My Thursday: Blossom Walks, Perfect Scrambled Eggs and Violet Gin

DSC_0008

I feel like I haven’t done a photo diary in ages; sometimes it’s nice to throw things back to blogging back in the day – you know, when it was all a bit more low key and just about the things you did on a random day of the week.  I did want to put an Easter-inspired recipe up today buuuuuut I’ve been a bit busy and came up empty.  So here we are!  This is what my Thursday looked like.

Most days right now begin at 6am when Bungle stomps into our bedroom and barks until one of us either budges over or gets up.  He loves our bed at the moment; he’ll disappear at random times during the day and we’ll find him sprawled out snoozing in the middle of it!  Sunny usually gets up first so Bungle will usually hop in with me for a bit while I scroll through Twitter and Instagram and put off getting up myself. 😉

DSC_0010DSC_0018

Once Sunny leaves for work, I pull on a pair of yoga pants and a hoodie and take Bungle for his morning walk around the block.  You’d think him having the snip a couple of weeks ago would have calmed him down a bit, but honestly he’s even more excitable than before.  He still drags me along and only stops to mercilessly hump my leg.  Buuuuuut, at least on Thursday the weather was nice; we walked around the block and had a sniff around the bluebells and the blossom.

DSC_0034DSC_0049

After his walk, Bungle went back to bed (…alright for some) and I made myself some breakfast.  I’ve been trying to perfect some egg recipes recently and high up on my list was scrambled egg.  I mean, usually I just crack a couple of eggs into a saucepan with some milk and butter and stir until they’re solid, but I wanted to see if I could go one better and make those super creamy, special scrambled eggs.  On Thursday, I think I cracked it (har de har).

Most of my morning was spent ticking off jobs on my to do list, planning a couple of blog posts and answering emails, and then after taking Bungle for another trot around the block I had a quick lunch and then headed into Cardiff.  But it turned out taking me an hour longer than usual because the traffic was a nightmare!

traffic

DSC_0062DSC_0089

Had a quick prowl around the shops.  There’s not really a lot I need in terms of Spring/Summer clothes, but I love looking anyway!  I’m still in lust with this pink polka dot shirt from Zara… but I’ve got a lot of shirts (and a lot of polka dots…).  I’m determined to wait it out and see if lust turns into love.

DSC_0075DSC_0086

At Gin o’ Clock I met up with Lottie from This Girl Is.  We went to Gin and Juice in Castle Arcade which serves up a massive selection of gin (and smoothies) in the most beautiful way.  We chatted about blogging and our beautiful but bonkers doggos.

DSC_0121DSC_0092

Once I got home, Sunny took Bungle for his evening walk and I made dinner.  I’ve really been enjoying making these Burrito Bowls recently.  It started as a solution to those times when “ugh, can’t be arsed to make Quesadillas” – but actually, I prefer it!  And not just because it’s easier.  Last night I served them up with a cheeky side of Nachos – which went down very well! 🙂

DSC_0099

After dinner I started reading my new history book all about the women in Mozart’s life and then Sunny and I broke into some Easter Chocolate in front of Into the Badlands – which is quite possibly the most ridiculous show I’ve ever seen.  Steampunk meets Kung Fu… with Nick Frost.  I mean, what the actual hell?

DSC_0122

Enjoy the long weekend! 🙂

Women’s Guide to Cardiff

peanut butter ice cream

Last month I completely freaked out when I had a little flick through my diary and realised that I was long overdue for a smear test (Cervical Cancer was in the news, screenings are at 20 year low, I’d missed a period and I’m generally just a bit of an anxious wreck when it comes to my health).  I booked in pronto-tonto, got it done, a letter dropped on my doorstep a week or so later letting me know that everything was hunky dory (phew!) and so I took to Instagram to encourage everyone else to do the same.  When a follower messaged me off the cuff to ask where the nearest Family Planning Clinic in Cardiff was – so they could ring up and book their own screening – I came up completely empty.  I had absolutely no idea!

But not just that, when I sat down and thought about it, I realised that I’m a bit clueless in general when it comes to services in Cardiff that are available to women.  You know, for example: where do you go when you’re looking for a bit of careers advice?  What sports teams are there?  Are there any open mic events?  There needs to be a Women’s Guide to Cardiff – a Little Black Book for women of The ‘Diff to stay clued up.  A directory of listings for local networking events, places to go for advice, the morning after pill, or when you’re just in a jam and desperately need a bit of help – whether that’s for mental health counselling or refuge from violence.  Let’s stay safe and in the know, ladies.

And so, here it is.  Or the beta version, anyway.  I’m going to keep adding to it to keep it fresh and as up to date as possible; so if you’ve got any ideas or suggestions I want to hear them.  I’m a woman and I live in Cardiff, but I’m not an authority on the matter.  You are.  Got any recommendations?  Know of a service that the women of Cardiff need to know exists? Just send me a message or let me know in the comments section below. 🙂

DSC_0077 (2)

Health

Need to book in your smear test?  Need the morning after pill or some advice on contraception?  Trying for a baby?  Here’s where to look.

Sexual Health Clinics:

♥ Butetown Health Centre
02921 833257
♥ Cardiff Royal Infirmary
02920 33 5355
♥ Park Place Surgery
029 2087 0660

*Don’t forget that you can book in smear tests at your local Doctor Surgery as well as chat to the nurse about contraception and other women’s health issues/concerns.

Family Planning:

♥ LWC Cardiff
02920 236 301
♥ Centre for Reproduction and Gynaecology Wales
01443 443 999
♥ BPAS Cardiff
03457 304 030

Postnatal and Antenatal Support for Mums and Mums to be:

Parentline Plus
PANDAs Foundation
(support for pre and post natal depression)
Listing of local Mother and Toddler Groups in Cardiff
♥ SANDS (Cardiff’s Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity

Networking

If you’re thinking of starting your own business or a blog, or just want to meet some like-minded ladies then there are so many incredible networking events in and around Cardiff.  Just check the Cardiff Eventbrite Listings to see what’s happening, or snag some tickets to one of these!

♥ House 21 Events
Workshop and Brunch for Bloggers and Brands.
♥ The Wonders Of
Networking events for local bloggers, creatives and business owners.
♥ The Monday Club
Weekly newsletter and networking events for women bossing it in and around Cardiff.
♥ Warrior Women Events
Monthly meetups to inspire and empower local women.
Little Birdie Events
Networking events and workshops for women and small businesses in Cardiff and South Wales.

Arts and Crafts

If you’re a creative gal and fancy putting your artistic eye to good use, then check out some of these events, groups and classes.

♥ Twinmade Workshops
♥ Cardiff Illustration Club
♥ Cardiff Book Festival
♥ Milieu Spoken Poetry and Fiction Sessions
♥ Ignite Cardiff (5 minutes of fame!)
♥ National Museum of Wales Drawing Group
♥ Cardiff National Novel Writing Month Boards (November)
♥ Llanover Hall Arts Centre (run looooads of classes!)
♥ Cardiff Writer’s Circle

Sport

There are so many women’s sports teams in the capital (including the awesome Tiger Bay Brawlers!) – so if you’re interested in signing up with a new squad, just check the list below.

♥ Cardiff Athletic’s Club
♥ Cardiff Basketball Club
♥ Badminton Clubs in Cardiff
♥ Tiger Bay Brawlers Roller Derby
♥ Cardiff AJAX Cycling Club
♥ The Cardiff Valkyries (Women’s American Football)
♥ Cardiff Bluebells Women’s Football
♥ Cardiff Golf Club’s “Ladies New2Golf”
♥ Cardiff Comet’s (Women’s Ice Hockey)
♥ Whitchurch Hockey Club
♥ Cardiff Harlequins Lacrosse Club
♥ Play Netball
♥ Llandaff Rowing Club
♥ CDF Runners
♥ Cardiff Ski and Snowboard Centre
♥ Cardiff Ice Skating Club
♥ Cardiff Lawn Tennis Club

DSC_0003

Careers Advice and Guidance

Everything you need to get your career moving in the right direction, from advice to working spaces and where to look if you fancy doing a bit of volunteering.

Where to go for careers advice and help with job searches and CVs:

♥ Careers Wales
♥ Women’s Equality Network Wales (WEN)
♥ Chwarae Teg
Women Connect First (Advice and support for Black and Minority Ethnic Women in and around Cardiff.)
♥ Big Ideas Wales
(supports anyone interested in starting up their own business!)
♥ Young Women’s Trust (women in Wales can access their free careers coaching sessions as long as they’re under 30)

Creative hubs and co-working spaces for freelancers:

♥ Rabble Studio
♥ The Sustainable Studio
♥ Tramshed

Volunteering Opportunities:

♥ Volunteer Cardiff
♥ Volunteering Wales
♥ New Link Wales

DSC_0016

Magazines and Podcasts

If you’ve been living in Cardiff for a while then you’re bound to have come across some of the local mags hanging around on the window sills in coffee shops and in the waiting rooms of local salons.  They’re full of information about special offers and events in and around the city. 🙂

Podcasts:

♥ Wicked Women’s Institute
“Real conversations by strong, brave, empowered women on topics from body, relationships, to sex.”
♥ Hank
Monthly podcast exploring the Welsh capital’s food and drink scene!

Magazines:

♥ Buzz Mag
Cardiff’s What’s On Guide. Find a copy @ Central Library, The Hayes
♥ Cardiff Life
Lifestyle magazine showcasing life in Cardiff and the Bay
♥ Style of the City
Fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazine for Welsh Women.

thdtI09

Help and Support

If you’re struggling, whatever the circumstances, there are plenty of amazing charities and services in Cardiff and South Wales that can help.  Dewis Wales is a good place to start – they have an online database of local organisations and services that focus on well being.

Help for Women suffering domestic abuse and sexual violence:

♥ Cardiff Women’s Aid Resource and Recovery Centre
Counseling, support, accommodation and recovery services for women experiencing domestic and sexual violence.
BAWSO
Specialist support and intervention for Black and Minority Ethic Women in Cardiff and South Wales, including victims of trafficking, forced marriage and FGM.
♥ Hafan Cymru
Floating “in home” support, housing and refuge for vulnerable women and families.

Counselling and Mental Health Services:

♥ Cardiff Concern
Free charity counselling service run by christian volunteers, offering a listening ear and helping people in need regardless of their religious views.
 Relate Cymru
Relationship counselling and therapy.
♥ Breathe
Created by mental health charity Gofal, Breathe offers talking therapies, counselling and mental health workplace training.
♥ YCS Wales
Affordable counselling sessions in Cardiff and Bridgend.
♥ Kooth
Anonymous support for 11-18 year olds.
♥ Meic
24/7 support line for under 25 year olds

Support for homeless and at risk women:

 Llamau
Help and support for young people and women who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
♥ Shelter Cymru

Support for those in financial difficulty:

♥ The Discretionary Assistance Fund
The DAF gives a one-off grant to anyone of 16 who is in immediate financial difficulty and meets their criteria.
♥ Margaret’s Fund
Not sure this one’s Wales-based, but it’s worth mentioning.  It’s a charity that offers financial help to women struggling due to illness.
♥ The Speakeasy

Offers free and impartial legal advice to anyone struggling with social welfare issues including debt.
♥ Turn2us
A national charity helping people to get back on their feet financially.

DSC_0022

Useful Websites and Blogs

I could spend all day listing the many, many amazing local bloggers based in the Welsh Capital, but if you’re looking for something or someone super specific then check out the Wales Blog Network. (And if you’re a local blogger yourself, make sure you sign up!) 🙂

Websites About Cardiff:

We Are Cardiff
Website sharing interesting stories, arts and culture from in and around Cardiff.
♥ Visit Cardiff
Visitor Information site showcasing what’s on and what’s to see in and around The ‘Diff.

 

Phew!  What a list!  And honestly, I really want it to keep on growing; so if there’s anything you think the women of Cardiff really need to know about, comment below or send me a message so I can get it added to the list (similarly, if there’s anything you think shouldn’t be on the list, do let me know).  Happy #InternationalWomensDay you beautiful lot! ♡♡♡

*A Festive Afternoon Tea and Ice Skating

It feels like that festive feeling’s been cranked up a notch, now that it’s finally December.  I’ve already heard The Pogues about ten times (…not through choice!  I’m not a fan!), the advent calendars are out and…  and why the hell am I starting every single blog post at the moment like a bloody Christmas newsletter?!  There’s something in the water, or maybe it’s the fact that I’m full of Christmas cheer (read: food and booze) after spending a very festive afternoon up at The Celtic Manor over the weekend.

