Thursday, 17 April 2014

Queens Arcade, Cardiff

There is seemingly a line running through Cardiff City Centre. It runs down from St Johns Street to The Hayes. On one side are ornate Victorian and Edwardian Arcades, small local and independent businesses, centuries-old pubs, and the indoor market, with its local butchers, veg and fishmonger. On the other side are modern shopping malls, where the chain stores and restaurants cluster. This is a little simplistic, of course, but we will see a slightly different side of Cardiff today as we cross that line.


Walking south down St John Street, keep left of the church and enter Queens Arcade (no apostrophe in the branding – it does not belong to a queen).  Queens Arcade connects through to Queens Street, by a left fork ahead at the atrium, and into St David’s shopping centre, by a right fork. A different management operates in Queens Arcade to the much larger St David’s. Queens Arcade is owned by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a major UK property investor. They have a Cardiff office in One Kingsway. Today’s Queens Street Arcade was opened in 1994; it was built on the site of the demolished old Queens Street Arcade.

As the tour moves through the modern undercover shopping areas, it will give us the chance to explore the latest fashions and fads, to test the 2014 zeitgeist, if you will; and ponder what future mall archaeologists will make of the British diet based on the evidence they unearth.

Just inside the entrance:

Le Rendez-Vous
48 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY (2034 1345)
 
This café has undergone modernisation. The old canteen-tray café has gone, and the counter area is now only in the centre of the mall. This is all shiny coffee machines and attractively displayed sandwiches and cakes. The seating is in the main unit to the side, by the escalators and, very pleasant in summer, outside (although this can be a bit of a smokers’ zone at times). I had a breakfast latte and a very good cinnamon Danish pasty here recently. This independent café, with friendly and efficient service, specialises in filled baguettes and Italian coffee, and remains very popular with Cardiff’s shoppers (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. June 2013). Incidentally, this is one of the Cardiff businesses to have exercised its right-to-reply on their Food Hygiene Rating: “inspecting officer returned since inspection [June 2013] and has signed us off on the points raised. Our refrigeration units now running properly and being monitored more regularly. All the other points raised have also been dealt with and procedures put in order to ensure they are carried out correctly in future.”

Turning left at the atrium, head for New Look and take the escalator up to the section of Queens Arcade that exits to Queen Street. As if entering from Queen Street, to your right:


Americandy
Queens Arcade CF10 2BY
Uncle Sam is outside pointing at you; inviting you inside to stock up on candy like it’s some sort of patriotic duty. Everything here is “Made in America” (they mean the USA): Hershey Bars, Oreos, M&Ms, Pop Tarts, Reese's Pieces, Pez sweet dispensers, Twinkies, Cheetos, Mountain Dew. There are pick-and-mix novelty candies (false teeth and so on), while Angry Birds is the branding in fashion at the moment. The price tags suggest these chocolates and candies are luxury goods in Wales. There is another Americandy in Mermaid Quay, down Cardiff Bay (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. July 2013).

Over the way:

Whittard
Unit 14 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY (2037 4489)
The focus is on quality teas in Whittard of Chelsea; with a good range from around the world, in loose leaf, pyramidal teabags and instant teas (a bit of a Whittard speciality). There’s also coffee, and some hot chocolate and ‘flavoured drinks’. ‘Sale’ signs up, but mainly on teapots and mugs. Whittard have also opened a ‘pop-up’ shop in the modern part of St David’s (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2013).

Millie’s Cookies
Unit 15 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY
Millie’s Cookies are purveyors of Unites States-style cookies, muffins, cupcakes and ice cream. They trade on their cookies’ fresh “just out of the oven” smell and the “chewy, soft in the middle, crunchy on the outside” bite. They do giant cookies, which are like cookies but very big, mini cookies (half the size), and cookies on a stick. There are 12 regular cookie flavours, including Double chocolate, Praline, White Chocolate and raspberry, Coconut, Jaffa, and Salted caramel and pecan. Millie’s Cookies is owned by the SSP Group Limited, whose head office is in London (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. May 2013).


