Saturday, 6 December 2014

Waterloo Tea at Wyndham Aracde - Review

A couple of Fridays ago I had the misfortune of experiencing 'Black Friday' hysteria in Cardiff. Town was absolutely heaving with bargain hungry shoppers, foaming at the mouth hunting down the best deals and buying all kinds of tat because it was 'Black Friday', what nonsense. So what was supposed to be a delightfully, Christmasy amble around town with a bit of shopping thrown in, turned out to be a nightmare. So thank heavens that we had planned to pop into Wyndham Tea, the latest out post of the Waterloo Tea stable.
Wyndham Tea is named after the arcade it resides in, a fantastic Edwardian arcade that is one of a number of arcades in Cardiff but certainly has a more open and generous feel to it owing to the glass roof above. I had actually popped in once before on a less traumatic shopping day and was so impressed I thought next time we are in the vicinity I would love to try the food here. So that's exactly what we did. 

Wyndham tea has such a delightful main 'dining room' with comfy sofas and arm chairs dotted about so as not to lose the tea house feel to the place. The décor is stylish and understated giving the effect of refinement without stuffiness. On this particular day the lunch service was in full flow but the front of house happily accommodated us and supplied a high chair for Baby Clonc and somewhere to stow away the buggy. I believe there is additional seating upstairs but I'm afraid we didn't venture further than our seats. I also believe the kitchen here now provides all the cakes for the other tea rooms also. The lunch menu is packed with lunch time favourites but the mains part of the menu is full of more interesting and exciting options if you choose to be more adventurous. I particularly liked the sound of the kale super food salad. Just reading what was in it made me feel healthier, but today it was going to take more than salad to raise our spirits. Enter Shakshuka (yeah I didn't know what it was either until I saw a photo of it on twitter and fell in love). It's a North African dish, two baked eggs, sitting on top of a spicy tomato and pepper sauce. Delicious, the eggs cooked perfectly with runny yolk enhancing the richness of the sauce which provides a lovely spicy and sweet contrast to the egg. I was feeling better with every mouthful. 

Mrs Clonc went for glass noodles with shredded veg, toasted cashews and coriander in a soy ginger and lime dressing. A textural delight, packed full of flavour and zing, needles to say it got the approval of Mrs Clonc. Baby Clonc on the other hand went to town on some cucumber sticks and 'Ella's Kitchen' Moroccan chicken, aside from getting bored of us and trying to join the ladies who were lunching on the table next to us. 

We topped it off with a slice of the dense and moist gluten free almond and orange cake with an excellent Chai latte for Mrs Clonc and a Java black tea for myself, accompanied by the obligatory timer for my tea so I knew when it had brewed for the correct length of time.

The front of house are fantastic, our waiter was excellent and could not be more helpful but not only that, everyone had a smile on their face and were happy to help and engage with customers. I think this makes such a difference to the atmosphere of the place but also makes it a great experience that keeps people wanting to come back.
Wyndham tea really is a calming haven in a sometimes frantic world and I would highly recommend a visit there, whether it be to sample one of their many teas and types of cake to lunch or afternoon tea (we spotted a couple having afternoon tea and it looked pretty good from where I was sitting). So when it all gets too much next time you're in town, you know where to go.

Wyndham Tea
Wyndham Arcade, The Hayes, Cardiff, CF10 1FH
Tel: 02920 376249
Twitter: @wyndhamtea

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Wahaca Cardiff - Review

It's almost a year to the day I last stepped into a Wahaca restaurant and this week I had a chance to step into a new Wahaca, right here in my home town of Cardiff. The Wahaca we were last in is possibly my favourite eating spot in London. The ultra funky Wahaca Southbank, 8 shipping containers bolted together to create one of the coolest places to eat in London. With great views and great food, I always felt a little gutted that there wasn't a Wahaca closer to where I live. Fast forward to June this year and my wish was granted, Wahaca were opening their first restaurant outside of London in Cardiff! A great coup for the city and proof that the UK is taking note of this great capital city. As if that wasn't good enough news, this happened:

A tweet I posted about Wahaca coming to Cardiff was used on the hoardings outside the future restaurant along with other tweets from Wahaca fans. Honoured doesn't even cover it. For someone who had only started tweeting 3 months earlier I couldn't believe my tweet had been used. So on November the 13th 2014 Wahaca Cardiff opened its doors, I was sadly away that weekend but managed to pop in on the Monday after opening along with Mrs Clonc and baby Clonc to try it out.

The restaurant is huge, with two main dining areas on the ground and first floor with a very cool bar on the second floor. The decor is what I would call 'refined industrial' with exposed steal beams, painted scaffolding and wood cladding. I very much like the open kitchen toward the back of the ground floor and I can imagine when the weather improves (summer is a long time away) the outside dinning area will be positively jumping.
The staff all seem motivated and well trained. Everyone from the host who showed us to our table and happily accommodated us providing a high chair and space for us to park the buggy to our waiter Jack who was friendly yet professional and actually looked like he enjoyed what he was doing. I must say it's a stroke of genius for the waiter to introduce themselves by name and note it down on the paper menus in front of you, which also act as your table mat. It saves referring to the waiter as 'excuse me' when trying to get their attention. 
As mentioned we have eaten at a Wahaca before so we were adamant to try something new, aside from the obligatory tortilla chips and guacamole.  Choosing primarily from the street food part of the menu we opted for (in order they arrived):
Herring tostadas, crisp tortillas topped with smoked herring, sour cream, cucumber and chive salad. Perhaps not our favourite dish, fiddly to eat and personally we found the herring overpowering.

