Three key ingredients for a feel-good breakfast at Beets n Roots, Bristol

What is a Beets n Roots breakfast?

I was really excited to be invited for breakfast at Beets n Roots with the Bristol Bloggers and Influencers group. I’m a great fan of eating chemical-free food, so a visit to a café that’s organic for one of my favourite meals of the day promised to be a real treat.

All Mighty breakfast
All Mighty Breakfast

After a bit of research I discovered that Beets n Roots is a vegetarian and vegan café. I wasn’t really sure what to expect for breakfast as my experience, up until now, of vegetarian breakfast is a pale-looking frozen veggie sausage. Fortunately, this image was about to change.

 3 key ingredients for me

  1. Beetroot

    I suppose I should have guessed from the name of the café that beetroot would be on the menu. And, lo and behold, waiting for us on a tray was a selection of freshly made juices, including a bright red beetroot juice.

    Fruit jucies
    Red, Green and Orange fruit juices

    While I love homemade beetroot, I was a little wary about drinking a glass full of it. However, the colour certainly attracted me and I was impressed at the balance of flavour of beetroot, apples and lemon. Beets are good for us for a whole load of nutritional reasons, including vitamins A, B, C and minerals such as iron, magnesium and copper, all of which we need to function well and give us energy. So, as you can imagine, this is a great start to the day. Once I’d started with a red juice, I felt it was only fair to try the orange and the green one too. Being used to freshly squeezed juice in Spain, which only contains oranges, I have to admit that I really took to the perfectly balanced combination of orange, carrot, turmeric and ginger in the orange juice. The green one was yummy too and a great way to eat your greens in disguise.

  2. Kale

    Ever since I discovered a recipe for kale crisps (kale baked in the oven with olive oil and paprika), I’ve been a fan of this ‘superpower’ veg, getting my organic supply from Ros at the Tetbury Goods Shed or the Fishponds Food Assembly. However, I had never had it for breakfast until my experience at Beets n Roots. While kale on your breakfast plate may seem a bit strange, it was my favourite bit of the All Mighty Breakfast; ginger and garlic sautéed kale. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  The All Mighty as you may guess from the name, is a powerful combination of feel-good foods. A baked mushroom on sourdough toast sprinkled with china rose sprouts, avocado, scrambled eggs (tofu is also available), organic baked beans, kale, garlic roasted tomatoes and fresh leaves.

    Feel-good breakfast
    Feel-good breakfast

    Breakfast has never felt so good. While a traditional English breakfast can sometimes leave me feeling tired and sluggish, what I hadn’t anticipated was how much energy I was going to have after a breakfast full of fresh, organic vegetable and fruit based ingredients.

  3. Sunshine

    I love to eat outdoors. One of my fondest memories of travelling in Norway is of buying a freshly cooked hot omelette at 6.30am on a sunny morning and then popping off down the road to eat it next to a waterfall. These days that might be referred to as a Mindfulness breakfast.

    Comfy and cosy
    Comfy and cosy

    While the waterfall element may not be possible in Bristol, Beets n Roots have a lovely terrace that captures the morning sun. If it’s a little chilly, there are blankets available to cover yourself over. The terrace is set back from the road and the wooden tables with potted herbs and cushions give a  ‘chill-out’ feel. It’s divided into different levels creating a comfortable space.  But don’t worry, there’s also a cosy indoor seating area for when it’s raining.

What else is there?

Beets n Roots also prepare brunch and lunch. There’s an organic salad bar, food is cooked on the premises and local ingredients are sourced where possible.

Organic salad bar
Organic salad bar

During my second visit here for brunch, I was going to try something different, but the All Mighty Breakfast won me over again. However, the bean chilli that was simmering away ready for lunch smelt so wonderful, that my next visit may well be a lunch time one. There are also plenty of take away choices, making this a perfect work-time lunch spot.

