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.


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


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.

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.

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


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.


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


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


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.

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

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.

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
CF10 1DY

Web: thealchemist.uk.com
Tel: 02921 303755

We were recently invited along to the Loving Welsh Food tour in Cardiff. If you haven’t heard of them, they run tours every Friday and Saturday, tasting your way through some of Cardiff’s best love independent’s and favourite delicacies (Yes we do have some!)

Just so that everyone knew were X marked the spot at the starting line, we were told to meet at Cardiff Castle for a 10.30am start.There were only two other Cardiff dwellers, apart from us and we still managed to rock up late, surprise, surprise.

Our tour guide for the day was Sian, who was Cardiff born and bred, but capable of delivering tours in a variety of other languages too. After giving our (Llio’s) apologies for our poor time management, we got right into a brief history lesson about Cardiff, the castle and how the Bute family shaped the small farming town into the great city it is today. I also found out that the Castle buildings were home to a music college, not long before I made it into the world and Sian learned to play piano there, which is pretty bloody cool if you ask me.

Luckily for us there, were no 5 metre high flags to follow, megaphones to deafen us or cattle prods to keep us in check for our meandering trail through streets and arcades, it was a nice casual affair in a group of around 10 of us.

First pit stop – Pettigrew Tea Rooms

We didn’t have far to walk from our meeting point, which happened to be just along the boundary wall of Cardiff Castle and one of my favourite breakfast spots in the Diff, Pettigrew Tea House.

This is how I want every Saturday to start from now on, with thick wedges of Bara Brith and butter, savoury laverbread scones with cream cheese and chilli relish all washed down with some posh loose leaf tea form Caton Teas. Well there was going to be walking on this tour, so we had better make sure we had enough calories to keep us going till the next stop.

Pettigrew Tea Rooms

After polishing off the sweet and savouries from the first stop, we made our way through Bute Park on what must have been the clearest morning i’ve seen in Cardiff for a while. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Heading to the Civic Centre, the tour was mixed with little nuggets of historical information, which I love just as much as sampling my way through some classic Welshy food.

Stop 2 – Wally’s Deli

We made our way across town, whilst being pinpointed to spots of interest such as historically significant buildings that I probably pass several times a day without looking up and noticing them. The next time you walk through Queen Street or St Mary’s street, cast your eyes above the horizon, and you’ll be surprised by what might catch your eye.

Our next stop was at Cardiff’s favourite deli and ever expanding Wally’s, situated in one of the city’s famous Victorian arcades. I love popping in for for some charcuterie, biltong and to have a browse at their latest gin delivery.

We were treated to a selection of cheese including some welsh varities, along with tasters of cured meats. I loved the Welsh Black Bomber cheese. It does what it says on the tin, with an explosion of strong mature cheesilicous flavours going off in your mouth with each tasty bite.

Stop 3 – The Cottage Pub

The Cottage Pub Cardiff

What goes hand in hand with cheese and meaty nuggets on a cocktail stick? Yes, Alcohol, you’re correct!

Next up, and one of Cardiff’s oldest watering holes, was the Brain’s owned The Cottage Pub. You can’t get more Old School. We popped in for a pie and a pint a few months back, and it was like home from home for me with my grandparents pub.

Although Brain’s Brewery haven’t been brewing for quite as many 100’s of years as Guiness or have the mammoth marketing budget of the Black Irish medicine. What they do have, is rugby favourite Brains Dark. Also coloqually known as a “pint of Daaahke”, which were tasting today. From living with my grandparents in a rugby club till the age of 1, fuelled by barrels of Brains, I was well acquinted with the nectar.

Welsh beer at The Cottage Pub Cardiff

For those with a less malty thirst, we also got to try a tipple of fermented apples by my longstanding favourite Welsh cider producer Gwynt y Ddraig.

I never used to miss a bank holiday shindig in their straw bale dotted farm yard in Llantwit Fardre, when they first came onto the scene over 10 years ago. Sadly not everyone could keep up with the potent offerings, especially with the half a mile walk back down the mountain from the farm after supping on 7.5% rocket fuelled black dragon.

One guy I worked with broke his leg and had two months off work, falling arse over tit back down the mountain at one open day. In the end there were more St John’s Ambulance volunteers than patrons so they knocked it on the head.

Welsh Cider - The Cottage Pub Cardiff

On this occasion, we were gently ushered into Gwynt y Ddraigs back catalogue of ciders with a respectable 4.5% award winning Orchard Gold.