Thankfully the next dish to land was from their winter specials, Duck taquitos: confit duck leg wrapped in a crisp tortillas with a mole sauce. Simply delicious, the crisp shell giving way to soft and flavoursome duck.

We did order Chipotle chicken quesadillas, which is a large toasted tortilla with our chosen filling and cheese. Sadly this dish was very plain and lacking in much flavour (also no photo sorry). But fear not things then got a lot better, the best dish by far was the Plantain taco, soft tortillas bursting with flavour from the sweet and crispy plantain, salty feta, fiery chipotle adobo and rounded off with crema and frijoles (black beans). A suberb dish, well balanced, interesting, moreish with a good kick to it. It's so nice to try a dish that delivers so well on flavour, smell, texture and presentation. I will definitely be having this once again. 

A trip to Wahaca would not be complete without Churros, if you have not tried these before you are in for a treat. Essentially a Mexican doughnut, crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, dusted with sugar and spice that just dissolves in the mouth. Dunked into the accompanying chocolate sauce it is heaven. 

The total bill came to £32.65 including a couple of soft drinks from their extensive non-alcoholic drinks menu and a couple of coffees (the coffee comes with a square of the best chilli chocolate ever). Back in the day a cold Corona Extra or a Margarita would of gone down a storm. 
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Wahaca Cardiff, it provides a welcome alternative to the city centre dining scene and is definitely on course to be a sure fire hit. I would thoroughly recommend it, great service which is so important to me, good food and atmosphere. A good tip would be to take advantage of the very user friendly online booking system as it is likely to be very busy over the next few months judging by the queues for lunch on a Monday. The last word here goes to baby Clonc, who apart from charming most of the restaurant from his high chair, managed to blag a couple of these funky Wahaca teaspoons.

Wahaca Cardiff
51-53 The Hayes, St Davids Dewi Sant, CF10 1GA
Tel: 02921 670414

Monday, 10 November 2014

Hokkei - Review

When I heard the rumours months back that MasterChef 2013 finalist Larkin Cen and Dale Williams were joining forces to open Hokkei I was intrigued.  Being a big fan of MasterChef I remember watching their highs and lows as they progressed through the series and the fact that they were both from Cardiff made it even more exciting to watch, like supporting your home football team (as I don't support a football team, MasterChef is my Premier League).  

Set on the bustling Crwys Road in the heart of Cardiff's student area, Hokkei intends to improve upon the take away experience with  the aim of providing 'Awesome Asian Food To Go' and the Hokkie Box itself is the centre piece of the menu. Billed as a perfect meal for one the Hokkie Box includes one main dish, a side, a dim sum and an extra. It just so happens that Mrs Clonc and Baby Clonc are away visiting the grandparents so a perfect opportunity for me to visit Hokkei Box on their opening day. 
The boxes have been amusingly themed under names such as Moo, Birdy and Piggy. I went for The King: Tiger prawns, ginger and spring onions as the main and then chose the triple cooked crispy beef as the dim sum, steamed rice as my side and spicy Asian slaw as my extra. 

The presentation of the food so neatly and precisely in the lovely Hokkei Box is excellent, each component in its own little compartment within the box sealed for freshness ready for you to tear into when you get home. The food, what shines through is the quality of the products that have been used and the care and skill that they have been prepared with. The triple cooked beef was excellent, crispy as you like (but not so much that you might want to visit your dentist the next day) covered in a sticky, spicy and sweet sauce. The prawns were proper tiger prawns and not the ones you normally get fobbed off with in Chinese or Indian takeaways. Beautifully cooked, plump and juicy with a hint of warming ginger and a crunch of slightly charred spring onion, stunning. The steamed rice, cooked perfectly and the spicy Asian slaw provided a welcomed zing of freshness.

My complete meal came to £14.95. They do deliver but I waited for my order to be made up which took a matter of 15 mins or so. A lovely touch was a cup of complementary Chinese tea while I waited.

Hokkei is by far the best take away I have had of any genre. So slick in its presentation and delivery of flavour. I am definitely a fan and would highly recommend people try out a Hokkei box for yourself. The question is which Hokkei box are you? 
In the meanwhile I need to hide this box before Mrs Clonc gets home and realises I went to Hokkei without her!

92 Crwys Road, Cardiff, CF24 4NP
Tel: 029 22331400
Twitter: @HokkeiBox

Friday, 5 September 2014

Motley Movies - Review

I know I maybe arriving a bit late to the party on this one but last weekend myself Mrs Clonc and a few friends went along to what can only be described as my most favourite thing this summer. Throughout the summer the team behind Motley Movies have been screening classic films from a great roof top location in the centre of Cardiff, accompanied by fantastic food from various food pop ups and themed cocktails. 
Set on the roof top of Jacobs Antique Market in the heart of Cardiff, by the way Jacobs Market is a fantastic place in its own right. Full of amazing and interesting antiques and vintage clothing. I am ashamed to say this was my first visit to Jacobs Market but it will certainly not be my last. I highly recommend you swing by as it is a perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon looking for some gems....which brings be back nicely to the movie.
The movie in question was the Goonies which really needs no introduction apart from the fact Mrs Clonc had never seen it! As we walked up through Jacobs market to get to the roof top our excitement levels grew as we could hear the music from the resident DJ being played and then we were met by the amazing view. It had been cloudy all day but the sun had decided it would show its face rather late in the day and we were glad it did. The view looking across Cardiff central train station and then onto the Millennium stadium was spectacular and especially so with the sun setting in the background. 

