Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Green Man Festival 2013

This year was one of the best-ever Green Man Festivals. Held in a beautiful location every August near Crickhowell in the Brecon Beacons, it’s about far more than just the music (though the music is great), with the good food being one of the attractions.

This year, four new stalls joined the regulars. One of the newcomers was London-based Anna Mae’s Southern Street Food. Founded in 2011, they offered their signature mac n cheese.

A new discovery for us was French and Grace, who are based in Brixton Village Market. I really enjoyed my F&G chargrilled halloumi Lebanese flatbread wrap, which included fresh mint leaves, a pickled chilli, ‘slaw and tahini dressing. The company is run by Rosie French and Ellie Grace, and their first cookbook ‘Kitchen and Co’ was published last year. I had a flip-through at the stall and it looked good.

We were camped near another newcomer, The Hurley Burley. This campsite Theatre Café proved very useful for morning teas and coffees. Alongside a range of breakfasts and appealing vegetarian food options they had live music, with the staff taking time out to do a few song-and-dance and circus routines. It’s one to watch out for in future years. Other breakfast (and late night hot drinks) needs were met by Cwmdu Community Stall, as they are every year.

The first essential artist at Green Man 2013 was Patti Smith on Thursday night. She ate at the Rotisserie Chicken (Walled Garden) before her set and pronounced it very good from the stage. What higher recommendation could this Green Man regular want?

During their set, before singing their song ‘Kingfisher Pies’, the singer of Midlake said he was making for the Pieminister van afterwards. I don’t have the info on what was ordered. However, this year, my festival Pieminister pie was the Matador (beef, chorizo, olives).

I enjoyed a coconut chicken curry from Roots Caribbean catering, while listening to some soul in Chai Wallahs (the stage with global, jazz and urban music). The curry was very good (dark rum, spring onions etc). Other options included jerk chicken, braised mutton and Shropshire beef, served with sides of rice, plantain, dumplings or coleslaw.

A vegetarian falafel hit the spot one lunchtime - falafels deep-fried in filo pastry served with lemon, hummus and salad - from the Café Moor, who specialize in North African and Arabic Souk Food. We didn't get around to the Goan Fish Curry outlet this year, so that will be high on the list next time!

On the last night, having set up the youngest (a vegetarian) with a vegetable chow mein from the Oriental food stall, I found room for a vension burger (with onions) from the Welsh Venison Centre. I also helped the kids finish a fine vegetarian pizza from Green Pepper Red Tomato in the Mountain’s Foot area; some tasty Mexican food from Bristol-based Poco Loco; and some tomato and basil pasta from the Pizza and Pasta outlet in Chai Wallahs.

The family vote for best chips at the festival went to The Hippy Chippy in the Walled Garden ('Frozen Chips? No Thanks').

The ice cream of choice was Shepherds, who are based in Hay-on-Wye (est. 1978). The youngest always goes for Chocolate, but I decided to explore the more adventurous end of the menu with a Mango Chilli ice cream. This was an enjoyable, albeit one-off, experience: creamy mango with a delayed chilli kick. The two Coffee and Cake stalls (Walled Garden and Courtyard) kept us in coffee and doughnuts.

I mainly drank the excellent Growler, the Wye Valley Brewery ale brewed especially for the Green Man Festival. There were 100 artisan ciders and beers, largely from Welsh breweries in the festivals beer festival tent. The queues at this bar were the largest, with so many barrels for the staff to negotiate and people asking for samples before buying the unusual perrys; so although I would have liked to work through the list, I tended to seek out the Growler in the quieter bars.

The best meal I had at Green Man 2013 was [drumroll] a Seafood Paella from Jamon Jamon. This Green Man regular on the hill looking down on the Mountain Stage consistently delivers.

Not surprisingly, I managed to put on weight during Green Man 2013!

My favourite music acts included Stornoway, Patti Smith, Lau, Midlake, Band of Horses, Rozi Plain, Johnny Flynn, Kings of Convenience, Jon Hopkins and British Sea Power.


Green Man 2012

Green Man 2011


Monday, 5 August 2013

The Old Brewery Quarter, Cardiff

The original brewery on St Mary Street, which was called William’s Malthouse, was built in 1713. It was acquired by Samuel Brain in 1882, as the building in which he founded his brewery. In 2000, Brains relocating to the other side of Cardiff Central railway station. In 2003, the building was largely demolished and redeveloped as the Old Brewery Quarter. It is a partially glass-roofed open air piazza, which houses chain restaurants specializing in European, Mexican and Far Eastern cuisine. Above these are 42 loft-style apartments, centred on the old brewery clock.

On the previous leg of this walking tour of Cardiff I left you on the redeveloped northern side of Caroline Street. Enter the Old Brewery Quarter through the Caroline Street entrance.

On your right:

Thai Edge
Unit 8 The Old Brewery Quarter, Caroline Street CF10 1FG (2023 5665)
Downstairs at the entrance, Thai Edge is a restaurant offering contemporary Thai cuisine. There’s a large menu, with 145 dishes, authentically spiced with lemongrass, basil, coriander, galangal, krachai, ginger, garlic and chillies. The head chef is Surichet ‘Boi’ Patpun. Dishes feature specialities from the four culinary regions of Thailand. Set menus and buffet options may be available. Started in Birmingham, Thai Edge also has outlets in Leeds and Bristol (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. June 2011).

