Category Archives: eating out

Looking for an alternative to the Jubilee? Try Kaya Festival in sunny North Wales

If you are looking for something different and eager to avoid the plethora of union flags and street parties, look no further, Kaya festival is where you want to be. Set against a backdrop of beaches, mountains and lush greenery on the Vaynol Estate in North Wales, it’s about as far from the Jubilee hype as you could hope for.

That is certainly where I will be next weekend as we set up shop to sell our hot and cold food. Kaya is a brand new festival that fuses African & Caribbean music from around the world, with acts and talent from closer to home. It is a festival that really is drawing inspiration from every part of the local community and that includes food and drink provision!

As well as selling good home cooked food I will be hosting cookery demonstrations along with Andrew the chef from Cottons Caribbean restaurant in London. The demos will take place on SUNDAY where we will showcase Caribbean cooking alongside dishes made with local Welsh produce. I will be taking my favourite ingredients from our local producers and using them in quick, easy to prepare dishes. Andrew will be talking us through how to cook good old Caribbean favourites such as jerk chicken

On the stall we will be selling freshly made summery dishes, salads, baps and wraps made with local cheeses, chorizo and lamb merguez sausage and cold drinks from the Anglesey Apple company.

As you can imagine its all systems go!!….orders are placed, a new team of young cooks has been trained and were all raring to go. All we need now is a healthy dose of sunshine plus some friendly faces to come and say hello, buy their lunch and watch us cook!

Thanks everyone and see you there

Denise xx

Tickets for Kaya are still available here

Weekend camping tickets cost £75  (£55 for students and unemployed) and day tickets cost £45 (£40 concessions).

Trains run directly from London Euston to Bangor and take about three and half hours, or four hours with one change at Crewe. Check out the trainline  or National Express for times and tickets.

Vaynol Estate…the location of Kaya

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A trip to Brixton Market

Its been a long time since I visited Brixton. Once upon a time, while I was a student in London, it was a regular haunt. My then boyfriend Gary was president of the student Union at Brixton College and he lived not much further up the road, so I often went over to visit and just as often went clubbing at ‘The Fridge’. Oh how I loved being a twenty-something in the 80’s! Back then the eclectic and vibrant market and Electric Avenue were a real revelation to me. I grew up in the suburbs and although we had several shops that sold Indian food, Brixton market with all its Caribbean delights were new, exciting and ready for exploration. The colourful exoticism of the market halls enticed me and kept me enthralled. My Jamaican boyfriend introduced me to patties and bun, curry goat and rice and peas and of course jerk chicken. I still love them to this day.

The recent history of Brixton market is one of degeneration, sell-offs and reprieves, followed by gentrification and trendy food establishments. When the council sold the market off in 2007, locals came together to save it from redevelopment. The Friends of Brixton Market (a voluntary not for profit group) was established by local resident Alex Holland in 2008. Made up of local residents, shoppers and people who just love the Market the aim was to see the market survive, thrive, improve and keep its character, while remaining affordable and culturally diverse.

The first four of these aims have definitely been achieved. The market is pretty much as I remember from my student days. The same riot of sound and colour greeted me and my teen and she was immediately captivated, just as I was twenty odd years ago. She loved it. The noise, diversity, characters and stalls!

The only thing that was noticeably different were the tiny cafe’s tucked in snugly alongside the breadfruit and akee, butchers, wig shops, fish, pattie stalls.

Hip cocktail bars such as Seven (fab mojito’s), kitchen shops selling local produce and shabby chic household goods (Brixton Cornercopia) share space with cafe’s such as Rosie’s deli, purveyor of great cakes.

Our lunch destination was French & Grace; a restaurant owned by Ellie and Rosie of salad club with whom I worked at Harvest last year. Seating only about twelve people inside (plus a few outside), it is small but perfectly formed. Informal and friendly it was like sitting down to dinner in my house. Cutlery brought to the table in a mug and food served on tin plates and dishes gave it an informal, picnic like quality.  It reminded me of their festival stall, but with a fixed counter, doors and windows.

It was great to catch up and see how full-time restaurant life suited them, plus the chance to eat their fab Mediterranean inspired street food (the lamb was delicious as was the toffee and ginger pudding with salted caramel sauce) and just sit and chill for a while as we watched the world go by before we headed back into central London for a trip to Tate Modern.