Stop 4 – Cardiff Market

After sipping our way through the two drinks and finishing off the last morsels of our Wally’s platter, which we took for the road, we headed to my favourite lunch time stop, Cardiff Market.

If you’re hungry and want something to eat for under £5 then this is the place to be. There’s not much you can’t find here and what you can’t they are probably in the pipeline to open with the likes of Ffrness, Holly Yolks and Milgi opening up within the past 12 months.

You’ve also got Thai, cheese stalls, old school baps, sandwiches and corned beef pies to choose from along with my weekly fruit and veg run and butchers. Oh and don’t forget the cat or gold fish upstairs.

Laverbread and cockles at Cardiff Market

Today we were starting with some Welsh (Wo)Man’s Caviar. Also known as laverbread, of which we had a taster in our savoury scones at Pettigrew. This time though we were going head first, with unadulterated slathering of cooked seaweed on biscuits topped with cockles and a few shakes of the vinegar bottle. This was my first time trying laverbread and cockles, as it is without being blitzed, mixed, deep fried or baked in some concoction. I’m glad I tried it, but I can’t see it making it’s way onto the weekly shop.

I’ve enjoyed cockle popcorn, the Bara Menyn cockle bomb for breakfast and the savoury scones at Pettigrew but on their own, not quite for me. Some people had 2nd’s so each to their own.

Faggots and gravy - Cardiff Market

Not content with sampling one dish from the market, we had another two stops to go here. Next up was the deli in the middle, and first up was the hearty classic , Faggots with gravy. My grandmother always used to do a banquet of faggots, peas, chips, gravy with bread and butter for the Welsh international games and this took me right back. Obviously, being a tasting tour, we got more manageable portions as we had a few more stops to go.

Clarkes Pie at Cardiff Market

Also on the menu at the deli, and something that would of went hand in hand with our pint of daaaaahk earlier was the humble Claaaahks pie (Clarkes Pie to non Cardiffians). Luckily for me, I still had a pool of gravy left in my container from my faggots, so I went fully valleys and moped it up with my meaty portion of steak pie.

Scotch egg at Holy Holks - Cardiff Market

With our last stop of the market, we headed over to a relatively new stall. Holy Yolks started life around the local food markets and we’ve picked a few freshly fried, golden, crispy globes at Riverside on a Sunday. There’s a couple to choose from and these not a hard boiled grey yolk in sight. Be prepared for a gooey amber dribbling mess around your face. But it’s definitely worth it. The honey i shrunk the pig is delish but they’ve got a bacon riddled version and a veggie (maybe vegan) too.

Stop 5 – Fabulous Welshcakes

After an onslaught of savoury goodies to dive into, we were not on full sail into something sweet. Nothing says Welsh and sweet more than a bag full Welsh Cakes. Even though there’s a few stalls churning out mountains of the stodgy Welsh favourite, we were heading out of the Market to try somewhere else.

Welsh Cakes from Fabulous Welshcakes Cardiff

Fabulous Welshcakes happens to be less than 5 minutes from work, and I often pinch a taste when they are holding samples outside the shop on Castle street on my lunch break. Going full circle, we’re now stood opposite the starting line waiting for the freshly griddled sugary mouthfulls to be bundled into a bag for us to devour.

We had the classic Welsh cake batter mix, but they do different varieties such as orange and cinnamon, chocolate chip. Although to purists these might be frowned upon, but hey if it’s good enough to eat, I don’t care what you call them.

Stop 6 – Bar 44

With the finish line in sight, we took a leisurely stroll up Womamby Street, nibbling our Welsh Cakes on foot. Well I finished mine before we left the shop but others were savouring each bite.

Last but not least, we headed into the red brick slightly underground tapas haven that is Bar 44 for a good chin wag with fellow food tourer walkers and something sweet and wet. We were presented with a couple of plates adhorned with rich, dark, meltingly delicious chocolate truffles flecked with sea salt.

Cava and chocolate truffles - Bar 44 Cardiff

We then had a choice of poison or coffee. The stronger options were beer or Cava. We had a bottle of the Vilarnau Brut Reserva to take up north, to celebrate Fiesta Calcottada and knew how banging it was, so there was no competition in my eyes.

The Verdict

Apart from the early start (yes 10.30am is early for me on a Saturday!) I loved every bit of the tour. I managed to try some of my old favourites, things that brought back memories from my past, growing up and some were totally new to me.
We also learned a lot about some of the history of Cardiff, which I always find fascinating along with taking in some of the amazing locations right on our doorstep that we all take for granted most of the time.

