Pancake Wars at Crepe Affaire!

Due to a pretty poor visit when they first opened, I hadn’t been back to Crêpe Affaire in some time. However, after hearing about my visit the manager, Ash, invited me to come back in to look at the improvements they’ve made since they opened last year and to sample the new-look menu.

I naturally had to practically drag my friend Sian along with me for moral…and edible…support.

It’s funny…I have a lot more friends now than when I wasn’t a food blogger…weird I know!

It’s rather a spectacle when you first walk in to Crêpe Affaire ; with so much yellow everywhere I felt like Dorothy on my way to Oz.

With the open-plan seating, theatre-style Crepe Machine that you can watch work it’s magic and art deco furnishings you could forgive yourself for thinking you were sitting in a modern cafe in Amsterdam.

I was a little bit disappointed to see their grand chalk board/wall only half finished and a bit messy where things had been rubbed out. Like anything, if you’re going to make something a feature then it needs to be spectacular!

We were greeted warmly by Manageress Kam, who also happens to be Ash’s wife, and she settled us in so we felt completely at ease.

We thought we’d work our way slowly through the weary travellers’ day and start with breakfast!

LONDON VS CANADA

The Londoner- Free range scrambled egg, cheese and sausage (or you can have it with bacon)

The Canadian- Canadian maple syrup and bacon

We were both in agreement that London was the winner for breakfast for us. The sausage was flavoursome and cooked to perfection, all the flavours just married together very well and it was rather filling. Unfortunately for Canada, although the thought of maple syrup for breakfast made us jump for joy, the ratio of bacon wasn’t nearly enough for us to contemplate it being the first meal of the day and satisfying our inevitable hunger pains until lunch.

Next stop for the hungry food tourist…Lunch!

NEW YORK VS …A GOAT?

New York Deli- Salmon, cream cheese & chives

Le Goat Deluxe- Goats & Cheddar cheese, caramelised onion, red onion & spinach

 The New York Deli had been allowed to cool just slightly so that the cream cheese did not melt and the smoked salmon tasted light and fresh. It could probably do with the addition of an extra subtle flavour hint…Naturally salmon and cream cheese are quite bland and the chives were lifted it but still more could be done to improve this dish. I was a little disappointed at how much salmon was in the dish, although being a franchise I fear that ingredients proportions guidelines are probably given to them from the ‘powers-that-be’.

The Le Goat Deluxe, the one we chose as our favourite, really did tick every box. Flavoursome melted cheese, hot & sticky onions and strong, wilted spinach which just added another dimension to the whole dish. Incredibly filling and also suitable for Vegetarians, this dish got a thumbs up from us.

By this point we were what some people refer to as ‘food drunk’…For those of you who don’t know what this means…I am referring to that point in the evening when you’ve eaten so much food that you start talking nonsense and giggling for no apparent reason and want to take a really long nap.

And breathe…Last course…Dessert!

BANANA VS APPLE… Okay, I know, these are like the weirdest fights ever!

Bananalicious- Banana & Nutella

Apple Crumble- Apple, cinnamon, sultanas, crumble, butterscotch sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

We agreed on a draw for these two dishes, as they were both sublime with their flavour combinations. The Nutella had melted just a little which mixed with the banana to give a fruity yet decadent dish. The Apple Crumble was rather rich as it was a little cinnamon-heavy but with the addition of the sultanas and the ice cream it made it light enough to trick yourself into thinking it was a ‘healthy’ option.

During our visit Sian enjoyed a mango, passionfruit & pineapple smoothie whilst I stuck with a French vanilla latte, loaded with brown sugar cubes.

So…overall verdict…

I do feel as though the brand are missing a trick in terms of their in-store offerings for customers. As somewhere that primarily will either serve food for takeaway or have customers in for an average of half an hour eating one dish, I really think that the unit would benefit from a computer bar or even adding Ipads to their kitchen-esque dining table…a sort of crêperie come internet cafe.

However, they do offer free wifi, which isn’t really advertised anywhere, but with the space they have could provide a unique informal meeting space.

They also run monthly promotions, usually coinciding with what’s going on in the world or Cardiff at the time.

Ash and Kam have really turned this place around, having themselves gone through a rather large change going from office desks to crêpe domination I’d say they’re doing a great job.

After a great evening and several long chats with Kam later, we said our farewell…

I have to say my mind has been well and truly changed on Crêpe Affaire! A great venue with superb staff and well cooked food… Will be visiting again!

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Lunch at Kemis

Myself and the man were fairly peckish so thought we’d give this a go for lunch the other day and I’m glad we did. Great food prepared to order and a nice varied menu with plenty of healthy options.

The cafe has a small seating ‘bar’ downstairs, and a really spacious seating area upstairs with great views over to the Millennium theatre.

I had a sweet potato and mango chutney with accompanying salad which was rather tomato-heavy. The fella had a salad with coronation chicken which included aubergine, sweet potato, onion, beetroot and lots more! Both dishes were spot on. For drinks we had elderflower sparkling water and a can of Sprite.

Lunch was a little on the pricey side, we both paid with a £10 note and only got small coins back, but you do get good quality ingredients and flavours.

If you are in Cardiff Bay and want somewhere good to eat and drink, give it a try!

