May 15
Y Polyn, Carmarthenshire
posted by: Gomez in Lunch, Restaurant Reviews on May 15th, 2012 | | 1 Comment »

We had just spent a few hours wandering around a cold and windy Carmarthen. Despite a pleasant visit to the new market where we found an excellent butcher with home cured meats and bacon, a great organic vegetable seller and a little old lady selling home made cakes we found nowhere that took our fancy for lunch.

Back in the car, with a plan to drive round until we found somewhere, it finally dawned on me that we were pretty close to Y Polyn.  One quick phone call later and we had a table booked for 30 minutes hence.

We were there in 15 and when we arrived we discovered how lucky we were to get a table, as the car park was chock a block.  Inside we went directly to our table in the busy dining room, and started checking out the menu.

I love the atmosphere at Y Polyn. It’s very relaxed with all its purple tones and staff in their black tee-shirts emblazoned with “Fat Equals Flavour, Live With It”. You just know you’re going to get some good food.

Back at the menus, MrsA decided to opt for the Credit Crunch Lunch, which at two courses for £12 or three courses for £14.50 provides incredible value for money.  The niece, a pescetarian, and I decided to opt for the normal lunch menu.

The Credit Crunch Lunch delivered a salad of Pear, Perl Las and Pecan Nut. The strong but creamy cheese a perfect counter-balance to the sweet pear, whilst the pecan’s delivered not only flavour but texture.

The niece and I took full advantage of the season with a green salad of Wye Valley Asparagus served with parmesan shavings and croutons.  Freshness on a plate! There was just enough dressing left for us to mop up with the complementary breads.

The niece chose Pan Fried Plaice, Anchovy and Caper Butter. A delicate yet perfectly cooked dish.

I opted for the tasty Middle White Pork Sausages with Caramelised Apples, a marriage made in heaven.  The ‘beautifully ugly’ Middle White is a rare but distinctive breed of pig and one that I generally prefer to the more common ‘Gloucester Old Spot’. Even in sausage form its unique flavour shone through.

MrsA’s Credit Crunch Lunch, delivered a Smoked Haddock Pie that delivered not only a great depth of flavour but the right balance of smoky warm to drive the effects of those Carmarthenshire winds away.

A nice big dish of seasonal vegetables for all to share topped the mains off nicely.
Seasonal Mixed Vegetables

Seasonal Mixed Vegetables

None of us were totally convinced we could manage dessert but the promise of a lemon tart proved too much for me and I was forced to indulge.  Those that know me, know that I think there is little worse than just a hint of lemon. I always refuse a slice in any drink as if it’s there it needs to be sharp and unmistakeable. Fortunately this didn’t disappoint on any level, not only was the pastry thin and crisp but the sharpness of the lemon almost made one wince with delight. You might well “know when you’ve been Tango’d™” but I suspect it might feel like an angels kiss when compared to the punch packed by this baby. Delightful!
Lemon Tart with Ice Cream

Lemon Tart with Ice Cream

The ladies decided that they couldn’t just sit and watch me eat dessert so they decided to share the Credit Crunch’s version of a Knickerbocker Glory. The clattering of duelling dessert spoons and the speed of its disappearance leads me to believe that it was an excellent example of its type.

This would have been about my sixth visit to Y Polyn since I discovered it through watching The Wright Taste on TV a few years ago. I wish I’d been able to visit more but I don’t get out that way too often, unfortunately.  However every time I’ve been Y Polyn has been consistently good, so good in fact that it moved my food finicky friend, TY, to proclaim that it had served him the best piece of pork he had ever tasted, when we took him there for his birthday one year.  There is praise and there is food finicky praise…..

If you’re ever down West, you’ll find Y Polyn on the B4310 a few minutes past the entrance to the National Botanical Gardens. Go, you won’t be disappointed.

Y Polyn
Capel Dewi
SA32 7LH

Tel: 01267 290000

Y Polyn on Urbanspoon


May 13

The Little Welsh Deli

I am the cook in the family and, as such, responsible for creating delicious suppers 7 days a week. I do like cooking but, sometimes I want to take a break and go out for dinner. Other times, I want a break but am happy to stay home in my ‘comfies’ and have the equivalent of a home cooked dinner but cooked by someone else. Where we live, if we want something delicious, ‘take out’ is not really an option and ready meals from the supermarket fill a hole but, just don’t give you that home cooked comfort. So, when @gomezadams and I are out and about visiting farmers markets and food festivals, I always look for something that is as good as my home cooking (or better!) that I can pop in my freezer and simply heat up when I want someone to cook for me .

