Friday, 22 August 2014

Green Man 2014: The Food

Most reviews of festivals like Glastonbury, Latitude or WOMAD focus exclusively on the music. However, the best British festivals offer far more than just music. The Green Man Festival this year, for instance, offered cult cinema, comedy, literature talks, theatre, circus and more. Moreover, the choice of food and drink at festivals is turning them into something approaching local food festivals. It’s all a long way from the limited burger-based diet at festivals a couple of decades ago. This post looks at what food was available to visitors to Green Man 2014.


Approaching the main site near the main (Mountain) stage, you will encounter the volunteer-run Green Man Trust Café selling hot drinks, bacon and sausage rolls with profits benefitting local organizations and projects. The meat is made from animals that roam the Glanusk Estate – the site of the Green Man Festival. Also in this area, the Ethical Chef (the Carmarthenshire vegetarian chef Deri Reed) was making his first Green Man appearance, fresh from winning the People’s Choice and a Sustainable Green Traders Awards at this year’s Glastonbury Festival; his award-winning chilli was served here. Also, in this area, you can visit the fresh fruit and smoothies stall, maple-smoked pulled pork stall (also ribs, frankfurters etc.) and a Vegan and Vegetarian food outlet by the steps over the wall into the main arena.

On entering the site near the Mountain Stage the first food stands you encounter are Soup-a-Juice (say it out loud), Hall’s Dorset Smokery (see link below) and Pasta Pizza; all fairly self-explanatory. Next to these is The Mountain Bar. Up the steps, through the terraces looking down on the main stage, you will some of Green Man’s most popular regular food outlets.

At La Grande Bouffe (or The Big Nosh) this year I had the excellent tartiflette (cheese/cream potatoes) topped by a French sausage with white wine gravy, all cooked in their large pans. We also purchased some tasty food next door at Pura Vida Mexican Vegetarian Restaurant: enchilada and burrito, in its second year at Green Man. Also returning for a second year was Mac’n’Cheese, bringing southern US-style street food to the Mountain’s Foot area.


Shepherd’s offered its usual wide range of Welsh ice cream flavours, though the queues were not as long as during last year’s hotter and drier Green Man weather. Moving along the top terrace, the Chai Shop Organic tent, with its carpets and low tables, again had one of the best ambiences for sitting down and eating; not for the first time, I had some of their handmade falafels. Newcomer Harefield’s Bakery and Roast, with its London street-front façade, offered British carvery baguettes and roast dinners; it’s owned by Davey Chambers, a previous Great British Bake-off contestant. Next door, Joho Soho, operated by the Cinnamon Kitchen, was specialising in slow-roasted lamb and other Indian dishes. The ever-popular Jamon Jamon again offered Valencian and Seafood paellas, and like many stands also did a good line in breakfasts (my best meal of last year’s festival was bought here – see link below).


Across the way, at the top of the hill by the house, is The Table Top, a pop-up Welsh Coffee Co outlet, making its first appearance at Green Man. Walking towards The Courtyard, there are some notable regulars on your left. Poco is a café operated by Bristol-based eco-chef Tom Hunt; with fish grilled outside the tent. Here you have a choice from a distinctive menu that includes mackerel wraps, halloumi, kebabs and salads, with an emphasis on Moroccan cuisine. Next door is the Pieminister van. My Pieminister pie this year was The Free Ranger. Meat was to the fore at the Taste of Wales van, with burgers and breakfasts among the offerings.

Turning into The courtyard, first up is Superstew, with simmering pans of good-looking spicy stews. There also a Coffee and Donut van, before the bar selling 99 Welsh beers and ciders (later).

