Monday, 16 December 2013

Wharton Street and Trinity Street, Cardiff

Previously, on this Walking Tour of Cardiff, I left you outside Waterstone’s in The Hayes. Turn left and walk down Wharton Street / Heol y Cawl.

On your left:

Barocco
12 Wharton Street CF10 1AG (2041 3600)
This stylish bar, owned by the SA Brain Brewery, puts a strong emphasis on its food. Brains opened Barocco in 2007; it was previously the site of the poorly-named ‘Bar IsIt’. Barocco is open for brunch, with pancakes a speciality, lunch and evening dining. The menu features a good range of burgers, including the Barocco Burger, the vegetarian spinach and lentil burger, and wild boar and chorizo burger. There are stone-baked pizzas and a range of Brains’ more interesting pub menu items, including baked spinach and bean pie, and spiced chicken and almond tagine. The coffee is sourced from the Great Little Coffee Company. As with a number of establishments in Cardiff, they were only doing pre-booked Christmas party groups on Friday (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. June 2013).


Staying on this side of the street and on the other side of Bakers Row, a side street that connects back into the Morgan and Royal Arcades, is the former City Glass Works:


The Glassworks
4 Wharton Street CF10 1AG (2022 2114)
Greene King of Bury St Edmunds own this pub located in the former City Glass Works, a Grade II Listed Building. The Brewery had previously operated this unit as Copa, which closed on 1 October 2013. Greene King game it a bit of refurbishment and changed it back to its original, pre Greene King, pub name; it re-opened on 8 October. Trivia fans might like to know that this pub also once traded under the name The Newt and Cucumber (yes, there was a trend for this sort of thing back in the day). The Glassworks has a full Greene King pub food menu, served from 9am to 10pm. Breakfast, deli lunches, grills and burgers, and pub classics such as fish and chips, pies, and bangers and mash (As Copa: Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2012).


Wharton Street exits onto St Mary Street, with the Sandringham Hotel on one side and Howells on the other. Turn around and head back toward The Hayes.

All along the northern side of Wharton Street is Howells, Cardiff’s oldest department Store, established by James Howell in 1856. It was acquired by the House of Fraser group in 1972, and since 2010 has had the House of Fraser banner above the main door (though James Howell’s plentiful old signage remains around the building). On the second floor is Howells Restaurant and on the first floor is the Zest Café (as previously noted on the St Mary Street leg of the tour).

Back at Waterstone’s, turn left into Trinity Street / Heol y Drindod:

The Old Library Building, on the right-hand side as we walk towards St John’s Church, houses The Cardiff Story museum (opened in 2011) and a restaurant/bar, which will be approached from the far side and will have probably changed its name again by the time we get there.

On your left, in the ground floor of Howell’s (this stretch to the Cardiff Indoor Market is also called St Johns Square):

Caffè Nero
3 St Johns Square CF10 1GJ (2039 9940)
This is the first of three Caffè Nero outlets within a couple of blocks of each other. “The Italian Coffee company” is a fine coffee shop, though this unit used to be Howell’s deli (a sort of mini Welsh Harrods Food Hall that offered something a little different) (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. July 2013).

Pass the entrance to Cardiff’s Indoor Market:


O’Neill’s
20-21 Trinity Street CF10 1BH (2037 1263)
This is one of two O’Neill’s, the Irish pub chain, in Cardiff. There is a large bar menu and live music. I had sausages and colcannon washed down with a Guinness when I lunched here earlier this year – it really hit the spot. Plenty of grills, pasta dishes, burgers (e.g., bison, wild boar and chorizo (again)) to choose from, and other favourites that include Irish stew with thyme cobblers, lamb shank, and steak and Guinness pie (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. May 2013).


