Veganuary round up – vegan food in Cardiff

I’m sure you’ve heard of Veganuary; the challenge to go vegan – not eating any meat, dairy, eggs or any other animal products for the whole of January.

I’ve never been fully vegetarian but have been eating a mostly pescatarian diet for the last few years and after watching documentaries/mocumentaries such as Vegucated and Carnage I’ve become interested in eating more vegan foods. So when I heard about Veganuary it seemed like a great challenge. And more appealing than dry January!

Its easy to be vegetarian or vegan in Cardiff these days. There are some great specialist restaurants such as Milgi and it seems there are more vegan cafes and bakeries popping up all the time, such as Blanche Bakery and The Moos.

But I also wanted to see if I could cope without heading out of my way to eat vegan. If it’s something I’m going to continue I don’t want to be dragging meat-eating friends and family to specialist locations just to accommodate me.

Luckily most places have at least one vegan option and many more will provide one if you just ask. Here are my Veganuary highlights;

The Grazing Shed

Dirty Vegan Burger

I already love The Grazing Shed’s Vegan Wah Wah burger, with cashew cream and avocado and tomato salsa so I was excited to try their new vegan option, launched to coincide with Veganuary; the Dirty Vegan (£8.95). A curry patty with garlic ‘mayo’, mango chutney, chilli sauce and tomato tzatziki. It packed a spicy punch and was stuffed to the brim with toppings – there is no way to look attractive while eating this burger, but you definitely won’t miss the meat. I’ll be ordering this post-Veganuary for sure.

Cosy Club

Vegetarian Thai Burger

Picture taken from the Cosy Club’s Twitter feed

Another burger! I went for a meal with friends at the Cosy Club in January. A quick search online beforehand revealed that they have a vegan menu, which was provided as soon as I asked. There were plenty of vegan options available including a curry, risotto and tabbouleh (two friends even ended up choosing off my menu too!) and I went for the Thai burger (£8.95 including chips) – a quinoa burger with edamame beans, pak Choi and coconut sauce. The Thai flavours were stunning and again, I didn’t miss the meat at all!

Society Standard

Salt-baked celeriac

We went to Society Standard for a family Sunday lunch and I chose it as it catered for everyone’s needs; vegans, meat eaters, weight watchers and kids – hard to please! But this place hit the nail on the head. Everyone raved about their meals. There were two vegan options available and I went for the Salt-Baked Celeriac (£9.90) with butternut squash purée, confit potatoes, chestnuts, pesto and parsnip crisps. The dish was elegant and tasty and I didn’t feel I was missing out. However it possibly wasn’t as filling as the roast dinner. Luckily we also shared one of their ‘small plates’ of Roasted Cauliflower (£4.80) with spiced lentils, almonds and tahini, which was rich and hearty.

Wyndham Tea

Vegan afternoon tea

I met with friends for afternoon tea in mid-January. We chose Wyndham Tea, Waterloo Tea’s location in town. Luckily I knew they would cater for vegans, I’ve tried their vegan cakes in the past and loved them, the chocolate and avocado cake being particularly memorable. I called in advance to request a vegan afternoon tea and was told it wasn’t a problem at all. I was given vegan sandwiches with roasted vegetables and hummus and crostinis with avocado and beetroot. There was a vegan scone (this was probably my least favourite part of the tea; it tasted overwhelmingly of margarine. Still it was so nice not to feel left out while my friends tucked into theirs). I could chose my own cake and went for the lemon and lime; one of the two vegan options available. It was light and moist and I’ll be looking for that one next time I’m in.

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During the month I also had some lovely vegan sandwiches and salad bowls from M&S and Pret, great for those days when I was in a hurry, and a delicious vegan millionaires shortbread at Benugo in John Lewis. I was only intending to buy a coffee that day but when I saw their pre-packaged vegan treats I couldn’t resist!

I’m not planning to stay strictly vegan when January ends, but I’ll definitely be making more vegan choices. And with these options and plenty more to choose from, it’s not going to be difficult.

Have you had a great vegan or vegetarian meal in Cardiff lately? Let me know in the comments below or over on Twitter.

I paid in full for all the vegan food I ate during Veganuary and none of the restaurants mentioned were told I’d be blogging about them.

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2017 foodie highlights – dinner and drinks

On to the third and final instalment of my foodie look back at 2017.

I enjoyed some great meals out in Cardiff this year and here are my highlights for dinner and drinks.

Asador 44

A late entry this one, as I only ate there for the first time in December. But I’ll definitely be going again in 2018. Bistro-style Spanish dining, with an amazing meat and fish selection, along with truly delicious vegetarian options – there’s something for everyone. And the cheeseboard selection was immense! The service was great too, attentive but laid back, we had a fantastic meal. I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t even take any pics, so I borrowed the one below from their Instagram.

Cen at the Celtic Manor

Also vying for my favourite meal of 2017 was our anniversary meal at Cen.

