Fancy A Spanish?

I’m quite lucky that I’ve been on a first-name basis with the staff at La Tasca in Cardiff for quite some time anyway, so when I was asked to attend their re-launch after their refurbishment I jumped at the chance!

A vibrant and authentic tapas restaurant, La Tasca brings a real taste of Spain to the table. Refuel during shopping (or unwind afterwards) with tasty tapas, paellas to share and a range of other Spanish delicacies. Situated at the main entrance to The Brewery Quarter, Cardiff’s La Tasca boasts outside seating and an upstairs balcony, perfect to enjoy a sangría pitcher during the summer months. The balcony is perfect for a bit of al fresco dining all year round! If you’re planning a special event or party, La Tasca is just the place – and with a children’s menu available, it’s a great spot to bring the family too.

On arrival we were greeted by General Manager Carl and Area Manager David. Both absolutely charming, they offered us a glass of traditional Sangria and we began chatting about the new decor. Bright and colourful, it’s a huge change from the dark and dare I say ‘dingy’ feel it used to have. It used to be filled with a deep, dark coloured wood and a similar colour scheme on the walls. Now, when you walk in you are greeted with bright oranges and yellows!

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Me with fellow blogger SJ (Cowbiscuits)

 We started with a few nibbles including a snapshot from the Tabla Española… traditional Spanish cured meat with Manchego cheese. There were also segments of Tortilla Española on offer… which is Traditional Spanish omelette.

Image We well and truly filled our boots!

 At this point our host for the evening, Area Sales Executive Liz, joined us and began leading the cocktail masterclass. Informative and fun, Liz allowed us all the chance to come up and make a cocktail of our choice from the new drinks menu. In case any of you didn’t know, Cardiff La Tasca is home to the Chupitos Cocktail Bar… the only one in the La Tasca family!

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I was lucky enough to make the Manzanilla… the only man I’ll ever need!

This was a cocktail filled with Manzanilla Sherry, Sugar Syrup & Sprite… Cue girly squeal!

 Later on in the evening we were lucky enough to have a Salsa class with the wonderful Shahid from Salsa Beuna who put us all through our paces, which wasn’t too difficult after the amount of alcohol we’d now consumed. The salsa classes are normally hosted by the gracious Sabina on a Tuesday & Thursday evening… (She was away during this event).

Image We took 10 minutes to recuperate and then headed over to the giant beast of paella that was waiting for us… We all had a few servings of this! The flavours were exquisite, all of the ingredients were really fresh and the rice was incredibly moist.

Image As you can imagine by the end of the evening we were all suitably full and rather inebriated! It was a great night though and we met some wonderful people.

An amazing night! I will definitely be returning!

Black Mountain Brownies

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to meet Darryl and Michelle at Cardiff Bay Farmer’s Market. This husband and wife team run O’Donnell Bakehouse based in Crickhowell, deep in the Black Mountains.

They make their luxury brownies using local produce and use the finest chocolate from Welsh chocolatiers ‘Black Mountain Gold’.

I tried a couple of their tasters and instantly fell in love!

Last weekend they were kind enough to drop off a box of tasters in all different flavours for me to have a munch and nibble on.

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Naturally, the first one I tried was the Traditional recipe although this was anything other than a ‘basic’ brownie. Soft and fluffy sponge on the inside, slight crisp on the edge topped off with a dusting of icing sugar.

Now I was slightly dubious about this next one as my past experience with orange-flavoured baked goods has never been a pleasant one… I needn’t have worried though. The tang of the Gooey Orange cut through the sweetness of the brownie perfectly, teasing your tastebuds just enough without overwhelming them. I can’t help but feel the only thing that would make this brownie even better would be to use a really high percentage cocoa solids dark chocolate in the base of the brownie.

Next was the Caramel & Sea Salt *deep breaths*…

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I’m a bit of a fiend when it comes to Salted Caramel anything! This brownie did not disappoint, with smooth, velvety caramel and a sprinkling of sea salt it was a party in my mouth and was gone within a few bites… I know, I’m bad… but it’s SALTED CARAMEL!!!!

I really did save the best until last though… the Irish Stout!

The moisture content in this brownie was a lot higher than the others so quite literally melted in my mouth. Filled with a rich and heady Guinness flavour, the burnt flavour that is derived from roasted unmalted barley and a light, smooth Irish cream frosting.