This weekend we went to the West Wales Food Festival at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, nr Carmarthen. This is a food festival that I enjoy, as many of the producers are from West Wales and do not frequent the farmers markets we go to in Brecon, Usk, Abergavenny and Undy. One of the stallholders this year was The Little Welsh Deli which is the business of Clare and Ryan Phillips. Clare was a nurse who gave it up and is now living her dream by running her own foodie business.

I stopped to have a bite of a cheese pasty that was cut up for people to try. Her Cheese Plus pasty was exceptional. The first thing that hit me was the tenderness of her pastry and this was followed by the flavoursome cheese filling. The pasty was filled with mature welsh cheddar plus spring onions, crushed new potatoes, crème fraiche, wholegrain and Dijon mustard. The cheese filling was delicate but mouth-watering. This is exactly what I am looking for when I want to eat at home but not cook.

All of her pasties are handmade and I wish I had bought more as the cheese pasties we did buy never made it to the freezer! Doh!

We also bought a few of her cakes and divine, to die for, sticky toffee pudding. I highly recommend that you look out for The Little Welsh Deli. If you visit her website you can see which farmers markets and festivals she will be attending this year! Clare is also on twitter @littlewelshdeli

The Little Welsh Deli
22 Clos Gors Fawr

Tel: 01792 895377

Apr 20

As April rolls into May, hopefully bringing some better weather, news has arrived at Corpulent Towers of a new beer festival in Llantwit Major.  The Old Swan Inn, part of Knife & Fork Food Ltd (think Woods Brasserie and The New Conway) is having its first Beer Festival on the weekend of the 27th to 29th of April.
What's more anybody who travels to the event by public transport, and how else would you sensibly go to a beer festival I ask myself, will get a free pint! 
As well as beer and cider, there'll be live music all weekend and they even have a large marquee so that rain doesn't stop play. If you're a beer connoisseur or just like a tipple and a tune then get yourself along to what promises to be a great weekend. 
Trains run every hour from Cardiff & Bridgend, there are a number of bus routes serving Llantwit Major so check with your local operator for details.
Further details in the following press release:-
The Old Swan Inn to offer travelling ale lovers a pint for a pass
The Old Swan Inn will be kicking off the beer festival season with a weekend from Friday 27th April-Sunday 29th April by offering any patron who has travelled to the event by public transport the chance to exchange their used pass for a pint.
The pub, which dates back to the 12th century, is issuing an open invite to ale lovers across South Wales to come and sample the 25 different types of beer and cider on offer, including the famously strong Firebox beer, back again this year by demand. There will also be beer from breweries like RCH, Wye Valley, Wickwar, VOG, Breconshire and Otley.
Anyone who chooses to travel to Llantwit Major by train or bus will be able to exchange their ticket for a free pint at any point over the weekend.  The pub is just a short walk from the station, which is well-served by trains every hour from Cardiff.
The Welsh beer and cider line-up will be complemented by bands from the local area, who will be playing live music throughout the weekend.  While the event lends itself to the outdoors in the large beer-garden, rain will not stop play, with a specially erected marquee lined up to accommodate the festival goers.
This is the first of a programme of festivals the pub, which is part of the Knife & Fork Food Group, will be laying on over the course of the summer with plans for similar events to coincide with the Queen’s jubilee and the National Eisteddfod.
Landlord Sean Murphy said of the event: “Beer festivals really do indicate the start of summer and we are looking forward to welcoming both our regular patrons and some new faces. The public transport to Llantwit serves us very well and we hope our offer to buy any travellers a drink will encourage people to go a little bit farther afield that weekend.
“We are confident that our line up of the great and the good of beers and ciders is the best we’ve seen yet, and we are looking forward to getting feedback on the ones we have chosen.  It will be a fantastic weekend, whether you are a beer drinker or not, and there is plenty of entertainment on offer.” 
Church Street  
Llantwit Major  
CF61 1SB
T: 01446 7892230


Apr 8
Sosban Restaurant, Llanelli
posted by: Gomez in Dinner, Restaurant Reviews on Apr 8th, 2012 | | No Comments »

Sosban Llanelli

Finding a decent place to eat on a Monday night isn't always easy but when it's your Wedding Anniversary and the wife wants to go 'somewhere new', the pressure is really on.

