Cake & Tea, Pizza & Pasta in Cardiff

Lots more food porn here….

If you haven’t read my first blog post of me showcasing Cardiff to my family check it out here! 

Another day of taking my aunties and sister to my favourite food spots in Cardiff promised to be another tasty one.

After a leisurely breakfast and stroll through the city centre, shopping and such, we wandered down the ornate arcades for a spot of afternoon tea and cake. Baker Tea house is my favourite in Cardiff. The interior decoration is beautiful and the range of teas and hot chocolates are to die for. On this occasion we sat outside in the arcade itself and enjoyed hot tea from the cast iron pots, milkshakes and smoothies from glass jars, and a slice of cake…..yummy!

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I enjoyed a coconut milkshake and a pot of fruit chai tea. My sister went for a mixed berry smoothie, and we shared banana and white chocolate cake! Truly indulgent.

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We spent the afternoon exploring more of Cardiff city centre, then returned home for a little rest before more food!

I booked at table at Cafe Citta for dinner – an amazing Italian restaurant I have been to once before. It’s just off St Mary’s street and is highly rated amongst locals as being an amazing Italian and one of the best places to eat in Cardiff. They serve beautiful pasta dishes, hand spun pizzas cooked in a wood burning oven, and wonderful daily specials – all cooked in a kitchen no bigger than my bedroom.

As usual we arrived to a bustling small restaurant oozing the heavenly smell of garlic.

Naturally we ordered a bottle of prosecco to start proceedings!

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For starters we shared brusheccta, olives, and (my favourite) polenta smothered in Dolce Latte cheese *drools*.

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Delicious and demolished!

As we waited for our mains to arrive, I watched (and tried to snap) the chef spinning pizzas to the ceiling…

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I had to go for pizza, and ordered one loaded with goats cheese, mozzarella, Italian meat and pepper. My sister ordered the seafood linguine which I have had before. Al dente pasta nestling sweet soft seafood…

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Stuffed to the brim we went on to order pudding.

Cheese cake with some sort of fruit compote on top (wine=vague memory loss) and tiramisu for them….

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And creme brulee for meeee!

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All rounded off with a round of Lemoncello. Dreamy.

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And with that last meal it was time to say goodbye to my sister and aunties. It had been a great weekend with great company! I’m so glad I managed to show them all my favourite spots in Cardiff – places that I would highly recommend to you all too!

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for more posts – I upload every Monday and Friday.

Nicole x

Veggy Feastings in Cardiff

Last weekend my sister and aunties came to visit me in my current home and favourite place; Cardiff.

My sister visits me quite a lot, however my aunties have never been here and I was keen to show them my adopted home city and all it had to offer – mainly my favourite food spots!

On our first day, we spent the afternoon wandering the quiet halls of the National Museum of Art gazing at Monet, Derain & Turner to name but a few..

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All that gallery gazing meant we had worked up an appetite, and the first restaurant I decided to take us to was my favourite vegetarian spot in Cardiff – Milgi.

They do glorious vegetarian food using local organic ingredients, serve organic wine, and do killer cocktails.

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Me and my aunty (excuse newly threaded and red eyebrows)…

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The cocktail menu – I decided to go for a delicious sounding Watermelon Collins.

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Choosing food here is a struggle because everything sounds so good!

For starter we all shared nachos with bean chilli, veggies, sour cream, jalapeños and salsa, and Mexican quesadillas with mango salsa. All spicey heaven.

Oh and mixed berry bellinis and more cocktails of course.

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And onto the main courses.

Tortilla stack with crispy tortillas, refried beans, spiced potatoes, melted cheese, mango salsa, toasted quiona and seedy green salad &

Chickpea and sesame burger with tomato, gem lettuce, whipped feta, pickled red onion, alfala sprouts, wedges and slaw.

Courgette and potato curry with pickled onion, rice, aubergine and tomato pakora and cucumber raita.

All absolutely delicioussss.

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Even though we were stuffed we couldn’t resist trying the puddings too!