It was sweet enough to be pleasant for a beer unenthusiast such as myself, never letting the stout element become overpowering. This brownie really ticked every box and I can see why people go a bit bananas for them at the farmers’ markets.

So ladies & gentlemen… please put your hands together for the amazing O’Donnell Bakehouse!

The next time I see these guys I will definitely be grabbing one of their Peanut Butter flavour brownies.

Looking ahead to the 2014 madness…

As promised, here is my list of things I would like to do in 2014.

This works so much better for me than a New Year’s Resolution as it’s much more specific than simply ‘Go travelling’ or ‘Lose weight’

I’ve already had some great help and suggestions from people on Twitter and Facebook on how I can accomplish most of these.

If you have any suggestions or recommendations be sure to email them to me… likewise if you’d to come with me or offer to help that’s even better!

You’ll notice that the list doesn’t contain any crazy travel plans… at the moment I’m not in the position to go very far. I have a demanding job and am currently paying off my last holiday so would rather get the things closer to home done this year so that I can go all out next year!

– Make Keeping It Welsh a dot.com    DONE

– Learn to play the piano

– Take the next step in my career

– Move back into a flat on my own

– Get a cover up tattoo on my wrist + one new tattoo

– Become a British Heart Foundation volunteer

– Run the Cardiff Half Marathon

– Go to the MTV EMAs 2014 in Glasgow

– Learn sign language

– Go camping (I’ve never been…)

– Give blood

– Fall in love

– Go to 10 gigs/concerts/shows

Jan 2nd- Smokin Aces    DONE

Feb 3rd- Our Last Night

Feb 16th- George Ezra

March 26th- Josh Widdicombe

– Eat at 20 new places

– Bake at least once a month

– Visit 5 places on my UK list

Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye ( Scotland)

Whitby, North Yorkshire (England)

Clovelly, Devon (England)

Giants Causeway (Northern Ireland)

Fingals Cave (Scotland)

– Try a new sport

Learning to surf in August

– Do something that scares me

Learning how to crew a hot air balloon in March

 

 

 

2013 in a nutshell…

Yes I realise this is probably way overdue…

I had no intention of writing about 2013 to begin with, in a way it’s a year I could probably have forgotten all about for all the drama that I went through… the stress of packing up my whole life and moving here, a failed relationship, and the realisation that I was drinking far too much alcohol in order to cope with the way I was feeling. 

I could have quite happily left it all there in 2013…

I do however want to write about my exciting plans for 2014 but feel I can’t do this until I explain where I’m already at.

I will post later about my list for this year, but for now you can enjoy the things that I am happy that I achieved last year:

– This blog was born…my baby!

– Moved in with my new flatmate

– Won a retail award

– Learnt to kayak

– Held a wine tasting session

– Became a Citysocializer host

– Started learning Welsh

– Aced my fear of dogs!

– Dyed my hair red… for about 4 months

– Went Geo-Caching

– Became the resident Food & Drink blogger for St David’s Shopping Centre

– Learnt to Salsa dance

– Hosted a cocktail masterclass

– Volunteered as a Childline schools service counsellor

– Went to see Young Kato at Clwb Ifor Bach and Daytona Lights at Buffalo Bar

– Now refer to myself Half-English instead of Half-Welsh

Making Friends In A New City and The Big Apple Competition

The end of December officially marked 1 year in Cardiff for me, which is insane because it feels like only yesterday that I packed up my life and moved here with 3 weeks notice before opening my own store. At the same time, though, it feels like a lifetime ago that I was living in Reading with my mum and sister. So, so many things in my life have changed. My life in Cardiff is a world away now from the one I used to lead. 

Since moving here, I’ve had a lot of requests for a post on how to make friends in a new city. And while I, by no means, consider myself a pro, I thought I might as well share what I have learnt.

Now don’t get me wrong… I wasn’t trying to replace the friends I already had.

The problem when you move is that you begin to realise that we’re not all the same. When you’re not living the same life as you did with your friends [wake up, go to work, go to the gym, dating, eat, go out.], priorities become very real.

There are people that will still go out every night, rolling into work hungover but somehow magically presentable.

There are people that get married and have babies right away.

There are those that fly through work, pouring themselves into everything, climbing and climbing… This is the category I fall into at the moment!

Then there are those who are slowly trying to figure it out – manage a balance of work life and  enjoying adulthood.

