Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Fun, But No Buns in Bath


Oh, we had such a good time in Bath. Great food of course, excellent company, fantastic weather and what a beautiful city Bath is. Lovely Regency architecture with that warm honey coloured Cotswold stone and an abundance of trees and parks everywhere. I don't think we were anywhere (and we did have a good walk around) that didn't have something green and growing to look at. We timed our trip quite accidentally to coincide with the Bath Festival, so caught snatches of arias coming over the walls and street theatre everywhere. We even went to the circus. There were so many highlights in our brief one and a half day sojourn, it's difficult to know which ones to include. So here are a few of them.



The three of us, our guide (an ex-resident of Bath), CT and myself had a relatively peaceful train journey up to Bath on Thursday morning then made our way to our host's house. He has the biggest collection of books I've ever seen extending, as it does, over every available surface including the stairs. A guided tour, occupied us on Thursday afternoon, which turned out to be very hot.


Walking past the Abbey, CT noticed Minerva, a chocolate shop - a chocolate shop? What could we do? We had to go in of course. Lots of good looking chocolates displaying Gallic elegance which, with the aid of the price tags, we managed to resist. One side of the shop was given over to the art of the chocolatier. We stayed in to sample the ice-cream, and naturally we all chose a wicked extra rich chocolate one, the perfect antidote to the sweltering weather.


Whilst walking along the river Avon, we noticed a whole row of Tulip trees all in flower. CT, lacking a picture of these in his collection, took the opportunity of acquiring one. We came across a few Norway Maples which were also noteworthy, resplendent in their bunches of winged seeds.



After a quick rest in the shade of the our host's garden, we set off for Demuths Vegetarian Restaurant where we were to meet up with some of our guide's friends. The meal was a delight, we were all six of us more than satisfied, even though only two of us were vegetarians. It was a real luxury for me to have such a wide choice of dishes.


So to the main event on Friday - a day at the Vegetarian Cookery School learning how to make Middle Eastern mezze. Wow, was this an enjoyable course! The school is actually in Rachel Demuth's house, four floors overlooking Bath with wonderful views from every window and a delightful garden. One floor has been converted into a large kitchen where there was plenty of room for the ten of us on the course, the two chefs and a washer up. I had to feel sorry for the washer up, who spent most of the day just doing that. The used teaspoons alone must have been in the hundreds as we kept tasting our way through the day - a little more sumac, no perhaps some lemon or maybe another pinch of salt..... I later learnt that she was Rachel's daughter earning some extra pocket money. We did nothing but cook and eat all day. We were welcomed on arrival with Baklava and Kunafa pastries. We then proceeded to make:
  • Almond & Orange Blossom Fruit Pastries, which we ate as a mid-morning snack in the living room.
  • Dukkah, Lebanese Thyme Flat Bread, Corander Butterbean Hummus, Baba Ghanoush and Muhammara Dip which we ate in the kitchen at lunchtime.
  • Falafal and Tahini Dip which we ate in the garden along with a glass of prosecco to toast the chefs, washer upper, us and one of the participants whose 85th birthday it was.
  • Imman Bayaldi, Tabouleh, and Sumac Courgettes with Haloumi which we ate as the grand finale in the dining room and drank with the same zesty white wine that we had imbibed at the restaurant the night before.
  • Labna with Rose and Mint Strawberries and Thyme and Almond Honeycomb, which was our very last course.

Completely stuffed is what we were by the end of the day. Despite all of the very yummy food that we made, the two highlights for me were how to use a knife properly and how to cut an onion without crying. I was also delighted to discover sumac and pomegranate molasses and get an idea of how to use them. I am now saving up to go on another of the many courses that are offered.

CT enjoyed his day watching street entertainment and then sleeping under a tree at the botanical gardens - botanising indeed!

It was then off to see Tabu, performed by No Fit State Circus. This was an amazing and unexpected performance where incredible acrobatic feats were performed right under our noses.

The following morning we made our weary but satisfied way back to Cornwall expressing our intentions to return for a longer visit to include a dip in the hot baths which we'd heard so much about.

30 comments:

  1. Thanks for that. I have been to a cookery day at the Vegetarian Society in Chester, which was excellent - I had to choose between Demuths and the Veg. Soc, and chose the Veg Society purely because they did what was, at the time, the most interesting day for me (hot and spicy!). Having read your review, I think the next cookery day I attend with be at Demuths!
    If you fancy going to Malvern, which is another lovely place to visit, especially in summer, there is a new vegetarian cookery school there - run by Liz Hughes, and called Our Lizzy (www.ourlizzy.com). I am attending her 'dairy-free' day next Saturday.

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  2. Coincidently, Bath was featured in a TV programme about railway journeys on TV last night - it made me want to visit the city, so your impressions of it is quite interesting to me. Your cookery course sounds interesting too - glad you enjoyed it!

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  3. What a cool time you had in Bath. Tony and I had our first Valentine's Day there, it's wonderfully romantic.

    Well done on resisting the choclette too. A few moments in those shops and the air fills your body with chocolate anyway.

    Was it just you on the cookery day? What a treat!

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  4. How lovely and you had the good weather too! I've just been reading all about Demuths thanks to your links :) Sounds gorgeous and the day courses very varied. I quite fancy the southern indian one... they look like they work hard on presentation too. Great post Choclette :)

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  5. What an amazing weekend, and the course sounds fantastic. I love Bath, it's a really lovely city. I'm off to look at the courses on offer at Demuths...!