The Walled Garden, where you can find the Green Man Pub and Walled Garden stage, hosted a good mix of food outlets. First up was the Grilled Cheese Sandwich stall operated by London’s Morty and Bob. Next door was the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company, specialising in lobster, crab and freshly-made flatbreads. I had a cockle and bacon flatbread with laverbread, a pleasingly different and substantial beach food. The Roaming Patisserie has roamed between different sites at Green Man over the years, but has found its perfect location here; breaking up a whole roast chicken between friends is what it’s all about. The Welsh Venison Centre, based nearby at Beacons Farm (about a mile down the road), does a great job of selling venison as the burger of choice to festival-going foodies. Beyond the Green Man Pub: The Hippy Chippy van, selling chunky chips. Also in the Walled Garden, were vans selling Shepherd’s ice cream and homemade chilled drinks.


Walking towards Babbling Tongues, you pass two of Green Man’s most popular perennial food stalls. The Goan Seafood Company ("Goan recipes, Cornish fish") I have written about previously (see below).  Moorish: North African & Arabic Souk Food supplied the best food I ate at Green Man 2012, namely spicy lamb in a deep-fried filo-pastry parcel. You expect to see queues at both of these, festival regulars know what they want.

In the Babbling Tongues area (book-related talks and comedy), The Tea Stop is a converted red double-decker bus selling breakfasts, teas and cake. The Speak-Easy Bar in this area specialises in cocktails and gin.


Walking up the hill to the Far Out zone you enter the final grouping of food outlets. French & Grace do flatbreads and salad boxes; we were impressed by vegetarian flatbreads here last year. New to us was the wonderfully-named Spanish Stew and the Wild Dogs from Monmouthshire. Chorizo stew with made from local Trealy Farm produce, but on this occasion I had a wild boar hot dog with the hot festival pickle. The silver trailer of The Flaming Cactus was parked next door, serving Mexican dishes. Next up was a vegetarian café. Barnaby Sykes Piemaker had plenty of pies for sale, from traditional steak and ale, more unusual steak and stilton, and the vegetarian spicy butter bean and mature cheddar. Manna was selling Asian street food, with Cambodian chilli pork, Vietnamese lemongrass chicken and beef Osaka tofu among the tempting dishes. The Casa Portuguesa was offering Portuguese-style BBQ, including piri piri chicken, and all-day breakfasts. Turning around the block at The End Up Bar, you will see another Pasta and Pizza outlet in the Chai Wallahs tent. Down the other side of this block, you’ll find hot grilled wraps at Wrappers' Delight, with the accompanying Smoothie Delight next door. The Grazing Shed offered “super tidy burgers”. The Seacow traded in good old-fashioned fish and chips.

I have probably missed a few stalls (apologies), but you get the picture. You can eat your way around the world, but there is a focus on local food suppliers. Early risers will have seen the vans coming in from St Mary Bakery, the dairy, butchers and other local businesses. This is a festival out to support the local economy. See you there next year – I already have an idea of what I want to eat!

My review of the music at Green Man 2014 for newsoundwales:
http://www.newsoundwales.com/live-review/green-man-festival-2014/

See also:

Green Man 2013
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/green-man-festival-2013_20.html

Green Man 2012
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/festival-food-green-man-2012.html

Green Man 2011
http://www.buzzmag.co.uk/uncategorized/green-man-2011-festival-review/
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/green-man-good-food.html

Hall’s Dorset Smokery
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/festival-food-halls-dorset-smokery.html

Goan Seafood Company
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/festival-food-goan-seafood-company.html

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Nightingale Community Garden links with local foodbank

At an open meeting on the morning of Saturday 5 July 2014, Nightingale Community Garden officially linked up with Bethesda Foodbank in Dinas Powys. Part of the Vale Foodbank, and under the Trussell Trust umbrella, the Bethesda Foodbank opened in Sept 2012 (see link below).


Mike Groves of the Vale Foodbank talked at the meeting about the excellent work that the Vale Foodbank does in helping to feed people who suddenly find themselves without sufficient resources (e.g. due to benefit cuts) to feed themselves or their families.

This summer, gardeners are donating surplus produce from their Community Garden plots to the Foodbank. For the past couple of weeks, donated veg placed in a basket in the wooden shed at the back of the garden has been taken over to the Bethesda Chapel around midday on Wednesday.

