Sunday, 28 August 2016

Street Food Circus 2016

It's rather unlikely but just in case you are not aware Street Food Circus (SFC) is back and after several visits already I can report they have nailed it! The cracking new location in Sophia Gardens gives it that true festival feel complete with mud, but in a good way. It's easy to get to with public transport and parking with in a short walk. Facilities are much improved, there is even a change table for the little ones, which for parents like me is good to know! Then there is the food, so much food!

There is something for everyone and over my few visits the following dishes are what I went for: 

Purple Poppadom

Keralan Fried Chicken and Chips (£8): moist pieces of perfectly cooked chicken with Anand George's expert use of spices is nothing short of sublime. Accompanied with spiced fries, pickles, chutney and thousand island sauce. Food this good needs to be applauded. It's pretty much a complete meal and I know it's a bold statement but probably my favourite dish at SFC so far!

Mighty Soft Shell Crab

Soft Shell Crab Tempura (£5): served in a wrap with some sweet chilli sauce. This although lovely to look at was a bit greasy (not in a good way) and bizarrely bland, the wrap also had more than a whiff of being straight out of a packet. 


Deep fried beef shin and mozzarella bites (£5): uber slow cooked shin of beef, encased and deep fried. Very rich and unctuous with much needed texture from the coating. Super delicious. Couldn't really taste any cheese though.

Seadog Foods

Sakana Burger (£6.50): crispy haddock fillet, perfectly cooked and topped with spicy mayo, sweet soy, pickled 'slaw and Cornish seaweed all nestled into a super soft bun. They really have nailed it with this dish, bursting with flavour and texture this is a must if you visit SFC. 

Sea Side Popcorn (£5): Crispy mussels, cockles and fish with chilli vinegar, seaweed salt and pickled 'slaw. This dish took them all the way to the British Street Food Awards Finals 2015 and they only went and won the whole thing! Each mouthful is a crunchy bite of the sea. Again bags of flavour, salty, spicy and perfect with a cold beer.

Brother Thai

Thai Roti (£5): We opted for the sticky spicy beef filling which came in  warm paratha wrap. The paratha crispy on the outside with a lovely flaky texture and the beef full of classic Thai flavours all lifted by a super fresh 'slaw and herbs. Very addictive and again perfect with a beer.

Talking of beer Singha have their own tent this year selling their super refreshing beers to the masses.

The Bearded Taco

Gin and tonic tempura avocado taco (£5): topped with honey and lemon 'slaw, chipotle aioli served with salsa and tacos. The taco reassuringly robust to hold everything together, the tempura avocado was lovely, crispy giving way to soft avocado the 'slaw and aioli providing the zing. Essentially summer in a taco.

I promise that's the last time I mention 'slaw in this blog post!

Early Bird Bakery

Mini Doughnut bites (£5):  We opted for  the Malt-ilda; espresso sugar, malt choc sauce, honey comb and fudge pieces. Warm doughnuts which are very good on their own but topped with the above combine to make a really rather perfect sweet treat. Great with a strong coffee.

And there is more! Feast Clwb is also new for this year. A supper club inspired dining experience set under canvas to create an intimate and celebratory culinary event. Each Feast Clwb will feature a different host the likes of Milgi, Lia's Kitchen, Dusty Knuckle and Anand George. I went to the Milgi Feast Clwb and had a fantastic time. Great atmosphere, company and the raw blackcurrant cheesecake with almond and date crust was probably the best version of cheescake I have tried. 

The beauty about SFC is that I haven't even scratched the surface! There is still so much to try. It's great to have SFC back, to see the now iconic big top up, people having a lovely time and enjoying food from vendors that love what they do. More space, more food and evidently more 'slaw! 

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Hang Fire Southern Kitchen - Review

At last the day finally came for me to eat at Hang Fire's new place and what a day for it to arrive on. Earlier in the day the results of the EU referendum had been announced and the rest the day was a bit of a blur as I contemplated what the hell had just happened. When I woke from stupor I found myself gazing up at the impressive and resurrected Pump House in Barry. Home to Hang Fire Southern Kitchen and for the first time that day I felt positive about something. 