My return visit this Easter (the first time in about 15 years!) filled me with renewed hope for the future of Brixton market. It has survived with its charm intact and mercifully it still resembles the one I remember. The influx of creatives hasn’t taken away from the great stalls, great food and multicultural nature of the place.  The one thing I’m not sure about yet is whether it will meet those last two aims; to stay affordable and accessible to the local community. With the influx of trendy cafe’s and middle class chic comes the tourists looking for something new, the media types with plenty of disposable income. Brixton market was always the heart and soul of black Britain and I’d hate to see it become just another expensive fashionable foodie destination.

When it comes to prices though I’m probably not the best judge. I live in Wales where things are half the price of London and it always horrifies me how expensive food and drink is in the city. Still £7.50 for a cocktail; £8.00 for a wrap?….Call me a country bumpkin but I think this is quite expensive (back home no one would pay more than £3.50 for a wrap!)

The market arcades are open:

Monday – Wednesday from 8am – 6pm
Thursday – Saturday from 8am – 10pm
Sundays from 10am – 5pm

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Cennin: review

After a flat-out week of Christmas markets, jam and chutney making and three back to back supper clubs I thought it was time someone else cooked for me, so as a pre-Christmas treat while my parents were visiting I booked a table at Cennin.

Cennin (meaning leeks in Welsh) opened about four months ago. Owned by Brian and Ffiona Thomas of MooBaaOink local produce deli in Beaumaris with award-winning head chef Aled Williams in charge. Aled won the Welsh heats of The Great British Menu and was the youngest finalist in 2010, he won the acclaim of Gordon Ramsey back in 2006 and seems to have worked everywhere from the Bathers Pavillion in Sydney to Heston Blumenthals Fat Duck at Bray.

Back home in Wales Beaumaris seems to be turning into the gastro centre of the North..I’ve long been a fan of the loft restaurant and brasserie at Ye Olde Bulls Head and The White Lion prides itself on its use of local produce (although i’ve not eaten there recently so can’t comment on the quality) so I wondered whether they had met their match with Aled moving into town.

Back in October I met Aled in passing at Conwy Feast and watched his demo, praise was high amongst the other chefs for this new venture so I’ve been really keen to visit. It was coincidental that on the day we were due to go I discovered MooBaaOink had won the Daily Post food hero 2011.

Cennin is small and personal. It seats less than thirty and booking is essential at the weekend, although on the day we visited it was less busy. It is a simple unpretentious place, comfortably decorated with local art adorning the walls. Of course as it was Christmas we were also treated to a Christmas tree and tasteful decorations.

We were offered three different menu’s to chose from; the a la carte, December special and a seperate vegetarian (with a really nice selection of dishes). We did struggle a bit because we wanted things off the three different menu’s; Rosie wanted a vegetarian starter but a main off the December menu, the parents didn’t want dessert so went for a la carte, it was all so confusing but eventually we managed to work out the best solution, I had a starter from the December menu so madam could have her chicken and Aidan could have a pudding!! In fact I decided to opt for a vegetarian main. I remember when I was a full-time vegetarian I was always hugely disappointed with the selection that supposedly good restaurants had on offer (mostly uninspired and tasteless) so I thought I’d try one out here.

Rosie opted for a tomato and fennel risotto with pesto to start and she actually ate it all! That is reference enough in itself.

Aidan (the nine-year old) chose sweetcorn soup with Anglesey ham hock and basil oil as did my Dad. The soup was deliciously rich and creamy and totally won us over although the sweetcorn somewhat overwhelmed the ham hock and basil oil.

Mum chose scotch egg of Llandudno smoked haddock, king prawn and Anglesey quail egg with braised leeks, watercress salad and sauce vierge which was her favourite dish of the meal. A unusual and unexpected combination that worked well with the leeks and sauce vierge. Balanced to perfection.

I chose the Ballotine of Anglesey ham hock with Welsh honey mustard and celeriac remoulade. I’m a massive fan of celeriac remoulade and this didn’t disappoint, a perfectly combination of creaminess and acidity . The ham hock was cooked to perfection, delicate, light and melt in the mouth but it was perhaps a little overwhelmed by the remoulade and I hardly tasted the honey mustard (I’m a woman who likes to be hit in the taste buds!!).