Münchesters
22-23 Trinity Street, Cardiff CF10 1BH (2047 2123)
Officially opening today (Monday 16 Dec), Münchesters is the latest venture from Chef Anand George and his team from the Purple Poppadom. The Head Chef at Münchesters is Kuldeep Singh. It’s a sandwich bar and coffee house with an Indian twist, serving freshly-made salads, pastries, wraps, soup, coffee and cakes. Take-away, or take your food to the pleasant room upstairs. I went along last week, via a Twitter promotion, to sample some of the food. I enjoyed a chapatti wrap with shredded spiced lamb. Soup and stew of the day will feature; I had a cream of parsnip soup, while the stew last week was Kerala chicken and carrot. They bake the bread and cakes on the premises. The chefs have more experience of working in top kitchens than in your average take-away. The coffee is a unique blend, produced for Münchesters by the Clifton Coffee Company of Bristol. This is the first Münchesters to open, but there may be more in the region plus pop-up kiosks to look out for. The ü, incidentally, should be read as a smiley face rather than an umlaut (it makes more sense on their green and red logo). This unit was previously occupied by 1 Malaysia Restaurant; and Piazza Italia prior to that.


Retrace your steps, back down Trinity Street, to the entrance of Cardiff Indoor Market. I will meet you here early in the New Year for a tour of the market.

I wish all the readers of this Food Blog a very Happy Christmas.

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

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/

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Kitchen Cabinet comes to Cardiff

The Kitchen Cabinet is a Radio 4 panel show about food presented by Jay Rayner. Each week, the programme travels round the country. Last night it was being recorded in Cardiff, at The Gate Arts & Community Centre. I went along to find out more about this popular radio show, which completes its fifth season with the Cardiff episode.

The four panel members for this programme were local representative Angela Gray, from the Cookery School at Llanerch vineyard in the Vale of Glamorgan; the Cambridge-based food writer Tim Hayward; the chef and cookery teacher Angela Malik; and Peter Barham, a food scientist from the University of Bristol.

The panel lined up on a stage set up for The Gate’s annual Christmas production of Aladdin, and this was very much the programme’s Christmas episode. Therefore, it was a bit of a missed opportunity to focus on Welsh food, although bara brith and the Welsh-Italian connection featured as key parts of the discussion.

On arriving, all audience members were asked to answer questions (e.g.,'What is your culinary Christmas wish?’) and write down a question for the panel. Recently, we ate Haggis Pizza at a St Andrew’s Night event at the Murchfield Community Hall in Dinas Powys. This inspired my question to the panel: ‘Is there a limit to what can be put on a pizza base?’ Among the other audience members who put questions to the panel was Cardiff’s Ed Gilbert (aka @gourmetgorro). Alternative Christmas meals, cocktails, and cooking with coca cola were among the topics raised.

The recording was efficient and audience involvement was central to the show. The contribution by Angela Gray and an Italian restaurant owner on Italian food in Wales was particularly interesting; Angela Malik proposed some intriguing Asian twists to traditional Christmas classics; Tim Hayward’s had useful tips on baking and the use of rhubarb in drinks; and Peter Barham provided scientific context and had to field the trickiest questions like ‘is there a cooking gene?’. No, is the resounding answer to that question, by the way.

To find out more, I recommend you tune in next Tuesday 17 December (3pm) or over the following week on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03lph1b

Jay Rayner is a genial host, who gets the panel to explain culinary terms so no audience member is left behind. It’s the inverse of the recent food panel show with experts displaying their erudite knowledge of obscure food items. I believe that ran for one series, whereas The Kitchen Panel could potentially have the longevity of a show it liberally borrows from – Gardeners’ Question Time.

I thank Dan Allsobrook (aka @eggynewydd) for taking this photo of me and Jay Rayner:

Monday, 2 December 2013

Morgan Arcade, Cardiff

Morgan Arcade was opened in 1896. It was originally known as the New Central Arcade. Today, it is owned by Helical Bar, who also own the Royal Arcade. This is one of Cardiff’s beautiful series of Victorian arcades, which are home to many independent local businesses.


Walking up The Hayes, from our previous walking tour destination the Royal Arcade, enter the first entrance to Morgan Arcade, between Moss Brothers and Moulton & Brown. On the left is a plaque with some history about David Morgan, after whom the arcade is named:


Further along on the left is Tabernacle Lane, which links the Royal and Morgan Arcades (collectively, the Morgan Quarter). By Capital second-hand bookstore, the three sections of Morgan Arcade join, with one pushing through to St Mary Street. At this junction:


The Plan
28-29 Morgan Arcade, Cardiff CF10 1AF (2039 8764)
The Plan Café Bar has been running in this prime Morgan Arcade location since 2002. The owner is David Nottingham (no relation). There are tables downstairs and upstairs and they serve breakfast and lunch, locally-made cakes, and the café is fully licensed. The Plan is particularly noted for its specialist coffees and, to a slightly lesser extent, teas. It has been listed among the ‘Top 50 Coffee shops in the UK’ in The Independent and in a similar Top 50 list in The Guardian. Head Barista Trevor Hyam, who started working at The Plan in 2007, writes a specialist blog on coffee called ‘The Bean Vagrant’; he came fourth in the 2010 UK Barista Championships; he experiments with brew methods using his Mahlkonig Tanzania grinder; and he sources craft-roasted traceable coffee beans. In other words, he knows his stuff. You can explore a range of single estate coffees on the specialist menu, with recent coffees on the menu coming from estates in Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Bolivia, Columbia and Costa Rica (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Jan 2013).


The stretch of the arcade along to St Mary Street has no food outlets, but there are many interesting shops, including Bang & Olufsen, (quality Danish sound systems – no MP3 players), Fountain Fine Arts (where you can buy affordable art by Welsh artists), an Oxfam clothes shop, the Camera Centre, and Neal’s Yard Remedies.


Entering the second arm of the Morgan Arcade that connects back to The Hayes, on the other side of The Plan, is Spillers Records (31 Morgan Arcade). Spillers Records was established in 1894 by Henry Spiller. The shop moved to its current location in 2010, from its previous location by the The Hayes entrance to Morgan Arcade.

Jam, Marmalade, Bread, Hot Chocolate, Cream, The Sweet, Meatloaf, Tangerine Dream. Now those were the days - when bands named themselves after food!

Next to Spillers:


Crumbs
33 Morgan Arcade CF10 1AF (2039 5007)
Crumbs is Cardiff’s oldest vegetarian restaurant. It was opened on 3 Dec 1970 by Judi Ashley, at a time when most people had not heard of brown rice.  Crumbs came under new ownership earlier this year. I believe the new owner is called Paul. It has been spruced up, with new tables and décor, and rebranded as Crumbs Vegetarian Kitchen and Coffee Shop, but the original ethos has been preserved. Large bowls of salad are still a main feature and servings are still generous, though possibly not as huge as in the olden days and prices have gone up. I had the large mixed standard salad bowl last week, which as before, comprised layers of different salads (six on this occasion) in a wooden bowl, with grated carrot, shredding cabbage, apple and brown rice. There was plenty of cheese on top, though the amount of brown rice was less than I remember. Crumbs also do breakfast, soups, jacket potatoes and other lunches, and have good bread. It is essentially the same healthy food as served since 1970: it was reassuring to know that Crumbs is still Crumbs. They do take-away. There are two small rooms upstairs, so Crumbs is bigger than it looks from the outside (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).


Walk back to The Hayes, and exit with Fred Perry on your left and Joules on your right. Turn left and walk up The Hayes to Waterstones bookshop. I will see you there, for a stroll up Wharton Street next time.

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:
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/

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Royal Arcade, Cardiff

Royal Arcade opened in 1858 and is the oldest surviving arcade in Cardiff. It was designed and built by James & Price, for the Cardiff Arcade Company, and connects The Hayes to St Mary Street.


On our walking tour of Cardiff, we enter the Royal Arcade from The Hayes, with Dr Martens (boots) and Scribbler (greeting cards of dubious taste) on your left-hand side and Rossiters (Bath-based designer department store) to your right. Second on the left, though you’ll have to walk a few units to find the door:


Wally's Delicatessen and Wally's Kaffeehaus
38-46 Royal Arcade CF10 1AE (2022 9265)
This family-run delicatessen, currently owned by Steven Salamon, has been a feature of the Royal Arcade since 1981. The deli has expanded considerably since it first opened and stocks around 1,600 products from around the world. It’s great for those unusual ingredients and foods imported from continental Europe.  In 2011, Wally’s Kaffeehaus opened upstairs. This Viennese-style coffee house specializes in Open Sandwiches, such as the Tyrol (roast chicken breast, chorizo, shaved manchego cheese, Piquillo peppers, garlic mayonnaise, rocket, black olives and toasted sourdough) and the Baden (German smoked black ham, Hereford Hop cheese, chutney, balsamic onions and sliced pear, on wholegrain seeded bread). Vegetarian options include the Rohrbach (Grilled aubergine and Caerphilly cheese). The Aufschnitt comprise sharing platters of cold meats or cheeses. The menu draws on the deli produce downstairs, so if you particularly like something chances are you can buy it on the way out (Delicatessen and Kaffeehaus, both Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).

