Fancy food in Penarth etc.

I’d read somewhere about Etc, Penarth before but hadn’t got round to visiting them yet. Last week, however, my boyfriend decided to splash out on date night and booked us in for our first visit – what a treat it was.

File_000 (68)

A friend who’d been there told me it was ‘very gold’ and upon entry I saw exactly what he meant, but it wasn’t the tacky kind of gold-plated everything you sometimes see; in fact it was all very tasteful, classy and complimented the already-very-impressive (decorative and functional) champagne cabinet fantastically, giving a shimmering effect and a warm-feel to the place overall. Particularly exciting were the fire features outside, reminiscent of a warm holiday evening somewhere in continental Europe (rather than an unusually warm Welsh summer phenomenon). As soon as we walked in the service was brilliant, staff were very attentive to our needs and I was glad to have a window seat with none of that awkward squeezing-past-your-table-in-a-rush business you get in some places that can be a bit uncomfortable – plus, prime position for people-watching. Everyone was enjoying their meals and having a great time, it was a great place to be. And then, we ate…

It’s rather a rare occurrence when I’m spoilt for choice in restaurant menus, but eventually we decided on fishcakes (salmon and prawn served with ‘ocean pearls’) and scallops (glazed with coconut milk and topped with laver seaweed) for starters. Both were very well presented and both the perfect amount so as to leave plenty of room for dinner. The flavours balanced brilliantly, we had nothing but praise for either dish, in fact the scallops may have even been the best we’ve had yet!

Next, after some deliberation, we chose our mains: crab meat linguine with a chilli and cherry tomato sauce and confit duck leg with parsnip purée, a range of vegetables and pineapple jus. Both were well balanced and generously portioned! Sadly I couldn’t finish all mine (as I wanted to leave plenty of room for dessert) although it’s worth noting that this was the nicest crab meat I’ve had yet, it’s been a bit hit & miss for me in the past. The duck also seemed light but well-done, flaking off the bone nicely in the 5 minutes it lasted on the plate before being scoffed away with glee.

File_001 (24)

Finally came the show-stopper, the one we’d all (us and the ladies next to us) been waiting for: the volcano. After years of watching Masterchef I’ve seen so many sweat, cry, agonise over and triumph the complexity of the coveted chocolate fondant, yet this was my chance to finally try one for myself for the first time. Very glad it wasn’t me making it. Moreover, no dessert in my eyes is complete without at least one scoop of ice cream, yet this volcano went one step further and boasted a steaming pink foam that spilled over and gave the erupting volcano effect that was so exciting. Needless to say, the foaming pink cylindrical nature of this was far too entertaining for all the wrong reasons (head over to Instagram to see the video), but it did taste rather nice in addition to the rest of the plate, almost strawberry milkshake-like. On the other side of the table sat the vanilla panna cotta with fresh berries and a raspberry coulis, another first but for my other half this time. This was also was very much enjoyed and well presented.

All in all, we had a fantastic evening at Etc, Penarth and I really would recommend it if you fancy a treat or something a little fancier for your date night (we love any excuse to get dressed up!). It is a bit higher in price than your standard evening meal but we felt this was deserved, not only for the food but for the atmosphere, service and experience overall. For a truly perfect finish, you could even go for a gorgeous evening stroll around your favourite Penarth viewing spot or the harbour like we did.

Diolch i chi a hwyl am nawr,

Charles xx

Pigging out at The Pickled Radish, Llandaff

I’d heard tell of The Pickled Radish in Laleston before but hadn’t yet got round to trying the nearest one to me on Llandaff high street. A few weekends ago when my parents were visiting and we were catching up with old friends, it seemed like the perfect time to try somewhere new.

