Summer Tapas at Cosy Club

Anyone who knows me well, knows there is only one place in Cardiff I continually return to time and time again and that’s the hidden gem that is Cosy Club.

A discreet hideaway, it’s perfectly positioned in a central location with a great view across the main shopping street in the city.

Cosy Club is like a grown-ups’ social playground…Whether you’re grabbing brunch with a friend, booking one of their wine tasting sessions or curling up on the sofas for an intimate date it’s the perfect setting.

I recently went there for dinner with my friend Jack and we might have spoilt ourselves just a little bit.

We opted for a starter each… I had the mushroom bruschetta & Jack went for the Goats cheese pearls with sun-blushed tomatoes and black olive tapenade… These were just so scrummy!

Cosy Starter

We decided that we simply couldn’t choose which tapas dishes to go for…so we went for all of them! The only 2 we didn’t try were the ham hock and the herring as they had run out.

Mini Cumberland sausages with a sticky, wholegrain mustard & cider sauce– 10/10 WE LOVED! If I had my own Last Supper, this is what I would serve.

Crispy potatoes with pesto mayonnaise-9/10 Lush flavours, crunchy texture, creamy mayo!

Honey glazed shredded 5- spice pork– 9/10 A party in your mouth with each soft, gooey piece

Watermelon & crumbled feta with black olives, mint & extra virgin olive oil– 9/10 The naughtiest salad you’ll ever have… Going to make this at home!

Chorizo braised in cider– 8/10 Mouth watering texture, scrummy sauce, could’ve eaten a whole bowl of this

Mushroom rarebit made with their guest ale and mature cheddar– 8/10 Just like mumma makes it!

Home cured raspberry salmon with a raspberry vinegarette– 6/10 Lush salmon, bit too much fruit…

Grilled courgettes, red peppers & roasted vine tomatoes with a walnut & parsley pistou– 6/10 Superb flavours but this dish deserves to be served warm!

Mini fish fingers with tartare suace– 8/10 Always a winner for me… Gotta love anything mini

Houmous topped with spiced sultanas and chickpeas– 10/10 Made us feel very festive, I want to smother this on top of everything I eat at home.

Sweet potato and basil falafels with cumin & coriander yoghurt– 6/10 We are not falafel people, but we tried them and loved the aromas that came from within.

Pulled chicken poached in buttermilk and ginger with fennel & apple coleslaw– 7/10 Bit too much slaw, not enough chicken but blimey the chicken was good!

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Okay…we were so full by this point we contemplated stopping but then we remembered… there’s always room for dessert…hehe!

I went for the Peach Melba Cheesecake which arrived in the cutest jar and tasted phenomenal… nom nom nom!!

Cosy Dessert

Jack chose the Rhubarb, stem ginger and custard fool… It looked outstanding and the heavenly noises Jack made whilst eating it only made it seem even better.

After feeling suitably stuffed we made our way home, but not before saying goodbye to the evening’s host Nathan who always gives you a warm welcome and makes sure you’ve had a great time.

The whole team at Cosy Club always make you feel like one in a million and it’s for this reason that I will continue to keep going back!

If you’re looking for a great deal then head to Cosy Club on Tapas Tuesday and you can get 3 tapas dishes and a glass of wine for £11.50!!!!

http://www.thecosyclub.co.uk/cardiff

 

   

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Summer Has Arrived at Marks & Spencer

Last week, Marks & Spencer sent me some goodies from their new Summer Range and oh my, they didn’t disappoint.

I indulged in the tapas selection in one sitting… Spanish Meatballs, Chorizo & Cheese empanadas and Garlic Mushrooms.

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*Spoiler* All of the Summer Tapas range is 3 for £6 until the 20th May

My only mistake was not checking the packaging first, both the mushrooms and meatballs can be quickly heated up the microwave in a minute each, however the empanadas needed 12 minutes in the oven, not a very long wait but next time I would just do the oven ones first so it’s all ready at once.

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The mushrooms were fairly salty but that’s kind of how I like them, with huge chunks of roasted garlic all over them I was in a sort of mushroom-heaven. The meatballs had a gorgeous tomato sauce on them and their texture was soft, but they didn’t fall apart when you put your fork into them. The empanadas were the real highlight… oozing soft, gooey cheese and then you get the salty, spicy chorizo which works really well with the buttery pastry.

Next up…Dessert!

I was lucky enough to be given two different ones to try… A Coconut Milk dessert with a Pineapple & Chilli salsa and also a Milk Chocolate & Salted Caramel Dulce de Leche dessert

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I LOVED the Coconut dessert! It was soft, creamy and mixed with the pineapple beautifully. I can’t begin to describe how utterly delicious this was, it was like eating a fluffy cloud and then adding a layer of citrusy gold to it. The chilli salsa was great for flavour but the texture of it really was like salsa and the chunks were just too big for a dessert that small, in my opinion.

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The milk chocolate & dulce de leche was a weird texture. It was kind of like a sponge cake, but a really wet sponge cake, like a moist, chocolatey sponge cake…but not a sponge cake! It had a crunchy salted caramel layer running through it too which I could have quite easily eaten on its own. It was rather rich though, and like an idiot I ate both so as you can imagine I was going into dessert-overload at this point.

Overall, I’d give this Summer Range a 9 out of 10!

Get yourself down to Marks & Spencer in St David’s Shopping Centre and grab some ready for the Bank Holiday!

Yes Pie-Minister

I love quirky food… anyone who knows me knows that!

So imagine my excitement when Pieminister contacted me to see if I would come along to the press launch of their new Cardiff restaurant on St Mary’s Street last Friday.

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I spent the whole week building it up in my head, tweeting them constantly and hyping it up to my ‘plus one’ Jack who didn’t quite understand the concept at the beginning, like most people I’m sure.

So how do I begin to explain Pieminister… Well it’s not so much gourmet Greggs as Sweeney Todd meets fine dining (not the dead people part, just the pies) although when Commercial Minister Chris came around to speak to us I had to ask whether moving in to a unit just a few shops away from old style barbers ‘Keep The Faith’ was just a happy coincidence… He laughed and assured me it was!

We were greeted warmly by Marketing Minister Claire who told us we could go and have a look around and then order some food and drinks.

When you walk in you are immediately greeted with a chilled out bar feel, with a mix of booths and tables it lends a very relaxed atmosphere; perfect for a girly lunch or even a first date.

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The downstairs is simply crying out to be used for private/large parties, it’s beautifully cosy with lots of lights hanging from the ceiling and a mix of tables and booths.

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Back upstairs we both ordered a Thatcher’s Cider which was both crisp and sharp.

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For food I opted for the Matador… A pie filled with British Beef Steak, Chorizo, Butterbeans and Olives, accompanied by Sweet Potato Fries and gravy… Perfect for dipping the fries into!

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For the first time all evening we were completely silent, content with our comfort food and drinking in the atmosphere in the room. After finishing we both sat back and took a big sigh… these are the best pies ever! (I should point out that at this point I was slipping into a pie-induced coma!)

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With fresh and locally sourced ingredients you just can’t go wrong and with Pieminister’s ethical values you know you are always guaranteed something that’s kind to you and others too.

Pieminister’s promise to their customers is that they insist on 100% free range British meat (sourced locally), 100% free range eggs, Non-hydrogenated fats and fresh herbs & vegetables… the ultimate in British pie baking!

After being disappointed at the lack of desserts to try, Commercial Minister Chris arranged for us to try some of the famous Pork Scratchings and some apple sauce from the kitchen. They did not disappoint… Super crunchy with a soft yet slightly chewy edge and an incredible flavour, we will most definitely be back for some of these.

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If I only had one criticism of the evening it was that a couple of team members were rather uninterested and one was actually quite rude. I’m someone who champions customer service! It’s the difference between people going out or just ordering things online. Even more importantly in a restaurant where direct service is more heavily needed than in a retail store. I’m going to put this down to first night nerves coupled with the stress and pressure of all the press being there, so I’m going to reserve full judgement until I’ve been back.

Ultimately the evening was amazing though and so was the food and I can’t wait to go back and see how they’re all doing now that they’re officially open to the public.

To find out more visit http://www.pieminister.co.uk

#liveandeatpie

Way of Wagamama

I was recently invited to spend an evening at Cardiff’s Wagamama with Executive Chef Steve Mangleshot to help develop our taste buds and recommend other dishes for us based on what we normally like.

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We were all asked to submit our favourite dish prior to the evening so that Steve could begin building up a profile for each of us and then on the evening he was joined by Food Psychologist & Nutritional Therapist Dr Christy Fergusson who helped explain what our favourite flavours mean about our personality. Apparently my lack of desire for any kind of vegetable means something’s seriously wrong with me …haha!

The new campaign #wayofwagamama is all about getting people to try new dishes, as generally waga-goers find their favourite dish and then stick with it. With the change in the iconic placemats, featuring pictures of food on them for the first time ever, the hope is that when people see the food and what’s in it they may change their habit, or so Steve hopes.

The first dish which came out for me was the Teriyaki Chicken Donburi. Full of texture and colour it looked very appealing, although I knew I would be pulling all the carrots and leaves off (I know it’s bad but I just don’t like the taste). The chicken had a slight glaze on it which wasn’t too heavy, just enough to coat the chicken. Steve started making his rounds and began asking everyone what they liked and didn’t like… Next up… Me… Eeeeeek… I dipped my head sheepishly and admitted that although the noodles were beautiful and the chicken cooked to perfection, I found it a bit bland for my taste buds

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“NO PROBLEM!” Shouted Steve, “Let’s fix that!” and within minutes he returned with two small dishes… One was filled with Hoi Sin sauce, the other with Soy Sauce and I could mix and match until I found a flavour that suited me perfectly. The addition of a bit of a fruity flavour suited me down to the ground and I admitted I would definitely have this dish again.

In between gorging on all the amazing food we were chatting to Dr Christy about our favourite foods and I discovered that cheese actually has something in it which makes it addictive which explains why my Babybel obsession sometimes gets a bit out of control.

The next dish which came out was very much of Steve’s instant creation. I admitted to him that although I submitted my favourite dish as Ginger Chicken Udon that I normally request for almost everything to be taken out. I have the mange tout, bean sprouts and onion removed just leaving noodles, chicken and ginger, simple but a classic!

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So when he brought my next plate out he completely changed my way of thinking about Wagamama dishes. I’ve always thought about what I can take out, but never what I could change up or add in as an alternative. Out from the bustling kitchen came my very own Chicken Pad Thai with little dishes including mint and crushed peanuts, I was being given the chance to make the dish my own and tailor the flavours to suit me… LOVE IT!

By this point I’m sure you can imagine I was starting to feel a bit full as were the rest of my fellow bloggers, but Steve had one final surprise up his sleeve… Dessert… He whispered.

Again this dish was going to be a creation of Steve’s own and was a complete surprise to us and as it turned out we were the first people to try this, it’s not even on the menu yet although I’m sure it won’t be long until it is… Welcoming the Katsu Curry Ice Cream!

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A smooth, light and creamy texture with all the heat and fire you get from a Katsu Curry, it’s the perfect guilty pleasure. Your head is screaming that you couldn’t possibly like this, whilst your taste buds are screaming MORE, MORE, MORE!

The evening drew to a close and we started saying our thank-yous and goodbyes, knowing we were all leaving needing a well-deserved nap.

My advice to all waga-obsessives during this campaign is don’t be afraid to try something different and don’t be afraid to really ask the staff what they like, they know their stuff!

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To find out more visit www.wagamama.com

#wayofwagamama

Wagamamas Winter Menu

I was recently invited to the PR evening at Wagamamas to sample their brand new winter menu and instantly knew I’d be in for plenty of treats!

We arrived on the evening to a whole host of press and fellow bloggers all gathered along a lengthy table at one end of the restaurant.

The restaurant is laid out with a Japanese feng shui style of living; clean, wooden long tables give the sense of diners to eat as a family – everyone sits and eats together.

We started off with their new ultra-flavoursome juice which incorporates beetroot, orange and carrot juice all into one glass. Personally I would have preferred if it had either been made more sweet with extra carrot, or been made more savoury by adding chilli or red pepper. For me, the drink couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be… I decided to stick with my red wine.

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First on the menu…the two new ramen dishes!

The first was filled with noodles and a vegetable broth, heaped with generous amounts of stunningly cooked crispy duck and chilli. This was a personal favourite for me, with plenty of spices and flavours it gave off just the right amount of heat to keep you toasty warm in the cold winter months.

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The second is a polite nod to all the vegetarians who visit which includes a whole host of seasonal mushrooms such as oyster, chestnut and shitake with silken tofu studded throughout which makes it a very hearty dish indeed.