Sat at our table we had a great view over the restaurant. Think casual-industrial for the look. Then as if from nowhere we saw Shauna, one half of the HF duo, moving from table to table, taking orders delivering food and drink, chatting, cracking jokes and generally running the show, like she was born to do this! As she made her way to our table she spotted the glum look on my face and uttered the immortal words that only she could...."Brisket not Brexit" I knew then everything at least for tonight would be OK. 

The next step in my healing process was a pint of Rocky Top (£4.50). A collaboration between Hang Fire and Waen Brewery. This beer is the utter pinnacle of refreshment. A beautiful colour, full of hops and bags of zing. Served ice cold it was a brilliant start. 

The menu is split into four main sections; appetisers, house specials featuring classic dishes from the South, Prilla grill a custom built wood fired Argentinian style grill (the first in Wales) and Smoked. 

To start Mrs Clonc opted for the Lil' Cheeky Pies (£4.50) while I was all about the Smoked Wings (£6.50) in a Louisiana hot sauce. The pies were cute little parcels of meatiness. The rustic pastry encasing soft and unctuous filling of smoked brisket and ox cheeks deep and rich in beefy flavour. A side of brisket au jus to dip them into for added moisture worked well. The wings however were absolutely banging. Probably the best I have had. The spiciness was spot on, enough to make your lips tingle but still allowing the smoked flavour of the chicken to come through with a nice fruity finish. Delicious.

The mains soon followed. The Smoked Chicken and Waffles (£14) took Mrs Clonc's fancy and sounds like a dish Snoop Dog may order. I however was all about the Brisket (£17). 

The chicken and waffles comprised of coated wood smoked chicken on the bone, savoury style waffles thins, sweet potato fries and jug of black'n'white pepper gravy. We're talking triple carb action here folks! Again the smokiness of the chicken prevailed, the sweet potatoes fries were bang on, loved the slight chew from the waffles and the thick and highly peppered gravy was much needed. If anything we think a lighter sauce/gravy would work better as the overall dish although tasty is really heavy.

On my plate I was rocking 12 hour Hickory smoked slices of brisket, sat on top of Texan Toast, dressed with au jus gravy, house fries, 'slaw, pickles and twice smoked hunks of brisket known as 'burnt ends'. The brisket was insanely good. Rich and deep in meaty flavour with the taste of  smoke running through it. Soft and melt in the mouth. I loved the way the Texan Toast (Hang Fire's artisan take on cheap white American bread) soaked up all the gravy and meat juices, so good. The show stopper was the 'burnt ends'. Wow. These little hunks of meat were unbelievably tender and packed full of flavour. Sublime and a must for any meat lover.

Well by this point we were done for. Not an inch left for desserts. Sam, the other half of the HF duo, definitely smashed it on the food front tonight!

There was a lovely atmosphere in the restaurant just so chilled. So much so we felt quite comfortable chatting to the table next to us who were similarly impressed with the place and similarly deciding whether desserts were a good idea or not.

If I was to sum up Hang Fire Southern Kitchen in one word I would use generosity. Generosity in their welcome, in their delicious food and with their time. If you have ever had the pleasure of speaking to Sam and Shauna their enthusiasm and passion for what they do is so infections you can't help wanting to be a part of it! 
To paraphrase the Hang Fire ladies, "Come Thirsty and Come Hungry". Go!

Hangfire Southern Kitchen

Address: The Pumphouse, Hood Road, Barry, CF62 5BE

Monday, 18 July 2016

Child Friendly Places to Eat - Cardiff Vol.3

With the long summer school holiday almost in full swing, I have three more additions to this ongoing series. You can read Vol.1 and Vol.2 by clicking on the links.
The remit is the same as before; places to eat that serve delicious food in a great environment that are not especially stress inducing when dining with children. All my recommendations are places that I have been with my own family and all meet the approval of my son Baby Clonc (now 2 and a bit years old!).

The 'Hidden Gem': Dusty Knuckle Pizza Co.