Inside The Pickled Radish the décor portrayed a rustic, slightly edgy/hip but still very comfortable feel and despite my initial table cock-up the staff were great and found us another tableFile_000 (67).jpeg right away. Obviously I’d looked at the menu before we even entered the restaurant so knew exactly what I was after and had been looking forward to it all day, as I do with most food outings where possible (means you can enjoy more of the experience without having to pour over the menu, plus it’s fun to get excited!). Overall however, there seemed a good selection on the menu including Welsh lamb and some other locally sourced ingredients, a great touch – instant brownie points from me. From a pescatarian perspective, there were a few options; the delicious-looking wild beetroot & Brecon Gin cured salmon or a Welsh goats cheese & onion tart (both starters); but in terms of mains there were only really mussels (which I do love but for me, personally, nothing quite beats The Hashery so far for freshness and flavour) and a mushroom pasta dish (which I don’t love, sadly). If you do like mushrooms though you won’t be disappointed, my mother had this dish and said it was delicious!

After tasting a lovely warm squash soup appetiser, I chose the Fancy An Indian as my starter; scallops, coconut, fennel & onion bhaaji’s and several different seasonings – I have to say, it was fantastic! The bhaaji was my favourite although very small; the scallops were so soft and cooked to perfection it was a delight to eat and to look at, decorated with lovely edible flowers which seem to be all the rage at the moment. My mother had the Green Peas & Ham which was a pea veloute with a little ham & spring vegetable bon-bon and some cutesy decorations – very well enjoyed and even more fun to watch our friend serving us pour it onto the plate!

File_003 (19).jpeg

Falafel & halloumi burger

For mains came my saviour from the chargrill menu: the falafel & halloumi burger with chilli mayo in a brioche bun. I’m sure you can recall from my last post that I always get halloumi when it’s available on a menu, well this was no exception! And this definitely competes with the other halloumi and veggie burgers I’ve had in the past, great balance of flavours & textures and really hit the spot without being too much to handle. The triple cooked chips on the side proved to be a bit too much for myself but hey, the cheese was the important part for me… Other mains in the group included Welsh lamb rump, Sirloin steak and the wild pasta already mentioned. Everyone enjoyed their meal with no complaints, meat well-cooked to our tastes and we’d all be very happy to visit again, only wishing we’d had enough time to stay for a dessert as they all looked very tempting!*

All in all, it was a delicious meal and our service throughout was impeccable. We were served by the acting manager who’d come in from the Laleston branch at short notice, but fair play to him he couldn’t do enough for us! Very friendly and personable too. The only thing to note here is that we were dining at 5.30pm due to a concert in the evening, so we were the only people in there most of the time which may have skewed our experience slightly. Despite this, I look forward to returning – I’ve got my eye on the afternoon tea menu, maybe a few of those desserts too…

Diolch i chi a hwyl am nawr,

Charles xx

*NB: We paid in full for our meal and the restaurant were not aware I’d be writing about them.

Glorious Glastonbury: 2017 Festival Highlights

Yet again, time seems to have gotten away from me and I haven’t forced myself to sit down and write something. Glastonbury, however, was something I knew I had to write about… it was an absolutely magical, life-changing experience. I realise that ‘life-changing’ may sound a tad over-dramatic, but what I mean is that once you’ve experienced the cream of the crop, you can’t go back down. It just won’t feel the same. And Glastonbury really is the cream of the festival crop, the shining beacon of beauty that all other festivals can only dream of coming anywhere close to.

File_003 (16)

Unsurprisingly, the food selection was vast; over 300 different vendors were there over the weekend! Despite all this, however, our first meal was a McDonald’s breakfast en-route (classy, I know)… but what else can you do when you’re up at 4am?! We had that giddy excitement mixed with slightly funny stomach feeling you have when catching a really early flight, yet it was definitely worth getting there as early as we did; we were through and pitched up by 11.30am which is pretty good going by Glasto standards! Not to mention by this point the midday 30+ degree heat(wave) was kicking in… no joke for those who had high-piled trolleys and apparently didn’t get the memo about packing light this year. The anticipation though was fantastic, we were buzzing to get stuck in!

Our first venture was to the Silver Hayes area close to where we’d pitched in Pylon Fields, featuring a few smaller tents, a funky little DJ set up, several very well-equipped shops (convenience and camping stores) and of course food. After an initial celebratory glass of prosecco I hunted down my first meal which, if you’ve been to Glasto yourselfFile_001 (22).jpeg you’ll know, had to be halloumi. I’m a big fan, jokingly referring to it as ‘bae’ on many occasions; it’s something I will always order when on a restaurant menu! So the sesame halloumi flatbread with mixed salad and a minted yoghurt dressing from Kebabylon hit the nail right on the head. I’d have visited these guys again but I wanted to try as much of the plethora of options available as possible.

