Here you will find food ideas from restaurants, recipe ideas, festivals and daily restaurant deals worth buying

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Cardiff in the sky dinning and cocktail experience in April 2019

There’s a dinning experience coming to town in April, that is like no other Cardiff has hosted previously.

For 5 days from April 10th 2019, some of the best independent food and drink venue’s in Cardiff will be taking to the sky, offering breakfast, afternoon tea, fine dinning and cocktails on a table raised 100ft in the air.

 

 

With panoramic views out over the city to die for (don’t worry I don’t mean literally as you will be strapped in tight) you will want to be quick to bag a ticket for your chosen flight.

The dinning experience will see a table, covered from the elements should storm Gareth fancy hanging around in town for another month, raised from the ground by a crane in front City Hall.

With 9 flights per day, the event is hoped to raise a lot of cash for the charity partner Shelter Cymru. Shelter Cymru provide support and assistance for those facing homelessness, with 20,000 people being helped just last year alone.

This dinning experience has been taking the world by storm, with events being held in London, New York and Dubai and now OOMFF are bringing the show to Cardiff.

The lineup for the event is as follows:

 

Having visited 6 out of the 8 venues, I know you’re going to be well looked after. I’ve been offered a taster flight before the maiden voyage to the Cardiff skies and I can’t actually wait!

Prices start at £50, to book go to Cardiff in the Sky

 

Höst Copenhagen Restaurant Review

Apart from Warpigs, we had been living off market food and just grabbing a bite to eat as and when we could since landing in Copenhagen, but I wanted to at least have one experience of Nordic cooking on our 3 day trip.

After a bit of googling and a recommendation from a friend we visited in Malmo, Sweden that afternoon we took a punt on Host. I would have loved to have sampled Geranium or Noma, whilst were in the country but to be frank, they are taking the piss with the pricing. For Noma it’s £300 per person for the tasting menu, then another £200 on top for paired wine. £1000 for a meal for two is outrageous, when our whole trip didn’t even cost that.

 

Tasting menu at Host Copenhagen

 

I was really surprised to find the tasting menu at Host, just £55 for 5 courses. Ok, it’s not the 105 courses at Geranium, but I also don’t own a an Amex Black Card. For a welcome glass of fiz, paired drinks for each course, coffee and chocolate, this bumped the price up to a much more reasonable £105 per person at Host. This meant I could even afford to eat for the rest of the month when i got home too, WINNER!

Before we came to Copenhagen, I had another restaurant on my hit list called Jah Izakaya & Sake bar. I found out that both restaurants belong to the same food collective called Cofoco.

The Restaurant

Host was located just over 1km from our hotel. We tried to book a taxi en route but they didn’t want to know as it was so close and Uber has been banned there, so it was on foot we went.

The restaurant was a situated on the corner of the street, luckily for us on the same main road we walked from the hotel, so there was no weaving in and out of back streets to find it. The interior was a fusion of industrial lighting paired against Scandic design and wood everything. I really liked it as it felt warm and endearing from the bitter wind on our trek there.

 

 

There was a hole in the middle of the wall with perspex, giving an insight into the workings of the kitchen and the gold splash board behind the cooker, that we saw scrubbed after nearly every pass. It was so clean in the kitchen, we’ve never seen anything like it. They literally scrubbed the kitchen, top to bottom every half an hour.

The Food

Opting for the evening at Host package we had our glasses topped with a sparkling wine to ease us into the evening along with a bowl of fresh, crunchy balls of dough with a whipped buttery cream to smother in, till our hearts content.

Shortly after we were also served our first paired wine to go with the first course. Not our first course, but one of the many surprise additions to our menu we gladly welcomed.

The wine, a Lil Buteo with almost Perry like qualities in both taste and cloudiness.

 

 

The surprise course was a sort of shrimp on toast with a waffle instead of bread. Not sure of the exact mixture within the prawns as it was lost in translation and wasn’t on the menu. It was bite sized and well received by both of us.

The first course on the menu was a Witchflounder with cauliflower and blue mussel sauce. A soft, meaty and white chunk of fish, ladled in the creamy mussel sauce at table side, flecked with mini florets of broccoli and the crunch of nuts to add a bit of texture and bite.

 

 

Next was one of my favourite dishes of the evening. Soft, tender slithers of birch smoked scallop meat, tossed in a subtle horseradish cream with a kick of sweetness from the cubes of apple. A simple concept but executed fabulously. Presentation was on point too, sat on a bed of stones.

We were treated to another surprise course next. An artichoke soup with crispy shards of fried artichoke sprinkled over. This was delicious and the crispy bits on top left me wanting my own pot, to douse every dish with. If I was in the corner away from prying eyes, I would of licked the bowl clean.

To go with the dish we had a mini tree that was hiding a few extra surprises to nibble on.

 

 

Another seafood course was up next in the form of Norwegian lobster with sea buckthorn and pickled carrots. The lobster meat had an almost charcoal, smokey BBQ taste to it, which I thought worked perfectly with the Yuzu IPA beer it was paired with and the zingy pickled carrots.

For our next course we had a choice of cod or beef. Having had a mainly fish fest so far, I was swaying more towards the beef. To make it easy, Llio went for the cod with lingonberries and crispy chicken skin and I went for the beef tenderloin with lingonberries and celeriac for a 50DKK surcharge. The beef also came a different, more punchy red wine, to go with it.

 

Beef main dish at Host restaurant Copenhagen

 

As expected the beef was meltingly tender, with a healthy scattering of crispy celeriac. The same sauce was used on both the cod and the beef, which was interesting. It could have been the lingonberry as I couldn’t work out where else it was on my dish.

We were now past the savoury courses and into something a bit sweeter, along with our final glass of wine came in the form of a 28 year old dessert wine.

