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‘Instant’ ice cream made using liquid nitrogen? It sounds like something that you’d find on one of Heston Blumenthal’s TV shows. In actual fact, you can already book a Bristol-based company to create liquid nitrogen ice cream for private functions and corporate events. And, even more excitingly, owner of ‘Lick Me I’m Delicious‘ Charlie Francis has recently won funding in a national competition – Take One Small Step, run by Barclays Bank – which he plans to use to open an instant ice cream parlour in Bristol… Read the rest of this entry »


“I love making cupcakes as you can personalise each one to suit the client”, says Erica O’Connor of La Dame Gâteau Limited, when asked which product she enjoys baking the most. And the love that goes into the cupcakes and other products made by this relatively new company is clear… Read the rest of this entry »

An education in law and subsequently fashion design may seem like an odd starting point for a cakemaker…but that’s exactly how life started out for Clifton-based Layla Pegado. Having been introduced to the world of sugarcraft by a friend back in her native Brazil, Layla moved to Bristol in August 2005, when her husband was transferred here for work. Her first foray into cake decorating came when she created a cake for her daughter’s first birthday and, since then, Layla Pegado Cakes has gone from strength to strength. While continuing to make all kinds of interesting and unique creations, Layla has now set herself a new challenge, and will be starting to run her own cake decorating classes in the near future – watch this space!

I managed to catch up with Layla to talk about her creations… Read the rest of this entry »

It’s always good to discover a new food experience before it actually opens! A trip to Woodes for the obligatory Friday morning bacon sandwich that signals the end of the working week brought with it the realisation that Shrinking Violet on Park Street has now closed…and in its place was a gleaming new shopfront. A glance into the window saw new owner Gareth  lovingly adjusting the window displays, and when he came outside to admire his handiwork, we grabbed him for a quick chat.

The new shop is Swinky Sweets – a Bristol-based company that has existed since the summer of 2008, selling their signature cupcakes, fudge and marshmallows – along with a selection of retro sweets – to their sweet-toothed customers. We were told that Gareth’s mother was downstairs in the kitchen frantically baking cupcakes for today’s opening day, and after such early warmth and hospitality, it would have been rude not to venture down there once the doors had opened to sample some of her hard work.

Opening the door and glancing to the back of the shop instantly transported me back to my childhood, with a whole corner of the shop dedicated to shelves stacked with jars of retro sweets. From pear drops to peanut brittle, candy sticks to coconut mushrooms, all of the old sweet shop favourites are there and available by the 100g measure to take away.

Turning our attention to the counter, we were greeted by Swinky’s newly recruited staff – looking surprisingly lively after a six hour pre-opening training session yesterday – urging us to try some of their products. We were treated to samples of a wonderfully moist white chocolate, almond and cranberry cookie, followed by their sweet and tangy lemon meringue marshmallows, apparently handmade to order in a rural barn in Wales.

Despite only having been open a few hours, news of the shop had obviously spread. Customers were already seated on our arrival, and we waited patiently behind the couple ordering the intriguing-sounding Earl Grey milkshakes.

When the time came for us to be served, we turned our attentions back to the counter and found ourselves faced with an overwhelming selection of fudge and marshmallows…but managed to resist buying the entire supply and focused purely on the cupcakes that we had been eagerly anticipating. With no fewer than sixteen varieties to choose from, it was a tough decision to make…until we decided that, seeing as we work under five minutes from Swinky’s, we could try all the other over the course of the next few weeks 😉

We left the shop with a small(ish) selection of cupcakes to enjoy…and after we got home, the temptation was too great and we decided to sample a couple as a precursor to lunch. First on the list was the Deep Dark Chocolate Orange and Chilli, a chocolate cupcake piled with a chocolate and orange icing, the sweetness counteracted by a wonderfully fiery cayenne pepper. The Wild White Chocolate and Horseradish was the next on our list…and even better than the first. A plain cupcake with a huge mound of white icing, the horseradish flavour comes through strongly but the heat is – as with the first cakes we tried – dulled by the addition of white chocolate.

We have four more to try but are trying to ration ourselves!!

Swinky’s also sell cupcakes for delivery, and cater for weddings and other events. With prior warning, they can include writing on their cakes for special occasions, and even have a gluten-free variety so that even those with special dietary requirements can enjoy them.

For more information, have a look at their website, or pay them a visit at 20 Park Street, BS1 5JA. There’s no question in my mind that we’ll be regulars…

“I realised that tea could be extraordinarily good. So, armed with my infectious passion, I founded Lahloo, named after the tea clipper my great-great grandfather sailed. Bring your teapot to life with Lahloo!”

The above is the mission statement of Kate Gover, founder of Bristol-based Lahloo Tea. We’d been following her on Twitter for a few weeks, but when the opportunity came up to meet her and taste some of her teas at the Arch House Deli in Clifton, it was far too good to pass up.

An avid tea drinker who was disappointed with the range of teas – especially those produced by smaller companies – on the market, Kate set up her business around 18 months ago. Named after the tea clipper that her great-great-grandfather sailed, Lahloo encompasses a range of teas that not only taste good, but are beautifully packaged. Furthermore, Kate’s teas are not “mass-produced tea from huge factories where cost is the number one priority”. Instead, they choose to source their teas from small, fairly traded, family-owned tea gardens, and the quality speaks for itself. Lahloo teas are available at a range of delis, cafes and restaurants in Bristol, and are also stocked at Liberty’s and Harvey Nichols.

My arrival at Arch House luckily coincided with the arrival of two fresh pots of tea, one of Amber Oolong, one of Long Jing. The former was a slightly smoky tea from Taiwan, which Kate explained was a good digestive, the latter a refreshing and easy to drink Chinese green tea. While I was there, I listened to Kate talking to others sampling her teas, and learned far more than I had previously known. I never knew, for example, that all tea – whether green, black, white or oolong – comes from the same plant (camellia sinensis)…or that drinking coffee – particularly milky coffee – numbs the tastebuds…or that all tea (yes, including green), unless specifically decaffeinated, contains caffeine. If you’re looking for a low-caffeine green tea, Kate suggests going for Chinese  teas – they tend to be roasted, whereas Japanese teas are more likely to have been steamed…and roasting lowers the caffeine content.

Kate’s enthusiasm for all things tea-related is evident, and this enthusiasm really is translated into her product range and personal levels of service, as evidenced by the testimonials on her website. She’s also keen to visit those who are keen to stock her range, to talk through the best ways to sell and serve her teas, with tea tastings and decisions on which products to stock, and advice on merchandising and marketing.

For more information on the company, the products, and details of where to buy, go to

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