Not everything I tried was amazing; sadly there was a disappointing pasta dinner that did not satisfy my hunger pangs and a garlic bread that was a bit too big to handle as well as a slice of pizza, but overall the quality and diversity of food available was spot on. Other meals included the following:

  • Crispy duck rolls from the Thai house were a dream, perfectly crisped and really succulent duck with a sweet hoisin sauce.
  • I couldn’t have survived the weekend without an ice cream (it’s genuinely one of my top 3 favourite foods) so somewhere along the way I found a homemade honeycomb ice cream that sorted me right out.
  • Cheese was also a lifesaver at Glasto to be honest, obviously in halloumi form as I basically lived on varying takes on a halloumi wrap/flatbread for the majority of my meals, but two other things that really hit the spot were a creamy and well-balanced mac ‘n’ cheese and a banging late-night tuna & cheese toastie. 
  • Pot noodles and porridge pots were Trangia staples back at our tent, we even joked that I should’ve done a detailed comparison of each supermarket’s own brand although this would’ve meant I’d had to try them all and we were very hungry – next time!

Unfortunately, I was so keen to get involved and soak up the atmosphere (and usually so ravenous by the time we got food) that I slacked on my food photos as the weekend went on and so can’t thank the vendors personally, much as I’d love to! Just trust me, you will never be short of options at Glasto no matter what your interests, especially as it’s widely regarded as the most vegan & vegetarian-friendly festival!

One thing that struck me right away was the bright, colourful flags that guide the way File_000 (65).jpegthrough the main footpaths, glorious in the first day sunshine and gently reassuring us that there was a refreshing breeze somewhere, whether we felt it or not. Glastonbury was a feast for the eyes as well as the belly in so many ways, all part of the theme and the vibe of the overall festival as it was made to celebrate the arts, creativity, environmental awareness and all things hippy. I loved it and this vibrancy and positivity is what I believe makes it so special. I’ve never been to a festival that cares so much for the environment it’s in and this was music to my very ears (no pun intended) as someone who cares deeply about protecting and preserving our beautiful planet – but let’s not get into that because I will go on forever… Despite there still being litter about the place, it was only on the last day that I saw anybody (and even then very few) squat down and disobey the ‘don’t pee on the land!’ posters, absolutely unheard of anywhere else! It was very refreshing and something I was more than happy to be a part of and support.

At the other end of the campsite the colour and craziness continued with The Park area and the Glastonbury sign, as well as a great, tall rainbow viewing tower that looked out over the whole site which was pretty cool. The mysterious hidden/secret ‘rabbit hole’ bar based on Alice in Wonderland, however, unfortunately remained a secret from us this time. Down the road a little was the Tipi Village leading into the Healing Fields and this was one of my favourite areas, all kinds of amazing-looking vegetarian & vegan food about the place (including a halloumi curry that I’m still dreaming about, wishing I’d tried), an actual explosion of colour and wavy patterns and some really comfy looking chill-out tents – this is where to go if you’re looking for yoga, massages or holistic therapies. We were even lucky enough to witness a Hand-Fasting ceremony, the celtic marriage tradition involving promises (like vows), sweeping away your old lives with a broom and bringing in the new one with cake & ale. It was super cute!

 

One of the best parts about Glastonbury was that things kept popping up all over the place, a random acoustic open mic here, a spontaneous circus show there, a popular band doing a surprise set somewhere else (I’m gutted we missed Elbow). There literally was something for everyone, so much to see and do and occupy your time with you’dFile_004 (16) never get chance to experience everything in one go – and I suppose that’s what keeps people coming back year-on-year. Even the kids section of the campsite looked like a whale of a time for young ones, but after all this excitement it was time for some more food, this time a chocolate and banana crepe – deeeelish. I also had a cheeky Grazing Shed over the weekend, would’ve been rude not to! It was great having this little home away from home and if you’ve not tried them in Cardiff yet I definitely recommend – currently renowned as the best burger joint in the city.

