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!]

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Death in the Sun

Is it the sun or is it the moon? How am I supposed to know, after all this is Lancaster, and I am merely a cat from Cardiff!

sun-at-night-sign

A view from a different perspective confirms it is the sun, but not as astronomical scholars know it. This is Lancaster, a place of history, sandstone architecture; and it’s cold and dark so time to find out what else this historical place has to offer travelling cats.

sun-at-night-outside-view

What will greet the inquisitive traveller to this promised source of light and heat? Why, death of course!

Dead cow

sirloin-steak

Dead pig

full-english-breakfast

Dead lamb

lamb-steak

Vegetarian deadly options are available, but this being the north of England, a mere southerner cat from Wales would hardly want to invite a scourge of ridicule by even enquiring of such things. This is a place where Lancaster Blondes are apparently smooth and tasty temptations for the unsuspecting weary traveller…

sun-bar-3

 

 

 

 

 

lancaster-blonde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When daylight dawns there really is an abundance of old sandstone to navigate and cast an architectural eye over.

The good folk of Yorkshire might well lay claim to their county town of York being far better known; but the rival Lancashire has a county town well worth exploring, full of interesting knocks and crannies.

Until we speak again I can fondly remember a couple of ex-cats who would have gratefully ignored any architectural indulgence in favour of exploring death in a bowl! Juno and Bella always wore an indignant look when it came to food choice!

cat-matecall-this-food

Pigs ear of a meal

Juno and Bella both demonstrated a special fondness for a pig. Particularly one that came in morsels! As for a pigs ear, that was more likely a description they would attribute to me, or anything I attempted to do. But they sure would be salivating if they had an opportunity to share a recent experience of The Potted Pig

2. Outside sign

Following the financial crash a few years ago, there are many things that people can think of using an old bank vault for… not the least being a dungeon for locking away greedy bankers! Here in Cardiff we have more creative ideas, like a space where local people (and even a few visitors) can sample a range of pig-based fayre, with a drop of the falling down juice on the side…

3. Bar4. Bank vault

You might even be lucky enough to be placed where the eponymous pig can shun you, in favour of a little rest…

5. The Potted Pig

As for the food, I am pleased to say that this restaurant comes with that special characteristic of a small but perfectly formed menu. No unnecessary elaboration here, this is a place for serious quality at reasonable prices. Though the pursuit of pig clearly features as the centrepiece of our gastronomic quest, your choice of animal will be far from limited. However, I could not resist a starter that offers crispy pigs ears, particularly when it came with succulent black pudding, the smokiest of bacon, topped off with a delightfully poached egg. The pigs ears were pork scratchings of the highest order. My compardre chose a belly pork starter (but that was to be my main course)…

 

6. Starters

This was a breakfast like I had never tasted (particularly at 8.30pm). So now, after a delicate tasting of Rioja, it was onward, dinner beckoned. With ducks, lambs, fish, and even a vegetarian dish on offer, my friend succumbed to the sound of a quack, while I could not avoid the continuation of the snort. Slow cooked free range pork belly had to be the order of the day; even if it did come with something requiring the gastronome’s dictionary… choucroute. Me neither! It turned out to be something akin to sauerkraut, and perfectly adorned the sacrificial pig. They even do great chips here!

9. Both mains

All I can say is, that next time you find yourself on St Mary Street in Cardiff, with that knot of hunger and a desire to assuage the temptation of more vegetables, get your timing right. This is a place that has limited opening hours, and you may need to book, but it is worth it.

Sleeping catAs for Bella, had she been on this particular escaped, it would surely have ended in a cat-like impression of the potted pig itself.

Until we speak again, may your pigs ears be crispy.

The Art of Eating

cardiff-entrance

RestaurantFor most of us culinary cats the whole idea of the artistic nature of food is its appearance on the plate. If it looks really good it just might taste really good. My personal ‘Fanny Craddock’ (apparently you have to be over 55 years old to understood what that means!) pays no notice to all those cookery programmes on the TV, and believe me it shows! But, it seems that first in Bristol, and more recently here in Cardiff, the connection of art and eating has been taken to a new and interesting level.