It's been a whirlwind 2016 for Phil and Debs who run Dusty Knuckle to say the least! After a couple of years on the street food and pop up scene the pair quit their jobs and opened their first permanent set up in a courtyard behind Crafty Devil's Cellar. Fast forward a few months on and they have moved up the road to a larger site next to The Print Haus in Canton. As 'hidden gem' suggests this place needs to be found but once you do it's fun, charming, eclectic, industrial and effortlessly cool surroundings are brilliant. Lots of space for young ones and buggies. Oh and the pizzas just also happen to be really rather epic. Imaginative toppings, thin bases with pillowy crusts and the unmistakable taste and char from the hand made wood burning pizza oven! With future plans to have baby changing facilities and make Sundays more family focused I think this place is a winner for families. 

The 'Any Occasion': Arbennig and Arbennig Emporium.

These guys have you covered for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and everything in between. The smarter restaurant is great for a family meal out or Sunday lunch. There is plenty of space, baby changing facilities, high chairs and the service is excellent. Foodwise you would be hard pushed to find dishes that have more thought gone into them, better produce, better executed and more beautifully presented than this place. We even had Baby Clonc's first birthday here!
The more informal emporium deals with the breakfast side of things, gourmet focaccia bread sandwiches with a vast array of fillings, pies, salads and an Emporium Menu. Tea, coffees and award winning cakes are taken care of as well as a variety of food based products, ingredients and speciality produce to buy. Most things can be taken away too. Early risers beware the Emporium opens from 10am. High chairs available but space is at a premium here so buggies are a tight squeeze but the staff are more than happy to help and great with children. There is seating outside when the weather is nice and a small car park too which is a bonus.

More info:

The Bakery: Pettigrew Bakery

Yes, I know its not a restaurant however this place will light up the eyes of the young and old and fill your hearts with joy! It's true. Situated opposite to Victoria Park, the shelves and cabinets are stocked with the best bread and sweet things you are likely to find in Cardiff. Watch your kids eyes grow as they set sight on the slabs of chocolate brownies, cakes and short bread. In fact there is a seal shaped biscuit in honour of Victoria Park's most famous resident Billy The Seal! Look out for the new french pastries on offer too which are as good as you are going to find this side of Paris! Grab some treats and some take away hot drinks and hit the park opposite, perfect!

There you have it, three more places to try with the kids this holiday season! Please have a read of the previous volumes if you haven't had a chance (Vol.1 and Vol.2). Also feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments box or via Twitter @KitchenClonc  or  on my Facebook page Kitchen Clonc .

Monday, 4 July 2016

Shake Shack Cardiff - Review

There is no hiding the fact that I love this place. One of my tweets has even been used to promote the place in the most recent St. David's Eat Guide! I have had several meals here since this giant of the fast food world opened its doors last December (the first outside of London) and I have never been disappointed. So when I was invited to visit a couple of weeks ago to review it, I thought Christmas had arrived early. 

I'm not sure if it's the way they style their restaurant which is both highly stylised and yet still informal or the slick branding or their well trained staff, I just buy into it and then there is the food.
On this visit we ordered a Shack Burger (double) (£8.75), the special edition Yard Burger (single) (£7.50), a double helping of crinkle cut fries and a vat of Ice Tea and a Root Beer. 
The Shack Burger (double) made with 100% UK and Irish Aberdeen Angus beef is a double helping of their classic thin patty, stacked with oozing cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and Shack Sauce. We ordered onions and pickle with ours. 

This beast of a burger was Mrs Clonc's choice (she wants me to tell you that she was sharing it with Baby Clonc, but you and I both know he didn't get a look in!). This is a brilliant burger; well seasoned, succulent and oozing with cheese. The foliage doing their thing, the pickle bringing the tang and the oh so soft potato bun holding everything together. It just hits the spot.

The Yard Burger was on as a special when we went. The burger and bun is the same as the Shack Burger but topped with Neal's Yard Stilton and red onion pickle. Oh my, this was nothing short of heaven. The burger patty all gnarled at the edges is complemented by probably the loveliest Stilton I have tried. The beautifully creamy and subtle blue cheese is the star here. The red onion pickle does well to bring some sweetness and sharpness to cut through the whole thing. As burgers topped with blue cheese go, probably the best I have tried. Sadly both burgers were slightly over done rather than medium which they are supposed to be.

The other reason I like the burgers are their size, perfect to hold with one hand while grabbing a fist full of crinkle cut fries with the other. Ah those fries, delightfully retro, perfectly crisp and well seasoned. Perfect.