 

By the final day, I was dying for some mash & gravy but was gutted to discover that the well renowned Square Pie who’d I’d been eyeing up all week keep potato skins in their mash potato, something I have the weirdest and sometimes super inconvenient allergy to. Fortunately, there was a sausage & mash place nearby that provided me with the vegetarian sausages, mash and gravy I so needed. They were okay, mash holds a particularly special place in my heart as the first food I ever started experimenting with ingredient-wise and being honest, I’ll always prefer my own homemade version. But like I said, it was the end of the weekend and I really needed this hearty meal! It did the job well enough, still would’ve preferred a pie though.

File_000 (64)

Foo Fighters on Pyramid Stage (photo credit: Niamh Flynn)

Musical highlight for me was easily Foo Fighters, closely followed by Biffy Clyro (in the sunset, amazing) and Royal Blood. The teenage emo kid in me was loving life. Haim and Sundara Karma were also really good as they were on at a time of day that means you know the people who turn up are genuine fans and there’s a very nice feeling about that, makes for a great atmosphere. I’d go as far as to say though that Foos was one of the best experiences of my life so far; they’re a band that have been around and in my life a long time with so many memories, so many songs that speak to you and just generally have a great time, I enjoyed every second! And Dave Grohl surely has to be one of the most bad-ass daddies in rock ‘n’ roll… Foos, Queens of the Stone Age, Tenacious D AND Nirvana?!

We couldn’t have gone without seeing ‘the big spider thing’, Arcadia, which breathed out fire everywhere and was pretty cool. After a while though the spider bits got a bit samey and we didn’t fancy waiting long enough for them to pick someone out of the crowd at long last, so we grabbed a pizza slice on the way and head home. Block9, the Unfair Ground and Shangri-La were also good fun, prime people-watching material let me tell you. Jazzy decorations and bright flashing lights with house DJs, even a built in waterfall that was pretty sweet – there was never a dull moment to be had anywhere in Glastonbury! Although the utterly bizarre design of the Unfair Ground was something I would only recommend experiencing in a sober to merry state…

File_000 (62)The point is, Glastonbury was brilliant. A truly unique experience (I’m still finding glitter dotted about the place), one that I’ll never forget and would love to go back to some day. Great music, great food, so many opportunities and experiences to be had I would highly recommend to anyone to register for tickets – or failing that, volunteer with one of the many charities that help out there! Oxfam and WaterAid had several volunteers all across the site, it’s a great way to enjoy the festival for free by working a few hours a day/a few shifts.
Top 3 highlights: Foo Fighters, glitter, halloumi. My Glasto in a nutshell.

Diolch i chi a hwyl am nawr,

Charles xx

Edinburgh Adventures pt.1 – Castle, Kismot & Countryside

I’ve been back over a month now and I still can’t stop thinking about this beautiful, magical place. And by magical I mean literally because Edinburgh is the birthplace of Harry Potter himself, something my other half was ridiculously excited about… But let’s start at the beginning.

Whilst our early morning flight might have at first seemed like a bit of an inconvenience, it did, however, mean that we were leaving Bristol airport as the sun began to rise. It was absolutely beautiful – talk about early morning views!

This also meant that we arrived in Edinburgh and got to the hotel around 8am, way earlier than the standard 3pm check-in, although once we arrived to drop off our bags the man working on reception was kind enough to check us into our room straight away hassle-free – if we hadn’t have been so tired, dazed and confused we’d have acted as delighted as we were! We chose to stay in The Village which was a convenient 15 minute drive into town, also hosting a spa and very well-equipped gym which suited us perfectly. After a last-minute room upgrade, we also had Sky TV and a king-size bed – perfect! A quick recovery-nap later, we set out to explore the city and headed straight for the top of our list: the castle.

File_006 (2)

We were v big fans of the cute theme

Edinburgh Castle is situated right at the top of the Royal Mile, the buzzing main hub of Edinburgh city centre. The architecture of the whole city especially in this area is astounding; everything has original character and you can walk around and perfectlyFile_003 (3) imagine how it all was back in Victorian times, Edinburgh has managed the miracle of modernising and keeping up with the times whilst retaining and glorifying its originality, history and authenticity. On our approach to the castle we stopped by the Luxury Scottish Ice Cream van, this was a real treat.