Yes i work in town and have tried a couple of the things we tried, but they are bloody lovely so I will keep eating them but even if you are local to Cardiff I’d still recommend going. We had a really lovely group that we were with and it was great to have a chat to some of the people to see what they thought of some of the food we eat or places to eat. We had people from Cardiff, further afield in Wales and as far as Canada.

If you aren’t from Wales or are visiting the city then this food tour would be at the top of my list of things to do. You get a guided tour around some of my favourite places to eat that you just wouldn’t stumble on if you walked across the city by yourself or know what to order if you did happen upon just one of them.

The cost is around £40 and as you can see, we had plenty to taste and places to visit in the 3.5 hour tour around the capital of Wales. We were invited along on the tour so our space was voluntary, but seeing as they picked my favourite spots to eat and drink, I’d have no hesitation recommending joining the tour one weekend.

Contact Details

Loving Welsh Food

Web: lovingwelshfood.uk
Tel: 01970 631731

After a bit of unwinding in the spa, we nipped back to the cottage to get ready for the meet and greet at the academy kitchen. Armed with a glass of bubbly on arrival, we got to see the ribbon cutting of the kitchen from chef and owner of the Corran.  We all got to introduce ourselves to the rest of the students for the weekend then Jean-Christophe talked to us about how the Academy came to be.

This was chance meeting with head chef of the Corran at an airport, where they got talking and got invited to visit the resort. He also spoke a bit about his cooking style and healthy lifestyle he aims to promote during our tutored cooking session the following day, which tries to dramatically reduce our intake of salt from cooking.

Jean Christophe Novelli talking at Corran Academy Laugharne

After being acquainted with each other, we were allowed to feast on the table of food that had me salivating for the past hour during the introductions. I’m a sucker for a buffet and although there weren’t any cheese and pickle on a toothpick or part baked sausage rolls I absolutely annihilated the wheels of gooey camembert the size of my head, moped up with fist sized pieces of fresh focaccia, meats, olives and a mountain of slightly more impressive items i’ve never had in a valleys 50th birthday shindig. A few more glasses of bubbles were consumed before we retired to our luxury farmhouse cottage to catch a few winks before a busy day ahead of us.

After an amazing breakfast of smoked haddock and poached eggs, we convened at the Academy kitchen, located next to the spa at 11 for a brief run through of the plan for the day. Being the first ever class, the timings and schedule were a work in progress. We were to have Jean-Christophe and the head chef talk through a fair few techniques and dishes, where we would then have the chance to have a go ourselves and get a chance to taste our little masterpieces.


First on the cards for the culinary lessons delivered by Jean-Christophe was caramel. I’d made some alcohol spiked salted caramels in my time and a black toffee apple for halloween for my sister once so I was aware of the process.I’d usually use a sugar thermometer that I held, nervously inches away from liquid sugar magma till the contents of the pan hit that precious marker on the thermometer.

This time however we were letting our senses guide us as to when the caramelised sugar was at the optimum temperature and consistency. Another thing we learned though was that the type of sugar used along with the surrounding humidity in the room also influenced the final result. I’d just go for a bag of silver spoon granulated sugar in the past but Jean-Christophe and head chef Syril use something called isomalt that is a sugar substitute that is cleaner mix that gives the perfect glaze and cloud free finish.

The caramel can be used as the base for many a dessert or decorative purpose. We were shown how to make a apple tart-tatan in a pan then over. We also allowed the caramel to cool slightly before some of us got a chance to shape to shape it into sugar baskets and spring like sugar ornament.

Chicken Balloutine

Next up was a crash course in making the French favourite, chicken balloutine . A deboned chicken leg, stuffed with sweet potato and rolled into a sausage like parcel that is poached for around 10 minutes then left to cool. It can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for several days before it can be unpacked from the cling film and browned in a pan. Ideal for dinner parties and two days later, since i’ve been coaxed into organising our works Christmas dinner it’s featured on our chosen menu as the main course but substituted for Turkey instead.


Filleting Fish

It was now time for us all to get our hands dirty, by learning something that I will find massively beneficial, filleting a whole fish. I really enjoy fish, but I just stick to pre-filleted fish and that’s only once in a blue moon. Buying whole is usually much more economical too, as i’ve seen two whole seabass for the same price as two fillets recently in M & S.

filleting fish at Corran Academy

Jean-Christophe showed us how to gut the fish then fillet. Luckily for us, we didn’t have to gut the fish, we just did the filleting. I didn’t do as bad as I thought I would be we were told that trout is one of the hardest to fillet due to the bones. Not sure if that was true or just to make me feel better but I was happy with my effort.