With the music playing in the background by the resident DJ and themed cocktails being served up by their resident mixologist Two Fingers Drinks could it get any better? In a word yes. Food on offer tonight was from the fantastic Hang Fire Smokehouse. This dynamic duo seem to be on a roll at the moment and it was a pleasure to finally to meet them. It's lovely to see people who are so passionate about what they do and it was great to finally pop my Hang Fire Smokehouse cherry! The food itself was themed, Mrs Clonc and I shared the Mama Fratelli Meatball Grinder. A delicious, meaty, saucy sandwich of delicious proportions. Our friends had the Rock-a-bye baby Sloth sandwich and judging by the "mmm" sounds coming from their direction they seemed very content. The drinks, a selection of themed cocktails were on offer including the usual suspects. As a team we ordered once of each and the resounding favourite was The One Eyed Willy! The chilli being a welcomed warming addition as the sun set and the temperature fell.

The movie as I mentioned needs no explanation but it was fair to say the audience was full of fans judging by the laughing and cheering at choice moments throughout the film. At times during the movie the surrealness of watching the Goonies on a roof top in the middle of Cardiff surrounded by office blocks and other recognisable silhouettes of the Cardiff skyline brought a smile to my face. 
With the promise of an Indian Summer and one more weekend of Motley Movie fun I highly recommend you try and get a ticket. You will not be disappointed!



Well what a summer it has been! I can't believe my last post was 2 months ago, the time really has flown by. With Baby Clonc in our lives now time really is a valuable commodity. It's been a fantastic if somewhat tiring summer for me personally, full of great weather (mostly, I would say), weddings and of course food. Over the next few blog posts I will hopefully catch up on the fantastic food we have eaten and lovely places we have been in a rather more concise fashion to get back up to date with my foodie experiences. 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Fish at 85 - Review

Spontaneity, its part of what makes life exciting. Those spur of the moment decisions that more often than not lead to unexpected experiences and adventures. It's often heralded that the best nights are the ones that are unplanned. So with spontaneity clouding our decision making, we decided to head out for dinner one Friday evening a couple of weeks ago.  We took a stroll down to Pontcanna Street to see where spontaneity would take us.
Fish at 85 is a place that I've been to before but only to use it in it's fishmonger role. Primarily a wholesaler of fish I've always found that they have a great selection of produce and could not be more helpful when I've popped in to buy some fresh fish and can highly recommend it for this. However I have not eaten there before and it's one of those restaurants you pass in the evening that look so inviting and always busy that makes you feel like I want to be in there having a great time and eating great food like those people!
So Mrs Clonc and I accompanied by baby Clonc in the pram enquired if they had any tables. Now Fish at 85 is a small restaurant and very intimate, decorated in cool colours making for a lovely environment to eat it. The pram somewhat jarred with the vibe on this Friday night but the lovely waitresses could not do enough to accommodate us. They gave us a lovely table in the corner that was set up for 4 but reduced it to a table for 2 and made space for us to park the pram. All this with no reservation. Excellent.
The menu is concise, I like that, with the added option of choosing your desired fish from the counter and having it cooked to your liking which is a really nice touch and reinforces their other function as a fishmonger. We decided to be cautious and go for mains only just in case baby Clonc had plans other than sleeping. Mrs Clonc took advantage of the fresh fish counter and ordered a fillet of sea bass pan fried, accompanied by a romesco sauce, chunky chips and samphire, I went for the special which was a roasted turbot steak with french fries, watercress, cockle meat and a parsley beurre noisette. We ordered a couple glasses of wine and kicked back in our smugness, thinking look at us we have a 10 week old baby and we're still managing to go out for dinner, we thought we had this parenting lark nailed. Then baby Clonc woke up. 

In our spontaneity we had forgotten the young man had not had his dinner, ah. So cue frantic rocking of the pram to help him nod back off but he was having none of it. He wanted his dinner and he wanted it now. As mentioned the staff could not be more helpful and welcoming but the restaurant is intimate and Mrs Clonc did not want to feed baby Clonc in such close proximity to our fellow diners. So she made the executive decision to retreat to our place just round the corner to give baby Clonc his dinner, whilst I should stay and man the table so as not to appear rude after they had accommodated us.
The issue being is that our order was already being cooked! We informed the amazing waitresses of the situation, they intern relayed this to the chef. She returned with the message that he would redo our order when we were ready! Simply amazing service. So off Mrs Clonc and baby Clonc went and there I was facing a wall, surrounded by a  restaurant that was mainly filled with couples. So what did I do? I ordered a starter and got to work. I ordered some stunning king prawns and a light spicy broth. Simply delicious. I polished off the wines and waited for Mrs and baby Clonc to return. Which they thankfully did! We gave the nod to the waitress and our order was put in. More wine was ordered and we both laughed at how life had changed.
The sea bass Mrs Clonc had ordered was pan fried to perfection with proper crispy skin. The romesco sauce which is a Spanish roasted pepper sauce with pine nuts accompanied the fish beautifully. The chunky chips were sublime and the samphire was the best I have tasted, spiked with spring onions and chilli. My turbot was delicious, I had not eaten turbot before, it is a meaty fish but to be honest probably not my favourite fish I have tasted. The accompanying beurre noisette and cockle meat were delicious and the french fries excellent.
The food is presented simply with no unnecessary fuss, here it's all about the cooking of the amazing fish and allowing it to be the star attraction.
The service was exemplary from front of house to the kitchen, they could not be more accommodating and truly feel that this level of service is offered to all of their diners. I really like this restaurant from the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, excellent service and sublime food. Our story aside I would highly recommend this restaurant and if you have not eaten here I suggest you pop in soon. They also offer a fantastic value set lunch menu which is a absolute steal at  3 courses for £16!
As for us we can't wait to go back but perhaps we'll put some planning into it first. As for spontaneity? I think like the fish on the counter we may need to put that on ice for now.