For main course Rosie chose the roast breast of chicken with pan-fried chestnut gnocchi, sautéed sprout leaves, wilted spinach and thyme leaves which once again she ate (mostly..the chestnut gnocchi was less popular with her), a sure sign that it was good.

Mum chose the pan-fried fillet of Menai sea bass with peperonata, roasted polenta, aubergine puree and marjoram sauce. Of all the dishes on the night I felt this was the least successful, everything was cooked beautifully but polenta is hard to pull off and is not to everyone’s taste and I know mum wasn’t that keen. She also felt that there was a bit too much peperonata for her taste, although I know she loved the fish.

Dad opted for the grilled fillet of halibut with sun-dried tomato and olive crusted Anglesey potatoes, wilted red chard and verjus sauce which he loved and I went for the vege option of field mushroom, spinach and pine nut filo galette with cumin roasted new potatoes…and I have to congratulate Aled because he impressed me with such a strong vegetarian main course. It really was a lovely combination of woody earthy mushroom, crispy filo pastry and a lovely rich sauce.

Aidan went for a burger and chips…oh well!

The food was fantastic, the service friendly and efficient I couldn’t fault it. My usual bug bear…portion size, was not an issue and actually we were so full even I turned down dessert (although I did ‘help’ Aidan out with his). Aidan just HAD to have a chocolate fondant with white chocolate bubbles and mint choc chip ice cream. I have to say it was the bubbles that enticed him but these were the least impressive part of the desert (I’ve never been one for froths, foams and bubbles!!). The fondant on the other hand was sublime as was the ice cream. We almost fought over it and I wished I’d ordered my own.

I have to say I loved Cennin. Everything was beautifully presented, but it wasn’t just art on a plate, it did actually fulfill the role that a meal out is supposed to; it filled me up. I knew I’d eaten well. Okay it might be a bit on the pricey side for most people in North Wales but perhaps that’s also the result of us not being used to having top quality, high-end restaurants around here. His attention to detail, use of high quality local produce and commitment to local suppliers justifies the price tag and although it would stop me from eating here regularly, it certainly wouldn’t stop me from coming back….in fact wild horses won’t keep me from Cennin and I can’t wait until my next visit.

At the end of the evening it was a pleasure to meet and chat to Aled and it was easy to see how much he loves what he does……oh and the little matter of the Daily Post food hero award? Well no competition really…they deserve every bit of their success.

Cennin is open Tuesday til Sunday 6.30pm til 9.30pm

For further information and to make a booking call 01248 811230

13 Castle Street
Beaumaris
Anglesey
LL58 8AP

info@restaurantcennin.com

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Signatures Restaurant, Conwy: Review

I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of Signatures before Conwy Feast. When the idea of cooking a supper club with Jimmy was first mentioned I quickly went off to do my research.  I discovered that Jimmy Williams, the executive chef at Signatures has some fine credentials.  Gold medal winning chef; part of the Welsh culinary team. I was quite daunted at the prospect of meeting him and kicking myself that I hadn’t been paying  more attention to what is a slowly improving local culinary scene, especially when I regularly bemoan our lack of decent eating establishments.

Of course once I’d met and worked with Jimmy I realised how welcoming and talented he is and so I had to go and see Signatures and taste his food for myself. It would have been rude not to. So we booked for the family and made it our post festival treat, well-earned and totally justified. Just to add, before you claim my review is biased, most people will know that I’m not one to shy away from speaking my mind and so I promise complete honesty.

I was rather confused when I first visited the restaurant, to find it situated in an upmarket caravan/holiday park. I thought it was  a strange place to find a quality restaurant and wondered whether customers had trouble finding it stuck as it is outside the main town. I guess from what I have heard that it gets great business from those staying at the park and since its reputation is growing, word of mouth is enough to bring in the rest.

I have to say on my first visit I was a bit overwhelmed by the decor. It’s not at all what I’d expected, especially for North Wales and it did look as if a fashionable city restaurant had just been plonked down in the middle of the park. It’s not a rustic, casual drop in kind of place, in fact it’s quite glitzy with just a hint of eighties bling, but still with undeniable style. Now I am pretty comfortable taking my unruly kids to restaurants, even quite posh ones, but im not sure everyone would be. Although it is certainly less formal than a high-end fine dining establishment, it was still formal enough for me to wish my son hadn’t fallen in the harbour during the afternoon…his slightly muddy appearance and vague aroma of sea life made me want to hide him in the corner!

