This Swedish inspired restaurant in Easton, Bristol is tucked away just off St Marks Road (a brilliant area of multicultural food heaven). I visited on a rather rainy Wednesday afternoon and the restaurant had a very convivial atmosphere. It seems a little haven of a lunch spot, the space is light and airy, an old converted factory with a beautiful red brick exterior and parquet flooring inside. The building has been lovingly stripped, restored and thoughtful furniture placed throughout.
Lara, one of the two owners, tells me she is about to smoke some trout with Juniper. Something new they are trying, (a colleague brought back some from a foraging trip in Scotland) it has a deep green colour and the smell has woody cedar notes. Chatting to Mike, the second owner, he tells me a bit more about Dela and where the idea came from.
Mike and Lara have both lived and worked in Bristol & the Southwest for years, they wanted to start their own food business, so began to search for spaces that would fit their idea. They spent months stripping the interior back to just a shell and many more months, restoring, adding amenities and finishing design touches to the layout. “It took so long, to get it to what just seemed like a box”
They trialled their idea by cooking at pop up events at Harts Bakery (Temple Meads railway station), which turned out to be a great success. Another great example of the inspiring community these small food businesses are part of, supportive of the new sustainable ideas coming into the industry.
Dela, meaning “to share” in Swedish, offered a new territory for them to explore. They have always loved the Scandinavian culture around food, the informal feel of sharing meals and the importance of eating together; it was a no brainer in opting for a Scandi influenced brand and menu.
It’s not that often you come across this type of cooking in the UK and it’s really refreshing to see something so different. They offer many different types of pickles, which consist of an array of vegetables in flavoured brine they have made themselves. They also do a lot of fish dishes including smoked, or pickled.
“The dishes are led by vegetables, but we source our fish from Stream Farm in Somerset and our meat from Pipers Farm in Devon” both are organic suppliers.
Recently, Dela and a multitude of different chefs, collaborated to show a short film at their premises, called “In Our Hands” an inspiring Documentary, explained below by a quote from their website:
"Food and farming is in crisis. In just over a decade we’ve lost more than 33,000 farms from our countryside, and alongside this, bad diet is now causing more health problems than smoking! The fundamental link between people, food and the very land we stand on is being broken. Yet it need not be this way."
"There is a growing movement of farmers and food workers who are creating vibrant farms, living soils, thriving food markets and a fairer food system for all. At the heart of all change lies a story, and In Our Hands is the story of a new kind of farm, a new kind of food and a new kind of society. This film has been created as an open source tool in order to debunk the myth of the industrial food system, and be a resource for farmers and activists in building a better world." www.inourhandsfilm.com
I watched this documentary at the Arnolfini in Bristol just before Christmas and it really aligned with a lot of my own views on the food system. I would really recommend following their Facebook page and keeping an eye out for film streaming events in your area, the content promotes thought and discussion around the subject of food & sustainability.
So not only are Mike & Lara at Dela making great food, they are also helping to educate others on great causes within the food industry to help promote change. They are positively using their voice and the creation of their food to translate the bigger picture to people. Yet again I am blown away by the passion and innovation small food businesses show in their quest for an overall better food system.
Mike and Lara have kindly shared their pickled cucumber recipe, which I can vouch for it's yummy-ness! You can serve pickled cucumber with just about anything you fancy, it goes great with fish and a hunk of bread with butter.
For the liquor:
400ml white wine vinegar
800ml cold water
100g caster sugar
2 tsps fines salt
2 tsps of yellow mustard seeds
Combining the ingredients in the jar you wish to preserve in. Peel the cucumber in strips (enough to be submerged in the liquor), leaving out the core and leave in the liquor for two days before using.
Most liquors are brought to the boil to dissolve the sugar and salts and infuse any spices but this very simple liquor is just cold, as there is not very much sugar or salt so it just dissolves.