What an eighteen months it has been. Our world has changed, and we have not been immune. Two major life events, the global pandemic and the world-wide momentum of “Black Lives Matter”. Being a Jamaican restaurant nestled in the heart of a myriad of communities we have held the hands of customers who have suffered deep loss at the hands of the pandemic, and those who have survived.
As you know, to keep staff and customers safe we have stripped back to takeaway only. As we move into the colder winter months we will continue this, mindful of challenges with flu and COVID19 alike. We are currently thinking about how we can offer some of the services you love, albeit a little differently. Watch this space!
Thankfully we have been able to stay open since March 2020 and have provided a wide daily standard menu. Our opening hours have changed, but we continue to offer a 7 days a week service.
We are as committed as ever to racial justice, and stand shoulder to shoulder with all community partners to deliver this. Race equality is an everyday experience – we will continue to do what we can to support structural justice.
Christmas will be different this year at Rice and Things. The pandemic’s hold on the country means that we are unable to serve you in the way that we are used to. BUT we will serve you!
So this year we are unable to offer a dining service but are offering a stunning Christmas Takeaway Meal menuwhich comprises of a starter and two mains. You can even complete the luxury by ordering a half or full cake to munch on whilst drinking your complimentary bottle of sorrel.
So although it won’t be the same, we still will do our best to help you have a great Christmas season!
Rice & Things would like to thank Avon & Somerset Constabulary for showing their support and solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, following the tragic death of George Floyd, which has sparked protests across the USA
Rice and Things’ director Chef invited Bristol Police to Take The Knee in solidarity with the anti racism protests that will be taking place in Bristol on Sunday 7th June.
Supt Andy Bennett expressed the police’s wish that the racism that has led to the protests should never happen in Bristol, and that they wanted to show their support for the cause of justice and equality.
An Open Letter from Chef (Rice and Things) on BLACK LIVES MATTER
“Rice and Things stands in solidarity with all of our Black Brothers and Sisters across the globe at this crucial time in our history. In working towards stamping out this dangerous, evil that lives among us called racism, we symbolically take the knee in show of our support for this evil to be eradicated, with no stone left unturned.
We take the knee alongside Avon and Somerset Police Constabulary. There is a reason for this. Let me be clear. There is a vote of thanks we give to the Force not just in terms of what is happening now, but with regard to the journey of anti-racism that they have been on.
With specific reference to current Chief Constable Andy Marsh, Chief Superintendent Andy Bennett, and paying tribute to former Chief Constable Colin Port, I pay tribute to them, as over the years they have shown both vulnerability and humility in their attempts to eliminate racial inequality within their workforce, and in the ways that their officers execute their duties. It has not been easy. They have implemented change and are still looking for ways to try to eradicate racism from the within the organisation, out.
Chief Constable Andy Marsh has done an exceptional job in the way he has gone about creating the balance of closing the gap both within the constabulary, and within the communities that he serves across Bristol. It is not something to take lightly. As we face the stark realities of the impact of structural racism, it is fitting to acknowledge where work is being done. So we thank him for his support, and the officers who stand against racial injustices and inequality. As we work together our aim is to get this monster under control.
Finally, and most importantly, I want to remind our Black Brothers and Sisters across the globe, that as we campaign for change, the real change has to come from within. We need to stop killing and hurting each other senselessly. And in the same way we stand in solidarity against the senseless police brutality against our communities, we need to stand in solidarity against the senseless, needless implosion of self-hate, territorial nonsense, and a misplaced sense of “respect” which leads to the loss of life. We here, in Bristol, have seen our children 14 years an upwards facing years in prison through senseless murders they have committed. Our first step is that we have to start to clean house, working together in unity and caring for each other; as the old adage says, united we stand, divided we fall. Let us choose to fall together, as we stand together for change.
We are in pain for George Floyd, for systematic oppression everywhere, the extremes we see where the only “weapon of ammunition” for deadly force we possess is a packet of sweets! (Trayvon Martin shooting, Florida).
We also weep for the losses we create within our own communities by our own hands.
May the souls of our slain rest in peace. But those of us with breath, may we continue to campaign for the justice that we deserve. I call to action every organisation who is willing to work towards sustainable change, stamping out the evils of inequality and injustice, so that we are able, step by step creating something different.
I am a man, a Black man, raising Black men, responsible for Black men in my employ. I pledge to fight until there is nothing left to fight.”