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You will always find different types of Ramen wherever you go, but for any kind of noodle including spaghetti, they should be smooth, ‘slurpable’ (in Japan you are suppose to slurp loudly so the chef knows that you are enjoying it) and will separate from each other.

Next up, the side dishes…both of these were absolutely fantastic!

We loved the texture of the new gyoza. The dumplings were steamed to perfection so that you only had to gentle bite them to be met with slow cooked pulled pork, served with spiced black vinegar and ginger sauce on the side…yum!. These simply melt in your mouth and I could easily eat a whole plate of these to myself.

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The winning side however was the dish of steamed broccoli and pak choi, stir fried with heaps of soy sauce and garlic. The flavours complimented each other so well in this dish and the crunch of the broccoli made it perfect for swirling around in the sauce… They were cooked well and were delicious!

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Now we were on to our last 2 main dishes…we were getting rather full by this point!

When they arrived we were wowed!

The first was a beautifully presented plate of grilled fillet of white mahi mahi fish surrounded by mini sweet potatoes and peppers and lightly coated in a spiced curry sauce. The flavours of the fish were amazing, and this fish is generally pretty gamey…but for me, the texture just made it taste overcooked.

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The next was a popular favourite, the Kare-Lomen which has been returned to the menu after apparent uproar from loyal Waga-goers! This dish is a super yummy coconut and lemongrass soup, filled with ramen noodles, beansprouts, cucumber, coriander, lime and topped with either grilled chicken or prawns. This was definitely my favourite dish of the whole evening and it seemed many others around me agreed. Full of heat, the depth of flavours is almost overwhelming, this dish will not disappoint!

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In between these dishes we were presented with some of their new exclusive beer. Now, I’m not a beer drinker so was rather dubious about trying this…but this is so unique, this beer is flavoured with green tea leaves and yuzu. A delicious combination, we almost could taste hints of vanilla on the end of our tongue… Makes a change from ordering a glass of coca cola I suppose!

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We were at the end…finish line in sight…then out came dessert *sigh*… we clearly have a separate stomach just for dessert though so it’s fine!

Freshly prepared warm pancakes filled with a date and orange sauce clung to a generous scoop of cinnamon ice cream…this dish simply tastes of Christmas!!!!

All in all, I think this new winter menu is going to go down a storm! I highly recommend anyone enjoying a day out shopping to cosy up in Wagamamas and enjoy these dishes, available now!

Travel The World With Marks & Spencer!

So I was lucky enough to be asked to trial Marks & Spencer’s new ‘Flavours of The World’ range. This range will allow you to take an appetizing international journey of taste, without even needing to leave your desk.

I came home with inspiring products from across many different regions and was really excited at the possibilities of how to use them… A foodie by nature, I was already thinking of recipes in my head.

I started with the White Truffle Honey which I used in two ways. The first I used as a drizzle with buttermilk pancakes (my flatmate approved of these)… the second was used as a glaze for roast carrots which came out absolutely amazing…Just brush a bit over them about 5 minutes before you’re going to take them out of the oven. This is perfect with sweet or savoury!

To drink I had some of the French White Peach Nectar which I was dubious of at first as I’ve never tried that flavour in a drink before, I have to say though I was pleasantly surprised. Sweet, yet not overbearing, this fruity drink will leave you suitably refreshed.

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I also nibbled on the mini pastries from Italy which had an apricot jam filling, these are perfect if you want to host your own vintage tea party as they go perfectly with a cup of tea. These little darling mini-puds are soft, just a little bit squishy and the perfect size for popping in your mouth in one bite.

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I was quite lucky in that I held my flat warming party last week and cracked out the Pineapple Chipotle Salsa…man oh man! This salsa packs one almighty punch, but the tang from the pineapple just adds a whole new dimension to it. We used it to dip tortilla chips in, although I would  definitely use this as a topping on nachos too.

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My personal favourites in the end though were the Salted Caramel Butter Waffles…they melted in the mouth, leaving your mouth tingling with the zip of sweet and the zing of salty and were slightly crisp for a nice snap…These are the winners in my eyes!

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This new range is very inspirational and is breaking the mould in terms of what we normally expect to be able to purchase from Marks and Spencer. 

With something for everyone, this range won’t disappoint.