If you’re looking for amazing Asian seafood and fantastic service, Masterchef contestant and former Hokkei Box owner Larkin Cen’s venue at the Celtic Manor is the place.

Café Citta

My birthday meal at Café Citta on Church Street is also a stand-out. Authentic wood-fired pizzas and hearty pasta dishes, topped off with the best tiramisu I’ve had, I’ve never been disappointed here.

Sushi Life

I ate at the Wellfield Road restaurant and ordered take away in 2017 and it’s definitely Cardiff’s best sushi.

The Crunch California Maki Roll is the BEST.

Thé Pot

Finally tried Thé Pot Bistro’s two courses and wine for £20 deal earlier this year. Really enjoyed the summery risotto and the lovely neighbourhood vibe of this restaurant.

Drinks

If you’re like me and your main criteria for a night out in Cardiff is ‘well-made cocktails, quiet enough to talk (I’m old) and a bit of class’ then you can’t go wrong with;

The Dead Canary

Not such a secret bar anymore, but it’s still worth navigating the bins of Barrack Lane to ring the bell and visit this speakeasy-style bar. The menu consists of Cardiff-themed and classic cocktails, or just tell the knowledgeable mixologists what you like and they’ll mix one up for you. Book a table if you’re visiting on the weekend.

Penny Royal

Next to Barker on High Street and masquerading as a bottle shop, Penny Royal serves apothecary-style cocktails with some of the most unusual ingredients I’ve seen. (Milk reduction and edible flowers anyone?) Great wines available too, if you like to stick to what you know.

Handsome Jacks

I’m pretty sure this used to be the Wine Press circa 1994, but if you remember that, put it out of your mind immediately. A classy cocktail bar hidden amongst the chaos of St Mary’s Street, escape from the hen do madness and into cocktail heaven.

If you missed parts one and two of my 2017 foodie round-up, you can read them here and here.

Follow me on Instagram to see more of the same in 2018!

2017 foodie highlights – lunch/afternoon tea

This is the second blog post in a series looking back at my favourite places to eat in Cardiff during 2017. If you missed it, my breakfast and brunch highlights are here.

Next up, it’s lunch.

Milgi Market

I finally sampled the wonderful Milgi market this year. It’s a small counter selling vegetarian salad bowls in Cardiff Indoor Market and is run by the same people at Milgi on City Road. Whenever I need to pop into town on my lunch break, I always make a detour via here.

Side note – if you haven’t been into Cardiff market for a while, take a look. It’s become quite the foodie haven; this blog post from blogger Gourmet Gorro details the market’s renaissance.

New York Deli

New York Deli would be on my ‘best places to eat in Cardiff’ list every year since I first ate there in about 2001. Their bagels and hoagies are immense; stuffed to the brim, just like you’d find in a real NY Deli. The quality hasn’t ever wavered. Quite frankly, it’s a Cardiff institution and if you haven’t eaten there you must make it your New Years resolution. Maybe not if you’re on a diet though (sorry).

The Grazing Shed

Two branches in town and a street food van popping up at loads of events means it’s impossible to ignore the Grazing Shed’s burgers. They do a fantastic veggie burger with various toppings (including goats cheese fondue, avocado mash or sour cream jalapeño) and a fully vegan option with cashew cream. The beef and chicken versions are epic too. Luckily my eldest loves it here and always requests it when we’re in town.

Waterloo Tea

Waterloo Tea added a new branch in Lakeside this year, in addition to it’s locations in Penylan, Penarth and Wyndham Arcade in town. While I haven’t visited the new branch yet, I’ve eaten at each of the others at least once this year. Their salads, soups and sandwiches are light and healthy, always ensuring you feel virtuous enough for a huge slab of cake afterwards. Great vegan, veggie and gluten free options too.

Afternoon tea at Pettigrew tea

I must admit, after sampling and writing about numerous afternoon teas since I started blogging eight years ago, I’d slightly gone-off the experience and hadn’t had an afternoon tea for ages, until I was given an afternoon tea for two at Pettigrew as a birthday present this year.

I’d forgotten how pretty it is in Pettigrew and we spent a lovely afternoon nibbling finger sandwiches, spreading cream & jam on scones (yes, it’s always cream THEN jam for me) and gorging on cake, while sipping earl grey from vintage china. Very refined.

Next in my series on my favourite places to eat in Cardiff this year……dinner and drinks.

To read the previous post on my brunch favourites from 2017, click here.

2017 Cardiff foodie highlights – breakfast/brunch/coffee

It’s been a great year for eating and drinking in Cardiff. I’ve pulled together a few blog posts highlighting the places I’ve enjoyed in or around the city this year – and they’re all independents or small chains.

Up first, my favourite meal of the day, brunch. Always accompanied by my favourite drink; black coffee. Winning.

Early Bird

Hands-down best brunch of 2017 was the hulk-smash at The Early Bird in Cathays. Avo toast with a poached egg and plenty of smoked chipotle sauce – this is a meal we regularly recreate at home now.

