Bristol: bees and bakeries

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When I was in Bristol for the weekend, everything seemed to revolve around bees and bread. My default setting is to gravitate towards anything carb-based: if a street was on fire and there was a decent bakery with loaves inside, I would run towards it! And if the loaves I rescued came with honey, even better. I am a ridiculous bread obsessive. And this weekend there was delicious honey to be had with it.

My first discovery was an incredible petite bakery, literally the size of a doll’s house – Baked Bristol, in Totterdown. The bakers are very friendly and the smell wafting down the street is literally enough to stop you in your tracks. Here is a giant of a man going inside, no doubt lured by the smell:

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The croissants here are pretty much the best I have tasted in recent times outside of France. I have no patience for airy, lightweight croissants that you have to eat 10 of to feel full, and these were nothing like that – supremely buttery, with a good weight and a wonderfully craggy bottom crust:

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I tried a white sourdough loaf, and it was pillowy soft on the inside with a satisfyingly crisp and chewy crust:

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Bristol Bake also sell honey, and we spread their bread with some of this honey from local beekeeper Nikki Burger from Cheltenham. The set version on the right had a mellow aftertaste of whisky, and you could tell it hadn’t been blended or heat-treated, which is the fate of so much supermarket honey:

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Fresh foccacia studded with olives:

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After this majestic breakfast, it was time to go house-hunting with my brother and his family. I love the houses in Bristol – so many are decorated with weird and wonderful intricate stone carvings, it seems that no two are the same. We went to a house in Knowle that had beehives in the back garden. The owner said she got about 30 jars of honey every year from her bees. We had to stand back from the hives, as plenty of bees were buzzing around and we didn’t want to get stung. Beehives may look quaint but the nearer you stand to one…ooh just watch out. I asked the owner if she had to filter the honey, or whether she put it in jars direct from the hive, thinking that this must be the purest way to do things. She replied, “Oh, you have to filter it otherwise you get all sorts of stuff getting into the jar, like bee legs and wings.” Fair enough!

The beehives are the grey boxes to the far left and far right of the picture:

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Across the street from this garden is an uninspiring industrial estate with a branch of Dunelm Mill – just goes to show that bees will thrive in an urban environment if they have plenty of varied flowers to feed on. You don’t need a meadow!

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