Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Category Archives: News

Cardiff Hit List- March 2014

Having been off the scene for a while, what with having a baby and all, it appears I have a lot to catch up on. It’s great to see that Cardiff is still a viable place to start a new food business and the area seems to be thriving. James Sommerin obviously thinks so with his new restaurant The Esplanade set to open soon in Penarth. Very excited about that!

With so many new places and a few oldies that I still haven’t managed to get around to yet, I thought I’d put together a hit list so I have something to aim for.

In no particular order….

Hang Fire Smokehouse– I say ‘in no particular order’ but this is definitely at the top of my list and has been for ages. I know it isn’t new but every time I have planned to give it a try something has come up. I WILL be tasting Hang Fire Smokehouse as soon as possible.

Kimchi– I love Korean food so I’m really excited by the opening of this little restaurant on Cowbridge Road East. It has had some great reviews so far despite not even having a website.

The Discovery– The next installment in Knife and Fork Food’s little empire. The Discovery opens this week. I can’t make the opening but I hope to go along and check it out very soon.

Urban Tap House– A bar devoted to craft beer and burgers? Say no more.

Mission Burrito– Cardiff blogger Gourmet Gorro has got me excited about this one. It may be a chain but it’s a small one and burritos are definitely a welcome addition to the Cardiff lunch scene.

The Deck– Now this isn’t new and I can’t believe I still haven’t been! I reviewed Love Peace and Cupcake a while back but I haven’t been to The Deck since their take over and I really really must go!

I’d love to hear any recommendations you have too.

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My Japanese Kit Kat Obsession- Part II

In honour of my new quest I have been doing some research into the Japanese Kit Kat market and it has only made me more determined to try as many of them as I can. With flavours like European Cheese flavour who could resist?

I have discovered that on average a new kit kat flavour is released every 6 weeks in Japan! Most of them don’t stick around for long and many of them are regional varieties only found in a small number of places. This has made Kit Kat collecting in Japan more common place than I had imagined because even over there, they are not all widely available to get hold of. I have scoured many blogs and found stories of people taking special trips across Japan to find new varieties only found in a very remote regions. In fact, as most flavours are only sold for a small amount of time, Kit Kats in Japan are a collectors dream.

So why are there so many Kit Kats in Japan? Well, Japan has an ever-changing confectionary market. It is how brands survive out there but British companies have struggled to get into the shops. Coincidently, Kit Kat is very similar to the Japanese word ‘Kitto Katsu’ which is loosely translated as ‘Surely win’. As a result, Kit Kats have become a gift of choice for the people of Japan as a good luck present, especially for young people taking exams.

I realise the fact that I don’t live in Japan is going to make this challenge tricky but that’s part of the fun. I have found some websites that sell Japanese Kit Kats, although for a premium price and eBay has an unexpected amount of sellers too. With the postage costs from Japan though, these Kit Kats are going to be quite pricey so I will have to try not to get carried away.

So, here goes. Wish me luck! Time to purchase my first Japanese Kit Kat.

Our Precious New Arrival And A Break From The Blog

Two weeks ago today I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! It was a bit of a shock because she had to be delivered 10 weeks early and as a result she is still in hospital but doing very well.

As you can imagine, it is a very stressful time for us so I am going to have a break from Your Last Mouthful to be with my daughter at the hospital and some time off when she comes home.

I will be back with a fresh approach to the website and some new ideas. I will be available again for any freelance writing opportunities and reviews in the future so please stay in touch.

xx

My Very Own Blend Of Tea!

I recently entered a competition to design a tea for the company Tea Horse which would be sold on their website. Well I only went and won!

My tea, Pistachio Rose was inspired by a delicious pistachio cake I had tried and flavours I had experienced on a trip to Morocco. I love the flavours of rose and often make my own tea with rose buds and green tea. The introduction of the pistachios was thanks to the cake!

My tea is a blend of Chinese green tea, rose petals, pistachio nuts, Japanese Hojicha roasted green tea, rooibos, calendula petals, sunflower petals, almond slices, mallow flowers and vanilla.

tea

It is for sale at Tea Horse from 26th August and is part of the August subscription box. I’m very excited! If you try it, please let me know what you think.

An Unwelcome Diner…

A few weeks ago we had a special visitor that we planned to take out for tea and cake. Unfortunately, not everyone was very welcoming when it came to letting him dine in their establishment. Well, he doesn’t wipe his feet and he wouldn’t have any issues taking food off your plate if it took his fancy so I can see he wouldn’t be everyone’s favourite dining partner. He also prefers to have his dinner on the floor which is a little unconventional.