Rob McGhee of Creative Rural Communities, who played a key role in getting the garden established, talked about the success of the Community Foodie scheme in the Vale of Glamorgan. A network of gardens in the Vale has got people growing more of their own food, while helping to bring communities together. Also in the photo above are Cllr. Keith Hatton and Elizabeth Millard, the co-founders of Nightingale Community Garden (for the full story follow the links below).

There was another good turnout for a garden meeting. Robin Harrison was again present to answer gardeners’ questions. This time, he bought along some fragrant plants – of which I took home a sage and a lemon verbena. The gathering enjoyed free tea, coffee, lemonade and biscuits.


Nightingale Community Garden, though only opened last spring, has been looking mature and productive during this hot July. I’ll let these recent photos speak for themselves.


 
 
 
See also:

Vale Foodbank opens in Dinas Powys

http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/vale-foodbank-in-dinas-powys.html

Previous posts on Nightingale Community Garden in Dinas Powys

May 2014
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/creating-community-garden-11.html

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
 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Hayes, Cardiff

We are returned to The Hayes from the end of Hills Street, on this walking tour of Cardiff; just in time for a preview night at Miller & Carter. They officially open this Friday, on the corner of Hills Street and The Hayes, in the building previously inhabited by Habitat (who went into administration in 2011). Enter the new steakhouse from Hills Street, where they have seating outside.


Miller & Carter
9-11 The Hayes CF10 1AH (2037 2344)
It’s bustling at the Tuesday preview night at Miller & Carter Steakhouse. Beef sourced in Britain is the thing here (tagline: ‘for the love of steak’) and so steak it is for us. After a slightly disappointing graze option, involving not-so-crisp home-made tortilla chips and a spinach and mozzarella dip, we are quickly won over when the main courses arrive.

I opted for a ribeye (12oz) and my partner a rump (8oz). At Miller & Carter, the steaks are served with a signature cheesy onion loaf (excellent), ‘seasoned fries’ (i.e. lots of salt) default (or jacket potato if you ask), and an iceberg lettuce wedge; we approved of this no-messing side-salad, literally a quarter of a fresh lettuce with your choice of dressing drizzled on top (bacon and honey mustard for me). In addition, there is a choice of steak sauces (me: peppercorn). Very tasty steaks, cooked medium to our taste (medium is rarer than it used to be, for those who remember Berni Inns).


Chefs at the grills serve up the meat on to plates, with wooden boards being reserved for the Chateaubriand (16oz), the most tender cut on offer, which is recommended for sharing. It’s the most expensive steak option (£43.95), but with 50% off the food bill on the night they were in demand. Options 'on-the-bone’ are T-Bone, Porterhouse and barbequed ribs.

Miller & Carter are owned by Mitchells & Butlers. This is the 34th Miller & Carter Steakhouse to open in the UK. There is already one in Cardiff:  a unit attached to the Red Dragon development in Cardiff Bay (across the car park near the Futures Inn). However, this prime city centre location puts Miller & Carter centre stage on the Cardiff dining scene.


We drank a rather nice bottle of Rioja from the ample wine list; though my partner thought they needed to work on their coffees that concluded our meal. We remember the Berni Inns of old, when the cream was expertly layered on top of the liquor coffee. Although Berni Inns (1955-1995, then sold to Whitbread and converted to Beefeaters and Brewers Fayre) were not an Mitchells & Butlers brand (though rival Harvester still is), Miller & Carter is what the British Berni Inn-style steakhouse has evolved into. We heartily approve.

Incidentally, the 1937 grade-II listed Hayes Building, which was originally home of the Electricity Board, has been sensitively redeveloped. There's a bar area, main restaurant and an upstairs mezzanine floor with a good view of the kitchen.

Eating steak is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me these days. Beef production has a major environmental impact, in terms of land use, water resources and greenhouse gases; far more so than chicken and pork production. A report published today in PNAS reinforces this. "The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat", says Prof Tim Benton of the University of Leeds, commenting on the findings in today's The Guardian. It's only occasional steaks for me these days - and those have to be good ones like they serve here!

