What’s in a name?

Strolling down Cardiff’s infamous Caroline Street (aka chip alley) it is easy to see how we can become accustomed to a familiar name when treating ourselves to that special dining out experience. Tony’s may have been around for some time, but for truly satisfying ‘chips and chicken curry off the bone‘ then it has to be Dorothy’s, serving Cardiff’s late night inebriates since 1953.

Caroline Street at night

With many other neighbouring establishments churning out British and faux Mediterranean nosh at speed, there is clearly no room here for Marco and his comfortably relaxed approach to cuisine. No, for Marco Pierre White another run down part of the city centre would need to upgrade in order to accommodate an altogether different way of dining.

The once dilapidated Dominions Arcade has had a makeover, with Dominions House recently accommodating the Indigo Hotel

On entering the old entrance to the arcade bypass the hotel reception and take the lift to the 6th Floor, because you don’t have to be a hotel resident to partake of the roof terrace restaurant that landed in November 2017…

Indigo Hotel entrance

Checking out the menu provides plenty of good reasons for making the elevated journey, with Rillettes of Pork and Armangnac Soaked Prunes providing a starter never to be found on Caroline Street! They only provided two of the prunes over a pate of pork, as no doubt a bowl full of the devils would seriously impede your subsequent ability to walk (though it would be a delightful anatomical challenge!)…

Prunes starter

As this was an occasion for two guys to celebrate Christmas 2017 in August 2018 (if you don’t understand that one, don’t ask), the interesting vegetarian options on the menu were comfortably placed in the ‘not to be disturbed’ section of the culinary brain. Tempting as the steaks were we were both a bit filleted out of late. So, it was time to distribute patronage more liberally around the animal kingdom… sheep and pigs were put on high alert to do what they do best!

For me the temptation of Roast Rump of Lamb A La Dijonnaise was irresistible. And a side of French Beans with Toasted Almonds was a personal nod to the possible delights that the world of vegetables can offer to us dedicated carnivores…

Rump of Lamb

As for my visiting companion, only a porcine assault in the form of The Pig Mixed Grill with Triple Cooked Chips would satisfy… something that the sausage and chips down Caroline Street would never be able to compete with!

Pig feast

Until we speak again, Juno would only have agreed to put her name to this blog if it was going to be a true reflection of her views and experiences of Cardiff and elsewhere. As for Marco Pierre White, it seems he is so confident in his name he even includes it on a specially created bottle of wine (though the water was pure Welsh!).

Wine and Water

 

Revered Cuisine

Who could possibly resist Magret de canard roti et sauce aux cerises? That is pan fried duck breast and cherry sauce for the less travelled gourmands among you…

It may well be supremely complemented by a glass of Mouton Cadet Bordeaux, but it is always important to be aware of the derivation of what you eat. On the very morning of this feast I surveyed the environs of my Paris hotel only to be somewhat dismayed by the attraction of the currently topical plastic flotsam and jetson for the local duck population…

But, I was quickly reassured that my wildfowl actually walks on water before adorning my plate!

Until we speak again, remember that only in Paris can we revere that which we may subsequently devour… allegedly!

Anyone for Coffi?

Now that the sunshine has arrived, fancy a seasonal Turkish meal at Bosphorus down Cardiff Bay? Tough… it’s gone! And, just when Cardiff is beginning to drown under the tide of coffee shops, it’s been replaced by… you guessed it…

Outside [1]

Outside sign [1]

At least it is a local confection, not just another national chain (though I still pledge my allegiance to Coffee#1). Stepping inside, this does happen to capitalise on its location, with a light and airy feel, as well as seats outside…

Inside [1]

And, if you are prepared to part with something approaching London style prices, there are some interesting twists on the coffee menu…

Menu sign [2]

The Gingerbread Cappuccino and Hazelnut Bueno Latte were certainly two temptations worthy of taking out a mortgage on…

With occasional live music (currently only on Bank Holidays) for those needing to be entertained, and the offer of giant pasties for the peckish, this looks like a worthy addition to the Mermaid Quay pleasure emporium.

Inside looking out

Or, if you are a bit strapped for cash, there is always a timely reminder of other ways to satisfy some of your needs…

Inside wall mural

Until we speak again, any clue as to where I am going to get a proper Turkish Kofte Kebab these days?

