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

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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.