In the central area of Queens Arcade, stalls trading in the latest trends set up shop. A couple of years ago it was people sitting around with their bare feet in aquariums, while fish fed on those flaking slabs of meat. Luckily, these fads tend to come and go. Currently, we have electronic cigarettes and Bollywood eyebrow threading. Electronic cigarettes, the latest nicotine-delivery device, were first sold in the UK in 2005. One report suggests there are now over 2 million users in the UK. Recent press reports have revealed a tendency for them to explode, a rising number of small children being poisoned by them, and cynical industry campaigns marketing them at youngsters, both to get around the smoking ban and to normalise nicotine use in a new generation. Eyebrow threading:  I’m not going there. However, the latest food and drink related fashion here is:

bubble base
Unit 35 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY
Wales' Bubble Tea Specialists operate from a kiosk in the upper floor atrium, serving ‘authentic Taiwanese Bubble Tea’ and four flavours of Fat-Free Frozen Yoghurt. This is an independent local business, owned by Kishan Varsani, who had the inspired idea of bringing a modern Asian tea trend to Wales for the first time. Bubble teas started in the 1980s in Taiwan, originally as a tea for children, and spread around Asia, and now the World. Ordering a tea at the kiosk is a surprisingly complicated process. Firstly, you have a choice of three tea brews (Ceylon black, green jasmine tea and a red oolong), and then whether to go milky or not. Thirdly, choose whether you want it hot, cold or slushy, and finally you choose your toppings (jellies and pobbles). The Taiwanese drink that started it all had black tapioca balls and this is the standard here, from which they have diversified with all sorts of different flavoured agar jellies. You drink and suck these up through a fat straw. Personally, I do not like bits in my tea, though bit-free green tea flavours like lychee and peach do sound appealing. It’s well-worth trying for yourself (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. May 2013).

Back downstairs, and heading towards the St David’s Centre:

Cafè Mattia
Unit 43 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY
Italian café with a pleasant ambience; away from the entrance, and the busy mall thoroughfare, it’s surprisingly quiet and relaxed, and it has comfy chairs and settees. Cafè Mattia advertises itself as ‘fine dining’, though presumably that is in the context of shopping mall cafés. The best thing is that all the food is made freshly to order. They do salads, baguettes, paninis , wraps, jacket potatoes, soup of the day, crepes, and there are some very good-looking cakes. This week, I had a quick lunch here of a salmon and cream cheese bagel, with a large latte. The food arrived on a triangular plate: nicely toasted bagel, a decent amount of smoked salmon and the cream cheese was not overdone, as is sometimes the case; with a small side salad (red onion, slices of tomato and cucumber, water cress and rocket). Cafè Mattia is licensed, so you can have a glass of wine with your light lunch (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Oct 2012).

Simply Shakes
Unit 44 Queens Arcade CF10 2BY
This kiosk is popular with kids. It sells milk shakes, with a speciality of blending ice cream and your favourite chocolate bar ( it sounds pretty creative), smoothies, soft drinks, novelty sweets (e.g. candy made to look like a packet of sandwiches), and even some healthy-looking fruit in cups to take away (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2010).

One theme that immediately emerges (and I believe this might apply to shopping mall food generally), is that it often caters to children, and to adults who still like the types of snacks and drinks they enjoyed as children, whether for nostalgia, a sugar rush, get down with the kids, or whatever reason.

Shopping malls have a reputation for being generic, whatever city you are in some say you could be anywhere. However, thus far this feels very much like Cardiff and nowhere else, with local businesses, bilingual signage on the Post Office, and in many other respects.  

So, with our St David’s map in hand and sweet tooth firmly in place, we’ll explore deeper into the labyrinth next time.

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

Duke Street Arcade and Duke Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/duke-street-arcade-duke-street-cardiff.html

High Street Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/high-street-arcade-cardiff.html

Church Street and St John’s Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/church-street-and-st-johns-street.html

Cardiff Market
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/cardiff-market.html

Wharton Street and Trinity Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/wharton-street-and-trinity-street.html

Morgan Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/morgan-arcade-cardiff.html

Royal Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/royal-arcade-cardiff.html

The Hayes
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-hayes-cardiff.html

The Old Brewery Quarter
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-old-brewery-quarter-cardiff.html

Caroline Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/caroline-street-cardiff.html

Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/mill-lane-and-wyndham-arcade-cardiff.html

St Mary Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/st-mary-street-cardiff.html

High Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/high-street-cardiff.html

Castle Arcade and Castle Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/castle-arcade-and-castle-street-cardiff.html

Womanby Street and Quay Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/womanby-street-and-quay-street-cardiff.html

Westgate Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/westgate-street-cardiff.html

Riverside
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/riverside-cardiff.html

Cathedral Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/cathedral-road-cardiff.html

Pontcanna 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/pontcanna-2.html

Pontcanna 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/pontcanna-1-we-are-leaving-canton.html

North Canton
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/north-canton.html

Cowbridge Road East 3
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-3-llandaff-road-to.html

Cowbridge Road East 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-2-wyndham-crescent.html

Cowbridge Road East 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-1-cathedral-road-to.html

Bute Park
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/bute-park-cardiff.html

Cathays Park
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/cathays-park-cardiff.html

Cathays Terrace
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/cathays-terrace-cardiff.html

Salisbury Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/salisbury-road-cardiff.html

Woodville Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/woodville-road-cardiff.html

Crwys Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/crwys-road-cardiff.html

Wellfield Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/wellfield-road-cardiff.html

Albany Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/albany-road-cardiff.html

City Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/city-road-cardiff.html

Friday, 28 March 2014

Duke Street Arcade & Duke Street, Cardiff

Duke Street Arcade opened in 1902, as an extension to the High Street Arcade (1885). It connects the slightly older arcade to Duke Street, which runs alongside part of Cardiff Castle’s walls. On this walking tour of Cardiff, we enter Duke Street Arcade from where it branches off the High Street Arcade. Heading north to Duke Street, on your left:


Garlands
4 Duke St Arcade CF10 1AZ (2066 6914)
Garlands Eatery and Coffee House is a small independent café specialising in breakfasts, brunch, goat’s cheese salads and thick sandwiches for lunches, and Welsh dishes (e.g. cawl, rarebit) made using local ingredients; not forgetting the good-looking home-made cakes. It has been in this location for thirty-odd years. The current management has been here for around a year-and-a-half, however, doing the tweaks and upgrades needed to keep it a fresh and thriving concern. I had one of their all-day breakfasts for lunch today, going for the meaty one rather than the Glamorgan sausage vegetarian one. There were two rashers of bacon, a fine pork sausage, a fried tomato, mushrooms, two eggs (of ideal runniness), baked beans and, best of all, rosemary fried potatoes. Mine came with a plate of thick toast and butter, and my order of a large pot of tea. There’s a little bit of Italy in the décor (with a violin and a picture of a violin on the wall) and on the menu, which features their homemade tagliatelle. In addition to the wonderful array of home-made cakes, the pancakes and coffee are said to be very good. It’s an intimate-sized, relaxed and friendly place, with nine tables inside, a few more in the arcade itself, and with the kitchen where the pasta and cakes are freshly-made downstairs (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. June 2013).

The Duke Street Arcade has some interesting and eccentric shops, including Catapult Records, the Joke Shop, Eccentrix Shoes, a hairdresser, bridal shop and gift shop.

Exit the arcade onto Duke Street. Turning left, there is an odd assortment of shops for a location that is across the road from Cardiff Castle: a closed unit (formerly Calders), Forbidden Planet (sale on), Shop Rugby, Joke Shop, Mountain Warehouse (the closing down sale has finished and its back to normal) and a travel agent. Between the comics and the rugby:

Caffè Nero
6-7 Duke Street CF10 1AY (2023 6660)
Italian coffee shop chain, one of four branches in Cardiff (all within a few blocks of each other), offering breakfast and lunches; porridge, paninis and sandwiches, pastries, muffins, cakes, and espresso (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. May 2011).

Go back past the entrance to Duke Street Arcade, until you get to the old pub:


The Rummer Tavern
14 Duke Street CF10 1AY (2023 5091)
The Rummer Tavern dates from 1713 and is reckoned to be Cardiff’s oldest surviving pub. It retains an atmosphere appropriate to its 300 years. This is greatly helped by it being an independent inn that is strictly an over-18s venue (the regulars are certainly older than this). Food is served from midday to around 7pm during the week; earlier at weekends. The menu is classic pub food (fish and chips, sausages and mash, steak and other grills, pie, chilli, Sunday roast); supplemented by burgers, jacket potatoes and some vegetarian options (e.g. vegetable curry). I usually go for one of the specials, of which there have been three on recently, fish cakes was my choice last week. Around five cask ales usually on tap, with Hancock’s HB and Wye Valley HPA as resident ales, accompanied by guest beers. My most recent pint there was Double Dragon, from the Felinfoel Brewery of Llanelli. They do take good care of their beer. In a public poll of the Best Pubs in Wales last week, The Runner Tavern was in the Top 30 (in at No. 29). I would probably have put it higher, though the Top 10 mainly had views of the sea rather than castle walls (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Nov 2012).