Baked Seafood in Scallop Shell

Keeping in with the seafood theme, we now got to make a seafood dish of king prawns, scallop and salmon (even though the pink fleshy fish is usually of the menu for me) topped with ratatouille, mozzarella and fresh herbs of our choice. The scallop shell was sealed with a ribbon of pastry, so that the fish steamed inside the shell with the fresh herbs adding a fragrant, herbaceous perfume. Again, the idea was to cut down on the amount of salt in the dish so there was no seasoning with salt. We got around this issue by using olives in the mix, which are naturally salty.

I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so it’s fair to say this didn’t touch the sides. I even ate the salmon, which when steamed with all the herbs and other fish was more than agreeable.


Scallops and Chicken Consomme

The Jean-Christophe Novelli Academy at the Corran Resort is going to headed up by head Chef Syril in Jean-Christophe’s absence, so it was time to hand the over gloves over to Syril for the next dish.

I love scallops, so I wasn’t too disappointed scallops were in the next dish too. This was a chance to learn how to cook the perfect scallop in a pan with a lovely golden crust, yet soft and tender in the middle. I learned to dry my scallops first and use a good quality, hand dived scallop as mine usually end up with a lot of liquid in the pan that just end up stewing, without a nice sear on them.

scallop and chicken consome at Corran Resort

A scallop starter dish would only usually have two pieces but this was a sharing platter for us to savour between us. The scallops were seared in the pan and plated beautifully with an intense chicken consommé that they create with 24 hour roasted chicken bones. To go with it, he served shaved, crispy fennel shards, a  fruity gel, aerated white foam and grapefruit.

The finished product was absolutely delicious. My only issue was I didn’t have the 8 scallops myself and had to share them.

Pasta Making

I’ve never, ever made pasta. The reason being, I’m too tight to invest in a pasta machine. Little did I know, you can make a decent attempt with your bare hands, a rolling pin and some elbow grease.

After a quick demo by Jean-Christophe’s brother from an Italian mother, we were handed some eggs, a bowl of flour and a rolling pin. After making a little well in middle of a small pile of OO Flour, we cracked an egg in and swirled it with our fingers, to incorporate the two together. Adding a little flour at a time, until I got the right consistency, it was time to start the needing by hand. Instead of getting the the pasta rolling machine out as I’d seen so many times on Masterchef recently, we got to work with a rolling pin on the two balls of dough.

Pasta making at the Corran Academy

After I got the thickness I wanted, we got some tips on making some of the popular types of pasta shapes. I’m definitely going to give this a go when I get back, especially attempting some filled tortellini or raviolli. the best thing is, it only takes a couple of minutes to cook too.


Being pressed for time, last up at the academy was a fruity soufflé. We didn’t get to make them ourselves but we got some really good tips on a dessert I really enjoy eating, but always avoided, due to their well known difficulty in mastering.

Soufle making with Jean Christophe Novelli at The Corran Resort

The secret to having that perfect, equal elevation that keeps it’s volume is the addition of corn flour to the mix. This goes in with the addition of freshly blended berries and making an indent to the edge of the mix so it rises equally.

True to form, the soufflés came out perfect. An equal elevation that kept it’s shape for ages after coming out of the oven. It didn’t half taste bad either to be fair.


The Verdict

What can I say about this weekend dedicated to my favourite thing in the world, curated by a 4 Michelin Star Chef in a luxury spa resort, staying in an epic two story cottage with a log burner? It was off the scale! I’d say my brain is thinking about food 99% of the time I’m awake, and 100% of the time I’m asleep. I’ve wanted to attend a cookery school for some time now, to learn some new skills and hone in on some i’ve probably been doing wrong my whole life. It’s not very often you get an opportunity to learn from a chef who has a total of 5 out of a maximum 5 AA Rosettes either.

This was the first course they have run at the Corran Resort, but seeing that they’ve built a swanky new kitchen and academy, they will be running a fair few in the near future. Jean-Christophe won’t be doing all the courses himself, but judging from the couple of dishes Syril talked us through, plated and served us in the evening in the restaurant, you are going to be in safe hands if you are interested in attending one of the courses.