Rose tinted and sweet, but not sickly sweet as the dessert of liquid nitrogen frozen hazlenut ice cream with pear and white chocolate didn’t warrant a roundhouse kick of sweetness to match it.

 

 

The bowl resembled the little Calipo Shots I used to love as a kid. With the multicoloured, frozen balls of ice, giving you a multitude and explosion of fruit, chocolate and nuts with each spoonful.

Our final dish was our last surprise course too. This featured a metallic, spherical meringue dome, dusted with a fine crimson powder atop a creamy base with added foliage for effect.

 

Meringue surprise course at Host Copenhagen

 

To be honest, I think I preferred this dish to the actual one on the menu. Even though the ice cream, chocolate and nut balls were nostaligic, this just tasted and looked like a grown up dessert. Again not overly sweet, but the flavours just worked in tandem.

Last but not least was the chocolates and coffee. The chocolates came out presented amongst some wood chippings, with around 3 varieties to savour and one making you question whether you were actually about to chomp on a nugget of wood, it was so realistic.

 

Chocolates and coffee at Host Copenhagen

The Verdict

I loved my visit to Host, from start to finish. From the rustic Nordic ambience of the restaurant, to the friendly and charming service we received and not to mention the epic measure of pairing drinks with the delicious food. There were no 30ml shots of wine to go with each course, that left you gasping for liquid refreshment after the first bite of food. You get a full serving with each course.

I thought it was amazing value for money with it costing about £105 per person for around 8 courses, with 6 drinks and chocolates. Which by UK standards would be pretty good, but for the extortionate cost of eating and drinking in Copenhagen, this was an absolute steal without compromising on quality.

I’d highly recommend a visit to Host if you are ever visiting Copenhagen and I will definitely be interested in trying some of the other restaurants in the Cofoco family.

 

Contact Details

Address: Nørre Farimagsgade 41, 1364 København, Denmark
Website: https://cofoco.dk/en/restaurants/hoest 

Warpigs BBQ and Brewpub Review – Copenhagen

I saw Warpigs on a Netflix food show, starring American hip hop star Action Bronson not too long ago and when we booked a trip to Copenhagen I put it on my hit-list of places to visit.

I didn’t realise at the time that the venue was a collaboration between one of my favourite Danish craft brewers Mikkeller and the American 3 Floyds brewery.

The location of the Texas BBQ and brewpub was quite fitting, as it was located within the old meat packing district in Copenhagen. The expansive series of buildings has become a mecca for good food and drink in the city in the past few years. From a restaurant point of view, the buildings already have everything you need to setup shop with with the sterile environment and white tiles, which we noticed haven’t been altered much in most of the venues when we walked past.

Warpigs at the meat packing district in Copenhagen

We were staying less than a 10 minute walk from the meat packing district so we took a stroll over to see what else was about. The Warpigs brewpub looked huge from a distance but it is long and narrow from inside. They also have a merch and bottle shop next door, which had shut shop for the day by the time we got there.

There’s a communal dinning vibe going on with long tables in rows and some tables laid out across the length of the window to the outside, which suited smaller groups and couples. We managed to nab one of these seats pretty much straight away, considering it was rammed in there.

Drinks

There’s no table service so you have to order your drinks, consisting of over 20 Warpigs special beers, so you know your getting something totally different, which you won’t get anywhere outside of the venue. I went for a 6.8% Frank the Tank IPA and Llio going for the only sour on the menu at the time. They don’t do full pints and are more akin to an Australian scooner at 400ml for a large and 200ml for a smal or half. They were slightly high on the ABV, both being around 7% mark and they came to 131DKK or £16 in English notes. Not cheap, but then I’m surprised they don’t charge you to breath in Denmark as prices are outrageous everywhere.

Mikkeller beers at Warpigs Copenhagen

Food

For the food, you have to go up and order and it’s a bit like the school canteen, where you get a metal tray, tell the server what meat and what weight you want. They then weigh each item of meat in front of you and add it to the tray. Same goes for sides but these are per pot size, so no weighing involved.

Warpigs food menu Copenhagen

I had to have two trays to fit our food on as I went a bit nuts on the sides.

I ordered:

  • Southern fried shrimp
  • Hush puppies with pimento cheese
  • 1/2 lb of medium hot wings
  • 1 small mac n cheese
  • 1 small slaw
  • 1 small spicy pickles
  • 1/2lb hot links
  • 1 small burnt end beans
  • 1/2lb brisket
  • 1/2 lb of medium hot wings
  • 1/2lb smoked pork loin

The cost of the food alone came to 605DKK, around £73.50. Again not cheap considering we only had 4 meats and the smallest portion they did but then it is Copenhagen prices.

We both enjoyed the food, with the meat both tender and full of flavour. I was probably more into the sides as I love little nibbles but the meat we did have was damn tasty. Sadly they had run out of a few things I tried ordering like the pork ribs and special hot links but there was plenty of other things to choose from. These included the standard hot links and another pork special of smoked loin instead of the ribs, which had a nice crisp to the crackling.

Warpigs bbq and brewpub review Copenhagen

Also on the menu was beef rib, which would have been a contender had I not ordered the brisket but I’m not a great fan of ordering by weight when you’ve got a Jurassic proportion bone sticking out of the meat. It was also the most expensive meat per weight on the menu.

It was an absolute onslaught of food to be fair and I was left feeling a bit sorry for myself about 15 minutes in, after letting my eyes get the better of me when ordering. I’d have two minutes breather, a little burp then attack the smoked feast again before failing again.

We managed to fill two of the little paper bags with bits to take back home with us for a packed lunch instead of wasting it too, which was handy. I’d probably not need to eat for at least two days after what i’d just eaten mind.

The Verdict

I did like here, from the relaxed dinning, extensive beer list and just because I’m BBQ craving, smoked meat loving fiend.