To finish we were keen to try one of their Concretes. Dense frozen custard ice cream blended with a variety of fillings. These tend to be specific to each individual Shack as well as a design your own option. We opted for the Welsh Cake Jam (double - £7.50) of which 5% of the sale goes to The Wallich; a charity aiming to tackle homelessness across Wales. The Welsh cakes are supplied by Fabulous Welsh Cakes who can be found in Cardiff Bay (well worth a visit to pick up a few dozen of their superb welsh cakes straight off the griddle). For the other concrete the lovely chap behind the counter recommended the current guest frozen custard flavour cardamom blended with chocolate and hazelnut brownie (£5.25). Of course I said 'yup'. 

Well needless to say they too were excellent: smooth, dense, rich and very, very filling. The Welsh Cake one was rather too sweet for me personally but the cardamom and brownie combo was right up my street. Warming cardamom flavour with indulgent chunks of brownie running through it. Gorgeous. 

To drink, the fifty/fifty iced tea (£3.25) was really refreshing and the large size is American size large! The root beer (£4.50) was just too medicinal and not for me.

Having Baby Clonc with us I can report the staff were great with him. There are plenty of high chairs and good changing facilities. I recently included Shake Shack Cardiff in my Child Friendly Places To Eat blog from earlier this year.

Had we been paying for our meal it would have come to £42.75 which may initially seem pricey but I believe what you buy is a quality product served in lovely environment. 

I set out my stall at the start of this review and after this most recent visit I am still very much a fan. 

All food and drink were complementary but this did not influence the opinion of the review.

Shake Shack Cardiff

Address: St. David's, Upper Grand Arcade, Cardiff CF10 2EF
Tel: 01923 555173
Twitter: @ShakeShackUK

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Chai Cheesecake with Salted Caramel

This is a recipe I’ve been thinking about for some time and after several trials I think it really works. The cheesecake is flavoured heavily with chai spices and is complemented by the ginger in the biscuit base. Also the addition of Greek yogurt in the cheesecake mixture delivers a delightful ‘tang’ to the filling. As the cheesecake is not very sweet the salted caramel provides a touch of sweetness to balance the spices. 

Preparation time: 30 mins

Cooking time: 40 mins

Chilling time: Overnight

Serves: 8-10 people


Chai Cheese Cake

·         250g Ginger Nut biscuits - blitzed into a fine crumb
·         25g Unsalted butter – melted
·         Extra butter to grease
·         600g Cream cheese
·         200g Greek yogurt
·         100g Caster sugar
·         4 tbsp Plain flour
·         2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
·         4 tbsp Henry and Joe’s Chai

Salted Caramel Sauce

·         125g Caster sugar
·         50ml Water
·         25mg butter
·         100ml Double cream
·         ½ tsp Sea Salt


Chai Cheesecake

1.       Preheat an oven to 180s/350F/gas mark 4
2.      Grease a 23cm/9inch spring-form cake tin and line the bottom with grease-proof paper and place in the fridge to chill
3.      Blitz the ginger nut biscuits in a food processor to get a fine crumb or bash the biscuits laid between two tea towels with a rolling pin.
4.      Mix the melted butter in with the ginger nut biscuit crumb. Take time here to make sure the butter is blended well with the biscuits. Then grab the cake tin and pack the mixture on to the bottom of the tin to form an even base. Place back in the fridge.
5.      In a large bowl mix together all the other cheesecake ingredients until combined. Retrieve the cake tin from the fridge and pour the mixture into the tin and on top of the biscuit base.
6.      Place on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven for 40 mins. The cheese cake will still have a wobble to it when you take it out but fear not it will set. Leave to cool on a wire rack and in the cake tin until completely cold. Then pop in the fridge overnight. The next day carefully release from the tin.

Tip: Just remove 5-10 mins before you’re ready to serve so it’s not fridge cold.

Salted Caramel Sauce:

1.       Place a frying pan over a medium heat. Pour in the water then dissolve the sugar into it.
2.      Cook away until the liquid starts to bubble and colour. You are looking for a golden brown colour.
3.      Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the butter, then the cream and then the salt.
4.      You should have a lovely amber coloured sauce.
5.      Drizzle artistically over the whole cheese cake to decorate or serve as a sauce for people to pour on themselves.