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  6. Wow, what a chocolate gem to find in the middle of a beautiful place. I've never been to Bath but your descriptions would have me on a plane if possible :-)

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  7. That menu looks fantastic. I love Middle Eastern Food because it's great for sharing, but also so easily adaptable for vegetarian menus. I will keep it in mind and maybe treat myself one day!

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  8. What a fabulous day and a half it sounds. I am not sure I would have had your willpower in the choc shop though.

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  9. Wow - you managed to cram a lot in. I love Bath - such a pretty city. Haven't been in the longest time though I would love to go Richard's bread school there.

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  10. Sounds like you had a great time. Bath is so beautiful.

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  11. what a great time - food, culture and sunshine - lucky you!

    About 10 years ago we had an awful meal in Demuths that we had to complain about - shoddy food, that was almost laughable. Their customer service was amazing though - they accepted full responsibility and wouldn't let us pay a penny - we tried to insist on paying for the wine and drinks but they wouldn't let us. I know they have a brilliant reputation, but my one experience back then really put me off (especially as they're not cheap). However your mouthwatering description of the cookery day has made me want to get back there and go along! I would of course be prepared to give the restaurant a second chance too. They were obviously really embarassed at the time - I guess we all make mistakes and have a bad day. (oh yes!)

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  12. What a lovely selection of photos -thanks for sharing. Sounds like a great weekend - the vege cookery school looks fabulous. So pleased you enjoyed yourselves.

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  13. The pictures are so familiar. I was there last year...just such a beautiful place! I would love to go again.

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  14. It sounds like you had a wonderful time!

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  15. It sounds like a wonderful day. Your pictures are almost - almost - as good as being there with you. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  16. You should've dropped in on Richard Bertinet's bakery school - great little place!

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  17. VeganFoody - thanks for the heads up on the other cookery schools - hope you enjoy you're dairy free course. Apart from anything else, it's nice to be with others who are interested in vegan and vegetarian food, even if they don't eat it all the time.

    Suelle - Thank you. Will have to see if I can watch your Bath programme on iplayer - sounds interesting.

    Gill - oh yes, Bath would be a great place to spend a romantic day or two or more. I guess you are not so far away. No, it wasn't just me on the course, my friend as well and 8 others.

    Joanna & Lisa - if you're interested in vegetarian food at all, this is a great way to spend a day.

    Gillian - It would be worth taking in Bath if you were ever in the vicinity.

    5am Foody - Middle Eastern food is great, but Demuth's do a wide range of courses so plenty to choose from.

    Kath - Not sure if guzzling a load of ice-cream counts as having willpower, but I certainly made up for it later that day and even more so the next day.

    Brownieville - I haven't had such a good time in a long while.

    Chele - I wanted to go to Richard's school, but he was closed whilst we were there.

    Janice - Bath is lovely, I shall be going back.

    Kate - I can quite understand not wanting to go back if you had a bad experience. Hopefully they've moved on in the last ten years. At least they weren't shirty about giving you a refund and apologising which is a lot better than some places I've been to.

    Thank you Lucie, we did have such a good time.

    MaryMoh - What did you get up to whilst you were there.

    Pam - We did

    Mary, thank you very much for your kind comments.

    Dom - I had asked Richard if it would be open whilst we were there, but sadly not.

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  18. I have been through Bath on the train, but have never stopped there. I must do. From the little I have seen (on TV) has excited me. A bonus that you attended Demuths cookery school too. I've read so many good things about the school and as you know I have some of the cookbooks, I like the homely recipes.

    I enjoyed your blog entry. It made me smile reading that CT slept under a tree at the botanical gardens. The weather was certainly kind.

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  19. Great post, Choclette, so glad to hear you had such a good time! The menu looks superb, but please share - how do you cut onions without crying? :)

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  20. Almond and Orange Blossom pastries sound delicious. What a wonderful couple of days for you. The cooking school sounds like lots of fun.

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  21. lovely pic's of Bath and I wonder how you manged to resist in chocolate shop? when I visit chocolate shop i behave like a untamed kid ....and those yum dessert, wat a wonderful weekend!

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  22. MangoCheeks - Bath well worth stopping off for. Demuth's exceeded my expectations although didn't really know what to expect. CT doesn't get to sleep under trees very often, so he was very happy - I preferred the Mezze.

    Celia - not something easy to explain - you need to be shown really, but basically don't cut off the root until right at the end of the process- that's what makes you cry - apparently. Certainly I didn't have my usual tears whilst doing it, but haven't chopped an onion at home since learning this.

    CityHippy - Thank you, it was great fun and the pastries were particularly delicious.

    Ananda - thank you. I resisted so well that I indulged with chocolate ice-cream instead!

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  23. It all sounds lovely, but I wish I could have those pastries. Imman Bayaldi is one of my favourites, Lebanese is so good for vegetarians I think - glad it was a good time

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  24. What a splendid trip. I wouldn't have minded tagging along on that one at all. Amazing food and beautiful scenery, it does not get much better than that. Great blog.

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  25. Oxslip - thank you. I'm not generally that keen on aubergines, but I really liked the Imman Bayaldi. The pastries were delicious - especially warm from the oven.

    Cocina - thank you. It was a splendid trip and I'd be well up for having a repeat experience.

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  26. How do you cut onions without crying?!

    Amy

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  27. Hi Amy - if you look at the reply I gave to Celia you will see I have tried to answer this as best I could without writing an essay about it.

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  28. what a great weekend, I love all the photos and really fancy the cooking course.

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  29. Thanks Nicisme - unfortunately I fancy the cooking course too - again!

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