My Cardiff

As many of you know I have landed myself an amazing new job, however it’s in Reading which means I will be leaving Cardiff in a couple of weeks time.

Cardiff has introduced me to so many hidden gems so I thought it only fair to share my absolute favourites with you all and a few photo memories from my adventures in these wonderful places!

Breakfast

Cafe Pure is by far the best place to grab a healthy and super yummy breakfast.  They have lots of options to choose from and has fantastic views overlooking Cardiff Bay. They pride themselves on their ‘clean-eating’ options and make the most amazing healthy, fruity and fizzy drinks in the summer.

Cafe Pure

Lunch

The Deck is my Cardiff Bay haven! Tucked away down a small road opposite Cardiff Bay Police Station they serve up meals that taste ‘just like mum makes it’. Everything from comforting lasagne to the Mother Omelette stacked with various toppings. I always popped in for their famous bacon & brie baguette with cranberry sauce. They are also the best place in Cardiff to get cupcakes and brownies, with different flavours every day.

NY Deli is my guilty pleasure for a day when I just don’t feel like being healthy. This small cafe nestled in High Street Arcade offers up the most amazing selection with everything from bagels to hoagies. My favourite is the Richie Parks Special; mountains of salt beef and pastrami stacked on top of a layer of sweet gherkins with lashings of French mustard…mmm!

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Richie Park’s Special at NY Deli

Dinner

Gourmet Burger Kitchen was a place I had never heard of before I moved to Cardiff… I’m so glad I discovered it though as it has everything that I look for in a brilliant restaurant. Superb staff, banging tunes, delicious food and of course great value for money too. GBK make the most refreshing Strawberry milkshakes and of course you can get grilled halloumi as a side dish so naturally this was going to be a winner for me.

GBK

Cocktails

Cosy Club is my favourite place to drink in all of Cardiff! The prices are a little on the steep side but when you try the concoctions on offer you will be pleased with every penny spent. My two signature favourites have always been the Lemon Drizzle Cake and the Cherry Bakewell… No these aren’t cakes, they are drinks, but my oh my they taste like alcoholic, liquidised cake…Mr Kipling would be proud!

Cosy Cocktails

Salt is another place I love drinking in as it’s so close to my flat in the bay and the flavour combinations in their cocktails are just crazy. From their espresso martinis to the candy-tasting Jolly Rancher there is something for everyone here. They have spectacular views of Cardiff Bay from their rooftop terrace which is a lush setting to sit and eat dinner in the summer. It’s also a great place if there’s a large group of you, with the option to reserve an area upstairs. They have brilliant live music nights too, be sure to catch ‘Salvation’ playing there.

Salt

Sarah and I on New Year’s Eve

Nightlife

Peppermint is the place to be on Mill Lane! With cool decor, cheap drinks deals and varied music across two floors, it’s always the best bar on a Friday or Saturday night. It can get very busy in here but that just adds to the atmosphere. Their outside seating area is beautiful to enjoy in the summer and they always put on great entertainment throughout the year and on key dates such as the Six Nations.

Brewhouse is the best place for live music in Cardiff in my opinion. Spread across a large venue on multiple levels it’s a lovely place to grab something to eat and listen to chilled musicians during the day, but by night it turns into a hive of energy with the dance floor full every night. Check their website before you go as they always have great deals on food and drink that you can take advantage of.

Live Lounge had to be mentioned! Simply because it’s a rite of passage to go there at least once during your time in Cardiff and it’s the place to end your night. Open until 4am, people pour into this venue already completely intoxicated but that’s why it makes for such a great venue. Everyone is in such a good mood from their night out that everyone is just really friendly to each other. There is nothing pretentious about Live Lounge, quite the opposite actually; but the music and atmosphere can’t be beaten on a night out in Cardiff.

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Ieva & I at Live Lounge after Varsity 2013

Guilt Free Goodies

The lovely Natasha from Guilt Free Goodies sent me a beautiful package the other day!

There was a beautiful preserve jar filled with granola which consisted of nuts, seeds, coconut, coconut oil, honey & vanilla bean. There was also a packet of 6 Energy Balls which are made up of a mixture of nuts, coconut, vanilla and coconut oil.

Energy Balls

Natasha started eating Paleo a few years ago after trying Crossfit for the first time. The principles of the diet are eating as naturally as possible- no processed foods, no wheat, dairy, gluten or processed sugars.  After battling with food demons for years this lifestyle changed her life and helped her gain a healthier relationship with food and her body.

Her baking journey began when she took to the kitchen to recreate her favourite childhood recipe of banana bread in line with a paleo diet. Most of the goodies she sells, she has been making for herself for years and have helped her curb cravings and lose weight when eaten in moderation.

‘Guilt Free Goodies’  came from Natasha’s own guilt experienced when she ate something labelled as ‘bad foods’ throughout her years of trying to gain a healthy relationship with food.

We all know that guilty feeling when we eat something naughty. Guilt Free Goodies aims to produce homemade, all natural healthy goodies. Get all of the taste of something naughty, but none of the guilt! Dairy free. Wheat free. Gluten free. Preservative free. Refined sugar free.

From gorgeous granolas, creamy nut butters and delicious cakes, they aim to provide a selection of products that proves ‘healthy’ doesn’t have to mean taste free.

Perfect whether you are gym fanatics, paleo, have special dietary needs or just purely health conscious. Satisfy your cravings without ruining your hard work. Strictly natural sweetness means products are suitable for diabetics too.

The energy balls tasted like little balls of heaven… all coconutty it reminded me of being on holiday and were really filling.

With the granola I didn’t want to waste the beautiful jar so poured in Organic Vanilla bean yoghurt and topped with blueberries and orange blossom honey.

Granola

Visit Guilt Free Goodies Facebook page on: https://www.facebook.com/GuiltFreeGoodiesAndGifts

or email directly at: sales@guiltfreegoodies.co.uk

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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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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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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