Fresh
32 Royal Arcade CF10 1AE (2022 3158)
Fresh Baguette opened in 2000 and has established itself as one of the most popular independent sandwich shops in Cardiff. Gareth Lawton and his partner Samantha make good use of Twitter to promote the business, with daily specials often posted in the morning (@freshbaguette1). Yesterday’s was Falafel and Humous Baguette with salad and toasted cumin seeds. My most recent involved chicken, bacon, mayo, rocket, red onion and salami cracking. Easily the most creative sandwich-makers in the city; they are not afraid to be experimental, with novel ingredient combinations and spicy sauces. Regulars can also work through the 100-plus regular fillings for baguette and paninis on the menu. Service is friendly and efficient. Expect to see a queue outside at lunchtimes (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. June 2013).

The alley across the way, Tabernacle Lane, links Royal Arcade with Morgan Arcade.


Vom Fass
28-30 Royal Arcade CF10 1AE (2022 9497)
Vom Fass Cardiff sells oils, vinegars and spirits from barrels (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2012).

The cupcake shop Velvet Ice (formerly 20 Royal Arcade), which opened in 2011, has closed. Has the inexplicable (to me) fashion for cupcakes peaked?

Further along this southern side of the arcade, there is a Health with Herbs (24 Royal Arcade).

I intended to take lunch in Harleys Coffee Shop (8 Royal Arcade) when my walking tour made it to the Royal Arcade. But, alas, this long-established coffee shop closed earlier this year after 13 years of trading in the arcade.

This side of the arcade also has a new Oxfam book shop, with vinyl records upstairs. At the entrance from St Mary Street, there’s a sign of the times: an electronic cigarette shop.


Cross to the other side of the arcade, which currently starts with a seasonal Christmas shop.

Royal Sweet Shop
7 Royal Arcade CF10 1AE (2038 7438)
Traditional newsagent with rows of those tall jars of old-fashioned sweets (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2013).


There are no further food-related units in Royal Arcade. However, of note along this side of the arcade is the very wonderful stationary and art supply shop Pen and Paper (where our eldest daughter has a Saturday job).

Further along, by the entrance to Tabernacle Lane, is the Ian Allen bookstore and model shop (31 Royal Arcade), specializing in books on transport.

Carry on, back in The Hayes, turn left and walk up to the first of the entrances to Morgan Arcade. I’ll see you there next time.

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

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, 13 November 2013

Cardiff Marriott and River Cottage in partnership

The display featuring muddy carrots is not something you usually see in a hotel restaurant. Another clue as to what’s occurring are the shelves of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall books. We are in Zest, the restaurant at Cardiff Marriott, to sample the new menu created in partnership with River Cottage.


People increasingly like to know where their food comes from and how it is produced. In responding to diners’ interest in the provenance of their food, Zest has teamed up with Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage: an organization built around locally-sourced, ethically and sustainably produced, seasonal food.

Cardiff is one of only two Marriott Hotels to trial the partnership. If successful, it will be rolled out to more of Marriott’s other 50 UK hotels. The goals the partnership has set are ambitious ones.

For the menu, Marriott is committing to increase the use of local food, produced within a 60 mile radius of the hotel, to 80%. In Cardiff, Marriott is lucky. There is a wealth of Welsh food producers to choose from. The produce sourced for the menu so far includes meat from Graig Farm and Slade Farm, fish and shellfish from Gower Coast Seafood and E. Ashton, eggs from Farmhouse Freedom Eggs, cheese and dairy products from Calon Wen and Abergavenny Fine Foods, and vegetables from the Welsh Box Scheme and Ty Mawr Organic.

Because the menu is seasonal, the menu will change frequently. Daily changes are expected, so even regulars will find something different to order.

The amount of food wastage in the catering industry generally can be pretty shocking. Marriott’s are here committing to further reducing food wastage from their current low level of 5%.


