Lunch at Penylan Pantry

I visited the Penylan Pantry this week with my friend Niki and had what may be one of the best salads of my life; their seasonal salad bowl (couscous, tomatoes, cucumber, seeds, edible flowers, red cabbage and olives) with smoked salmon and avocado. Not a lettuce leaf in sight! 

 
It was also washed down by a deliciously strong Americano from the Welsh Coffee co. Two salads and coffees cost around £20. 

This was only my second visit to the Penylan Pantry, last time I had the stunning fish platter with the most amazing mackerel pâté, cured salmon, capers and more. It’s such a sweet neighbourhood cafe with some delicious deli treats from local providers for sale too. The staff are also lovely. Go there!  

Penylan Pantry, 72 Kimberley Road, Penylan, Cardiff.

Penylan Pantry on Facebook.

I paid in full for my food at Penylan Pantry and they did not know I’d be blogging about them.

Macarons from Bute Cakery

I was lucky enough to be sent a delicious box of macarons from the Bute Cakery this week. Yum! 

 
I tweeted this picture which led to lots of envious replies, including from people who’ve never tried a macaron before, but really want to. Not to be confused with macaroons (which are usually made from ground almonds and coconut) macarons are meringue-based biscuits sandwiched together with cream filling. 

 
Bute Cakery sent me a selection of raspberry and white chocolate, vanilla and pistachio and honey macarons. Bigger than the usual mini macarons I’ve had in the past, they were crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle with delicious sweet fillings. The raspberry and white chocolate were my favourite, they were delicious without being overly sweet. Mmmmm!

  
www.butecakery.co.uk

I was sent the box of macarons free of charge, but this is an honest review. 

A birthday treat – afternoon tea at Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth

A few weeks ago it was my birthday. Hooray! Being pregnant and having suffered awful sickness for the last few months I was definitely in need of a treat. Luckily, I’d booked for us to have afternoon tea at the new Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth and couldn’t wait! 

I started the day off with a fabulous manicure and pedicure at Enerchi in Radyr, before heading over to Penarth.  

 

Penarth is lovely for a poke-around and I dragged my husband Gavin into copious gift shops before heading down to the sea front, where the restaurant is located, overlooking the gorgeous Penarth pier. 

For those who don’t know, James Sommerin is a renowned chef, who’s appeared on TV shows such as the Great British Menu and was well known for holding Wales’ only Michelin star for a time at the Crown at Whitebrook. His new restaurant in Penarth opened last year and offers daily tasting menus as well as afternoon tea. The champagne afternoon tea is usually £25pp but we had a really good deal through Travelzoo meaning it was £29 for two people. Bargain! As an aside I’d really recommend following the local deals on Travelzoo, I’ve taken advantage of some great offers including dinners at Chapel 1877 and a weekend away at The Corran in Laugharne. Unlike some voucher websites the Travelzoo offers seem to be genuine experiences of the restaurant/hotel, rather than special cheap menus that are specifically put on. 

So, we arrived at James Sommerin at 3pm and were shown to our table in the minimalist dining room. The restaurant was pretty busy with people still finishing their lunchtime tasting menus and others who’d arrived for afternoon tea. We were each given a cold glass of champagne before the sandwiches were brought to the table, in a really quirky picnic hamper. 

 
The sandwich selection was pretty standard; ham, smoked salmon, cheese and chutney and a very pretty cucumber sandwich. Each was chock-full of what certainly seemed like top-quality ingredients, the ham and salmon for example were really thick tasty slabs of filling. There was also a yummy homemade sausage roll. For Gavin, there was an excellent selection of vegetarian sandwiches including a goats cheese on filo cracker and a rather strange sweetcorn panna cotta, which wasn’t not nice, but unlike anything I’d ever tried before.

Teas and coffees were served with the cake tray, which I always prefer (who wants a cup of tea and a sandwich?! Much better with the cake!) but the ladies on the next table seemed most put-out to be told having their tea up front wasn’t the done thing in this particular restaurant! The tea selection was a little lacking (I think the selection was breakfast, earl grey or Assam; I would’ve liked some green tea or herbal options) but the earl grey was nice and strong. Gavin said his coffee wasn’t the best but it was fine. The strange thing was that they took the pot of tea and coffee away and we had to call the waiter to ask him to bring it back for a top up. It wasn’t a problem really but the ladies on the table next to us seemed quite frustrated at having to flag the waiter down each time. They were obviously huge tea drinkers! 

 
We soon forgot any tea issues with the arrival of the cakes. Wow. They were really something special. A rather dense scone with a much too-small portion of cream and jam was more than compensated for with the other sweet offerings; light and spicy carrot cakes, deliciously warm welsh cakes, praline eclairs, prune macarons,    decadent chocolate mousse and our highlights; the white chocolate and toasted coconut truffles and the bubblegum panna cottas (the latter is a real crowd-divider according to the waiter!)