Fish at 85, 85 Pontcanna Street, Pontcanna, Cardiff, CF11 9HS
T: 02920 235 666

Friday, 23 May 2014

The Fat Pig Deli - Tapas Review

Tapas is one of my favourite types of food, it appeals to the magpie (and glutton) within me as I love trying a little bit from each plate. It's one of the reasons I hate it when Mrs Clonc orders the same as me when we go out to eat, it just means I can't try a little bit from her plate. So what follows is a 'discussion' and either I change what I was planning on ordering or she does. Also following the Master Chef finals week where the finalists were jetted off to Barcelona, I was hankering for some tapas. Low and behold our prayers were answered when we heard that The Fat Pig Deli in Pontcanna has launched their tapas menu only the week before. So a call was put in, a table was booked and the fact that this was last weekend in that glorious sunshine was just an added bonus.
The Fat Pig Deli situated on Romilly Crescent in Pontcanna, Cardiff is the epitome of a neighbourhood restaurant. A lovely little set up serving breakfast and lunch during the day and now tapas on Friday and Saturday evenings. There is seating outside which was put to good use as the weather was great. Inside is rustic and eclectic with a relaxed atmosphere. We were greeted very warmly by Barry the proprietor but who would also be looking after us tonight. Mrs Clonc and I found a table with enough space for the push chair as baby Clonc had accompanied us, although he did not know it as he was fast asleep! 
The menu is concise with lots of gems on it but before we started with the food we were asked for our drinks order. Sherry was mentioned and I said to Barry that I had never tried sherry, what proceeded was a crash course in sherry. Barry brought over three glasses and three bottles; the first a Fino, very dry and crisp then a Manzanilla which was a little smoother than the first but still dry then finally the utterly gorgeous Pedro Ximenez, this was a dark and deliciously sweet drink with flavours of dates and molasses. The first two we were told were best suited to have with tapas or as an aperitif and the last more with desserts or to finish a meal.  We settled on the Manzanilla to begin with. What the above demonstrates is the passion people have and in this case how passionate Barry is about what he does. This makes all the difference and lets you know that you are going to have a great meal and makes you want to go back again. That aside from the fact that he is obviously very skilled in 'front of house' service.
On to the food! Like I said the menu has a lot of gems on it (see photo below) and we ended up ordering half the menu, literally! The stand out dishes for us were the Gambas al a plancha - large shell on king prawns, they were succulent and spicy and I could of eaten them all evening, both types of patatas but especially the bravas which was very good and the calamari, crispy squid served with an aioli, what's not to like! A finger bowl would of been good to get rid of the messy hands but other than that the food in general was delicious, the atmosphere chilled and the service was excellent.
To finish and out of the blue we were given a glass of Pedro Ximenez, bliss and very welcomed.
In total we had seven tapas dishes; the pan catalana, both types of patatas, calamari, ensalada, gambas and the chicken dish. The bill came to £42.35 including a glass of white wine, a Limonata and a bottle of beer.
The verdict is that the chilled atmosphere, delicious food and great service make you want to go back again and again. That combined with the weather we had last weekend really did make us feel that a little bit of Spain was right here in the Fat Pig Deli. 
I'm well aware the weather this weekend is very different but I offer you two facts 1. we live in the UK and 2. drink more sherry and you'll feel warm in no time.
A special thank you goes out to baby Clonc who slept throughout the meal!

The Fat Pig Deli, 4 Romily Crescent, Pontcanna, Cardiff, CF11 9NR
T: 02029 235 675

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Welsh Cake Ice Cream with a Caramel sauce

That's right Welsh cake ice cream. I was planning on making a crumble a couple of weeks back and thought I had such great results with the coffee and amaretto ice cream I made for the Banana tart tatin (see the blog archive) I thought I'd have a go at making another flavour ice cream and for some bizarre reason Welsh cake flavour popped into my head. My first attempt went down really well with the guests we had staying that weekend but something one of them said stuck with me, "this should be a dessert in its own right" and you know what, I agree. There is something about the simplicity of this dessert that means the flavour of the Welsh cake is not lost.
This recipe is very straight forward and the pay off is well worth the little effort it takes to make. It tastes brilliant with subtle hints of cinnamon and nutmeg wrapped in a deliciously smooth and creamy ice cream with glorious chunks of welsh cake in it waiting to be discovered. The caramel sauce adds another layer of indulgence and really sets the whole dish off. And if you have never tried a Welsh cake before you're in for a real treat.
Make as a delicious yet simple dessert that can be pre prepared if you are having people over or to be honest when ever you want. Try it!