As we got chatting the vendor proudly told us of how this was a family business for generations, 100% of the ingredients used are sourced locally within Scotland, many of them coming from Edinburgh itself and surrounding areas, even the flavouring used was naturally and locally produced and how this and the process itself was a best-kept family secret which created the rich, creamy texture that made this ice cream so special. And it was rich, creamy and special – we loved it! I’m a big fan of responsibly sourcing local ingredients (and ice cream, of course) and it makes me so happy to see it proudly advertised like this. It really does make a difference in terms of taste, in my opinion.

The castle itself was great fun to explore and has amazing views out over the city. Standing proudly is a huge cannon named ‘Mons Meg’ who has an incredible history having been capable in her hay-day of blasting a whopping 150kg gunstone two whole miles! There’s also all sorts of passages and look-outs as well as live demonstrations of historical practices, yet our visit wouldn’t have been complete without a quick tea & scone stop and a browse through the gins and whiskeys in the castle shop. I came away with small bottles of two types of Edinburgh Gin and a Stag’s Breath honeycomb whiskey, all of which were delicious, as well as a fridge magnet for my mother’s ever-growing collection.

File_003 (4)

Next was our dinner stop which I’d chosen based on a recommendation from a friend and which I could not wait for: Kismot.

Despite being a little away from the main city centre, this family-run independent business is an absolute gem and deservingly highly rated on TripAdvisor. It hosts a wide variety of unique dishes such as the protein passanda, the deshi khani, the Kismot killer and the chocolate massallam as well as the exclusive haggis, marshmallow or chocolate naans. There are still plenty of regular Indian and Bangladeshi dishes to choose from but it’s always great to try something different and this was certainly a treat; I choseFile_004 (3) the marshmallow naan and a king prawn chocolate massallam (featured right) aka grated milk chocolate in a tandoori yoghurt and cream sauce. Although this sounds strange, like a bowl of chocolate sauce, it was actually deliciously creamy and rich and the chocolate added texture rather than overpowering with its sweetness. Genuinely an incredible dish, I would 100% recommend.

Also, the marshmallow naan I have been preaching to everyone about since my return as it was absolutely amazing! Again, sounds strange but I loved it, without a doubt File_005 (4)my favourite naan I’ve ever tasted despite its sugary stickyness. The other half chose the exclusive homemade deshi khani (featured left) which comes with its meat on the bone for extra added flavour. All in all, we both had brilliant plates of food and would definitely go back again – although maybe don’t order too much if you go because we struggled to finish and I was very upset that we couldn’t take it home and save for later (due to the obvious lack of microwaves in hotel rooms).

File_002 (6)

Next day, full of fuel for the adventure, we decided to take on Arthur’s Seat in the (temporary) glorious sunshine. There are two different routes you can take and being the seasoned, bold adventurers we are we went for the more challenging route up, saving the leisurely stroll for the way back down. The views were incredible, looking out over the city with the castle standing proudly over it, this was a city we had instantly fallen in love with. A bit of a scramble and what felt like several thousand steep steps later, we made it to the top and almost fell back down again – the winds were whipping up a right old frenzy and I clung to the summit for dear life. But, views were totally worth it. 4 kilometers, 6036 steps and just over an hour very well spent and would certainly recommend to anyone visiting Edinburgh.

To be continued in part 2…

 

Diolch i chi a hwyl am nawr,

Charles xx

Summer is coming and The Hashery’s got some brand new summer sizzlers!

The Hashery has been an independent foodie favourite of mine since its opening last December on High Street in the centre of Cardiff. Home to burgers, cubanos, mussels and cocktails this place hosts a friendly and relaxed atmosphere with some cool artsy decorations such as comic book style wallpaper and a confessions wall by the bar (dangerous, I’m sure). Recently, it’s seen a surge in popularity since the launch of its lunchtime deal; £7 will get you any main and side, including a classic mussel pot – which for the quality of their mussels is an absolute bargain!! Although the majority of the menu remains below the £10 mark, making it a city centre steal at any time of day.