Spice Quarter
Unit 8b The Old Brewery Quarter, Caroline Street CF10 1FG (2022 0075)
Upstairs by the Caroline Street entrance, Spice Quarter offers dishes from across India. Over 80 dishes on the menu. Chef’s specials have delightful names: Dhaniya murg, Delhi wale taw eke thikke, nalli ki kaliyan, Jalandhari duck and Samundri khajana. Special Thalis are a speciality. A previous winner of the Best Indian Restaurant in Wales award. There’s another Spice quarter outlet in Leeds (Food Hygiene Rating 3: generally satisfactory. Feb 2013).

La Tasca
Unit 6-7 The Old Brewery Quarter, Caroline Street CF10 1FG (2023 0087)
There are around 40 La Tasca Tapas Bar and Restaurants in the UK. Family-friendly Spanish meals and tapas, serving a range of paella and other Spanish classics. You can also find more unusual regional Spanish dishes in the Chef’s Specials, including Stuffed aubergine rolls (Murcia), Slow-cooked pork cheeks (Castilla y León), Pimientos de Padrón (Galicia), Boquerones en vinagre (Basque), Pan-fried duck wings (Extremadura) and octopus. Set menus and party options (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. May 2013).


The Pancake House
The Old Brewery Quarter, Caroline Street CF10 1FG (2064 4954)
In a glass box with inside and terrace seating, The Pancake House is a café serving savoury and sweet pancakes, ice creams, milkshakes, teas and coffees. Popular options involve cheese, ham and egg; spinach and ricotta; Nutella; and apple and cinnamon (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. Jan 2013).

In the far corner:

Unit 5 The Old Brewery Quarter, Caroline Street CF10 1FG (2034 1263)
Roast chicken is the thing. My default choice at Nando’s is the medium or hot piri piri chicken. I have ordered off the core menu, with slightly disappointing results. The straightforward options always deliver though. Favoured by celebrities in Cardiff (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2013).

Mia Porto Due
Unit 4 The Old Brewery Quarter, Caroline Street CF10 1FF (2022 7147)
Portuguese and Italian Restaurant and Café Bar, which was previously located in St Mary Street (Porto Due) for 20 years before locating in the Old Brewery Quarter. We recently did the 2-course set lunch. I had the mussels in tomato and chilli sauce (hot), my dining partner had the garlic mushrooms, with lots of bread to mop up. For mains, we had espetadas: grilled meat skewers that were suspended on stands at the table; I had the chicken piri piri and my partner had pork, both served with fries and salad. San Miguel was my beer of choice here. We chose one of the first really sunny days of the summer and soaked up the sun at one of their outside tables. There’s a second Porto Due, in Swansea (Food Hygiene Rating 2: improvement necessary. June 2013).

The Yard
42-43 St Mary Street CF10 1AD (2022 7577)
The Yard Kitchen and Bar is Brains-owned and offers a large food menu. See the St Mary Street post (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. April 2012).

The unit on the other side of the St Mary Street entrance to the Old Brewery Quarter used to be Polynesia, but this closed in 2012. The front part of this unit, only accessible from the front door in St Mary Street is Starbucks.

The Old Brewery Quarter CF10 2GQ (2034 4026)

Behind Starbucks, and with another entrance via The Brewhouse Coffee Shop on St Mary Street:

The Old Brewery Quarter CF10 2GQ / 49 St Mary Street CF10 1AD (2039 9913)
Bar and music venue, connecting to a coffee house and sandwich shop on St Mary Street. Pub food menu with locally-sourced ingredients (e.g., Cardiff Market). Fish and chips, burgers, pizzas (with novel toppings such as leek and pumpkin, and Peking duck), Gourmet hot dog (the Mediterranean Dionysus Dog and Ci Ddraig Cymraeg), steaks and other grills, all day breakfast, wraps and sandwiches. There’s a cocktails and wine list; though not the real ale bar its location and name implies. There’s a good ambience here and live music most nights in the stage area.

Back outside in the piazza and down the stairs to the lower terrace area:

Unit 11-13 The Old Brewery Quarter, Caroline Street CF10 1FG (2038 7465)
Family-friendly Chiquito Restaurant and Mexican Grill was one of the first chains specializing in Mexican food in the UK, introducing a generation to chimichangas, quesidillas, burritos and fajitas. Cocktails  (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2011).

Lava Lounge
Unit 15 The Old Brewery Quarter, Caroline Street (2038 2313)
Nostalgia party venue (70s, 80s and 90s music). Wine, champagne, cocktails, shooters and more from the bar. There's another Lava Lounge in Swansea (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2011).

Back up the stairs and return to the Caroline Street entrance:

Bella Italia
Unit 9 The Old Brewery Quarter, Caroline Street CF10 1AD (2039 9466)
This is one of three Bella Italia outlets in Cardiff. A family-friendly chain of Italian restaurants. Menu features pizza, pasta, oven-baked pasta, salads, burgers and grills. I tend to go for the pasta dishes at Bella Italia (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Nov 2011).

Exit to Caroline Street, turn left and walk along to The Duke of Wellington pub on The Hayes. I’ll see you there next time.

Previously, on the Walking Tour of Cardiff:

Caroline Street

Mill Lane and Wyndham Arcade

St Mary Street

High Street

Castle Arcade and Castle Street

Womanby Street and Quay Street

Westgate Street


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