By improving sustainability practices, Marriott’s hopes to improve its Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) rating in the two hotels trialling the partnership with River Cottage.

All the meat and vegetables on the menu will be organic, with the chicken also being free-range, and the fish and shellfish sustainably-sourced.

The partnership has involved staff from Marriott Cardiff taking part in training courses at River Cottage’s recently launched Chefs’ School, to acquire new skills relating to sustainable food procurement and other areas that complement their catering industry expertise.


On the table, the rosemary bread was very fresh, and there was a sprig of rosemary on the table (impossible not to pinch and smell). We started with ‘Parsley Salad’ and ‘Squash & Goat Cheese Salad’. Parsley was a feature of my salad, but the main interest was the crab meat, accompanying soft-boiled egg, and the intense anchovies hidden underneath. Crisp thin-sliced beetroot was the unannounced star of the other colourful salad.


For Mains, I opted for ‘Slow Cooked Organic Graig Farm Brisket’, served with anchovy and rosemary potato gratin and red wine sauce; the meat melted in the mouth. My partner had the ‘Slade Farm Lamb’, with mashed celeriac, chilli and thyme. The lamb had a subtle barbeque flavour.


The other vegetables, ordered as sides, were ‘Honey Glazed Carrots’ and ‘Kale, Chilli and Fennel Seeds’. The carrots had a wonderful intense flavour and looked great – orange, white and purple. The fennel on the kale produced a sensational effect, though the chilli was a little heavy for our taste in this context.


With sides this was not ‘small plate’, but rather ‘three good things on a plate’ (the title of one of Hugh’s books).

I’m afraid that for the ample puddings we opted for exotic options, with some ingredients what were probably not grown around Cardiff. My ‘Sticky Date Pudding’ came with homemade vanilla ice cream, and my partner’s ‘Almond and Orange Pudding’ came with a slice of pear cooked in red wine as well as the ice cream. However, a warm beetroot brownie, and apple and cherry crumble with custard, were also on the menu.


Local wine and beers are available, although they were not listed on the main wine and drinks menu. We had a bottle of Glyndwr 2012, a medium dry white wine produced on a vineyard established in 1982 by the Norris family in Llanbleddian, near Cowbridge, in the heart of the Vale of Glamorgan.

Generally, the local and seasonal approach can help produce a coherent menu, where fresh food items are used in different ways throughout to create a satisfying dining experience that also celebrates and supports local growers and artisan producers.

Zest actively encourages locals to join hotel guests in their dining room.


Marriott Cardiff: http://www.marriott.co.uk

River Cottage: http://www.rivercottage.net


All food and drink consumed was kindly provided by Marriott Cardiff.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Drinking Azsú in the Tokaji region, Hungary

I was on a journalism assignment recently in Hungary, writing about an EU LIFE-funded soil monitoring project. As part of the trip, I went to the Tokaji wine-growing area in the north-east of the country, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002. As well as looking at the soil monitoring system in operation, I was also fortunate enough to have a private tour and tasting in the historic Konyves cellar.


The tour takes you through the labyrinth of cellar tunnels cut into the soft volcanic rock of the hillside. There are over 700 m of cellar at Konyves, filled with around 800 oak barrels. The walls are covered with a mould (Cladosporium cellare), which is white when young but grows into a thick black layer. The mould feeds off the alcohol vapours from the barrels. It is important, because it regulates the humidity (88-95%) and temperature (a constant 12°C) in the cellar.


Three wines of increasing sweetness are usually tasted on these tours. The first is Furmint, a very dry and unremarkable white wine made from the Furmint grape variety. The second is a Muscadet, from the French grape of that name (the only one of the half-dozen Tokaji grape varieties that does not originate in Hungary), which is here really to give a taste of a standard sweet wine. The star is saved to last – the distinctive Azsú (bottle pictured). This is the sweetest naturally-made wine, with 70% sugar. The sweetness is complex, however, with honey, tropical fruit (citrus/apricot) and nutty flavour notes. It’s nectar.


