Tag Archives: Sheffield

A food poverty trap?

19 Dec

Interesting Guardian article by Zoe Williams this week, framing the links between poverty, bad eating and poor health as a consequence of economics, not just education.

It riffs on a lighthearted piece at the Student Beans website about cooking a cheap and cheerful/nasty Christmas dinner out of processed food, making the point that if a site was discussing hard-up people other than studes (“the acceptable face of poverty”) doing the same, the tone would be pretty different.

I wrote a list two weeks ago about some of the independent retailers I’ve found to buy good food for relatively little cash since moving to Bristol. Having the choice to shop at these places is down to a couple of factors:

  • Living in the inner city, close to the intersections of many different areas. On one side is a main road packed with independent supermarkets catering to local BME communities; on the other a neighbourhood heavily populated by relatively affluent hippies and their brethren in which local food shops are a given.
  • Being young and mobile enough to get to these different places by bike and therefore shop cheaply – or do the same at a big supermarket – meaning the lack of a car isn’t an issue.

In north Sheffield, where I worked for five years, many outlying areas where money is tightest and car ownership lowest have fewest amenities – so least choice – within easy walking distance. This pattern is typical of many parts of the UK, especially in today’s chilly financial climate.

Education about eating well is clearly important – it’s grim as hell meeting kids barely able to identify a vegetable or a piece of meat. But if keeping your family fed is manageable from your local cut-price freezer centre, and a struggle from the expensive supermarket franchise next door, then putting that theory into practice isn’t necessarily straightforward.


Style over substance: Bristol’s best restaurants?

10 Oct

As a relative newcomer to Bristol, and a massive food-lover just about finding my feet financially, I was pleased to find a Google alert titled Top 10 restaurants in Bristol pinging into my inbox a few days ago.

I didn’t expect revelations from the Bristol Evening Post piece. However, soon after noticing that the article was actually subtitled ‘Top 10 places to dine in style’ I realised I was going to get very little in the way of enlightenment.

Pointing out at that some of a city’s restaurants occupy amazing buildings is a good idea, but what purpose does it serve if discussion of the actual food served goes no further than “has won numerous awards” or “offers a seafood menu”?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been lured into eating somewhere because of its location, interior or menu – only to be hugely disappointed by what arrives on my plate.

I love interesting architecture and good design, but somewhere selling food should stand or fall on that basis – everything else is secondary.

The place I’ve eaten more than anywhere else in my adult life is Zeugma in Sheffield. The key visual treat of a trip to this nondescript shopfront is watching a middle-aged bloke turning skewers with an expression of Zen-like calm on his face (seemingly weathered by a working life lived within centimetres of a glowing charcoal grill).

All filler, all killer: Sheffield's Zeugma consistently delivers the goods (photo courtesy of Nigel Barker).

All this is neither here nor there because the food has been consistently excellent since Zeugma opened over five years ago – so much so that the owners had to fit out a second branch a few metres down the road because the original was too busy.

Anyway, I digress – if anyone would like to offer suggestions as to where the best actual food in Bristol can be found, comment below, drop me an email or tweet at me. Might even give me some other things to rant about, down the line.

Tribe Tribe, Canton

14 Nov

Night on Cowbridge Road East

I’ve been super-lucky in the last two cities where I’ve lived: each of them has contained an amazing African restaurant.

One of the saddest things about leaving Sheffield this September was the fact that the Ethio-Cubano Restaurant closed its doors just weeks before my departure, preventing me from having my farewell do there. Tucked away on one of the grimiest shopping parades in the city centre, Ethio boasted massively friendly owner Dawit, and some of the cheapest, tastiest food I have eaten (though taking down too much injera bread and being unable to walk out the door was frequently a problem).

Fortunately, soon after moving here I found Tribe Tribe over in Canton. This is a part of town that I could do with visiting more often: there are loads of welcoming-looking local boozers, and in order to get my media-sector image nice and polished, I really ought to be putting in the hours at Chapter Arts, frowning over a Macbook while supping a few cappuccinos.

Anyway, I digress. It would be lazy of me to compare Tribe Tribe with Ethio, given that the West African food it serves bears only a cursory resemblance to that from the other side of the continent. However, what it has in common is the comfort factor of the eating – fiery goat or fish pepper soups, delicious Jollof Rice dishes, and rich, spicy stews served with Eba or Pounded Yam.

Goat pepper soup

These are heavy, sticky carbohydrate pastes (kind of somewhere between porridge and dumpling) which you roll into balls between your finger and thumb, then use to scoop up your meal. You then sit quite quietly in a contented haze for a while – particularly good if it’s wintry and you’re hung over, both boxes which were ticked when I visited this weekend.

Oh yeah, and the other similar thing is the loveliness of the staff, owners Charlie and Foluso and their chefs, who I met when I did a write-up for the alt:Cardiff online mag last month. With most mains clocking in at around the £8 mark, you can add a bottle of Gulder beer onto the tab and still only just breach your tenner. I’ll stop gushing now, but you get my drift I’m sure.