So imagine my relief when I discovered that somewhere I'd been meaning to go for a while, had just started to open on Mondays. One quick phone call later and we had a table at Sosban in Llanelli.
For those of you not in the know yet, Sosban, which opened in 2011, is part owned by restaurateur and food broadcaster Simon Wright (previously one half of Y Polyn), 2 ex rugby internationals – Stephen Jones and Dwayne Peel, and construction entrepreneur Robert Williams. Being a great fan of Y Polyn I was really hoping that some of their food ethos had managed to make its way a few miles due south along with Simon.
The first thing to notice about Sosban is the building, a grade 2 listed ex-pump house that used to provide hydraulic power to operate the dock gates. Although the square 90ft tower that housed the pump may mislead you at first glance into thinking that you are visiting an old church. Walk through the entrance door and you are standing at the base of the tower, which still houses part of the pump. Tip your head back and look up and you begin to realise just what a powerful piece of machinery this thing must have been in its day.

The Pump Tower

Circumvent the pump, go through the inner doors and you are in the reception area, with it's comfy leather chairs and sofas. This in turn opens into the main dining space, and what an incredible space it is. High ceilings, exposed stonework, wooden ceilings, lots of light. I just loved it! If you ever need to take anyone some place with a 'wow' factor then take them here. There's even an open plan kitchen, separated from the dining room but a light, glass roofed link section. 
Reception Area at Sosban Llanelli
Sospan Dining Area
Kitchens at Sosban
We sat down on one of those comfy sofa's for a pre-dinner drink and to peruse the menu. The staff, although young, were all incredibly helpful, polite and friendly and competent to answer any of our questions on the various dishes.
Having placed our order we were shown to our table. Sosban, like Y Polyn, serves 'house water' and complimentary bread, and refills of both were offered.
House Water
To start I chose the 'Welsh charcuterie board, piccalilli'. A great plate of locally cured meats and a really nice piccalilli which combined with the gherkins and pickled onions brought not only crunch but bite!
Welsh Charcuteri
MrsA chose the 'Crab lasagne'. However, the wafer thin pasta and whipped consistency made this dish seem more like a mousse than a lasagne. Still a tasty dish, with a nice sauce to boot, it didn't quite deliver texturally on it's decription.
Crab Lasagne
For main course I went for the 'Slow cooked belly of pork, braised cabbage, Madeira sauce'. Finished off with a nice strip of crackling and some super smooth mashed potato this was a really nice dish. The slow cooked belly pork was flavourful and tender, yeilding to the edge of the fork and hardly requiring a knife.  Scrumptious!
Slow Cooked Belly Pork
'Rump of lamb, parsnip puree, potato gnocchi, spring vegetables' was MrsA's choice. She loved the gnocci but thought the lamb was a little strong in flavour, especially as it was from the Preseli hills, we are used to our Welsh Mountain Lamb being on the sweeter side. It was still a nicely balanced dish, but we both thought the pork was the better of the two.
Rump Of Lamb
As we were both getting quite full we decided to order one Bakewell tart and two forks. Served hot, this was an almond and frangipani delight with a lovely thin pastry case. Not too sweet, nice and light.
Bakewell Tart
To bring our evening to a close we opted to return to the comfort of the sofa for coffee.
All in all, we both really liked Sosban. The renovation of the building has been carried out to an exceptional standard (check out google streetview for some pre-restoration images) and the interior layout and design is first class. What could so easily have been a cold, echoey space has been transformed into something light and spacious, yet warm and welcoming. Well done!
The food is, in the main, good local produce treated well and cooked with care. As the menu says "Unless we tell you otherwise… pork is from pedigree Welsh breed pigs on the Gower, lamb is from the Preseli Hills, smoked food is from Crickhowell, beef is from farms in north and mid Wales, chicken is from Pembrokeshire, fish and shellfish are landed around the Welsh coast, and the chef is from Kidwelly."
Sosban can serve 90 covers and it was good to see, in these austere times, that on a Monday night at the beginning of April they were at least half full. Prices are very reasonable, our 2 starters, 2 mains, shared dessert came in with 1 bottle beer, 2 large glasses and 1 small glass of wine at a respectable £73.50.
At lunch times and early evening (6-7pm) they offer the fixed price Sosban Fach menu at an incredible £13 for two courses or £15 for three courses. Now that certainly has to be the best bargain this side of the Towy!
North Dock
SA15 2LF
Tel: 01554 270020

