Goodbye from Cardiff Girl

After around nine years I’ve decided to close Cardiff Girl Blog.

I was going to just stop and not bother announcing it (I mean, does anyone really care?) but there is something I want to say about Cardiff and blogging in general. And isn’t the point of having a blog to be able to share your personal views? So here it is….

I started Cardiff Girl Blog because I truly think Cardiff is the best city in the UK. Yes it has its faults (Cardiff Council, please stop erecting ugly student flats in place of historic buildings and stop developing houses in areas where schools are already over-subscribed and traffic at a standstill most mornings.)

No, Cardiff isn’t perfect but we’re so lucky to have amazing green spaces and parks; world-class museums and historical landmarks, which are often free to enter; a vibrant theatre and arts scene; fantastic libraries (me again Cardiff Council, please don’t close them) and top-class sporting options. I love the fact that we have one of the UK’s biggest stadiums right in the City centre; head into town on a Six Nations match day and if you’re not careful you’ll soon be wearing a daffodil head, singing Sosban Fach while waving a pint of Brains dark in one hand and an inflatable sheep in other. To me the atmosphere has never felt threatening or unsafe.

And some people are rather snooty about Cardiff’s food scene. No, there’s not a Michelin star to be found in the city, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an exciting place to eat. Do people in Cardiff and the surrounding area really want to eat Michelin-style food regularly anyway? A few solid options have made their mark in recent years (Asador 44, the Potted Pig, The Chapel) and there are some really exciting pop-ups happening; do check out the Dirt vegetarian pop-up if you have a date near you, I visited twice this year and they were among my stand-out meals of 2018.

I’ve heard people moaning about the amount of chain restaurants in Cardiff too, but that’s something I really don’t agree on. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced meal, with good-quality and varied options to please a whole family then Bill’s, Jamie’s, Wahaca or Yo Sushi are my go-to. The busy tables prove the general public in Cardiff agree. Oh, and Wahaca’s margarita cocktails are still the best in the city. Don’t @ me.

And my absolute favourite thing about Cardiff? There’s always a friendly face. It’s small enough that whenever I’m shopping in to town (oh, the Arcades are brilliant too – are you even a Cardiffian if you don’t pop into Wally’s to get some German biscuits?) or if I’m out meet to friends for dinner, I always see someone I know. And generally people are friendly. They chat on trains, in queues and at bars. Of course, all cities have their dark or dodgy sides but I rarely feel unsafe in Cardiff.

I have so many ideas which I think would help this blog to really showcase Cardiff, which is why I set it up in the first place, but I don’t have the time to do it justice and honestly? It’s become a burden.

Many people are dismissive of bloggers, but I have huge admiration for those blogs that are able to produce regular, well-researched and engaging content, often while juggling a paid job or family life (or both). Among my favourites are Cardiff Mummy Says,Gourmet Gorro and Hungry City Hippy.

All that remains is for me to say thank you to anyone who’s bothered to read any of my ramblings in the last few years. And to Cardiff; I bloody loves you, I do.

Katie x

If you’re interested I’ll still be posting some Cardiff-related pictures on Instagram at @katie_chappelle and general musings on Twitter @katie_chappelle

November highlights

Top row (L-R); The best margaritas in Cardiff* at Wahaca / mouthwatering halloumi ‘fries’** at the Brass Beetle on Whitchurch Road / Stunning autumnal runs along the Taff

Middle row; We travelled around Cardiff and the Vale hunting down the 43 snowdogs and during November we ticked the last few off our list! This was our final one – Chocolate Sundae at Penarth Pier. If you didn’t manage to catch all of the snowdogs, they’re on display in the Capitol Centre from this weekend (8-10 December). Details here.

Bottom row; Getting our hygge on with a delicious brunch at Brød bakery. Their coffee is AMAZING.

Follow me on Instagram @CardiffGirlBlog

*in my opinion. And I’ve tried a fair few in my time…..

**lets not kid ourselves, it’s just fried cheese. Delicious gooey fried cheese. Calling them fries is just a way to make myself feel better about ordering (and finishing) them AND a full pizza.

Facial at Ener-chi, Radyr

I’ve written before about the lovely treatments at Ener-chi, the beauty salon in Radyr. 

My fabulous sisters bought me a voucher for a facial at Enerchi for Christmas and this week I finally got around to using it (my Mum watched baby F so I could have a few hours to myself, thanks Mum!) 