  
When we’d finished our food we went for a lovely stroll along the pier, the perfect way to finish a nice treat. 

   
 

We even had time to pop into another gift shop, the lovely Shore, which is right next door to James Sommerin, where I picked up a gorgeous summery coconut candle. 

 
Overall I’d definitely recommend the afternoon tea at James Sommerin. Even without the deal we had, I think £25pp is good value for what is quite a special treat. It’s not a laid-back, informal experience but it’s definitely more interesting than your usual afternoon tea. Having visited James Sommerin I’m keen to go back. Next time I hope I’ll try the tasting menu!

James Sommerin Restaurant, The Esplanade, Penarth CF64 3AU

www.jamessommerinrestaurant.co.uk

We paid in full for the Travelzoo deal for afternoon tea and neither James Sommerin or Travelzoo knew I’d be blogging about them. 

Yoga for good with Yoga Fever

If you’re free tomorrow (Sunday 10 May) get yourself down to City Hall in Cardiff for Yoga Fever’s day of yoga, to raise money for The Wallich, a Cardiff-based homelessness charity.

I went to their last fundraiser which included some of Cardiff’s best yoga teachers holding mass classes in City Hall, with break out workshops and complimentary therapies. This one looks like it’s going to be bigger and better than the last.

I’ll only be going for the pregnancy yoga workshop at 10am, but I was so pleased to see that I’ve still got the opportunity to take part, despite my ‘condition’! If childcare’s an issue, there are also yoga for children workshops running, among others.

Tickets are available on the door tomorrow, £20 for a half day or £35 for the full day, with all proceeds going to The Wallich. Find out more at www.yogaforgood.co.uk

You can see tweets about the day by following #yogaforwallich.

If you can’t make the event why not donate by texting ‘YOGA15 £(your amount)’ to 70070. All donations go directly to The Wallich.

Namaste!

Review – Street Food Warehouse, Cardiff

Street Food is one of the biggest trends on the food scene at the moment. Basically a posh way of saying ‘burger vans’ street food is ready-to-eat fast-food sold from vans, stalls and carts. It’s seen huge growth in places like LA where their regular food markets have some of the best vendors arriving in one place for a weekly street food festival. But places like LA have warm weather and glorious sunshine 12 months of the year; it’s not so much fun if you’re shivering in the rain with a soggy burrito. But spring is here and Cardiff’s street food scene has well and truly kicked off with the Street Food Warehouse.

Drinks at Street Food Warehouse
Drinks at Street Food Warehouse, Cardiff

Open on weekend evenings throughout the spring and summer, Street Food Warehouse takes place under the eves of the Millennium Stadium and Cardiff Arms Park. It’s a rustic and funky set up with a huge communal covered seated area with fairy lights and laid back tunes being played by a live DJ, who’s tucked away behind and fruit and veg stall. We visited during opening weekend, over the Easter Bank holiday. It was £2 to get in, which I do think is a bit weird; paying to go and buy food, but really, it’s nominal. The tickets also said £1 for children, but our four-year-old was welcomed for free and given some Easter chocolate treats on the way in.

The seating area at Street Food Warehouse, Cardiff
The seating area at Street Food Warehouse, Cardiff

We’d been reading the menu while we waited to enter and were looking forward to trying pizza from the Dough Boys. But when we got inside we were disappointed to see they weren’t there. We asked a member of staff who said they hadn’t shown up – gutted. Still, there was plenty to whet our appetites. The toddler and I shared a delicious pulled pork roll with coleslaw and a box of Mac n cheese from Passion & Soul BBQ. The pork was perfect – slow cooked in their ‘Big Betty’ smoker, the meat was tender and juicy with a tangy BBQ sauce and crunchy home made coleslaw, all served in a brioche bun. The toddler and I were fighting over the last bite! The Mac was creamy with a good hint of mustard, also very moreish.

Pulled Pork with Coleslaw and Mac n Cheese - yum!
Pulled Pork with Coleslaw and Mac n Cheese – yum!

Gavin went for one of the veggie options on offer, a chickpea burger with halloumi from Rad Burgers, accompanied by Rosemary chips. He enjoyed the burger and we all polished off the chips. To finish we went for churros from South Wales-based Mr Churros. Freshly fried in front of us, dusted with sugar, cinnamon and accompanied by a warm chocolate sauce, they were yummy and were gobbled up in seconds.

Churros from Mr Churro
Churros from Mr Churro

The drinks were a selection of Celt Beers and Cocktails, which were served in a quirky take-away container. I went for the mocktail which, at £3 was a bit ‘style over substance’. It was tasty but I would’ve liked a few more non-alcoholic options, especially something a bit more child-friendly.