I went for (the biggest portion) of Cinnamon Doughnuts with spiced chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream and my sister went for Lemon and Almond trifle with sherry raspberries, custard and cream.

You’re drooling at just the description right?…

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Another fabulous meal in Milgi.

And I won’t embarrass myself by putting up the clubbing photos taken after this meal………

Stayed tuned for part 2 of my Cardiff weekend on Friday! Thanks for reading!

(Oh and if anyone has any foody recommendations in Cardiff please comment 🙂 )

Shaam Nights, City Road, Cardiff

I very nearly called this post ‘Why everyone should stop eating shitty Nandos’.

I couldn’t sleep last night for several reasons – I’d eaten late, I was SO full, I had meat sweats, I was thinking how good the food was that had given me said meat sweats, and was moping about how everyone was missing out on what I’d just eaten. Tough life.

Going to a good Persian/Turkish/Lebanese kebab restaurant on City Road in Cardiff has been on my ‘to do’ for a while now, and last night a last minute decision was made to tick it off my list. My house mates and I ventured to the Middle-Eastern end of Cardiff in the hope of finding lots of meat. I don’t buy meat in my weekly food shop, so when I eat out, I want it all.

Me being me, I scoured blogs (namely gourmetgorro), Tripadvisor and restaurant websites to pinpoint the exact restaurant we would be going to. I settled on Shaam Nights – a Syrian/ Lebanese place. And it was a great decision.

We all got juices or smoothies to start. I went for the melon juice (£2.50), which wasn’t a juice but more of a smoothie blended with yoghurt I think.

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It was the best non-alcoholic drink I have ever tasted. So sweet but fresh and delicious. I just can’t even begin to imagine how good it would taste sipping it on a sun lounger on a beach. I managed to make it last the whole meal so I would have some left at the end as a little pudding.

For starter I went for the Baba Ghannough (£3), described as ‘grilled aubergine, onion, sweet peppers, pomegranate syrup and olive oil served with bread.’

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The Baba was pleasant. You could taste each ingredient but it wasn’t as sweet as I would have expected and didn’t really have any sort of punch of flavour. I thought there would have been some depth from a rich olive oil but there wasn’t, and it was under seasoned for me. Never the less it was reasonably tasty, and the bread was huge. A bargain for £3.

For main I went for Chicken Frekah (£9), ‘a traditional Middle Eastern dish, half roasted chicken and Frekah (roasted crushed wheat) served with yoghurt cucumber salad.’

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Firstly, the size of this dish was huge. So much Frekah. And boy was it good.

I have no idea what spices were on the chicken or in the wheat, but I really didn’t care because it tasted so good and there was so much of it. The juicy chicken slid off the bone and right into my mouth. The yoghurt on the side was equally delicious and cooled down the hot sauce (that came on the table) which I smothered onto half on my Frekah. And good hot sauce it was too.

My fellow diners went for the classic Mixed Shish (£10) with rice which looked unreal and tasted as good too apparently.

We left feeling utterly stuffed and happy – both by the food, and the fact that the service was so friendly. We were even given a 10% discount card for our next visit and told to tell all our friends about them – tapping in on the fact that students know students know students…. I will be sure to recommend though.

The fact that I ordered half a chicken lead me to compare my meal with a certain chain of restaurant that is famous for spicy chicken – Nando’s. Firstly, I have never liked Nando’s, and now I have something better to compare it to, I like it even less. Does their chicken fall off the bone? No. It is overpriced? Yes. Is it all about branding? Yes. Should you support your local, independent, family run restaurants who serve better, authentic  food for the same price if not cheaper? Yes. I can’t wait for the day that the trend of eating in Nando’s ends and everyone realises there are better things right on your doorstep. Oop I got a bit ranty there. Anyways, I’m looking forward to visiting Shaam again, potentially with 20 friends so we can justify ordering the whole lamb for £220. Tehe.

http://www.shaamnights.com/

The Foundry, Leeds

(photo courtesy of The Foundry’s website)

So Saturday came about and another meal out was on the cards (woo) – this time for my Gran’s 80th, and Dad’s 50th which was last month. My Mum booked The Foundry about two weeks ago after extensive online research and review reading (impressed), and they were already nearly fully booked two weeks ago?! She’d booked a table for 7pm and we had to be out by 9pm apparently – dontcha just hate it when they say that ….. surely they should open you with open arms OR say no, no room at the inn.

