Interesting times.

Strange Days

I love EU, and EU and EU...

I love EU, and EU and EU...

In these turbulent times it is good to know that the wonderful staff at the Folk House and Spike Island Cafés are a mixed and varied bunch, a mini UN of our own, and I for one would really like it stay that way.  Diversity is hugely important to me in my business, whether it's hiring people who are artists and actors as well as natural born chefs and hospitable hosts, or who come from far and distant lands for whatever reasons - it makes us what we are and keeps things interesting and healthy.

We have bid farewell to Hannah who has returned to Scotland, and in her place as manager at FHC we welcome Alina, from Poland.  The rest of the team here is British hailing from as far as Devon - it's almost a foreign country (Asher), Lewes (Rob) and even Bristol (Finbar, Elana via London, Anna and Raf - half Brazilian).  Over at the sister ship we welcome our new chef Rachel, from Ireland; Beatrice is from Spain, Flavia from Cyprus (although everyone thinks she's Italian including herself), Amy and Rowan are from England, and the newest member of the team Sarah is also English, all headed up by the wonderful Marc from Lala Land (just kidding, Bristol born and bred!).  

And I'm British, of German Jewish heritage some ways back, plus a dollop of Irish in there, some Yorkshire (I make very nice Parkin), bit of London-cor-blimey-guvnor by way of Southern Scotland, and more recently a little Bristolian with a dash of American seasoning.  It works for me, my various personalities and nationalities seem to get on just fine.

Anyway, I just spent the weekend in Wales pruning English roses and Italian fennel.  Over and out for now.


Welsh weather, English roses, Italian fennel and sparrows from Africa.

Welsh weather, English roses, Italian fennel and sparrows from Africa.


Asher. (For explanations for this photo please email, subject 'what on earth?')

Asher. (For explanations for this photo please email, subject 'what on earth?')

This is one of our favourite chillis in the cafe right now, made by Asher (above), he of the multicoloured hair, loved by all and in your bowl if you are coming to Friday's gig!                          


Sweet potato & chocolate chilli

3 Sweet potato (or 1 med squash)
2 Onion
2 Carrots
2 Sticks of Celery
Thumb of Ginger
3 cloves Garlic
Salt, pepper
3 peeled Roasted red peppers
Knob Butter
About 50g Dark chocolate (min 70%)
Small bunch Coriander
1 large Red chilli
1 tin Kidney beans (pre cooked)
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds 1/2 tsp
Sweet paprika 1/2 tsp
Smoked paprika 1 tsp
Ground Cinnamon 1/3 tsp
Ground cloves 1/3 tsp
Bay leaves 1-2

Method:                                                                                                                                        Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into bite-sized chunks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat, then spread out on a baking tray and set aside.

Peel and roughly chop the onion, celery and carrots. Peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger.

Pick the coriander leaves and put aside, then finely chop the stalks. Deseed and finely chop the chillies. 

Place the sweet potatoes in the hot oven for 40 minutes, or until soft and golden.

Meanwhile, put a large pan over a medium-high heat and add a couple lugs of olive oil and a knob of butter. Add the onion, celery and carrot mix. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add the coriander stalks, chilli and spices and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until softened, stirring every couple of minutes. 

Drain the beans, then tip them into the pan with the tinned tomatoes, chocolate and roasted peppers. Stir well and bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium-low heat and leave to tick away for 30 to 40 minutes, or until thickened and reduced. Keep an eye on it, and add a splash of water or stock if it gets a bit thick.

Stir the roasted sweet potato through your chilli with most of the coriander leaves. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if you think it needs it. 

Scatter the remaining leaves over the top, and serve with some soured cream, Jalepenos, rice and a few tortilla chips for extra crunch.

To make it vegan simply use olive oil instead of butter and omit the sour cream.

A little lunch time music.

The Folk House is a place that attracts so many people for so many different reasons, the food, the courses, the music, the space to sit and think.  One of those people is Marta who comes to play the piano because she doesn't have room for one at home.  

We love hearing her play and are thrilled that she has so sweetly agreed to come play for you every Saturday in the café, free, gratis and for nothing (a tip jar will be available if the spirit moves you, and I hope it will!).


Summer opening hours start on Monday 11th July 2016 

Monday - Saturday    9am - 4pm (re-opening in the evening for music and other pre-booked events)

Opening hours during Summer School will coincide with course and workshop times.

The Café will be closed for annual summer hols and a bit of a spruce up August 17th - 30th.

Autumn term starts Saturday 10th September.