Tapas for breakfast or brunch

I love the idea of sharing breakfast tapas-style. It is a novel and attractive way to try more than one thing on the menu. And perfect when you can’t decide what to choose. This brilliant idea means you get three different flavours, textures and sensations. So, if you fancy both sweet and savoury for brunch, you can order buckwheat pancakes served with chocolate and maple syrup as well as scrambled egg with spinach, basil and garlic roasted tomatoes and you still have a third choice.

Scrambled egg tapa
Scrambled egg tapa

What a great way to share breakfast with a friend or loved one. Or if you don’t want to share, you can eat a delicious combination all by yourself.

Apart from the juices and smoothies, a range of teas and coffees are available along with bliss balls (energy balls made of cacao) that have a delicious orange twist and other tempting cakes with gluten free options. And, I am pleased to say, that my herbal tea was served in a pot. Those little touches are so important.

Overall opinion

I’d a like to say a massive thank you to all the staff at Beets n Roots who were friendly and helpful. I really enjoyed my experience here and especially, the feeling of energy that I was left with afterwards. The food I chose was light but filling and very tasty. A great choice for vegans and those of us on the lookout for healthy options.

Where to find Beets n Roots

You can find Beets n Roots in the vibrant Clifton area of Bristol at 39 Cotham Hill, BS6 6JY Bristol, United Kingdom.  Or follow them on Facebook.

Prices start from around £4.95 for a tapa size breakfast and at the time of writing this, the All Mighty Breakfast was £9.95. Bearing in mind that after brunch I didn’t need to eat again until early evening, I thought this was great value.

Herbal tea
Herbal tea

 

 

 

Fresh veggies
Fresh veggies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: While I was generously invited to brunch at Beets n Roots, all opinions are my own.

A Taste of Spain at the South Glos Food and Drink Festival

Elena’s Paella 

Having not eaten paella for a while, I was really pleased to discover Ele’s Little Kitchen at the first ever South Glos Food and Drink Festival this weekend.

Spanish paella and tapas
Spanish paella and tapas

Ele – short for Elena- is from Murcia in Spain and uses authentic Spanish ingredients such as pimentón (paprika)in her paella. I was hoping to try the seafood version, but unfortunately, it had all sold out. So, I ordered the chicken one and watched Elena cooking it in the sunshine.

Elena started with the vegetables, followed by the chicken, paprika, salt and water. When the water was boiling, she added the rice, spreading it evenly in a cross shape over the paella pan.

Paella ingredients
Paella ingredients
Paella cooking at the South Glos Food and Drink Festival
Paella cooking at the South Glos Food and Drink Festival

Somerset Charcuterie

While the rice was cooking, I wandered off to have a look around and discovered another Spanish-influenced product made in Somerset. Tastings were going on for the  Somerset Charcuterie range of chorizo and salchichon.

Somerset Charcuterie chorizo and salami
Somerset Charcuterie chorizo and salami

Chorizo has a become a popular ingredient in Britain. However, salchichon  – a cured Spanish sausage similar to salami – is not so well known.

I love salchichon (pronounced sal- chee – chon – the ‘ch’ is like the ‘ch’ in church) and have to say that I have a weakness  for the small business, homemade, locally produced versions.

Black pepper and garlic salami
Black pepper and garlic salami

Our neighbour, Isabel, in Spain makes a fabulous salchichon and it’s hard to beat that wonderful taste of fresh black pepper. However, I have to admit, I was massively impressed with Somerset Charcuterie’s homemade product. I tried the black pepper and garlic salami and discovered that it was a really tasty authentic version and is definitely comparable to Isabel’s (sorry Isabel, but it was really good!).

If you’re looking for a locally produced Spanish-style, cured meat, I would highly recommend this salchichon – black pepper and garlic salami.

The rice is ready

I headed back to Elena’s stand to collect my paella, to find that I was just in time as she had sold half of it and was starting to make a fresh one. She served up my portion complete with two chunks of bread – the Spanish rarely eat without bread – and I was ready to go.

Elena's paella
Elena’s paella

Cooking paella is a skill (one that I have yet to achieve… ) and so I admire anyone who can cook large portions of this dish and get the rice just right. The texture and taste of this paella were perfect and sitting in the heat of a glorious May weekend, my taste buds and I were whisked off to Spain  in an instant. Well worth the 40-minute wait while it cooked.