Welsh Cake Ice Cream - easily makes enough for 10 portions
  • 600ml double cream
  • 200ml of condensed milk
  • 4-5 Welsh cakes - crumbled but not too much you want to keep some sense of texture
  • ground cinnamon - 1 heaped teaspoon
  • ground nutmeg- 1 heaped teaspoon
Caramel Sauce - makes plenty
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 25g of unsalted butter
  • 70ml of double cream
Start with the ice cream, simply whisk the double cream and condensed milk together until you get soft peaks. Fold in the crumbled up Welsh cakes, ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into an air tight and pop in the freezer over night ideally or make first thing in the morning if you plan on serving it in the evening. 
For the caramel sauce, place the sugar in a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. The sugar will start to dissolve and turn a lovely dark brown (but not too much as you will have burnt the sugar!). Once all the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and then the double cream. You should end up with a golden coloured sauce, allow to cool slightly and your good to serve.
As you can see from the photo I've served this dessert up rather simply but when it tastes this good you don't need anything else! 
The ice cream keeps really well and the sauce can be made in advance.
Please do try making it and let me know how you get on via the comments section or email me at
Alternatively you can find me on facebook and twitter
Until next time folks.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Marmalade Soufflé with a White Chocolate and Vanilla Sauce

This week I was presented with a lovely and unexpected gift, a large pot of home made marmalade. The kindness and thoughtfulness of someone to think that I may enjoy it and to say thank you made my day. There is something special about a gift that has been made by someone rather than being bought. Perhaps it is the added thoughtfulness and the appreciation that someone has taken the time out of their lives to make something and then offer it as a gift. I am fully aware the pot of marmalade was not made solely for me and that the person probably had some excess to demand but the fact that they thought I might like to have it is good enough for me.
I feel very much the same way about cooking for people and eating food that has been made by other people. It is not only the food itself but the time and dedication that someone has spent to serve up an amazing dish that I really appreciate as well as the food.
Back to the marmalade, I was reliably informed that it was made with the finest Seville oranges and it tasted fantastic! A perfectly balanced bittersweet taste with lovely shredded bits of orange peel, delicious! 
So thanks to this lovely gift it has inspired this recipe which tackles the mystical world of soufflés! This soufflé is delicious and a real showstopper with the added bonus of being straight forward, no really it is! I've paired it with an easy white chocolate and vanilla sauce which I think complements the bittersweetness of the marmalade in the soufflé. If like me you don't have a pot of home made marmalade knocking around or are not planning to make your own then I urge you to buy really good marmalade with shredded pieces of orange in it to provide some texture in the soufflé. 

Marmalade Soufflé - Makes enough for 4 soufflés
  • a little softened butter
  • 75g Caster sugar, plus some additional caster sugar to coat the ramekins
  • 200g Marmalade
  • 2 teaspoons of plain flour
  • 7 egg whites
  • a little icing sugar
White Chocolate and Vanilla Sauce - makes plenty
  • 300ml of double cream
  • 150g of Green and Blacks white cooking chocolate (Cheat Alert! - this a great product as it already contains Madagascan vanilla), brake into small pieces 
Preheat an oven to 200 degrees centigrade/gas mark 6. Firstly brush/rub the insides of four ramekins with the softened butter making sure all surfaces are covered. I like to use some greaseproof paper to rub the butter around the ramekins and then spread the butter in an upward direction from the base to the rim, almost creating a track for the soufflé to follow. Next add a little caster sugar to each ramekin and coat the insides with the sugar which will stick to the butter this will help the soufflé to rise. Rotate the ramekins so that all the buttered surfaces are covered with the sugar, tip out the excess sugar and set aside in a cool area or pop them in the fridge.
Place the marmalade into a large bowl and mix with the flour until combined. Next beat the egg whites with 75g of the caster sugar in a large clean bowl until they form semi firm peaks. I like to use an electric whisk for most of this stage and then switch to a hand whisk to have complete control on being able to judge when the right consistency has been reached. I do this  as it is easy to over whisk the egg whites which causes it to collapse and as a result your soufflé will not rise.
Combine the egg whites with the marmalade and flour mixture being sure to fold the ingredients together to prevent knocking all the air out of the egg whites which again will lead to the soufflé not rising.
Divide the above mixture into the ramekins and smooth the surface so it is flush with the edges then ease the mixture away from the edge of the ramekin using the tip of your thumb or a tip of a knife creating a kind of boundary. This will help the soufflé to rise and create the characteristic soufflé appearance.
Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes making sure not to open the oven door during cooking (even and constant temperature is essential) and if possible keep an eye on them (I appreciate that not everyone will have an oven that has a see though front and in which case I would cook for 12 minutes then have a cheeky look). Ideally you want the soufflé to have risen and the top to have formed a thin 'crust'.
While the soufflés are cooking and if you can bear to pull yourself away from looking through the oven door, start to make the sauce. Simply place all the ingredients into a pan over a low heat until all the chocolate has melted making sure that it doesn't 'catch' on the bottom of the pan. Transfer the thick speckled sauce to a small jug.
Remove the soufflés from the oven, dust with a little icing sugar and serve immediately! As for the sauce, create a hole in the top of the soufflé and pour away!