Summer is now coming on fast (we hope, although the weather can’t seem to decide) and this means one thing – summer menus! This week myself and some other lucky bloggers got a first taster of the fresh new delights launching at The Hashery on 24th April. Here’s how it went…

File_001Firstly, prosecco on arrival. Big tick. What could possibly be better? The dimmed and fairy lights always make it feel cosy to me and with the impressive spread laid out in front of us, we were sure to be in for a great evening.

First tasters were the mezze board and mozzarella sticks: fresh bread, carrot and celery sticks and a homemade hummus dip made for a delicious mezze, much better than any of the times I’ve attempted homemade hummus! (Although I will keep trying…) As for the mozzarella sticks – these could very well have been the star of the show. Whilst presenting the food to us, co-founder Sean Hill explained that from their previous experiences in the restaurant industry food waste had been a recurring, shocking problem. Consequently, when opening The Hashery it has been a key focus to reduce the amount of food waste and to ensure locally and responsibly sourced File_008ingredients, making the freshest and best possible dining experience. Big kudos in my opinion; these are things I consider to be so important, for many reasons, and it makes me so happy when restaurants themselves feel the same way.

The menus have therefore been designed so that all ingredients are used in more than one dish – what does this mean for the mozzarella sticks? Nachos that don’t quite make the grade to be served as part of a nacho dish, having been chipped or damaged in some way, get ground up to form the breadcrumbs for the mozzarella sticks, giving them a unique and truly incredible crunch. I mean, seriously good. I don’t often order mozzarella sticks in a restaurant but I’ll find it hard to visit The Hashery again and not order a portion all to myself – and why not! Honestly, don’t knock ‘til you’ve tried.

Next newbie on the menu: due to the incredible success of the courgette fries on The Hashery’s original menu, they’ve introduced pickle fries in order to revamp (and reuse, reducing waste) the humble pickle so many of us overlook and/or carefully pick out of a burger. Some weren’t so keen on this idea, but having given them a go I can confirm they were actually pretty nice – although personally, the courgette fries still come up trumps.

File_000 (1)One of the key specialities of The Hashery (and my personal favourite) is the mussel pots; they’re so fresh you’d think you were in Cornwall or by the sea somewhere and so so tasty because of it! The new pot on this summer menu is The Orchard and as per usual it was super fresh and super tasty, I really can’t recommend the mussels enough. I still stand by the statement in my first post about these guys; these are the best mussels I’ve yet had the pleasure of devouring in my 22 years on this Earth. So good that tearing up the bread and absorbing every last possible mouthful of the glorious sauce these beauties come in isn’t even a question: it’s a must. I already want more just thinking about it…

The new summer menu also has some tantalisingly good-looking meat-eater options available: an absolutely huge beast of a burger called Dead Man and the only burger of theirs over the £10 price mark (modelled by co-founder Oscar GarciaFile_002 (3) in the photo). TWO homemade 6 oz patties, two lots of American cheese, pulled pork, crispy onions and your usual lettuce & tomato are crammed into this beast, however, and I’m sure I spotted an onion ring in there somewhere too. Although I couldn’t try this personally I heard no complaints from others around the room, so I imagine you get a good deal for your money’s worth. The other new meat option is a super fresh minute steak (and steak sandwich) which, as the name suggests, is cooked within minutes and served straight onto your lucky plate. These steaks are no exception to the local, responsible sourcing rule might I add, so definitely worth a try if steak is your thing.

File_001 (1)

“The tart that’s bound to finish you off…”

Next, Sean introduced us to the “the tart that’s bound to finish you off”… to which he was referring to tiramisu, but needless to say that got some of us giggling away as a personal highlight of the evening. Desserts have made their debut on this new summer menu: Hashery brownie, salted caramel cheesecake, churros (brilliant! Who doesn’t love churros?!), market strawberries ice cream & cream (again, yay for local sourcing!), and our tarty friend the tiramisu. And boy, was she boozy! This was another dish like the mozzarella sticks that I normally wouldn’t order in a restaurant, yet have now been converted by The Hashery folks. Definitely worth a try, I fully intend on returning to try some of the other desserts as they all sound delicious!

