Train cancelled, but…

It’s that frequently annoying situation. Your train arrives in the station on time, only to find your connection is cancelled with a two hour wait for the next service.

When in Salisbury next, I suggest you hope for such a situation! 5 minutes walk brings you to the fabulous Lebanese restaurant of Baroushka

This is a place where a leisurely approach to lunch is required; maybe even absolutely demanded…

A starter of grilled halloumi with a rocket salad accompaniment was the perfect balance of baked exterior with a delicately soft cheese interior. Looking like perfectly toasted slices of bread this provided a light appetizer…

The main course of pear glazed duck breast on a bed of cous cous with an orange salad provided a delightful range of contrasting tastes and textures. Even the designs of plate and table cloth add to the overall welcome sensual assault, to remind you that relaxation need not be a mindless exercise…

A Turkish Coffee came with a range of ethnic paraphernalia, including a cube of Turkish Delight

The Spiced Ginger Beer was a further addition to the assault on the taste buds. Is this placed licensed? You bet, with an extensive range of beers, wines and cocktails. But this is lunch, right… and some of us have yet to navigate the dysfunctions of the privatised rail system with a clear head!

Until we speak again, apologies to any readers stranded by rail cancellations elsewhere… you really are in the wrong place.

The Sunshine Trap

Here’s one that Juno would have approved of, during one of those fleeting waking moments, when the priority slides from the dreamy to the tasty.

Take a picture of this… it’s a hot and sunny day at the lake in City Park, so you find a perfectly submerged branch in order to simply bask in the bright sunshine…

Before

A few hours pass, and you are left wondering how you managed to end up in a dish at one of the city’s fine dining establishments…

After

Until we speak again, it may be a gloomy autumnal, drifting into winter, kind of day in the UK, but don’t overdo the temptations of sunshine when they come a calling. You could end up in the soup!

Gone Fishing!

Whatever your level of budget or taste you can bet New Orleans is going to come up with something that will add to your lifetime gastronomic mind map. My relationship to fish is generally one of appreciating their grace and beauty rather than their taste; but there is a small range of the critters that had just better watch out when I am around!

When the company is right for a spot of the fine dining I recently found that there is no better place in the French Quarter than GW Fins (aptly named for a seafood joint).

Okay, maybe I did cheat a bit with a Crispy Belly Pork & Watermelon appetiser; but you would to if you had the chance! In any case, my companions were diving straight into the pond after the Fried Snapper Belly (complete with fin)…

Fried Snapper Belly and Crispy Pork Belly

However, it didn’t take me long to cross swords with the finest tasting Blackened Swordfish with Fried Shrimp, whilst viewing my companions Spearfished Cobia across the table.

Spearfished Cobia and Swordfish dishes

And, just for variety, there was also an example of the house speciality Scalibut

Scalibut

Until we speak again, feel free to suggest further gastronomic challenges you would like me to take on your behalf… there is no end to the level of personal sacrifice I am prepared top make on your behalf. In the meantime check out GW Fins menu and wine list for salivation (definitely not salvation) purposes…

 

 

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

 

Vegetarians nightmare

Why do us cats eat meat? Why not is my answer? Greenery was always something I was brought up to look out of the window at. A vegetarian’s dream dish of fennel and kale resembles nothing more than lush coloured tumbleweed, and certainly doesn’t satisfy the same sense of achievement in knowing that my meal once had a name and roamed the prairies, or whatever.

So, I was very keen to send my apprentice carnivores off to test out a place in St Mary’s Street in Cardiff, somewhere with a name that instantly struck a chord with my culinary sensibilities…

The Meating Place [1]This is a small but very cozy restaurant in a busy part of town for socialising and entertainment, with an atmosphere that invites visiting cats to relax and focus on the food…

The Meating Place [4]

The Meating Place [6]

For the discerning vegetarian the darkness might be a little foreboding, with delicate shades of pink light illuminating members of the animal kingdom. Even some of the wall decoration has been chosen to remind dining cats of their priorities!

The Meating Place [5]

However, a quick glance at the menu takes away any of that decision-making anxiety for vegetarian diners, who may need to conserve all of their energy for lifting knives and forks. With a bunch of appetisers, a couple of starters and one main dish, all thought processes can be reserved for managing the sensual and moral assault from the whisker preening carnivorous majority.

The Meating Place food [4]Any lapsed vegetarians will no doubt be more than grateful for their change in culinary fortunes. A starter of duck and cranberry sauce was presented in a very different format from the aromatic crispy variety so beloved by this cat’s apprentice. Don’t search the menu for this one, as they do like to present a few specials on the day…

The meating Place food [1]Then there is the historical reference of this restaurant, with a previous incarnation of Portuguese cuisine. The hanging skewers have been retained so you can have some of your dishes suspended above the table. In this visit the lamb sewer was particularly delicate and tasty…

The Meating Place food [2]I am reliably informed that carnivore junior also enjoyed the sirloin steak. And why should vegetarians feel left out when the home made chunky chips were cooked to perfection!?

The Meating PLace food [3]Call this food!Reports suggest that scavenging cats need not assemble out the back of this particular restaurant, as plates tend to be returned empty! Until we speak again this Bella would like to extend a special thanks to all the Daisy’s, Dolly’s and Donald’s who graze our green and lush countryside in order to grace the plate so extravagantly.

As a responsible cat it is also important that I state no vegetarians were harmed during the staging of this event!

Pursuit of elegance

Is this my best side?Emerging from the docklands of London, and moving to the docklands of Cardiff instilled in Juno the deep rooted need to pursue something not easily equated with the streets of former industrial heartlands… the embodiment of elegance. The interpretation of indifference has often been too easily attributed to the demeanour of cats, whereas for Juno the cool cat exterior was simply her way of communicating the natural superiority she felt over the humans whose mission it was to serve her!

On my latest work trip back to the place of her origin… Newham, East London, I was determined that some of that elegant demeanour should rub off. I and my trusty companion journeyed forth through the Isle of Dog’s and Wapping’s of the former maritime powerhouse that was once the world famous London docks, in search of elegant vitals in sublime surroundings. In the depths of the memory banks reminiscence of one St. Katherine’s Dock kept re-surfacing:

St Katherine's Dock [1]

 

Kilikya's [5]

 

A wide range of budgets and ethnic sources of restaurants and bars are available in these relaxing surroundings, but recent Turkish delights from Islington were over-powering the decision-making equipment, particularly when Kilikya’s Turkish Restaurant hove into sight, occupying a central position in one of the former dockside buildings.

The table offered a mesmerising view of water-bound tranquility…

Kilikya's [4]

… while the interior presented a subdued atmosphere conducive to the forthcoming art of consumption. The success of the pursuit had finally been confirmed by a casual glance at the wine menu, offering Cankaya, a Turkish white wine accurately described as dry, light
and elegant!Kilikya's [2]

We had most definitely achieved that ‘mission accomplished’ vibe, and it was time to surrender to the inevitable Turkish delights on offer. A selection of succulent olives and side of flatbread set up the palate for a feast. Iskender Kebap, a mix of marinated cubed chicken & lamb delicately spiced with an addition of yoghurt, a Biber Dolma presented stuffed red peppers, and even chips to die for!

Kilikya's [3]

As a midsummers evening began to give up its visual splendour we had a last opportunity to take in the elegant surroundings we had enjoyed for the past couple of hours…

St. Katherine's Dopck [4]

And all of this happened within the shadow of a true London architectural icons…

Tower Bridge at night

Until we speak again take Juno’s lead and bring some elegance into your life.

It is what colour?

ChilledIn my experience black cats are colourful in character, but there is seldom any question about confusion over their colour. Juno quickly had an eye for the colourful space, particularly one where she could survey all of the world around her from a perch on a chesterfield sofa.

But even she might have initiallyPurple Poppadom [1] baulked at the idea of poppadom’s coming in a shade of purple! So, fortified by some good prior reviews, it was time for a friend and I to venture forth in search of the Purple Poppadom and search was the operative word, as this gem is easily missed as you stroll along the main Canton thoroughfare in Cardiff. Yes it is that tiny door to that place upstairs:

Once you have found it the welcome is warm and friendly, helped by booking a quiet time of the week (early Sunday evening). And the purple decor was of the restrained variety…

Purple Poppadom [2]

 

 

Whatever you think you know about Indian cuisine, leave it at the door, as a quick glance at the equally restrained menu initially leaves you wondering ‘what is that?’ But don’t get me wrong, the menu deserves time to be spent reading it to get the twists and signatures in the dishes; while possibly drinking out of Buddha shaped beer bottles!

Purple Poppadom [3]

A reference to a starter originating from the street food stalls of Lucknow was tempting. It is a bit like the UK ‘M&S Food’ supermarkets that go in for naming the place of origin as a means of elevating the recognition of their signature dishes. Venison Pao came delicately spiced, with melt-in-your-mouth minced meat, topped off with a fried egg. Not your standard Indian restaurant dish, but after a couple of mouthfuls I resolved never to eat anything but this for the rest of my life!

Purple Poppadom [5]

It would take something rather special to stop me from just repeating the starter order. Luckily this place has plenty more temptations where that one came from. Coconut rice and Peshwari Naan should have been relatively easy to choose, but there were a few other accompaniments running them close. The Kashmiri Roganjosh and Saag Gosht provided variations on lamb that once again can only be described as melt-in-the-mouth perfection.

Purple Poppadom [7]

Purple Poppadom [4]For the record, the poppadom’s were not purple (but one of the accompanying chutneys was, alongside green and yellow varieties!)…

Juno would have been baffled, but we came out… replete. Until we speak again may your dining experiences hit a purple patch!