Lolly Sloice o' Bœuf

Strictly for the meat lovers out there...

Today I had lunch in the newly opened Ramon's New York Deli in Cathays, Cardiff: the recent addition to the family run greasy spoon, Ramon's of the same area. Keeping the family business going, Gareth Badman (son of Ramon's owner Robin) has caught on to a winner. It's simply an American deli that offers hunks of well cooked and juicy meat encased in the form of a sandwich, wrap or burger. Or bare! Naughty...

The deli sandwiches are an absolute steal at £3.50 each and they will fill a whole and probably push aside your internal organs to try and make more room. Check out the beast that is the Reuben: beef, pastrami, cheese and sauerkraut. 

There's no messing with any salad in the sandwiches. The lolly, lolly sloice o' bœuf speaks for itself! [Points to any Adam and Joe Black Squadron/Podcats out there.] Yes, the ingredients will possibly bring on a coronary just looking at them, but there's something satisfying about getting your chops round a greasy slab of beef, right? Even more so when it has been cooked perfectly without a hint of dryness, sat inside freshly made bread. I had the Chicago deli sandwich: beef with cheese, gravy and Tiger sauce (a horseradish mayonnaise). This is a typical condiment to pair with pit beef in some US restaurants...or at least the one in an episode of Man v. Food. Not sure I'd want to go anywhere near 'The Raven' at Chaps Charcoal Restaurant! *go to 5mins in*
But don't worry, Ramon's New York Deli isn't anywhere near as life-threatening to eat.

The burger and chips is also a great deal at £4.00, including chips. In true diner style you're food sits upon waxed paper and chips are served in little plastic baskets. The bun is fresh and soft and the contents are nothing short of dripping! (In the best possible way).

Just make sure you're hungry when you order as it will fill you up! 

I've come across the popular and renowned New York Deli in the Morgan Arcade in the centre of town which hones in the the more traditional US deli, attracting locals, visitors and tourists. Whereas, with Ramon's deli located close by to pubs and bars such as The Vulcan, Gassy Jacks and Koko Gorillaz, I suspect it will be more of a hot spot for students, as its fry-up alternative is. I just wonder if they can maintain the incredible portions once popularity strikes. Let's hope so!


First stop...Waterloo

As the first post away from home, I happened to visit somewhere with an air of familiarity. Waterloo, London -> Waterloo Gardens Teahouse in Roath, Cardiff. Most Cardiffians will know about this teahouse and probably adore it for the friendly, laid back but proficient attitude. 

The menu comprises an impressive selection of black, green, white, fruit, oolong, rooibos and puerh teas. We ordered pots of the vanilla black tea, jasmine pearl green tea and, as it's approaching Christmas, a pot of Waterloo Christmas tea was a must.

Jasmine pearl organic green tea

Waterloo Christmas black tea: lemon & orange peel and cinnamon 

The barista explained how long to wait for the best brewing results for each tea when he served the colourful individual pots of tea and matching cups. Said cups are in the style of Chinese teacups: sans handle with a lip around the edge. You can probably pour three cups per teapot which is ideal for about £3.00 a pot. 

The cakes were also unbelievably good. Generous chunky portions but very light sponges. Most if not all of their cakes are gluten free and vegan options are available on request. The pistachio and rose loaf was surprisingly moist with the occasional burst of lemon juice coming through.

 Pistachio & rose loaf cake

The elderflower and gooseberry cake was pretty sizeable with sweet and light whipped cream sandwiched between fluffy sponge. Bliss.

 Vanilla black tea with elderflower & gooseberry cake

Waterloo Gardens Teahouse have a real community spirit and embrace local craft and art by displaying local artists' work as well as donating commissions to The Global Fund.

If you're not one for tea, coffee is given as much attention and you can order lunch too. As for my visit, when it hit 4pm the place filled up with people enjoying a hefty Afternoon Tea. It's no secret that I am a BIG fan of Afternoon Teas, therefore I shall be heading back there to devour the plentiful treats! I've also heard that around Christmas time last year they had a harpist in the house(!) and they might be making another appearance this year which would be a lovely touch.


Hello Stranger...

First of all, I'd like to apologise for the lack of posts recently. Poor form, I agree. But I have a (valid) reason...

In September I moved to Cardiff to pursue a new career and have gone back to University to train as an Optometrist. (A huge jump from being a radio producer!!) Which means two things for this here blog.

1. I won't be able to post many reviews about the wonderful eateries to seek out in London. Because, frankly, I won't be able to afford it as a student...*sniff sniff* *gets violin out*

and b. Although I've moved, I'm going to get involved in hunting down great places to eat and drink in Cardiff on a budget and share tips/recipes for cooking cheap meals. Essentially my Bargain Bite feature but in Cardiff!

So if you're already in The 'Diff, or plan to visit, you'll get an idea of where and what is worth spending your £££ on.


Bea's of Bloomsbury - Afternoon Tea

I could get used to this Afternoon Tea thing...especially when having it at superb value!