Sosban on Urbanspoon

Mar 25

ffresh logo

I was recently invited along to a spring showcase of Welsh food at ffresh in the Wales Millennium Centre. Ffresh, is committed to sourcing and serving the very best produce from Wales, and as such is the first restaurant to form a True Taste Partnership with Welsh Government. This is obviously working as ffresh not only appears in the 2012 Good Food Guide but also got a very good review from respected novelist and journalist, John Lanchester in The Guardian recently.

According to their web site, ‘Wales the True Taste’ is a brand which promotes the very best food and drink that Wales has to offer. Managed by the Welsh Government, it aims to raise awareness of Welsh food and drink among consumers and increase the consumption of Welsh food by the hospitality industry and the public sector in Wales.

As Wales Millennium Centre Trustee, Janet Davies, said in her welcoming address “To create a sense of place through food, we have been working with the Welsh Government’s food team in Aberystwyth over the past two and a half years to expand the number of Welsh Food suppliers, since we acquired the restaurant from its previous leaseholders. Our aim has been to create a centre of excellence for Welsh food, and this has meant working with much lauded award winning suppliers from Wales the True Taste Award Scheme. Now, some 80% of all our ingredients are sourced in Wales, and about 30% of those are Wales The True Taste award winners.

Some of these award winning suppliers were present to showcase their produce and we got the opportunity to talk to them and sample their wares whilst efficient staff continuously circled round bringing us dishes from the ffresh kitchen made from the very same ingredients.

Served in bowls as ‘little dishes’ and eaten standing as we talked, we tucked into Peli Pabo goat’s cheese and beetroot salad; Welsh Venison Centre faggots, mash and peas; fillet of Welsh seabass, Puffin potato cake and salsa Verdi; Wye Valley asparagus risotto with Hafod cheese and last but not least, bread and butter pudding with Baravelli’s lemon and Brecon gin marmalade. Standouts for me were both the faggots and the seabass.

But this wasn’t really the time to be doing an in depth review and so, in between mouthfuls of food, I took the opportunity to spend some time talking to the producers and sampling some of their produce. All of the producers present were previous True Taste Award Winners and I got to sample everything from blue cheese to smoked duck, via ice cream and beer.

Producers present were:

Carmarthenshire Cheese Company – Boksburg Blue Cheese.
Gornos Speciality Foods Ltd  – Continental Sausages, Cured Meat Products and Charcuterie.
Black Mountains Smokery – Finest smoked fish, meats, poultry and cheeses.
The Celt Experience – Ales, lagers and soft drinks brewed in Caerphilly.
Total Produce (featuring Birchgrove eggs and Puffin Potatoes) – Distributors of locally grown produce.
Castell Howell Foods (featuring a variety of products) – Wales' largest independent food wholesaler.
Sub Zero – Award winning Ice Creams.
Welsh Venison Centre – Award winning venison, pork and lamb.
Capital Pates – Pates, terrines and relishes.

I was also lucky to be able to spend some time talking to WMC's Senior Catering Operations Manager, Heidi Urquhart, who was not only able to further explain the philosophy behind ffresh and the True Taste collaboration but also gave me an insight into some to the things that may be happening at WMC in the near future. All I'll say is watch this (that?) space.

With Cardiff Bay fast filling with chain eateries, ffresh is becoming a standard bearer for local produce and producers, through it's partnership with Wales The True Taste. Bookings are up since The Guardian's review, which is great because not only does that support them but it helps support many other Welsh food producers too. If you are in the Bay go and support them too.

ffresh Bar & Restaurant
Wales Millennium Centre
Bute Place
Cardiff Bay
CF10 5AL

Tel: 029 2063 6465


Mar 19

(c) Village Kitchen & Bar Where do you go on a Friday night for a reasonable meal if you don't want to spend a fortune and your dining companion has a list of don't eat ingredients longer than a decent food encyclopedia? Well you could certainly do worse than pay a visit to The Village Kitchen and Bar in Whitchurch.