Steak of the Art is definitely a place that will have you wondering what on earth is going on (in a good way) as you enter. Everywhere you look your eyes will challenge your brain to work out what you’re looking at. A variety of art installations decorate booths and pods in all directions, with Daleks, rugby, and Roald Dahl some of the most obvious sources of inspiration…

SOTA[1]

SOTA[4]

SOTA[3]

The whole restaurant is an artistic adventure in its own right…

SOTA[2]

But what about the food you hungry cool cats ask? Followers of my eating preferences will remember I can’t help but instruct my ‘walking taste bud’ to go check out the finest end of the cow… where would Steak of the Art’s menu of finest fillet rank in the Cardiff Fillet League Table? It seems that ‘taste buds senior and junior’ decided to go a little off message initially, as a starter of a Shared B-B-Q Platter was ordered. All well and good, but with this monster feast arriving where is the space going to be made for the fillet steaks??

FOOD[2]My trepidatious delay was soon to be satisfied, as the bovine delicacy made its entrance. And what’s with those chips!

FOOD[4]

If it’s medium rare you like, the report back suggested this is as good as it gets locally; and this self-respecting cat has lost all sense of decorum as I salivate over my galloping imagination…

FOOD[5]

It seems that a new league leader has been found in the Art of the Fillet Steak; but there seems to be more about the Art-thing than initially meets the eye. Why not make best use of every space… a secluded staircase provides the perfect canvas for an art exhibition.

ART[1]

If you have spare cash at the end of your visit to this very reasonably priced food emporium you can always purchase a picture for your mantlepiece! Call this food!Yes that is the Millennium Stadium (re-branded for commercial purposes in real life a few hundred metres away). As for the art of eating, this Bella has to once again face the disappointment of what could be, if only I can plan my escape from this place of rocks & water cat diet!

 

Food history

Call this food!So, what are my credentials for talking to you about the history of food? After all, as a true cat I appoint others to do the hard graft for me!

Blue Anchor [9]

 

 

The President of my predecessor’s (Juno) fan club was recently celebrating a birthday, the number of which sounds to me like like something out of history. It’s one of those numbers where you people can easily tend to get lost; who knows where she is going here? Are the loos down there? Or is this a subterranean dining experience going on?

Blue Anchor [1]I digress, the thing here is about how history and food came together… at least in my mind anyway. This train of thought came together when my ‘appointed food taster’ said they were off to a Blue Anchor, or somewhere nautical that is actually miles from the sea (strange ideas happen when it comes to naming pubs, inns, restaurants).

Blue Anchor [2]

 

 

 

But this one is old, very old, 1380 old! And it seems from reading a brief history about the place like it has always been an inn, always into the beer and food groove. So I guess they must have learned to do some things right by now. It’s a cold and bleak winter’s day, so you need something to take the chill away, and this place certainly oozes that cozy old inn vibe…

Blue Anchor [3]

Blue Anchor [4]

Apparently the Blue Anchor is well known amongst the beer aficionados for its small but well-kept range of the amber and pale nectar. And I’m told the lotion more than adequately complemented the nosh. As for the eating, where do you start? Ham Hock sounded like some ancient vittles, but I’m informed it was a thick and tasty starter, though who knows what the green stuff was up to hiding under the

Blue Anchor [5]

This being a Sunday, my instructions were to go for the traditional roasts, and my compliant diners duly obliged…

Blue Anchor [6]

Whilst these Yorkshire puddings take up space the beef (and those going for lamb) reported a very tasty meal. The real test is the vegetables, and they came through as lightly cooked and crunchy… “just right” I said. So my local fans have found another place well worth re-visiting; and being around since 1380 this place isn’t going away anytime soon. The place is East Aberthaw in the Vale of Glamorgan, and until we speak again I’m Bella, and my advice is ignore history, go now!

Chilling with the yocals

As the festive season draws to a close this cat reflects back on a pre-christmas trip to the depths of rural Devon. My ‘in-house DJ‘ likes to taunt me occasionally by playing Animals by Muse on the music system; a band that hails from Teignmouth on the fabulous Devon coast. So when a work trip to Bishopsteignton (just outside of Teignmouth) emerged it was time to see where all of the inspiration comes from. The Cockhaven Manor Hotel was initially an un-presupposing venue nestling into this quiet rural hamlet up on a hill overlooking the Teign valley…

Cockhaven Manor [1]

Cockhaven Manor [2]

Cockhaven Manor [3]But early appearances can deceive, as the interior of this 16th century inn provides an uplifting welcome after the trials of a lengthy train journey on a cramped train.

Cockhaven Manor [4]

 

 

 

 

 

The unseasonal lack of December cold was further repelled by the roaring coal fire! More for the needs of aged locals than for intrepid touring cats…

Cockhaven Manor [7]

All that was needed was some hearty old local vittles, and the Cockhaven Manor certainly excelled. With some local ales on offer the enticement of a Spanish Rioja proved too strong. It might be good weather for ducks across much of the UK in recent months, but on a relaxing evening it proved to be good duck for cats!

Cockhaven Manor [8]

And if that wasn’t enough, a peaceful night’s sleep was delightfully topped off with a made-to-order breakfast that set the day up…

Cockhaven Manor [9]

Chilling in the sun

As for work, I’m going to leave that to others after my brief foray into the tasty south Devon countryside.

Until we speak again this Bella gives a paws up to the Cockhaven Manor.

The band members of Muse might well have migrated here from other parts of the UK, as kids, but I recommend a visit to the locality to see the source of inspiration for yourself!

[Acknowledgements to Muse for their You Tube video linked in this post].

It’s a carve up!

Pretty girl [1]Family birthday events do have a habit of clashing with the run up to christmas; but then it’s difficult to shift a birthday I suppose. So what can be done if the christmas effect is to be avoided in the culinary department? Nothing it would appear, but then who listens to the advice of a knowledgeable cat? It comes as an unusual experience for my kind not to be in complete control of what goes on, particularly when this bunch of humans decide to go off to ‘noshville’ without me!

22669161 It seems the older, so-called wiser members of the group decided to do the same thing as last year. Well, don’t blame me if you get the same as you already had! There were incessant moans about the rubbish service from my ‘resident gourmand‘ on the news of the deja vu eating experience. Nevertheless, off to the Marriott Hotel in central Cardiff is where the starving clan congregated. [With thanks to booking.com for the above image of the hotel exterior].

Marriott [1]

It seems that the place was quite popular, or is that just the christmas effect kicking in? Anyway, those who should have been at home taking care of my culinary delights were led to a table in close proximity to carver central…

Marriott [2]

Marriott [3]It seems that lightening really does strike twice, as I hear it took three separate members of staff an eternity to sort out bringing a bottle of Rioja and a couple of glasses to the table… a mere 20 minutes later than the glass of Pino Grigio and glass of Pino Rose requested by others in the party.

I wonder if draping a clean handkerchief around the bottle adds to the flavour of the wine; or is it just a sneaky flourish to cover up for poor service?

With a taste of wine smoothing the palate my discerning food taster goes for a simple mix from the starters buffet table; salami and ham accompanied by salad and antipasti…

Marriott [4]

But the coup de gras of the whole set up was the hotel’s signature hot buffet carvery, top ended with melt in the mouth turkey breast and beef, sublimely accompanied by crisp seasonal vegetables, a fluffy Yorkshire pudding and tasty gravy…

Marriott [5]Tis the season for brussel sprouts, and for all of the faint praise they receive, a crunchy sprout is a fine accompaniment to any festive dish. The overall verdict reported back to me was of a very tasty meal, but a likely seasonal recruitment campaign results in service that falls below the average expectations. So, until we speak again may all of your brussel sprouts be crunchy!