Sunday, 30 November 2014

Barrack Lane, Cardiff

When the Food Blog was last on Barrack Lane, in June 2012, work had only recently started on the nearby Admiral Building and only the unit nearest the building site was occupied (Cafi BARICS). Barrack Lane, part of Cardiff’s Retail Enterprise Quarter, is owned by Linc-Cymru, who specialise in the affordable housing, social care and health sectors. Along with 27 small residential apartments, there are 9 retail units along the lane. These are now all occupied by local businesses. Four of them are dedicated to food and drink.

The Grazing Shed
1 Barrack Lane CF10 2GS
After Cafi BARICS closed, this end unit was taken by The Grazing Shed, which opened in Sept 2013. This independent burger joint uses local suppliers and has an innovative ‘Super Tidy Burgers’ menu. The burger menu splits into beef, chicken and a smaller vegetarian section. It was my first visit, so I started near the top with a Spicy Uncle Pedro (pictured), though tempted by the Rasta Hen and other creative burger options. The bread is locally produced in an 'artisan bakery', making for a superior bun, and the sauces are homemade. The burgers are more rustic than gourmet, of a piece with the cobbled-together wooden décor. Ideal if you want quick alternative fast-food (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Feb 2014).

The Magic Wrap
3 Barrack Lane CF10 2GS
The Magic Wrap is a local business founded in 2008 by Ed Jones. It specialises in wraps of a heathy nature, using Lebanese khobez bread and plenty of salad in the fillings. The website describes the bread as ‘made with unbleached flour, light, soft and low in salt and without any added fat, artificial colourings or flavourings. It is also suitable for Vegans’. You can make up your own combinations or go for one of their suggestions. The current favourites listed on the website include Falafel, The Bilbao, Brie and bacon, Spicy Jamaican, Piri piri chicken and the Chinese-style The Emperor with mixed-herb chicken. The Magic Wrap also has an older outlet in Cardiff University Student’s Union (just along from the Sherman Theatre) and a recently-opened outlet in Cardiff Bay (Food Hygiene Rating 5: very good. Jan 2014).

The Gravity Station
9 Barrack Lane CF10 2FR
This ‘take-away bottle shop and tasting bar’ is owned by the Waen Brewery of Llanidloes, which was started in 2009 by Sue Hayward and John Martin, and has that breweries ‘hand crafted in Wales’ beers on tap and in bottles. The Gravity Station stocks the regular T.W.A. (3.7% ABV) and the ever-changing range of seasonal Waen beers, which currently include Snowball (7.0%), which is a chocolate, coconut and vanilla stout, Chilli Plum Porter (6.1%), Blackberry stout (3.7%) and Pamplemousse (4.2%). I sampled some Mistletoe & Waen from the tap, which contains fortified wine and has a pleasing chocolate-port-like flavour. There are bottles from a range of other Welsh breweries available to take-way, including Celt, Otley, Pipes and Untapped, along with a well-selected range of beers from Belgian (include Trappist ales), Germany, Holland, England, Scotland and the USA. As well as some Waen brews, I took away a bottle of Scottish brewery Harviestoun’s ‘Old Engine Oil’. Live acoustic music can be heard here on the last Friday of every month (they had Harri Davis on the bill last week).

9 Barrack Lane CF10 2EF
This small independent Italian café does good Italian coffee and cake. Founded by Daniela Francesca Ferrari and opened in July 2013, the emphasis here is very much on home-made food: traditional breakfasts and lunchtime pasta dishes, with daily-changing sauces, along with soup and paninis. Outdoor seating in a sheltered and relatively quiet corner of Cardiff city centre, which is just around the corner from The Hayes (Food Hygiene Rating 4: good. July 2013).

Loyalty cards are available in all four of these local Barrack Street businesses. I suspect they all have their regulars. It's good to see this street flourishing now the Admiral Building has opened. Indeed, with FED soon to join The Smoke Haus along Mary Ann Street, this part of Cardiff is definitely on the up.

Previous post on Barrack Lane:

Saturday, 22 November 2014

European Week of Waste Reduction 2014

A blog post of two halves today, firstly with information about a European initiative to reduce food waste and then a look at how food waste is collected here in the Vale of Glamorgan (Wales).

The European Week of Waste Reduction (EWWR) starts today (22-30 Nov 2014). This initiative aims to raise awareness about sustainable resources and waste management. In particular, it encourages people, either through a group (e.g. public authority, NGO, business, educational establishment) or as individuals, to take actions to promote waste reduction. The annual EWWR was first launched in 2009 and has been co-funded by the European Commission’s LIFE+ Programme.

The EWWR’s Prevention Thematic Days 2014 focus on the issue of food waste and how to prevent it. Around one third of the food produced globally is lost or wasted, which makes no sense economically or ethically, and represents a massive loss of resources: land, water, energy and labour. Over 100 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU (2014 estimate), a figure that is expected to rise if active measures are not taken.

A number of EWWR food waste factsheets can be downloaded, which cover areas such as food donation campaigns, gleaning and eco-restaurants:

The Eco-Restaurant concept, for instance, aims to optimise a restaurant’s performance in all environmental aspects, including waste prevention, reducing energy and water consumption, and reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions. In terms of food waste, customers are encouraged to take left-over food away in paper ‘doggy bags’, customers should be offered tap water (in preference to bottled water), and more consideration should be given to different plate sizes on the menu.

The information for a Zero Waste Lunch aims to help you dramatically reduce the amount of food and packaging that ends up landfilled or incinerated. Avoiding unnecessary shopping and buying in bulk, making use of reusable bags and containers, reusing left-overs and composting food waste all contribute.

Food can be composted at home or via a local authority food waste collection scheme. Here in the Vale of Glamorgan, kitchen waste is collected weekly from the kerbside. Residents in the Vale can go along to the farm where it is processed near Cowbridge (Cowbridge Compost Ltd) and pick up some of the compost for free. We spread a load of it around when we established the Nightingale Community Garden in Dinas Powys.

The recent background paper on Waste Planning, part of the Vale of Glamorgan Local Development Plan 2011-2026, stated that the Vale handles 59,780 tonnes per annum (2012-13) of municipal solid waste, of which 5,459 tonnes per annum is food composting. It aims to increase the amount of food and garden waste being processed, and use some of it to generate bioenergy, through the creation of a new Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Treatment plant, in a joint venture with Cardiff Council.

In an announcement, unfortunately coinciding with the EWWR, the Vale of Glamorgan Council have said that it is to ration the biodegradable green bags they supply to households for food waste (Penarth Times, 20 Nov). This will make substantial annual savings, they say, because some people request unfeasibly large numbers of them. Although the local FOE group have attached the Council for this decision, it does make sense to issue a limited number of free bag rolls to households with the option of buying more.

The Vale’s kitchen waste system can seem a little overcomplicated. It involves a small caddy in the kitchen, into which biodegradable bags are inserted and a larger caddy to put roadside with the sealed bags in it. What I learnt recently is that you don’t really need the little biodegradable green bags at all, because you can just line the bigger caddy with newspaper and chuck everything straight in there. So don’t get too hung up on the little bags, just get as much kitchen waste recycled as possible!