Bea's of Blomsbury has been a hotspot for anyone who adores tea and all things baking since it opened in 2008, and it has sadly taken me this long to treat myself to a visit. Put the violins away I hear you say, so let's not dwell on my tardiness to the party, the main thing for me to stress is that if you haven't yet been along for a cuppa and lunch/a pastry/sweet treat, you are missing out! If you have been, then I'm sure you too have been won over by Bea's. 

It has a small and elegant interior with various dainty decorations and kitchenware and characterful crockery. It epitomises a tea party with a modern and charming panache.

Although you can come here for a variety of drinks and foods I went for the full Afternoon Tea for £15 per head (an option of tea and scones is available for £6 per head). They say their afternoon tea is their 'take on a British institution' and here's why. Firstly, we were each served three mini sandwiches with different fillings. There is an alternative if you are vegetarian.

The ingredients are fresh, and evenly balanced to enhance the flavours. My favourite was definitely the ham and brie sandwich which had a hit of wholegrain mustard underneath the ham.

There was no rush and once we had finished the savouries, it was time to bring out the big buns.


As the waitress placed the cake stand before us my heart and stomach leapt. Such a beautiful selection of crafted delights. On the bottom tier were scones with the strawberry jam and clotted cream as well as some passionfruit marshmallow. And the top tier was embellished with pistachio and chocolate macarons, meringue balls, brownies, blondies and blueberry and banoffee cupcakes. Heaven.

Most of my attention was spent on the moist banoffee cupcake which had a light cream frosting - rather than a butter or cream cheese - which offered the most sweetness; and the macarons with their crumbly pistachio shell and dark chocolate ganache. The scones were perfectly cooked and always a staple part of afternoon tea but the afore mentioned were particular highlights! I'd like to also point out that the meringues were spot on too, with a decent chewiness in the middle.

The rabbits on the cake stand were also a nice touch. You can just make out their little heads on the top tier looking like they're having an innocent smooch.

There was so much cake to be had that we couldn't finish it all. (I'm sorry). But the great thing is that you can take the leftovers home all boxed up and in tact. (No longer sorry).

There is a room available to hire for parties and Bea's of Bloomsbury also host baking lessons and special events. One of which is their Mad Hatter's Tea Party on 20th August with the promise of all you can "Eat Me" Bailey trifles, jam tarts, cupcakes and baked goods galore along with "Drink Me" tea. I'm sure it will be suitably jaunty!


All You Need Is Muff-ins

I was planning on making some blueberry muffins from the recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery book. However, the recipe uses buttermilk and I was having no luck finding it anywhere...Waitrose, Sainsburys, M&S, Asda! So I decided to experiment and replace said buttermilk with low fat Greek yoghurt. Gimme some muffin.

As it turns out they were gorgeous and fluffy and held lots of flavour. They were easy muffers to make, so have a go yourself...


360g plain flour
370g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 large free range egg
4 heaped tablespoons of low fat Greek yoghurt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50g unsalted butter
250g blueberries
A sprinkle of oats

How To Make:
Makes 12 muffins. Line the muffin tray(s) with muffin cases.

Get the oven preheated to 170°C (or 160°C for a fan assisted oven).

Mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda in an electric mixer on a slow speed.

In a separate bowl combine the yoghurt, egg and vanilla extract and then add to the flour mixture. Melt the butter in a pan on the hob and once melted, add it to the rest of the ingredients in the electric mixer. Blend on a medium/high speed until smooth, gooey and even.

Fold in the blueberries and then dispense the mixture into the big muffin cases. Sprinkle porridge oats over the top before popping in the oven.

Now, you can't hurry muffins when they are baking, so it's best to bake them for about 20-25 minutes. Check with a skewer to make sure it comes out mixture-free. The top should bounce back when touched. Leave for 5 minutes then take out the cases and leave them to fully cool on a wire cooking rack.

And there you have it. Blueberry yoghurt muffins all around.

Yeah, it's juvenile! But if you noticed the muffin puns for song titles with the word 'love' in, do a fist pump. Or feel free to add your own puns!


Lunchtime Roasting

The other week my good friend Puja (also known to the Twitter world as @Mopicide) invited me out for lunch at Roast.

It was a much deserved treat for the both of us, and the perfect setting to enjoy the views and food while having a catch up. As I've mentioned before, (when I came to Roast for their Full Borough breakfast), the restaurant is stunning, with floor to ceiling French windows looking over Borough market. (Despite sticking out among the shirts of the City on their lunch meetings, we managed to have a relaxing 2 hour lunch with no rush to be moved along for preparation for evening service.) *Air punch*

In the lead up to my visit I kept on looking over the menu in anticipation to help decide on what to order. But that all went out of the window when I walked past another table where someone had just been served the grilled Wester Ross salmon. That was it. Sold. In my tummy please! Yes, I flirted with the idea of looking over the menu (again) and considered the slow roast Wicks Manor pork belly...the crispy Goosnargh chicken breast...the daily special of roast rib of Welsh black beef. But I had already made up my mind. Salmon was the one. The one I planned to devour.