We had a pretty intensive schedule pencilled in for the day, but had to skip a couple due to timing. Being the first run of the course, this was bound to happen as they needed to run one to gauge how long us novices took with a knife. It also depends on the people attending the course as some people just take everything in or are too shy to ask questions. Our class on the other hand, were firing questions at both chefs like a machine gun, so we over ran on a couple fo courses. This did mean that we got to learn a lot more than if we kept shtum though, so not all bad.

If you are looking to book a cookery course for either yourself, or a food loving family member, I’d highly recommend booking a class at the Jean Christophe Novelli Academy at the Corran Resort. If you want to buy for a partner but not too keen on cooking yourself, you’ve got a lovely little spa you can take advantage of whilst they are cooking up a sweat in the kitchen.

The rooms, well ours at least were amazing, a delicious breakfast and the evening meal was superb too. So get booking and make the most of this hidden gem.



The Corran Resort & Spa
Marsh Rd
SA33 4RS

Tel: 01994 427417
Web: thecorran.com

We recently traveled to the home of Dylan Thomas in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire for the launch of the new Jean-Christophe Novelli Food Academy at The Corran Resort and Spa. I’d only ever been to Laugharne once and it was a brief stop to see Dylan’s boat house on the way back from camping down Tenby a couple of years ago so I wasn’t sure what else was around.

The Corran is located on the grounds of a 300 year+ farm house a short drive from the town centre of Laugharne. We thought we’d taken a wrong turn with my less than impressive google map reading skills taking us to what I thought was in the middle of nowhere, but we finally saw the resort coming into view from a narrow single track farm road.

The Spa and Novelli Academy building are built in a more modern outbuilding next to the car park  less than 100 yards form the reception within the original farm building. I didn’t know what to expect from the hotel as I’d heard mixed reviews online. Whilst carrying our bags for the weekend to reception we were blown away by the idyllic setting of cottages and converted farm buildings creating a perimeter around a grassy courtyard, drenched in sunlight that was hidden away from view when you first arrive at the car park.

Our Cottage Room

The Cottage at The Corran Resort - Laugharne

After checking in, we had a quick tour around the main building and were shown to our luxury cottage less than 10 metres from the reception building. Again, I really wasn’t expecting such charming, rustic lodgings set over two floors with a log burning heater taking centre stage on the ground living area, huge TV with original wooden beams making a big impact when you first walk in. To the left a massive bathroom with open top bath, exposed brick walls with a shower nestled in the middle of the room, attached to a rugged, old wooden pillar. The room was lush and I couldn’t wait to test out both washing devices. I’ve had actual hotel rooms smaller than the bathroom.

A doorway on a raised platform took us out to a decked area outside with tables and chairs that gave a sheltered escape to sip a vino away from the main hotel or enjoy a bbq if you fancied making the most of the summer sun. Back inside a set of stairs led to a mezzanine floor hiding a massive bed, some seats and area to get ready.

Terrace seating outside cottage at The Corran Resort

The room offered a fridge to keep drinks cold, with a couple of bottles of complimentary water, although I’m not a fan of sparkling. Tea and coffee supplies were also available. A box next to the log burner was filled with some logs, ready to light in the evening with a large lighter.

The Spa

We had a couple of hours to kill before we had to meet up with our fellow cookery students and Jean-Christophe of course, so we dumped the bags, threw some swimming attire on and made use of the complimentary robes in the room. We then trotted on over to the spa about 20 metres from our door and across the grassy courtyard.

Swimming pool and spa at The Corran resort and Spa Laugharne

The woman on reception was lovely and couldn’t be more welcoming. She gave us a tour of the facilities in the spa, which included indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, chill out room and sauna. Unfortunately the steam room was out of order but by the time we did a lap on the other rooms we were pushed for time anyway. We happened to be the only people in the spa at the time so we had the whole place to ourselves, which was great.

They offer a full spa service if you’re there for the weekend and fancy making yourself look extra fabulous with an extensive list of massages and treatments. I forgot to bring any gym gear but was keen to have a nosey in and to be fair I was really impressed with the kit especially for a hotel gym. You usually just get a running machine, 5kg dumbbells and a half deflated exercise ball.

They had the usual runners, rowing machine and cross trainers but they also had an ample amount of kettlebells going up to 20kg. They had selection of dumbbells up to 25kg, which i’d probably struggle on these days and a cable pulley multi gym for all your upper body needs.

The Restaurant

The restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and evening meal was lovely. It’s also used as the function room for weddings and events and you can see why in the pictures.

I just don’t get why people pay to get married in a big white tent in a hotel, it could be anywhere and always look the same. They don’t need to do anything to the room here, it’s ready to roll as it is. Long glass chandeliers, vintage white chairs and long glass doors looking out into the adjacent grass courtyard that can open up during the summer for a perfect game of halves with inside and outside space to cater for everyone.

Breakfast Day 1

As we were staying for two nights I thought i’d go off piste with breakfast the first morning in the knowledge I’d get my full Welsh breakfast the following morning.

On top of the selection of cereals, pastries, fruit, cured meats, jams and honey there are a few other options you can have in addition if you want something a bit healthier than a fry up.

Both favouring a pescatarian breakfast, I opted for a smoked haddock and poached eggs, Llio opting for the smoked salmon and eggs.

There wasn’t a radioactive yellow fillet in site. What I did get was a generous, delicately smoked, white, flakey portion of hadock teamed with the most perfect poached eggs on top of a toasted muffin.

I had a very busy day planned ahead with the cookery academy so this filled me up with the fruit and pastries without the potential to leave bloated and flagging later on like a fry-up sometimes does.

I’m not a fan of salmon in any form but Llio enjoyed her smoked salmon and creamy scrambled eggs.

Day 2

After slightly more alcohol being consumed the night before compared to the first night and the thought of long drive down to St Fagans straight after breakfast to do a talk about gin for Cardiff Gin Club, there was only one thing on the menu today.

I loved the smoked haddock the previous morning but it was only right that I covered the other options on the menu for research purposes and put my order in for the full Welsh fried breakfast.

Full welsh breakfast at The Corran Laugharne

The oversized plate does make it look like a child’s portion but I can confirm it was ample in size in real life. Thick cut bacon, local sausages, tender wheel of black pudding, runny egg and actual beans. Beangate seems to be a common occurrence lately, with more and more places starving me of my daily ration of baked, tomatoey plant based protein, much to my dissatisfaction.

The breakfast was cooked to perfection with no chisel needed for any item on my plate, which i’ve resorted to carrying on my person when attending breakfast serving establishments in Cardiff of late.

Evening Meal

With all of us leaving the Jean-Christophe Novelli Academy clutching all of our fingers and thumbs in tact, it was cause for celebration with a bit of French dinning and vino to finish off an epic weekend stay at the Corran Resort.

A menu can’t be truly French in my eyes with out Fois Gras on the menu for starters and much to my delight they delivered.

fois gras starter at The Corran Resort Laugharne

Foolishly devouring the bread for the table as soon as it came out, I could of used an extra square to finish off my slab of rich, buttery goose liver. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man (or woman) in possession of a good fois gras, must be in want of an extra slice. Wherever you are in the world, the ratio of bread to spreadable liver concoctions is never quite right, so I won’t hold it against them as the dish was all that I craved and more (apart from an extra triangle of carbs).

For main, I went for the sirloin of beef cooked medium / rare, with carrot puree, potatoes and a rich jus. The beef was perfectly pink and meltingly soft. A sweet carrot puree, with the jus adding a thick lick of emulsion to each chunk of beef I used to mop up with.

Llio opted for pork with with wilted greens and little pearls of apple caviar. Both dishes were delish, but I was glad I had the beef as that just pipped the two.

Plenty more of the free flowing vino tinto was consumed in between courses, which then led to my dessert of molten chocolate cored pudding, nuggets of honeycomb, a swirl of caramel and a healthy slab of ice cream. This was a dreamy dessert, with lots of textures going on. Intense, rich chocolate, sweet caramel, a light bitter crunch from the honeycomb with a creamy ice cream thrown in, just because. Lush!

Llio struggled on her dessert, just from being full and not through lack of trying. I played the good boyfriend and helped her polish her creme brûlée with a healthy slice of brioche to slather the the crunch nuggets of sugar and blistered cream on for a decadent finisher. This was a close one to choose between and I think I’ll score them an even Steven.

The Verdict

I loved every minute of the weekend stay, from relaxing in the spa, falling from gazing at the inferno I created with my own hands in the log burner, letting it all hang out whilst showing centre stage in the huuuge bathroom. We then had the intensive schooling from chef supremo Jean-Christophe Novelli at the Academy, learning some very useful cooking and prepping skills in the kitchen.

I couldn’t fault any of the food we ate over the two days from healthy breakfasts of fish and fruit on the first day and finishing on a full Welsh fried breakfast on the last morning.