There you have it, my take on a marmalade soufflé. I dare say that this would follow the beef Wellington recipe perfectly! Enjoy and please get in contact via if you have any questions or feedback.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

My Beef 'Wellington' with Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Some years ago when Mrs Clonc and I were courting, I whisked her away to London for a weekend. We booked a lovely little hotel just near Earls Court but as we did not know the area very well and  iphones were still not about (I know its hard to imagine a time with out them) we spoke to an actual person at the hotel who directed us to what is now a restaurant I hold in very high regard. Not because it is the height of gastronomy but because although the food was good and the atmosphere convivial but because it holds a lot of good memories for me. I believe when it comes to forming a lasting 'food memory' there are so many factors that contribute to it and for me it was a combination of good food, good service and even better company. I believe your mood has a big influence on your enjoyment of food or dining out. If you have the predisposition to criticise everything and are not 'in a good place' then you will not enjoy the experience or the food. If however you are relaxed and open to trying a new place to eat or a new type of food then good 'food memories' are waiting to be made! I know we can all recount that meal or restaurant we rave to friends and family about but when you think about it there is so much more that contributed to that 'food memory' than just the food. 
The restaurant in question is The Little French Restaurant in Earls Court, London. It's a lovely small place tucked away just off the high street with the most reasonably priced menu in London in my opinion. The stand out dish on the menu for me has inspired this recipe. 
I've called it a 'Wellington' for the sake of brevity but in actuality it is a lovely braised blade of beef wrapped in puff pastry served with a sauce made from the cooking liquor and accompanied by the bang in season purple sprouting broccoli that is as delightful to eat as it is to look at. I've used a cut of beef here called blade of beef or feather blade of beef, its a more unusual cut but this is reflected in the very reasonable price and that it needs to be cooked long and slow and is delicious. The recipe is for two people but can easily be scaled up for more people and can be preprepared for a dinner party for instance. 

My Beef 'Wellington' with Purple Spouting Broccoli - Makes two individual 'Wellingtons'
  • 1 blade of beef trimmed of all fat and sinew and cut into 2 portions width ways
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 sprig of rosemary 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Plain flour to coat the beef 
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to season
  • Olive oil to cook with 
  • 600ml fresh beef stock (you can use a stock cube if you wish)
  • 300ml red wine - I used a decent Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 pack of 320g ready to use puff pastry sheet
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100g of purple spouting broccoli 
  • 1 knob of butter

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees centigrade/gas mark 2 (I know this sounds low but trust me on this). Firstly start by seasoning the plain flour with salt and pepper, you need just enough flour to cover a large dish. Then add the beef to the dish and coat with the seasoned flour, dust off any excess. The aim of this is to give a nice colour and crust to the beef when it is being sealed/browned but also has the added benefit of helping to thicken the resultant sauce.
Heat a good glug of olive oil in an oven proof casserole dish or pan on the hob until almost smoking hot (you can do this in a frying pan if you wish then transfer to an over proof dish) then add the beef and colour until golden brown on all sides to seal the meat. At this point I remove the beef from the pan and turn down the heat slightly then add the prepared vegetables and cook until softened and starting to pick up some colour. I next add the herbs and the sealed beef back to the pan, turn up the heat and add the wine to deglaze the pan. Cook for a few minutes to burn of the alcohol then add the beef stock, you need enough liquid to cover the beef add a little water if you have to. Pop a lid on the pan and transfer to the oven and cook long and slow for 3 hours. After this remove the beef from the pan and set aside and allow to cool fully, the beef should be very tender. Strain the cooking liquor  with a sieve over a new pan to separate the vegetables and herbs from the liquid, this will form the sauce to serve with the beef.
Roll out the puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 4 equal squares, place each portion of beef into a square of pastry (be sure that the beef has cooled down completely) then with the beaten egg wash the edges to help seal the pastry. Place another square of pastry on top of the beef and seal the edges by pressing together to form a parcel. Trim away the excess pastry from around the beef and here I used fork to press down and further seal the edges (at this point it looks like a giant ravioli!). Egg wash the whole thing, place on a lightly floured baking tray and place back into a slightly hotter oven (200 degrees/gas mark 6) for 30 mins or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove and set aside on a cooling rack to rest. 
In the mean time the sauce can be made by reducing the cooking liquor on a medium heat, you want to reduce the volume of liquid until its coats the back of a spoon and has thickened. Taste and season accordingly, I like to finish the sauce with a knob of butter for a glossy appearance.
For the purple sprouting broccoli simply just bring to the boil in a pan of salted water for couple of minutes or until tender, drain and its ready to serve (you can return it to a frying pan to sauté with some butter but that is up to you).
To serve add a generous ladle full of the sauce to a warmed plate as a base, place the 'Wellington' on top, accompany with the purple sprouting broccoli in a separate serving dish and some extra sauce in a jug. 
This dish is lovely, beautiful puff pastry that gives way to meltingly soft beef and a rich sauce. The broccoli provides a shot of colour and a nice contrast in flavour to the richness of the dish.
For me this dish is enough on its own as a main course but if you wish some lovely mash would go well with it.

