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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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We had a babysitter on Saturday night (whoop!) so decided to get the train into town for dinner, something we haven’t done, just the two of us, in a loooong time.
Cardiff City Centre can be crazy this time of year. Groups of blokes wearing cheap Christmas jumpers, girls with flimsy dresses and no coats (not hating, been there myself, I’m just old now) and not-always-friendly door staff mean we usually avoid parts of town such as Mill Lane and St Mary’s Street. But on Saturday we found a gorgeous little safe-haven at Waterloo Tea in Wyndham Arcade.
The night started off with a less than successful trip to The Depot (I had a good moan about it on Twitter if you want to see). We decided to head back into town to grab a warming drink before getting the train home. I’d seen on Twitter that Wyndham Tea would be open so we popped in.
I’m sure you know about Waterloo Tea – the independent tea room has venues in Wyndham Arcade and Penylan in Cardiff and at Washington Tea in Penarth. I’ve written before about how much I love their cakes and afternoon teas.
Their new Saturday night pop-ups are being run in conjunction with The Dead Canary, the secret bar at the end of Barrack Lane (although it’s not so secret any more, last time I went it was PACKED). Waterloo tea’s own staff are providing the food while The Dead Canary works its magic on the cocktails.
We had already eaten, so we just went for drinks. G had a good American IPA while I went for a ‘winter’ cocktail; Penderyn whisky, Vermouth and bitters. It was lovely, definitely a winter warmer and not one to have if you’re driving!
There was a gorgeously chilled jazz duo providing live background music and the quiet arcade (It’s entry for Waterloo Tea customers only, via the gates on Mill Lane) made it feel as though we were in a real haven from the hustle and bustle of the city centre at this time of year.
We’ll be back for food next time!
We paid in full for our drinks at Waterloo Tea in Wyndham arcade and the staff were not told I’d be blogging about them.
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Chances are, if you live in Cardiff, you’ve heard of The One Mile Bakery. Brainchild of journalist-turned-baker Elisabeth Mahoney the bakery delivers homemade bread and seasonal soups to subscribers within a mile of her home. Elisabeth also runs hugely popular baking classes from her own kitchen at weekends.
I’ve wanted to do a baking class with the One Mile Bakery for some time, after seeing people raving about it on Twitter (taking a class is even on my Cardiff Bucket List). When I saw that Elisabeth had teamed up with Bristol-based yoga teacher Tracey Johnson, to start running Stretch and Knead – yoga and baking day workshops and weekend retreats – it was right up my street! So I was really chuffed when Elisabeth contacted me to see if I wanted to go along to their inaugural session.
Saturday, 15 November saw seven of us arrive at the Steiner School in Llandaff North, to spend the day stretching our bodies and kneading loaves.
We were welcomed with a hot drink (extra points guys for having real coffee and not instant) before introducing ourselves to each other and talking about what we hoped to get out of the day. There was a real mix of ages and abilities on the course; in both the baking and the yoga. One lovely lady even told us how she’d tried, and failed, to make bread throughout her life – even giving herself an actual heart attack in the process. But she was determined that stretch and knead day would be the day she finally made a successful loaf.
Then we were given our special stretch and knead aprons and it was time to start baking. Elisabeth talked us through the ‘yoga loaf’ a bread she’d devised especially for the day; made of wholemeal flour, oats, muesli, nuts, seeds, dried berries and other goodness. Elisabeth outlined the basic principles of bread making, including which are the best ingredients to use and the tricks of kneading the dough (you MUST do it for at least ten minutes).
Then it was time to pop shower caps over our loaf tins (yes, shower caps to help them prove), before starting the first yoga session.
Tracey took us through a fantastic vinyasa flow class, while working really hard to ensure that all levels of yoga were catered for. There were plenty of adjustments for those people with knee injuries and so on, while also giving advanced options to those of us who’ve being doing yoga for a while. Tracy kept weaving in the baking theme, even giving some of the poses special bread-related names. (The ‘touch-your-buns’ pose sticks in the mind – just use your imagination!)
After 90 minutes of invigorating yoga we were treated to a homemade green juice, consisting of pineapple, mint, lime and kale (delicious) and Elisabeth’s toasted yoga loaf with lashings of real butter. Yum.
After this fortifying snack, it was aprons back on and we made a basic white loaf (more kneading, my wrists and shoulders were starting to ache at this point), which Elisabeth taught us how to plait and shape. I’ve tried to plait bread in the past and it just turned into a dense breadstick, but Elisabeth showed us the knack to keep the bread’s shape and consistency. I’m already looking forward to attempting a plaited garland loaf for Christmas.
Then it was time for a well-deserved lunch. Elisabeth treated us to homemade bread, quinoa and winter vegetable soup and a selection of salads and vegetable side dishes. It was absolutely scrummy, I can see why there is such a long waiting list for one Mile Bakery Delivery slots. But one of the nicest things about lunch was the opportunity to chat to the other people on the workshop. They were such a mixed and lovely bunch and really made the day.
It was the first time Elisabeth had ever cooked in the venue and she told us there were some teething problems with the oven, but we barely noticed a thing.
After lunch it was time to shape both loaves ready for baking while Tracy took us through another 45 minute yoga session. This was much less dynamic than the morning session. Tracey concentrated on mainly sitting and lying poses, with a focus on exercises to stretch our wrists, shoulders and backs, all of which had been working hard kneading and shaping that dough. As we went through the session, the dark evening drew in and a fantastic smell of baking started to drift into the room, it was really atmospheric.
When we finished the session we came out to the reception area and I was delighted to see my two loaves sitting proudly there. I couldn’t have been more chuffed!
The day finished with a gin cocktail with roasted plums and vanilla sugar (a non alcoholic ‘mocktail’ version was also offered, which no-one wanted!) and we sat down for a final chat and a toast to Tracey and Elisabeth for a wonderful day.
The bread went down really well when I got home (the aching muscles from the yoga lasted longer than the bread!) The workshop has really boosted my confidence with bread-making and I can’t wait to try making the yoga loaf at home myself.
The next Stretch + Knead workshop will be held on December 13th, at The Steiner School, Cardiff. The day, including all ingredients, food and drink, costs £125 per person. Aprons and all yoga equipment is provided.
Stretch + knead will also be running weekend retreats next year.