Shopping for paella ingredients in Bristol

If you’re looking to buy the seasoning to make your own paella, you can find them at the Spanish deli El Colmado on Gloucester Road, Bristol.

The South Glos Food and Drink Festival

I really enjoyed this event and felt that there was a great balance of food,  drinks, crafts and entertainment. I was pleased that this was a free event as people seem to be more willing to spend on the local businesses that have worked hard to get there and, I feel, deserve the custom.

 

Mantis prawns, tapas and more sea food – preparing for New Year’s Eve in Spain

As the family get ready for the New Year’s Eve celebration –  the second main celebration of three over the festive season in Spain –  Benjamin and I take a trip to the jetty where the fishing boats come in with their daily catch.

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Galeras

Benjamin’s mother has already been here earlier this morning to buy the seafood for the family evening meal on December 31st. There are twenty-two family members coming for dinner and Carmen (Benjamin’s mother) insisted on going to the muelle (port) to buy the galeras (mantis prawns) straight from her cousin’s fishing boat. She knows they will still be alive and even fresher than in the market place.

As we roll up at the wharf, there’s a buzz of activity. A man walks out with three large nets of mussels and my taste buds start to kick into action. We walk in and inspect the fish. It’s all in boxes on the floor. The floor is wet and people have their wellies on.

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At the fishing port in Chipiona

The fish is laid out in polystyrene boxes. It’s been weighed and each box has its label telling us the weight of the fish or seafood in the box, it’s origin and the name of the person who caught it.

We walk around examining the boxes. The fish has just come in off the boats and is so fresh it’s still alive. We find the galeras. They are wriggling around in the box.

Mantis prawns
Mantis prawns on sale

Little black eyes like peppercorns on their transparent coating. People come in and marvel at the lubina (sea bass). It’s a good size and would easily feed a family of four on New Year’s Eve.

We wander out on to the harbour. A fishing boat is on its way out. They wave out to me as they see me taking a photo. They have a fantastic day for fishing. The sky is a beautiful blue, the sea is calm and there’s little wind. Another group of fishermen are unpacking their catch, they wash off the fish on board and throw it into a large plastic bucket ready to hand over to be sold.

Fishermen unloading their catch in Chipiona
Fishermen unloading their catch in Chipiona

Benjamin and I wander out of the building and over to the fisherman’s bar La Cantina Marinera. The sun is warm despite the temperature of 13 degrees and the terrace is busy. We walk through the terrace and make our way to the bar. At first, I think I am the only female in this busy bar. Something that years ago would have made me feel shy. On closer inspection, I notice there are more women and one of them I recognise from earlier when I saw her organising fishing nets.

I order some tapas and a couple of beers.

Tapas at the bar
Tapas at the bar

Everything on display is fish or seafood. The colours are amazing. Three generous tapas and two beers come to nine Euros. We sit at a table in the sunshine. The tapas are fresh and mouth-wateringly good. The bar starts to fill up with people coming for lunch.  We sit back, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the tapas.

Tapas
Tapas

When leather meets the art of Pepe and Isabel

As I sit here writing this I am looking out at the mountain range. A cool breeze is blowing in through the open window. The fig tree below is slowly growing up towards the second floor of the house. I hear the background noise of people on their way home for lunch, a car stopping to drop someone off, a door closing, a voice across the road. And then, it’s back to silence.