In 2010 Jamie Oliver contacted Chef to ask if they could meet. Jamie had heard about Rice & Things restaurant and wanted to feature Chef in his forthcoming TV series. He also wanted to spend some time talking to Chef, watching him cook and learning to understand his culinary viewpoint.
Jamie came to visit Rice & Things with his team, filming Chef cooking a variety of traditional Jamaican dishes including saltfish, peppered steak, oxtail and hominy porridge.
Throughout the day Jamie and Chef exchanged experiences and chatted. Chef talked to Jamie about his own personal journey, his political views, and his wish to see a future legacy to improve the lives of young people.
They found that they shared the same perspective on many of the important issues of life, finding many similarities in their culinary passion and their wish to create a lasting legacy that would improve people’s lives.
Chef said of Jamie: ‘He’s an amazing guy, who is looking for a better future for generations to come. The diversity of his thought and work both attracts and inspires me’.
Jamie has recently launched his latest book “Jamie’s Great Britain” which classes Chef’s food as a new British Classic.
The book accompanies a series by the same title which was broadcast on 20 October.
Read about Jamie’s visit to Rice & Things in this article by The Sun newspaper:
From start to finish it was a bit of an adventure. From having the small space of Rice and Things overrun with camera crews, to the amazing personality that is Ainsley Harriott, it was a great experience. Chef, over two days, exposed Ainsley to the way we cook ‘Rice and Things’ style, following which Ainsley was inspired to cook his own dish with a little bit of Rice and Things flair!
The star of the show was Len Goodman. As he admitted in the show, he was really a novice when it came to Jamaican cooking, but he tried everything Chef placed in front of him! He absolutely loved our mother’s stuffed chicken breast, with callalou and Jamaican herbs and spices. But he also tasted our signature dish of curry goat and rice, ackee and saltfish and the vegetarian’s choice – veggie chunks and beans.
Over the two days we had a blast, and would welcome them back to the restaurant with open arms, any time they are in Bristol!
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK … and there’s more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
David Gerrie goes in search of some authentic soul food
In search of the perfect jerk food while trying to avoid the braying tourist crowds of Jamaica’s Negril resort, we took the advice of a local taxi driver and wound up at an obscure beach shack, standing in front of a cooking device that would have sent health-and-safety officers in this country screaming into the ocean.
In between what looked like massive sheets of char-blackened chicken wire and hulks of smoking logs were sandwiched a variety of lumps of meat. A tiny table in the sweltering heat and a Long Island iced tea later, we were presented with these meaty chunks, accompanied only by a bucket of industrial-strength jerk sauce.
We had ordered a quarter of a chicken each, but, oh my, how we wound up wishing that we’d ordered a whole one. The quick hit of the fiery, crunchy rub, the mellowness of the moist meat inside and the long, long endorphin-releasing rush of that searing sauce made this one of the best lunches we have ever eaten.
Until recently, it’s been nigh-on impossible to replicate that exquisite experience on these shores. True, Levi Roots and his ilk have done much to popularise Caribbean cuisine in the UK, but, apart from in indigenous communities, you still can’t pop down to your local high street for a spot of Caribbean.
Times are changing, though, with London experiencing a new boom in Caribbean eateries and savvy businessmen and West Indian ex-pats spotting Brits’ familiarity with, and love, of intense spicing as well as the ease with which we adapt to foreign cuisines. So it’s time to get to know your callaloo from your cassava and your ackee from your saltfish.
Caribbean cuisine is a blend of African, Amerindian, European, East Indian, Arab and Chinese influences. While each island will have its particularities, most restaurateurs say that some 80 per cent of all Caribbean cooking is centred on Jamaica – its heavy emphasis on jerks and marinades seems to be reflected in most recent UK openings. Like Cajun and West African cooking, Jamaican cuisine has its own Holy Trinity of ingredients – Scotch bonnet peppers, spring onions and fresh thyme.
Outside London, Bristol probably has the largest number of Caribbean restaurants, with Branatic Neufville, the chef/owner of the Rice and Things Exclusive Jamaican Restaurant, emerging as the local guru for all things Jamaican. “Arriving from Jamaica 14 years ago, I saw the acceptance of ethnic foods in the UK,” he explains. “Bristol is a diverse, fast-growing city with guaranteed investment from the food trade and a large, tightly knit, family-oriented Jamaican population.