DSC_0218

I had absolutely no idea that The Celtic Manor were opening up a little rink in their rooftop garden this Christmas until an email popped into my inbox a couple of weeks ago inviting me up for a festive afternoon of ice skating and scoffing.  I mean, the last time I went ice skating was around ten years ago and I ended that session flat on my back with my legs in the air (…easy now), but I conveniently forgot all about that small fact right up until I stepped (/slid) out onto the ice.  Luckily, the rink isn’t too big and it isn’t too busy either – much quieter and cosier than the one at Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland – so there was no worrying about clawing my way around the outside while I found my feet or fears of getting clipped by a cocky Torvil and Dean wannabe (I’m not jealous at all).  It’s also covered, so come rain or shine (or snow?) you can skate until you slip.  There’s also a bar serving drinks and food (the Currywurst with sauerkraut was really good) if you’d rather watch the slip-sliding rather than partake in it yourself… 😉

As for me, I didn’t end up flat on my back like last time, but I was very wobbly!  If I wasn’t holding onto the barrier then I was crashing into it! 🙂







Après Skate, Sunny and I headed to The Mulberry Bar just off the lobby for a very special Christmas Treat.  On weekends running up to Christmas, The Mulberry Bar is serving a Festive Afternoon Tea for groups of up to eight.  I’d never had a normal afternoon tea let alone a festive one, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect – soggy cucumber finger sandwiches and teeny weeny cakes, maybe?  I definitely wasn’t expecting to come away feeling like I’d just scoffed a three course meal, but the funny thing was, I pretty much had!  After three courses of beautiful finger food (from smoked salmon éclairs and truffled hen’s egg brioche rolls, to fig and armagnac tartlets), including hot tea (Danish Pastry flavoured, of course…), a festive cocktail and mince pies to finish off, I was stuffed (…There was totally room there for a Turkey/Stuffing joke, but I’m going to spare you this time!)… Sunny pretty much had to carry me out.  And not a soggy cucumber sandwich in sight!



Thanks so much to the lovely lot at The Celtic Manor for inviting me – it was such a lovely treat!  🙂

Cardiff Christmas Shopping Guide 2018

Happy Monday!  It’s that time of year again!  The tree went up over the weekend, I’m on first name terms with the Amazon delivery guy and I’ve even got my first Christmas party later on this week.  It feels like Christmas is going to pounce on us any second now, which means the annual “What the hecky-peck am I going to get my Mother-in-law!?” freak-out has officially begun.  But – have no fear – if you’re Cardiff-bound on your hunt for the perfect Christmas present this year then I’ve got you covered with my 2018 Christmas Shopping Guide, full of the best stops (and pit-stops 😉) to get you all sorted for the big day.

eHBRgUr

Homeware & Gifts

☆ Flying Tiger (St Davids Centre)

Perfect for: Quirky homeware, stationary and stocking fillers.  Tiger is one of my favourite places to hit if I’m having people over because they’ve always got the best (and cheapest!) party supplies and decs.  When it comes to banners, cake decorations, candles, napkins and nick-nacks, Tiger is the place to go.

☆ Illustrate (Morgan Arcade and the Christmas Market)

Perfect for: Unique graphic prints, t-shirts and accessories.  Sunny and I absolutely love Illustrate’s geometric animal prints – we’ve got a whole gallery of them!  Definitely worth checking out.

☆ Scribbler (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Quirky cards and stocking fillers!  They’ve currently got a 3 for 2 offer on packs of Christmas Cards ;-).

PzVwfIx

☆ The Joke Shop (Duke Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Fancy Dress Costumes and practical jokes.  My brother and I used to love hitting up the joke shop when we were kids – it’s perfect if you’re planning a fancy dress night out at Christmas, or you’ve got pranks planned around the Christmas dinner table, or for fun stocking fillers.

☆ Cardiff Outdoor Christmas Market (The Hayes)

Perfect for: You can’t miss the Christmas Market! Running from the 15th of November to the 23rd of December, it’s the best place to find unique handmade gifts, artwork and food.  If there’s someone on your gift list that’s impossible to buy for and you’re tearing your hair out over them then a stroll around the stalls should do the trick.  You can find a directory of all this year’s stalls here.

☆ Cardiff Indoor (Central) Market (St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Cardiff’s indoor market is over a hundred years old and still going strong.  It’s a great place to hit up if you need home hardware, specialist foodie gifts, pet supplies, sewing and crafty gifts and vinyl records.  It’s absolutely criminal to come away without buying a bag of ten Welsh Cakes from Bakestones. 😉

☆ Forbidden Planet (Duke Street)

Perfect for: Comic books, cult action figures and collectibles.  If you’ve got a Sheldon Cooper to buy for then you’ll already know about Forbidden Planet and are probably a frequent visitor. 🙂

☆ Oliver Bonas (St David’s 2 – The Hayes)

Perfect for: I recently told my mother that I would happily live in an Oliver Bonas store.  Bright and colourful shop offering quirky homeware, books and gifts – also fashion and accessories.  I wrote a whole post about the shop here.

☆ The Pen & Paper (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Pens and Paper!  The best place to go for ink, card, pens, notebooks, art supplies and diaries.

nv0XJfH

Kitchens Cookshop (High Street – castle end of St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Everything kitchen, cooking and baking related.  Guaranteed if I get a strange utensil or quirky cooking-related item from my Mum at Christmas time (and I always do!) then this is the shop it’s most likely come from.

☆ Rules of Play (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: If your annual Cards Against Humanity Marathon is starting to lose its novelty (we played for hours last year) and you’re on the hunt for a new board game or card game to play once Christmas dinner’s digested, then Rules of Play has got you covered.

☆ Castle Emporium (Womanby Street)

Perfect for: Market full of independent retailers selling clothing, jewellery, second hand books, artwork and skateboarding equipment.  On Saturday the 1st of December they’ve got a pop up Christmas Market from 12-5pm.

Outside the City Centre…

☆ Nest (Heol-y-Deri, Rhiwbina)

Perfect for: Not in the city centre, but definitely worth popping in if you’ve got a car.  Beautiful cosy homeware and gifts. 🙂

☆ Home byKirsty (Glenroy St, Roath)

Perfect for: Scandi-style homeware and stationary.  Awarded best new business in the 2015 Cardiff Life Awards, Home byKirsty showcases statement pieces like lights, cushions, mugs and other accessories for the home.  Definitely worth a look if you’re looking to buy a present for someone who’s just moved house!

☆ Beti Biggs (Albany Road, Roath)

Perfect for: “Vintage furniture, unusual gifts and homewares from around the world.”

*If Online Shopping’s your gig, check out these fab Welsh Makers and Brands with online stores.

Beauty

*Boots can be found in St David’s Centre, while most major brands can be tracked down in Debenhams and John Lewis (St David’s).

☆ Miss Patisserie (7, High Street Arcade) Available Online (and in most Boots stores)

Perfect for: Handmade Cosmetics, Bath Bombs, Candles. Tucked away in one of the Victorian Arcades (just off St John Street) Miss Patisserie is my go-to if I’ve got a pamper session planned – their bath balls are the bomb-diggity (much slower to fizzle out than, y’know, that *other* highstreet handmade cosmetics brand, and they create beautiful tie-dye swirls in the tub).  All their products are handmade, vegan and cruelty free and downright gorgeous.

☆ Neal’s Yard Remedies (Morgan Quarter)

Perfect for: Natural Remedies; I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Mama who isn’t a big fan of their soothing hand lotions.

☆ Jo Malone (St David’s 2 – Hayes side)

Perfect for: Personalised high-end perfume and beauty.

☆ L’Occitane (St David’s 2)

Perfect for: Provencial Beauty products and gift sets.

☆ Kiehl’s (St David’s 2)

Perfect for: Cult skincare products for men and women (I can’t rave more about their Midnight Recovery Oil).