Hayes Island
Outside, in The Hayes, can we just acknowledge the Hayes Island Snack Bar for taking over the running of the underground Victorian toilets that the Council closed; they are very convenient and of historical interest. You will shortly be able to ask them for a code to visit.

Bailey Carvery
9 -11 The Hayes CF10 1AH (2023 7755)
Part of the same recent redevelopment that has created Miller & Carter, this is the basement restaurant - entered by doors just before St David’s Hall - that was for many years La Fosse restaurant. Bailey Carvery offers breakfast buffet and an all-day carvery. Billed as ‘The Great British Carvery’, you can get traditional Sunday carvery here, every day of the week: slow-roasted beef, pork, turkey and gammon, with steamed fresh veg.

St David’s Hall
Working Street CF10 1SH (2087 8444)
Concert hall and conference centre. The main bar is on Level 3, where you can also catch some excellent Roots concerts. Food is sometimes served here, for example, at the lunchtime series of chamber music concerts. A Pimms bar is currently here for the Welsh Proms. The Art Cafe Celf on Level 4 is usually open during the day for sandwiches, coffee and cake. My next trip to St David's Hall is for some desert blues with Tinariwen from Mali – most appropriate given the current hot weather (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. March 2012).

Opposite, in the Old Library building:

Bar 1867
Old Library, 18-19 Trinity Street CF10 1BH
When we passed on the other side of the Old Library in my recent Trinity Street post, this was called the ‘Big Blue Sports Bar’. Then, I wrote that it would most probably have changed its name again by the time we got to it.

There has been a series of food venues in this northern part of the Old Library building, since the actual library moved out. It was once ‘Que Pasa’, and more recently ‘The Exhibition’. The restaurant called ‘The Old Library’ did some notable redecoration, but was also notable for being one of the first businesses in Cardiff to be awarded a zero Food Hygiene Rating, after they were first introduced by the Welsh Assembly Government in 2011.

Bar 1867 goes in for pub classics (meals for £6 and specials for £7.50): steak and ale pie, fish and chips, chicken curry, faggots and peas, burgers, jacket potatoes.

The Old Library building dates from 1881. The main Cardiff Library was located here between 1882 and 1988 (it is now located at the other end of The Hayes). Today, the building also houses the Tourist Information Centre and The Cardiff Story, a museum about the history of the city that is well worth a visit. The Cardiff Story has some interesting information about local food businesses (see link below).

I will meet you outside The Cardiff Story next time, for the next leg of our walk around Cardiff.

See also:
The Cardiff Story opens
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/cardiff-story.html

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:
St David’s 3
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/st-davids-3-cardiff.html
St David’s 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/st-davids-2-cardiff.html
St David’s 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/st-davids-1-cardiff.html
Queen Street Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/queens-arcade-cardiff.html
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

Sunday, 29 June 2014

St David’s 3, Cardiff

This is the strand on this food blog in which we are slowly walking around Cardiff, checking what's current on the Cardiff food scene and reaching occasional conclusions about food trends.

We previously left Eastside in the St David’s centre, and are now outside looking up at the new Admiral Building (South Wales-based insurance company), which is being erected in front of you. Turn right, and negotiate your way past the building work to:

Cineworld
Mary Ann Street CF10 2EN
15-screen cinema, where there is still time to buy fizzy drinks, coffee and popcorn in the foyer before the film starts. Includes Gala Electronic Casino (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. March 2012).

Across the road:

Motorpoint Arena
Mary Ann Street CF10 2EQ
Formerly the Cardiff International Arena (CIA), this large concert venue also hosts conferences and events. My next scheduled trip here is to see the Peter Gabriel 'So' tour later this year (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).

Opposite, the Flaming Dragon Chinese restaurant on the corner is closed. Across Mary Ann Street:

Park Inn by Radisson
Mary Ann Street CF10 2JH
Hotel with the RBG Bar and Grill, offering a range of British classics, pasta and pizza etc, with an outdoor café/bar terrace (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).

Follow Mary Ann Street around, walking away from the Motorpoint Arena.