This wasn't the first time I've visited VKB, as it likes to style itself, and I thought a quick review was overdue. We are a bit short of photos I'm afraid as MrsA had gone of with my camera and the phone wasn't really up to the job. No matter just consider this short review an aperitif as opposed to the main meal.

Entering VKB from Merthyr Road brings you into a small but welcoming bar area with views of the open kitchen. Having booked I gave my name and we were shown to our table at the rear. If you do find your self seated at the rear I should warn you that there is also an entrance here from the car park and despite the heavy curtain cordoning off the toilets and this entrance, there is a very cold draught every time someone opens the door and comes in this way.

We were given the A La Carte menu together with a smaller list of specials. The menu breaks down into starters, meats, grills, fish, vegetarian, pasta and a children's section.

I ordered the "Warm Peppered Goats Cheese Salad With a refreshing mango salsa". The Goats Cheese had a nice bite, but wasn't very 'Peppered', and the mango salsa was quite sweet and offset the goats cheese nicely. All in all a very pleasant dish. My dining companion, Tim, had the "Blue Cheese Mousse" from the specials menu. This dish didn't really deliver. I don't know what cheese had been used but it was the mildest blue I have ever encountered. The dish was served with a minted sauce that completely overpowered the cheese. For the dish to have worked it needed to have a been made with a much stronger blue.

For mains we both opted for the "Homemade 100% Sirloin Beef Burger. In ciabatta with bacon, lettuce, melted mature Cheddar, red onion marmalade and seasoned crispy chips". Despite the fact I couldn't convince them to cook the burger medium rare, this was a really good example of a patty. It was juicy and succulent with a really nice flavour and served in a decent bun. Both Tim and I were impressed. We also quite liked the seasoned crispy chips, Tim likening them to a poor man's version of Heston's famous Tripled Cooked Chips.

Instead of a dessert menu the waitress brought a dessert plate with a slice of everything for us to check out. I didn't get the impression that the desserts were made in house, but I didn't ask so they might be. I plumped for a slice of apricot tart with some pouring cream, whilst Tim chose an individual strawberry cheesecake. No matter where they came from they were both good examples of type. We finished off with a cappuccino and an espresso.

The bill for three courses, 2 soft drinks, the coffees and a bottle of Malbec was a little over £63 for the two of us, which we both felt was excellent value for money. I have no hesitation in recommending VKB to anyone and will certainly be visiting again. If you're looking for a relaxed atmosphere where you'll find fresh ingredients simply but carefully cooked then you should pay a visit too.

The Village Kitchen & Bar 
25 Merthyr Road
Whitchurch Village
CF14 1DA

t. (029) 2062 4000


Opening Times: 
Mon – Sat 9am – 11.30pm
Sun 9am – 4pm

The Village Kitchen & Bar  on Urbanspoon

Feb 26
BlogCamp 2012 Meet and Greet
posted by: Gomez in Events on Feb 26th, 2012 | | No Comments »

On the 21st April I'm off to Birmingham to attend BlogCamp 2012. BlogCamp provides workshops and conferences for independent UK Bloggers. The idea is to help us bloggers to improve our blogs by sharing some practical advice on how to improve the reader experience. The event is fully booked, with a waiting list, so I'm very happy I managed to secure a ticket. If anyone else is travelling from Wales I'll be on 7.45am train from Cardiff Central!

The organisers of BlogCamp have asked us all to post a short introducton to ourselves on our blogs in order that fellow attendees can see who coming and can recognise people with similar interests.  Here's mine :-


Picture of me!


Name: Mark (a.k.a. Gomez)

Blog: Corpulent Capers

Twitter: @gomezadams

My Blog's About: Food – Restaurant Reviews, Farmers Markets, Food Events, Ingredients, Local Food Producers and their Produce.

Likes: Food (obviously), Twitter, Photography, Writing, Technology, Vegetable Gardening, Coffee.

Dislikes: Arrogance, Intolerance, Bigotry, Tea.