To be honest though no-one batted an eyelid so before anyone looked more closely at him we settled ourselves in the lounge where the attentive waiter wasted no time in taking drinks orders. Since we were a little early there was plenty of time to sit and relax after a hectic day and take a leisurely look over the menu.  The waiter also gave us a children’s menu with its ubiquitous pizza, sausage and chicken or fish goujons. I’m not keen on children’s menu’s. I’d rather restaurants offered kids smaller, maybe less fancy portions of the adult dishes. I’ve always believed in getting them started in appreciating proper food early and although I know not everyone has such food loving kids, I’m still not sure a restaurant such as this should indulge the pizza generation…but thats just my opinion!

Aidan did in fact spurn the children’s menu opting for his favourite roast beef dinner. In fact my father, step-mother and I also went for the beef, I think we were in need of a really good dinner! Sean opted for Welsh lamb shoulder and Roisin in her own bizarre style asked for chicken breast with yorkshire pudding and no gravy. For starter she chose soup of the day which was vegetable as did my step-mum, Sean chose warm smoked salmon with sautéed potatoes and a watercress and orange salad and Dad and I went for Chicken liver pate with toasted brioche and fruit chutney. So while our food was prepared we continued to chill out with our drinks. There was no pressure to hurry and it was a lovely relaxed environment.

Chicken liver pate with fruity chutney and toasted brioche...beautifully presented on a piece of Welsh slate

Ro's vegetable soup

Sean's salmon with sautéed potatoes and watercress and orange salad

Our waitress eventually escorted us to our table where we were presented with a bowl of fresh warm bread, something else they make at the restaurant. Shortly afterwards our starters arrived. The soup was tasty and flavoursome, although not wildly exciting, the salmon was a lovely combination of flavours, but Sean refused to let me photograph it. He hates me reviewing and wont be part of it! The pate was delicious. Mild, delicate and creamy it contrasted well with the sweetness of the really lovely fruity chutney and buttery brioche.

With four of us having roast beef, Sean refusing to let me take a picture of his lamb and Roisin proceeding to fill her yorkshire pudding with chopped chicken breast, potato and broccoli there was little to do but get on with eating. Aidan had already been to the counter of the open plan kitchen, chatted to the chefs, checked out what they were doing and demanded the biggest yorkshire pudding they had with extra gravy. I don’t think all kids would get away with that!

beef with all the trimmings and the most enormous yorkshire puddings!!

The meal was perfect. Roisin said it was the best chicken breast she had EVER had and Aidan said the yorkshire puddings were better than mine (although I think this assertion was based on size alone!). Sean loved the lamb (that’s all he would say) and the beef was tender, cooked medium as requested and the potatoes were golden and crispy. My main bug bear when I eat out is usually restaurant portion sizes, but there were no such complaints here. We were all heartily full, but not over full. We only realised afterwards that we could have had more vegetables if only we’d asked, so that’s our fault really.

Of course we saved some room for pudding. Four of our party opted for the trio of home-made ice cream and sorbet (combinations of raspberry sorbet, vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream, milk sorbet). The fruitier sorbet was lovely, really tangy and full of flavour, but the milk sorbet was a bit nondescript for me, I like big flavours and this was rather too subtle. The vanilla wasn’t as popular as the rest either. We agreed it needed a stronger hit of vanilla and tasted more like frozen cream than ice cream. Dad chose the Irish cream coffee brulee with vanilla shortbread and milk sorbet, which sounded like rather a rich combination, but he said it was lovely and I opted for the pannacotta with mixed berry compote. I can’t remember what the sorbet was, raspberry I think, but I do remember it was delicious! personally I would have liked a bigger pannacotta but then I’m a greedy girl and pannacotta is one of my favourites.

pannacotta with mixed berry compote and raspberry sorbet

Dad's Irish cream coffee Brulee with vanilla shortbread and milk sorbet

trio of ice cream and sorbet: chocolate, raspberry and strawberry. All made on the premises.

At £19.95 for three courses I would say this is very good value. The standard of the food was exceptional, it was beautifully cooked and presented and the service was excellent. Some people don’t like an open plan kitchen but I think it makes for a more friendly environment. You can see who is cooking your food and that gives a greater appreciation of the attention they give to detail at Signatures.

