Catch yourself on

Slow, slow, quick, quick…

For a city cat from Cardiff, a visit to the west of Ireland can provide a soporific change of gear. Not least because you have to catch yourself on to a naturally slower local pace of life.

Looking for a quiet indulgence in the national libation? We may not be ready just yet…

And there is a stark reminder that corners here were made for waiting on; even if they are not exactly on the corner! It is what it is, and you just have to catch yourself on

And, just because we are about 25 miles from the west coast doesn’t mean we can’t have a harbour, does it?

If it appears to you that we are ‘a few boats short of a regatta’, well, just catch yourself on

There again, the so-called Marina Point does provide home to further aquatic references, in the form of the Shearwater Hotel

This just maybe the place where the traditional lotion can be found. But, catch yourself on, it will only be served to you after an appropriate settling wait… as the local pace of life is more about quality than speed.

Further indulgence in the life of a snail brings its own rewards, as this is most certainly a cosy home where bovine and porcine companions can be found deliciously co-habiting in a bun…

Those who like their steaks of the lean variety, catch yourself on, and find a healthier part of the world. The juicy offerings here come with a protective layer of fat. But if that is not enough, try a basket of triple cooked chunky chips and a base of caramelised onions. Button mushrooms intrude on the base to showcase what healthy eating could be… if you were somewhere else, that is!

Until we speak again, check out county Galway in the west of Ireland, and Ballinasloe particularly, if you want to catch yourself on to a lifestyle of the slow.

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A religious experience

The Last Supper

“Jesus… it is so easy to become one of the devoted disciples after crucifying some fried oysters!”

Welcome to blasphemers corner. But, that is something that NOLA [colloquial term for New Orleans, Louisiana] can do to you. A recent moment’s quiet contemplation, and suddenly I was there again. The day is 5th October 2017; the time is approximately 9.30pm; the bar is Vacherie in New Orleans.

The snare is a plate of fried oysters on spinach salad with belly pork and a bacon vinaigrette, with a glass of porter on the side. For tomorrow I take my leave, and a NOLA resurrection will have to wait.

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Until we speak again, in memory of Juno & Bella, Veganuary converts need not apply!

Seoul food

As a black cat Juno always knew the camouflage benefits of going around town at night. But being an indoor cat, she was well versed in the art of not bothering!

Batman

However, those of us more adventurous cats realise there is a large world waiting out there. Taking a stroll down the Cowbridge Road, you will find yourself in a part of Cardiff known as Canton; confusing eh? You are nowhere near China; but, if you are paying close attention, some of these bright lights of Canton turn out to be Korean

We enter as strangers in a strange land, as hitherto unseen contraptions hover above dedicated diners. What can they be for? Do they deliver the food, or perhaps suck up your dosh? Or, maybe we have stumbled across some strangely ethnic ‘northern’ traditions. No, it turns out they are the smoke extractors for the adventurous diners who choose from the barbecue section of the menu… as these are the items you cook yourself at your own table!

Us less adventurous cats (or maybe just avoiding the self-inflicted food poisoning vibe) decide you can keep your barbecue, we came for authentic national food, best cooked by authentic nationals.

Kimchi might be the restaurant name, but it also happens to be the Korean speciality dish of salted and fermented cabbage and radishes. It turns out that was something nicely complemented by a side of seaweed… and a Korean ‘Hite’ beer or two will not go amiss!

Then comes the main event, with Korean specialities again taking top billing. This time it is the Stone Pot variety, with beef for the carnivore, and seafood for the vegetarian cat (whatever that is!).

Oh, and why not add a side of Korean pancakes? Beware, too many of those may be accompanied by a visit from the Grim Reaper on heart inspection duty! Just as well those Stone Pots come with a mass of fabulously fresh vegetation…

Until we speak again, this may be a Korean story, but Juno & Bella would assure you that no cats or dogs were harmed in the making of this production!

A Dumbfuckistan Trilogy

With only hours to go before the first Trump ‘State of the Disunion’ address, you can forget any great expectations of a new leaf being turned. With apologies to Matt Damon, there will only be Jason Bourne style amnesic chicanery, but without all of the engaging slick trickery.

Part 1 ~ The Dumbfuckistan Identity

Research recently reported in the [much maligned in high towers] New York Times tells the world what it sadly already knows… that the identity of the world’s strongest country is gun-shaped.

Americans are 4.4% of the global population, yet possess 42% of the world’s guns.