It was great to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine and good food with the fellow academy students and sitting with Jean-Christophe. Chef  was in full entertaining mode, giving us some stories from growing up in rural France and how he got to where he is now, warts and all.

I was gutted we had to rush off early on the Sunday to do a gin masterclass and talk at the St Fagans Food festival because I would of made the most of the Spa again and tried to fit some pampering in from the masseuse.

We got chatting to the owner too, who gave us a run down of the events of Christmas. We’ve got our minds set on the New Years Eve extravaganza if we aren’t up North, which sounds like the perfect way to see in the New Year.

We were invited to attend the launch of the new food academy. The accommodation and food was complimentary but I really couldn’t fault our weekend stay and would go back in a flash. There’s not much around the resort but that’s the point, it’s all dedicated to escaping the norm and unwinding in the countryside with everything you need on your doorstep.


The Corran Resort & Spa
Marsh Rd
SA33 4RS

Tel: 01994 427417
Web: thecorran.com

Sosban has been on my hit list for a while now but I’ve not got around to organising a trip down to Llanelli’s most highly regarded restaurant located within a listed Victorian Pump House close to the docks due to the fact it’s not within easy reach of uber.

If you’ve been watching this years Great British Menu on BBC you might of noticed head chef Andrew Sheridan representing Wales just last week, so it was exciting to be heading down with such a buzz about the place at the moment.

We booked in for the 7 course taster last Saturday at 6pm, which meant we could nip down on the train have a few drinks with our food and not have to worry about one of us driving or booking into a hotel for the night. The train from Cardiff Central was about 1 hour 20 each way and cost around £16 for a day return if you fancy doing something similar on your trip down to Sosban.

Not having been to Llanelli on the train previously and only stepping foot in the town once before, I wasn’t quite sure where in relation to the restaurant we would vacate the train. It’s a bit of a weird one really as the train station about half a mile away from the town centre and in the middle of streets of terraced housing snaking in all directions.

We had half hour to kill so we set off on foot with my best friend google maps, which ended up taking about 20 minutes. On the way back we opted for a taxi, which only set us back £4.

The Venue

I tried popping in to Sosban on my one and only visit to Llanelli but we got to the venue at 2.15pm on a Sunday and they closed at 2.30pm so we we didn’t bother in the end.

We made sure we had a good few hours ahead of us this time and once we hit the docks and followed the route of the old Carmarthenshire Canal. Meandering next to the muddy banks until we saw the chimney poking it’s head up behind the units of the business park it’s located on.

I love that the impressive, stone clad building has stood the test of time and is testament to the previous industry around the time it was erected in 1900. It will no doubt still be stood there in another 100 years, whilst the carbon copy buildings of this day and age look outdated within 10 years and age get bulldozed over after 20-30 years.

The pump house chimney overshadows anything else within miles and at night the stone fortress facade is illuminated by spotlights, making it all the more impressive. Inside, walls lay bare exposing the bowels of the century old Victorian industrial marvel. The name Sosban coming from both the tin plating industry during the last century and the Sosban Fach song that has become synonymous with Llanelli rugby and The Scarlets.

A harmony of contemporary style with autumnal farm barn feel with timber ceilings and joists, slate floor and leafy chandeliers paired with white walls, exposed stainless steel kitchen, lemon tree and perfectly ingrained walls of glass that filled the rooms with natural light.

Chef Andrew Sheridan

We were lucky to grab 5 minutes with the chef as it was really early and one of the first to arrive. He gave us a brief history of where he worked previously and found out that he worked at the fairy tale like Chateaux Rhianfa in Anglesey, which me and the other half had a leisurely stroll around back in April when we visited the Island last.

Also interesting because he was faced with the head chef of the Chateaux on last weeks Great British Menu along with The Whitebrook, representing Wales. I didn’t realise till he mentioned it but it was filmed nearly a year ago so it must of been torture not being able to tell anyone the results of the show and how he got on. He would neither confirm or deny whether he would be back for round two when it starts filming again in a few weeks.

The Food

There’s a choice of menu’s at Sosban with the option of dinning a la carte or the 7 or 9 course taster menus. Chef told us they had been churning out over 60 taster covers a night recently and I can imagine it’s only going to get busier with the recent stint on The Great British Menu.

bread and marmite butter at Sosban Llanelli

We were dinning from the 7 course taster menu, which started with my favourite…bread! Soft but dense mini loaf, halved to share and served with Netherend farm butter and a marmite butter swabbed on two little rocks. I could eat bread for days especially slathered thick with butter. The marmite butter wasn’t just a dollop of marmite mixed in but must have gone through some dehydration process as it was dry and grated onto the butter. I love marmite and toast and this provided a lovely yeasty, umami hit.

