Happy New Year

As we caper merrily into 2016 it seems obligatory to write a short retrospective on the year we leave behind.  2015 was a year which saw reduced input into Corpulent Capers for a number of different reasons.

The year started with Babette appearing on Radio Wales on the Jamie Owen Show, continued with her cooking live on ITV’s Mel & Sue show and culminated in her explaining to Sir Terry Wogan and Mason McQueen why Abergavenny was a such a great stopping point for their Great Food Trip.

Corpulent Capers: Babette cooking Gumbo live on ITV's Mel & Sue Show

Babette cooking Gumbo live on ITV’s Mel & Sue Show

Other things took our attention including the formation of the first Slow Food group in South East Wales which had its official launch in early June at St Fagans National History Museum.  That, in turn, led to Babette and I being appointed to the board of Slow Food Cymru Wales.

Corpulent Capers: Slow Food South East Wales Committee and Jane Hutt AM

Slow Food South East Wales Committee and Jane Hutt AM

Then Babette was away in the States for 3 months which took care of the rest of June, July and August. I also attended far less openings in 2015 than in previous years as I became somewhat bored by the endless stream of burger joints that are opening in the capital.

The upshot of all this was that we ate at far fewer places than we normally would, and far less time to write about those we did.

As is general at this time of year I’ve taken the opportunity to evaluate the recent past and to think about what 2016 means for Corpulent Capers.

First off we’ll be changing our look sometime this quarter. I’ve been toying with this for a while but I’ve finally found a look I like and so I’m working on converting things in the background.  The new site will look much better on mobile devices and the advertising will either disappear completely or be much less intrusive.

Content wise there will be much less emphasis on reviews and much more on food, food policy, food producers and the like. Of course we’ll still bring you news about the best places to eat as and when we find them.

We hope you like the changes as we phase them in and look forward to your feedback.

Of course we can’t let 2015 end without a roundup.  So here are my top picks of places that I did manage to visit last year.

Fine (but not stuffy) Dining

Restaurant James Sommerin

Without a doubt the highlight of our food year was the meal we had to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary at Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth. We opted for the 10 course (1 per year) chef’s blind tasting menu.

It was a true delight as James took us through culinary journey that wowed and amazed us.  Truly cooking of the highest level. I’m not the only one to notice as apart from their great reviews they also won 3 AA Rosettes this year too.

Look out for some exciting new menu concepts in 2016 as well including a great value fixed price Market Menu (2 courses and a Bellini for under £30).

Corpulent Capers: Some dishes from our Tasting Menu at Restaurant JS.

Some dishes from our Tasting Menu at Restaurant JS.

The Walnut Tree

I don’t mind admitting I’m a bit of a fanboy when it comes to Chef Shaun Hill. He’s a great raconteur as well as a great chef and his, simply presented, food is always packed with flavour. Not only seasonal and local he also presents dishes you are unlikely to find in other restaurants.  Where else would you find ‘Woodcock Rossini’ on the menu? The woodcock was ‘shot by my neighbour’ he said.

There’s a fixed price set lunch menu offering 2 (£25) or 3 (£30) courses on offer too.

Corpulent Capers: Lunch at the Walnut Tree Inn

Lunch at the Walnut Tree Inn

Coast

Will Holland, another ex-Ludlowite like Shaun Hill, opened Coast in Saundersfoot in 2014. We visited in April 2015 and found the food as good as the location and the views. As you can imagine from the name and the beach side location the menu is mainly fish based, with a gentle nod to the vegetarians and the carnivores. Fortunately Will knows how to cook a piece of fish so if you’re in the area a visit is highly recommended.

Corpulent Capers: Dinner At Coast

Dinner At Coast

‘Casual’ Dining

The Felin Fach Griffin

What more can I tell you than I probably ate here more than anywhere else in 2015.  Under the watchful eye of the awesome GM Julie Bell the Griffin is comfortable and relaxed, cosy with its open fire, they are even dog friendly. More than all that though it serves great food and has a wine list well worth exploring. Surely, they must be running out of wall space to hang all their awards on by now.

Corpulent Capers: Belly Pork still remembered from September!

Belly Pork still remembered from September!

The Gallery

Welsh Sustainable Restaurant of the Year, Good Food Guide Readers Restaurant of the Year, the Gallery goes from strength to strength. With a menu that changes monthly, owner Barnaby Hibbert ensures that the Gallery offers outstanding value for money. And it’s in staggering distance of Barry Station as well, so there’s no excuse for you Cardiffians not to go pay them a visit.

Corpulent Capers: The Gallery, Barry

The Gallery, Barry

Bar 44

What can I say about the guys at Bar 44.  When I first discovered them they had one restaurant in Cowbridge and I was completely bowled over by their commitment to sourcing and serving the best of Spain.  Now they have 3 outlets (Penarth and Westgate St, Cardiff) and have managed that difficult task of remaining true to their roots and ethos whilst expanding.

Corpulent Capers: Tapas at Bar 44, Cardiff

Tapas at Bar 44, Cardiff

 

And to you, dear reader, thanks for all your support in 2015. We love to get your feedback so don’t be shy in 2016. Get involved, comment on our posts, tell us what you like and don’t like, tell us what you think about the Welsh food and drink scene.

Happy New Year and may 2016 bring you all that you might wish for.