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I'm not sure that the Breadstore isn't better than Herberts. Whatever, it says a lot for Bristol that there is a choice of excellent bakers. I live much closer to the Breadstore: any difference is not worth the ride. Like Herberts, they bake on the premises and, also like Herberts, there is often a long queue outside. Worth it.
What to buy: My usual choice is a small city bread with poppy seeds, but it's all very good, from the special olive or sun-dried tomato loaves to the various cakes and buns. I'm also a fan of the Pain Rustique, an overnight-proved bread that lasts a bit better. You never know what shape the loaf will be, very rustique. Unlike the City bread, which is a regular' bloomer 'or 'twist'. The doughnuts? These are strictly to be eaten in the privacy of your own home, with ready access to a washbasin and probably a change of clothing. Jam everywhere, not a pretty sight.
Updated Jun 15, 2011
Address: 45 Gloucester Road, Bishopston, Bristol BS7 8AD
I have to admit I'm warming to the Gloucester Road branch of the co-op. I am under a moral obligation to buy some stuff here because the shop has both a front and a back exit and therefore provides a most useful shortcut through to the Gloucester Road, and I do feel that I should usually buy something as I pass through. Even lthough the queues vary from long to ludicrous (those for the tills at the front of the shop can stretch to the back of the shop, snaking alongside the queue for the till at the back, which stretches all the way to the front....)
But I do have to say that the staff are a cheery bunch. And they have a bin to shove your unwanted plastic bags into for recycling. And the canned music is most unusual: Talking Heads, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Massive Attack......have they been at my CD collection?
Really, all supermarkets are ghastly, but I can tolerate this one.
The photo? just thought it was an interesting paint job, just happens to be in the loading bay by the back entrance.
What to buy: Milk, the Guardian, some toilet paper. And actually they seem to sell better bananas than the nearby greengrocers.
Updated May 30, 2011
Licata's is a family-run Italian - or strictly speaking Sicilian - grocers shop. Pasta, olives, salami, that sort of stuff. A general grocers shop, please. This is not, heaven forfend, a deli. There is no vast and baffling array of esoteric sausages and such: simply a very good basic selection (but including such items as proper Italian salted lard). There is, natch, a lot of pasta to choose from, including the top-quality Barilla stuff: their own-brand canned tomatos (including canned cherry tomatos) but this is emphatically somewher simply to buy day to day groceries, albeit one perhaps acceptable to someone who doesn't suffer the gastronomic handicap of being English. The family are properly bilingual in Italian and Bristolian and the shop has been there ages, well before Picton Street became fashionable and started sprouting retro clothes shops.
What to buy: Coffee, pasta, (Fusilli today), a couple of cans of tomatoes, a bunch of coriander, some mushrooms, a lemon, and a packet of Garibaldi biscuits... Licatas don't have a huge range of English biscuits, concentrating more on amaretti & so on, but charmingly does sell Happy Shopper brand Garibaldi biscuits* And their home-made tiramisu is pretty damn fine.
*Named after the famous Italian patriot Guiseppi Biscuit.
What to pay: Well, I get through a lot of coffee and the kilo bags of beans are an absolute steal. Otherwise Licata's is neither cheap nor expensive. But it does give good value.
Updated May 30, 2011
Address: Half way down Picton Street
Let me make this clear. I'm not the sort of chap who is usually attracted to ladies dresses...at least not in the way you're thinking. However, I know good design when I see it and this Bristol shop is chock full of interesting stuff. They dedicate themselves to those who've ever had to endure being picked last for a sports team. Frankly that includes me, and although I don't intend to don one of their delightful creations I do appreciate their sympathy.
Too respectful to run and snap the customers and the clothing range within, I decided to grab some so-so shop window pics but I still think they give you a pretty good idea about what's available. Belt buckles, migraine inducing stockings (but in a good way), Mexican Day of the Dead dresses, 50s Monster prints etc etc- so at last one can slink in skeletons and wear werewolf. In truth they also stock menswear. So in 2008 I will try my best endeavour to venture within and perhaps pick out a new waistcoat!
What to buy: Don't ask for leather brogues. Although you know, they might just have 'em...
What to pay: Probably too much but I'm sure you'll enjoy it!
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 20 Park Street, Bristol, Avon. BS1 5JA
Phone: 0117 929 4566
Ah, Fresh and Wild. That was my nickname when I was a lad. Or was it the dog's? But I digress...
You would hardly know it to look at me but I am a person of considerable depth and emotional complexity. In fact I have measured my considerable depth and it is at least four and three quarter inches. Did you know for example, that beneath this monocled exterior there lurks an organic stormtrooper! For over 20 years I have been an organic food fetishist and - to the horror of my American chums - bade farewell to car ownership at about the same time. So with an easy conscience (and a holiday hire car) I made my way to Bristol's real food HQ.