“Whether you like it or not, Jamaica’s food, music and culture make it the driving force of the Caribbean. Much of our inspiration and many of our ingredients – ginger and marsala – are influenced by other nationalities. In fact, the Chinese and Japanese will tell you our cuisine is a lot like theirs.
“Lots of people tasting Jamaican cooking will say that it tastes like the food that their grandma made. Really authentic Jamaican recipes can be replicated over here, but if you try and fiddle with them or modernise them too much, it will end in tears.”
There are certain rules that should be adhered to, Neufville says. “You must leave the bones in your meat, stab and slash it right down to the bone and lovingly massage your rub or marinade in to the flesh. I’m also a stickler for using authentic Jamaican ingredients, such as wild cinnamon and tamarind, pimento leaf (like a spicy bay leaf), pepper elder – a hillside vine with an incomparable flavour and cayenne-like bird peppers.
But there is a downside, he says, to the growing trend for Caribbean food. “The problem is that a lot of Caribbean people have started cooking a watered-down version of their food over here, because they want to fit in,” he says. “If you had been intoxicated by the food in Jamaica 40 years ago and walked into a lot of today’s UK Caribbean restaurants, the food would taste nothing like it did back then.”
As a final bonus, most of the ingredients needed for replicating Caribbean cuisine at home are readily available at most good supermarkets. You don’t need any hi-tech kitchen widgetry and if you’re looking for a foreign cuisine that instantly transports you to its original home, there really isn’t any finer example.
But remember, it’s soul food, so take your time and always cook it with your heart rather than your head.
ELDERS from Bristol’s Caribbean community have been honoured for their contribution to society at a ceremony at Colston Hall.
As part of Black History Awareness Month and the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence, the first generation of Jamaicans to arrive in Britain were recognised for paving the way for future generations.
The event was the brainchild of chef Branatic Neufville from Rice and Things restaurant in Stokes Croft. The Jamaican-born chef has been cooking all his life and set up his own business after being inspired by an elder who wanted to buy his food.
Known as “Chef”, the Jamaican said he wanted to organise the ceremony as Jamaica celebrates 50 years of independence.
The first wave of Caribbean people to arrive in the UK came from Jamaica in 1948 at the invitation of the British government, to help replenish the workforce after the war.
The main award of the night was for a life-time commitment to race equality.
Mr Neufville said: “It’s about respect… and ensuring that our elders are feeling, on their last days, that the message they have started, someone is taking it up and is prepared to carry it along.
“It’s about time our youths, our younger generation, respect the harsh life they had to put up with when they just came here.
“It wasn’t as easy as what we’ve got now and we must pay attention to what they’ve done and show them the gratitude that they deserve.”
He said: “I have so much respect for the older generation and wanted to treat them to the best food imaginable. To combine it with an award ceremony is the icing on the cake.”
Over 80 people were honoured at the gala dinner with 20 special honours made in the first awards ceremony of its kind.
Chef Neufville treated the 120-strong guest list to a four-course authentic Caribbean banquet. The menu included lobster and crab, callaloo steamed in coconut milk, escovitch tilapia fillets as well as chef’s signature curried goat dish.
Chef was taught to cook by his grandmother in Jamaica
He said: “When you look around you and see the level of breakdown in society, in discipline, in knife crime, the gun crime, it’s all young people below the age of 25.
“What that says to me is they have no regards for the legacy that has been left and the things that have been done so we can have a better life. It’s being taken for granted.
“We need to take back society and not let it go to rot.
“We need to show some respect for the work these people have done, not just the black migrants but those that helped us to settle here when we came here because we couldn’t have done it on our own.”
Mr Neufville, who was taught to cook by his grandmother in Jamaica, cooked a four-course Caribbean banquet for the guests, including lobster and crab, callalou steamed in coconut milk, escovitch tilapia fillets and goat curry.
He said: “Some of them end up in old people’s homes and the food – there’s a difference in culture – there’s no care as to what they eat. Tonight might be a night that they have eaten a real Caribbean meal in a long while.”
Barbara Brown, a consultant who helped organise the night, said: “The benevolence across the city has been amazing. In outlining what we hoped the event would be, others have extended themselves so that we can collectively say ‘thank you’.”
The venue has been donated by Colston Hall, with Bristol Blue Glass offering glassware for the awards.
A message of support has been sent by the governor-general of Jamaica, Sir Patrick Allen, talking about the courage and endurance of the migrants of the 1950s and 60s “pathing the way for the benefit of future generations”.