The grapes that give Azsú its character come from the Furmint vines, but they are infected with the fungal mould Botrytis cinerea. This concentrates the grape’s sugar content and flavour. I was in the vineyard in early October and the grapes (photograph) are still growing – the shrivelled brown Azsú grapes are hand-picked in early November from the Furmint bunches. It’s like making wine with juicy raisins. The bottle is labelled ‘5 puttonyes’, which traditionally referred to the number of buckets of Azsú grapes added to 130 litres of must in a barrel (the range is from 3 up to a very sweet 6); now it refers to the sugar level. The wine is aged for 3-6 years in the barrel.


Out in the vineyard, we saw some curious pipes in the ground. The nearest one in this picture is 12 metres above the wine tasting area in the corner of the cellar, which is carved out of the hillside below the vineyard.


The conditions are not right to make the Azsú every year, just one in every two or three years; in those years they make a lot of Furmint. They have kept samples from all the Azsú years back to 1895 in the Konyves cellar. It’s a stroll back in time.

 

I would like to thank Miklós Dombos, of the Institute for Soil Sciences and Agricultural Chemistry in Budapest, and György Zsigrai, of the Research Institute for Viticulture and Oenology in Tokaj, for arranging the visit to the cellar.

LIFE website - funding environmental and nature conservation projects in the European Union:
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

City Road, Cardiff: The difference a year makes

I began the ‘Walking Tour of Cardiff’ strand of this blog on City Road on 18 September 2012:
http://sfnottingham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/city-road-cardiff.html

I revisited City Road one year on from this date, to start getting a feel for the changing food landscape in the Welsh capital. There were 49 take-ways and restaurants on City Road in 2012; today there are around the same number. Seven of those 49 businesses (14%) have either closed, or changed ownership or name in the past year. The businesses that have closed have been compensated for by a similar number of new businesses opening.

Gone are Si Chuan (Chinese take-away), Can Zaman (Middle Eastern restaurant), Sub City (sandwich take-away), Taco Express (Tex-Mex take-away), Casa Bianca (Italian restaurant), Ifatu (African restaurant) and the Adonis Kebab House.

New are Rosh (family café), Shaam Nights (Middle Eastern restaurant), Istanbul (Turkish restaurant), Oz Urf (Mediterranean and Mesopotamian restaurant), Jini Pizza, Face Food (patisserie and juices) and the Andalucian Kebab House.

In the listing below, I have included updated Food Hygiene Rating scores (and compared them to ratings in 2012). Taking into account bakers, butchers, delis, supermarkets and other shops selling food, in addition to all the take-aways and restaurants, the average Food Hygiene Rating has increased slightly over the year. In 2012 it was 2.74 and in 2013 it was 2.91, out of the perfect 5. This is an encouraging sign that the new ratings system is leading to improved hygiene; but, in general on City Road, there is still considerable room for improvement.

Here is the current state of play on City Road (for longer descriptions of establishments see last year’s post), walking up from Newport Road to the junction with Albany and Crwys Road. On your right:

Channing’s
Longcross Court (unit 2), City Road CF24 3DJ (2048 2351)
Food store and off licence (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. July 2013. Up from 3).

Fresh Bites
Longcross Court (unit 3), City Road CF24 3DJ (2032 8786)
Sandwich take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. July 2013. Up from 3).

The Ernest Willows
2-10 City Road CF24 3DJ (2048 6235)
Wetherspoon pub (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. July 2013. Up from 3).

A Shot in the Dark
12 City Road CF24 3BJ (2047 2300)
Coffee house and bar (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Jan 2013. Down from 5).

On your left, the Cardiff Municipal Club (11/13 City Road) has closed.

Right:

AJ’S
20 City Road CF24 3DL (2045 1588)
Coffeehouse (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2011).

Kismet
24 City Road CF24 3DL (2048 1665)
Indian restaurant (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Feb 2012).

Subway
26 City Road CF24 3DL (2048 5600)
Sandwich take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. June 2013. Down from 4).

Shop Right
28-30 City Road CF24 3DL
Convenience food store (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Oct 2010).

Left:

Fornos
15 City Road CF24 3BJ (2048 6699)
Sandwich bar and coffee house (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. July 2013. Same score as previously).

La Shisha
17-19 City Road CF24 3BJ (2049 3337)
Grill house and take-away, with Shisha Lounge upstairs (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Aug 2013).