Craft beer and hot wings at Warpigs Copenhagen

I couldn’t fault any of the food we had, apart from a slight issue with not getting my chicken wings and only realising part way through our meal. After showing them my receipt, they threw them straight in the fryer and were ready within minutes.

The cost of £73 just for food seemed a bit steep at first but in the grand scheme of the cost of everything in Copenhagen, it wasn’t too bad.

If you’re visiting Copenhagen I would definitely recommend a visit to Warpigs, if not for food then they are equally equipped to satisfy your fermented hopped needs with over 20 own brewed beers on tap.

Middle Eastern Lamb Lollipops with Fragrant Yogurt Recipe

Middle Eastern Lamb Lollipops Ingredients

 

  • Around 8 lamb cutlets. I used Welsh Lamb from my local market in Cardiff
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tsp Urfa Biber / Urfa Pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1 salted lemon diced finely
  • 1 large garlic clove grated finely
  • 3 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 3 tsp olive or rapeseed oil
  • 3 tsp vinegar (I used sherry)
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds

middle eastern spiced welsh lamb ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients into a bowl, minus the lamb and stir.
  2. Add the mixture to the lamb and use your hands to make sure everything is coated.
  3. Leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.
  4. You don’t want the delicate herbs and spiced to burn on the direct heat of a pan so I grilled them for around 10 minutes in my airfryer on a high heat.
  5. It depends on the thickness but make sure they are still a little pink inside and not dried out.

Fragrent Yogurt Dip Recipe

  • A couple of dollops of Greek Yogurt
  • 2 small cornichons diced finely
  • 1 teaspoon mint sauce or jelly
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Sprinkle of Sumac

Instructions

Add everything to a bowl and leave to do it’s magic in the fridge for at least 30 minutes

I put the cooling minty yogurt in a bowl in the centre of a large plate, surrounded by the middle eastern spiced lamb lollipops for dunking. No cutlery needed.

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Albert Adria’s Cakes and Bubbles Review at Hotel Cafe Royal – London

By a stroke of luck, we found out recently that Albert Adria was opening his first restaurant outside of Spain, after watching Top 50 best restaurants in the world on Netflix.

We watched the episode on Albert and how he went from being awarded the best pastry chef in the world, working alongside his older brother at the now closed El Buli. You’ve guessed it, also voted the best restaurant in the world, during it’s heyday.

It then went on to document Albert’s own journey, with the creation of the totally bonkers “Tickets” restaurant in Barcelona. After a quick look on the tickets website, we saw a banner mentioning the launch of a new collaboration in London, with the luxury hotel Cafe Royal on Regent Street.

I was due to travel to London on the 17th, to judge in the People’s Drinks awards to find the public’s favourite gin, at the Colonel Fawcett bar in Camden. My star’s must of aligned that day because they had an availability at 7pm on that exact date. This meant I could work my way through 24 gins, go grab some food to sober up, then try some of the best cakes on the planet, before my train journey back to the land of song.

The Venue

I’m not sure what to call the venture as it’s not quite a restaurant as they only do cakes and not quite a bar because they only do bubbles, so lets just call it a very high end Cafe. Being located on the ground floor of the luxurious 5* Hotel Cafe Royal, it seems quite fitting anyway.

The cafe is located within the hotel, but with it’s own entrance a stone’s throw away from Piccadilly Circus. Located on the outermost wall of the hotel and surrounded in big glass windows, the marbled and gold interior really grabs your attention when you walk past.

Inside Cakes and Bubbles - Hotel Cafe Royal London

There was a mixture of tables for large groups, tables for two and a couple of bar stools next to the bar, that could be used for customers going solo.

The decor was classy yet not too pompous, for the location and being in such a luxury hotel, that demands around £700 a night for a room. A tall Japanese Fasuma esque door, acts as a partition between the cafe and the hotel. I did sneak out to have a look, on the way to the little boys room and the reception area was beautiful, especially with the Christmas decorations and huge chandelier.

Shelf of The Cheesecake by Albert Adria London

The Drinks

As the name suggests, they not only specialise in desserts, but they had the most comprehensive list of vintage carbonated wines I’ve ever seen. Prices started around £9 for the house Champagne, with a few other glasses available by the glass up to around £100 per bottle. Anything higher, and it was by the bottle.

There wasn’t just Champagne available, but Cava’s and sparkling wines from around the world, including Essex right here in blighty. I opted for something a bit different in a sparkling sake, at £16 a glass or just shy of £100 for the bottle.

If you’re off the booze, fair play to you, they have a selection of freshly made juices on offer.

The Cakes

Back to what this place is all about, and that’s the desserts. You have a choice of a few appetisers, to get you in the mood, some fruit bowls and then the main course.

Albert Adria's Dessert Menu at Cakes and Bubbles - London

We opted for the chocolate eclair with praline to start, coming in two finger sized portions served in a gold vessel, for around £8. Other options included a carrot cake, that was another strong contender and a strawberry and chocolate marshmallow after eight.

Chocolate and praline eclair at Cakes and Bubbles - Hotel Cafe Royal Review London

Albert sets out to deceive throughout the cake menu and this was the start of things to come. It looked like a stodgy chocolate bar but was so light, with a crisp white, airy nougat inside. This was laced with swathes of praline and nuts. Oh, and lets not forget the little shard of gold leaf, on top of the dark chocolate casing, for extra bling.

Onto Albert’s most famous creation, The Cheesecake priced at £12. Using a play on words, the cheesecake was in fact made to look like a little round of cheese. With the outer casing mimicking the rind of an aged cheese in colour and texture.

Albert Adria's The Cheesecake at Cakes and Bubbles London

It looked hard to touch, but just gave way to a a gooey almost molten Camembert inside. The outside was made from white chocolate and you were smacked in the face by the strength of the cheese used inside. This was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.

It played mind games with you as it was made to look like a savoury object, was made of chocolate yet still had an explosion of savoury from the pungent cheese. It wasn’t sweet at all though, which is probably why it forked so well.