Our poison for the evening consisted of a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, which i thought would suit the majority of the courses that lay ahead of us.

Tasting menu starters at Sosban Llanelli

Second and third courses were served together as they were bite sized portions. Well depending how big your bite is and I nibbled away at each one to savour the flavour instead of shoveling it down like I do when i’ve cooked myself.

The delectable mini nacho like nibbles consisted of:

Crispy chicken skin, smooth chicken parfait, elderflower jelly and grape chutney giving an amalgamation of flavour and texture


Sweet Potato Cracker, pickled mustard seeds that popped in the mouth, onion marmalade and creamy cheddar custard.

The cod 5 ways course at Sosban Llanelli

Next came the Chefs signature dish and the one served on Great British Menu, which is cod 5 ways. A take on the British seaside favourite, fish and chips. Perfectly poached cod loin, crispy puffed cod skin, lightly battered cod cheek, mini fried potato cubes, burnt aubergine puree, which could not go without tiny nuggets of pickled gherkins to add a mellow vinegar tang to the dish.

hay smoken venison at Sosban Llanelli

Fifth course was the standout dish for me. Soft and tender blushing pink, hay smoked venison with beetroot ketchup, silky black pudding to add an extra earthy note that paired with a pang of tartness from the raspberries.

Sosban trifle dessert

With the savoury dishes over we went into the sweets and first up was the Sosban trifle. This wasn’t your average 70’s trifle from a birds packet. This was made from chunks of sponge, pickled blackberries whisky and lavender jelly and citrusy lemon curd to bring it all together. A decent modern interpretation of your nan’s favourite although I would of liked a bit more of a kick of whiskey in the jelly. Saying that I always go overboard when mixing alcohol with dessert and it never sets but a nip more in the mix wouldn’t go a miss for my taste here. I liked the little shards of cinder toffee to add a slight bitter, sugary crunch.

Coffee pannacotta dessert at Sosban Llanelli

The second dessert up and my fav of the two was a coffee pannacotta, chocolate and coffee textures. An assault of rich coffee aromas from the pannacotta, creamy chocolate ice cream and the gooiest chocolate brownie chunks. The malty nuggets gave a Malteser like crunch to the coffee dessert.

Cheese board at Sosban Llanelli

We thought this was the end to the food but we were surprised with a slate board with a selection of 5 cheeses, each paired with a different base and eating vessel and an assortment of different chutneys for each cheese.

Cheeses included:

– Barkham Blue – a medium strength blue veiny soft cheese

– Kidderton Ash Goats – a creamy ash coated goats cheese

– Black Bomber – a strong no nonsense extra mature cheddar

– Ogle Shield – a soft west country cheese. I’ve used this at home to make amazing cheese toasties. I stole the idea from producer and owner Bill’s Kappacasein’s at Borough Market in London, which are the best in town.

– Eve – a soft goats cheese washed in Somerset Cider Brandy

An excellent journey through cheeses from around the UK with some I’d tried, some I hadn’t but all of which I’d happily have adorning my cheese board in future. We both decided to have a large 10 year old port to help us finish off the cheese

This last course finished us both off and there was no way we were walking back to the train station unless someone rolled me there.

I was planning on sampling a few more drinks in the bar after the food but I was so stuffed, I would of struggled with anything after the wine and port.

The Verdict

You can see why there is such a buzz around this place and why head chef Andrew had is face on BBC’s The Great British Menu recently.

We were invited down to sample the tasting menu but The Sosban has been on my list of places to eat at for over a year now and it was definitely worth the journey down to Llanelli for. The 7 course taster menu costs £55 per person. The 9 course will set you back an extra £10, which will get you the addition of a chargrilled Jumbo Prawn, prawn mayonnaise and puffed potato and a saffron mousse, orange ice cream and cookie date crumble to take you from the mains into the desserts.

The drinks menu features some Welsh favourites from the Whiskey and Gin world such as Penderyn and Da Mhile.

Chef mentioned he is hoping to have a best of night coming up soon with some guest chefs joining him to put on a menu of menus and I for one can’t wait to snap up a ticket when they pencil a date in the diary.

Update: Sosban have just launched a discount voucher on Travelzoo offering two dinners a 6 course tasting menu for just £49 of 4 diners for £95.