Heard the one about ‘Location, Location, Location’? US-based Hooters haven’t. They opened their second UK outlet along here in 2011 (the first is still open in Nottingham), in the worst location in Cardiff city centre. The Sports Café and Bar that replaced it closed within months. Pass this empty unit. We are now at the back of the St David’s 2009 extension.

Tesco Express
Mary Ann Street CF10 2EN
A convenience food store, with a convenient cashpoint outside.

Pass on Boots, on your right, which has its main entrance inside through the entrance into the Grand Arcade where we were last time. On your left is anchor store John Lewis. Head toward the new library building and keep right, following the building round to:


Jamie’s Italian
69-70 Lower Ground Floor (outside), St David’s, The Hayes CF10 1GA (2002 7792)
I remember watching Jamie Oliver’s TV series on Italian food and thinking he had nothing particularly original or interesting to say on the subject. In hindsight, the TV production company was forking out for what was effectively a research trip for this venture. With the right business partners and chefs in place, Jamie’s Italian has been a big success. In addition to this one in Wales, there are nearly 40 Jamie’s Italians in England and Scotland, and others in countries around the world (though not Italy).


Cardiff’s Jamie’s Italian doesn’t feel like a traditional Italian restaurant, with its industrial design and retro British music. There are no pizzas, instead the approach is to adapt to British tastes and mainstream regional Italian dishes less known in the UK (e.g. turkey Milanese, arancini, Caprese and Bresaola salads, porchetta, crispy squid). Planks remain popular here: long wooden boards for shared platters, which you can buy on the way out (if you so wished).


We lunched here last week. I drank the Liberta lager, brewed for Jamie’s by the Freedom Brewery in Staffordshire (a understated lager brewed for food from a 'microbrewery' that appears to now be a fairly big brewery), while my dining partner had a refreshing home-made lemonade. For starters, we ordered the homemade breads from the ‘nibbles’ section: rosemary focaccia, sourdough, music bread and grissini, with olive oil/balsamic vinegar and a sun-dried tomato/olive tapenade. A good choice: the most interesting being the thin crispy Sardinian music bread (pane carasau), laden with seeds and ‘aniseedy’ flavour. Grissini, incidentally, are good old-fashioned breadsticks (why don’t they say so!).


My partner had the wild rabbit casarecce (a pasta shape similar to fusilli), with the rabbit ragù slow-cooked with garlic and herbs, mascarpone and lemon. I had the fish-of-the-day special: pan-fried hake with butter/parsley sauce, steamed mussels, roasted vine-ripe tomatoes and chargrilled asparagus tips, which was most enjoyable. The crunchy salad is very like coleslaw.

A shared frangipane tart (almond tart, akin to bakewell), with peach being the day’s seasonal fruit filling, and coffees concluded our meal.  Look out for the £10 off vouchers on a leaflet as you go in, which keeps the bill manageable (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2011).

Starbucks Coffee
Lower Ground Floor, St David’s, The Hayes CF10 1GA (2034 1814)
Starbucks arrived in the UK in 1998 (a 'game-changer' as the annoying phrase goes), via the acquisition of Seattle Coffee Company stores. This one has the usual range of coffees, and some prime-location outdoor seating. I have not been in a Starbucks for years, so really cannot comment further.


Since we were in The Hayes last, the Hayes Island Snack Bar has been joined in the central square by a Sidoli’s ice cream stall for the summer, selling a good range of flavours produced by this family-owned Welsh ice cream company.

