Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Category Archives: opinion

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.

Advertisements

Breast is Best! But in a Creme Caramel?!

If you’ve ever breast-fed your baby you may or may not have been surprised by the amount of people asking ‘have you tried it?’ ‘what does it taste like’ , even on one occasion ‘can I try some?!’. Although most people would probably shy away if they were offered a taste, it did get me thinking, is there a market for breast milk products?

The answer bizarrely is yes! Scarily it turns out it’s more popular than I was anticipating and there’s even a breast milk cook book, internet forums and a Facebook page sharing breast milk recipes. Very odd indeed!

In early 2011, Icecreamists invented the ‘Baby Gaga’. An ice cream made from breast milk, vanilla and lemon zest. The Covent Garden based ice cream parlour paid women to donate expressed breast milk which was served in ice cream form by a waitress dressed as a ‘baby gaga’. Although proving very popular (especially amongst women) much controversy ensued including a legal battle with Lady Gaga over the name.

Before the Icecreamists, New York chef Daniel Angerer caused a commotion by creating breast milk cheese using his wife’s milk. If you would like the recipe, he has posted it on his blog!

A few searches on google has bought up many blogs with recipes for breast milk products from cupcakes, to milkshakes to pies.

So in the interest of creativity, I have taken inspiration for my own breast milk dessert. I haven’t actually made this I have to stress and I find the idea quite bizarre. I’m not sure I would like to share my breast milk with dinner guests but if you’re going to make anything with breast milk, surely a sweet crème caramel without all the sugar is as good an option as any?

Take any crème caramel recipe e.g. this one from BBC Good Food and substitute the milk for breast milk. You can leave out the sugar because breast milk is sweet. Healthier too! Enjoy!

Personally, I will only be sharing my breast milk with my baby….

My Japanese Kit Kat Obsession- The First Three!

I am totally overwhelmed by the endless list of Japanese Kit Kat flavours so it was quite hard to know where to start. I quickly found that despite there being hundreds, some are easier to get hold of in the UK than others with the rarest fetching a princely sum. I decided to start at the cheaper end of the scale for my first sample.

I’m glad I did because what I didn’t realise until they arrived is that Japanese Kit Kats are significantly smaller than the ones we are used to over here. They have two fingers and are about half the length of ours so really quite tiny.

Anyway, here’s what I tried…

Cinnamon Roll

This one is really nice. A good choice to ease myself in because it is a pleasant familiar flavour. The cinnamon is really strong and it has crunchy bits in the chocolate representing the ‘roll’.

Purple Sweet Potato

I was expecting this to taste like sweet potato as we know it but apparently a purple sweet potato is sweeter and fruitier than our orange variety (I have never tried one so I have no frame of reference). It is native to Okinawa island and is therefore a regional limited edition. Exciting!

It is certainly very sweet and has a fruity flavour not unlike plum. It’s nice but I can’t tell you whether it tastes like a purple sweet potato having never tried one.

Amaou Strawberry

There are lots of strawberry varieties. This one is quite subtle mixed with white chocolate. It’s incredibly sweet but the flavour fades quickly and is quite forgettable.

You can read more about my new obsession here:

My Japanese Kit Kat Obsession- Just the beginning!

My Japanese Kit Kat Obsession- Part II

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.

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

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.

My Japanese Kit Kat Obsession- Just The Beginning!

Every so often, something comes along that really excites me and I start developing a bit of an obsession. It doesn’t happen a lot but when it does, I’m unstoppable and get really involved with my new passion. I’m the same with food but I don’t think I’ve got so excited about a range of food products for a long time.

It’s not a new discovery, they have been around for a long time but I have only just delved into the world of what is essentially a huge craze amongst similar food geeks.  I’m taking about the crazy selection of  Japanese Kit Kats! From the relatively dull to the completely insane! Would you believe there are such flavours as Soy Sauce (currently the most popular variety in Japan), Green Tea, Sweet Potato, Water Melon and Salt just to name a few.

Unbeknown to me, there is already a crazy underground world of Kit Kat collectors. Food bloggers, food geeks and the simply insane all over the world are after these treasures and have been known to pay upwards of £200 per bar for those more difficult to get hold of.

I have decided to join the madness and make it my mission to try as many Japanese Kit Kat flavours as I can.

If you love a geeky foodie project as much as me, you might be interested in my progress so I will post my finds and thoughts on here. In the meantime, if you are able to offer any help by way of where I can get my hands on some of the more unusual offerings I will be most grateful.

Now, I’ve sacrificed my lunch break to write this and it’s made me hungry so I best go and buy myself a kit kat!

 

Change For Life Challenge- Saturday

Breakfast- Potato and Poached Egg Hash

I chose this recipe because it sounded like a naughty weekend breakfast but it is surprisingly only 194 calories per portion and the portion is a fair size for breakfast.

Ingredients

Ingredients

I love fried potato and bacon, who doesn’t? And the addition of the tomatoes and spring onions made it taste fresh and less stodgy.

The cooking times for this were spot on but that is assuming you have already cooked and chilled the potatoes or have some left over from the day before. If you need to cook the potatoes at the same time, add another 20 minutes to the recipe. Fried potatoes work better with cold potatoes but it isn’t essential.