I must say I was very impressed by the selection of goods on offer. Not everything sold is organic but if it isn't, it's normally produced from a more environmentally friendly and ethical standpoint. They get extra brownie points for having two particular items on my long time searchlist. Organic lager (never seen it before and a blessing for drinking chums during the BBQ season) and organic cherry juice (haven't come across any since a trip to Budapest but a much yearned for teetotal tipple of mine). The selection of organic breads and cheeses was most impressive and there was also a decent choice of meat. Nice to see, as organic produce is sometimes curiously wedded to vegetarianism. No objection myself but I am partial to the occasional plateful of sausage, egg and chips!
There is also a café within the store. The coffee was pretty good and the cake selection also decent. Customer profiles were generally predictable (and remember I'm part of the movement). Arty types, plenty of wayward hair, frighteningly earnest women...and me in my bowtie. Actually there was more. Whilst we were there an elderly gentlemen came in - obviously a regular - sporting a fine white linen suit and a rather dashing panama hat. Full marks!
Monday–Friday 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Buses: 8, 8a, 9, 9a, 43, 55, 54, 99, 624
What to buy: A white linen suit, a panama hat, and some cherry juice.
What to pay: It's not cheap but it is good.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 85 Queens Road, Bristol. BS8 1QS
Phone: 0017 910 5930
Bristol Farmer's Market takes place every Wednesday at the top of Corn Street. For me the primary attraction are the fishmongers stalls, since the only proper fishmongers I have so far located in Bristol is not only some distance from where I live but, more important (this being Bristol and me being on a bike) considerably higher above sea level. Another favorite is the apple stall when apples are in season: proper apples, none of the deadly grown-for-commerce-not-for-eating stuff that greengrocers or supermarkets sell, wierd varieties you've never heard of....and even the odd quince or medlar. And some good fresh locally grown veg never come amiss.
I love food markets, and always enjoy visiting them when travelling. But when I'm travelling I don't have a kitchen handy and so it's pointless to buy anything other than fruit or whatever else I can eat without more preparation than can be done with a Swiss Army knife. Here, I'm actually shopping, which makes it even more enjoyable.
The fine selection of pumpkins in the photo are displayed on a nail - as in the expression 'cash on the nail': there are several of these outside the old exchange building.
What to buy: ....and of the fishmongers my favorite is the one specialising in smoked fish. Love those smoked prawns, and a kipper or two always goes down a treat. As does the smoked mackeral pate.
Updated May 27, 2010
Broadmead used to be the 'shopping centre' of Bristol before the ghastly consumer playgrounds at Cribbs Causeway and Cabot Circus were... is built the right word for things like that? Anyway, Broadmead, always ghastly, is now slightly hopeless as well, one of those places that seems to be all cheap shoe-shops and mobile phone showrooms. With the occasional Starbucks for those who can't stand the taste of coffee. Being in the bit of Bristol that got a good pasting from the developers after the war it's entirely hideous, the present jewel in the crown being the Galleries shopping mall. (This is the kind of thing Ove Arup should stick to: apparently the foundation work is very clever indeed)).
Lovers of architecture and the incongruous should check out John Wesley's chapel, a chastely beautiful eighteenth century survival amid the rampant tat. Delightfully, next door but one to the Ann Summers pvc knicker emporium.
What to buy: Some inventive Bristol cynic has produced a delightful Broadmead colouring book, the pages bearing instructions like 'Don't be afraid to use plenty of grey'. Comes with a free grey crayon. Available from Waterstones.
Updated May 26, 2010
Address: Easy to avoid really.
This looks like an ordinary butchers shop but appearances are deceptive: its a powerhouse of sausage manufacture, apparently churning out a ton of sausages a week. Which accounts both for why they are only open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and also the grave demeanor of the men who run it. A ton of sausages is serious business indeed: enough to stretch from here to Bath. Or something like that.
Very good sausages they are. Mostly 100% meat, they need to be eaten within a couple of days of purchase, because they are not crammed with presevatives. (This is not a problem.)
Note that these are British bangers rather than post-modern language-driven sausages. No venison with cranberry, walnuts and eye of newt here.
What to buy: Half of smoked back and four pork, honey and mustard sausages, please.
What to pay: Surprisingly little for such good sausages.
Updated May 25, 2010
Very firmly an 'other' Appropriate Type
The headquarters or the PRSC (People's Republic of Stoke's Croft) is worth a visit if only to clock the fine tilework fish on the facade.
What to buy: They sell beautiful ceramic pieces by a local artist at very reasonable prices, and there are T-shirts, postcards and of course Stoke Croft fudge.
Updated May 16, 2010
This shopping complex is outside Bristol, and has the usual stores, food hall and cinema. It is well-designed and has more than just the usual McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut for food. We went to Nandos, but there was a sushi restaurant on the ground floor as well as other choices.
Clothing stores included the popular Next where cheap children's wear can be found.
What to buy: Almost anything you like.
What to pay: Less than High Street prices at the same stores.
Updated Jul 7, 2009
Address: Cribb's Causeway, Bristol
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