The Mouse Hunter

Watching somethingDown Mexico way there is a celebrity mouse called Speedy Gonzalez, or so I’m told. Just how speedy would be put to the test if a cool cat appeared amongst the celebrities! But where do I begin my search for a Mexican cultural icon from a starting point somewhere in Cardiff?

My interest is immediately piqued as my recent stroll into the town centre was arrested by the sight of Wahaca (isn’t that ‘whatever‘ in Spanish? Probably not!).

Wahaca [1]

 

 

A promising sign read Mexican Market Eating, so ‘no better place to find a mouse‘ I thought, with no intentional reflection on what turns out to be impeccably clean standards.

Wahaca [4]

This supposedly colourful character is not going to be easy to find amongst the camouflage provided by brightly lit colours, with lines and patterns throughout the establishment rendering a relaxed cat quite disorientated…

Wahaca [2]Wahaca [3]

 

 

 

 

 

But the ultimate deception is provided by the menu of delights on offer. Who can still be thinking of a pesky celebrity mouse when your attention is drawn to a tasty range of tacos, tostadas, taquitos, quesadillas, empanadas and burritos. Chicken, chorizo, a variety of fish, avocado, pumpkin, peppers, spinach, and a range of spicy sauces and marinades. This is not the kind of stuff I find in my bowl on a daily basis, so I’m in for a special treat.

Wahaca [5] The Modelo Especial Mexican beer compliments the whole Mexican flavour of the moment. For a shared starter I and my Brighton resident visiting cat went for the tortilla chips with guacamole and fresh tomato salsa dips. Chunky home cooked tortilla makes a great change from nachos resembling little more than UK crisps.

Wahaca [6]

But this was just a delicious appetiser before the explosion of taste provided by the main dishes of Pasilla Chicken Tacos with a habanero salsa and side of black beans and green rice; and Marinated Grilled Chicken in Yucatan spices…

Wahaca [7]There were so many more great dishes to sample, but we were already stuffed at this point. All I can say to any cats in the vicinity is get your tail around Wahaca as soon as you can, you won’t be disappointed.

Sleeping catUntil we speak again I’m going to be a ‘contento/feliz’ cool cat called Bella. As for my ‘in-house chef’ all I can say is get learning from Wahaca, and in the meantime find me that pesky mouse.

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[Football explained, or not!] G is for…

GRUDGE… as my in-house ‘Genial General‘ prepares for the visit of the rivals from across the River Severn, whose name should not be uttered! Apparently this is a goad germinated in childhood that generates grievance at the memories of galling gallantry unrewarded. “Grow up”  is what comes to mind for me! Meanwhile, on the pitch, it seems that the rivals compete at the genius idea of gladiatorial grappling in preparation for the big game…

City v Bristol City [2]

However, as the teams line-up for kick-off it becomes clear that G is for GRATUITOUS, as any gauntlet of rivalry is quickly gobbled up in the genealogy of those on display. Just how many Cardiff players are Cardiffians, or Bristol players Bristolians?

City v Bristol City [3]By the half-time whistle G is beginning to represent GENTEEL, as the garrulous gathering are given mere gesture rather than glamour or glory. The gainful gravitas of the substitute gophers provides more grace than the gaffe-prone galaxy grovelling in the gloom of the changing rooms.

City v Bristol City [4]Finally, it would appear that G is for GUNGE, as the guarantee of glamorous galacticos’ offering guile and gloss belongs in a far distant groove; only to be replaced by ginormous gimps providing a gallery of garbage best summed up as guano. The grating grimace of a glance at the final scoreboard is only gazumped by the guiltless gargoyles on the pitch grubbing for garlands.

City v Bristol City [5]Relaxed rugbyUntil we speak again I will continue to be Bella, though on the display just portrayed I might stick with the funny shaped ball game… and for the record it was Cardiff City 0 Bristol City 0, with the locals having played 13, won 5, drawn 6, and lost 2, which puts them currently 8th in the league (though God knows how!).

[Football explained, or not!] F is for…

FERVENT… as the local taunt to the opposition is a rendition of ‘Men of Harlech‘ with the uncompromising line that ‘Welshmen will not yield‘!