Cocktails were the perfect end to the evening. And to any evening, in fact. The other main speciality of The Hashery besides their marvellous mussels is their 2-4-1 cocktails all day, every day for only £6.95; this is where co-founder Barnaby Bell comes into his element. Whilst some particular cocktail connoisseur friends of mine haven’t been so impressed as myself here before, I feel pretty confident that these new offerings will bring them around, especially sat outside in the summer sun looking out onto Cardiff Castle and people-watching all the passers by. The new and improved cocktail menu has now been colour-coded by main ingredient i.e. gin, vodka, tequila etc. making it easier than ever before to find something for everyone.

Summer Garden and Respect Your Elderflowers tasted smooth and refreshing whilst P.I.M.P My Pimms had a cheeky something extra on your usual summer sipper. Electric Tea is one I’d recommend having had it a few times now: rum, tequila, vodka, triple sec and blue curacao – sounds like a lot but it really does zing! Plus, 50p from every purchase of this cocktail goes towards charities supported by the lovely guys at The Hashery, what a great idea!

File_007 (1)Veering away from the 2-4-1 menu we have the Bulldog Margarita which was unlike anything I’ve ever tried before and something I would seriously recommend as a brilliant pre-drink; a frozen margarita, heavy on the tequila, with two coronas artfully resting against the sides of the funky skull fishbowl. It was buzzing and it was brilliant, in my opinion. If you love tequila you’ll LOVE this! Finally, I had the absolute pleasure of trying one of the dessert cocktails: lemon meringue cheesecake. I’ve never had this kind of cocktail before so didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed! Very sweet with a milky, creamy texture and some crumbled biscuit on top it was a lovely finisher to a great evening. (Top tip for extra fun: if you want a real palate cleansing kick just ask about the special shots…)

The Hashery continue to impress me every time I visit, both in terms of brilliant food and attentive customer service. Sean, Oscar and Barnaby are always more than happy to help in any way they can. This new menu definitely got me feeling the summer vibes and I for one can’t wait to be sat outside in the sunshine enjoying my brand new mozzarella dippers with a delicious mussel pot and some summer cocktails. I really hope you do the same!

Diolch i chi a hwyl am nawr,

Charles xx

P.S. Shout-out to my new blogger friends Sheri & Charlotte, lovely to meet you both!

Charlie’s Crackin’ Curry

I love going out for a curry just as much as the next person, but when you’re trying to watch your portions and eat healthily, cooking them at home can be just as quick and easy to do – and saves on the pennies too!

It’s so quick and simple in fact, that I thought I’d share with you all my go-to homemade curry that you can chuck in the pan and job’s a good’un. It’s got great natural protein and can be tailored to your own individual preference by adding potato chunks, butternut squash and any vegetables you like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely choppedFile_000 (53)
  • 1 large tin chickpeas
  • 2 packets king prawns/1 packet shrimp
  • red lentils, as many as you like
  • desiccated coconut (as much as you like)
  • 1 tin coconut milk*
  • 2-3tsp mild or medium curry powder
  • coriander (can be fresh or dried)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (to taste)
  • grated or ground ginger, to taste
  • 2 sliced peppers
  • olive oil
  • chilli flakes (optional)

Method:

  1. Chop/prepare all the ingredients. Then fry the onions & peppers in a pan with some olive oil until the onions start to brown
  2. Add the garlic and the curry powder, mix with the oil (adding a bit more if necessary) to form a sort of paste, let it all fry for another few mins
  3. Add the coconut milk*, chickpeas, lentils and any additional spices and stir in, reducing the heat and simmering – should be a light to medium brown colour
  4. Keep stirring and add in the coconut, coriander (a chopped handful if fresh, a large sprinkle if dried) and any salt and pepper and keep seasoning to taste
  5. In the last few minutes, add in the prawns (and the chilli flakes if you fancy) and mix altogether
  6. Serve with basmati or brown rice and enjoy!