Right:

Radhuny
40 City Road CF24 3DL (2046 1162)
Indian restaurant and take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Oct 2012. Down from 3).

Tanvir Tandoori
42 City Road CF64 3DL (2049 6088)
Indian and Indonesian restaurant (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. March 2012).

To Shakespeare Street and the pub on the corner:

Poets Corner
56 City Road CF24 3DN (2045 8714)
Greene King pub, formerly the Tut N Shive (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2011. Up from 2).

City Pizza
70 City Road CF24 3DD (2045 0054)
Take-away pizza (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. June 2012).


Lilo’s Grill House & Lilo Express
72-76 City Road CF24 2DD (2045 0089)
Middle Eastern restaurant and take-away. Expanded in summer 2012, to take over the corner unit that was formerly Al Borje (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. June 2013. Same score as previously).

Left:

The Moonlight
77 City Road CF24 3BL
Café and restaurant, with a shisha bar (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. June 2013. Down from 3).

Right:

Rosh
82 City Road CF24 3DD (2049 7417)
Family café/restaurant, in location occupied by Si Chuan last year.


Left:

Polski Sklep
87 City Road CF24 3BL
Polish and Eastern European food store (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. July 2013).

Cross Penlline Street:

Jini Pizza
89 City Road CF24 3BN (2048 4705)
Pizzeria and take-away, opening within the past year in a unit formerly occupied by Mirchi.

Right (past Talworth Street):

Mirchi
90-94 City Road CF24 3DQ (2049 2344)
Mirchi restaurant serves "Indo-Pak cuisine". They have moved across the road into a bigger unit (previously The Salt 'n' Pepper Grill) within the past year (Food Hygiene Rating 0: urgent improvement necessary. Aug 2013. Down from 4 in their previous location).

Five Star Fish Bar
96 City Road CF24 3DQ (2045 2297)
Fish and chip take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. July 2013).

Chicken.com
98 City Road CF24 3DQ (2048 6530)
Take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 0: urgent improvement necessary. Aug 2013. Same score as previously).

Mehfil
102-106 City Road CF24 3DQ (2045 0388)
Indian restaurant and grill house.

Clare Food Superstore
108-110 City Road CF24 3DQ
Convenience food store (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Dec 2012).

Across Pearson Street:

Shaam Nights
116/118 City Road CF24 3DQ (2048 2824)
Syrian/Lebanese restaurant. I think this is a re-opening/rebranding of Can Zaman under a different name. (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. July 2013).

El Paso
120 City Road CF24 3DQ (2046 2054)
Tex-Mex take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Jan 2012).

Left:

Sub City (119-121 City Road) is no more; currently non-food.

Right (past Cyfarthfa Street):

Mr Tikka
130 City Road CF24 3DR
Take-away sandwiches (Food Hygiene Rating 0: urgent improvement necessary. March 2013. Down from previous score of 1).

Tesco Express
134-142 City Road CF24 3DR
Supermarket, on the corner just before Treharris Street (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Feb 2011).

Left:

Golden Rickshaw
127 City Road CF24 3BP (2045 1411)
Chinese restaurant and take-away(Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Jan 2013. Same score as previously).

Madras in Wales
129 City Road CF23 3BP (2009 4094)
India restaurant/café and take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Feb 2013. Down from 5 in 2011).

Nawroz
135 City Road CF24 3BQ
“Continental food and groceries” (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Jan 2012).

Swallow Chinese
139 City Road CF24 3BQ (2047 2037)
Chinese take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2013. Up from previous 4).

Mediterranean Sweets
141 City Road CF24 3BQ (2045 2233)
Kurdish bakery (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. July 2013. Up from previous 2).

The 147 Bar (147 City Road) is a private members club.

Right (between Treharris Street and Arran Street):

Xquisite Africa
148 City Road CF24 3DR (2049 8400)
African and Caribbean shop, with section for imported foods at back (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. July 2013. Up from previous 2).

Rocket Joe’s
150 City Road CF24 3DR (2049 2919)
Take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Aug 2013. Up from previous 0).

Italiano’s Pizzeria
152 City Road CF24 3DR (2046 4600)
Take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Jan 2013. Down from previous 4).

