Sunday, 29 June 2014

A slice of tart and iced coffee in Snails - Rhiwbina, Cardiff

Last week I caught up with a friend in Snails in Rhiwbina, Cardiff. Although I live pretty close to Snails I rarely go there so it was nice going there for a bit of a change. The deli opened in 2006 and is a very popular location for a coffee or lunch in North Cardiff.

It was a very warm and humid day so a cold drink was definitely in order. They have a large selection of cans and bottled drinks on offer, as well as hot drinks and iced coffee. My friend chose a can of sparkling elderflower drink while I went for a caramel iced coffee. We sat in the little garden outside to make the most of the nice weather and it was a lovely little place to enjoy the sun for an hour with a few different pretty tables and chairs to sit on.

I can't say it was the best iced coffee I've had but it was nice and I would have it again next time I go to Snails. I think it was just a bit watery - I prefer iced coffee to be pretty milky. The caramel came through nicely though and it was a good choice for a warm day.

When we were ordering our drinks at the counter we were both a bit peckish and decided to share a piece of lemon tart. Lemon is my favourite flavour to enjoy in the summer and I absolutely love lemon tart.

This lemon tart was delicious. The pastry was light and crisp and the filling was smooth and had a beautiful balance of flavour, with it being very lemony yet sweet enough not to taste sharp. I've made a lemon tart before, a few of years ago now, and this has made me want to make one again soon. 

I recommend heading to Snails if you're looking for somewhere to go for coffee or lunch and make sure to sit outside in the garden (weather permitting) and sample some of the lemon tart if its there. You won't regret it!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Chorizo and Avocado Salad

On a warm and sunny day there's nothing quite as nice as a bowl of salad for lunch. At the moment I'm a bit obsessed with avocado and have been planning my lunch around what I can have it with. I'm trying not to eat bread so although mashed up avocado spread on toast and topped with prosciutto or chorizo is one my favourite lunch dishes, chopping it up and chucking it in a bowl with some lettuce, veggies and meat is a good substitute.

To make yourself a bowl of Chorizo and Avocado Salad you will need:

Two big handfuls of your favourite lettuce
Half of an avocado
A small handful of chopped bell pepper
4/5 sunblushed or cherry tomatoes
About 5 slices of thinly sliced chorizo
Half a handful of mozzarella
Your favourite salad dressing

Basically, just assemble your ingredients and throw them into a bowl and you're good to go! I like having one handful of lettuce from a bag of mixed leaves and another handful of roughly chopped iceberg lettuce or spinach because I like having a wide variety of textures and flavours in my salads. Until recently I never really like salad dressing but after trying Newman's Own French Dressing I've been converted. It accompanies any salad perfectly as it has a lovely sweet flavour but it's subtle so doesn't overpower the rest of the ingredients.

This is filling and great to enjoy at home or to take on the go. If you have any variations or other suggestions for things to add in please leave a comment below to let me know!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Laura's Fudge

Following on from my previous posts (BBC Good Food Show and We Made Drinks) the other product I bought from the Good Food Show was some fudge from Laura's Fudge. Again, like We Made Drinks, I don't know a whole lot about the company, but from what I can gather Laura's Fudge is in its third year and sells their fudge at food events and festivals across the UK.

The stall was set out in pic-n-mix style, so you could buy as few or many pieces as you wanted. I didn't realise how much of a 'thing' fudge was; I lost count of how many fudge stalls were at the Good Food Show, but this one grabbed my attention. I thought the layout of the stall was really attractive and I think it was a tad cheaper than some of the other offerings. 

I chose 4 different flavours and put them in this cute box, however, three of them looked really similar so I wasn't sure which was which once I opened the box.

It was all delicious, very rich and smooth. The bottom left one was salted caramel and was my favourite. The flavour came through really nicely. The other flavours I chose were clotted cream, toffee and dairy but they all looked the same and I couldn't tell which one was which when I ate them. Although they lacked strong flavour. they all still tasted very luxurious and I would 100% have them again.

Monday, 23 June 2014

We Made Drinks

When I visited the BBC Good Food Show, as well as the yummy things I bought and ate whilst there (read all about that here) I picked up a couple of things that I ate/drank in the days that followed. There was so much to choose from and I only came away with two things, but they were good choices.

The first thing I got was a few bottles of lemonade from We Made Drinks. I don't know a whole lot about the company as they don't yet have a website but I do know they make very good lemonade. I bought both flavours on offer, the refreshingly juicy raspberry and lemon and the refreshingly zesty still lemonade.

This was exactly like it said it was, refreshingly juicy. It wasn't too sweet but not bitter or sharp either and tasted of both raspberry and lemon. Perfect for a summery day.

Real lemonade is one of my favourite things. Every summer I drink a lot of lemonade and I prefer it when sharp rather than sweet. Lemon just reminds me of summer. For me, this was the perfect lemonade, very lemon-y and very refreshing. The balance of sweetness/sharpness was just right and I wish I bought more of it when I had the chance!

If you come across either of these two drinks I recommend giving them a go! If like me you like your lemonade refreshing and sharp then I guarantee you'll love them!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

BBC Good Food Show

Last week I attended the BBC Good Food Show in the NEC in Birmingham. I went with other members of the 'Brum Dine With Me' society at my university. It was such a great day and really interesting to see all of the producers selling their produce and goods.

I had an afternoon ticket so arrived at about 1 o'clock. It was quite busy and myself and two friends made our way around the stalls, amazed at how much was there and sampling anything on offer. Even though I had quite a few samples I was still desperate for some lunch as my small breakfast seemed very long ago. I decided to get a pork roll from the Traditional Meat Carvery Co.

I can't remember exactly what I paid for it, all I know was that it was quite expensive, but as I got a fairly large, soft white roll filled with deliciously juicy and tender pulled pork it was worth parting with my cash. I often find pork from a carvery or a hog roast to be quite dry so I was pleased that this pork wasn't dry in the slightest.

Always in the mood for something sweet, and seeing as it was a beautiful and warm day, I was craving some ice cream and decided to get a couple of scoops from Salcombe Dairy. I went for one scoop of salted honeycomb and one of vanilla.

The ice cream was amazing, really full of flavour with a wonderful creamy texture. I especially liked the salted honeycomb, not too salty but enough to distract from the sweetness of the honeycomb. From their website it seems they sell mainly to businesses but they also appear at events and food festivals. If they are in your area I highly recommend tracking them down to trying some of their ice cream. Check out their website here.

After our wander around looking at the producer's offerings we headed over to the Super Theatre to see Mary Berry. I can remember helping my mum to cook or make cakes when I was little using a giant cook book written by Mary Berry and her appearances on television over the last few years have been very welcome by me. I really like her style of cooking; comforting and simple. Often simple dishes with few ingredients executed perfectly can be just as impressive as those made up of lots of fancy ingredients and complex cooking methods. I was excited to see her in real life, which might sound a bit sad really for a 19 year old student, but she put on a very good show.

Mary seemed very nice and just as pleasant as she comes across on TV. She made a salmon en croute and a lime and mascarpone dessert which both looked easy and delicious and I will be sure to hunt down the recipes for both over the summer.

All in all I had a really lovely day. The other members of the society enjoyed it too and its great to be part of a group that appreciates and shares a love of good food.

I think we are planning on running another trip to the BBC Good Food Show next winter so I will very much look forward to that and will save up to make the most of the great deals the sellers make on their goods. I wasn't prepared for how much there would be to buy (and how difficult it would be to decide what to get!) but I did make a couple of purchases which I will post my reviews of in the next couple of days.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Lunch at The Plough - Harborne, Birmingham

Yesterday I finally went to The Plough, which I've been wanting to do for the whole of my two years in Birmingham. Loads of my friends have been and rave about it and I can see why.

I instantly fell in love with The Plough when I walked in. It's my type of place; relaxed and friendly yet really well decorated and a bit special. The price reflects this, its not cheap but you get what you pay for - excellent food and great service in a really lovely environment. Sadly I didn't take any photos of the restaurant itself, but it was bright, with lots of windows and had a bit of a rustic feel with the use of wooden panels on the walls and ceiling and an eclectic mix of chairs. There is a big outdoor area too which would be perfect to sit in on a sunny day or summer evening.

I loved the fact they had their name on their glasses. Its another factor that makes it a bit more special than the average pub and sort of makes it clear that they have a strong identity.

As for the food, I was very impressed and I know I will be back to try more on their menu. I decided to have the pizza on the Specials menu, which changes daily.

It was a thin and crispy base topped with tomato sauce, pulled cajun chicken, halloumi, peppers, sunblushed tomatoes and spinach (if I remember correctly) and it was absolutely delicious. I'm sure there were pizzas on the main menu with similar toppings. It was just a really yummy pizza, perhaps a little too crispy as it was a bit difficult to cut up but that is the only flaw I could find. The cajun chicken had a great flavour and it was very filling - it defeated me, I did eat most of it but one of my friends who usually finishes my food ate it up so it didn't go to waste. In fact I was so full that I didn't eat anything else for the rest of the day. I'm not sure it was better than the pizzas at The North Star in Cardiff (read about their pizzas here) but it was not much, if any, worse.

Next time I go to The Plough I will 100% be having this burger. It was described by my friend as "amazing. The best burger I have ever eaten in my life". I cannot underestimate what high praise this is. My friend has eaten a heck of a lot of burgers. Most of the time when we eat out together, if there is a burger on the menu, she will have it. So for it to be given the title of the best one she has ever eaten, it must be good. I will definitely find out for myself one day.

The Plough do Calzones for £6.50 Monday - Friday before 5pm and my other two friends I went to lunch with had one. You just choose two fillings to go in the Calzone (along with mozzarella and tomato), so one of my friends had ham and peppers and the other had spicy beef and caramelized red onions.

They were huge and looked so tempting. My friends both enjoyed them and they would be a perfect choice for lunch or an early dinner.

We had a great time catching up over lunch and I would really recommend The Plough. The food was delicious and arrived very quickly, the staff were friendly and its a really nice pub/restaurant if you're looking for somewhere relaxed yet a bit fancy.