Welshmen will not yield

But, all too noticeably, F is for FASTIDIOUSLY… as in staying away. There used to be a favourite newspaper competition entitled ‘Spot the ball‘ where a picture of live action was shown with the ball removed and readers were invited to put a cross where they think the ball is on the photograph. It seems that the un-yielding Welshmen of Cardiff City FC have become ‘Spot the crowd!

City v Middlesborough [1]Fear not my good readers, for down at the stadium on match night it doesn’t take that many people to ensure F is for FIDUCIARY… as the compelling draw of football brings out the most pernicious faith in followers too fretful to believe anything other than in the formidable formation of their fantastical fallacies.

Untitled copy

But in the end F will be for FELICITATIONS… as the flourish of fanciful fanfare, however it was foraged, or filched according to fractious foes, presents a finale of finery to flaunt in flagrant facetiousness.

Bolt of light in skyCatching some raysUntil we speak again I will continue to be Bella… and for the record it was Cardiff City 1 Middlesborough 0, with the locals having played 12, won 5, drawn 5, and lost 2, which puts them currently 8th in the league.

Man, myth, legend, tarmac

X-ray eyesIt’s with laser focus that I decided I would look into the myth and legend of the great Welsh politician of the early 20th century. Yes, you guessed it, he is English. Or is he? Born in Manchester to Welsh parents, he was brought up as a Welsh speaker with English as his second language. As a nation few in number we will take what we can get, so he is Welsh, particularly as he is instrumental in laying the foundations for the welfare state, and was prominent in the development of peace after the ignominiously named ‘Great War‘ (1914-18).

So, how is this majestic pillar of Welsh political traditions celebrated in the capital city? No such thing as just naming a road after this Chancellor of the Exchequer, Minister of Munitions, Secretary of State for War, Leader of the Liberal Party, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom… he gets an avenue.

Road and purposeBut, in keeping with any questions about ancestry and origin, I wondered just what this tribute was trying to communicate. Most auspiciously, this is a road in search of a purpose, as it’s rush hour dream-like barren state doesn’t reflect what you would normally expect in the name of a great man…

Rush hour dream [1]Rush hour dream [2]

What a difference a match makes. If you needed evidence of how important rugby is to the natives just take a look at this so-called tribute to an icon on a match day (and Wales weren’t even playing!)…

 

 

Road and purpose [1]

Road and purpose [2]

 

 

 

 

 

Who needs an eye-sore of a made-for-purpose coach park when you’ve got a dual carriageway iconically named and vastly under-used. Until we speak again I am Bella, living a politician’s promise away from a made-to-measure coach park.

Road and purpose [3]

Bill who?

You looking at me?It’s all in a name, or so they say. After all, I’m Bella, or am I? I wasn’t called Bella a couple of months ago; I just happened to take on new staff, and they decided to give me this name in preference to what they call me all the time anyway… Puss!

Enough about me… eh, did I really say that!? Anyway, back to my main role of educating you humans in the ways of Cardiff. Bills [4]So, there I was, minding everyone else’s business as I meandered through the Victorian arcades, when a sign from above left me with the kind of ambiguity that signs from above usually do.

Bill who“, I instantly pondered. Or would that be William in a posher locale? Perhaps it’s Billy in a more playful parallel universe. Then my mind went into overdrive: Shakespeare… no; The Kid… no; Clinton… no; Wild of Hickok fame… no. Then it dawned on me, it’s not a person after all, it’s those things that the resident ‘failed accountant’ hides away in a draw marked ‘do not disturb’. I surmised it must be the place in the arcade where you pay for everything else in the arcade, but apparently not.

I thought I would take a wider perspective on the conundrum, only to become even more, uncharacteristically for me, confused…

Bills [1]

 

I suddenly realised that Mediterranean influences had taken such a hold on Cardiff that we were now being instructed by another sign saying ‘Ask Italian‘! Cos’e questo? I meowed in my best Milanese dialect. But the only response from the natives seemed to be something along the lines of an exclamatory ‘wos occurrin’ yer?’ 

All became clear when you take the more educated view from the library side of the issue…

Bills [2]We’re talking about an eating emporium, and as much as I would prefer to conduct my investigations inside, this was going to have to be an instruction for my ‘food-taster general‘ (you don’t know how much it bothers my brain-cells to even consider allocating such an important function to the ‘in-house numpty’). Lucky for me, the junior numptys’ were about to visit for some ’round object kicking competition’, so they would all be dispatched immediately after the game to masticate on the morsels that Bill might be able to conjure up.