Anyways, The Foundry is located in/next to the Round Foundry which is some sort of business hub which used to be an old engineering works. Makes for quite a cool location. All the buildings are quite industrial looking and appear to use the old bricks of the once mills and works that stood on the site.

So we arrived at 7pm and the place was nothing other than BUZZing. Loud groups of middle aged peoples stood at the bar drinking champs and G&Ts, and a few parties sat at tables. We appeared to be the only family in the room. We were shown to our table and no sooner had our bums touched the seats no short of 3 menus were popped under our noses – the main menu, the specials and the drinks menu. Bit of a juggling act. A basket of bread was also bought round (why they couldn’t just leave some bread on the table I dunno) because some olives and chorizo dishes were (nice touch). And literally within 20 seconds we were asked what we wanted to drink and about 10 seconds after that what we wanted to eat – calm the keen people! Let us settle into our surroundings and munch and read. So after rejecting the waiter twice we were finally ready to order food. I went for the Moules Mariniere £8.50 followed by the Sea Bass with Spinach and Pesto £16.50, and opted for the house white to go with the starter and house Merlot with the main. They bought round bread again (just leave us alone now please).

(photo again courtesy of The Foundry website. Pretty sure this was our exact table though.)

Starters came and they looked pretty impressive all around. Salmon three ways and White Onion Soup were also ordered (okay now we’re ready for the bread). My starter was a good portion and the mussels themselves were bigggg, juicy and soft. They didn’t taste of the sauce however, which was a shame, so I only got a taste of it when I spooned it up and soaked bread from the circulating basket in it at the end. It was pretty good, not too creamy. Sorry for the bad quality photos again. I must get into the habit of taking my good camera with me everywhere now!

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Mains were equally as impressive. Again good portions and perfectly cooked food. The skin was crispy on my fish and the spinach was dreamy – more of the pesto wouldn’t have gone a miss though, could barely taste it. My side of steamed greens were also cooked on point, and so they should have been for £3.50 on top of the main course price….

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Other mains included Pork Fillet with Black Pudding and Apple and Calvados sauce £16.80 (can just see in the background of the steamed greens picture), Roast Salmon with Asparagus and Bernaise £15.95, Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Wild Mushroom and Asparagus £9.50 with sides of chips. All enjoyed a lot – although the chips were distinctly average.

Food wise I would say this meal was almost faultless, although I feel that the side orders of chips, veg, mash etc should be included in the main price, even if it is the done thing with places like this to charge extra. I did also get the feeling that me or my mum could have cooked the dishes that I ate (I think I was the only one this could have applied to) – not that that is a bad thing.

Service, whilst I thought it was too keen and pretty annoying at first, turned out to be A+. As soon as an empty glass or bottle touched the table it was swiftly taken away to make room on the table. The waiting time between ordering, and the starters and the mains was excellent and our finished plates were also taken away super swiftly once we’d all finished. It felt like the staff were constantly watching us without us knowing – a pretty good trait. One final criticism however. If you’re going to have such attentive, smiley, keen service surely you should remember who ordered what when bringing out food? The food was all bought out at the same time which meant 3 or 4 waitresses all chirped at the same time ‘So who ordered the….?’ to which we all replied ‘ME!’….. confusinggggg and inefficient.

All in all an enjoyable experience. To what started out as us feeling slightly awkward in this loud bustling venue, after a few glasses of wine we all felt right at home.

Verdict: very well cooked food, good atmosphere, good service. Happy face.

