Peachy Keen Jellybean – Grease the Musical – Cardiff

Cardiff, Lifestyle, UK

Dan Partridge as Danny & Louis Gaunt as Kenickie (front) and the T-Birds in the UK and Ireland tour of GREASE, credit Manuel HarlanMartha Kirby as Sandy and Dan Partridge as Danny in the UK and Ireland tour of GREASE, credit Manuel HarlanLtoR Natalie Woods as Jan, Eloise Davies as Frenchy & Tara Sweeting as Marty in the UK and Ireland tour of GREASE, credit Manuel Harlan

Picture the scene. I’m thirteen, studying for one of my singing grades and my tutor picks ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You” as one of my exam pieces. I spend almost every waking hour listening to Olivia Newton-John perform it in the 1978 movie. Whilst studying for my exam, the guy in my class that I think is pretty lovely tells me that I look like a boy and have a bowl cut (I did). I now not only love Sandra Dee, I think I am her. I watch that scene of her singing by the pool and I wallow over my childhood crush. A heartbroken and pitiful teen. Thank god fourteen years later I’m far more Rizzo than Sandy…

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This week, I kindly got invited along to the performance of Grease the Musical at the Wales Millenium Centre. Now, if like me your memories of the 70s classic are watching it on a Sunday afternoon with your parents and later singing the songs into your hairbrush in front of a mirror, I doubt you would know that Grease was actually a stage musical first. Shock. I know! I was as shocked as you. What do you mean Sandy is actually brunette?! What do you mean there are MORE Grease songs!? The outrage that no-one told me this before.

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I only found out that the Musical actually preceded the film as I gulped down a large glass of red in the theatre bar beforehand but as soon as the curtain lifted and the stage was revealed, I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed, regardless of any differences.

Grease the Musical is everything that the movie is. It’s fun, kitsch, tongue in cheek and packed full of the most iconic songs to ever hit the silver screen, with a few extras thrown in for good measure. This is no Sandy and Danny show though, sure, the main storyline still has them at the centre of it, but, with standout performances from Rizzo (Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky) Kenickie (Louis Gaunt) and Jan (Natalie Woods) you find yourself more invested in their storylines rather than the post-summer fling genre that we have all come to know (and love).

Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky (Rizzo) in the UK and Ireland tour of GREASE, credit Manuel Harlan (1)Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky (Rizzo) in the UK and Ireland tour of GREASE, credit Manuel Harlan

The musical had a lot of qualities that I felt the movie simply didn’t. Despite being almost fifty years old, there is a lot of grit behind the storyline. The plot focuses more around the incessant need to fit in at all costs, bullying and other pressures that teens today still face. I have always adored Stockard Channing’s rendition of “There are worse things I could do”, who doesn’t, but when McCaulsky started singing, almost directing her words towards Sandy, you feel her pain, you start to contemplate just how hard this character works to fit in and the impact it can hold on a person. Something that I know many of us can relate to, especially in the world of social media. Her rampant sexuality is paramount, it oozes out of McCaulsky’s performance in every way. The way she walks, speaks, the way she sidles up to some of the main male customers or shuns others that aren’t in favour. In many ways, this performance, despite still being an All-American bubblegum setting, is incredibly modern.

There are parts of the show that tear at your heartstrings; Jan and Roger performing “Mooning”, Sandy (Martha Kirby) watching on as Rizzo (McCaulsky) teases her in “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee”, but Rydell High’s high octane, free-spirited group of teens are still serving up pure cheese and boy is it served up well. As the curtains roll and the cast burst immediately into Frankie Valli’s “Grease” it is hard to not be blown away with the performance – Sharp dance moves, bright fifties costumes and Rydell High in huge neon lights. It’s simply electrifying.

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A huge surprise for me personally was Darren Bennet’s performance as both Teen Angel and Vince Fontaine. As Fontaine, he is the eccentric, high energy, slightly sleazy radio DJ we expect from watching the movie, his performance during the Rydell Halloween Ball is frantic and a little wild, so he plays Fontaine perfectly. Making a return on stage as the pretty in pink Teen Angel, in a set that looked like the inside of my dream had exploded, Bennett gets right into “Beauty School Dropout” and its a performance that is something quite special, for me, I kind of forgot about Frenchie!

