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!

Advertisements

Seoul food

As a black cat Juno always knew the camouflage benefits of going around town at night. But being an indoor cat, she was well versed in the art of not bothering!

Batman

However, those of us more adventurous cats realise there is a large world waiting out there. Taking a stroll down the Cowbridge Road, you will find yourself in a part of Cardiff known as Canton; confusing eh? You are nowhere near China; but, if you are paying close attention, some of these bright lights of Canton turn out to be Korean

We enter as strangers in a strange land, as hitherto unseen contraptions hover above dedicated diners. What can they be for? Do they deliver the food, or perhaps suck up your dosh? Or, maybe we have stumbled across some strangely ethnic ‘northern’ traditions. No, it turns out they are the smoke extractors for the adventurous diners who choose from the barbecue section of the menu… as these are the items you cook yourself at your own table!

Us less adventurous cats (or maybe just avoiding the self-inflicted food poisoning vibe) decide you can keep your barbecue, we came for authentic national food, best cooked by authentic nationals.

Kimchi might be the restaurant name, but it also happens to be the Korean speciality dish of salted and fermented cabbage and radishes. It turns out that was something nicely complemented by a side of seaweed… and a Korean ‘Hite’ beer or two will not go amiss!

Then comes the main event, with Korean specialities again taking top billing. This time it is the Stone Pot variety, with beef for the carnivore, and seafood for the vegetarian cat (whatever that is!).

Oh, and why not add a side of Korean pancakes? Beware, too many of those may be accompanied by a visit from the Grim Reaper on heart inspection duty! Just as well those Stone Pots come with a mass of fabulously fresh vegetation…

Until we speak again, this may be a Korean story, but Juno & Bella would assure you that no cats or dogs were harmed in the making of this production!

Uxbridge English Dictionary

For devotees of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ here is a new addition to their ‘Uxbridge English Dictionary‘…

Kebabish [1]

“Like a Kebab!”

It’s early Sunday lunchtime, and I spy an unassuming restaurant frontage…

Outside view

And the inside initially seems to be one slide show short of a conference…

Inside view

But the menu entices a challenge far too early in the day for me…

Menu page

For me, it always has to be a taste of spice rather than a challenge of heat; so the sizzling Lamb Seekh Kebabs look like the deal that will seal the dictionary definition…

Lamb Seehk

But, what do we have with it? Naan bread, maybe, rice possibly… but then I spy something on the menu that creates intrigue. Fries have always been a ‘rest of the world’ poor version of good old proper chips; but Keema Chilli Fries (described on their menu as ‘Simply Amazing’), now that sounds worth sampling…

Keema Fries

Cheap, tasty, with something of a wow factor thrown in; a fabulously fresh tasting salad and the non-alcoholic Mojito Mocktail, finished off a memorable lunch. The early timing also ensured a rare experience of having my own personal restaurant!

Until we speak again, sublime might be an under-performing citrus fruit (in the Uxbridge English Dictionary), but it is an experience to be savoured down City Road in Cardiff.

Look behind you!

The problem with a mega cream-based confection is that it might just trigger a stampede! But that’s when a solid brick wall comes in handy…

Until we speak again, next time you happen to be visiting Cardiffs Castle Arcade beware what you order in Coffee Barker!

Culinario gatti

Calling all you culinary cats… Giovanni’s has been established on The Hayes in the centre of Cardiff since 1983; but in 2013 a second branch opened on Park Place, conveniently opposite the New Theatre. But, don’t expect any Godfather III operatic grandstanding here… for a start, you may be greeted by a less than appetising facade of scaffolding, as painting is in progress.

Front [1]

It is worth getting past your penchant for deciding the quality of a restaurant based on the external appearance (particularly as this will change sometime soon). After all, you should be in food critic, not architectural critic mode, if your aim is to satisfy gastronomic urges. I know, I’m a hypocrite, as I am often critical of sloppy architecture, including that of modern restaurants.

