Hart's Bakery. I've been a devotee of Hart's for a long time, having tried one of Laura's custard tarts on (I think) Gloucester Road many moons ago. She opened her bakery in one of the station arches a few years ago, and it has gone from strength to strength. As well as the superlative custard tarts, my other favourites are Saturday Bread (think sticky toffee sauce with a fluffy dough duvet and crispy, sugary top), the raisin and fennel sourdough (only available on Saturdays, makes incredible toast, and is brilliant with cheeses), sausage rolls and *jazz hands* the cinnamon buns. And lo and behold, it was the cinnamon buns that we were trying! They're made from a croissant-like dough, and lots and lots of cinnamon. Did you ever do that challenge where you have to eat a doughnut without licking your lips or fingers? (Was that just my family?!) Well, I do that with these too. The cinnamon buns are my Train Picnic treat of choice, so I always leave time to head to Harts before I travel!
Fortified for our journey, we wended our way into town. The short distance and gentle pace mean that this tour is accessible to most, and all the stepped parts have sloped access alternatives for those less able to manage steps.
I did wonder that as someone who loves and takes advantage of Bristol's amazing food scene, whether I would know all of the stops on the tour, but there were several places that were new to me, including one that's on my walk into town from home. I won't spoil the surprise for those of you who might like to take the tour, and instead I'll just mention a couple of the other stops that I'm sure you'll already know, and one that you might not.
One of the stops I didn't already know was The Bristol Cheesemonger. If I'm remembering correctly, I think Rosie has done pop-ups at Hart's Bakery in the past, and now she has a bricks and mortar shop on St Nicholas Street, so very close to St Nick's if you're in the area. She shared a selection of amazing local cheeses with us, including Old Demdike by local legends Homewood Cheeses. She also stocks preserves from Bishopston Preserves, another local supplier whose products I use almost daily. If you've not tried Danielle's rhubarb ketchup, it's a revelation and Rosie has some in stock at the moment (I have about 4 bottles in my cupboard; I like to stock up!) Another cheese I really loved was the Mayfield Swiss which was really full-flavoured and creamy.
In St Nick's Market, we visited Pieminister, and tried three different pies. I forgot to write down what we tried, but there was a creamy chicken one, a beefy one (I think the Moo pie?) and the last I do know for sure was the Heidi Pie which has goats cheese, sweet potato, spinach and red onion. The Moo has been my favourite for a long time and is one that I have very fond festival memories of eating one with mash and gravy while being freezing cold and surrounded by mud. Comfort food at its best! And here you can even eat it without getting muddy!
Swoon. The most apt name there has ever been. I am absolutely evangelical about Swoon. Their pistachio gelato is one of the best things I've ever eaten, no question. My husband and I love them so much, we had Swoon as the evening pudding at our wedding. And at this stop, we tried EVERY FLAVOUR. I couldn't quite believe my luck!
I was offered a complimentary place on the tour, but I wasn't obliged to write a positive review; I honestly loved it! Brian was friendly and knowledgable, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the tour as a fab way to get to know Bristol a little better.