I missed out on the last Coconut Chilli dinner in Bristol, and it sounded ridiculously good, so I was pleased to see an email pop up to tell me that another one was coming to town and that I was invited!
Coconut Chilli originated in Bristol but are now based in London, with an online order business making microwaveable curry dishes which taste significantly better than most snack pots (I’m a big fan of the keema meatballs), but now and again they get to stretch their creative culinary muscles and do a dinner event – and this one was being held at the rather impressive venue of Avery’s Wine Cellars in the centre of town.
For the uninitiated (I’m still surprised by how few people know about Avery’s), these wine cellars date from the late 1700s but have been in the Avery family since the 1920s, importing some of the best wines from around the world and storing them in vaults underneath Park Street. There are regular wine tasting events and dinners at the cellars, which are well worth a visit in their own right.
Anyway, on with the curry.
As you can probably see from my slightly blurred photo below, we were treated to 7 courses (!) which are either part of the Coconut Chilli range, or inspired by the South Indian recipes they take their lead from.
The cellars make for a very atmospheric and grand venue, although the low lighting did make decent photos a struggle!
Rather than go into minute detail about every dish, I’ll pick out a few highlights:
- The grilled spiced guinea fowl was lovely – I’ve never had game in this style before, and the lightness and sweetness of the meat was really complimented by the gentle smoke of the charcoal.
- Pastry bags filled with spiced vegetables – a brilliant start to the meal, these would be the ultimate party snack, with light, flaky pastry and a gently spiced filling (pictured above).
- Chicken pieces in a coriander and cream cheese marinade – definitely going to have a go at making this myself!
The star of the evening though, was the biryani. Usually this is a bit of a beige dish with nothing much to say for itself, but this one was delicately spiced but packed with flavour, and I may have gone back for seconds. And thirds.
The generous chunks of chicken hidden throughout were a nice surprise, but not actually necessary as the flavour of the rice accompanied with a nice dollop of yoghurt was more than enough to keep me happy at the end of a series of rich dishes.
I was also pleasantly surprised that my favourite wines of the evening were all whites despite usually being a red wine drinker – they were just bold enough to compliment the flavoursome dishes without overpowering them, and also managed to be very refreshing at the same time!
It was also a bonus getting to talk to Mimi Avery herself, who was more than happy to guide me through the story behind some of the wines, as well as a bit of history from the venue too!
Overall, it was a lovely relaxed evening with some gorgeous food and stupendous wines – the mini portions approach (there were 7 courses after all) won’t appeal to everyone who wants a filling and comforting curry dish, but if you’re keen to try some different takes on familiar dishes, it’s worth keeping an eye to Coconut Chilli’s events in the future – and Avery’s for that matter, it’s a Bristol treasure that we really don’t make enough of!
Avery’s Wine Cellars
9 Culver St
Bristol BS1 5LD