Another night, another . . . what shall I call it? Pop-up? Guest chef? Theme night? The nomenclature of these impromptu events is getting complicated. Anyway it was a Chinese meal at Bristol's Folk House Café cooked by Lily Wang who is apparently the stepmum of Claire who's a partner in the Cotham wine bar Flinty Red (to fill you in on the local connections). She was born in Beijing but has lived all over China and the food was mainly (I think) Sichuanese.
It was the sort of food you never find in a restaurant - hearty, home-style Chinese cooking. The seasoning was fascinating. There was a platter of fresh vegetables with a yellow bean dip, some green beans with ginger and sesame what was described as beef jerky but which was more like a dry fried beef with spices (star anise was the top note). Really delicious.
I wasn't mad on the soup (egg with edible tree fungus) which was rather glutinous for Western tastes but the fried dumplings - pork and vegetable - were to die for, fragrant and stuffed with filling. I could have stopped there but there was still braised beef (a hearty beef stew with, surprisingly, potatoes), hot and spicy bean curd (possibly home-made), kaofu an earthy dish of mushrooms and bran and chicken rice. Aaaah. The chicken rice. I could eat that every night for a week for supper.
The meal finished with some deep-fried mashed pumpkin balls - hard to imagine from the menu but which were a bit like those banana fritters you used to have in Chinese restaurants. Only nicer.
It felt a privilege to get to eat food like this, so tasty, so wholesome - very much in keeping with the ethos of the Folk House Cafe. Apparently they're planning other evenings including a jazz night and a Persian feast. They have a Facebook page if you want to know what's on.
PS According to Lily “eating a good meal is as worthy as reading a good book, because people can understand the world from the food.” How true.