City Kebab
154 City Road CF24 3DR (2046 1515)
Take-away, used to incorporate Taco Express (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. Jan 2013. Down from previous 4).

Oz Urfa
156 City Road CF24 3DR
Turkish restaurant, serving “Mediterranean and Mesopotamian” cuisine, which opened in June 2013. Good early reviews on tripadvisor. This unit was formerly Sue’s Breakfast Bar (though it was an empty unit a year ago).

Left:

Jing Xing Express
155 City Road CF24 3BQ
Chinese food store (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. June 2013).

Haveli
157 City Road CF24 3BQ (2047 2772)
Indian restaurant (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Dec 2012. Up from previous 2).

Mezza Luna
159 City Road CF24 3BQ (2047 2772)
Moroccan and Lebanese restaurant (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Sept 2012. Same score as previously).

Right (by the Arran Street junction):

Continental Delicatessen
160 City Road CF24 3JE (2045 2540)
Food store (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. March 2013. Down from previous 2).

City Bakery
162 City Road CF24 3JE (2019 4126)
Food store (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. March 2013. Up from previous 0).


Istanbul
164-166 City Road CF24 3JE (2049 4943)
New Turkish restaurant (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. April 2013).

Left:

Polskie Biuro
161 City Road CF24 3BQ
Polish Internet café.

Easy Shop
165 City Road CF24 3BQ
Polish and Eastern European food store (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Sept 2012. Up from 1 previously).

Right (opposite Northcote Street junction):

The Roath Park
170 City Road CF24 3JE (2031 1049)
Pub (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. July 2011).

Left:

Casa Bianca (175 City Road) has closed.

Right:

Spar
176-178 City Road CF24 3JF
Convenience food store (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. July 2013).

City Balti
186 City Road CF24 3JF (2048 0475)
Indian take (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Dec 2012. Same score as previously).

Andalucian Kebab House
190 City Road CF24 3JF
A rebranding of the Adonis Kebab House, still with the Dubai Shisha Garden.

Troy
192 City Road CF24 3JF (2049 9339)
Greek Restaurant (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Feb 2013. Same score as previously).

Ifatu (206 City Road) has closed.

Pappa John’s
208 City Road CF24 3JG (2047 1222)
Take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Dec 2012).

Left:

Baghdad Market
199 City Road CF24 3JD
Butchers (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Dec 2012. Up from previous 1).

Right (past Glenroy Street):

Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken
216 City Road CF24 3JH (2049 4922)
Take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Feb 2013. Down from 5 previously).

Aladdin
218 City Road CF24 3JH (2049 4922)
Restaurant & Take-away – kebab house (Food Hygiene Rating 1: major improvement necessary. March 2012).

Classic Fried Chicken
220 City Road CF24 3JH (2045 6944)
Takeaway: fried chicken in all its forms (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2013. Same score as previously).

Abo Ali
222-224 City Road CF24 3JH
Lebanese restaurant and take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. July 2013).

Left:

Sahara Café and Shisha Garden
207 City Road CF24 3JD (2048 8552)
Mediterranean and North African café (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Nov 2011).


Face Food
211 City Road CF24 3JD
Patisserie, with juices and smoothies, which opened within the past year (don't need to book).

Right:

.CN
228 City Road CF24 3JH (2048 6688)
Chinese restaurant (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. July 2013. Down from 3 previously; nb. Still listed under previous name Ding Hua).

Chunky Chicken
230 City Road CF24 3JH (2048 0448)
Take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Aug 2013. Same score as previously).


6 Flavours
232 City Road CF24 3JH (2021 0902)
Indian restaurant and take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2013. Up from 4 previously).

Left (opposite Strathnairn Street junction):

Milgi
213 City Road CF24 3JD (2047 3150)
Milgi Kitchen and Lounge (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Nov 2011).

Right:

Tenkaichi
236 City Road CF24 3JJ (2048 1888)
Japanese sushi and Noodle Bar (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Feb 2013. Down from previous 4).

Sweet Sugar
240 City Road CF24 3JJ
Bakery and cakes.

KBS
242 City Road CF24 3JJ
Kebab House take-away (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. Aug 2012).

Taste Buds
244 City Road CF24 3JJ (2047 1467)
Café (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Jan 2011).