My mother’s birthday so we booked a table at Bordeaux Quay. Downstairs is the buzzy brasserie for everyday (good honest dishes), but on this special occasion, we swept upstairs in a lordly way to the restaurant, overlooking Bristol’s waterfront.
We ate so well, and relaxed too. I started with Salade Paysanne, a tumble of leaves with tempting pieces of chicken and duck livers and crispy bacon (perhaps I do eat pork, after all). I ceased eating chicken livers in the 1980s when I realised most were polluted by toxins. Today was different because I could trust the meat came from happy and naturally-fed poultry.
Bordeaux Quay is not merely nodding at sustainable sourcing – its chef proprietor Barny Haughton is the real thing. He has been cooking with organic ingredients (first at Rocinantes, which then morphed into Quartier Vert) for over twenty years – and not even telling his diners because organic was considered too hippy at the time…
You can hear my interview with Barny here where I got to quiz him about his provenance. Barny’s family are organic dudes too, what with his brother, Phil (Better Food) and Liz (The Folk House). Yes, we are well served in Bristol thanks to the Haughtons – god bless their parents for producing such sustainably-minded offspring.
Like Barny, I received my food education at my mother’s knee for which I am eternally grateful.
Next I had cotriade (see pic), a fish stew from Brittany. The (organic) salmon and (line-caught) cod were steamed separately, and added to this dream of a cream crab sauce with sliced earthy carrots and aromatic tarragon and fennel.
My mother – who is the empress of Real Food Lovers – said the meal restored her faith in humankind. Look, when it comes to food, it is no mean feat to please my mother. I hope Barny realises this.
“It’s such a relief to know the ingredients are well-sourced,” I said.
“And you can tell,” said my sister, Geraldine. “It’s all so naturally flavoursome – not just a big plate of nothing.”
Geraldine had masterfully chosen the most marvellous wine, the 2004 Riesling, les Princes Abbés, from Domaines Schlumberger, that even had my daughter Maude raving about its “delicate” flavour.
My mother spoke of her grandmother (another foodie) who left her village, Slonim, in Bellarusse (a hop and a skip from Vilnius) in Czarist Russia, for the east end of London.
“You said she was a revolutionary?” I asked hopefully.
“Nonsense,” said my mum (pic below). “She became very observant and spiritual as she got older but, well, as a girl, she was an atheist and went to secret socialist meetings in Russia.”
“Ha,” I said triumphantly. “And you wonder how we all turned out Bolshie.”