 

Culinary Brexit, anyone?

Okay, so it’s time for us self-respecting Brits to take back control of our cuisine. Who would really vote for mandatory imposed quantities of Brussel Sprouts anyway? As for Frankfurters and Sauerkraut flooding our customs union…well!

Whatever happened to the sublimely sweet Marie Rose Prawn Cocktail of 1970’s Britain? Would you seriously prefer French Asperges (Steamed Asparagus with a soft Poached Egg and Hollandaise Sauce)? Well, judging by the following example, that would be a definite ‘yes’…

Asperges starter

So, for the sake of dear old Blighty, let’s just say that was a one-off fluke occurrence.

Who is going to deny themselves the sovereignty of choosing Boiled Beef and Carrots, with a side of tripe? Would you seriously prefer to keep open our borders, so that we may be subject to the invasion of Entrecôte (9oz rib-eye steak) with a side of French Beans and Coated Almond Flakes? Well, perhaps the answer to that one is a resounding ‘yes’ again…

Entrecote rib-eye

There is one consolation to this culinary xenophobia… we do know how to make the best chips! Pomme Frites can happily be repatriated back to their place of origin, once and for all.

In the continuing negotiations, stand firm and say ‘no’ to all of this fanciful European cuisine. We are on the threshold of making a whole new nosh exchange with the world… open up your collective oesophagi to Chicken Kiev… to Chicken Korma… and even to Monkey Brains

On the other hand… seriously people! What do you think you have voted for? I, for one, can definitely recommend an indefinite extension of a customs union with Pierre Le Bistrot in Cardiff’s Brewery Quarter… and, if I’m not mistaken, the following picture suggests by way of Spice Quarter that we might just already have access to worldwide cuisine.

Outside [2]

Until we speak again, why exactly do we need Brexit? [Answers on a postcard… address withheld!]

Salt Beef Mountain

New York, Cardiff. So good they named it… no, that doesn’t work. But, if you happen upon the High Street Arcade in Cardiff you’ll find more than just an appealing facade…

High St Arcade entrance 2018

But do remember to afford much more than just a New York Minute” for the New York Deli

Arcade view

For here you find that little piece of New York right in the heart of Cardiff City Centre, complete with a mouth-watering menu…

Menu

Take your time, because the choices are amazing. For me on this first visit it had to be The Ritchie Parks with a cup of cwarfee (that’s New York for coffee to the uninitiated!).

Hoaggie and Coffee

I advise that you don’t have a hearty breakfast before planning on visiting this deli, as the salt beef is both fresh and mountainous, topped with Swiss cheese and garnished with gherkin…

The Ritchie Parks

If you don’t feel like walking afterwards you might even be surprised by the arrival of the next subway train…

Mural

Until we speak again, I guess Juno and Bella would have been more interested in that eagle guarding the stairway…

Downstairs view [2]

Confused cat

A thought came to mind some time ago: ‘If you try to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything’. It came as I was sitting in the Seasons cafe/restaurant/bar/delivery joint in the Castle Arcade facing across to Cardiff Castle.

Strolling the arcades is always nothing less than a delight, and you will not be short of places to partake in a cats favourite pastime… okay, maybe eating comes a distant second to sleeping. I had often passed Seasons without really knowing what it was meant to be. But the sight of a full Welsh breakfast as I looked through the window on a particular lunchtime was a major draw.

So, what is so Welsh about it? The local references on the specials board try to give the game away…

Welsh specials board

The addition of the braised leeks helped…

Full Welsh Breakfast

But, perhaps it was the strange accoutrement that really gave the game away…

Strange teapot

The application of sheep to just about everything is probably meant to be a draw to any full-blooded Welsh cat. So, I guess, is the juxtaposition of breakfast with beers, wines and cocktails!?

Inside

So that is where the confusion really set in… is this place supposed to be a cafe, a bar, or what? We all know we can experience all four seasons in one day here in the UK, so why not experience all parts of the culinary/alcoholic day in one go?

Until we speak again, I recently realised that maybe I was not the only confused one… as, unlike this present winter, the Seasons has in fact gone!

Seasons gone!

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.