It’s Friday night in Cardiff city and Wales have just beaten Romania 66-7 canada goose coat 1000 calorie a day meal plan – this is rugby not basketball – but the Welsh are still not happy. They shake their heads: “Too easy man, like shooting a dead dog.”
Standing in a chip shop queue, I start canvassing opinions about food in the city. I do this because yesterday saw the publication of Dining Out In Wales 2005, a book which shows the remarkable diversity of Welsh cuisine from farmers’ markets, producers, and restaurants canada goose coat 1000 bulbs free buy canada goose jacket usa that range from regional French to Japanese delicacies. But this doesn’t go down well in my queue.
“Ych a fi!” (A Welsh exclamation of disgust) says one woman, “I don’t want any of this foreign muck! I want Brains, Clark’s and Dorothy’s.” Before I get a discourse on the place of the chippie in Cardiff culture I discover that this holy trinity is Brains beer (“It’s Brains you want!” as the logo goes), Clark’s is a pie of meat (indefinable), prized for its non-soggy crust, and Dorothy’s is an institution of a chippie coming best ideas about canada goose outlet online on pinterest up to its 50th anniversary and situated in Chip Alley (aka Caroline Street). Chips and gravy, and curried chicken off the bone are les plats du jour.
After chips, I walk to the end of Caroline Street and enter Lush, a chic bar with Latino music and cocktails. It’s there I meet a prominent city chef. “Off the record, Cardiff is five years behind Belfast,” he takes a champagne sip, “and 20 years behind London. They just don’t have educated palates. Call it consommé and it sits on the menu for weeks, call it broth and it walks.”
Savage stuff and, to be honest, wandering around the nearby Brewery quarter (just off Caroline Street and can you dry clean a canada goose coat Cardiff’s nightlife hub) I can understand his frustration. It’s an amalgam of chain eateries, the Lava bar (a noisy, raucous best canada goose jacket womens beer-drinking and ogling zone), and even the Spar has a bouncer. Groovy, perhaps but not gourmet.
But Cardiff is a tale of two cities. The central part is all about shopping, eating and drinking, while the new development in Cardiff Bay is all about shopping, eating and drinking, but next to water. There’s posh for you.
The Bay’s trendy strip of boutiques and restaurants has two new arrivals, Jolyon’s hotel (see panel, right) with a cracking chill-out zone of a bar/restaurant downstairs called Bar Cwtch here, and just opposite, the Wales Millennium Centre, a new arts centre opening next Friday. There has been controversy about the design of this centre but the auditorium is gorgeous with good sightlines and acoustics. It hopes to be canada goose coat – victoria the cultural centre for Wales and will host the Welsh National Opera. The opening gala is with Max Boyce.
A more impressive debut will be made by Franco Taruschio who will soon open a bistro called Brazz in the Millennium Centre. Taruschio was the chef/owner of the Walnut Tree in Abergavenny for over 30 years and probably the best chef in Wales for most of that period. “It’s unfair to say that Cardiff is 20 years behind. When I started, they thought I was doing ‘queer’ food but now it’s come on tremendously. Le Gallois is good, and there are good ethnic cuisines, especially Chinese.”
On Saturday morning I visit Wales’ only commercial vineyard, Llanerch, just 15 minutes from the city centre in the Vale of Glamorgan. Llanerch’s reception is papered with 30 international awards. Much needed, as owner Peter Andrews average cost canada goose jacket pointed out, to ensure it wasn’t seen as a gimmick. Out of their six wines the sparkling rosé is the most successful.
Back in the Bay for lunch, I pop into Izakaya, a Japanese restaurant started four years ago by Iestyn Evans who spent many years in Japan. At first he struggled for custom but this traditional tavern – shoes off and sliding bamboo doors canada goose coat 1000 bulbs lamps – is now a success. “I source a lot in Wales because it’s very good. Even my organic soy sauce comes from Blaenau and my shitake mushrooms from Bridgend,” says Evans. The food is fantastic here and it’s excellent for those wanting to experiment beyond sushi.
I cross to the city centre which is hectic with Saturday shoppers. Arcades off St Mary Street are home to independent shops such as Moriaty’s, a wine merchant or Wally’s, a deli with everything from braai salt to Spanish salted cod. For more foodie treats, try the farmers’ market, every Sunday, on the Fitzhammon Embankment opposite the Millennium Stadium. Produce comes from all over Wales and includes great cheeses from Cothi Valley Goats, and Teifi (try Celtic Promise).
Dinner took me to Le Gallois, the French-with-a-Welsh-twist restaurant and the best in Cardiff. Chef Padrig Jones buy a canada goose jacket (Cardiff) and front of house Francis Dupuy (Limoges) fully deserve the gold star Dining Out in Wales gave them. So did they find it hard to source food and retain a clientele? “Maybe at first in 1998,” says Francis, “it was still a bit of a desert but since then there’s been an awareness of food that means Cardiff people are more adventurous and knowledgeable.”
Roast wood pigeon on toast with livers and mushrooms was followed by beautiful tournedos of Welsh venison and finished by Welsh cheeses. Simple, fresh and seasonal. But where were the chips?
Where to eat
Izakaya (029-2049 2939,www.izakaya-japanese-tavern.com ). Meals from £17. Le Gallois (029 2034 1264, www.legallois-ycymro .com ). Three-course dinner £35pp excluding wine.
* Dining Out In Wales 2005 is published by WDA at £6.95.