*coconut milk can also be substituted with normal milk and some curry paste, just omit the curry powder if doing so [some may prefer this to avoid the xantham gum found in tinned coconut milk]

This is one of my favourite go-to recipes when cooking for friends as it’s so easily adaptable, however it’s also perfect if you fancy a treat meal without having to compromise your diet or break the bank! If you give this a try or make some variations for yourself I’d love for you to let me know by tagging the @charlieschapter instagram in your post or dropping me a message! Hope you enjoy 🙂

Diolch i chi a hwyl am nawr,

Charles xx

Meat the new kid at 156

File_000 (50)Today marks the official opening of Meat at 156, City Road’s newest independent burger bar; I seriously recommend you get yourself down there. Great burgers and even better milkshakes, this is one to watch!

We arrived at the bloggers launch event on Saturday night not knowing what to expect (this was my first launch event, scary but exciting!) and boy were we impressed. Very welcoming and super friendly, the staff were great fetching us anything and everything we needed. First of all we tried the milkshakes: mine was a bubblegum and my flatmate went File_005 (9)for Oreo, both were incredible! Just the right amount of creamy thickness without feeling like a dairy overload, mine was wonderfully sweet and bubblegum-like without tasting sickly, it was brilliant! The only thing could’ve made it better was the addition of some bubblegum flavour millions sweets and that would be the dream… My flatmate went for the Oreo milkshake to begin and this, again, was amazing. Often you can find that Oreo milkshakes are too bitty with biscuit chunks and these can be too big to fit in the straw etc (all together a bit of a faff) but this wasn’t the case at Meat at 156. These were ones that Kelis was talking about… hands-down the best milkshakes we’ve ever had and would 100% go back again for these alone – honestly go give them a try!

Next was a burger and chips each: The Texan consisted of a beef patty with cheddar cheese, hickory BBQ sauce and fried onion rings – it was a beast! The meat was succulent and all the ingredients worked perfectly together I’m told, so top marks for this one. Mine was a Meat At Signature burger with two Quorn patties, American cheese and the Meat At signature sauce. Deeelish.
I’ve always wondered why restaurants don’t seem to serve Quorn, I’d rather that than some of the sad excuses of veggie burgers I’ve had before (you know, the ones that are literally just some potato and frozen veg shoved together in breadcrumbs), I think it’s brill! The signature sauce had little bits of coleslaw-type crunchiness in it and definitely made the burger, I can’t figure out what exactly it was and I don’t want to, just trust me it was lush. Will definitely be having again! The chips came along in cute little baskets and were just the right kind of skinny fries without the excessive saltiness that you can sometimes get from certain popular fast-food restaurants (not naming any names). Also, you can’t beat a cracking coleslaw on the side. Altogether, despite normally being a sweet potato fries fan all-the-way, this really hit the spot.

File_003 (11)Speaking of fries, the dirty fries next appeared on our table. A plate of them covered in a cottage-style cheese that I was a big fan of, BBQ sauce and some smoked paprika for a bit of spice. Following burgers and milkshakes, the other speciality of this brand new hotspot is steaks and I’m told they’re incredible. Perfectly tender with a great range of sauces available, they arrived on a platter with grilled tomatoes, a grilled mushroom, a corn on the cob and another basket of fries. My Quorn substitute was two Quorn patties and two spicy Quorn sausages and went really well the black pepper sauce, although corn on the cob is one of my all time favourites so this kinda stole the show for me for this course! Seriously though, if you’re a steak fan this is 100% worth a try!

And for the grand finale: dessert. Now this, was a dream. The chocolate brownies [photo above courtesy of the Meat at 156 twitter – I was too busy scoffing it down] had a crumbly outside and luxury gooey soft centre, making them perfect for everyone no matter your texture preference (mine was gooey, my flatmate’s was crumbly). Served with a side of smooth ice cream you’re onto a winner! Alternatively, if you’re not a chocoholic there was also a lovely warm sticky toffee pudding that contrasted perfectly with the ice cream to leave me very happy indeed and verrrry full! Would definitely recommend.

Image

Myself enjoying the food! (Excuse rabbit hands)

All in all, it was a great evening of great food, I definitely walked (waddled) away about four times the size! If you’re after somewhere new and a bit different then try City Road’s latest, it opens officially to the public tonight! Great burgers, great steak, the best milkshakes. What’s not to love?!

Diolch i chi a hwyl am nawr,

Charles xx