I can honestly say they impressed me. The food wasn’t as fussed about with as I’d anticipated (mainly based on Jimmy’s OCD need for tiny perfect portions for his Conwy Feast menu) and the portions satisfied even the biggest appetite. Based on this experience I will definitely be making a return visit. Next time though I think it will be minus the kids and on a grown up evening out.

Signatures Restaurant : Aberconwy Resort & Spa : Aberconwy Park : Conwy : LL32 8GA

Telephone 01492 583513

Email bookings@signaturesrestaurant.co.uk

opening times courtesy of Signatures website

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Christmas menu update

The festive period is rapidly approaching and bookings and inquiries are coming in thick and fast for both the December supper clubs, as well as for private Christmas parties in the period between the 5th and 18th December.

If you would like to book your own Christmas do with a difference drop me an email at moelfabansecretsupperclub@live.co.uk or give me a call on 07775 828769. We are offering a location for your party any day within that period and either a gorgeous, seasonal three course lunch or dinner for £21.50 a head or, the full monty (cocktail on arrival and coffee and Welsh cheeses at the end) for the usual £30 a head.

As well as this you also get a choice!!  In a break with the norm we are cooking a slightly fuller menu  from which you can choose when you book…the seasonal menu is as follows;

Starters:

  • Beetroot soup with feta or goats cheese
  • Chicken terrine with home made chutney and sourdough toast
  • Traditional Conwy mussel moules mariniere with bread

Main course:

  • Slow roast pork with braised red cabbage, roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and gravy
  • Chicken with basil butter and pancetta, potato dauphinoise and ratatouille
  • Wild mushroom and squash risotto with white truffle oil

Dessert:

  • Chocolate brownie with mincemeat ice cream
  • Blackcurrant trifle
  • Seasonal crumble with creme anglaise

I hope there is something there that you find tempting and I look forward to hearing from you. If you think you might want to join us on the 17th there are just a couple of spaces left so don’t delay!!

Denise x

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Polpo

It’s not often I get to totally indulge myself, but on a rare free day (meaning no kids) during a visit down south to see my parents, I took a trip into the city for a lovely lunch, before a meeting with my writing mentor. It’s no secret that I miss eating out and that there is little opportunity for leisurely lunches back in Wales and since i’d read several glowing reviews of Polpo and sister restaurants Polpetto and Spuntino in the past few months I thought I’d pay the first of these a visit to check it out.

I wasn’t entirely convinced I’d like the ‘small plate’ concept as usually my leaning is towards a good-sized serving of hearty country fare, but since none of the reviewers appeared to have left the place hungry I guessed I should put my faith in their comments.

Polpo is beautifully laid back and full of understated style. Modelled on the traditional Venetian bacaro but housed in a traditional 18th century London building, it exudes its own rustic charm. My table faced a pretty little internal courtyard, bathed in sunshine and overflowing with scarlet geraniums I could almost have been in Venice. Well maybe not, but it certainly succeeded in reminding me of some of the places I visited when I was there many years ago.

Thankfully I got there early enough so that I didn’t have to wait for a table; fifteen minutes later the place was packed out. The young friendly waiters and waitresses were attentive and helpful and very ready to answer my questions “what are polpette”?  and the menu was adequate without being too extensive.

I ordered smoked salmon, horseradish and dill crostino to begin and then Polpette (meat balls), fennel and endive salad with almonds and some grilled focaccia to follow. I wasn’t sure how big the small plates would be so I erred on the side of caution not wishing to leave hungry! In the end I found that I had over ordered and couldn’t manage the last piece of focaccia.

Smoked salmon, horseradish and dill crostino

I was pleasantly surprised at the good chunky crostino with its generous helping of smoked salmon and the dollop of horseradish was as I like it, creamy and with a kick, but not too overpowering.

The polpette were deliciously rich and tomatoey, tender and juicy while the fennel and endive salad was sharp and fresh. The two complimented each other beautifully and I really didn’t need the focaccia, which was the only disappointing thing about the lunch. I like a chunky, earthy focaccia liberally strewn with rosemary and garlic, which is how I make it, while this was a rather thin and more ciabatta like bread.

I'm a rubbish food photographer...my stomach got the better of me and I layered everything on to my plate before I photographed it!!