This quiet village is where Isabel Garcia and Jose Luis Bazan, otherwise known as Pepe, make magic out of leather. From the narrow, cobbled street you would never know that behind the big wooden door of the white washed building two artists are busy creating works of art with leather. Their taste for something a little different is obvious in the pieces they produce. Their eye for quality is reflected in their designs. A lamp, a wall hanging, a colourful bowl; elegantly designed products that any table or shelf would be proud to display.

cuencos-color autumn-leaf-cuenco

I love to take guests here during the writing retreats. The element of surprise as they walk into the entrance to find a leather workshop reminds of the first time I visited the May Patios in El Puerto de Santa Maria. You would just never expect a workshop to be here. There’s no sign post, no neon advertising light, not even a name outside the door. The surprise as you cross the threshold into a world you’d never expect was there.

exploring-the-leather-shop
A visit to the workshop

There’s also the pleasure the guests experience as they pick up the leather goods, run their hands over a beautifully crafted bowl that looks like it could be made out of wood, and communicate with Isabel. They ask questions, warming immediately to Isabel’s lovely nature. Isabel has English lessons twice a week in the village and each time we visit her, she understands more. She looks at me for clarification when she hasn’t understood something. And then the communication is like a tennis match with each side looking from me to the person who has spoken and back to the person who receives the message as I translate.

Pepe sits in the background tapping away on his next creation, always ready to answer a question about the leather or how he has made something. Apart from the fact that the products are designed and handmade locally by this husband and wife team, there’s something special about their work. Yes, each one is unique, beautiful and of high quality but it’s more than that. They have a love of nature which is reflected in their work but their work also carries their personality. It holds their passion for their art.

josa-luis-bazan-en-el-taller rematando-cuenco-de-cuero-con-seda

Last time we visited with guests, Sheryl brought her own bag as it needed repairing. She discussed it with Isabel.

“This part needs stitching. Can you do it?” she asked.

Isabel ran her expert eye over it. She pulled it this way and that way examining it carefully.

“Yes, of course. It won’t take long.”

“How much?”

Isabel didn’t want to charge Sheryl for the repair. “It’s nothing,” she said. “It will take me five minutes.”

Sheryl attempted to convince Isabel of the value of her time and experience. Isabel shook her head dismissing Sheryl’s protests. These small acts of generosity are a natural part of Spanish business.

Whenever we bring guests here, inevitably, someone leaves with something. It’s difficult not to. A unique, handmade leather bracelet as a present for someone special, an eye glass case or an exclusive handbag in a colour bold enough to brighten up the winter days back in the U.K.  Often the writers buy something as a thank you present to themselves. Time has been well spent in coming on the retreat.

fundas-monederos pulseras patchwork-bag

 

Isabel looked around for a box to put the goods in. Soon they will be going to the Christmas Fair in Sevilla with their leather goods and most of their work has already been individually boxed ready to sell. Despite the protests she insisted that each item has its own box. I smile. It’s a sign of their dedication to quality. She then carefully wraps the gifts up in paper. Another delight of Spanish shopping, having your parcels individually wrapped as part of the service.cuencos

Over the years Pepe and Isabel’s company, Artenazari (now renamed Jose Luis Bazan), has won many awards for their work and prizes for their unique pieces. Recently they were awarded the opportunity to work with the prestigious company Loewe who make luxury leather goods. As a result, their work has been displayed in many places including Paris, Milan and Tokyo.  You can see more of their beautiful handmade leather goods here.

isabel-pepe-outside-house
Isabel and Pepe when they featured in Oficio y Arte magazine

In the afternoon I got a message from Isabel to say Sheryl’s bag has been repaired and I can collect it after her English class. If only I’d managed to get a photo of the look of delight on Sheryl’s face as I returned her bag to her. Isabel would have loved to have seen it.

 

 

Why I love shopping local on retreat

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As a retreat host in Spain, I provide a welcome pack for my guests. In reality, it’s not just a welcome pack. It’s a lovingly thought-out and carefully planned display of fresh and scrumptious goodies waiting to be tucked into. It adds a wow factor for the guest and provides me with an inadvertent opportunity to build relationships.

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Part of a welcome pack for one
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Part of a welcome pack for two guests

Of course, I could just pop into a large supermarket, saving myself time and effort. I’d do the shop all in one go, picking up things off the shelf and throwing it heartlessly into a trolley. I’d walk around under the artificial lighting, feeling tired, while I breathe in the particles from the air-con. I’d rummage around in the fruit section trying to find stuff that’s not rock hard and won’t go off as soon as I leave the store. I’d maybe exchange a word or two with the checkout staff, jump into my car and be on my way. Easy.