Mocktail at Street Food Warehouse Cardiff
Mocktail at Street Food Warehouse Cardiff

We were at the 5pm sitting, which had a good family atmosphere, there were loads of kids enjoying the music and we were lucky the weather was pretty good. But I can imagine as the sun goes down and the nights get warmer, its the perfect place to enjoy a laid back cocktail with friends.

Overall I enjoyed Street Food Warehouse, but it’s struck me since that I would’ve liked the food on offer to be a little more local. For example Passion & Soul are from Surrey and Rad Burgers from Kent. That’s not to say their food wasn’t lovely but I know there are Cardiff-based vendors doing food that’s just as good.

You can find Street Food Warehouse on Twitter .

We paid in full for entry and all food and drink at Street Food Warehouse. 

Fashion Lab Wales – a charity shop, but not as you know it

I’m useless at charity shop shopping. I really envy those people that, when complimented on their outfit, say; “Oh this? It’s Whistles/Karen Millen/Reiss. Only £10 in the charity shop!”.

Don’t get me wrong I blinking love charity shops, I give lots of clothes to them and love picking up books for 99p. But no matter how much I rummage through the racks I can never find that elusive bargain outfit.

IMG_5531-0

IMG_5528-0

So thank goodness for Fashion Lab Wales – a new boutique charity shop from Cancer Research Wales. I spotted loads of bargains at the opening including Karen Millen, TopShop,LK Bennet and Lipsy to name a few – and most items around the £10-£15 mark. They even stock a Herve Leger bandage dress, donated by Danielle Linkekar, admittedly a bit more pricey at £200, but not bad for something usually selling for the £1000 mark. And all for charity! Excellent.

IMG_5529

 

Fashion Lab Wales, Queen Street Arcade, Cardiff

http://www.cancerresearchwales.co.uk

I was invited to the opening of the shop as a guest.

Review – Hokkei, Cardiff

You’ve probably heard of Hokkei box. The Asian takeaway, brainchild of MasterChef finalists Dale and Larkin, opened with lots of hype at the end of 2014.

Their plan was to reinvent the takeaway, bringing authentic asian flavours to Cardiff, using the best ingredients. You’ll find no MSG here.

I’ve wanted to try it since it opened, so a family night in with a film (The Lego Movie – it was the little man’s choice) was a good opportunity.

The menu is lovely and simple, you can order a box (consisting of a main, side, an extra and some dim sum) or choose off the menu. I love this idea, as one of my favourite things about getting a takeaway is all the additional nibbles you get on the side.

Our Hokkei boxes
Our Hokkei boxes

We went for a Genie Box; Aubergine and Tofu coconut curry, egg fried rice, edamame and veggie spring rolls (£13.25) and a Tokyo box; chicken katsu curry, steamed rice, spicy asian slaw and triple cooked crispy beef (£13.45) and added extras such as Thai Crackers (£1.50), Chunky Chips (£2.50) and some salt and pepper tofu (£4.95). There were three of us sharing this after all!

We called to order but were dissapointed to find they don’t deliver as far as Radyr. Still, we had our hearts set on it, so one pleading look at Gavin and he was in the car faster than you could say ‘spicy asian slaw’.

The journey from Crwys Road to Radyr did mean that the food was slightly tepid when he got home, but a quick blast in the microwave and it was fine.
Hokkei chicken katsu curry, rice and triple cooked crispy beef
Hokkei chicken katsu curry, rice and triple cooked crispy beef
But there was so much food! The dim sum portions were huge, particularly the salt and pepper tofu and the crispy beef, they were almost as big as the main dishes and there was more than enough for all three of us. We were left with plenty of leftovers (tip, the triple cooked crispy beef tasted even better warmed up the next day….which I guess makes it quadruple cooked).
The flavours were so good. We’re fans of places like the Crispy Duck, Ichiban and Wagamama, so the authentic flavours weren’t hugely surprising, but all their meat is responsibly sourced and you could tell that the chicken was of a very high quality and not dry at all, as katsu often can be. If your regular chinese takeaway consists of deep fried chicken balls, MSG-laden curry sauce and stale tasting prawn crackers, this could be a real eye opener and I’m convinced the quality ingredients make it a healthier option.
Hokkei Asian slaw, edamame beans and thai crackers
Hokkei Asian slaw, edamame beans and thai crackers
The toddler loved the chicken katsu curry, the edamame and the rice. He wanted to like the Thai crackers and kept asking for more, but really he found them a bit too spicy (or ‘spiky’ as he said). I didn’t even try him on the beef as it had a real chilli hit, which I love, but a bit much for the little man. The chips were good – they had a real ‘chips from the chinese’ flavour too.
The entire order came to £35.85, which I thought was reasonable for the huge amount we ordered.
I just hope they start delivering to Radyr soon!
 Hokkei
92 Crwys Road, Cardiff CF24 4NP
029 2233 1400

http://hokkei.co.uk

We paid in full for our takeaway and Hokkei did not know I’d be blogging about them.