Twice upon a time in the country

The draw, a welcoming sign on a background of grey…

Dynevor Arms [1]

The tease, book or not to book?…

2018 [1]

The joint, a deceptively ordinary facade hides a warmly welcoming bar…

2018 [2]

The roast, a family favourite for any Sunday…

2018 [3]

The steak, memories of the earlier visit…

Dynevor Arms [3]

Until we speak again, on the experience of two visits, the next time you happen to be travelling along the Llantrisant Road just outside of Cardiff there just might be a hearty meal waiting a discerning culinary cat.

Up market dining

Strolling around the tranquil Penarth Marina, on the far side of Cardiff Bay, only served to tempt thoughts of the sea, of fish… of a time to eat. But, the restaurant chains of Mermaid Quay were a distance away and just not stimulating the gastronomic needs of a discerning cat.Penarth Marina [1]

This was a stroll with intent… to enthuse a visiting stroller from outside of Cardiff to what the city has to offer. But, where would match up to the beauty of the wider setting? Step up to the plate The Custom House building near to the Cardiff Bay barrage; a remnant of the former grandeur of the Penarth side of the old docks, built in a Renaissance style in 1865, and converted from dereliction into a fine restaurant in the 1980’s…

Custom House building

This fine building now houses the El Puerto restaurant. Forget menus at your table, this is the marketplace brought into a restaurant…

El puerto [1]

Order your drinks at the table then step up to the main counter for up close inspection of the produce on offer, and place your order…

El puerto [2]

The returning visit of the previously identified ‘delightful company‘ was a situation requiring delicate and refined taste. Hake for the lady and Swordfish for me would complement the aquatic excursion of the previous hour…

El Puerto [3]

Until we speak again, for the vegetarian critics amongst you dear readers, here is a special moment just for you…

Who needs William anyway?

When you can have Bill’s!

Outside [2]

So, what to do when you find your ship has run aground down the Bay?

Ship on roof

When you wish to play the welcoming host with a promise of a trusted restaurant, only to find your number one choice (Bayside Brasserie) has closed down and deserted you? And just when you’re on a mission to satisfy that late Sunday afternoon hunger? Bill’s comes to the rescue.

For starters we both settled on the Crispy Calamari with Red Chilli and Lime Aioli. What is it with this fashion for serving food straight from the cooking utensils? Saving on the washing up, maybe. But hang on, it could just be that my delightful company has seen the red chilli’s lurking with intent, and is grabbing her bag to make a quick getaway…

As for the main event, my thoughtful companion surveyed the menu for interesting tastes, opting for a healthy sounding Warm Chicken, Avocado and Parmesan Salad. As for me, well another cow just had to lose some weight in the Sirloin region, and a side of foliage will surely temper the overall threat of arterial assault…

Until we speak again, if your looking for posh and formal this is not the place. But for serviceable food in a relaxed setting it fits the Bill (yes, I hear the groans at that one). And the staff will simply be queuing up to serve you… possibly!

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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!

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]

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.