The Twisted Burger Company, Leeds

I’m so gutted that I didn’t bring my proper camera with me t’up north. The weather has been absolutely glorious and there have been two unexpected meals out that I have shamelessly wanted to snap away at. I have always loved Leeds, but recently I feel it has gained more of an ‘edgy’, up-and-coming, cosmo vibe with regard to food/drinking/nightlife and shopping. Whether this is because I am now a student and am more in touch with this side of city life, or this is totally new, I can’t put my finger on. Anyways, I love Leeds.

I visited two foody spots over the Easter weekend, both of which I thought deserved a lil’ mention. (The second spot will be in the next blog post).

My Dad (fitness fanatic) announced on Saturday that he fancied a burger (wtf), so being the blog type I scoured the blogosphere for a good burger joint. I came across a few Leeds based food blogs all of which bigged up the Twisted Burger Company, a type of pop-up venture at the Aires Bar whose original vendor had been (and still is) the Harley in Sheffield. I found myself in the Harley in August whilst attending Tramlines music festival and have blurred memories of drinking pints of cider, bobbing to house music and getting chatted up by a very tall guy from Manchester. Gutted I wasn’t aware of the burgers they were serving up at the time. Anyway, as well as having good all round reviews the TBC also had an offer on of 50% all burgers until Easter Sunday as an introductory offer to their new location. Perrrfect.

So after a few hours shopping we mooched on down to the canal side Aires Bar, perched ourselves on a table outside in the sunshine and grabbed menus.

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An unawares sister.

We all went for the Pig Daddy Kane, a bumper sounding burger of two beef patties, pulled pork, american cheese, bbq sauce and apple and chorizo jam. Yum. We also ordered two portions of sharing fries between 5 of us.

Within 15 mins the food had arrived and it smelt and looked so good that I almost didn’t care to take a photo, I just wanted to dig in. I did take a photo but it’s rather crap (sad face). (If you want better photos there are lots on Google images if you search Twisted Burger Company).

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I picked up the whole thing and shoved it in my gob, naturally. It was very tasty. Succulent pink meat, sweet pulled pork, soft yummy bun, zingy jam and good cheese. It was all pretty sweet, which for me wasn’t a problem, but my sister found it a bit too sweet. Also the jam could have been any sort of jam really, I didn’t spot any chorizo although some of my family did in theirs. Portion wise it wasn’t as large as I thought it was going to be. I polished mine off pretty sharpish and wasn’t left feeling overally full. I suppose the well cooked meat and tastiest of the burger made up for that though. For around £4, it was a bargainnn, but paying full price, I would have hoped it to be bigger. The fries however, were a different story.

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For £2.25 we shared a huuuuge basket of thin, skin on, crispy, lushious fries. These (smothered in ketchup and mustard) filled any sort of void left in my stomach. (thumbs up).

Overall I would love to visit TBC again if they upped their pattie/ bun size just a tad. Saying that the Pig Pimpin’ fries sound incredible, and the plain fries alone are a reason to revisit.

You can check the TBC out here: https://www.facebook.com/TwistedBurgerCompany

We spent the next few hours walking off our food, wandering the streets of Leeds. My favourite parts are definitely Victoria Quarter and the Corn Exchange (I spied a gourmet hot dog stand I NEED to try):

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(Both inside the Corn Exchange)

If anyone has any foody recommendations for Leeds please let me know!

Next blog post will be on the other spot I ate at this weekend 🙂

 

 

New York Deli, High Street Arcade

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I get hungover a lot. As a consequence of this I feel I have perfected the hangover cure – or tailored it perfectly for my body anyway. The first part of the cure is a large meat based meal, and the second part is a sickly sweet huge pudding. I find this combination to be pretty much full proof.

Today I am hungover (it was Welsh Varsity yesterday) therefore my method needed to be put into practice (again). Today’s ‘part one’ consisted of a visit to my beloved New York Deli in the High Street Arcade in Cardiff. This awesome independent deli serves mammoth hoagies, bagels, hot dogs, sandwiches and many other delights, all of which are based around vast quantities of sliced meats and cheeses.