Turn right at the corner, into Hills Street:


Cosy Club
1 Hills Street (upstairs) CF10 2LE (2020 5998)
Go through the doors and up a rather OTT staircase, where you will find a bar and a dining area. Cardiff blogger Pint of 45 has already noted that this is not cosy and it’s not a club. It is an expanding chain though. The Cardiff Cosy Club, which opened in November 2012, is the largest of the seven Cosy Clubs to open so far (stretching all the way from Exeter to Cheltenham). The food is very British – pork belly, Cornish fish pie, duck’s shepherd’s pie, steaks, mussels, spinach and cheese soufflé. Brunch served most of the day and they cater for vegans. The burger range encompasses falafel, salmon and crayfish, and possibly even beef (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. July 2013).

crêpeaffaire
1a Hills Street, CF10 2LE (2037 2249)
Started in London in 2004, by Daniel Spinath, there are now around 13 crêpeaffaires, in the UK (and Hamburg). Ten sweet and fourteen (4 of them veggie) savoury pancakes on the menu, along with breakfasts (including the Londoner breakfast crêpe) and waffles. Savoury crêpes served with salads for lunch, or can be taken in specially-designed triangular boxes. There’s a focus on the coffee (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. July 2013).


Red Hot World Buffet
3-6 Hills Street, CF10 2LE (2034 2499)
I was here for opening night in October 2011, and have been back on several occasions since. It’s good when you are in a group, especially with people having very different tastes in food. It’s the longest buffet in Wales, designed by Red Hot’s corporate chef Deepak Bahuguna; serving around 300 dishes from around the world, including Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Cajun, Tex Mex, Italian, Mediterranean and British. You can spot the first timers – plates piled high with foods that should never be seen on the same plate. Red Hot World Buffet started in, you guessed it, Nottingham in 2004, and there are around eight now in the UK (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).

Walk back down Hills Street to The Hayes, and I will see you there next time.

See also:

Red Hot World Buffet opens in Cardiff:
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/red-hot-world-buffet-cardiff.html

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

St David’s 2
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/st-davids-2-cardiff.html
St David’s 1
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/st-davids-1-cardiff.html
Queen Street Arcade
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/queens-arcade-cardiff.html
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

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The proposed 'Garden Bridge' in London

The ‘Garden Bridge’ project in London seems to be getting an easy ride in the media. Maybe it’s the involvement of designer Thomas Heatherwick and the actress/campaigner Joanna Lumley, who thought it up, two people who have done much in recent years to deserve our respect; or the support of Boris Johnson, who is inexplicably popular in London.

The proposed pedestrian bridge will cost around £175 million. It will link the South Bank (near the National Theatre) to the north bank (near Temple underground station), a section of the Thames already well served by bridges. The Garden Bridge Trust have already been promised £30 million by the Government, £30 million from Transport for London, and £30 million from private donors, according to the Evening Standard (below). Current plans aim to have it built by 2018.

Don’t get me wrong. I am sure this bridge will look great and, if done well, will become a major tourist attraction. What annoys me is when Heatherwick and the Garden Bridge Trust team invoke the spirit of guerrilla and community gardening, and projects like the High Line in New York, as inspiration for and in justification of the project. The ‘garden bridge’ is the opposite of those things, and that’s what this blog post is about.

Let’s be clear, the ‘garden bridge’ is not a green project. It is a massive concrete engineering construction project, with oversized planters on top. Crucially, the projects is a top-down initiative; exactly the opposite to guerrilla and community gardening, which are bottom-up and community-led initiatives.

In a recent Guardian article (26 June, link below), Heatherwick says, “It feels like we’re trying to pull off a big crime” and describes the design evolution as a form of “guerrilla gardening”. The team may be pulling off a crime, but not the one they think they’re pulling off. Here is a definition of Guerrilla Gardening (from Richard Reynolds’ book ‘On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening Without Boundaries’, Bloomsbury, 2008): “THE ILLICIT CULTIVATION OF SOMEONE ELSE’S LAND.”

The most celebrated guerrilla gardens, of course, become legitimate because they are embraced by the communities they spring up in. They become officially recognised and much-loved community gardens and allotments. Nevertheless, people enter into guerrilla gardening knowing they are beautifying or producing food in a temporary neglected space over what is likely to be a relatively short period of time. This is the spirit of guerrilla gardening. So, hardly a corporate construction project.