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Brunch at Giraffe

Visiting my mum for the weekend, I wanted to treat her to a nice breakfast so we headed in to town and spotted Giraffe. I’ve only ever been to the one in Reading for dinner but that was a great experience so thought breakfast would be just as amazing!

We had a warm welcome when we arrived, and the waiter said we could choose where we wanted to sit as it wasn’t busy which was a nice option.
For some reason neither of us gelled with the waiter; most likely down to the fact that we hadn’t even sat down before he came over and asked us what we would like to order. I asked if we could have a few minutes to think to which he rolled his eyes and muttered something in another language and then said he would come back…not a great start.

When he came back 5 minutes later we ordered our drinks, the ‘Coconutty Iced Coffee’ which is flavoured with chocolate and coconut and garnished with a sprig of mint…this most definitely hit the spot first thing in the morning. Light and refreshing, it zipped just the right amount of caffeine through our veins to allow us to function like normal people…unlike most of Reading at 9am on a Monday morning… which is usually like a scene from Shaun of the Dead!

We both chose breakfasts we’d not had before. Mum ordered poached eggs with crispy bacon and flat mushrooms- The portions were a little on the small side, especially for the overly large plate it was presented on but it was cooked to perfection.

I opted for the regular breakfast but for a bit of Mexican flair I opted to have avocado and chorizo added in. You can see from the photos how much there was of each. The avocado alone I was charged an extra £1.30 for…That’s more than a pack of 4 avocados in most local supermarkets
Now before you criticise me for not bringing it to their attention, they never came & checked back with us during our breakfast that everything was okay. They didn’t even ask when clearing our plates.

This branch clearly needs a bit of refresher training in how to treat customers – my pet hate is going somewhere where the chefs are clearly the stars yet people don’t go back because of the rude waiting staff who just don’t want to be there. My compliments really do go to the chefs as the food was cooked and presented exquisitely.

Overall this place did the job… just about.
I’ve been to a fair few other branches of Giraffe and they’ve all been great – this one clearly doesn’t have the team with the right pizazz, so I won’t be returning in a hurry.

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The truth…

At some point growing up I decided that the only way to survive in the world was to shut down and close off my heart. I’m sure given a choice I would have chosen only to avoid the pain of life… not the pleasure… but open or shut were the only options available.

Most of the time, everyone and everything around me was inconsistent, physically and emotionally. A broken family, turbulent relationships and an appalling time at school all contributed to this.

Every time I started to get settled, it would all disappear. I had no control, and I couldn’t trust anything. It became unbearable.

I couldn’t make people or the world go away, so instead I shut up shop and hid my true self away from them, behind a mask…

I put a smile on my face, and became a reflection to others’ wishes—like the princess in the tower, a prize to be admired, completely untouchable.

I had the perfect disguise…

Today…years later I am a rather different person,

On my journey to get here, I felt like an adrenaline junkie, always seeking out excitement and pushing it to the edge.

Out of fear I tried to control the relationships in my life, as I had learned to control my emotions. I also looked for others to control me instead, always believing that power equalled love…Oh, how wrong I was…

The truth, though, was that I was still avoiding the depths of my own emotions.

It was falling in love though that would take me there and break me there.

With no warning a man came into my life, and I fell uncontrollably and unconditionally in love for the first time. I was completely unprepared and terrified.

But this wasn’t a fairy tale.

He didn’t rescue me, and I didn’t rescue him. Instead, I saw myself reflected in his confused and sometimes harsh approach to my deep longing.

And after a while, I began to realise…

He couldn’t love me, because I didn’t.

All the bottled pain, loneliness, and rage came crashing out of me like a wild thing let loose. It wasn’t neat, tidy, or controllable. It was messy, scary, and tremendously painful. It took time to heal the wounds that had been left unattended for so long.

Instead, I had to learn see it for what it was—just stuck energy that I needed to release to be happy.

I now generally live my life playing freely in the wide expanse where the two meet, being aware of me, the best I can.

It’s a balancing act—avoiding those extremes. It’s when we master this that we can love freely and live true to ourselves.

Breakfast at Bills

I’ve been meaning to go back to Bill’s in Reading for a while, but every time I was home I would look in at the windows and it was packed full, so this time we decided to go on an early Sunday morning and were lucky that it was quiet and almost empty.

We were very warmly greeted on arrival and given a choice of tables which I always like to have. It was such lovely weather that we chose to sit outside. All of the staff were consistently friendly and attentive, but not overly so.

My friend chose the breakfast which consisted of Cumberland sausage, smoked streaky bacon, fried egg, mushrooms, toast and he asked for the egg to be replaced by extra bacon which they were happy to accommodate.

I opted for the Eggs Royale…a personal breakfast favourite!…which was presented in an almost ornamental way, *I didn’t really appreciate the pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top*, but nevertheless it was cooked beautifully with fresh smoked salmon all on a lightly toasted muffin.

Bill’s has a lovely informal, slightly bohemian atmosphere with a stripped-down interior, a mixture of furniture and features with a great menu. The breakfasts are lush and this place is very popular no matter what time of day so you might have a short wait. In the evening, the atmosphere is more laid back and candle-lit. A really pleasant, friendly, modern place to eat and catch up with friends.

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