So, before I drivel (or dribble) on too much, I shall leave it to the photos to tell you how incredible the food was...

Grilled Wester Ross salmon with cucumber, fennel, chilli and yoghurt

Heritage tomato salad with red onions and rapeseed oil

Runner beans with mint

Chocolate banoffee pudding with Devonshire clotted cream,
with Jolly Roger (rum, Roast falernum and orange zest)

Buttermilk baked custard and strawberry mess with honeycomb using pasteurised cows milk and vegetable rennet,
with Cherish (bourbon, fresh cherries, cherry bitter, coffee liqueur)


A Little Pick Me Up

Along King Street in Ravenscourt Park, there are a number of great independent restaurants and eateries such as Lola and Simon (Argentinian), Indian Zing (Indian), Anarkali (Indian) and Saigon Saigon (Vietnamese), and among them is a bright little cafe called Upsy Daisy Bakery.

With a simple design of creams and yellows against white and blue crockery, there are no gimmicks, just clean cut food and drink. The produce is sourced locally and where possible are organic, including all of their wines.

On my visit for lunch I went for a bacon and avocado sandwich which had large sized coarse rashers of bacon along with fresh avocado, tomato and lettuce. The organic white bread was fluffy apart from the crusts which were, well, crusty.

I didn't opt for a pot of tea but with the range of green, black and herbal infusions - not to mention all the organic coffees - it's easy to be spoilt for choice. I just had a juice to take away with me. I was also pleased to spy on the menu that they offer cream teas and afternoon tea as well!

I also got won over by one of the cupcakes, the fudge caramel cupcake in fact. The smaller end of the scale in terms of size, but that' fine because the flavour was quite intense in the frosting as well as a little caramel ganache inside the sponge.

The service was friendly, helpful and relaxed as well. I think most afternoons it is probably acquainted with yummy mummies but there was a group of friends meeting up and a few singletons like myself with only one small table of mums and one child, so don't feel put off. Heck there was even an old bloke with a cuppa reading his paper. Although, he didn't appreciate me taking the photos of the bakery as he felt I'd encroached his personal space, and LITERALLY shooed me away - with hand gestures - which made me feel awkward! But I guess when you're not used to that bizarre breed of bloggers cropping up and taking snaps most places you eat out at, then it must seem quite alien.

So, if you're in the Hammersmith / Chiswick / Ravenscourt Park area one afternoon and fancy a little pick me up, then Upsy Daisy Bakery will sort you out!


Teanamu's Artisan Teas

Tucked away in Westbourne Park, near Portabello Road, is a gorgeous and modest-sized converted coach house belonging to Teanamu.

The newly opened Chaya Teahouse is perfect for (as cliche as it sounds) relaxing and just as importantly, drinking beautifully infused Chinese artisan teas. There is a ridiculous amount of white, red, black and green tea combinations all designed and made by creator, Pei Wang.

We ordered the Tea of The Week: Organic Snow Bud white tea and the Ba Bao 8 Treasures tea (which had a special 9th ingredient on the day!) The Snow Bud is stunning, refreshing and one to drink at a lower temperature in order to appreciate its flavour; and the 8 Treasures changed each time we topped up the water - from floral and nutty to fruity notes.

Top: 8 Treasures. Bottom: Organic Snow Bud

They looked so lovely in the teapots and the quick demonstration from Pei on how each tea should be poured, was great. I was completely ignorant to the fact that water temperature, distance its poured and technique of swilling as you pour all enhance the flavour of the leaves.

As we were invited to stay and relax Pei made up some extra teas to sample including a white tea with Jasmine and his "mistake tea" which was an accidental stumble across a combination of his Organic Golden Monkey (black tea) and Organic Emperor pu erh 2008 (red tea). Both of which were lovely.

"Mistake Tea" - Organic Golden Monkey &; Organic Emperor pu erh 2008

There is a small selection of food on the menu (all hand-made by Pei) but they are great snacks to eat along side the teas. We had the vegetarian char siu puffs (which are based on pork dim sum) and the berry nutty chocolate fudge as well as a scone with rose petal jam, which was unbelievably tasty!! We were also given some clementine almond cakes on the house.

Vegetarian Char Siu Puff

Berry nutty chocolate fudge & clementine almond cakes

Warm scone with rose petal jam and clotted cream

At the weekend Pei held the first Chaya Teahouse MedTEAtation in which a small group of people met up in the Koyoto Garden at Holland Park to perform the Chinese tea ritual...from what I understand the purpose is to forget about trivial everyday things (like Twitter/Facebook/phones) and concentrate solely on the tea; making it and sharing it with the other people in the group. I was unable to go along this time round, but plan to go to the next one on 19th June. (I think the MedTEAtation event happens once a month on a Sunday). To get an idea of what it'd be like check out Teanamu's Facebook photos.

If you're in the area or want to retreat for a bit of quiet time at the weekend, the Chaya Teahouse is open midday till 6 Saturdays and Sundays. It's definitely worth it!