Jan 16
Purple Poppadom, Cardiff
posted by: Gomez in Restaurant Reviews on Jan 16th, 2012 | | 1 Comment »

Purple Poppadom LogoI’ve been following the career of Chef Anand George, since discovering him in the early days of Mint and Mustard. In fact I first reviewed M&M back in September 2008, when I was still randomly posting on (click here to read). You can tell it was early days as you got three chocomosa for dessert as they hadn’t fully sorted their portion sizes out.

After leaving M&M Chef George appeared at a few food festivals and pop-ups until launching Purple Poppadom back in early December 2011. I was very pleased to be invited to the launch party, but in keeping with my normal policy of allowing all new restaurants a settling in period I didn't review it at the time. However, I have to say that apart from the obvious issues of trying to serve a fine dining menu to 80 plus people simultaneously, the quality of the food that night could certainly have stood up to a review.

Instead we waited a few weeks and then went back, giving the kitchen the chance to have bedded itself in and us the opportunity to catch up with my old mate Chef Steve Bennett, who MrsA and myself hadn't seen in ages.

We met up on a quiet Thursday lunch time, during the holiday period for a leisurely lunch and a catch up.

We knew from the launch event that a number of staff (7 I think) from Mint & Mustard had followed Chef George to the Purple Poppadom, and ascending the stairs to the dining room it was nice to be greeted by the familiar and friendly faces of Restaurant Manager, Prashant Shankar and General Manager and also Director, Raman Bijalwan. The fact that so many old staff have chosen to give relatively secure employment (Mint and Mustard not only continues but won a Michelin Bib Gourmand in the latest guide some 7 months after George left) and follow him to his new venture is an glowing indication of their belief in his ability to make this a great success.

Steve had arrived before us, so we took our places at the table and ordered drinks whilst perusing the menu. There's a Chef's Taster Menu offering four courses for £39.00 for a minimum of two people, or a more traditional, in style if not content,  À La Carte menu. We opted for the latter in order to see a good representation of the dishes on offer.

The some of the dishes bear interesting titles that are not always self-explanatory, this isn't a problem though as each dish has a good menu description and the staff are only to pleased further explain and/or recommend if required.

I decided to start with Boef à Trois – “Dainty spiced beef samosa with spices. Chapli kebab of minced beef accompanied by our Billimoria beef and Cobra beer pie”.

Boef a trois

This was a very nice way to start lunch. I thought the star of the dish was the pie and was surprised at how much of a flavour enhancer a light beer, such as the Cobra, was. The pastry too was excellent! The samosa packed a lovely spiced punch; although if I'm nit picking, it could have done with a slightly thinner batter.

Steve opted for Prawns in the Pink – “Crispy tiger prawn; Kafir lime marinated tandoori king prawn accompanied by prawn balchao – a Goan style pickled tiger prawn.” 

Prawns in the pink

MrsA went for Crab from the Pot – “Crispy soft shell crab dusted with curry leaves and garlic. Nandu Pillow, spiced cake of crab encased in crispy Japanese breadcrumbs. Warm salad of crab meat and sweetcorn spiked with turmeric and coconut.”

Crab from the pot

All three were beautifully prepares and delicately seasoned so that the crab shone through.

After a complementary palate cleansing sorbet (sorbet's pop up quite regularly on the dishes and we later found out that Chef George had just bought himself a Pacojet with which he was obviously having fun), for main course I ordered Nawabi Chicken – “chicken supreme marinated with creamy cheese, with a touch of cardamom and mace and finished in the tandoor accompanied by a boneless bhuna chicken thigh served with makhani sauce and mint sorbet.”

Nawabi chicken

I have to say this is an extremely well executed dish. The chicken was moist, flavourful and exquisitely spiced. I was a little apprehensive of the cold mint sorbet, but it really worked and cut through some of the richness of the other components whilst still bringing a mouth refreshing zest to the plate.

Chef Bennett plumped for Chef George's signature dish, the Tiffin Cup winning Tiffin Sea Bass – “sea bass, pan seared and served on a bed of curry leaf infused mashed potato; in a tongue tickling raw mango, ginger and coconut sauce with beetroot pachadi.” He seemed quite taken with it.

