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 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.