In the unseasonable cool of an August evening in 2010, the sight of a crisply laid table glowing in soft candlelight between the choir stalls and in the shadow of an exquisitely carved medieval reredos may have looked incongruous, but this was the venue for the first of Trethowan’s Dairy events at the home of its new Bristol office, a redundant, but beautifully preserved Victorian gem in the centre of Bristol.
As the guests assembled for a celebration of artisan produce, any feelings of disrespect were swiftly quelled by Peter Lancaster, the man in whose hands the future of this, and many other church buildings in the South West, are entrusted.
The Churches Conservation Trust have the increasingly impossible task of maintaining redundant Church of England premises in good order even when, as in this case, no service, has been held there for nearly 30 years.
Peter assured us that although the stiff collared Victorians may be looking down disapprovingly, the original medieval church that stood on this site, and traces of which remain, would have been a much more raucous affair, hosting very similar social events and even markets within its walls.
Indeed, far from being forbidding, the atmosphere rapidly relaxed as a trinity of artisan foods, possibly the very staffs of life itself, erupted onto the scene, for this was to be a truly rustic celebration of cheese, ale and bread, as espoused by Trethowan’s, Bristol Beer Factory and Mark’s Bread who all share the faith of terroir, a belief that foods not only reflect the region in which they are produced, but share a synergy with other products similarly evolved.
Todd’s Gorwydd Caerphilly was first up, with Sunrise, a pale golden beer with similar citrus notes and a 7 seed bread.
Old Demdike, a locally made ewes milk cheese was served with Acer, a floral, mahogany coloured brew & rye sourdough.
Tymsborough, an ash coated goat cheese made near Bath was matched to Hefe a yeast driven wheat beer & a fig & pepper loaf.
Montgomery Cheddar came alongside Exhibition Ale & a classsic Bloomer.
Stichelton with the Gold Medal Milk Stout & walnut bread.
Inevitably the love poured into all the offerings overflowed into the conversation, and a thankfulness of the bounteous glory, however derived, underscored the musings of the assembled guests in the afterglow of a divine evening.
This venue has so much to recommend it that these evenings can only grow in stature, and it comes with the full blessing of the Church Conservation Trust, so look out for the next offering to be held here, I can promise stained glass and a vision of the Sermon on the Mount, the joyous spirit comes with yourselves.
Thanks to Alex Testrote for this glowing review!