Tiffin sea bass

MrsA, was in a lamb mood and so chose Raan Akbari – “slow braised lamb shank marinated with spices and finished in the tandoor, served with a curried pumpkin mash and a spoon of mint sorbet.”

Raan Akbari

The lamb shank was fork tender, and very aromatic.  It also had a bite of chili which was nicely balanced with the mint sorbet.

Moving on to the desserts, Steve picked the Deux Crèmes Brûlée -“Side-by-side presentation of green tea and a rose petal Crème Brûlée.” Now I'm not a fan of Crème Brûlée and would never order it through choice, but on the launch night the rose petal version was served for us to try. Although mine was just on the edge of splitting it was a taste sensation, so I was interested to see how this version was.  Well texturally it was spot on, the more controlled service of a normal day meant it had been cooked perfectly and was a smooth as smooth could be.

Deux cremes brullee

I of course ordered the Chocomosa Anand, a firm favourite since that first taste of Anand George's cooking way back in 2008. It didn't disappoint!

Chocomosa Anand

My dear wife was feeling a bit full after all her lamb and so kept it nice and simple with two scoops of Home Made Sorbet and making Chef happy by giving him another chance to play with his new Pacojet.

Home Made Ice Cream

The pineapple and saffron sorbet was the real treat out of the two. The saffron and pineapple married well.  The grape sorbet had an extremely concentrated grape flavour. It was refreshing but simply missing the wow factor of both the mint sorbet, flavoured with basil, that accompanied the main course and the pineapple sorbet it shared a plate with. 

After dessert Chef George came out of the kitchen and we were able to spend some time chatting to him about this venture and what his plans are. Whilst Purple Poppadom bills itself as “Nouvelle Indian Cuisine” it's thankfully, not Chef George's stated aim to serve the smallest portion of food for the highest price he can. Rather he wants to continue to refine his cooking techniques and keep pushing the boundaries in his quest to re-define Indian Cuisine. He's currently experimenting, not only with bringing plates of multiple tastes to the table, but also with different textures; something that British Indian Cuisine is not known for.

As we had dined with a professional chef, and pretty damn fine one at that, I asked Steve if he'd take a look at this review before publication and let me know if there was anything he disagreed with or would like to add. This is what he sent me back:

“Anand George's passion for the cuisine he showcases shines in the end product, with a level of thought and technical expertise rarely seen in ethnic restaurants. I was highly impressed by the depth of flavour in each of my courses, and pleasantly surprised by the presentation. My main course also contained one of the most perfectly cooked pieces of fish I have had in a long time.”

Well you can't say fairer than that!

With Purple Poppadom, Anand George now has an unrestrained opportunity to develop his innovative cooking style. Describing his career to date spanning India, London and Cardiff as his ‘5,000 mile culinary journey', he's certainly proved to us he can cook so I'm very excited to see how this next stage in his culinary journey unfolds. Here's to the next 5,000 miles Chef, I hope I can eat my way through most of it with you! 

Purple Poppadom
Upper Floor
185a Cowbridge Road East
Canton, Cardiff, CF11 9AJ
Tel: 029 2022 0026

Purple Poppadom on Urbanspoon

Dec 4

Wales The True Taste Logo

Regular readers of this blog will know that I recently got the opportunity to attend the 2011 Wales The True Taste awards in Llandudno. As someone who is a regular visitor to Welsh restaurants, gastro pubs, farmers markets, farm shops and local producers I have been aware of True Taste for some time, mostly due to its logo. Whilst I knew it was some kind of award scheme that intimated there was some kind of merit in the establishment or product before me, I really had not grasped just how important Wales The True Taste is to the people in the Welsh food and hospitality industry.

So in October I found myself in Llandudno, sitting in Venue Cymru, with approximately 550 other people all in some way connected to the Welsh food and hospitality sector.  Before us lay an evening in which 41 awards across 15 categories would be presented. Everyone who had won either a bronze, silver or gold award had been invited.

The first mind boggling fact was that this year’s 10th Anniversary competition had attracted some 1,017 entries from 366 companies large and small. All of which had been independently judged in regional heats. To me this immediately gave the Awards some measure of authenticity. People will simply not take the time and effort or make the inevitable financial investment, to enter themselves in a competition if no one values the prize.