Much like the movie, you simply won’t be disappointed by the musical, it is everything we need in our lives, it’s bright, it’s fun and it’s a wonderful escape from what is a very grey UK right now! Today and tomorrow will be the last performances in the Wales Millenium Centre Cardiff but the cast will be popping up all over the UK in 2020 and it is certainly worth the journey.

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To purchase the last remaining tickets for the Cardiff showings you can use the WMC website.

I was invited along to the performance of Grease the Musical at the WMC but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

What’s on in Cardiff – Autumn Edition

Cardiff, Wales

It may still be sitting around a humid 26 degrees right now in South Wales but last Sunday welcomed the 1st September and for me, that means one thing…It’s officially autumn guys.

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Get your bulk order of opaque tights in before it’s too late, put the pumpkin spice candle and furry socks down, this season there is no room for staying in, there’s far too much going on to spend Fall sat in your dressing gown watching X-Factor. Here are a few of my favourite events popping up in the next few months around Cardiff

Luna Cinema

This is my absolute favourite event of the year by far! Grab your camping chair, a blanket, and a picnic and get yourself down to Cardiff Castle to watch a movie under the stars in the most incredible cinema surroundings you’ll ever see. Luna Cinema is the country’s leading open-air cinema and they pop up in the most beautiful venues around the UK showing a multitude of movies, from the latest to blockbusters to classics like Pretty Woman and Back to the Future. My favourite thing about this event is that you have the freedom to bring what you need. If you don’t fancy queuing at the bar or grabbing a snack from the street food trucks then come prepared with some snacks of your own. You can even bring your own booze. Just leave the glass at home!

Luna Cinema Cardiff runs from September 13th-15th. Further information and ticket purchases can be found here.

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Photo credit: Luna Cinema

Oxjam Cardiff

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Photo credit: Oxjam (Oxfam GB)

For the music lovers amongst you, 27th October is a date for your diary. Oxjam is not only the UK’s largest grassroots festival, but it is also a music festival of a whole new breed; it’s a festival created to beat poverty. Oxjam Cardiff will see 20 different artists perform at spots all over the city and all of the money raised goes directly to Oxfam to help support their work around the world. Oxjam is also a huge promoter to independent artists. Since the first festival in 2006 several artists have gone on to become huge stars in the music world. Foals anyone? Everything Everything? They might ring a bell.

There are few details released to date but keep a close eye on the facebook page as well as the Oxjam webpage.

I’ll be working with Oxjam Cardiff to promote this event so I’ll also be sharing key info closer to the date on my instagram and twitter.

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Rugby World Cup 2019

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Ok so it’s not in Cardiff but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a huge event for your Autumn calendar. One small detail… since the matches are being played in Japan all of the matches are played around breakfast time here in the UK. Now if I know Cardiff, and I think I do, that will not stop any rugby fan in the way of enjoying a proper rugby day out. It just means that you’ll be enjoying an Eggs Benedict with the match instead of a pint, or four…

Now, I haven’t seen much in the way of venues announcing showings of the match yet but here are a few of my favourite rugby spots. Now just pray they will all be showing it!

Depot

Let’s be honest, the team at Depot were always guaranteed to announce one hell of an event timetable for the World Cup and they have not disappointed with their Fanhub returning for both the Wales v Uruguay and Wales v Australia games. Every £5 ticket gets you a free pint. I think that’s a good indication of how this breakfast screening will go down…

Old Arcade

The Old Arcade is my absolute favourite Cardiff pub, particularly on a matchday. I love how it’s kind of tucked away in the side streets, you would barely know it is was there if you weren’t familiar with the area. It’s packed to the rafters with rugby memorabilia and more often than not you’ll spot a few Ex-Blues and Ex-Wales players in there.

Welsh Fixtures – announced to date

Monday 23rd September- Wales vs Georgia – KO 11:45am (UK Time)

Sunday 29th September- Wales vs Australia – KO 16:45pm (UK Time)

Friday 11th October- Wales vs Fiji – KO 18:45pm (UK Time)

Sunday 13th October- Wales vs Uruguay – KO 17:00 (UK Time)

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I wish I could list a thousand more events and autumn spots to you lovely lot but I’ve got Bake Off to watch and a custard tart to eat, but how could I leave you without a few extra recommendations for when the cold weather rolls in? Enjoy!

Extra Events

Wales Millenium Centre, Supper Club

Abergavenny Food Festival

St Fagans Real Food Market

Oktoberfest Comes to Cardiff

 

Club Tropicana, Perms and Neon Scrunchies.

Cardiff, Lifestyle

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I may be a 90’s baby (just!) but you’re a fool if you think I’m not a sucker for an 80’s hit and a perm shoved into a Day-Glo scrunchie. This week, the outrageously camp and hilariously funny musical romantic-comedy, Club Tropicana is at the Wales Millenium Centre starring X Factor winner Joe McElderry and ex-Sugababe Amelle Berrabah. Joe McElderry plays Holiday Rep Gary who delivers each line unabashedly, hand on hip, with a cheeky wink and a fierce sashay.

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Club Tropicana, not just a hit for Wham!, is a slightly shabby Spanish holiday resort vying for the highly coveted Best Hotel Award and what ensues is 2 hours of your favorites 80s tunes, outrageous perms and some very very cheeky humour. The star of the show was undoubtedly Kate Robbins, Mother of Britain’s sweetheart of the moment Emily Attack, with her Manuel from Fawlty Towers style performance in the character of Consuela the Spanish House Maid. Comedy clearly runs in the family because Kate had the entire audience belly-laughing with her deliberately tawdry Spanish accent and her rather rude ‘signs’. In a cute little nod to Cardiff, she dresses as Shirley Bassey in one scene, references Ely in another and leaves us all spluttering all over again.

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This show will have you laughing until it hurts, dancing up out of your chair and singing ABC’s Look of Love for at least the next week but on top of all that, it also gave me a huge hankering for some major throwback material. So, inspired by the showstopping cast of Club Tropicana Musical and some showstopping outfits here are my top 4 fashions that I gladly welcome back into 2019 (by Delorian of course).

1. Blazer & high waisted jeans

This is an 80s trend I am more than happy to see the return of, made truly iconic by the late Princess Di. We may have left the huge shoulder pads firmly in the Dynasty loving days but a good structured blazer and a pair of high waisted jeans is a surefire combo. Go for a mom jean cut for that extra 80s flair.

2. Monochrome Power Suits

Wedding guest? Power suit. Work meeting? Power suit. Going out-out? Power suit. There is nothing this 80s trend cannot prepare you for. Go for a cute pastel or neon-bright to really rock this trend. Asos have some lovely options like this.

3. Polka dots

If you haven’t seen THAT Zara dress yet then where have you been!? If you are hot for the spot then you know this trend is well and truly back. Combine this print trend with another big 80s trend, puff sleeve blouses and you are on to a winner. This polka dot shirt does the job for you and combines the two in one sheer stunner.

4. Graphic tees

The uniform of any eighties supermodel worth her salt. Understated, cool and punching a message to the people, this trend really hit the headlines with British designer Katherine Hamnet’s 1983 campaign.

Some of you may not be familiar with the political “58% DONT WANT PERSHING” slogan tee but you certainly will be with her ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ design that Wham! famously donned. Graphic tee’s may be a little less political nowadays but In The Style are leading the way with their fab Pride and female empowerment tees. 

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If you too want a large, cheesy dose of eighties nostalgia then Club Tropicana Musical is at the Wales Millenium Centre August 13th-17th. Tickets can be purchased from their website or the box office. Use promocode: CLUBFAN to get your tickets for just £20.

I was invited to watch Club Tropicana by the Wales Millenium Centre however all thoughts and reviews of the show are my own. 

The Coconut Tree – Cardiff

Cardiff, Cardiff Eats, Food

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Mill Lane is the hub of Cardiff for me. When the sun shines each bar and restaurant is awash with crowds. Cold glasses of white wine and lager lining the tables, Hoards of people gathered into Peppermints outdoor seating area until it’s standing room only, couples and friends sat on the patio tables lining Wyndham Arcade enjoying colourful dishes from Bills or Ask. In the Winter you won’t find much difference. We are Welsh, after all, there is nothing that a jumper and an outdoor heater won’t solve. It doesn’t matter what time of year you walk this avenue, Mill Lane is always awash with Cardiff life.

In comes, The Coconut Tree, a Sri Lankan bar and restaurant started up by a group of friends that met just outside Colombo. They specialise in serving up Sri Lankan Street Food, but not only that, they also specialise in bringing the Sri Lankan ethos and zest for life to their restaurants.

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The Coconut Tree sits between the infamous 10 Mill Lane bar and the equally infamous and mysteriously named, Private Shop. I guess you could say they are in good company. Inside you would be mistaken to think you were in a cool bar in Colombo or Seminyak. Dim lighting, bright exposed street art, those low wooden tables with the tiny chairs that make you feel like you are at a children’s party, patterned cushions that remind me of *those* trousers that your friend comes back with from their “Gap Yarr” in Thailand and Bali, along with their new found love for yoga and a nasty case of VD. The ceiling is papered with assorted pages from Sri Lankan newspapers, great if you are a cricket fan, it doesn’t take long to find a few stories featuring their national team. My favourite part? The bar. Two pence pieces lined up perfectly and set in place with a glittery resin. If I could pull this off in my kitchen, I would. The barware is an assortment of copper cocktail accessories and brightly coloured ceramic glasses, including the beautiful elephant, Ruby.

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The venue isn’t designed to be your quiet, romantic, secluded spot for date night. It’s loud, the music is masterpiece after masterpiece, the dishes are made to be shared and you are meant to get your hands dirty. They haven’t put rolls of kitchen paper on the tables for you to get precious about cutting your chicken wings with knives and forks.

We started with a few cocktails, sorry, I should say Cocotails, much like everything else on the menu they are extremely reasonably priced. When you consider that you are paying around the £13/£14 mark at the likes of The Alchemist these are an absolute delight at between £6-£8! There may be no sight of smoke or bubbles but these handcrafted cocktails are just as impressive and pack a punch.  We tried the Drunken Sri Lankan and the Sri-presso Martini to start us off. The first is a showstopper in appearance, taste, and concept. Ceylon Arrack – a traditional Sri Lankan spirit, Ginger Beer, Cointreau, Turmeric and Fresh Lime all served up in the cutest jade green ceramic glass in the shape of Ruby the Elephant. It’s very reminiscent of a Dark and Stormy but with a tiny hint of fire at the end from that added turmeric. If you’ve seen my Instagram post already about this cocktail then you already know why this drink is a winner in my eyes. Every drink that The Coconut Tree serves with Ceylon Arrack contributes to the care of real-life Ruby the Elephant and her band of buddies all being cared for by The Elephant Transit Home. The second, the Sri-presso Martini, which by the way is near impossible to say sober let alone after 2 or 3, is perhaps the best take on an Espresso Martini that I have ever had. Coffee-infused Arrack, Cardamom Syrup, and Coffee Liqueur. Creamy, fragrant, far too easy to drink, these are totally lethal because there is no way you will only have one. In fact, of all the Cocotails we tried, that statement is probably true of all of them, even ‘Ruby’s Mum’ which serves five. No judgment here. So let me just summarise:

Reasons why you should relocate your next cocktail hour to The Coconut Tree:

  1. They won’t break the bank. Cocktails start at £6 and even the sharing cocktails start at just £15. Your bank manager will thank you.
  2. They are going to look super cute on your Instagram feed. After all, if it’s not on Instagram, Did it even happen?
  3. Most of the cocktails contain some sort of spice or fresh fruit which we all know is good for you. Turmeric is a super food, coconut is good for your heart, Ceylon is packed of antioxidants, Mint even helps with stress. This isn’t a cocktail bar, it’s essentially a health retreat.
  4. Elephants are adorable, they also need a lot of looking after, Order a few ‘Ruby’s’ and sit back and daydream of her frolicking with all of her little elephant mates thanks to your kind contribution.

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Everything you order in The Coconut Tree follows a trend. It would be an insult to say it is ‘cheap and cheerful’ because whilst it is both those things, it is so much more. The food is designed to be luxury Sri Lankan street food. Reading the menu, it promises an explosion of colour and flavour and Boy… does it deliver just that.

I am a huge fan of spicy food. When Joe first met my parents the poor lad had never really eaten anything spicier than a tikka dish, then my mum serves up the infamous Jerk Pork that she makes with fresh scotch bonnet chilies. I didn’t know whether he was crying, sweating or a mixture of the two. Meanwhile, I’m sat there scrapping the marinade off the bottom of the pan with a piece of leftover bread. When I come across a restaurant in the UK like The Coconut Tree that promises to serve up cuisine notorious for spice and heat, on most occasions I’m left feeling a little disappointed. We were lucky enough to try quite a range of dishes, small dishes designed so that you can share them and try a bigger range. Once the first few dishes arrived my spice seeking cynicism took all of 2 seconds to dissipate. Each dish was punchier than the last. A side of chickpeas would normally sound like a bit of a take it or leave it dish, these were more like try it or regret it. Chickpeas stir-fried in coconut oil, onions, garlic, mustard seeds & chilies and topped with shredded coconut they were full of flavour and carried a good whack of heat, even for me.

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Cheesy Columbo – Fried cheese cubes in a sticky, sweet sauce – £5

An assortment of dishes quickly followed. Devilled chicken wings, Black Pork, Jaffna Goat Curry. All served up in white enamel bowls, all steaming hot, packed full of flavour and creating the most wonderful aroma in the air. The Kotthu, a fusion street food, is by no means a looker, it looks really like a pack of stir-fried veg you’ve just picked up from Tesco Express. Nope, this deserves more than a Tesco label, this deserves a sexy M&S Ad with that weirdly erotic voiceover. Shredded roti, mixed vegetables and eggs running through it, you can opt to add in chicken or cheese but this dish is perfect just as it is, incredibly moreish and yet again, full of flavour.

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Devilled Chicken Wings – £5

Other standouts? Hot Battered Spicy Cuttlefish, covered in a stocky, spicy glaze, piping hot and wonderfully crisp and the tradiitional Hopper, a bowl-shaped coconut milk pancake served with a runny fried egg, coconut sambal, caramelised onions with a hint of cinnamon & Sri Lankan salsa. Mix up the filling and then roll this into a pancake to enjoy. This definitely had a taste reminiscent of Caribbean jerk seasoning, lots of herbs, spices, and a slightly smokey finish.

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Hot Battered Spicy Cuttlefish – £7

This is going to sound so unbelievably corny but The Coconut Tree feels like so much more than a restaurant and bar. It feels authentic, the focus isn’t on creating Sri Lankan inspired dishes with a hefty price tag and suited to a more Western palette, the focus is on serving real Sri Lankan dishes and flavours just like you would find them on the island. The staff are warm and many of them themselves hail from Sri Lanka, they’ve even brought over some of their Grandma’s in order to get inspiration on the menu, it doesn’t get more authentic than that does it!?

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Egg Hopper – Coconut milk pancake, coconut sambal, seeni sambal & lunu miris – £3.50

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(L to R) Kotthu, Hot Battered Spicy Cuttlefish, Chickpeas

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Kotthu – Shredded roti stirfried with vegetables and egg – £5

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Where? 10 Mill Lane, Cardiff

Price? Cheap!! Dishes range between £2.50-£8.

*I was invited to the opening of The Coconut Tree and all dishes were complimentary, however, thoughts are all my own and there was no obligation to post.

Heaney’s – Pontcanna

Cardiff
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Image: Olive Magazine, Heaney’s-cardiff-restaurant-review

Before we start, let me make one thing very clear. I am no food blogger. I would not deign to think that I have any type of right to start speaking like John Torode and tell you all about a culinary experience that I had at Heaney’s. I do however know a bloody good chip.

All joking aside, Heaney’s was just THAT good that I want to wax lyrical about it. After you’re done here please go check out someone like Gourmet Gorro or Octopus Diaries who I can assure you probably know the bloody difference between a granita and a spoon of shaved ice.

Heaney’s is situated on the former site of much loved Arbennig, gone are the cosy oak and leather details and in their place are concrete effect walls, industrial style shelving, a mezzanine bar and floor to ceiling glass windows. The entire space feels totally unpretentious and wonderfully light and airy. We were very fortunate to be sitting in the window and with the light shining through on a warm day, I would have gladly sat there all afternoon, with a glass of prosecco or two of course.

The Food

First up I should explain. As a responsible adult woman in my late twenties, I still thought it was a good idea to go out the night before my reservation. BIG MISTAKE. Feeling rather fragile arriving for my 1:45pm reservation I opted immediately for Bloody Marys and a glass of prosecco. I found the drinks extremely reasonably priced. I had paid £7 the evening before for a sorry excuse for a cocktail in Sticky Fingers Street Food Market so when this Bloody Mary arrived at our table with the same price tag I was overjoyed. You can almost always tell the quality of a Bloody by the colour. You only need one swift look at my photograph to see this breakfast cocktail was top notch. Fresh, chilled tomato juice, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a good punch of spice from Tabasco. Always thankful for the absence of a totally unnecessary celery stalk for which the only role seems to be to stop me from being able to sip my drink and thus splashing it down my front.

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The menu consists of smaller plates designed to share so that you can try multiple dishes. I personally love this concept, the dishes come to the table at a leisurely pace and whilst they are sporadic, they arrive in a complimentary fashion (Light fish dishes to start and finishing with the heavier, darker meats/richer flavours).

A good option if you are unsure what to pick, or find the menu a little daunting, is to opt for the tasting menu (£40pp), you get ten of the dishes of the day, which I actually think is very good value for a restaurant of this quality. As a group of three, we chose instead to “wing it” and order dishes as we went.

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We started with the already infamous sourdough and marmite butter (£3.5). Large, crusty farmhouse slices of sourdough perfectly charred with the most beautiful butter I have ever tried. Silky, salty, smoky – All the good characteristics of marmite without the distinct, overpowering flavour that some of us associate with the ‘love it or hate it’ spread.

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Toasted sourdough bread with marmite butter

The duck croquettes (£4.5) and oyster (£4) arrived together. First of all, I’m not sure whether the croquettes were actually croquetas. Spelling mistake or my serious lack of palette? You decide. Three croquetas sat atop a bed of pomegranate seeds. Crunchy, golden breadcrumbs nestling a silky, creamy filling of shredded duck.

I was slightly dubious of the oyster (mainly due to the hangover, not ideal) but I was more than pleasantly surprised. A light and refreshing pairing of yogurt granita, dill oil and tiny cubes of apple.

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Duck croquetas on a bed of pomegranate (top) and a fresh oyster with yogurt granita, apple, and dill.

First up on the mains, the monkfish (£11). Paper thin slices of monkfish topped with horseradish sorbet, blood orange, and tarragon. This was beautifully light and expertly balanced. The slightly acidic blood orange cut through the aniseed flavour of the tarragon perfectly and made it a beautiful accompaniment for the mild flavour of the monkfish.

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Thinly sliced monkfish with blood orange, tarragon, spring onion, and a horseradish sorbet

The scallop with XO butter and lime was a hit and miss dish for our table. The scallops were perfectly cooked, melt in your mouth texture with a golden top. The XO butter, although hugely aromatic, was slightly underwhelming. XO sauce derives from Hong Kong and is made up of chopped dried seafood, chilli, onion, and garlic. This was a butter based adaptation but the spice could have been turned up just a notch for my personal taste.

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Scallops with XO butter, samphire and lime

The Oxtail and kohlrabi was a standout dish for me. The deep, rich flavours of the shredded oxtail were offset very well with the saltiness of the oyster emulsion, capers, and brown shrimp. Add into the mix a cold, crunchy, fresh element in the form of kohlrabi strands and you have a bloody good dish.

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Oxtail with kohlrabi, brown shrimp, capers & an oyster emulsion

Our final main was my showstopper. Barbecued lamb. What do I even say about this? Sweet, smoky, unbelievably tender and almost buttery soft. I loved every tiny morsel of this dish. I particularly love the use of the natural salt in this dish as a result of incorporating anchovies, samphire, and sea vegetables.

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BBQ Lamb with samphire, anchovies, sea vegetables, and an anchovy emulsion.

Somehow, after indulging ourselves on our savoury courses we still decided to order all of the desserts that the Heaney’s kitchen could possibly offer up to us. Tommy Heaney’s inspiration for his menu really sang through on the cheese dish. A small freshly baked loaf of Irish Veda bread traditional to Tommy’s home country of Northern Ireland, A generous portion of creamy welsh blue, Perl Las and spiced fig chutney. A drizzle of sticky honey all over this dish really made it for me. Again, in a total unpretentious manner, this dish is made to enjoy to the absolute max, sticky honeyed fingertips and all.

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Perl Las, Fig Chutney, Honeycomb & Irish Veda

Finally, three sweets. My absolute favourite was beyond shadow of a doubt, the salted caramel parfait. This little dessert was a small piece of perfection, truly living up to its adequate French name. The yogurt parfait was a surprisingly lovely addition and prevented the dish from becoming overly sweet.

The warm chocolate mousse was uber-rich and uber-decadent. The crunch of the pistachio and a thin chocolate biscuit kept the dish interesting by introducing an alternate texture to that of the soft mousse and pear.

Lemon meringue pie is usually my go-to dessert. I am not sure whether it was because I found the parfait and the chocolate mousse so mind-blowing that the lemon meringue underwhelmed me slightly. Truly a work of art on the plate but I wanted the flavours to be slightly more “amped”.

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(L to R) Salted caramel parfait with yogurt sorbet & honeycomb, Warm chocolate mousse with pear, pistachio, & a milk ice cream and a deconstructed Lemon meringue pie.

This meal was (sorry) properly lush. The food was impeccable, the staff are informative,  the surroundings feel cool and comfortable and the entire experience just feels very special. I’m no food blogger, but I know a very good thing when I see one…


 

Price – £120 for 11 dishes and three alcoholic drinks.

Location – Romilly Crescent, Pontcanna, Cardiff

Website – http://www.heaneyscardiff.co.uk/

Madhav – Riverside

Cardiff

My obsession with Indian cuisine is seriously getting out of hand. Only a mere two days after my trip to Kimi’s Indian Rajasthani food truck I found myself stood outside Madhav’s window, gazing in like Kevin Mcallister into the toy store window. Madhav is my idea of total heaven. A supermarket and a street food cafe combined, you can pick up your spices and ingredients in one side of the store and then stumble into the other for some freshly made, piping hot street food. I did just that.

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Madhav isn’t glitz and glam, the decor is basic and no frills, but the food speaks for itself. Firstly, if you are a fan of Indian cooking then look no further. Spices and ingredients here are a third of the price of the high street supermarkets. In my Christmas fuelled haze I paid an eye-watering £3.50 for a measly three cinnamon sticks in Tesco. After a short wander around Madhavs Supermarket, I picked up a large pack of cinnamon sticks (£0.79), fennel seeds (£0.79), Garam Masala (£0.99) and a large block of my absolute favourite, Paneer (£1.89). Now if you ask me, that is unbelievable value. Who says you can’t cook from scratch for cheap?

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As soon as I finished walking around the supermarket cursing Tesco as I looked at the price sticker on every single product I could lay my hands on, I decided to try a few Indian delicacies. I had every intention that evening of going home to make a crab and prawn stir fry so made the decision to get some Bhajees, Potato Balls and Samosa to-go so that we could enjoy them as a snack before dinner. Let’s just say I made a huge misjudgment and instead I’m enjoying my crab and prawn stir fry whilst I write this a day later.