Let’s look at the specific example of the High Line in Manhattan, a mile-long elevated linear park so beloved of architects like Heatherwick, who invokes it as an inspiration. The important point to get is that the High Line was once a railway viaduct built in the 1930s, which was abandoned in the 1980s. It’s a great example of urban renewal. In the years after the last train used the railway, local residents noticed that drought-resistant grasses, shrubs and trees were thriving. It was urban explorers and guerrilla gardeners who first saw the potential for turning this derelict structure into an elevated garden and park. The High Line was very nearly demolished, but community organisations, in particular the non-profit Friends of the High Line, prevented this from happening. Gardens cultivated with the help of community groups alternate with the native flora sections along this very popular urban park; the first section of which opened in 2006, while the third and final section is due to open later this year.

The High Line itself draws some of its ideas from the Promenade Plantée in Paris, which was the world's first elevated park, and was also built on an abandoned railroad viaduct. A London project truly inspired by these highly successful urban renewal schemes would take a dreary existing London bridge, pedestrianise it, and turn it into a green oasis.

Building something from scratch at vast expense to mimic what others have done on derelict urban infrastructure just does not add up. The spirit of the Olympic Games has been invoked, but the Olympic construction at its best rejuvenated a large contaminated derelict area (At worst, of course, it built a car park over local community allotments).

Allotments and community gardens owe everything to enthusiastic local people who garden them. They fulfil a real community need. What would £175 million (the estimated cost of London’s ‘garden bridge’) buy in terms of grass-roots greening projects?

The desire to garden in an urban environment is very strong. There are waiting lists for allotments in towns all over the UK. In Dinas Powys, we established a Community Garden on an abandoned play area, which had become overgrown and was the focus for anti-social behaviour. This is now a highly productive local food growing area for around 30 families and is a community hub in a very positive sense. Recent plans include promoting pollinating insects in the area and donating food to a local Food Bank.

It cost around £35,000 to create the Nightingale Community Garden in Dinas Powys (£28,000 was obtained from the Welsh Assembly government’s Tidy Towns initiative and £5,000 from the Vale of Glamorgan’s Creative Rural Communities initiative). So, £175 million could alternatively be used to create 5,000 such Community Gardens around the UK. Given that there are 936 towns listed for England, and around 170 in Wales, this could create a veritable network of community-led local food production. Linked to an education programme, it could represent a revolution in terms of food self-sufficiency, environmental and health benefits (better and cheaper food, health benefits arising from active gardening and social interaction, knock-on effects in health-care spending, reduced crime due to urban renewal etc. etc.).

Finally, I suspect that the maintenance costs of the ‘garden bridge’ have been wildly underestimated. Being a top-down corporate project it cannot expect the level of dedication from community groups and volunteers that make grass-roots community gardens so successful.

I will probably be heading down to London to be one of the first to see the ‘garden bridge’ when it opens. It does sound like an inspiring architectural project. But, I won't be buying into any of the greenwash.

See also:
Oliver Wainwright in The Guardian:
http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/jun/24/garden-bridge-london-thomas-heatherwick-joanna-lumley

Evening Standard:
http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/londoners-support-plans-for-garden-bridge-across-the-river-thames-9237778.html

Creating a Community Garden (the Nightingale Community Garden in Dinas Powys as an example project):

May 2014
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/creating-community-garden-11.html

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

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Creating a Community Garden 11

In a series of posts, I have outlined the process by which Nightingale Community Garden in Dinas Powys was created and is developing (links below). It was first opened to local resident gardeners on 16 March 2013. On the recent sunny days, people have been getting their plots ready for another busy growing season.


Since my last dispatch, on the official opening in Sept 2013, compost bins have been built (by Stuart Hockley), a second tap installed, the few plots becoming vacant have been reassigned from the waiting list, and I have registered the garden as part of a Nectar Point Network (more on this later in the year).


This blog post is mainly photographs to show you how the garden is looking as it starts its second year. Not so long ago this was derelict land – an abandoned play area that was a focus for litter and anti-social behaviour – and now it is a community hub and a very productive growing area.


Below is my plot, with the runner beans going in a couple of days ago:


It will soon be time to pick some strawberries.



Previous posts on creating a Community Garden in Dinas Powys:

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