Yum.

Brød

The pastries at Brød in Pontcanna/Canton are to die for and their coffee is strong and smooth. A perfect combination. You’ll be spoiled for choice, but my favourite is the snegl with custard or the overskårne (custard slice).

Brød is great with kids too, they have plenty of kid-friendly options. When we were there last the sweet waiter came over with a basket of toys to keep my toddler entertained so we could inhale our food in peace. Bliss.

Porro

We’ve had a couple of great brunches at Porro this year, but my stand-out was the veggie breakfast calzone. Warning – you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day.

Porro also does great lunches and evening meals at its sites in Llandaff and Wellfield Road.

Coffi Co

Coffi Co’s original site near the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay was always a favourite of mine, but their new branch on the pier at Mermaid Quay (formerly Bosporus Turkish restaurant) is even better!

Have a coconut chai latte if you need warming up. Drinking one of these is probably the only thing that will steer me away from my regular black coffee. High praise indeed.

Next up in my list of 2017 highlights…..lunch.

Follow me on Instagram for more pics of my favourite things to do in and around Cardiff in 2018.

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.

October highlights

Phew it’s been a busy month! And not with blog-related stuff; I’ve been busy with work; travelled to London and Mid Wales a couple of times during October, and family stuff has been hectic too, our youngest turned two this month and our eldest had half term, with all the juggling and planning that goes into that. 

Needless to say the blog has suffered a little, but here’s a brief round up of what I’ve enjoyed and would’ve blogged about, if I’d have had a bit more time! 

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that my eldest is well into collecting the snowdogs around Cardiff. We’ve been using the app and are currently at 54! Top left is Mccoo – captured on a grey day at Roath Park lake. Bottom right is Anthem. It took us a while to find him as he’s been moved away from the stadium in preparation for the autumn rugby games. But we spotted him at his new home further along Wood Street. 

Fairy Forest at Mountain View Ranch, Caerphilly
As I said, our youngest turned two this month. She’s really into the Gruffalo books at the moment so we spent the day before her birthday at Mountain View Ranch, doing the Gruffalo Trail, toasting marshmallows, finding fairies in the forest and getting muddy on roly poly hill. I love it at Mountain View Ranch, it’s so well done and there’s something new to see each time we visit. 

Because who doesn’t want a John Lewis cactus on their Christmas tree?!?

I was invited for an early peek at John Lewis’ Christmas department and picked up this cute cactus for our tree (it won’t be going up until December, but no harm in getting into the spirit!). The cactus is from their Peruvian-inspired range; think colourful string lights, poms poms and even a Santa riding a Llama!

I had a fun night with old school friends, seeing Cabaret at the New Theatre (which was great, Will Young in particular was fantastic) before heading over to Penny Royal for Prosecco and cocktails. We couldn’t find Penny Royal at first, we even asked in Barker two doors down who had no clue! But we soon spotted the gold embossed black door and were shown in by the friendly door staff. The bar staff were great too, so knowledgeable. These are ‘real’ cocktails, made with passion. There are no pre-mixes here! The menu is laid out apothecary style, so you choose your drink depending on how you feel (there were ‘relaxers’, ‘revitalisers’ and ‘aphrodisiacs’ among others – oooh er!) It was a lovely place to have a good chat too, no pumping music here (yes, I’m old). If you’re a fan of the Dead Canary, this will be right up your street. 

Middle right is a shot from a very windy Barry Island Parkrun during Storm Brian. The lashing wind and sea spray hitting my face definitely blew the cobwebs away that Saturday! You can read more of my Parkrun posts here and here

Gingerbread cappuccino at Coffi Co, Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay

We were meant to be away for a few days over half term but an issue with our car put paid to that (let’s just say spending 4 hours on a lay-by off the M4 and being towed home isn’t my idea of a good Friday night) so we’ve been having a ‘staycation’ instead. Luckily the weather has been gorgeous, perfect for walks (and snowdog spotting!) over the Cardiff Bay Barrage and along the Taff Trail. We also tried Coffi Co’s new location in Mermaid Quay; on the site of the old Bosporus Turkish restaurant. The location and drinks were stunning. Mine was a coconut milk chai latte. Delicious. 

The Christmas bauble was gifted to me at a John Lewis blogger event. Everything else was paid for from my own pocket. This is an honest review of my month in and around Cardiff. 

For more pictures, recommendations and inane ramblings about Cardiff, follow me on Instagram

September highlights 

Loads of fun snowdog-hunting (get the app here) / gorgeous food from Masterchef contestant Imran Nathoo at Lost Lands outdoor cinema, (check his upcoming events here) / getting sweaty at hotpod’s new studio in Canton / addicted to Milgi Market’s salad bowls – find them inside Cardiff Market / sad to see trees down everywhere along the Taff Trail in the wind / ran our first ever family race at the Cardiff Half Marathon festival of running