Subway
15 Duke Street CF10 1AY (2066 8123)
This Subway is one of the more-prominent of the 13-odd Subway outlets in Cardiff. According to Food Republic, the part-baked bread-like aroma you get when walking past a Subway is due to a caramelisation smell deriving from the sugar in the bread being cooked from frozen – the bread mix is proprietary accounting for its unique smell. The company claim it is not deliberately pumped out, but where you put your vents is a key factor so you can make up your own mind on that. As a baking aroma its low down on my personal list of favourites, but given Subway’s success it obviously draws them in (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2013).

On the corner is a large Burger King (12-14 St John’s Street), which we encountered previously. Turn right down St John Street and head back down to St John Church. This tour is now heading for the Queens Arcade and Working Street. See you there next time.

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

High Street Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/high-street-arcade-cardiff.html

Church Street and St John’s Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/church-street-and-st-johns-street.html

Cardiff Market
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/cardiff-market.html

Wharton Street and Trinity Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/wharton-street-and-trinity-street.html

Morgan Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/morgan-arcade-cardiff.html

Royal Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/royal-arcade-cardiff.html

The Hayes
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-hayes-cardiff.html

The Old Brewery Quarter
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-old-brewery-quarter-cardiff.html

Caroline Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/caroline-street-cardiff.html

Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/mill-lane-and-wyndham-arcade-cardiff.html

St Mary Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/st-mary-street-cardiff.html

High Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/high-street-cardiff.html

Castle Arcade and Castle Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/castle-arcade-and-castle-street-cardiff.html

Womanby Street and Quay Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/womanby-street-and-quay-street-cardiff.html

Westgate Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/westgate-street-cardiff.html

Riverside
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/riverside-cardiff.html

Cathedral Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/cathedral-road-cardiff.html

Pontcanna 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/pontcanna-2.html

Pontcanna 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/pontcanna-1-we-are-leaving-canton.html

North Canton
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/north-canton.html

Cowbridge Road East 3
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-3-llandaff-road-to.html

Cowbridge Road East 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-2-wyndham-crescent.html

Cowbridge Road East 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-1-cathedral-road-to.html

Bute Park
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/bute-park-cardiff.html

Cathays Park
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/cathays-park-cardiff.html

Cathays Terrace
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/cathays-terrace-cardiff.html

Salisbury Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/salisbury-road-cardiff.html

Woodville Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/woodville-road-cardiff.html

Crwys Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/crwys-road-cardiff.html

Wellfield Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/wellfield-road-cardiff.html

Albany Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/albany-road-cardiff.html

City Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/city-road-cardiff.html

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Nectar Point Networks 2

In a previous post (15 Jan 2014), I introduced the concept of a Nectar Point Network (NPN). The driving force for the establishment of NPN hubs in the Cardiff area is Professor Denis Bellamy, who is the Chairman of the Conservation Management System Consortium (CMSC) and a former head of the Zoology Department at University College Cardiff. He has put together an informative website on NPNs (see link below). The Cardiff NPN is taking shape through a ‘bottom up’ approach. In an email in February, Prof Bellamy explained that, “it is envisaged that each hub organises itself as a self-sustaining community nectar point with its own action plan and local funding”.

The Nightingale Community Garden in Dinas Powys was established last year, a process I outlined in a series of posts (see links below).  At the start of this year, I registered the Community Garden as a potential Nectar Point Network hub. As a first step into making this happen, I applied for and got an award (£100 of garden vouchers) from Keep Wales Tidy’s Wild Weekend Voucher Application, which this year aims to improve food sources for pollinators and is aimed at community groups. One stipulation is that plants purchased should be on the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Perfect for Pollinators Plant List.


I spent the voucher on two bee nesting boxes; five large pots; four bags of peat-free organic compost; a bee-friendly Escallonia ‘Apple blossom’ bush; and packets of nectar-rich plant seed, including lavender, foxglove, borage, cornflower, marigold, marjoram and 'wild flower honey bee mix'.  I intend to add a winter-flowering honeysuckle at a later date, along with  some surplus rosemary, primrose and heather from my garden. The idea is to establish a border of nectar-rich plants at one end of Nightingale Community Garden, with five pots of bee-friendly flowers in other areas of the garden. This will be our starting point, from which other activities will flow.


There are numerous nectar-rich plants that can be grown for pollinating insects. The consensus is that variety is more important than focusing on any one plant species. This is for several reasons. A range of different species can be grown that produce nectar at different times of the year, for instance, to feed pollinating insects active in different seasons. Furthermore, different pollinators are adapted to different flower structures, for example, long-faced bumblebees with long feeding parts (e.g. Bombus hortorum) are specialised to get the nectar from flowers with long corolla, such as foxgloves. Another factor is flower colour, with different pollinating insects homing in on different colours (e.g. Bombus  lapidarius has a fondness for yellow flowers); so the more colourful the pollinator border the better!