Biscuit base for The Cheesecake at Cakes and Bubbles - Hotel Cafe Royal

The cheesecake was served with mini biscuits, that served as the standard crunch base of a cheese cake. I slathered the soft cheesy core onto the biscuits and ate together for a much needed contrast of crunch.

Last but not least, we had the frozen caramel and lemon cake (£12). Again this was different to any dessert I’ve tried previously and was a cross between a cake and a sorbet.

Albert Adria's Frozen Caramel and lemon cake - Cakes and Bubbles London

A zingy frozen centre with an added kick of gin to lift the citrus flavours and just make it extra naughty. A thin creme brulee like layer of caramelised sugar topped the dessert, which I gave a little smash with my fork and spooned in equal measures with the frozen, lemony core.

The Verdict

I’ve never been to Barcelona, so it was great to get to try some of Albert Adria’s desserts on home turf, even if it was over two hours on the train.

The eclair’s were good, not stand out for me but they were totally different in appearance and taste to what I was expecting. Not too bad at £4 a piece for the pair though.

I wish I’d opted for the carrot cake to start, instead of the eclair or just gone for both. The starter courses all seemed to come out in bite sized portions.

For those torn between a dessert or cheese board, then The Cheesecake is the ultimate crossover, for a hit of both. The strong, pungent cheese paired with the only lightly sweetened chocolate was indulgent and addictive.

I noticed a few dishes coming out with an egg in an egg cup, which looked very peculiar. It wasn’t evident from the menu what it was, but I’m guessing it was the egg flan, which mussed of been served inside an egg shell. Again thinking outside the box or outside the shell with this one.

The venue is situated inside a very high end hotel but the vibe here is much more relaxed. Everyone we spoke to from the team were very friendly but I think there wasn’t much in the way of organisation. I think they should of had one waiter / waitress between a couple of tables, who just looked after those tables. Instead it was a bit of a free for all, where we were approached by 3 or 4 people during between ordering and having our drinks, which was a bit confusing.

We got everything we ordered and we really enjoyed the experience, but a bit more thought or planning on the service would of meant it wasn’t like organised chaos.

I’d definitely recommend Cakes and Bubbles for some decadent, mind bending desserts if you are ever in London. We were lucky to get a table when we did by pre-booking two weeks in advance, but it was the first week of opening and it should die down slightly.

The bill for cakes and bubbles - hotel cafe royal london

We had a starter course to share, two desserts, a glass of Champagne sparkling Sake, which came to around £65. Not exactly cheap but then, you get what you pay for.

If you want a soft serve ice cream, with a few sprinkles and a plastic cup of coke for less than £5 for two, then there’s McDonalds. Albert has worked in the best restaurant in the world and been crowned best pastry chef in the world for a reason and you will pay for the constant experimentation to get desserts of this standard.

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Head of Steam Review in Cardiff

With the almost monthly opening of new cocktail bars on High Street Cardiff, it was a welcome addition to have the Head of Steam bar opening up next door to Beelzebubs on Church street this week.

There’s lots of change going on down that neck of the woods in the city centre, with a lot more planned with the redevelopment of the old pound stretchers and the adjoining vacant buildings on Church street too.

Head of Steam has taken over from the recently vacated Harvester restaurant and will be the companies 16th venue in the UK. I was asked to pop along to the soft launch last night to sample some of the 150+ beers and food on offer.

The Venue

I’ve passed the venue twice a day on the way to work since they’ve been giving the place an overhaul. The bar now covers two floors, instead of just the ground floor that Harvester was limited to.

 

 

The ground floor features a central bar with a mixture of movable tables and chairs and also booths to choose from. Large flat screen TV’s nestled around the wall’s rotate through the endless list of beers available.

Upstairs is reserved for mainly food, with no bar and table service. Theme throughout the venue is meandering towards the locomotive industry, hence the brand name “Head of Steam”. There’s references throughout to local railway trivia, but not too in your face.

The Drinks

Beers

As mentioned there’s over 150 beers available on draught, bottles and cans. You’ve got your standard pub offerings for those who aren’t too fussy about craft. There’s a couple of local beers from Cardiff favourites Pipes Brewery, then there’s Magic Rock and Beavertown, which I had the 6.7% Lupoloid that was very tasty.

 

 

They have a heavy focus on Belgian beers too, which is something i’m not too well versed with, so that should be something new to work through too for me.

Gin

I was quite impressed with their gin collection too. I counted 45+ that were in plain sight. Some of the regulars you would find in most bars like your Whitley Neil and Bathtub, then a fav of mine Scapegrace at the more premium end. There were a few new one’s I hadn’t tried too such as the Manchester Gin.

 

Gin selection at Head of Steam Cardiff

Whisky

Around the other side of the bar were the darker spirits like rum and whisky. A few firm Scottish favourites such a Ardbeg and to my delight a few Japanese ones too from Nikka and Suntory. I’ve tried quite a few of the Nikka range so I’m trying to work my way through the Suntory. They had the new Hibiki blended Harmony, which I haven’t tried since the aged 12 and 17 year expressions have dried up. I opted for the Suntory Yamakazi this time though, as i’ve seen it about, but not tried it before.

 

Yamazaki 12 year old Japanese Whisky at Head of Steam Cardiff

Cider

I think their selection of cider was the weakest link in the chain to be honest. The only true apple cider they had was on tap and that was Symonds but the rest were all fruit varieties, which I find way too sweet. They had Rekordelig on tap, a cola cider, which I did have a taster of but found it just tasted like cola and not much in the way of cider. I’d have struggled with more than a half. They you had some bottled fruit options such as rhubarb, mango and a strawberry one at around 4% so you can take a guess as to how sweet they were.