Fashion & Jewellery

*Most of the big stores can be found dotted between Queen Street and The Hayes, with the majority of big names in St David’s 2.  For independents, check The Arcades.

☆ Hobos (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Hobos has been around since I was a kid!  One of the best spots in Cardiff for vintage and secondhand fashion and accessories.

☆ Two Seasons (Queens Arcade)

Perfect for: Ski, skate and surf shop selling main brands of clothing and equipment for adults and kids.

☆ Urban Outfitters (The Hayes)

Perfect for: Quirky fashion with a vintage feel, but their homeware and gift section is where you want to be this time of year… 😉

☆ Blue Banana (Queen Street)

Perfect for: Alternative fashion and jewellery (my one stop shop circa 2004 when I had pink hair…).

Outside the City Centre…

☆ Kiti Cymru (Pontcanna Mews, King’s Road)

Perfect for: Fashion boutique in Pontcanna with carefully curated fashion from brands such as Lily & Lionel, Tatty Devine and Traffic People.

P4rVihs

Food & Drink

☆ Wally’s Delicatessen (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: Foodie gift central.  Wally’s has its own unique aroma, you’ll smell the spices and cured meat long before you step inside.  It’s definitely the place to go if you’re looking for things to go into a Christmas hamper, as well as hot sauces, biscuits, chocolates, cheeses, pannettone and Christmas pudding.  They’ve also got a coffee shop on the second floor.

☆ Wally’s Drinks (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Wines, drinks and spirits.  Perfect if you’re looking to gift some quirky drinks or liquors – including Welsh-brewed products – or stock up for New Year’s Eve!

☆ Vom Fass (High Street Arcade)

Perfect for: Specialist Oils and Spirits.

☆ Bean Freaks (St Mary’s Street)

Perfect for: Natural foods, remedies and beauty products.

☆ Simply V (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Vegan groceries, toiletries and clothing.

☆ Madame Fromage (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Cheesy gifts, literally!  Specialty cheeses and hampers.  They also offer Cheese and Wine Tasting evenings from £25 a head which my Dad would be all over. 🙂

Outside the City Centre…

☆ Pontcanna Market (King’s Road Yard, Pontcanna)

Perfect for: Worth venturing out of the city centre for their Saturday Farmer’s Market (9.30am – 2pm), and on the first three Sundays in December they’re hosting a Christmas Craft Fair (9am – 3pm).

Books & Music

☆ Spillers (Morgan Arcade)

Perfect for: LEGENDARY.  CDs and Vinyl.  The world’s oldest record shop and a Cardiff institution.  ‘Nuff said.

☆ Cranes (High Street – castle end of St Mary Street)

Perfect for: Gifts for musicians.  Cranes is the Mecca for Cardiff Musicians and the place to go to buy instruments and accessories.

☆ Troutmark Books (Castle Arcade)

Perfect for: Lovely secondhand book store tucked away in Castle Arcade.

W7FrgNK

Welsh-themed Gifts

☆ Bodlon (Yr Hen Lyfrgell, The Hayes – and also 12 Park Road, Whitchurch)

Perfect for: Welsh-themed gifts.  Beautiful homeware, welsh language books, prints and stationary by welsh artists, toys and locally produced chocolates and alcohol.

☆ Castle Welsh Crafts (Castle Street – opposite Cardiff Castle)

Perfect for: Welsh themed gifts, love spoons, slate and souvenirs.  Castle Crafts has been around for donkey’s years and it’s no wonder because it’s the best place to go for all things Wales – especially love spoons.

☆ Shop Rugby (Duke Street)

Perfect for: Rugby Shirts and Kit as well as a few Welsh themed gifts.

Pitstops

Because all that Christmas Shopping is nackering!  It’s nice to have somewhere to go for coffee and a snack!  Here are some of my faves.