A recent study, conducted by Mikhail Garbuzov and Francis Ratnieks at the University of Sussex with 32 popular summer flowering plants over a two-year period, identified which were the most attractive to insect pollinators. Borage (Borago officinalis), lavender (Lavandula) and marjoram (Origanum majorana) scored highly. However, not all lavenders were attractive to bees, only the wild types, with highly-bred ones such as those with novel colours not proving very attractive. Borage flowers were the most attractive to honey bees. Perennial lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) was the most popular plant with more unusual bees, such as the solitary wool-carder bee (Anthidium manicatum).  The authors concluded that choosing the plants you grow carefully can make a big difference to pollinators. The least attractive plant in this study was the widely-planted pelargonium.

A previous study, conducted at the University of Cambridge in 1999, of 24 plant species (not the same plants as in the Sussex study) also revealed large differences in terms of insect pollinator visits. The most visited plants by honey bees in this study were Malva moschata, Salvia pratensis, Malva sylvestris, Scabiosa columbaria, Centaurea pratensis, Knautia arvensis, Trifolium repens, Salvia verbenaca, Lythrum salicaria and Saponaria officinalis.   The bumblebee most recorded was Bombus pascuorum, which preferred Trifolium pratense, Salvia pratense, Trifolium repens, Laminium album and Stachys sylvatica.

The references to both these papers are below. They provide a good entry point into the scientific literature on this subject.

I will post more on NPNs and pollinating insects later in the spring, along with an update on progress in the Nightingale Community Garden as it enters its second year.

Nectar Point Network website:
https://www.sites.google.com/site/nectarpointnetwork/

Previous post on Nectar Point Networks:
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/nectar-point-networks.html

Previous posts on Nightingale Community Garden:
Sept 2013
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/creating-community-garden-10.html
June 2013
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/creating-community-garden-9.html
April 2013
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/creating-community-garden-8.html
March 2013
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/creating-community-garden-7.html
Feb 2013
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/creating-community-garden-6.html
Jan 2013
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/creating-community-garden-5.html
Oct 2012
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/creating-community-garden-4.html
Aug 2012
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/creating-community-garden-3.html
Feb 2012
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/creating-community-garden-2.html
Jan 2012
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.com/2012/01/creating-community-garden.html

References:
Livio Comba, Sarah A. Corbet, Lynn Hunt & Ben Warren (1999), Flowers, nectar and insect visits: Evaluating British plant species for pollinator-friendly gardens’, Annals of Botany 83: 369-383. Online: http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/content/83/4/369.full.pdf

Mikhail Garbuzov & Francis L.W. Ratnieks (2013), Quantifying variation among garden plants in attractiveness to bees and other  flower-visiting insects’, Functional Ecology (Oct 2013): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2435.12178/full

 

Friday, 28 February 2014

High Street Arcade, Cardiff

On this walking tour of Cardiff, we are entering the High Street Arcade, from the St John Street entrance. The High Street Arcade was constructed in 1885, to a design by Waring and Jones. We are back in the Castle Quarter. Keep left past a right fork into Duke Street Arcade, where the arcade bends to the left, past Hobos period clothing and The Joke Shop. Just beyond the bend, on your right:

The New York Deli
19 High St Arcade CF10 1QR (2038 8388)
The New York Deli was established in 1990 by US-born Harriett Davies. Above a rustic wooden bench in the arcade, the US flag flies. Inside you’ll find a carving of a Native American and, upstairs and down, some urban New York art I believe was painted by her son. The New York Deli is a place to come if you are very hungry, as some of the hoagies (long bread roll) and bagels they serve are not for the faint-hearted. The ‘White House Special’, their largest hoagie contains turkey, ham, pastrami, coleslaw, Swiss cheese and mayonnaise; I had mine with the Reggae Reggae sauce option. The bread choice is bagels (white or cinnamon raisin), sliced wholemeal or light rye, and the hoagies. Other favoured ingredients include abundant cream cheese, cheese (Swiss, cheddar, Brie, provolone, Philadelphia), bacon, and smoked salmon. You can make combinations up to suit your particular taste. Take-away and eat in, with popular regular and student discount schemes. Soup is back, apparently, with a bagel. There are typically queues outside the door at lunch time (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).