There you have it folks, one of my favourite 'food memories'! Enjoy and please have a go at making it. Until next time.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Discovery - Review

Set in a rather functional looking building in this unassuming part of town, The Discovery in Cyncoed is the newest offering from the Knife and Fork stable and after a 'Conway' style makeover has opened its doors to the public last weekend.
We visited on their opening day for lunch, on entering the building we were greeted by a large dining room decked out in an eclectic but contemporary style with the main bar at one end. In addition to the main dinning area there is a bar with more tables to the back of the building which opens out onto a good sized beer garden which looked fantastic in the sunny weather last weekend and is sure to be a firm favourite for locals if this weather continues. Its fair to say that this place is big but some how manages to still retain the feel of intimacy especially in the main dining area. 
So onto the this point you maybe wondering where the photos are? The truth is the food looked so good and I was so hungry I forgot to take any and by the time I realised the plate of food had practically been devoured! Also the photos I did take were rather poor and I did feel a bit self conscious of taking photos of the food with other people around. I'm unsure where I stand on the point of taking photos of food you are about to eat in a restaurant. I understand that the presentation of some plates of food is worth keeping an image of to share with your friends and family but also there is something to be said about just putting the camera phone/camera away and enjoying the experience. All I know is that I'm more likely to try a restaurant based on someone's account of the food rather than a picture of it. I did however work up the courage to take a snap of the menu which is on blackboards keeping in trend with the other stable mates and has some cracking dishes on it.
No one else I was dining with wanted a starter but I couldn't resist the Crispy aromatic duck egg, shitake mushroom with wild garlic purée and onion ash. Seriously how could you say no to that? A crispy edible shell around a soft boiled duck egg on a wild garlic base and a trail of onion ash. Truly delicious and delivering on all levels, taste, texture, smell and excitement!
For mains, two of  my dining partners had fish and chips which they seemed to be delighted with and Mrs Clonc had the Salmon and local nettle cake with horseradish crème fraiche which she enjoyed but what the local nettle brought to the dish was not apparent, at least not to Mrs Clonc that is. I had a beautifully cooked roast fillet of Ling, accompanied by a mushroom duxcelle and a rather interesting if a little heavy potato and cabbage cake.
To finish we shared a couple of desserts the Snickers tart, caramel ice cream with peanut brittle which I did not try but by all accounts was delicious judging by the mmmm.... sounds coming from that side of the table. I ordered the raspberry ripple baked Alaska with raspberry mouse and red wine caramel. In a word, heavenly,  if you have never tried a baked Alaska then this will blow your mind (well maybe not blow your mind but you certainly will not be disappointed!). Soft gooey meringue lightly blow torched giving way to raspberry ripple ice cream on a sponge base. Brilliant! Weirdly for me it brought back memories of 'Mr Whippy' ice cream drenched in raspberry sauce that then proceeded to drip all down your hand.
The wine menu is as good as you would expect from this class act with a decent selection of styles and price options, they also serve a well chosen selection of craft ales.
The bill for four of us with four soft drinks and a beer came to £62.65
The verdict is that as soon as we had left I was planning my return. I think this place is a real gem and definitely urge you to make that Discovery for yourself.

The Discovery, Celyn Avenue, Lakeside, Cyncoed, Cardiff, CF32 6FH
T: 02920 755 015

Monday, 3 March 2014

Banana Tarte Tatin with Coffee and Amaretto Ice Cream

The 24th of February to the 9th of March marks Fairtrade Fortnight the aim of which is to highlight the good work that Fairtrade do but also to inform and bring to attention the work still required to be done. Fairtrade stands for better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. More information about Fairtrade and what they do can be found on their website which I urge you all to have a look at. 
With this in mind I decided to make something where the main ingredient was Fairtrade. I chose to use a fruit which is one of the most bought and consumed in the UK. The banana of course! Thanks to Fairtrade 1 in 3 bananas in the UK are now Fairtrade but more work is required to ensure farmers are paid fairly for their produce and this is really at the heart of this years Fairtrade Fortnight. If you feel like you want to support the cause then there is a petition you can sign via their website to ask the UK government to look into the issue of unfair supermarket pricing practices. The coffee I will be using for this recipe is also Fairtrade.
The other reason for deciding to make this decadent dish was to try and bring some much needed warmth and sunshine to what has been a bit of a washout for the start of the year. So what better than a tropical take on a French classic accompanied by a super easy 'no churn' ice cream?(Some actual sunshine might also be quite nice, I presume will be the majority response). This fantastic dessert I'm afraid is not of my invention but the recipes I have used have been slightly adapted for my needs. The tarte tatin is from the great baking Silverback that is Paul Hollywood from his Pies & Puds show and the ice cream recipe is a Nigella special from her Nigellissima cook book.