There’s plenty of good cider makers around in South Wales, so I’d recommend having at least one alternative to Symonds considering they have such a vast selection of beers but the rest of the ciders, I’d class as alcopops due to the lower abv and gut rot sweetness. Beezlebubs next door have around 6 draught ciders including Llantwit Fardre’s Gwynt y Ddraig.

The Food

The food menu is split into two, with around 14 starters or tapas options either priced individually or 3 for £12, with the option to upgrade to a tasting flight with 3 x 1/3 beers for £15, which I thought was a nice touch.

 

Sharing food plates at Head of Steam Cardiff

 

We opted to go for 6 of the tapas options between the 3 of us with a side of fries too. Not knowing what the portion size was going to be like, we had all intentions of having a main after it but we had eyes bigger than our bellies. I think if there had been 4 of us to share the plates as in one set of 3 for each, that sounded more doable.

We opted for:

  • Red pepper hummus with garlic corriander naan
  • King prawn tortilla
  • Sweet paprika chorizos in honey glaze
  • Japanese inspired squid with salt and pepper coating and teriyaki dip
  • Hot and spicy wings with chiptole mayo

We did ask for deep fried whitebait but got a second helping of the squid, sweet potato fries and go these plus standard fries and both flavours of the wings so there was a little mix up with the order. It was the opening night / soft launch and we were invited there for complimentary food so I wasn’t going to kick up a fuss.

I thought the food was of decent quality and there was nothing that arrived that I didn’t enjoy. The small plates are just £4 each so i’m not expecting michelin star quality here but what you do get was lovely. Proper beer food and I liked that they suggested a paired beer with each plate or for those opting for the beer flight with it just as I did.

The problem was, we had about 8 plates and 6 beers, so I didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to be drinking with what. It was only a suggestion though and I just had a taste of everything with everything. I loved the mini chorizo sausages in the honey glaze though, they were lush and the cherry beer that came with the flight.

 

Nachos at Head of Steam Cardiff

 

Having had an extra few dishes by surprise, main courses were off the question. We did decide to have a sharing plate of the pulled salt beef nachos for the table to pick on though. The tortillas were pilled high, with a lovely rich and smokey beef topping with melted cheese. The dips came in a big bowl rather than making the chips soggy, which was a nice change. No complaints for the nachos, and again, perfect beer food.

If we had gone for mains, there were choices of beef and coconut curry, sirloin steak and chips, Moroccan Harrisa salmon, pie and mash, a decent selection of mammoth sounding burgers or hotdogs. Price wise, i thought these were reasonable too, with mains around the £11 mark apart from the steak, which will set you back £16.95.

 

Sharing desserts at Head of Steam Cardiff

 

We went for a sharing board of 3 desserts to finish up, which consisted of chocolate brownie and ice cream, sticky toffee pudding and waffles with berries and ice cream. At £10 for all three, I thought they were a bargain.

The Verdict

They aren’t trying to be something they are not, in terms of food and offer good, hearty food for a very reasonable price. With starters or tapas at 3 for £12, mains around £11 and £3.33 for a dessert if you went for all 3.

There’s a lack of places in town for a reasonably priced, good bit of grub with some decent beers to go with them. I can definitely see myself coming back, especially as they are dog friendly too. This is downstairs only mind and they have a couple of chairs and tables outside, so I’d probably park myself outside with the mutt, with a beer and couple of small plates on our rounds around town on the weekend.

Private Chef in Cardiff – Private Dinning at Home with La Belle Assiette

Have you ever fancied sitting at home with a glass of wine with friends, whilst someone sweats over a hot stove, cooking up a feast for you all and then does all the dishes too, so you don’t have to lift a finger? Well apart from topping up your guests wine and aeroplaning said feast into one’s mouth.

If you didn’t know that was a thing, aeroplaning your own food or having someone cook up a three course meal for you and your guests in your own home, well they now are. Both of them. And I had the pleasure of relinquishing my place behind the cooker in my own home to a guest chef, courtesy of La Belle Assiette. They provide private dinning experiences not just in Cardiff but throughout Europe.

I recently welcomed chef Stephen Gallagher into my home to cook for me and my family. Speaking to Stephen, he’s worked at a few well known hotel resorts in South Wales area such as the Vale Hotel and more recently The Celtic Manor. Along with running his own pub and restaurant with a friend, it sounded like he’d had bags of experience in the kitchen.

 

Prosecco and elderflower gin liquer welcome drink for private chef event in Cardiff

 

That meant I could relax and just concentrate on pairing the food with drink and making sure everyone kept topped up, starting with a glass of Prossecco topped with a dash of Condessa Elderflower Gin Liqueur.

The Food

This being Stephens first private chef event with La Belle Assiette, he had a couple of example menu’s on his profile on their website, but he was more than willing to offer something bespoke if they didn’t take my fancy.

Not making things easy on myself to work with him to satisfy what was probably the most fussy bunch of eaters, we managed to wittle the menu down to the same mains and desserts for everyone. I’m not usually the one with the fussy label attached to me when it comes to food, but I was the one who didn’t want the starter as documented many times throughout my blog I just can’t take to salmon.

Instead of me ruining what sounded like chef’s signature starter dish and for those who really did like salmon, he kindly offered to do an alternative starter for some of us too.

 

Dinning table ready for private chef experience in Cardiff

 

I absolutely love carbing up on bread before a meal and is one of my favourite parts of a meal, slathered thick with salty butter. I meant to pop into Pettigrew Bakery for a loaf of sourdough, the afternoon of the meal, as it didn’t mention anything about bread on the menu. I was too busy buying some new glasses and booze though unfortunately.

Luckily for us, Stephen came prepared with a bounty of bread big enough to put Jesus to shame, which was well received, by none more than me.

 

La Belle Assiette Private dinning menu for Cardiff

 

Annoyed with myself, as the sound of the salmon dish sounded bloody lovely, but I just couldn’t. The three that ate the salmon concurred too. Us salmon dodgers were treated to a tandoori chicken, a whole breast I must add, with mint raita. Portion size would of filled two people to be fair, of lightly spiced chicken morsels and a cooling mint drizzle.