Barker Tea House (High Street Arcade)

Nata & Co (Castle Arcade)

Gin & Juice (Castle Arcade) – for something stronger… 😉

Crumb’s (Morgan Arcade)

Nine Yards (Duke Street Arcade)

The Plan (Morgan Arcade)

Hard Lines (Cardiff Indoor Market and Castle Emporium)

Llaeth a Siwgr (Yr Hen Llyfrgell)

Uncommon Ground (Morgan Arcade)

Big Moose Coffee (Frederick Street) tucked away between Boots and Primark and worth dropping in on to check out their Brownie of the Week 😉

The New York Deli (High Street Arcade)

The Grazing Shed Burgers (Morgan Quarter)

If you’ve got any Cardiff Christmas Shopping suggestions then I’d love to hear them – I’m always discovering new favourites! 🙂

A Stress-Free Sunday Night Dinner with La Belle Assiette

I love getting my friends and family over for dinner.  You know me, I’m a right Monica Geller; “I’m always the hostess!”  It’s stressful, but it’s the kind of stress I feed off of (literally!).  I love setting the table up, deciding what cook for everyone and then serving it up.  But more than anything else I love having all my favourite people around my kitchen table.  My only problem with the whole hosting game is that I’m constantly having to leave that table to go check on the food, top up drinks and then… ugh, clean everything up.  I keep having to disappear in the middle of one of my Dad’s stories, or the latest TV and movie tip-off from my brother and that, my friends, is the worst part of always being the hostess.  Sometimes it’d be nice to just sit at that same table and soak up a Sunday night dinner with the family without having to actually serve it myself.

I thought I’d have to win a Grammy or the lottery to be able to hire a private chef, and since my singing’s only shower-worthy and I can’t remember the last time I won anything on the lottery – I thought I was way off.  But it’s actually more affordable than you’d think!  La Belle Assiette is a website that allows you to hire local chefs and caterers to come and serve a meal in your home with prices starting from as little as £39 a head.  Chefs call up and discuss the menu with you beforehand – taking into consideration any special dietary requirements or fussy eaters you might have – and then they buy all the ingredients, cook the meal and – better yet – clean up afterwards!  So, when an email popped into my inbox asking whether I fancied opening up my little kitchen for the night to local chef, Manveer Holloway, how could I possibly refuse? 🙂


I’m a bit possessive of my kitchen – I always kick people out when I’m cooking, so I wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be like having a stranger come and use my cheap old pans and crusty oven (I did have a panic the night before that nothing was chef-clean enough and scrubbed until my arm almost fell off), but Manveer was friendly and professional right from the get go.  He arrived a few hours before dinner to set up and prepare the food and got right down to it!  I could just sit back and wait for my guests to arrive.  But I didn’t do that, it felt strange not mucking in!  So I went and had a chat with Manveer instead, asking him about his experience in the catering industry and the six months he spent working on the tiny channel island of Aldernay.

The meal kicked off at eight with some bread and olives on the table, followed by a starter of Tikka Marinated Chicken, pickled cue and courgettes (which were absolutely stunning) and mint raita.  And for my Mum, who only eats fish and vegetables; wild mushroom arancini, pea shoots and truffle oil.


When Manveer called me a few weeks before the meal to discuss the menu, he suggested rump of lamb for a main course.  Now, I’m not normally a huge fan of lamb, but I knew that Sunny, my Dad and my brother would be all over it – so I said yes!  Turns out, I hadn’t really given lamb a chance because the lamb Manveer cooked was absolutely delicious! Accompanied with rosemary and garlic mash, pea and butternut puree, fresh leek and red wine sauce it was probably the nicest Sunday Dinner to ever grace my kitchen table!



While we feasted on lamb, my Mum polished off a fillet of seabass with sauteed potatoes, spiced tomato sauce, tempura broccoli and cauliflower florets.  I was amazed how Manveer perfectly timed two very different meals, cooking the fish to perfection while keeping the lamb tender.

To finish off, we had a deconstructed lemon tart with candied lemon peel, limoncello jelly and earl grey syrup (which I loved so much I had to try making myself!).  While we all ate and chatted, Manveer worked hard to get the kitchen back clean and in working order.

What can I say?  The whole night was a total treat from start to finish!  If you’re looking to host a dinner party with a difference then I’d definitely check out La Belle Assiette – your guests will be nattering about it for months!

Massive thanks to La Belle Assiette and Manveer for such an amazing evening – and to Anna from Exposure for the photographs (it was so nice to dig into a plate of food without me having to photograph it first!).

Have a great week everyone!