While I still had time to spare I finished with a Machiatto and some chocolate salami, one of my favourite coffee accompaniments and one not often seen on restaurant menus. The waitress and I had a long conversation about it and I ascertained that this was a sugarless version made with figs. It certainly wasn’t as sweet as when I make it using cranberries or cherries, but was just as nice, with its slightly salty, earthy taste derived from the nuts and figs. It went very well with the dark chocolate and coffee.

Machiatto and chocolate salami

Russell Norman and Polpo definitely won me over and gained another fan. I have to admit that it really wasn’t a hard job; I am already a lover of good Italian food and all they had to do was give me that and plenty of it.  I want to go back. I want to take friends, but I will now have to wait until my next visit to London to try one of the other restaurants in the group.  I can’t wait!

My lunch cost me £20 for 3 courses and coffee. This included service. Bookings can only be made for lunch.

Polpo
41 Beak Street
London
W1F  9SB

020 7734 4479

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The pop-up brunch club

My very first pop-up event and wow!! I’m totally overwhelmed by its success.

Supper club packed its bags and moved into the new Llys Dafydd square on Bethesda High Street, for the first of many monthly produce markets which will be held on the site. Llys Dafydd is almost a work of art in itself with many members of the community (artists, builders, gardeners) involved in its construction. From the beautiful wrought iron gates, to the stenciled slate designs, Bethesda has a rich history. A history so closely entwined with the slate industrythat it was only fitting that this be commemorated in its design.

My little slate kiosk and menu board...bilingual of course

My little slate kitchen was a pleasure to work in even though all the fixtures and fittings hadn’t quite arrived in time. The two ring electric hob was painfully slow to heat up and wasn’t big enough for a frying pan and a big saucepan side by side. Pete, my helper for the day went home and fetched his electric George Foreman griddle thing…which needed a drip tray, but we didn’t have one. We wedged tea towels round the base, which are now in the bin!. We couldn’t fit a coffee pot under the tap of the urn (so had to fill the coffee pots cup by cup). The stainless steel work surface hadn’t arrived so we used a trestle table, which was far too low to chop vegetables on and I made three times as much soup as I needed since the sun came out, making soup less desirable.

Other than these few teething problems the day went amazingly well. So well in fact, that we ran out the local butchers lovely dry cured bacon so had to run up the road to get more, 5 minutes before he closed for the day.  The butchers apparently had a huge queue of people outside, that had gone to him from the market. Many of the stall holders had sold all their stock by 11.30am (we only opened at 10) including myself (my jam and pickle reserves have run dry for the rest of this month) and I ran out of coffee in the cafe. One person said

“wow! proper fresh coffee from a pot, you don’t get much of that round here”. Half an hour later it had gone.

My suppliers really need a mention as they were fantastic for getting me the best local produce, at a great price. Moelyci that provided lettuce and onions, Pippa and John for carrots, coriander and beetroot, Mintons wholefood wholesalers in Llandrindod Wells for organic tea, coffee and sugar and Pobty Cae Groes, (Pobty is bakery in Welsh for all you non-Welsh speakers), the most local bakery anyone could wish to have at the end of their street and providers of the most ENORMOUS rolls and baps. So kind are they that they threw in a free bara brith (Welsh fruit bread), pack of lemon and poppy-seed muffins and loaf with my order. Green Fox supplied all of my environmentally friendly / biodegradable packaging and finally a massive thank you to Gavin at the local Londis who helped me out in my hour of need (after I’d been let down by a supplier) with Welsh butter, milk and Snowdon Black bomber cheese which made up my Welsh ploughman’s in a bun along with lettuce and my onion marmalade.

We had giant bubbles from Dr Zigs and music from local musicians Gwibdaith Hen Fran and of course a timely visit from the sun, which we’d feared would not appear at all, as we erected the marquees in torrential rain the night before.

As for food, the local community go for hearty fare. We are country folk and like to eat well, so tea, coffee and  bacon baps went down a storm. The BLT mawr (Welsh for large) and ploughman’s in a bap did OK too. Even though we will be eating carrot and coriander soup for the rest of the week, I don’t mind at all. Those that had it, loved it and I will be a better judge of quantity next time.

The one sad thing about the day was that I hardly took any pictures. I’m just hoping I can get a few from others that did and then I will share them with you.

Market dates for the rest of the summer are:

13th August

10th September

8th October

and then hopefully we will find an indoor venue for two pre-Christmas markets before we end for the winter.

