I’ll be honest with you, readers – even though Bristol is right on our doorstep, I’m ashamed to admit I never visit as often as I’d like, and I’m often caught out when friends or family (quite reasonably assuming that I’d be a good person to ask) want recommendations for places to eat and things to do in our sister city. I follow loads of great Bristol bloggers and foodies on social media, so I know the city is absolutely bursting with incredible food and drink, and I’ve got a mental Bristol bucket list that I’m always adding to – so a few weekends ago, I decided it was time to get the train over and tick a few more things off.
Right at the very top of my list, in big capital letters, was Pasta Ripiena. I’m way behind the curve here because of course, everyone has been raving about Pasta Ripiena for months, but in my defence, it does take a little organisation and forethought to secure yourself a table – this place is so popular you definitely can’t just rock up and hope. For me, though, that just adds to the experience – I like my gratification delayed as much as possible, so a month to swoon over the menu and the Instagram pics was perfectly fine by me. And oh boy, is it worth the wait.
Fans of my blog will know that pasta is my favourite thing to eat, so over the years I’ve tucked into a billion bowlfuls, but I think our lunch at Pasta Ripiena might just be the best pasta I’ve ever eaten. Ripiena means ‘stuffed’, so the minimalist menu focuses exclusively on different kinds of filled fresh pasta for the main course, with a couple of simple but mouth-watering starters and desserts. We shared some wonderful arancini to begin with, oozing mozzarella and wild garlic pesto in a gorgeous passata, but the highlight of the meal for me was a black truffle, ricotta and porcini mezzaluna, swimming in a rich sage butter with some wonderful smoky tomatoes. Honestly, just thinking about it now is making my mouth water. It was one of those meals where I took one bite, then had to put my knife and fork down to recover and to consider, seriously, how I was going to cope when the plate was empty.
The flavours were quite simply outstanding, perfectly balanced with some gorgeous combinations – the smoked tomatoes were glorious with the richness of the truffles and ricotta. I could have ordered another plateful straight afterwards and scraped it clean without hesitation. My husband, meanwhile, chose a ravioli filled with meltingly tender beef shin, and served in a light, buttery sauce with white wine, lemon and chilli – also utterly gorgeous, but to be honest, my heart belongs to the mezzaluna. To prevent patrons from the undignified prospect of wanting to lick the plate clean, plenty of beautifully fresh, fluffy focaccia is provided to scoop up every last bit of the sauce – you won’t want to leave a single drop behind.
How can you possibly follow an act like that? To make the most of our day out in Bristol, our plan was to go somewhere else for dessert, but clearly something seriously special would be required – luckily, next on my bucket list was the legendary Pinkmans Bakery, an Instagram favourite groaning under the weight of awards and accolades. I’d heard tell of their exquisite doughnuts, and I knew I had to try one for myself, so after a long walk to make sure we had enough room to do them justice, we dropped into the warm, aromatic bakery at the top of Park St and picked up two of their sourdoughnuts with raspberry jam and vanilla mousse. It’s almost impossible at the best of times to eat a doughnut in a ladylike fashion, and Pinkmans definitely don’t make it any easier – while your standard jam doughnut is more doughnut than filling, these bad boys were literally overflowing, a fluffy, sugar-encrusted doughnut shell barely containing the gorgeous mousse and jam inside. Topped with white chocolate and fresh raspberries, they were some of the prettiest doughnuts I’ve ever eaten, and I would walk back to Bristol tomorrow for another one.
Let’s face it – by being too lazy to go to Bristol more often, I’ve clearly been missing out, so I’m hoping to make this a regular feature and tick a few more things off my fantasy food bucket list. Where should I go next? Leave me a comment and let me know!