My life in Cardiff really began though, when I discovered Citysocializer…

When I first moved here, my life was so busy that I couldn’t always rely on my friends being free to visit and to do what I wanted with, when I wanted. So often I found myself missing out and staying in when all I wanted to do was go out and let my hair down.

Whether you’re new in town, or your friends are out of town, Citysocializer lets you enjoy a great social life without the pain of organizing one. An easy way to fill in those last minute moments when you feel like going out.

Members are fun-loving and sociable people…like me… who organize cool nights out and activities for the rest of us to join in with- from after-work drinks and checking out the latest pop-up restaurants, to running groups, book clubs, festivals, holidays and everything in between.

Once you’ve been to a few you’re encouraged to host your own social to pay back to your local community… I’m now an official host and regularly host socials each month, including my regular Tapas Tuesday night and Breakfast Club.

Citysocializer is a subscription-based social networking website. The mobile and web-based service helps you tap into local social scenes and has now announced that it’s going freemium as it looks to drive growth in cities across the UK.

Founded in 2007 as Citysocialising by former BBC producer Sanchita Saha, the app rebranded as Citysocializer back in June just as it rolled out its first native mobile app (iOS). Though it’s currently very UK-centric, Citysocializer has been looking to push into the broader social sphere with a subscription-based approach to finding new friends anywhere in the world. Citysocializer’s app even plots social gatherings on a map to let you see local activities at a glance.

To announce the exciting launch of Citysocializer being launched in New York you can join Citysocializer using my unique link below which will give you 10 free credits when you sign up, giving you the chance to join a social for free and see what it’s all about.

To make this launch even more exciting, if you join using the link below you will be entered into a fantastic competition…

Citysocializer are giving you and a friend a chance the chance to discover The Big Apple in 5*style!

Win a 3 night break* including return flights and…

  • – 3 nights at 5* Soho Grand Hotel
  • – A helicopter tour of NYC
  • – Tickets to the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty
  • – Tickets to top of the world famous Rockafeller Centre
  • – Hop on Hop off Buss Passes for 3 days
  • – Return private car transfers

https://www.citysocializer.com/invite/237087

The Blog of Christmas Past

So I realise that this is a bit overdue, but it’s time to share my festive habits from 2013.

WHAT I WAS WEARING…

MAC Mineralized Eyeshadow in ‘Gilt by Association’

The bold and striking colours swept on beautifully and lasted long into the evening. It gave my eyes a sultry look which wasn’t too heavy for wearing in the day either. Add a flick of black eyeliner and a few coats of deep black mascara and you’re good to go!

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My novelty Christmas Jumper always seems to become like a second skin once we hit December 1st and I really do love mine… and I loved mine back when it wasn’t cool to be seen in a novelty jumper! I picked this one up from BHS online, super soft and comfy it also kept me toasty warm when the wear got a bit rubbish. Plus… who doesn’t adore Rudolph?!

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WHAT I WAS EATING & DRINKING

Marks & Spencer Festive Treats

These guys always send me lovely things to try!

The Glitter Juice Drink was divine! Filled with lots of fruit to keep you going through the alcohol-fuelled festivities but also perfect as a base for a non-alcoholic cocktail- just add lemonade. Filled with glitter…this drink is also great if the kids want their own mocktails too.

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Then there was the cream of the crop…the Salted Caramel gateaux. This cake was a beast!!

Absolutely stunningly presented with white chocolate Christmas trees on top and dusted with cocoa powder, the cake cut smoothly revealing layer upon layer of soft sponge and gooey fudge icing.

Needless to say, this disappeared within minutes of my party guests arriving!

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WHERE I SPENT MY DAYS

After falling in love with Coffee#1 just after my birthday, it has now turned into a full blown love-affair. Tempting me in with sultry names and luxurious ingredients, the brand never fails to excite my taste buds and the staff are always amazingly friendly.

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My evenings usually took me somewhere in town… Often Cosy Club! 

This year however I had the chance to visit Winter Wonderland twice and loved every second. It was great being able to stand in the Alpine Village, sipping an Amaretto hot chocolate whilst listening to the Oompah band and have fake snow blowing over our heads. It reminded me of my time I spent in Finland.

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WHAT I WAS LISTENING TO

Foxes- Youth

Bastille- Of The Night

Ellie Goulding- How Long Will I Love You

Martin Garrix- Animals