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 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.

Afternoon tea at Pettigrew Tearooms, Cardiff

It’s been a while since I’ve done an afternoon tea post, probably because I’ve tried most places in Cardiff now. But judging by the searches that lead people to visit my blog (‘afternoon tea Cardiff’ is consistently the most-searched term) afternoon tea is still as popular as ever. 

My lovely Auntie bought me a voucher for afternoon tea for two at Pettigrew Tea Rooms for my birthday, so we took advantage of it earlier this month, when we had a rare free Saturday. (No kids parties to attend – whoopee!)

Afternoon tea at Pettigrew Tearoom, Cardiff

Pettigrew Tearooms in Bute Park opened in 2012 and has been popular ever since. Set inside the West Lodge in the Castle Walls, at the entrance to Bute Park, it’s a unique and beautiful setting.

The interior is cute and quirky, with authentic tiling on the floor, copious amounts of bunting and dainty mismatched vintage china.

We pre-booked for afternoon tea and the place was rammed, including a hen do. Afternoon tea definitely seems to have become a pre-bridal staple activity.

Banana and passion fruit cake at Pettigrew tearoom, Cardiff
Scones and a pot of earl grey at Pettigrew tearoom

The afternoon tea is £15.45 per person, which includes finger sandwiches (you choose your fillings on the day and there are plenty of vegetarian options), scones (again you can choose plain or fruit) and a slice of cake of your choice. I went for the banana and passion fruit cake, which was recommended by our waitress and it was yummy! Decadent yet light. I could eat another slice of that right now…..

The afternoon tea is also accompanied by a pot of tea of your choice. I really wanted the lavender Earl Grey but they don’t do it any more *sad face* so I went for the regular Earl Grey, which was delicious. 

Both six-year-old J and F who’s almost two came along for tea and both enjoyed the experience too, the staff were really welcoming. 

Toddler F enjoying her first ever afternoon tea!

My only tiny gripe is that the manager was rather rude when I said I only had my gift voucher displayed on my phone and hadn’t actually printed it out (hello, it’s 2017). So word of warning, take your voucher with you if you have one! 

If afternoon tea is your thing, read my post on the best places for afternoon tea in Cardiff. 

www.pettigrew-tearooms.com

I was given my afternoon tea for two as a birthday gift. We paid in full for all additional extras and the staff at Pettigrew were not aware I’d be blogging about them. 

Review – Thé Pot Bistro, Cardiff

Thé Pot has been around a while but recently moved from its old spot on Crwys Road to its new premesis on Whitchurch Road, joining solid Cardiff offerings such as Got Beef, Society Standard, The Crispy Duck and the Discount Supermarket. (Incase you don’t already know it, it looks like a bog-standard corner shop. But if you love beers and lagers, you must pop in sometime. Prepare to be amazed at the selection). Anyway, Whitchurch Road is looking up isn’t it?! *Considers moving there immediately.*

On Thursdays Thé Pot does a special offer; ‘two courses and a glass of wine for £20’, so last Thursday I met two friends for a bite to eat and a catch-up. 

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Thé Pot. I’d never eaten there before and always thought of it as more of a brunch or tea and cake place. I have no idea why. In reality it’s a cosy neighbourhood bistro serving classic French dishes such as moules marinière and boeuf bourguinon, with a few Welsh-influences (Welsh lamb rump for example) and a good selection of fish and vegetarian options too.

I started with the goats cheese and beetroot verrine, which was delicious and really delicately flavoured, the goats cheese didn’t overpower it at all. My only complaint is that there wasn’t enough bread to spread it on, I ended up scooping the last bits out and eating it directly off my knife!

Beetroot and goats cheese verrine at Thé Pot, Cardiff
 For the main course I went for the very light and summery risotto with asparagus and peas. Just look at the gorgeous colours; 

Risotto at Thé Pot, Cardiff
With a glass of wine, the whole thing cost just £20. Bargain.

Thé Pot is a lovely relaxed neighbourhood bistro, with delicious food, good service and great value for money. Recommended.

We paid in full for our meals at Thé Pot Bistro and the restaurant was not aware I’d be blogging about them. 

www.thepotcafe.co.uk

My #ShopCardiff week

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Last week I took on the Shop Cardiff challenge.

It was a really fun week and looking at my Twitter stream, lots of people were getting involved. Here are some of my highlights;

Fitness
I’m not currently a member of a gym, when I exercise I use council-run leisure centres or independent yoga studios. So hot yoga at Elite Fitness in Fairwater on Monday and another class at Yoga Fever on Saturday wasn’t that unusual for me. However, I hadn’t been to the former since their studio relocated from the city centre to Splott a few months ago and I’d forgotten how good Sharon’s classes really were.

Eating out
This is where Shop Cardiff really came into its own. On Thursday I met up with a friend for dinner. This friend and I meet up quite regularly, so to keep costs down we usually hunt out a 2-for-1 deal or some other voucher, mostly in chain restaurants. But I suggested that on this occasion we meet at the Smoke House in Pontcanna, a new restaurant which I’d already heard good things about. I’m so glad we did. The food was perfect (see the pulled pork above – yum), the staff incredibly friendly and it wasn’t even that expensive – under £15 a head for a main course and a beer was much better than a chain deal, when you consider the service and quality of the food.

I also ventured back to Pontcanna on the Saturday night with my husband, for dinner at Fish at 85. Again the quality of the food and the service was a cut above what you’d expect in a chain. This meal was more pricey, but we were celebrating my new job and his birthday so it was what we’d expect to pay for a special night out.

Shopping
This is where I fell down. Being a full-time working Mum means I stuck to my once-weekly supermarket shop, which I get delivered to the house. For convenience and price it is one thing that really helps me juggle my time.

However I made the effort to head over to Wally’s Deli for Easter chocolate treats after work one evening (my boss sent us home early on the Thursday before bank holiday – whoo hoo – otherwise it would have been closed by the time I’d got out of the office and walked there.)

I also needed to buy some birthday balloons so rather than heading to a supermarket I popped into the party supplies shop in Llandaff North at the weekend. I’ve used it before and it’s great, they’ve got loads of party stuff and its easy to park.

Others
During the week I also visited Salon Nia in Radyr for eyebrow threading and we took our little boy to Gelynis Farm for the Easter Egg Hunt, which was really fun and only £3 per child. You can see a pic of the bunny doing her thing below. Although these are both things I would have done despite it being Shop Cardiff week.

Overall I was surprised at how much it wasn’t actually that much of a challenge for me, as I regularly use independents. However where I failed during the week (supermarket shopping and two Brains pub lunches) it was purely down to convenience – particularly as I don’t work in the city centre.

What struck me is that what you get with independents is personality and customer service. When chains expand they seem to employ larger amounts of low-paid staff, who don’t really buy into the ethos of the company.

Perhaps next year I’d organise my time better and stock up on fruit, veg and food for the week at one of the Riverside markets rather than using a supermarket.

I hope Shop Cardiff continues to build on its success. I’m looking forward to #ShopCardiff2014 already.

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