Across the arcade:

Sophie’s
16 High Street Arcade CF10 1BB (2037 2352)
La Crêperie de Sophie was founded as a company in Llantwit Major in 2008 by Loïc Moinon, who named it after his wife Sophie.  After four years of mobile catering, at farmers’ markets, festivals, corporate events and weddings, they opened their first static location, in Cardiff’s High Street Arcade, in July 2012, to sell their authentic French crepes. Within the past few weeks there has been a rebrand and a change of name, to Sophie’s. There is more emphasis on the paninis, baguettes, galettes, cakes and other lunch and take-away options. There’s still a good selection of sweet and savoury crêpes, served in the downstairs lounge and the row of tables outside in the Arcade. On a previous visit, we went for some crispy and light savoury crêpes:  ‘Cocorico!’ (chicken breast, brie, cranberry sauce, rocket salad and balsamic dressing) and ‘L’Italienne’ (Parma ham, mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, pesto, rocket salad). Other savoury crêpes on the menu include ‘The Barn’ (with free range egg), ‘The Farmyard’ and ‘L’Atlantic’ (with smoked salmon).  The sweet crêpe selection includes ‘The Brittany’ (with banana, home-made Caramel Breton, crushed biscuits and “Chantilly” cream), while other typical ingredients include chocolate, Nutella spread, fresh fruit, nuts, cream and liqueurs. ‘Sophie’s – A Love Story’ combines Belgian chocolate (or Nutella or Caramel) with fresh strawberries, cream and flaked almonds. Sophie’s is licensed and serves cider and wine with your food order (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Nov 2011).


Staying on your left, Price’s Sweet Shop (14 High Street Arcade) is now closed.  The unit is now incorporated into the recently opened:


Barker Tea House
8-14 High Street Arcade CF10 1BB (2034 1390)
Opened on 20 Dec 2013 and already established as a firm favourite with the city’s tea drinkers, Barker Tea House builds on the success of the Barker Coffee House in the Castle Arcade (which opened in 2009 as an addition to a clothing shop that it has now all but replaced). The Tea House offers around 60 loose leaf teas, home-made cakes, breakfast and lunch, along with luxury hot chocolates, milk shakes and coffee (if you’ve come to the wrong Barkers!). They have hit on a café style that is a perfect fit to the historic arcades, which involves a melange of heritage furnishings including ornamental and functional tiles, lights, fans, William Morris-style wallpaper, period cups, bowls and plates, and mirrors.  I had lunch there earlier today, and ordered a pot of fragrant smoky lapsang souchong, from the top 10 tea menu (that included black, green and herbal teas).Tea comes in stylish black metal teapots, with milk in little glass milk bottles. I had a very tasty smoked salmon salad, which included herbed soft cheese, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, salad leaves, olives, red onion, French vinaigrette, lemon slices, and a glass of coleslaw topped with a walnut (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2014).


Cinnamon Sticks
6 High Street Arcade CF10 1BB (2132 0270)
Cinnamon Sticks is a new vintage shop, with an upstairs tea room to match. They serve hot beverages, cakes, buns, salads, wraps and sandwiches, with an emphasis on vegan and vegetarian options. If you like  your tea serving in antique cups, then High Street Arcade is definitely the place for you.

Carry on to the end of the Arcade, with Atlantic Coffee at the entrance on the High Street (on the High Street leg of this tour). The building on the High Street containing the Arcade entrance is surprisingly ornate.

 
Turn around and walk back to where the short Duke Street Arcade branches off. We will be walking along Duke Street and Arcade next time.
 
Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:
Church Street and St John’s Street
Cardiff Market
Wharton Street and Trinity Street
Morgan Arcade
Royal Arcade
The Hayes
The Old Brewery Quarter
Caroline Street
Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade
St Mary Street
High Street
Castle Arcade and Castle Street
Womanby Street and Quay Street
Westgate Street
Riverside
Cathedral Road
Pontcanna 2
Pontcanna 1
North Canton
Cowbridge Road East 3
Cowbridge Road East 2
Cowbridge Road East 1
Bute Park
Cathays Park
Cathays Terrace
Salisbury Road
Woodville Road
Crwys Road
Wellfield Road
Albany Road
City Road
 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Church Street and St John's Street, Cardiff

Previously on this Walking Tour of Cardiff, I left you on the corner of Trinity Street and Church Street / Strys Yr Eglwys, in the shadow of St John’s Church. Down the left-hand side of Church Street:


Cornish Bakehouse
11 Church Street CF10 1BG (2066 5041)
Established in St Ives in 1990, the Cornish Bakehouse specialises in traditional-style Cornish pasties. The company has around 15 shop outlets in the UK. The range of meat pasty fillings includes steak, chicken, spicy chicken, roast lamb and mint, beef and stilton, pork and apple; vegetarian options include country vegetables, spicy vegetables, and broccoli, cheese and sweetcorn. Things do not stray too far from the traditional. The Cornish Pasty was awarded EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in 2011. To qualify to be a ‘Cornish Pasty’, the product must follow a traditional recipe and have a traditional look, and be made in Cornwall.  In a previous blog post, I compared Cornish and Welsh pasties. Since that post, the Pembrokeshire Pasty & Pie shop in Cardiff has closed (though the original shop in Tenby is still open). My thesis then was that Cornish pasties were a known quantity, based on familiarity and provenance, whereas pasties marketed from elsewhere were not constrained by tradition and had more freedom to experiment (for better or worse, though I liked the direction in which the Pembrokeshire Pasty & Pie Co have taken the pasty - flakier, less pastry and still with the use of local produce). As a footnote, you might argue that, in general, traditional food items endure better those employing “modern twists” that are more likely to come and go with fashion (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2013).

10 Foot Tall
11a-12 Church Street CF10 1BG (2022 8883)
I know this more as a live music venue; you can find some good bands playing in the upstairs Rock Room. This bar (established in 2008) serves tapas and lunches. A current two meals for £12 deal operates from 12 noon to 5pm, with menu items such as marinated steak ciabatta, smoked haddock fish cakes, steak and chorizo burger, and aubergine and goat’s cheese stack burger.  Cocktails are a speciality. There are club nights, and rooms in this multi-story location can be booked for private parties. Popular with students, so they say (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Sept 2011).

Old Arcade
14-15 Church Street CF10 1BG (2021 7999)
The Old Arcade is a traditional and characterful Brains pub. There’s the full range of Brains cask ales on tap and the typical Brains pub food menu. Food is served 11.30am-6pm Mon-Sat and noon-4pm Sun. It was one of the first pubs in the region to have 3D TV sports coverage (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. June 2013).

The alleyway alongside The Old Arcade takes you to a side entrance into Cardiff Market (see previous Walking Tour of Cardiff post).

At 17 Church Street, a unit previously occupied by The Works discount bookshop, Applejack Bars Ltd have a put planning application in for a late-night bar, with a provision for live music.

Harvester
18-19 Church Street CF10 1BG (2066 5605)
There are around 200 Harvester restaurants in the UK, with 14 in Wales. St John’s Harvester was a bit of departure for the family-friendly Harvester chain when it opened in 2011, being one of the first to benefit from a rebrand that saw them shift to city centres, rather than just their usual edge of town locations, with take-away being a big thing for the first time. The menu has been adapted slightly, with breakfasts, light lunches, salads, and options that lend themselves to being taken-away. However, the main thrust of the menu remains the same, with steaks, gourmet burgers, spit-roast chicken, unlimited salad bar visits with mains, and their combo platters; for those occasions when you really need chicken, pork, prawns and pineapple rings on the same plate (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).

Church Street ends at St Mary Street, with a Greggs we have already encountered on that street. Turn around and walk along the northern side of the street back towards the church:


Truffles
3 Church Street CF10 1BG (2021 0242)
Truffles breakfast house and café opened in 1984. For the past 30 years, this independent restaurant has been offering the good people of Cardiff traditional British food, including all-day breakfasts, lunch and early dinner; with brunch, grills, sausages and mash, fish and chips, pie and chips and other café favourites. We stopped in at Truffles last week for lunch, to escape the driving rain and gales, and focussed in on the Welsh specialities. My partner had the Glamorgan sausages, which came with jacket potato and salad. I had the Welsh rarebit, with bacon and mushrooms; they also do a ham and pineapple Welsh rarebit (what the ?) and a veggie one with tomatoes. The plates are massive, the food delivers and the service is friendly. There’s background music harking back to the 1950s and a more elderly clientele than the Harvester across the (pedestrianized) road (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).


Café Citta
4 Church Street CF10 1BG (2022 4040)
Café Citta is a small family-run Italian café, pizzeria and restaurant. It’s the real deal and one of the most authentic places to go for pizza in Cardiff. The pizza is delivered fresh from a wood-fired oven. There are also pasta dishes, seafood, Bruschetta, and meatballs. It is highly regarded for quality of food and value for money on Internet review sites. However, it is a small intimate space and, as we discovered recently, you are advised to book a table! (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. June 2013).

