THE FOODIE BUGLE - Bath, Somerset
Tucked in at number 7 Margaret’s Buildings but by no means hidden away, The Foodie Bugle, with its vibrant colourful produce spills out onto the street inviting regulars and ambling tourists through its doors. Last month The Garden Journal had the pleasure of talking with it's creator the wonderfully passionate Silvana de Soissons, who's brought a little piece of her Italian heritage & charm to the City of Bath. Since opening its doors at the end of 2014, The Foodie Bugle has been making a name for itself with its use of local, seasonal and fresh produce. The Grocery shop & Tea Room based up near the Royal Crescent, works on the basis that everything they stock has been sourced locally from surrounding farms, makers and organic growers. The cafe's rustic interior creates a calm atmosphere and really accentuates the exuberant colours of the seasonal produce.
We caught up with Silvana to find out more about The Foodie Bugle's approach to buying local and the importance of fresh produce:
When did you start the Foodie Bugle?
I started the online journal in March 2011 and we won 'The Guild of Food Writers New Media Award' the following year, which gave us a great deal of attention – many readers then mentioned us on social media and by e-mail that they would love to see a print edition, so two editions came out, Reveille one and two. We then created a pop-up shop at our house and the bricks and mortar shop followed soon after.
Why is it important to the Foodie Bugle to use British wherever possible?
It makes sense – food grown as near as possible to the shop is going to be fresher, taste better and it is more sustainable for the planet to feed itself if we do not use fossil fuels and natural resources in transportation. Britain has some of the most exciting and skilled food artisans – from cheese and charcuterie makers, to farmers, bakers and preservers. They lead the world in so many fields – why not give them our money?
How important is it to you to know where the food comes from?
It is the first question you should ask yourself – where does my food come from, who made it, where and how? If the provenance of food is reliable and trustworthy, if it is grown with love, care, attention and honesty, if it is clean and fair then it will be good. It should be part of the conversation of everyday life and we should be teaching our children to question provenance and production. It is part of the education of life.
Where do you find inspiration for the dishes you create?
My Mamma taught me how to cook and she is still my inspiration to this day – she is 82 and still cooks every day. I also look to Mother Nature, the top cook, and see what she has to offer in the seasons. My main cookbook authors on my kitchen shelf are Anna del Conte, Claudia Roden, Elizabeth Luard. There are also so many great, inspiring cooks out there – Elly Curshen of the Pear Café, the whole team at Daylesford Farm, Amelia Freer, Itamar and Sarit at Honey and Co and so many different bloggers. I follow some amazing foodies on social media and what they are cooking for their families inspires me every single day.
There's a real trend for artisan food and fresh produce at the moment do you think it can last?
I do hope it is not a fad or a trend – I hope more and more people are coming to realise that food is far too cheap in supermarkets and somebody in the supply chain has to pay the price, often at the consumer’s peril. Corners are cut, preservatives added, salt and sugar content increased etc, etc. If you need a degree in chemistry to understand the ingredient label then put it back on the shelf. Eat as close to the soil as possible – this is not a fashion, it is common sense.
What are your views on convenience food and the importance of the home cooked meal?
There is no doubt that if you know what has gone into your meal it will be better for you – and cooking a simple, easy meal for the whole family will only take half an hour at most if you are organised and prepared. Six out of ten meals in Britain are eaten in front of the television or computer – there is a direct link, surely between this and the fact that family meals and cooking from scratch are not the norm. Home cooking is about sharing and caring – a great soup, a comforting stew, a Sunday roast, a teatime cake – these are all simple, achievable and enjoyable foods that the whole family can enjoy together.
Do you grow any of the produce you use in the cafe yourself?
Unfortunately not yet because we are an urban business and space in Bath is a luxury. I am plotting and planning with my friend, the garden designer Emma Bond to plant a container courtyard for some salads, edible flowers, cut and come again leaves and fresh herbs for the shop.
Any exciting plans for the future?
Yes, lots – in business you can never be complacent or stand still. I am always looking at ways to make our food offering more interesting and relevant to the local community and to the Bath visitors and tourists. I want to get out of the shop more to meet more artisans, makers, bakers and crafters, visit more food festivals, I am writing a book about becoming a shopkeeper and maybe, just maybe we will have a new site for another shop and tearoom!