The charming city of Bath is known for its lovely architecture, its delightful Abbey and of course its eponymous Roman Baths. It is a wonderful day-trip for anyone wanting to escape Oxford for some Edwardian beauty and track down the filming locations from Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’. Visiting my brother, who is studying at Bath University, has given me the opportunity to get to know this wonderful city and explore its food. 

When we think of Bath, we might think of fudge, due to the many quaint fudge shops in the city centre. And rightly so. My brother – who has gained local knowledge of the best spots – took me to Fudge Kitchen, where they give you lots of free samples, which is always a bonus! We tried the vegan fudge and also the mint flavour, which tasted exactly like a humbug: a flashback to childhood visits to a Victorian Sweet Shop in a local museum. We eventually chose to buy a chocolate swirl fudge for a friend, who said it tasted more like white chocolate. Another friend noted that the names of the flavours of sweets are terribly vague. Regardless, fudge is fudge, and it was a treat!  

Bath’s city centre is a delight to walk around: mostly pedestrianised, home to one of the few department stores actually left (Jolly’s) and with a wide range of restaurants on offer. We tried Bath’s Franco Manca, which was cheerfully reliable. Its setting in an archway of a bridge was intriguing, with fairy lights strung from the roof. Sadly though, its limited number of vegan options on the menu was quite disappointing. 

The star of our visit was La Terra, a small, family-owned Italian restaurant. Inside it was bright and breezy, thanks to large windows looking out onto the street. The kitchen was open and busy, with fresh bread on the countertop. I must admit that in general, I am not the biggest fan of Italian food. Prepared to the highest standard, any dish can be incredible, but I am not entirely convinced that a bowl of pasta will ever reach the heights of other cuisines. The special vegan menu enticed me, however, and I went in with an open mind. 

We had bread with olives, balsamic vinegar and olive oil to start. There were two yeasty delights to indulge in: a denser, firmer slice and a soft, crumbly one, both with crunchy crusts. These were dutifully plunged into the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, to noises of approval and delight. There also were homemade breadsticks, something I hadn’t had since junior school birthday parties. They were fun to munch on; an interesting textural contrast to the breads. The olives were delightful, fresh and full. All in all it was a wonderful dish.

For our starter, my brother and I shared the vegan croquettes, which contained porcini mushroom and rice. These were perfectly crisp on the outside, with deep layers of umami from the mushroom. The butternut squash sauce provided a sweet counterbalance, with pickles adding tartness. It was an incredible start to the meal. 

When we were younger, I hated that my brother would often order the same dish as me. I can’t really explain why it bugged me so much. I would always say what I wanted first, and then produce minor hysterics when he inevitably chose the same thing. Now, we’ve come to an unspoken agreement that we never order the same thing, mostly because we can actually share things. (Although, anyone with siblings will know: share seems to be the hardest word.)

So, for our mains, I ordered the mushroom orecchiette, and my brother got the butternut squash risotto. The terrible consequence of our pact is that it has the potential to provoke the most heart-wrenching food envy. And sadly, that is what occurred. My brother’s butternut risotto was divine: strong garlic, sweet butternut and rich walnut combined to create a wunderdish. In contrast, my orecchiette was a little too subtle for my tastes. The chestnut was a curious addition, providing a delightful nuttiness to the slight hint of truffle. Ultimately, although it was delicious, it paled in comparison to my brother’s incredible risotto. 

My trip to Bath confirmed some universal truths: meals can be hit or miss, and food envy is a despicable curse that plagues all restaurant-goers!