I went for my usual choice, the Cardiff Devil’s Hoagie (£5.70), consisting of a soft bread bap, cream cheese, sliced pastrami, 99 sauce, gherkins and shed loads of Tabasco. They always ask out of 10 how hot I want it to be and I naturally always say 10 – you’ve got to sweat the hangover out somehow. This in turn creates possibly the best sandwich every created by man. Look how gorgeous and huge it is (photo doesn’t do it justice):

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My fellow hungover diner always goes for the Whitehouse Special (£6.70). A monster consisting of FIVE types of meat, swiss cheese and your choice of sauce. It literally weighs the same as a child, and could probably provide a village with enough protein for a month:

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I ordered this once and couldn’t finish it for shit – for once in my life I had been beaten. My friend had to ask for it to be wrapped to take away so he could have it for dinner later.

We are never disappointed when we visit New York Deli. The service is friendly, the portion sizes are huge, the prices are reasonable and the food is damn tasty. Hungover or not, it is definitely worth paying a visit to this unique spot. You will never look at sandwiches in the same way again!

Do you have any favourite hangover food spots?

 

Cafe Citta, Church Street

So the end of March is nigh, and I have managed to tick another foody spot off my March hitlist. After reading rave reviews on Tripadvisor I visited Cafe Citta yesterday with my aunties for lunch. I booked a table for 12.30 (thankfully as by 1 there was a decent queue to be seated), and this (very) small, independent Italian restaurant was a lushious escape from the quite frankly shite weather that had doomed Cardiff that day.

Cafe Citta I would say only has 10 tables, a teeny tiny bar nessled under a stair case, and a small open kitchen with a wood burning oven. The mixture of a small space + wood burning oven + Italian food being cooked fresh to order in an open kitchen meant this place smelt absolutely incredible. As soon as I walked through the door I was hit by the heady smell of garlic and by god it made me hungry. This subsequently lead to the ordering of bruschetta to nibble on whilst we looked at the menu

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And this was very good brushetta. Really good tomatoes, really good (non soggy) toasted bread, really garlicky and really well seasoned….really. 

I was certain I was going to order pizza after 1) hearing great things and 2) being wowed by the chef spinning pizza bases in the kitchen. However after seeing the portion sizes of the pasta dishes we all settled on pasta. I chose seafood linguine (£10.50), with a side (even though it’s a starter) of baked polenta with a dolcelatte cheese sauce (£5ish).

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Everything was delicious. The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente and was packed with sweet, meaty seafood. The tomato and white wine sauce had a slight hint of chilli, and chunks of tomato and slithers of carrot added to the sweetness and bulkiness of the dish. The cheesy baked polenta was rich, salty and indulgent and matched well with the sweet pasta dish (go me). This was simple, tasty food at it’s best.

My aunties both went for spaghetti with sundried tomato, ricotta and pinenuts (possibly another ingredient but I can’t remember boo).

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And a side salad

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They were equally impressed with their dishes.

And after much deliberation, we also had pudding. These were good, but not as good as the main courses – something I always find happens with Italian but still every time I order the sweet stuff. I went for the home made lemon and orange cheesecake (£4.50 I believe).

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The actual cheesecake I would say was more of a panna cotta, and there wasn’t much of a biscuit base. However the candied lemon and orange peel on top (there was deff some Ameretto in there aswell…I think it did disclose this on the menu) was so yummy and the syrup off it was delicious. I nice end to the meal, but possibly not a necessary one. Other puddings ordered were a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a vanilla panna cotta with blueberry compote – both fine but again probably not a necessary order. Oh and we had coffees which were very very good. 

Overall I would highly recommend a visit to this tiny authentic Italian. We felt as if we could have been sat in a restaurant down a side street in Rome or Florence or something – a little Italian escape for sure. The friendly attentive service and great food means I will 100% be going back – I gotta try one of those hand spun/flung pizzas.