This aside, I didn’t realise it would be quite so difficult to book somewhere. Asking around on Twitter, I was overwhelmed by responses from people telling me we needed to go to Hamptons in Penarth. Along with a quirky setting, delicious cakes and a friendly service, they also have a doggy dining area and offer furry diners a free doggychino.

While we tucked into our waffles and coffee, Oscar the dog enjoyed his doggychino and the attention he got from two legged diners passing by into the Blue Pelican Cafe.

I don’t have a dog but it was refreshing to know that if Oscar visits again we will still be able to go out for lunch and that he will be welcome. I think it’s a great idea and another reason to visit the fabulous Hampton when you’re in Penarth.

Oscar the dog

The Great Roath Bake Off 2013- Well Done Wayne!

Following last years success, organiser Wayne Courtney can be very proud that this year’s Great Roath Bake Off kicked last years backside!

Cakes- judgesWith fellow judges, I chomped my way through almost 100 entries. I have never eaten so much cake! The standard of entries were high but the winning cake stood out above the rest.

cakes- caramel

Lisa Watts’ Chocolate Salted Caramel Crunch cake was my favourite by far. I clocked it before the judging began because it looked so delicious and it tasted even better than it looked. It scored very highly on all four of our judging criteria- taste, presentation, quality of bake and texture.

The savoury category was a welcome break from all the sugar and the winner was Bill Ward with his Pork Pie. Pork Pies don’t usually float my boat but this one was packed full of well seasoned meat and light and crispy pastry and was a clear winner for me.

cakes- pie

There was also a Professional Bake category won by Nato & Co Portuguese with their Portuguese Tarts and a Children’s category won by Molly Spivey with her White chocolate, pomegranate and raspberry cake.

All in all a great day and I am honoured to have been asked to judge. Roll on next years event!

cakes- cakes

The Great Roath Bake Off 2013!

It’s that time of year again. The time of year I get to eat masses of cakes at Roath’s favourite food event; The Great Roath Bake Off!

Following the success of last year’s bake off at The Coffee House on Wellfield Road, organiser Wayne Courtney has plans to make this year’s event even bigger and better than last year. This time it will be held at St Andrew’s Church Hall and as well as the bake off there will be live music, refreshments and craft stalls.

I was a judge last year and I am very pleased to be invited back this year along with some familiar faces from last year and some new faces included BBC weather lady Sue Charles!

There are three categories this year:

Best Cake
Best Bake: Bread/Pie/Other
Best Bake/Cake Under 16′s

Entrants should bring their cake or bake to the venue by 1pm on the day, and you won’t need to fill in an entry form in advance. Entry is £3 per bake. A panel of expert judges (yes, that’s right, experts!…ish) will decide the winners of The Great Roath Bake Off 2013.

The Bake Off takes place on Saturday 6th April and is open to everyone. It’s such a fun day so bring your cakes and bakes down or just come along for an entertaining day out!

The event is in aid of MacMillan and St Andrew’s Church fund. If you’d like to donate a raffle prize, please get in touch.

bake off

Honest Cooking iPad Magazine Launches!

You may or may not know that I am a regular contributor to a fantastic online food magazine called Honest Cooking. It features recipes along with regular columns, news and stories and some excellent food photography.

This month saw the launch of a the new Honest Cooking iPad magazine. The free iPad magazine is a spinoff from the website, and it is completely focused on interesting stories from the world of food and drink.

For me it is exactly what I look for in a food magazine. It’s geeky, interesting, inspiring and fun. I hope to have the opportunity to contribute to the content one day but until then, I will be reading it. It’s free so if you have an iPad, you can download it from the Apple News Stand- https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/honest-cooking-magazine/id590660455?ls=1&mt=8

Honest Cooking

Waiter Waiter, There’s A Fly In My Soup!

Following an experience recently where the meal I ordered was less than satisfactory, I’ve been thinking about the difficulties around dealing with such situations.

In any other situation, if I paid for a product or service and it was faulty or did not live up to expectations, I would complain or return the item for a refund or exchange. So why is it that when it comes to ordering a meal in a restaurant that is less than satisfactory, we often find it so difficult to say anything?