  

The facial was so lovely. The therapist, Holly cleansed, toned, exfoliated and moisturised my face, in between massaging my neck, shoulders, hands and feet. Holly also used hot stones as part of the massage, which I love. I came out feeling relaxed with glowing skin. Highly recommended! 

  
My facial was paid for in full by my lovely sisters 🙂 

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. 

Valentines Day – getting romantic in Cardiff

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I’ve been thinking about the most romantic spots in Cardiff.

Whether it’s a hand-in-hand stroll around the Bay at sunset, a champagne picnic in the grounds of Cardiff Castle or curling up by the log fire at The Maltsters in Llandaff, there are plenty of places to get amorous.

If you’re looking for ideas this Valentine’s Day, I’ve asked some of Cardiff’s best bloggers for inspiration.

Cardiff Heart picture from www.ilovesthediff.com
Cardiff Heart picture from http://www.ilovesthediff.com

Cathryn, author of CardiffMummySays.com,

“One of my favourite romantic spots in Cardiff is half way up Caerphilly Mountain, looking down across the whole of Cardiff. We got married at the New House Hotel, on the mountain, almost eight years ago, and prior to that, we’d had a few big walks around the area and I always loved the view across the whole of our city as we sat and ate our picnics. We parked up in the New House car park when I was in labour with my first baby (nothing had been happening for hours and hours) and sat looking out, drinking hot chocolate and getting excited about our future. We’ve taken our children there to watch the fireworks too as you can see them going off all over Cardiff without the noise of the bangs, which scares my children. It’s such a beautiful view that always leaves me in awe and it’s a really special place to us. It always reminds me how lucky I am.”

Jaye, from Cardiff in a Teacup blog,

“My most romantic spot in Cardiff would have to be Roath Park lake. In the summer it’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic before walking around the lake with an ice cream and then renting out a boat. It’s just as lovely to visit in the colder months on a crisp morning wrapped up warm with a huge thermos of tea.”

Jane, from Hungry City Hippy,

“For me, either roath park lake for a romantic stroll and row boat on a sunny day, or Cafe Citta for an intimate, authentic Italian meal. Or both if you’re making a day of it!”

Where do you think is the most romantic spot in Cardiff?

If you like the Cardiff Heart hanging in my living room, visit I Loves the Diff to see more.

Live and Eat Pie at Pieminister

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Pieminister arrived in Cardiff earlier this year and last week I finally made it there for lunch.

Luckily we’d booked a table as it was incredibly busy on this Friday lunchtime. With only one till on (you order and pay at the till after getting your table) service wasn’t the speediest.

I went for the ‘Light as a Feta’, a butternut squash, feta and sundried tomato pie from their lighter pie range (all less than 450 calories) and two less-healthy sides of sweet potato chips and homemade slaw, which came to £8.

The pie came and it was pretty delicious, but no surprise as I’d had Pieminister pies from the supermarket in the past and the pies served in the restaurant are exactly the same. The filling was flavourful and substantial and the pastry light and crumbly. It also came with a yummy gravy.

The sweet potato fries were good but the slaw was really disappointing, more a bowl of shredded cabbage and onion with a drizzle of dressing, not the creamy homemade coleslaw I was expecting.

Overall the price was fair, the setting was great (the decor was relaxed and stylish – LOVE the ‘Live and Eat Pie’ neon sign) and I would come back again. I noticed they have a kids menu and plenty of high chairs and baby change facilities too, which is a plus for me.

Pieminister
35 St Mary Street
Cardiff
CF10 1AD
www.pieminister.co.uk/restaurants/cardiff

We paid in full for our meals and Pieminister did not know I’d be blogging about them

A walk and treats in Penarth

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New Years’ Eve was one of the only rain-free days over the Christmas period wasn’t it? We were getting cabin fever, so took advantage of the sun with a walk along Penarth sea front. The newly refurbished Pier looked great in the winter sunshine – can’t wait to go back and take a look inside the pavilion when it reopens in the New Year.

We rewarded ourselves with treats at Washington Tea – Waterloo Tea’s new branch in the old Washington gallery in Penarth. Lovely to see one of my favourite Cardiff places branching out.

http://www.penarthpavilion.co.uk/

www.waterlootea.com

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