish osso buco, as I have been wanting to try it for an age. Rich went for the mixed arancini and a steak whilst all four of us shared some garlic bread pizza.
Al Bacio Bristol
garlic bread pizza
Al Bacio Bristol
Trio Fantasia (arancini)
Al Bacio Bristol
Al Bacio Bristol
Caprese Al Bacio
As you can see from the photos of the starters they like to be a little different in their presentation it is nice to see dishes in an Italian restaurant presented with a little more flair. What you will also notice is how huge the portions are, these were starters and whereas most portions of calamari are around six rings at the most there must have been nearly twenty on my plate. When my calamari arrived I did think they looked a little anemic however they were cooked perfectly, no chewiness, although I would have liked a touch more salt on the batter but I was impressed on the whole.

Rich's arancini, the trio fantasia, were so tasty I almost wish I had ordered them, in fact next time that might be on my list. Kathryn ordered the Caprese Al Bacio, like a Caprese salad but wrapped in filo, she really enjoyed it. So far so good, Al Bacio had impressed with their starters, not to mention the lovely bottle of Italian red which was warmed just to the right temperature and was a smooth accompaniment to dinner.  On to the mains...

Al Bacio Bristol
risotto Al Bacio
Al Bacio Bristol
osso buco alla Milanese
Al Bacio Bristol
steak in garlic butter sauce
Al Bacio Bristol

The veal in my osso buco was very tender it just fell apart and was full of flavour I enjoyed it, I felt the risotto alla Milanese could have done with a tad more seasoning but I would definitely order this dish again when I see it on a menu. Rich's steak was cooked exactly to order with enough garlic to keep the vampires away. Once again the portions were generous and so by the end of two courses we were stuffed although we did almost crumble in front of the profiteroles but our stomachs begged us not to.

I was impressed with Al Bacio, they offer tasty Italian food, including dishes that aren't on your typical Italian in England restaurant menus, which means you get to explore some new dishes or stick to more familiar ones if you have your favourites. The prices are also really reasonable for what you get nearly all the pasta, pizza and risotto dishes are under £10 and even the meat dishes hover around the £15 or so mark. I am looking forward to trying out their pizza next time I visit as the dough on the garlic bread was superb.  Also if you are gluten free you can be rest assured that they offer up gluten free pasta which opens up more choices to the gluten intolerant for whom usually Italian restaurants are a bit of a no go area.  A great new restaurant edition to Bristol, I urge you to check it out although booking is advisable, news has spread fast about this place. To find out more about Al Bacio visit their website.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Leftover Chicken and Chorizo Winter Pie

Hello all, it's been a while, I have no real reason other than I haven't really been anywhere new lately and have been mostly hibernating in a pile of blankets and cups of tea.  However on Sunday I made this quick pie for Monday's dinner and decided it was so good I had to share it with you. The great thing about this pie is it is pretty versatile and economical you can use up any leftovers from your roast chicken.

chicken and chorizo pie
golden delicious
You will need:
A couple of large handfuls of left over roast chicken- I would guess I had about 300-400g
1 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp plain flour
400ml chicken stock
200ml white wine
250-300mls crème fraîche
1 pack of pre-rolled shortcrust pastry (or make it yourself if you have time)
3-4 inches of a chorizo ring chopped into small pieces
1 egg for egg wash
1 tsp paprika

Optional items
leftover roast potatoes and/or carrots

I used chorizo as the other ingredient in my chicken pie to give it a bit of a boost but you can use these optional items instead if you prefer, or have them. Rich and I ate all the roast potatoes so we didn't have any of those left so the only other item in my fridge that would have worked was chorizo. So I fried up the chopped chorizo in a saucepan with the olive oil for a few minutes then I added the flour and stirred it all in with the oil. 

Next I added the stock gradually, like when you make a roux, stirring constantly then finally I added the wine and some salt, pepper and paprika. I let this bubble away until it was thick and reduced down then I took it off the heat to cool. 

Then I unrolled my pastry and halved it to cover the bottom of the pie dish. Once the sauce was cool I added the crème fraîche and chicken and mixed it all up before pouring it into the dish, I then covered it with the pastry top, whilst making sure to make a steam hole and brushing it with egg.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden on top then  serve with whatever you fancy, we just had some cabbage with ours. This is a lovely rich and comforting pie that is really easy to put together but tastes like more effort has been made, so give it a go and let me know how you get on.

chicken and chorizo pie recipe
chicken and chorizo pie