The bhajees were crisp, sweet and delicious. Everything a bhajee should be. They seemed to have a mix of both red and white onions which gave them a lovely flavour. I loved the big pieces of green chilli too, it’s not often that you find bhajees with so many fresh ingredients but these hit the spot.

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The potato balls were a little bit cakey for my liking but I put that down to the fact that I transported them home in a carrier bag for 15 minutes so the crispness may have been the victim of some unwanted sweating. That being said, they were full of mustard and fennel seeds which provided a lovely crunch.

My favourite had to be the lamb samosas. It’s hard to believe these are deep fried because they taste unbelievably light. The crisp samosa casing was full to the brim with a warm-spiced lamb and pea filling. I often find with samosas that they taste of curry powder and not much else, but these had a real warmth. Hints of cinnamon and chilli made these a real winner for me.

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By the time Mr. PL and myself had consumed everything that we had bought there was no feasible way that we needed dinner. We sat in a deep fried Indian street food-induced daydream in front of the fire and barely moved all evening.

Places like Madhav are what make Cardiff for me, definitely worth a visit!

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Antique Shopping Is My Cardio

Cardiff

Jacob’s Market, Cardiff Central


 

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It’s January, it’s cold, I’m supposed to be in the gym and drinking kale smoothies but if there is one thing that makes January even glummer than it already is, it’s me trying to pour my post-Christmas arse into pre-Christmas gym leggings. So, I threw January traditions straight out the window and decided to get my steps in at Jacob’s Market instead.

Jacob’s Market is my happy place. Four floors of treasures and trinkets as far as the eye can see. I channel my inner Angel Adoree and scour for china or pretty glassware to add to my collection. I even showed a glimmer of restraint by not buying the stack of vintage Playboy magazines after a sudden bright idea to frame them and use them as edgy pieces of wall art. Angel may not be on a budget but I am.

I managed to leave without buying anything this time. Not even a Royal Family mug which is my usual hurdle! But I’ll be back… For the antiques and the cardio.

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Cardiff Farmer’s Market – Riverside

Cardiff

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Originally known as Riverside market, Cardiff Farmer’s Market was established way back in 1998 and is now run by the wonderful people at Riverside Real Food. Riverside Real Food now runs various events across the city but the farmers market has to be my absolute favourite. Located along the Fitzhamon Embankment overlooking the Principality Stadium (MUST NOT CALL IT THE MILLENIUM) you would struggle to find many other markets with the Produce it has plus this sort of view to boot!

The Market only runs on a Sunday, between 10am and 2pm, but trust me, it is so worth dragging yourself away from a Sunday lie in. There are around 35 producers that tend to rotate each week so it’s not a one time visit.

We made a beeline through the fruit & veg, bakery stands and unbelievable looking pizza’s from Ffwrnes straight to Kimi’s Catering truck. Kimi’s is certainly a regular at Cardiff Farmer’s Market, Mr. and Mrs. Singh decided to set up there in 2010 after they decided it would be the perfect location for an Indian Street Food truck using all the fresh produce that his fellow producers have to offer.

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We took all of three seconds to decide what to order and went for the Breakfast Special (£4.50). It includes Onion Bhajee, Bombay Alo, Paratha and a Samosa all topped off with a dollop of the creamiest mint sauce. If you try this prepare for a deep-fried induced daydream. The food is cooked fresh in front of your eyes and I can promise you that even if you need to wait it is an absolute pleasure standing there watching Mr. and Mrs. Singh rush around their little mobile kitchen ensuring that everything is cooked to the highest standard.

The Breakfast Special (available in both a meat or veggie option) was phenomenal, as it always is. Light and flavourful, despite most of it being deep fried. My favourite is Bombay Alo. A spiced ball of light and fluffy potato that seems to soak up all the beautiful juices and spices from the rest of the dish.

Kimi’s also offers various other Indian Rajasthanidishes, including Aloo Saag and fresh seasonal curries. There is only one problem, once you have sampled Kimi’s food it is truly impossible not to go back.

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