Other dates for Moel Faban suppers and the supper club are as follows:

22nd, 23rd and 24th July: Pop-up cafe at  Gwyl Gardd Goll festival a lovely little festival on the Faenol Estate with Gruff Rhys, Badly Drawn Boy, Echo and the Bunnymen and Cate le Bon,  plus a host of my favourite local musicians…Mr Huw, 9Bach, Gwibdaeth Hen Fran.

29th/30th July: secret suppers…spaces still available so book soon to secure a place

Then for the duration of August I will be off on a little jaunt to Crickhowell as crew caterer at The Green Man festival followed by what will be a well needed holiday eating my way around Ireland.

Dates for September have not yet been set as I have other plans that need firming up, but don’t worry supper club fans, I know I sound horribly busy but we will be back with a vengeance by the end of the month.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under British food, Butchers, eating out, local produce, Pop-up cafe, produce markets, Sources and suppliers, welsh cheese

Shoreditch grind

I recently read a post by fellow food blogger Food for Think about new London expresso bar Shoreditch grind. In North Wales we are somewhat deprived of eating places, let alone cool coffee bars, so on my frequent jaunts to London I take the opportunity to indulge my yearning for a nice meal or two.

As I travelled down on the train this week, I texted a friend to arrange a lunch meet. Her text back went as follows

“Want to check out new cool coffee shop in East London

A little light bulb flickered in my head

“It isn’t called the Shoreditch Grind by any chance is it”? I replied

Two hours later we were ensconced in a pair of window seats looking out over Old Street roundabout and mulling over the menu. I admit I went with some trepidation, hoping that the glitches highlighted in the food for think post had now been ironed out.  It was after all nearly a week later.

It was still easy to tell that it was early days, I wouldn’t say the staff had reached the point of calm confidence, but they were friendly, helpful and not too stressed.

Shoreditch grind serves as another trendy addition to an area that I have seen change so much over the past 11 years (my Mum used to work for Jubilee 2000 which once had its home on Great Eastern Street; I used to visit her there from time to time). I loved its quirky, reclaimed, industrial appearance, enhanced by cool design features (spiral stairs, lights, old school type of chairs) and a soundtrack of 80’s music. One complaint was that we both found the stools pretty uncomfortable. My friend who is quite small struggled to actually stay on hers!

teapigs tea

There was a small but enticing range of food on offer. My friend and I both ordered toasted ciabatta rolls, hers with rocket, salami and mozzerella and mine with cheddar ham and piccalilli. They were a little flat afer toasting and slightly hard going on the teeth but tasted good, mine oozed with piccalilli which slightly overpowered the other flavours.

I loved the stylish little touches, from the crumpled cup style water glasses and the opportunity to help myself to endless top ups, to the counter top jars full of intriguing looking teas from ethical tea suppliers teapigs and fresh mint leaves which gave off their pungent scent at the counter as we paid for our food.

the crumpled cup style water glasses

I drank a creamy latte while my friend ordered a cappuccino to accompany her cake, which we had both chosen before our sandwiches had even arrived! We ordered a raspberry crumble muffin and a pear and lavender cake. It was rather disconcerting to have our food served in paper bags, even when we were obviously sitting in and I hope they do provide plates in the future. Having said this when we asked at the counter if they had a knife so we could cut our cakes in half to share, they were happy to cut them for us and provide plates.

Both cakes were delicious. The muffin was light, fruity and the topping crumble sweet and crispy whilst the pear and almond cake was deliciously moist, the lavender a pleasing compliment to the pear. There is always the risk that lavender can overwhelm other flavours, but the small sprinkling didn’t, its flowery essence gave a little hit every now and again.

the fruity insides of my muffin!

yummy cakes

The staff were friendly and there was no hint of discord, or any attempt to hurry us as my friend and I sat and chatted endlessly.

I really hope the Shoreditch Grind finds its feet and establishes itself. It is a welcome addition and a great antidote to the indistinct tedium of the Starbucks and Cafe Nero’s of this world. The only reason we popped into Starbucks on the way out was to use the loo. As soon as ‘the Grinds’ are up and running there will no longer be a need to even go near the place!

Shoreditch Grind can be found at;

213 Old Street, London, EC1V 9NR

020 7490 7490

 

 

 

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