The Grape and Grain festival is a yearly popup event which celebrates the best of British. Walking through the Grape and Grain tent is like walking through the set of the Great British Bake off. There was bunting, there was music, there was gin, there was cake… and there was Mary Berry.
The best thing about Grape and Grain this year is that it was Bristol’s best kept secret, when I’d mentioned I was visiting on Sunday (14th September) friends looked at me curiously or with a shake of the head asking me to tell them more. Grape & Grain is a foodie festival, not to be confused with the actual foodie festival or the meat festival… or the veg fest. Bristol LOVES it’s festivals and Grape and Grain is the latest one to be taken under it’s wing. I liked the scale of the event, I could get round and see everything in good time – I even had time to go back to Poco for an blackberry mojito fizz which was deliciously more-ish – lethal for a Sunday! That said, I wasn’t in denial about the fact that I’d be a bit tipsy by the end of the day, within 10 minutes we reviewed our vouchers for free samples which we got given upon entry – four wine samples, two beer samples and a gin sample.
We ordered a strawberry mojito (left) and apple mojito (right) to start us off from a speciality Havana stand, they were a great way to start the festival but I found the staff to be surprisingly not that friendly. The advertisement was for a pint of cocktails – more like half a pint of cocktails and the other half ice, but once I got through the ice the cocktail itself was delicious. We decided for our next cocktail we would go to Pocos, a restauarant that has won awards on it’s policy about food wastage. Poco serves realistic portions, you won’t have a mount of delicious food left on your plate because they serve just the right amount – in the off chance you still feel hungry at the end of the meal, then just order another little dish – afterall, you have to try everything once, right? Go to Pocos in Stoke’s Croft (opposite the Canteen) and you will sample some of the delicious tapas options accompanied with a cocktail you will have the best night there, with owner Tom Hunt appearing on Saturday Kitchen recently it feels like the word of Poco is spreading at a rapid pace!
I really enjoyed seeing various wine enthusiasts dotted about raving on about new wines. The Bristol Wine School were giving this demonstration on sherry when we arrived. The sherry comeback has to be the latest drink revival and with so many supermarkets doing their own version of sherry – it’s hard to resist a Sunday afternoon tipple. Can you see what I mean about the whole event being OH so British!
As you may know already, Mary Berry was the guest celebrity for the day. At 3pm she came on stage to do both a cooking and baking demonstration with her assistant, Lucy Young. Mary and Lucy have been working together for over 20 years and the deep rooted friendship was clear to see as Mary barked orders at Lucy and while Lucy asked Mary about the World Cup moment. It turns out that Mary was setup by the Bake off production team when she was being filmed for this advert as they asked her to repeatedly say ‘goal’ claiming they needed her to say it louder each time.
Mary is exactly how she is on screen if not even sharper and funnier in person than on TV, I’m so pleased the success of Bake Off has thrown her back into the spotlight under the watchful eye of kids right through to older bakers who remember Mary back in her hayday. Mary talked about the success of Bake Off during the demonstration saying how last week’s viewing ratings were higher than that of the viewers who tuned into the World Cup at 10.2 million. She later declared how this number didn’t mean anything to her until she compared it to Gardener’s World who attracts a mere 2 million by comparison. Ah, Mary!
One of the children sat in the frontrow had a question so Mary invited him to join her on stage, the boy mentioned his sister who was then invited on stage. The young kids weren’t the only ones to ask a question, Jem asked Mary what her favourite cake was to which she answered a ginger tray bake with ginger syrup. Sounds incredible! I found the recipe here.
As soon as the demonstration was over, we raced over to queue up for the book signing with Mary, we were forewarned that Mary might not have time to see everyone but she took the time out to speak to everyone who visited her – she definitely outstayed the allocated 30 minutes time which I really appreciated. When I met Mary I really wanted to know who she was rooting for in the recent Richard vs Kate divide between the judges during Week 5 European Cakes – she told me she’d forgotten and also if she did say who, it would appear in Bristol post tomorrow! Sorry Bristol Post.. no heads up from Mary on that one.
Thanks to Steak of the Art for providing some free samples of steak alongside dipping sauces. Steak of the Art were also hugely generous in offering three free samples! Malbec was the house red on the cards, and also my favourite red wine so I loved drinking this.
Thanks to Pop up Parlour there were a handful of adults and children running about with incredible up-dos and barrel curls associated with the wartime era. Vintage Popup Parlour are specialist stylists and makeup artists and attend as many vintage revival shows or hen/tea parties as they can. Their stall within Grape and Grain seemed like a perfect fit as they could be found alongside the 6’o’clock Gin stall which also served tea and cake.
That wonderful creation pictured above is the lavendar cake courtesy of Cox & Baloney who can be found near to the Arches on Cheltenham Road. After the Mary Berry cooking demonstration, spectators flocked to the back of the tent to queue in the hope of getting their book signed by Mary herself, while we were waiting – Cox & Baloney came along and offered us a free sample of sponge cake. Cox & Baloney also sell vintage items too – there seems to be an increasing trend of vintage clothes and tea what with the Birdcage off of Corn Street. It makes for a really pleasant experience, buying a wool knit jumper or midi skirt before digging into a slice of cake and drinking peppermint tea. Again… how British!
Clifton Cakes had an amazing selection of sweet treats which had all sold out by the end of Sunday.
You can buy Chocolate shoes from Clifton Cakes which can be found on the map here.
Steak and Art – it’s all in the name, website can be found here
Clifton Cakes’ Website