Banana Tarte Tatin - makes a fantastic dessert for 6 people

  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 25g Butter
  • 8 Fairtrade bananas (approximately) - peeled and cut into 4cm-5cm chunks
  • 320g ready to use puff pastry sheet
  • 1 egg, beaten 
Coffee and Amaretto Ice cream - easily makes enough for 6 people
  • half a 397g can of condensed milk  
  • 600ml of double cream
  • 2 tablespoons of Fairtrade instant coffee
  • 2 tablespoons of Amaretto

Firstly the ice cream, you'll have to start this the day before you want to serve it, whisk all the ingredients together until soft peaks start to form and all the coffee granules have blended into the mixture. Then pour into an air tight container and freeze over night. Delicious home made ice cream just like that! I've used Amaretto in this recipe but a dark Rum would be great to use and would reinforce that tropical flavour.
Now for the main event, preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/gas mark 6. Place the caster sugar into a 28cm non-stick ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. A slightly smaller similar frying pan will be fine as long as it can be used in the oven.  Once the sugar has dissolved and started to turn into a golden brown colour, remove from the heat and stir in the butter. You now have your caramel base.
Sit the banana chunks upright in the caramel, packing them close together and trying not to leave any gaps.
Next remove the puff pastry from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface. Cut to size so that it fits over the bananas with some excess to form a crust. Using a plate of a similar size to the pan as a template works well for this. Cover the bananas with the puff pastry and tuck in any excess around the edges. Brush with the beaten egg to glaze the pastry.
Next place the pan in the oven  a bake for 30 mins or until the pastry is golden in colour. Ok, now for the tricky bit! Invert a plate/serving board over the pan and turn out the tarte tatin, watch out for very hot caramel! Then stand back and admire your good work. 
Let the tarte tatin cool slightly then divide and serve with a couple of scoops of the ice cream.
This is a fantastic dessert and would make a show stopping end to a dinner party or for a special occasion it is definitely worth a try!
Please feel free to share this post and also visit the new Facebook page, until next time.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Roasted Vegetable and Feta Filo Pie

So as you may of spotted from the title this is yet another vegetarian inspired meal. I am not vegetarian, far from it in fact, but of late I seem to be making more vegetarian inspired meals during the week. I guess this cannot be a bad thing as it is  a great way to add to the recommended 'five a day' mantra but also that in this current climate of austerity and prices of food seemingly more and more expensive especially fresh fish and meat, vegetarian meals can be a great alternative. For me personally, I think there is a certain challenge of making a great tasting vegetarian meal and if it also happens to be reasonably healthy and kind to the pocket then that's just tickety-boo.
This is great for a family of 4 for dinner or lovely as a lunch for friends or as a brunch alternative. It tastes great, looks brilliant and is surprisingly filling. 

Roasted Vegetable and Feta Filo Pie - Makes enough for 4 people
  • 1 Aubergine, diced into chunks 
  • 1 Courgette, diced into chunks
  • 6 Chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large red onion, diced into chunks
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced into chunks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and kept whole 
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 50g of Feta cheese, crumbled  
  • 6  ready to use filo pastry sheets
  • 1 egg
I accompanied this dish with a side of braised little gem lettuce
  • 2 little gem lettuce, leaves removed and washed
  • 1 knob of butter
  • freshly ground sea salt
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/gas mark 6. Prepare the vegetables for the pie as above then place into a large roasting tray. Add the thyme, garlic (slightly bashed), salt, pepper and olive oil then mix it all together. Roast in the oven for 45 mins or until the vegetables have softened and have picked up some colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remember to remove the sprigs of thyme, this is also a great point to add the ground cinnamon and mix into the roasted vegetables. Meanwhile oil a roasting tin, then line with the filo pastry sheets being sure to leave some excess hanging over the edges. With the filo avoid tearing the sheets as the filling may leak out and also avoid layering up too thick a layer of filo on the bottom of tin as this may lead to uncooked pastry. Next tip in the cooled vegetable mixture and spread out, then crumble over the feta. Carefully take the ends of the filo pastry and drape over the filling. Break the egg, mix the contents well and use it to wash over the top of the pie. Place back in the oven on the bottom shelf and bake for 30-45 mins or until the pastry is golden. 
For the little gem lettuce, place in a heated pan along with the butter and salt and cook until the leaves have just started to wilt then remove from the heat.
Divide the pie into portions and serve with a side of the little gem then enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I do, please let me know how you get on by leaving a comment or emailing
Thanks for stopping by, until next time.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The First Post! Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

With the weather being as atrocious at it has been of late I decided last night to make a simple yet classic winter soup that is as comforting as it is filling. Butternut squash is beautifully sweet and therefore can really take some spice which I believe go perfectly together. 
To lift this humble soup I made a straightforward herb oil which adds an extra dimension of flavour and fantastic visual contrast between the bright yellow of the soup and vivid green of the herb oil. 

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup - makes enough for 2 for a main or 4 as a starter

  • 1 medium size onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • pinch of  dried chilli flakes (to personal taste)
  • 2 sprigs of lemon thyme
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
  • 500ml-750ml vegetable stock 
  • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to season
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Herb oil - to dress the soup (optional)

  • 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • small bunch of coriander 
  • small bunch of parsley 
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry off the onion, garlic, carrot and celery until softened. Then add the chilli flakes and thyme followed by the butternut squash and continue to cook until the squash starts to pick up some colour. Dependant on the size of the squash you have you'll need to add more or less of the vegetable stock to cover. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer then cover with a lid.
When the squash is soft and yielding remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly then blend with a hand held stick blender until smooth. After this stage I like to pass the soup through a sieve to get a smoother texture but if you don't sieve the soup you get this lovely rustic finish but remember to remove the thyme sprigs. To finish stir in the ground cinnamon. 
If you fancy the herb oil just add all the ingredients to a suitable container and blend with the hand blender until you have a vivid green oil. Which you can use to drizzle over the soup.
Serve with some lovely bread and cheese for a fantastic heart warming dinner.

Thanks for reading my first post! Hopefully the more I blog the better I will get and so too will the photos!