31% of mass shootings across the globe between 1966 and 2012 were by Americans.

In 2009 the US gun homicide rate was 33/million; compare that with countries where there is much tighter gun control: Canada = 5/million, and the UK = 0.7/million.

It is true that mass shootings can happen anywhere on the planet, but they only happen routinely in America.

Perhaps on reflection it was after Sandy Hook, where the mass killing of children somehow became a bearable consequence of the right to bear arms, that the ridiculous national identity was finally sealed.

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Part 2 ~ The Dumbfuckistan Supremacy

“I may be a teenage boy’s ego wrapped in a bum-crack combover to you, but my button is bigger than yours, and it works!”

 

Part 3 ~ The Dumbfuckistan Ultimatum

“If it went wrong, it was Obama’s fault, whatever it was. If it is going right, it will be great, really great; because I did it!”

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Until we speak again, Juno and Bella hope you don’t have too many Twitter-infused sleepless nights.

Doing nothing wrong!

Perhaps the only good thing about a prolonged bout of illness is the opportunity to catch up on some of those TV programmes you meant to watch. Well, one of the more striking ones has been the BBC series ‘House of Saud‘. How reassuringly revolting it is to see so many mega-wealthy individuals, when confronted with the merest whiff of their own corruption, quickly resorting to the time honoured mantra of all fat cats… ” I didn’t do anything wrong!”

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Then take the current Carillion scandal… whereby so many employees and other small businesses face extinction, or at least the loss of their pension rights and other financial hardships. But rest assured, the directors are safe in the knowledge that they could continue to receive eye-watering salaries and bonuses extended beyond the period of their natural incompetence; safe in the knowledge that they feel they “didn’t do anything wrong!”

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Which only serves to remind me of so many politicians back in the recent financial scandals of duck moats, and paid-for penthouses in central London, who to a man (and it usually is men) were always quick to reassure us they “didn’t do anything wrong!”

Piles of money

So, until we speak again, I intend to get all hypocritical about my lack of interest in new year’s resolutions. For 2018 I unashamedly declare an ambition to “do nothing wrong!” (possibly for all the wrong reasons, if you ‘kerching’ what I mean). With hope and a fair wind my next post will be coming to you from a Caribbean tax haven.

Oh Man! The new OMG

The ‘first in the UK‘ is an enticing tag line, particularly when a couple of cats are contemplating a culinary adventure. And City Road in Cardiff has a purrfect range of representation from many parts of the globe when it comes to tickling the salivatory glands. But only Oman outwardly claims to be the first in the UK

Exterior

On first glance, the Al Wali restaurant provides a bright and welcoming interior…

Interior [1]

Interior [2]

And no sooner had the menus been consulted and choices made, when along comes a complementary mildly spiced oat soup before our starter.

Free oat soup

Whilst Junior Cool went for the Chicken Wings, yours truly came for the full on Oh Man experience, so the Kashke Bademjan (crushed aubergine with yoghurt and walnut) provided a tasty introduction to Omani cuisine; and begins the quest for how it differs from the extensive range of Arabic/Middle Eastern options in the local vicinity…

Kashke Bademjan and Chicken Wings

Kashke Bademjan

For the mains Junior Cool again went for the Chicken option, of a Biryani variety. Meanwhile, back in Oman, the menu provides an insight into a new range of culinary linguistics…

Menu page

Lamb Qalia (slow cooked in broth with black pepper, onion, garlic and ginger) definitely got the whiskers twitching…

Lamb Qalia and Chicken Biryani

It was lamb like I have never tasted before; soft flavourful meat with a spicy after-taste that warmed the taste buds rather than challenging through its heat; fully justifying my own personal claim for Oh Man to usurp the overused OMGJuno and Bella might well have been intrigued by the offerings, but the slight spicy bight to the lamb might have caused some disgruntled consternation, and demands for more of the chicken wings!

Lamb Qalia

The idea of a Karak Tea appealed, with an expectation of something exotic. Sadly the exotic was more likely to come in the form of the ordinary Black Tea. The overly sweet and milky (to my taste) Karak Tea, coming with cardamom and cinnamon was served up in the cardboard cup; presumably because the Omani diaspora love their tea to go!

Karak and Black Tea

Until we speak again, the usual eating irons should do for anything you are likely to encounter on the menu. But, if you do come across something requiring more industrial dissection, the necessary tools come wall-mounted! On first experience Omani cuisine can only be highly recommended.

Sword