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

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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.

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 

Review – Cafe Citta, Cardiff

Cafe Citta doesn’t look like much, it’s a tiny restaurant seating around 30 people located on Church Street, next to the old Berlins nightclub (remember the drinks roulette? More Barcardi Breezers than you could shake a stick at!). 

I’ve eaten there a couple of times but G never has. I expect he was sick of hearing me go on about it, so we booked a table for my birthday meal last Saturday. 

For starters we shared the Polenta Con Dolcelatte (£5) – slabs of corn maize topped with melted dolcelatte cheese.

Polenta and dolcelatte at Cafe Citta, Cardiff

For the main course I went for my favourite Linguine alla puttanesca with prawns (which I think was around £11) while G had the ricotta pizza (Again it was around the £10 mark) made fresh in their wood fired pizza at the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant. 

Linguine Puttanesca and ricotta pizza at Cafe Citta, Cardiff

It would’ve been a travesty not to go for dessert; a Tiramisu for me and an Affogato for G.  

Tiramisu and affogato at Cafe Citta, Cardiff

Cafe Citta is a proper family-run Italian. Don’t expect any airs or graces; staff are lovely and friendly, food absolutely delicious, decor cluttered and if you want to use the loo, you’ve got to go outside to the office next door! But this all adds to its charm. 

For three courses each, a large glass of wine and a beer the bill was still only £45. Bargain. 

cafecitta.com

We paid in full for our meals and drinks at Cafe Citta and the restaurant was not aware I would be blogging about them. 

Independent shopping in Cardiff 

We’re so lucky when it comes to shopping in Cardiff. We have an amazing city centre with a mix of almost all the best-loved high street brands (I still get a bit of a thrill when I walk into John Lewis. Seriously) but if you know where to look, you can find some wonderful independent shops too, which set us aside from every other city centre in the UK. 

Most of these independents can be found in Cardiff’s beautiful Arcades or tucked away in places like Cardiff Market. Although it’s great to wander around Cardiff’s nooks and crannies, sometimes I am a lazy shopper. I need to get in, grab what I need and get out!  Actually that’s being an effective shopper rather than lazy, isn’t it? So that’s why it’s great to see more independent shops popping up in St Davids Arcade, alongside the bigger chains.

J admiring the Lego art at Bricks at Home, Cardiff

I was invited by St David’s to visit two of their independent pop-ups, Bricks at Home and Ushi’s.

Andy Warhol-inspired artwork at Bricks at Home, Cardiff

I first visited Bricks at Home last Christmas, when they were holding a pop-up at a different location in Cardiff. I loved their mix of Lego-inspired artworks and homewares. 

Bricks at Home is the brain child of Andy Morris, a financier-turned-artist. He creates quirky Lego-themed artworks, inspired by artists like Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol. Perfect for the kids and big kids in your life. 

Travels with Roo postcard available from Bricks at Home, Cardiff

Bricks at Home also sell smaller, more affordable home wares such as prints, cushions and knick-knacks like Lego-shaped jewellery boxes, key rings and pencils. Much of it sourced from independent Cardiff-based designers. 

The Bricks at home shop will shortly be moving from its current location in St Davids but is planning more pop ups in the future. And in the meantime you can buy on their website www.bricksathome.com

Ushi’s pop-up, St David’s, Cardiff

Next up was a visit to Ushi’s. I was already familiar with Ushi’s in Cowbridge and Wellfield Road and love their quirky gifts and homewares. I especially enjoy visiting at Christmas time to stock up on some unique festive decorations.

Ushi’s in St Davids is stocking slightly different products, mainly clothes and accessories, alongside a small home decor offering. 

The clothes are mostly independent designers you can’t get on the high street and they’re definitely capitalising on their spot opposite The White Company and Coast. 

I’ll be honest that the clothes aren’t exactly my style but I spotted a few summer pieces that my Mum and Auntie would love and a gorgeous summer hat that I’m going to go back and have another look at. 

Perfect summer hat at Ushi’s, St David’s, Cardiff

Ushi’s pop up in St Davids will stay open until at least the summer. 

If you love independent shops here are some of my other favourites around Cardiff

  • Wally’s Deli, Royal Arcade (A Cardiff Institution; stocking food from Europe and America and a deli counter featuring the best olives ever)
  • Milgi Market, Cardiff Indoor Market (Veggie salad bowls and treats)
  • Wellfield Books, Wellfield Road (A lovely little book emporium to get lost in)
  • Nest Vintage Living, Rhiwbina (Homewares and toys)
  • Bant a la Cart, Pontcanna (Amazing Welsh food. Try their ready-made pies and quiches)
  • Enerchi, Radyr (Beauty salon; stocking L’Occitane, Caudalie, Pukka teas and boutique beauty products)

Which is your favourite independent Cardiff shop? Leave your comments below! 

This post was written in collaboration with St Davids Arcade, who gifted me a voucher in return. This is an honest review, featuring my own opinions. 

February Instagram highlights 

Lots of food and not much else last month……


Greek dips at the Hellenic Eatery / Hulk Smash! at the Early Bird / Anniversary meal at Cen at the Celtic Manor / Vanilla Pannacotta at our anniversary lunch at Porro, Llandaff / A couple of locally-produced beers from Pipes and the Roath Brewery and / Blas y Mor pizza at Dusty Knuckle / nurturing yoga at the hot pod / Lightning on a grey day in Cardiff / Veggie Hula burger at The Grazing Shed

Follow me on Instagram @cardiffgirlblog