On a recent post rugby match visit, there were plenty of persone che mangiano di ristoranti, with everyone engrossed in the menu under the expert tutelage of the resident maestro…

Giovanni's [1]

It is worth lingering over the menu, as this is no run-of-the-mill Italian chain. We are talking a family-run restaurant with plenty of amore put into the whole experience as well as the culinary produce. For the visiting young one it was Scallops Al Limone for a starter, which received glowing praise from someone who knows his scallops. I opted for the Gamberoni all Marchesa (roasted king prawns in garlic, white wine and parsley)…

Giovanni's [2]

Yes, I know it should be white wine with any seafood; but my inner Lecter couldn’t resist a nice Chianti! As for main courses, the visiting ‘Son of Cool’ went for the traditional option of a good home cooked Lasagne Emiliana Fatta in Casa, and yours truly was in the mood for a main that would live up to the red wine accompaniment. So, what better than a Penne Spezzatino (fillet steak in garlic, wine and tomato sauce)…

Giovanni's [3]

Some of you might be licking your lips with anticipation of what quintessential Italian desserts are about to be laid out before you. Well, tough… this is early evening, and space needs to be left for a few beers elsewhere (you can only have so much of a good Italian thing before reverting to what the British do better!). But, before I leave you, and in the continuing spirit of hydration, I did indulge in a double espresso and Sambucca on the side. There are some liquids that only the Italians really know how to make!

Giovanni's [4]

We both left full of culinario contentezza, as we transitioned from Italian delicato to the bustle of a Saturday night in a British pub. Until we speak again, may all of your cornetto’s be less than vanilla. And Bella says ciao.

Farewell

Look through any window

It may be a famous old Hollies track, but the instruction also offers a taste of nostalgia. Here is a bygone age, when Brains were truly great beers to challenge the best around…

look-through-any-window

But this scene in a Cardiff Coffee#1 shop just got me reflecting back on a recent trip to Llanelli in west Wales. This was once a boom town built on heavy industries with a specialist focus on tinplate, but now it’s a faded shadow of itself. Perhaps it might still look like a big place to someone steeped in the rural ways of life, but to the average urban dweller Llanelli leaves you asking “what’s the fuss?” If you look closely enough you might find something resembling a modern welcome…

thomas-arms-hotel

But then again, as the first image implies, Brains used to be something once, but what’s the fuss? Better to settle for a smooth New Zealand Pinot Noir when the beer offering is the range of modern day corporate Brains!

fire-and-wine

Come to think of it log fires were something once, but now they have succumbed to a strange elevated form of designer chic as a centrepiece of a room…

fireplace

Then again, pork chops were something once, but what’s the fuss? Now they have to be Harissa spiced with a side of creamy slaw!

harissa-pork-chops

It’s good to know that a hearty cooked breakfast still is something, even if beans now have to come in a gravy pot!

Full Welsh breakfast.jpg

If you find yourself in the time warp, aka Llanelli, The Thomas Arms should provide that comfortable reality check that the 21st century is soon to make an appearance. Meanwhile, looking through any window provides me with a nostalgic remembrance that it was a favourite pastime of Juno

sunshine-at-14-3

Until we speak again, remember that nostalgia is a thing of the past. Spare yourself a moment or two, and look through any window

 

Coffee Industry

capital-quarter-new-build-1

Something’s happening in a strange space outside of the city centre of Cardiff, known as the Capital Quarter.

For many locals the sight of a blue sky takes on a mythic status. But with the help of an over-sized set of chopsticks, there seem to be some complex metal jig-saw puzzles rising where once there was mud and the dereliction of industry from a bygone age…

4

 

 

3

What this emerging conglomeration of metal and glass structures are meant to offer is anyone’s guess. The well-being of indigenous Cardiffians, and the post-Brexit still welcomed immigrants of the world, is duly promoted by the purveyors of dubious post-industrial dreams. But surely, the only real industry of any note in the developed world of the 21st century is coffee shops. You don’t have to look too far (about 5 yards buys it) for the nearest coffee shop, as Kin + Ilk promise a future marriage of coffee and industry, in the form of a ‘small business’ promoting venture.

kinilk-1

In modern parlance, we now have an artisan coffee shop, whatever that is! A quick glance at the menu offers the first hint…

kinilk-6

If you prefer your avocado + chilli + lime on toasted sourdough to be sampled in a minimalist setting, this is your place…

kinilk-5

kinilk-4

The cappuccino just about holds its own against the masses of competition occupying the city centre.

kinilk-7

But clearly it is early days, and these premises look perfectly located for the hundreds of anonymous captains of industry who will no doubt descend on the business edifices (or is that edify?) sprouting out of fertile former docklands grit. Located on Smart Way, it is yet to be determined if it is a smart move, but they are at least extending a daily welcome to anyone passing by (or is that lost?)…

kinilk-3

computer-cat

 

Though she is sadly long passed, Juno was always one for a contemporary coffee shop pose, as no self-respecting cat has a cup without an accompanying screen.

Until we speak again, don’t forget that those cups of coffee are not only your pleasure, they are also contributing to the next industrial revolution (or should a ‘not’ be inserted somewhere in that sentence?).