Tip: The key with the sauce is to keep your wits about you! It can easily catch and burn! Also if you find that the sauce is not completely smooth then fish out any lumps or pass through a sieve. 

This is my own original recipe of which I am very proud and I would be over the moon if you were to try it! Enjoy!

The makers of the chai syrup Henry & Joe's liked the concept so much they have featured it on their website! How awesome is that!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Cocorico Pizza Night

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to an American themed pizza night at a French patisserie. If that is not reason enough to Vote Remain then I'm afraid you my friend are a lost cause. Anyway, I accepted the invite of course and I'm very glad I did!   

Cocorico Patisserie based on Whitchurch Road in Cardiff is the brain child Laurian Veaudour who I've since found has been in Cardiff for some time. Working in kitchens from the Celtic Manor to being head chef at Milgi and Bully's respectively before setting up his own business! In fact he's been in Cardiff so long I'm starting to question his Gallic credentials. Between us I reckon he's from Grangetown.

This event was the second of their once monthly pizza evenings, this time looking towards The States for inspiration. The premise of the evening is straight forward; one long communal table, delicious sides, tasty pizzas and delectable desserts. Several plates of each item is then distributed across the table and people tuck in.  I couldn't wait! 

First up the sides, which consisted of their take on a corn dog, corn on the cob, coleslaw and a tomato and basil salad. The stand out dish here was by far the corn dog. Spicy Merguez sausage coated in a crisp batter on a stick! What's not to like!

Up next the pizzas! First out a smoked beef brisket and red onion pizza. Great chunks of spicy hot beef brisket with an addictive smokiness delivered quite a  flavour punch and was probably my favourite of the night!

This was followed by one of the most interesting pizzas I have tried. A white sauce based pizza topped with octopus that had been braised in red wine, prawns and smoked Dover sole! 

I've never been challenged by a pizza or had to think so much about what I was eating as the combination was unusual to me. The sole flavoured with Cajun spices and smoke was delicious. The octopus however was not for me, a bit chewy and a texture I don't really want on a pizza. 

Next up was their take on a meatball pizza. This time the meat balls were made from venison, this was accompanied by roasted red peppers and a BBQ sauce. The meaty and gamey richness worked really well with the sweetness of the peppers and the BBQ sauce. Another favourite for me (you can have more than one favourite right?). 

It didn't stop there oh no! The infamous Hawaiian pizza made an appearance too, although this time topped with smoked shoulder of pulled pork and marinaded pineapple. I didn't try this one by I was assured by my fellow diners that it was a welcomed return to some familiar flavours. Instead, my no pork alternative arrived with their own salt beef and I was very grateful for their efforts! 

Yet more pizza was to come! Another white sauce pizza base topped with avocado, pickled walnuts, rocket and goats cheese. The much needed pickled walnuts helped to cut though this particularly rich pizza.

A mention here for the pizza bases of the above pizzas which were the thinnest and crispiest bases I have ever encountered. As a fan of the more pillowy sourdough base I really liked the texture the more crisp base gave the pizzas.

The last pizza (yes there was more) was a deep dish variety topped with mozzarella, parmesan and chorizo. This was warmly received by my  fellow diners again because of the familiarity of texture and favour.

Well by this point we were all rather full but as we all know where is always, always, room for dessert! After all we were sitting in a patisserie! Inspired by the American theme we were treated to; Peanut butter and strawberry doughnuts (stop drooling) coca cola marshmallows and cookie dough cheese cake! 

The cheesecake was lovely, heavy in vanilla, topped with cookie dough pieces, pipped cream spiked with Jack Daniels and chocolate shards. So good! The harsh booze taste in the cream was unnecessary but aside from that it was bang on. 

The large cubes of coca cola marshmallows tasted like coca cola according to my diners which is just as well. The doughnuts, still warm were a tad stodgy but who cares they were filled with peanut butter and strawberry!

Drinkswise a good selection of beer and wine were available. I particularity enjoyed a 'White Riot' from Crafty Devil and a delightful Muscadet which worked really well with the white based pizzas.

Wow what a colossal night of food! I really liked the communal dining and getting to chat to other diners, it created a lovely atmosphere to enjoy the food. I think this is a really fun concept too. A great way to try lots of different and interesting flavours that doesn't take its self too seriously. Also for a grand sum of £20 (food only) I think it's brilliant value for money, especially if you have a large appetite or just skip lunch before you go!
Their next pizza evening is on the 7th of July 2016 and is £20 pp. 

All food was complementary but this did not influence the review.

For more details:
Address: 35 Whitchurch Rd, Cardiff, CF14 3JN

Monday, 13 June 2016

Abergavenny Food Festival 2016

In just over three months time one of the biggest food festivals in the UK is due to return! Although I had heard many good things about Abergavenny Food Festival I had never been, that was until last year. Here I recount my experience as a festival first timer.

I cannot stress enough how easy it was to get to the festival from Cardiff. Mrs Clonc and I caught the train from Cardiff Central direct to Abergavenny, it was then a mere 10 minute jaunt into town. Perfect.
We got there early doors and that would be my top tip for anyone wanting to attend the festival as it gets A LOT busier later, that is unless you like queuing for food. We had a good look around and then decided what we wanted to buy and eat. There is nothing worse than buying/eating something only to realise there is something even more awesome around the corner!

I have to say the set up in the castle was probably my favourite. So beautiful and atmospheric. 

Castle entrance
It's here we had the most amazing calamari from the excellent Cafe Mor, winner of BBC Radio 4's Best Street Food 2014. Crispy coating giving way to melt in the mouth squid, insanely good! 

This was accompanied by a Smoked Bloody Mary cocktail made by the fabulous team from Chase. The vodka they make comes from potatoes and their classic vodka was voted best in the world. For the limited edition smoked vodka, water sourced from their own borehole is sat in the coolest part of the smokehouse for 5 days to pick up the distinctive smoky taste and then blended with their award winning Chase vodka! The smoky flavour totally comes through but is not overpowering and is a nice twist on a classic cocktail. 

I also loved The Dome in the castle grounds which was home to the Children's Food Academy with a series of free workshops. So plenty to keep the kids entertained. The Market Hall packed full of stalls with amazing products and a stage for demos should keep the grown ups entertained!

The Dome

The Market
Ambling along we spotted the infamous Onion Man and then gorged on a Seville Orange Chocolate Brownie with chocolate sauce from The Chockshop, which had a stand literally stacked full of brownies of all varieties. One slip and there would have easily been a brownie avalanche!

We rounded off the day with a Theo Randall masterclass at the Borough Theatre. The Masterclass is a chance to catch your favourite foodie personalities in either conversation on stage or as in this case demonstrating their recipes. Others who graced the Borough Theatre stage over the weekend included Raymond Blanc and Yotam Ottolenghi.

Theo Randall was showcasing recipes from his new book 'My Simple Italian'. It was both an entertaining and informative show from a man that has obviously done a few of these gigs before. 

It must be said that we loved just wondering around all the festival venues, soaking up the atmosphere (and some drinks) and chatting to people. Everyone was so friendly. I don't know if it was the glorious sunshine we had, the amazing array of food and drink available or that it is such a well organised event but Abergavenny Food Festival is now for me a must every year. 

This year is set to be as brilliant as ever with headliners including Monica Galleti, fresh off the set of MasterChef: The Professionals (I love her!) and exclusively showcasing her book 'The Skills'.  Joining her will be one of the Basque country's most well known chefs, the critically acclaimed and award winning Jose Pizzaro. 

The main man of Indian cookery Cyrus Todiwala will also be back again for his 14th festival appearance. This man is a force of nature and I had the great pleasure of meeting him last year. He will be bringing his new book 'Mr Todiwala's Spice box ' to Abergavenny. Jane Baxter will be be back too for her 10th appearance promoting her new book Leon: Happy Salads.

Me and Cyrus Todiwala

Essentially if you have not been before, trust me you are missing out! But here is a chance to win a pair of weekend wristbands for this years festival! Simply 'Like' my Facebook page and 'Share' the competition post or if you are on Twitter 'Follow' and 'Retweet' the competition post. The competition will run from the time this is posted to midnight on Friday the 17th of June. A winner will be chosen at random (names out of a hat, literately) and announced on the 18th of June 2016.

Good luck and see you there!

For tickets and more info on the festival check out the website:

Photos courtesy of Huw John and Cowshed.