For mains, I was amazed I got everyone to agree on one dish, but then it was duck. Again the portion size of the breast was very generous and cooked perfectly pink for me. This came with oodles of a rich, meaty blackberry jus, that added a lovely fruity kick to balance out the natural fattiness of the duck.

We were presented with not only a duck breast, but a very impressive duck leg croquet, loaded with tender shreds of duck in a super crunchy crust. A sweet carrot puree and a velvety garlic mash.

 

Duck and blackberry main course for Cardiff Private Chef night

I know I was in my own home, but I was entertaining guests so licking the plate was sadly out of the question. I did however, happily finish off my mums duck. She really enjoyed the dish, she’s just not a big eater and had already consumed a whole breast of chicken for the starters.

For the duck I paired this with either an Argentinian Malbec or Oloroso Sherry, depending on the guests preference. I opted for the Malbec.

The third and final course, cooked and prepared by the chef was a Chai tea panna cotta, Earl Grey syrup, brioche toast and orange gel. Not having any prior exposure of what chef could knock up in the kitchen, I wasn’t entirely sure the both tea’s would work with each other.

Chai Panna Cotta dessert from La Belle Assiette Private Chef in Cardiff

 

I wouldn’t normally have had much experience of tea until recently, when I was tasked with pairing an Indian food tasting menu with gin for Cardiff Gin Club. I spent a few weeks experimented with Indian spices, gins and a playing around with a range of different tea syrups.

I wasn’t sure if the highly perfumed Early Grey tea would work with the spiciness of the Chai tea but the orange gel brought together the bergamot in the Earl Grey with the cinnamon and cardamom of the chai. The panna cotta had a decent wobble to it too.

 

Jindea Darjeeling Tea Gin

 

Keeping in with the tea theme, I paired this dish with an Indian Inspired Jindea Darjeeling Tea Gin and tonic, with a twist of lemon.

The Verdict

This was my very first experience of having a private chef cook for me and my family in my home, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a little nervous too if I’ll be honest, that I’d invited everyone around and had no idea what the quality of the food was going to be like.

I really didn’t have anything to worry about though, as Stephen was very professional throughout the whole process. From putting the menu together, arriving early to make sure everything was prepped on time and the final output of the food to a very high standard.

 

Group photo of a private chef experience in Cardiff

 

It really was excellent restaurant standard food, without the hassle of leaving your own home. This would make an ideal choice for a dinner date with friends if you struggle with child care, spoiling family members with accessibility issues, who find it hard to leave the home or because why bloody not.

Why go to the trouble of dressing up, travelling to a venue, only to have them tell you what you can and can’t have, even though it’s you handing over your hard earned cash.

Why not design the night or special occasion, exactly how you want it. From the guests, the drinks, the venue and the bespoke menu, to suit everyone.

 

Me tucking into the duck main course for our private chef event in Cardiff

The only thing I was annoyed about, was that everyone was so stuffed after the food, nobody touched my cheeseboard that I spent about 30 quid on in M & S earlier in the day.

The experience was provided complimentary by La Belle Assiette but we really couldn’t fault the experience. I would recommend it to anyone who has thought about having a private chef, but not quite sure or to anyone who didn’t know you could have it done, for the same price of eating out at a restaurant if not cheaper.

Contact Details

La Belle Assiette Private Dinning
Chef: Stephen Gallagher
Web: labelleassiette.co.uk
Tel: 020 3318 5003

Meatopia Review – Tobacco Dock London

London’s annual celebration of smoked and bbq’d meat at Tobacco Dock, aptly name “Meatopia”, has been on my hit list of summer events for a few years now.

A post on instagram a couple of weeks before this year’s event still promoting tickets for the Sunday got my mind going overtime. I’d already booked a 48 trip in Dublin the middle of the week, but i’d be back on Friday evening albeit a little lighter in the pocket from Dublin’s notoriously pricey pints of their famous black tipple.

I couldn’t wait another year, so I booked two tickets for the Sunday sesh and managed to get a good deal on another hit list of mine in the capitol, Dukes Hotel in Mayfair, to go sample the best Martini’s in the world at the same time.

The Event

The event was set in the now listed, old Tobacco warehouse near the docklands in East London that’s now used as an event space. I’ve been there once for the winter Taste of London event but I needed about 5 layers to shelter from the outdoor cold then. We were now in the middle of a month long heatwave, so the outdoor waterside location was perfect for some smoking and grilling.

We got off at Wapping Underground station and it was just a 10-15 minute walk through the old maritime quarter of London.

 

The event was set over 3 days, Friday evening, Saturday and all day Sunday. With 20 of some of the best BBQ based food producers around the world, cooking up taster plates each day.They shipped people from all over, smokers and all to feed hungry visitors. They even had Wales’ most famous BBQ girls, Hangfire there on the Sunday too.

Each trader would have one signature dish, which was published in the programme for the day. Each dish was a taster or starter size, which meant you could plow through as many as your stomach could handle on the day, to try as many different dishes as you liked.

The payment method was 1 meatbuck per plate. Meatbucks were purchased at various points around the two storey warehouse location and cost £5.50. For London that was a bargain. For a food festival in Cardiff, you’d be fucked trying to find something that cheap!

Tickets cost about £30, to cover the cost of hiring the place, security etc on top but this was my ideal day out for me. With a host of craft beer brewers and Josh from Scapegrace Gin doing mini tasting sessions in the Grace Wagon outside along with the epic meaty offerings, I was in absolute heaven!

The Food

As there was a single dish per chef there were just 20 dishes to choose from. I’m guessing this made it way easier to accommodate the numbers and meant they can focus all their attention on one thing.

I had a good stab at what was on offer and we managed to try 10 out of the 20 that were available. Between the booze and the food I was pretty stuffed at this point and didn’t want to go overboard. Plus we had a table booked at Dukes Bar to try their signature martini’s so I needed to leave a little room to ft into my evening attire.

 

The Drinks

There was something for everyone in terms of drinks. There was a room dedicated to craft beers from a good range of brewers, some familiar and some I tried for the first time.

Summer and BBQ’s are traditionally paired with cider for me any anyway, so it was rude not to sample a pint of fermented apple juice whilst we were sat out in the sun, having a nibble.

There were a few talks going on throughout the day from brewers, wine makers and Scapegrace doing mini tasting sessions in their converted wagon. Scapegrace was the gin of the day too, with G & T’s available from the outside bar. Whilst on the subject of gin, we also bumped into Longflint Drinks, who I first saw on Sunday brunch a while back. They do a few varieties of pre-made cocktails from vodka, gin and whiskey.

They use East London Liquor Company gin in their hedgerow G & T and they kindly gave us a can to try after we told them we ran Cardiff Gin Club. They also offered to collaborate on a giveaway on our socials too, where we’ve just offered three lucky winners a case of the Longflint Hedgrow G & T cans.

We also managed to get chatting to some guy, whilst sipping almost neat Scapegrace gin by they’re truck about gin. It turns out, he’s the guy who owns and runs the Ginfoundry website, which we already followed on instagram. Their the guys who run the annual Junipalooza Gin festival at Tobacco Dock, that I missed this year due to being usher at my best mates wedding. I’ll be there next year, with two years of drinking to make up for.

I also noticed a bourbon bar too for those American BBQ lovers.

The Verdict

What can i say other than I had an absolute blast at my very first Meatopia. I get a bit pissed off when places charge you to go eat and drink, as you wouldn’t ever be charged to just rock up at a restaurant until you actually order.

I do realise that the cost of hiring the London venue must be quite extortionate, but to get nothing but a few samples of drinks, that the brands have no doubt paid an arm and a leg to be there and providing them free of charge for in excess of £30 is a bit of a piss take.

The traders are obviously paying a small fortune to trade there for the day too.

Apart from that, I loved every minute and would recommend it to anyone. One thing i was glad though, was going on the Sunday and not the Friday or Saturday. I’ve heard of the traders running out early on the Saturday and I can imagine it can be a bit over whelming with the crowds those days too.

Don’t get me wrong it was busy on the Sunday, but we didn’t wait longer than 10 minutes for a dish, which was perfect. We got to try most of what we wanted to. One place did run out and they were absolutely rammed all day. As a consolation though, they did offer us some buns that were leftover drenched in a rich, meaty gravy fair play to them.

I’m hoping to go back again next year and it will be the Sunday again for me.

My Shakshuka Recipe – Turkish Eggs

Shakshuka Ingredients

  • Tin of good quality plum tomatoes. Go for whole not chopped
  • 1 pepper chopped into chunks
  • 1/4 of a pack of feta
  • Bunch of parsley chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic grated
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon cummin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 2 teaspoons tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon mixed middle eastern spice (I got a meatball spice mix from my local world food market that I used or you can just stick with the cumin and paprika)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Dukka
  • 4 eggs
  • Sourdough bread
  • Real butter

Shakshuka recipe ingredients

Instructions

  1. Fry the onions in a bit of oil to brown for a few minutes.
  2. Add the peppers after a couple of minutes to the onions to give them a chance to brown as they don’t always brown with peppers due to the moisture they give off.
  3. When the onions are brown, add the garlic to the pan for a minute along with the tomato puree, cumin seeds, paprika and spice mix to cook out a little.
  4. Add the plum tomatoes to the pan and squash them in the pan. Mix everything to combine and cook on a lower heat for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add half the fresh parsley and stir and then c.
  6. Make 4 wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each.
  7. rumble the feta evenly over the mixture
  8. Cover the pan with a lid so that the eggs cook on top or if you haven’t got a cover, cook for a few minutes then finish under the grill. Just make sure you leave the eggs a bit runny for dunking.
  9. Just before the eggs are done, whack 4 pieces of sourdough in the toaster.
  10. Take the eggs off the heat as they will still continue to cook in the mixture.
  11. Scatter remaining parsley over the mixture and a good measure of Dukka for extra crunch.
  12. Place the pan on a heat resistant matt on the table and either eat from the pan or divide between two bowls.

** Make sure you dunk that thick, toasted, butter drenched sourdough in the gooey eggs. **

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The Alchemist Cardiff Restaurant and Bar Review

I went to the launch night of the much anticipated Alchemist a few months back, and i’ve been back since then for a cocktail or three. This time I thought i’d concentrate on what the molecular themed bar has to offer in the kitchen.

We were invited along to try lunch there a few weeks back, so we chose a Saturday afternoon to allow us the chance to tick a few more cocktails off the menu whilst we were there, without having to stumble back to work after.

We happened to sample some bite sized portions of some of the menu items at the launch, but there was far too much alcohol consumed to remember exactly what passed my lips that evening. This time I was back for a full portion and more.

The Food

Having just clocking off on the 3.5 hour Loving Welsh Food Tour 5 minutes ago, I had to dig deep into that special place in order to power through another three courses. For some this may be unreachable, but for me it’s second nature.

I opted for the duck gyoza to start. Llio was going for a salad for mains, so ordered two starters. Asian steamed pork buns with hoisin and a side of halloumi sticks.

The gyoza were soft and silky, filled with a fragrant mix of veg and shredded duck. A sweet, sticky dip added a burst of citrus. The steamed buns were decent in size, soft pillowy mounds, stuffed with soft pork. I drizzled the sweet, hoisin sauce for a tangy bit of moisture.

The halloumi sticks were fried in a layer of crispy, golden breadcrumbs, paired with a pot of mellow chilli mayo.

Not a bad start from all three dishes so far.

For mains I opted for a seared tuna, because I can’t remember the last time I ate fresh tuna. I opted for it pink in the middle and boy did they deliver on that front. Nothing worse than a sorry, dry and grey slab of tuna when it’s fresh.

tuna and rice cake - The Alchemist Cardiff

I’m not normally one to go for something with sweet chilli sauce, as I thought everyone had rode that wave to death a long time ago. I would of preferred something other that sweet chilli, that offered a fiery kick of freshness to add to the beautifully pink tuna but the dish sounded good apart from that. I loved the toasted slab of sticky rice that contrasted between spongy with a crisp outer layer, with ribbons of herbs layered through it.

I’m not sure what state the micro herb salad was in, when it went on the plate but it was a bit miserable by the time it touched our tables. It could of wilted in the heat of the kitchen or surrounding items on the plate, but the plate wouldn’t of missed it if it wasn’t there. The tuna was delicious though and made up for it.

crispy kale side - The Alchemist

I love a bit of crispy kale and often do them in the house to add to asian dishes for a seaweed like crunch so I went for a side of crispy kale with the main. This paired with the tuna really well with little crispy shards of garlic scattered amongst the leafy crisps.

The other half went for a Caesar Salad. More food her there.

caesar salad - The Alchemist Cardiff

After a bit of a breather to sample another drink after the mains, we decided on what sweets to order. I went for a white chocolate and rum mouse with coconut, rum, mango and lime salsa.

This was probably my least favourite dish of the meal. Not that I didn’t like it, it was just a bit boring. I couldn’t taste any rum what so over, but this might of been in part compared to the other desert, which was very potent in the alcohol department. I just thought the dish was a bit bland compared to the other dishes we had.

caesar salad - The Alchemist Cardiff

The other dessert was the cotton candy baked alaska. I’m not a fan of candy floss in cocktails as I think it’s a bit wanky to be honest so i was a bit apprehensive. I do like a baked Alaska mind, so we bit the bullet.

The mini mountain comes out with a mound of candy floss on, which I imediately though “Oh god, here we go” but they heated a little pan of spirit up, which was flambed and drizzled over the dish turning it a molten, sugar inferno. The candy floss didn’t last long and just shriveled into little pebbles of sugar luckily.

I saw the table opposite let her’s burn for a little too long before us and ended up a bit more singed that I would of hoped for so I blew out the flames just as the top of the Alaska started to turn golden in colour.

This was a much better dish that the mouse with it’s crunchy nuggets of warm sugar in a boozy syrup that I spooned with each mouthful of Alaska.

The Drinks

I’ve had a couple of cocktails here by now and tend to stay up towards the last block of boozy numbers that aren’t drenched in sugary syrups. Some of the tweaked classics like the white negroni, which was a lovely change and the old fashioned.

I was a bit disappointed with my last visit as I tried to order three drinks from the more potent, short and strong section but they didn’t have all the ingredients to make them. It was a Thursday, so I let them off. I was a bit peeved when the same thing happened with another couple of drinks this time considering it was a Saturday, you would think they would be fully stocked for t he menu.

cocktail at The Alchemist Cardiff

First up this time was the Penicillin drink, that came in a mini medicine bottle that i decanted over a large spherical ice cube. This was a bit more like some of the drinks I would order in Lab or Pennyroyal in terms of strength and lack of over the top sugary syrups.

My second drink, after not having the ingredients to my first option was a smokey number that came out in a round science lab beaker, on a tripod and was smoked in front of me. Having had my fair share of smoked old fashioned’s in my time, the drink would normally have been smoked in the glass, with a healthy chunk of ice to keep it cool.

smoked cocktail at the alchemist cardiff

This was smoked in the beaker and left on the tripod to sip at my leisure. The problem being the round beaker wasn’t the safest in the tripod and I just about managed to save it spilling several times. The other issue was the drink therefore couldn’t be chilled with ice, and i was left to sip the warm, smoked liquid like a 15 year old working his way through the ethanol in GCSE science.

I don’t care much for what glass the drink is in, well I do it should fit the drink. But I think the drinks tend to be a bit gimmicy here, whilst hindering on quality and taste. If you want to smoke it, fine. Just smoke it in a rocks or old fashioned glass with ice or a coupe as long as it’s been stirred the shit out of with ice. Just don’t give me a warm drink that I’m scared will plunge to the floor every time i put it down.

The Verdict

I was pleased with our starters, which were both flavoursome and decent in size. I really enjoyed the tuna and the rice cake, especially scattered with my side of crispy kale. I would of preferred something a bit less old school than sweet chilli, maybe a soy, gochujang or miso glaze but the rest of the dish was spot on.

Desserts were hit and miss. I enjoyed the boozy baked Alaska but the white chocolate and rum mouse was missing the main ingredient…rum.

I’ve had some decent cocktails here, don’t get me wrong but I don’t think the flavour and quality should be neglected just because you want to add a bit of dry ice for some theatrics or a bunsen burner and shitty round glasses that don’t sit in their tripod.

The staff are all really friendly and I like that they ask you before you even look at the menu if you have any allergies, so they can offer you a customised menu. That way you aren’t left disappointed, when you go through the menu ordering only to be told they contain something you’re intolerant or allergic to.

I’d probably have food here again, and it is a nice looking venue. There’s not much else like it in the centre of town, where you can get a decent cocktail (if they’ve pulled their finger out with the ingredients) and some good food that’s central.

It seems to be really busy in there every time i walk passed and every time i’ve been in there, which is unusual for Cardiff as most places are quiet apart from Saturday. If you are going for lunch on Saturday, I would recommend booking in advance as they turned loads of people away when we were waiting for the to clear our table.

Contact Details

117 St Mary Street
Cardiff
CF10 1DY

Web: thealchemist.uk.com
Tel: 02921 303755