But would I enjoy it? Would I build relationships?

The answer to that is no. My clients would miss out on the best possible fresh food, thus dampening the wow factor. And, I would miss out on the local shopping experience.

Shopping Local –  Pain or Pleasure?

For me, one of the pleasures of food shopping for the retreats in Spain is the effect it has on the senses. Going to the fruit market is a feast of colour, smell, taste and entertainment. Smelling the fruit and selecting the fresh pieces you want is just no comparison to picking up a plastic-wrapped product that will go off in your fridge not long after you get it home. In the market apples smell of apples. Freshly picked oranges and lemons get sold by the kilo

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When we get to our favourite stall, Bella and her brother give us a hearty welcome. They ask us how we are getting on as they haven’t seen us for a while. When I explain about the retreats, they tell me about a company in their village who do cycling tours. I immediately see a connection. They promise to get the name and phone number.  When it’s my turn, I check my list and Bella starts to fill up our bags. Local plums, soft and juicy, get passed out to us to taste.

I ask for some watermelon.

“Which variety?”

I hesitate.

Bella quickly picks one up from the table behind the stall. She chops it up and offers us a taster. She moves onto the other variety, slices it and offers it to us to compare with the first one. By now, my mouth is watering with the fresh goodness.

I choose the one I think my guests will like. It’s a lovely red colour and refreshing in the heat.

I’m inspired by the display and warm to the array of colour. A lot of work and thought goes into setting up each day. I’m under no pressure to buy any of the things I’ve tried. I’ve been asked to enjoy the fruit, to taste how good it is. And, then the decision to buy or not is mine.

fruit-and-veg-photo

I can’t see the type of lettuce I’m looking for.

“Don’t worry, we have some in the store room.” Bella asks her brother to get some.

“This is from Ubrique and these are organic,” she tells me.

I’m touched that she remembers my taste for organic. She hasn’t forgotten I like to buy local products and that I appreciate organic food. I ask her how much the tomatoes are. The organic ones are better value than the mass-produced ones. I’m pleasantly surprised and order two kilos. A kilo of lemons goes into my bag next. They are fresh off the tree and smell incredible.  No wax in sight.

Someone new arrives in the queue and asks about the plums.

“Are they ripe? Do they taste sweet like the ones I bought last week?”

I tell her that I’ve just tried one and it was wonderful. Bella passes one out for the client to try.  The lady smiles at me and nods in agreement as she savours the sweetness. She asks me where I come from and then tells me her nephew works in London. We have a short conversation. She’s interested in what I do. Bella joins in.

I have so many bags by now that even with the help of the other half, it’s going to be hard work carrying them back to the car. Bella asks me where we’ve parked.

“That’s too far to walk. Bring your car to the door and when you arrive we’ll come out with the bags.”

I shower ‘gracias’ on her. She waves me away with a cheery ‘de nada’ (you’re welcome).

She has customers who shop there every day. She treats me like one of them. In all fairness, I might have been asked if I needed help packing my bags in the supermarket, but nothing quite beats this personal touch, taking my car to the door and having the bags loaded into the boot.

Bella’s brother has been talking on the phone whilst Bella was serving me. He hangs up and passes me a slip of paper with a name and number. It’s the cycling company. He has called a friend to find out the name for me. Fruit shopping-cum-networking.

I have spent a large chunk of the morning getting to the market, parking and talking to people. But, I wouldn’t swop it for the world. I have been served by a person who has taken an interest in me and not tried to rush me through the queue as quickly as possible. I’ve eaten fruit and had five-star treatment. They have even worried about how I would get my shopping to the car. I have some pesticide and wax free fruit.  I have built relationships without even realising. These people are a generous source of information. They have passed on a name and number to me with no strings attached. Who knows? Perhaps one day they’ll pass mine on to someone else.  It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done business whilst out shopping in the community. Last time that happened, I was at the butcher’s. But, that’s another story.

And, best of all, I’ve had a whale of a time.

This post first appeared on http://europeancoachingretreats.com/