FYEO
5 Church Street CF10 1BG (2022 6600)
For Your Eyes Only is a chain of strip club bars (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. March 2011).

The empty unit at 8 Church Street was previously occupied by a very short-lived locally-owned “fast food” Italian restaurant called Italigo.

The location 9-10 Church Street was for many years occupied by Positano, a well-regarded Italian restaurant. There was a short-lived Italian-American restaurant there subsequently, but that unit is also currently empty.


Turn right at the end and enter St John's Church through the churchyard:

The Tea Spot@ St John’s Church
St John’s Church, Church Street CF10 1GJ
Just inside the church porch, take the stairs up to the left to the small The Tea Spot café, which serves hot beverages and home-made cakes. In the summer, you can take these out into the pleasant churchyard and garden (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Oct 2013).

St John’s Church is well-worth a visit. Originally the site of a Norman chapel, though the present church dates from the fifteenth century. The guide book available inside gives a potted history and interesting details on the stained glass, oaken screens, reredos, and other treasures. At the base of the shafts bearing the chancel roof are carved heads, including those of St John the Baptist, St Paul, St Dyfrig, and the Cardiff fisherman and martyr Rawlins White.

Carrying on round past the church, into St John’s Street:

Tair Pluen
10 St John’s Street CF10 1GL
Mae Y Tair Pluen yn dafarn Gymraeg. Traditional pub food is served, with a current promotion for very cheap food deals on Tuesdays.

Owain Glyndŵr
10 St John’s Street CF10 1GL (2022 1980)
This Stonegate pub has a good range of Welsh ales on tap, including Rhymney, Otley, Felin Foel, Brain’s and Vale of Glamorgan ales, in the traditional bar. There is also a more modern lounge/dining area. There’s an extensive pub food menu. It is one of the oldest pubs in Cardiff and, according to cardiffpubs.co.uk, was called the Mably Arms (or possibly the Buccaneer) in 1731, becoming the Kemys Tynte Arms, The Tennis Court and The Buccaneer before being named after the 15th-Century Welsh freedom fighter. It looks like it could do with some TLC and recent tripadvisor food reviews are not encouraging (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2013).

Pass the entrance to the High Street Arcade:

Burger King
13-16 St John’s Street CF10 1GL (2039 5000)
This large Burger King is one of three in Cardiff City Centre (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Oct 2011).

Opposite:

Caffé Nero
3 St John’s Street CF10 1GJ
There are three Caffé Nero coffee shops in this small part of Cardiff – see also Duke Street and Trinity Street (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. July 2013).

Greggs
4 St John’s Street CF10 1GJ
Sandwich shop (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2013).

Next time we will be entering the High Street Arcade. See you then.

Previous post on pasties:
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/cornish-vs-welsh-pasties.html

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

Cardiff Market
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/cardiff-market.html

Wharton Street and Trinity Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/wharton-street-and-trinity-street.html

Morgan Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/morgan-arcade-cardiff.html

Royal Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/royal-arcade-cardiff.html

The Hayes
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-hayes-cardiff.html

The Old Brewery Quarter
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-old-brewery-quarter-cardiff.html

Caroline Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/caroline-street-cardiff.html

Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/mill-lane-and-wyndham-arcade-cardiff.html

St Mary Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/st-mary-street-cardiff.html

High Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/high-street-cardiff.html

Castle Arcade and Castle Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/castle-arcade-and-castle-street-cardiff.html

Womanby Street and Quay Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/womanby-street-and-quay-street-cardiff.html

Westgate Street
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/westgate-street-cardiff.html

Riverside
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/riverside-cardiff.html

Cathedral Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/cathedral-road-cardiff.html

Pontcanna 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/pontcanna-2.html

Pontcanna 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/pontcanna-1-we-are-leaving-canton.html

North Canton
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/north-canton.html

Cowbridge Road East 3
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-3-llandaff-road-to.html

Cowbridge Road East 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-2-wyndham-crescent.html

Cowbridge Road East 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/cowbridge-road-east-1-cathedral-road-to.html

Bute Park
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/bute-park-cardiff.html

Cathays Park
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/cathays-park-cardiff.html

Cathays Terrace
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/cathays-terrace-cardiff.html

Salisbury Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/salisbury-road-cardiff.html

Woodville Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/woodville-road-cardiff.html

Crwys Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/crwys-road-cardiff.html

Wellfield Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/wellfield-road-cardiff.html

Albany Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/albany-road-cardiff.html

City Road
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/city-road-cardiff.html