Saturday, 16 October 2010

Cafe Oophaga - Bristol's Rustic Modern Coffee House

After a little stint shopping for Halloween costumes and masks at the Christmas Steps Costume and Joke shop, my partner and I made our way back to the car park in Trenchard Street via the back of the Colston Hall. Feeling a little peckish and the need for something warm to scare away the chills of a cold Saturday morning, we happened to come across the Cafe Oophaga just on the corner of Lodge and Trenchard Street. It was quiet and empty, normally two warning signs to go somewhere else. Yet there was something charming about the place, not to mention the smell of cooked bacon emanating from inside and so without hesitation we went in.

The first thing you notice when you step in is the decor. The floors may be modern laminated pine but the seating area just to the left as you enter and the breakfast bar on the right are proper wood. The warm feeling we felt as stepping in wasn't just due to the heat from the kitchen but the warm colours on the walls and the welcoming smile from the owner.

Looking up slightly to the right on a cream coloured section of the wall is a handwritten tale of the origins of the coffee bean. The modern rustic decor of the shop makes it inviting enough to whet the appetite as the eyes pour over the chalkboard menu siting high above the serving counter.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Jamie's Italian Milsom Place Bath - Italian Food in Ye Olde Roman Town

Whilst on a day trip to the glorious city of Bath, home of the Bath Spa and Johnny Depp amongst other things, my better half and I were intrigued at the prospect of visiting a Jamie Oliver restaurant, especially the Italian. Since we are both fans and I have managed to follow his Italian recipes churning out some truly tantalising food (not so much a testament to my cooking abilities but to the recipes themselves) it seemed inevitable that even a glimpse at the place was needed. Thanks to a lovely local lady who gave us some helpful directions (without whom we would never have found the place), we made our way to Milsom Place, a very plush and intricately laid out shopping centre thankfully devoid of any high street chains that seemed to have graced the Southgate Shopping Centre.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Otto Zitko and Louise Bourgeois –The Ultimate Duo of Abstract

If the purpose of abstract art is to create a composition that exists with a degree of independence from visual references in the world, then Viennese king of abstract Otto Zitko, has achieved that in droves.

His work is unique and epitomises the very essence of abstract in that they principally consist of lines travelling in all directions be it horizontal, vertical or circular and of varied density, seemingly in a random pattern. The truly unique feature however is that the canvas is the walls and ceilings of the buildings in which his work is housed. Bristol’s very own Arnolfini down on Narrow Quay is the latest to have Gallery 1 as well as its halls decked with the great man’s free handed improvised visual scribbles.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Artistic Oppression Alive and Well in Zimbabwe

I am sick of so – called artists, particularly Tracey Emin who drone on about how their “art” isn’t appreciated in this country. Ms Emin has often repeatedly threatened to leave UK shores for France where she feels her artistic merit would be far more valued. Apparently British people do not appreciate the statement she has made with classics such as “My Bed” or “Everyone I have Ever Slept With 1963-1995”. Ms Emin should really consider the situation of the recent arrest of Zimbabwean artist Owen Maseko and Voti Thebe, manager of the Bulawayo National Arts Gallery on three charges under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

The gallery had just opened an exhibition marking the 27th anniversary of the masscare of the Ndbele people by Robert Mugabe’s Fifth Brigade.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Continuing The Great Fair Trade Debate

After the ideological fisticuffs between the fair trade proponent and champion of liberalised trade it was time for the businesses and the politicians to have their say (click here to read about how that debate panned out).

The debate on the issue of consumer choice and its benefits for the Developing World saw one argument that fair trade restricts free trade which disadvantages other farmers and that fewer restrictions on trade will help developing countries rise out of poverty. However free trade should also include fair trade encouraging businesses and the shopping public to purchase responsibly.

For Starbucks, the coffee house giant whose products are sourced from practically every country within the developing world the question from BBC’s Justin Rowlatt was simple; why it has taken so long for Starbucks to switch to Fair Trade considering it is such a powerful consumer tool.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Great Fair Trade Debate

As consumers increasingly choose ethically sourced brands from developing countries one wonders whether that choice has any impact on producers in those countries.

The popularity of Fair Trade products has seen some big brand names vying to be stamped with the instantly recognisable yin yang style blue and green mark. However the increasing demand for Fair Trade goods has created polarisation equalled only by the climate change debate. So does the consumer’s choice benefit the developing countries that source our favourite food and beverages? One of the country’s top political magazines New Statesman decided to team up with Starbucks and host a Question Time style debate. Free tickets were offered to New Statesman readers via its website.