My recent experience went a little like this…

Friendly owner of a lovely little independent restaurant took my order along with the rest of my table. We ordered 4 pizzas which were all hand-made and arrived in good time. My pizza looked delicious but unfortunately it was burnt on the bottom. Everyone else’s was fine but mine tasted like burnt toast. I whinged and moaned to my friends but when the waiter came over to ask how our meal was, I smiled sweetly and told him it was lovely!

A brief round of questioning on Twitter revealed that I’m not alone here, many of you find it difficult to speak up if there is a problem with your food. So what stops us from complaining? After all, it is a product we have paid for and so it should meet expectations.

A difficulty for me is that it’s often the disruption to the meal that sending it back will cause. It means that you don’t get to eat with the rest of your party. Either their food goes cold while they wait for your replacement or they have finished by the time yours has arrived. Is it just better to grim and bear it?

The issue of whether a restaurant is an impersonal chain or a little independent restaurant where you are served by the owner has also been highlighted as a factor by my Twitter followers. This is certainly an issue for me although it really shouldn’t make a difference. I personally find it harder to complain to someone who is passionate about their food and has personally cooked it than to a waiter or waitress in a busy chain who is removed from the preparation of the meal.

But I guess it boils down to HOW unsatisfactory your meal is. If I didn’t enjoy a meal but there wasn’t really anything wrong with it, I definitely wouldn’t speak up. It is really a matter of opinion in this case and I would most likely eat up and not return. We’ve already established that I wouldn’t complain about something like my burnt pizza which I still ate but didn’t enjoy as much as I would have had it been cooked properly.

On the other end of the scale, I was once happily munching away on a Sunday roast in a restaurant when I came across a giant grub which had been boiled to death with the vegetables! Now this I did complain about. My fellow diners were put off their food after this and we all got our money refunded and we were offered replacements.

Interestingly, when discussing this on Twitter, it was the chefs among you that said they would complain and they would appreciate the feedback so that they could improve on their dishes. This makes sense and has made me rethink this whole issue. I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings so complaining is still tricky for me but there is no harm in offering some constructive feedback now is there?

I’m interested to know your opinion on this. How bad does a meal need to be for you to complain? You can enter your bad meal threshold on my poll below.

Change For Life Challenge- Sunday

Evening meal- Super Stew and Dumplings

I chose this recipe because it seemed perfect for a lazy cold Sunday. With just 2o minute preparation time but a long cooking time it’s a great one to do if you want minimal effort and you’re not going anywhere. You can just leave it simmering away while you get one with whatever you’re doing.

Ingredients for the stew

Ingredients for the stew

When I was making the dumplings I thought I’d got the measurements wrong because the dumplings were so tiny but I forgot how much they grow when they are cooking. I haven’t cooked dumplings for a long time but a slow cooked stew and dumplings is so comforting. I will definitely start cooking this kind of dish more often.

When making the dough for the dumplings, it’s tempting to add more water but persist with the 2 tablespoons if you can because it comes together in the end and you don’t want it to end up sticky.

Cooking and preparation time for this recipe were exactly as stated and it was a really easy dish to cook with plenty of variations that would be simple to do depending on your taste.

Even though you leave it to simmer for a long time, I would check often because you may need to add a little more water or stock. Apart from that, this involves very little effort once it’s bubbling away.

Perfect for a Sunday

Perfect for a Sunday

Recipe- serves 4

307 calories, 20 minutes prep time, 3 hours cooking time.

Ingredients:

2 tsp vegetable oil

280g lean braising steak, cut into chunks

450ml reduced-salt beef or vegetable stock

2 onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 large carrots, cut into chunks

2 celery sticks, sliced

1 bay leaf (optional)

250g closed cup mushrooms, halved

100g self-raising flour

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, or 2 tsp mixed dried herbs

50g reduced fat spread

freshly ground black pepper

What to do:

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large casserole dish or saucepan.

2. Add the beef and cook for 2-3 minutes over a high heat until it’s browned.

3. Pour the stock into the pan, adding the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, bay leaf and mushrooms. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and cook over a low heat for 1 hour. Add a little water if needed.

4. To make the dumplings, sift the flour into a bowl with the parsley and some black pepper. Add the reduced fat spread to the flour, then rub in with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add just enough cold water (about 2 tbsp) to make a soft dough. Knead the dough lightly for a moment, then form into 12 small dumplings.

5. add the dumplings into the stew, letting them sit on the surface. Cover and cook for another 25-30 minutes, until the dumplings are light and fluffy.

For this and many more recipes, sign up to Change4Life’s Food Smart Campaign and receive your free recipe booklet.

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