Bills [6]

The decor seems all a bit too cluttered and deliberately mismatched, but hopefully designed so you focus more on the food and less on the surroundings. Candles were a nice twist to light a semi-darkened alcove seating just the one table for four (though ‘Numpty Major’ decided it was in honour of the home team beating that of the junior visitors).

The menu is not overly cluttered for one of the many modern American influenced eateries that occupy many a British 21st century high street. Starters include some over-sized home-cooked nachos (actually spiced corn tortillas with a nice kick, accompanied by tzatziki, guacamole and salsa dips).

Bills [7]

But then for the main prize… when you’re not in America don’t do what the Americans don’t… or nothing like what that says! A tasty plate of b-b-q pork ribs provided a delicious melt-in-the-mouth surprise treat with a tasty side of slaw (though you can get real chips around the corner in Caroline Street!). As for the football vanquished juniors’, it was a lime and coriander chicken and a fish dish from the specials board as a consolation.

Bills [8]

Call this food!Apparently Bill’s gets a thumbs up for the food and overall ambience, and once again I get to savour what could have been!

Until we speak again I promise to be Bella, and you can be whoever you want to be.

 

Cats and water, eh?

Water [1]Not usually the best of mixes; my relationship with water does not extend very much beyond what you see here… and I’m still waiting for the resident ‘nazi impersonator’ to deliver the cream!

But get a bunch of you humans together, in close proximity to water, and you just seem to freak out.

What’s with the need to jump in, float over, or just stand there looking at it?

Having said that, I do occasionally look out from my elevated platform of dryness and feel a little tempted by scenes on the surrounding canals (some say ‘dock feeders’)… lunch strangely comes to mind!

Swan family 2012 at 14

As much as the deluded one likes to refer to this area of Cardiff as ‘Little Venice‘, it seems this is only small scale when it comes to the watery realms of exaggeration. Just the other day I heard some mutterings about the Cardiff Niagara, I will leave it for you to judge… before I declare my in-house ‘agent provocateur‘ completely bonkers.

So, here is the so-called Cardiff Niagara…

Cardiff Niagara [2]

Compare that with the lesser (i.e. US) version of the real mccoy…

US Falls 2

And then there is the true majesty of the Canadian Niagara Falls (so easily confused with selective views across Bute Park in Cardiff)…

Canadian Falls 3

As if I didn’t need to already rest my case, I offer you a comparison of the raw power of Cardiff v Canada (but you guess which is which!)…
Cardiff Niagara [1]Canadian Falls edge

 

 

 

 

 

Difficult challenge, eh? Until we speak again I intend to be bone dry Bella, as for you, don’t forget your wellies!

 

A French Connection

Call this food!As a consumate carnivore my drug of choice is fillet steak. I’m led to believe that France portrays itself as the world’s leading dealer of my favourite fix, but why should a Cardiff cat, a creature of home comforts, need to contemplate long distance adventures for such a top quality fix?

Little was I to know that a casual glance out of the window while emerging from my Central Library slumbers might just have provided an answer to my cravings, also eliminating the potential travel challenges.

Cote Brasserie

A closer look is needed…

Cote Brasserie [1]

That distinct Cote lettering tells me we are talking French connections here, so I thought I would make use of the opportune visit of a couple of cats from Brighton as a cover for checking the joint out. The Cote Brasserie menu is not overly fussy, so we settle in with some olives and rustic bread while I search out that fillet steak.

Cote Brasserie [3]

I wait with great expectation as my steak is being prepared. My fellow cats are going for varieties of bird on the menu, but I have enough of the chicken at home in my bowl or when my in-house garçon deigns to patronise me with morsels of deli counter meats. The wait is worthwhile, as the steak looks perfect, the peppercorn sauce is tasty, the french beans are crunchy, and the chips satisfy (well, despite their claims the French can’t get everything perfect!).

Cote Brasserie [4]

Apparently the chargrilled breton chicken also gets the thumbs up. So, if you happen to be in Cardiff and need a fix of your favourite fillet style drug, Cote Brasserie on Mill Lane is well worth a visit. Until we speak again this Bella will be joining Popeye Doyle in successfully finding Frog One, and I might just check out French Connection I & II again.