I love poached egg and you can’t beat a nice runny one in my opinion but that of course is up to you.

Perfect weekend breakfast!

Perfect weekend breakfast!

Recipe- serves 4

194 calories per portion, 10 minutes prep time, 20 minutes cooking time

Ingredients:

3 tsp vegetable oil

3 lean rashers of back bacon, chopped

400g cold cooked potatoes, cut into chunks

4 spring onions, finely chopped

4 tomatoes, chopped

4 eggs

Freshly ground pepper

What to do:

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the bacon, cooking it for 1-2 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook over a medium heat for 12-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned.

2. add the spring onions and tomatoes and cook over a low heat for another 4-5 minutes, while poaching the eggs.

3. Poach the eggs in simmering water for 3-4 minutes, until the whites are set and the yolks still runny. (Like them firmer? Poach them for longer).

4. Share the potato hash between 4 warm plates and place a poached egg on top. Add a pinch of black pepper and serve.

Sign up for Change4Life’s free recipe planning for more healthy recipes.

Change For Life Challenge- Friday

Evening Meal- Vegetable Jalfrezi

Friday night is the perfect night for a curry. After a hard week, a curry feels like a treat but there is no reason for it to be unhealthy. This vegetable Jalfrezi is packed full of vegetables and if you’re craving meat, you can change the chickpeas for chicken.

Ingredients for this veggy curry

Ingredients for this veggie curry

I am partial to a vegetable curry so I went for the non meat version found in the recipe booklet. It was very easy to make and the cooking times were accurate. Brown rice takes a little longer than white rice so remember that when working out your timings but everything is clearly laid out in the instructions so you shouldn’t go wrong.

It was pretty tasty with the chunky vegetables and the chickpeas made it nice and filling. In fact, the portions were very generous and each one was still only 401 calories. I wouldn’t usually buy a curry paste. I like to make my own so I know exactly what’s in it and so that I can get the flavour I want but if you’re pushed for time or new to cooking, a paste from the shop works fine. When looking around the shops, I found a few and they all varied in calories and fat content so that’s worth checking when choosing yours.

I really liked the inclusion of an apple which isn’t something I’ve thought of before but it added a lovely sweetness. I served my curry with the optional coriander and I think it really added to the flavour. I love coriander but if you’re not keen, it still works well without.

Perfect for a Friday night

Perfect for a Friday night

Recipe- Serves 4

401 calories per portion, 20 minutes prep time, 40 minutes cook time.

Ingredients:

2 tsp vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped

1 eating apple, cored and chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tbsp Jalfrezi curry paste

1 large carrot, sliced

1 pepper, deseeded and chopped

400g can chopped tomatoes

200g cauliflower. broken into florets

410g can chickpeas (canned in water), rinsed and drained

300ml reduced-salt vegetable stock

180g wholegrain brown rice

50g frozen peas

2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (optional)

4 tbsp low-fat plain yogurt, to serve

salt and freshly ground pepper

What to do:

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, apple and garlic and cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the curry paste and cook for a few seconds.

2. Add the carrot, pepper, tomatoes, cauliflower, chickpeas and stock. Simmer, partially covered for 25-30 minutes, adding a little extra stock or water if needed. At the same time time, cook the rice in a large pan of gently boiling water for about 30 minutes.

3. Add the peas and coriander (if using) and heat for 2-3 minutes. Check the seasoning, adding a little pepper if needed. Serve the curry and rice, topping each portion with 1 tbsp of low-fat yogurt.

Sign up for a free recipe planner from Change4Life.

Change For Life Challenge- Thursday

Lunch- Super Savoury Rice

Another healthy lunch option for Thursday. I chose Super Savoury Rice. It’s a welcome change to a sandwich for me and easy to prepare. I made it the night before and made enough for myself and my husband to have for lunch today and tomorrow because the recipe serves 4.

Ingredients for savoury rice

Ingredients for Super Savoury Rice

I like the idea of this lunch as you can eat it hot or cold. It would also work well as an evening meal if you serve it with some salad. I think if I make it again I will add a few more herbs and spices. The flavouring wasn’t really strong enough for me. I would add a bit of chopped garlic when cooking the onions and some fresh herbs would be nice too. Maybe some coriander would go nicely with the curry flavour. That’s the beauty of cooking. You can try out recipes and adapt them to your taste.

Cooking time for this was exactly as stated and the preparation time took me a little less. It’s a nice easy one but I would definitely recommend doing it the night before if you’re taking it to work for lunch.

A nice alternative to sandwiches

A nice alternative to sandwiches

Recipe- serves 4

183 calories per portion, prep time 10 minutes, cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 tsp oil

1 onion, finely chopped

100g mushrooms, sliced

150g long grain rice

300ml reduced-salt vegetable stock

75g frozen peas

100g baby sweetcorn, sliced

1tsp curry powder

1 tomato, chopped

What to do:

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onions for 2-3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes.

2. Stir the rice, then add the stock, peas, baby sweetcorn and curry powder. Stir well. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the rice is tender, adding more water if necessary.

3. Serve the rice in bowls and sprinkle the tomato on top.

 For more recipes, sign up for the free Change4life recipe booklet.

%d bloggers like this: