Once upon a time, Cardiff led the world… as the centre of coal trading in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To mark such an auspicious position the Exchange Building, otherwise known as the Coal Exchange, was built in 1888 in Mount Stuart Square… down the docks as us locals refer to it.
As in any ‘exchange’, frantic activity would take place with all kinds of guys (as it was always guys at the time) gesticulating and bargaining, as the global price of coal was set right here in the Grand Hall. Then, one day in 1904, the very first £1,000,000 transaction was made. Yes, financial history was made right there on the trading floor of the Coal Exchange in Cardiff!
So, it has been a shared ambition with my local drinking friend, to dine in the grand old building when the long awaited Culley’s restaurant had opened. Not being early adopters, we have let a year or more drift by before achieving said ambition. But, it’s a grand way in which to honour that cheque from back in 1904… assuming that the prices don’t honour the historic event!
Apart from a ubiquitous olives and red wine (Argentinian Malbec) introduction to the place, we were drawn to the Scotch Egg and the Black Pudding Bon Bon starters. Small plates they may be, but the delicate tastes complemented the majestic surroundings.
As for the main course, we both just had to respect the tradition of Welsh supremacy (even if it was just briefly experienced more than 100 years ago). After all, there is a culinary delight that Wales has long been one of the world’s leading providers… Welsh Lamb. With squash and dauphinaise potato adornments, this was a fine way with which to honour that moment back in 1904.
Until we speak again, in the absence of any randomly available £1m cheques drifting my way, I’m more than happy to indulge a Welsh tradition… eating not sh____ing sheep, that is! You may enjoy those visions of spring with lambs gamboling about sunny hillsides. Me… I prefer them decorating my plate any time of the year.