Sharing my table at the awards were Hufenfa’r Castell of Harlech, who took the Silver Award for their Rhubarb Ice Cream and Cnwd (The Welsh word for crop, cn-ood rhymes with food) who took Bronze in the strangely named “Other Added Value Meat Products” for their Pork & Pistachio Terrine.

Throughout the course of the evening I got the opportunity to talk to these producers in some detail and also to meet and chat with many of the other Award Winners, some of whom I knew and some of whom were new discoveries.  Two things stood out to me from all my conversations that evening 1) just how much everyone wanted to win that coveted Gold Award and 2) just how passionate these people are about their products and preserving the highest possible quality.

The food and hospitality industry seems to have no end of awards and prizes. Things like Michelin Stars, AA Rosettes, Catey Awards, Top 100, Best this and Best that seem to hang on the walls of just about every place I visit. So what is it that makes a True Taste Award stand out and allows it to drag over 500 people to North Wales on a school night?

Well, the first thing that occurs to me is that, unlike most of the other awards, the True Taste is all-inclusive. It covers food, drink and hospitality. Also it recognises the producer, the product and the provider. So whether you are the producer of an innovative food and drink product or simply excel in retail or hospitality you can be recognised by Wales, The True Taste.

Over its ten-year life span the True Taste Awards has become not only something recognised by consumers as a brand but also as a quality mark that helps to raise the awareness of the quality of Welsh Food and Drink both at home and abroad.

Currently we have

  • the Welsh Government recognising that Food Tourism can and should be a major part of its overall Welsh Tourism Strategy
  • a UK catering market worth in excess of £26 billion which presents a huge opportunity for Welsh producers
  • and an increasing public interest in the origin and source of food.

Consequently initiatives such as The True Taste Awards can only do good for the people and producers of Wales. With over 55,000 people working in the food and drink sector in Wales it is vitally important that everything is done to not only to safeguard the industry but also to facilitate its expansion.

Fortunately this has been recognised by the producers themselves. They understand the value of the prize and the recognition it gives them for their hard work, innovation and passion.

It was impossible, as both a Welshman and a Food Lover, to be at the Awards and not feel both a tremendous sense of pride over the quality of our produce and also not to feel in awe of the dedication and hard work of all the producers, retailers and providers involved.

In the New Year I shall be taking up some of the invitations that were extended to me on the night and since. I shall be travelling to visit some of the winners to find out more about them, their products and services, and the effects that winning a Wales The True Taste Award has had.

Watch this space!

If you are reading this and would like me to visit a specific True Taste Award Winner (the full list is here) then drop me their name in the comment box below and I’ll see what I can do.  Conversely if you are an Award Winner that would like us to visit then please leave me your contact details.

Nov 27
Life After B.R.A.T.
posted by: Babette in Babette's Ffest on Nov 27th, 2011 | | 1 Comment »

I recently had a bad tummy bug…don’t worry I won’t go into details! To help me recover from the upset stomach, I ate a bland BRAT diet, that consists of Banana Rice Applesauce & Toast, until the worse was over. After the BRAT diet, you are supposed to gradually go back to your normal diet and you start by introducing easily digestible foods such as chicken, eggs and yogurt prepared in a very simple and bland manner.

Well, a girl can only take but so much of bland and boring! My challenge on day 4 was to make a dish for supper that was within the Life after Brat guidelines but delectable. For this challenge, I turned to fond memories of my life in the Middle East and Persian cuisine which has a heritage of ambrosial rice dishes.

Rice is an important staple in Persian cuisine. It is not necessarily a side dish but a main dish. In Persian cookery, contrary to European cookery, the main component of the meal is well prepared rice, not meat. Rice dishes can be infused with herbs and spices such as dill and saffron, with vegetables and pulses such as broad beans and lentils, dried fruit such as dates and barberries, and meat such as chicken or lamb. There are a myriad of fragrant rice dishes and I hope that one day you will try one.

I decided to cook Tah Chin which is a rice cake with chicken and yogurt. I used the recipe in The Persian Kitchen, Home cooking from the Middle East by Neda Afrashi (p.95) as my guide. To prepare this dish, first braise some chicken. This recipe calls for chicken legs and as I had some chicken thighs from Bryn Derw, I decided to use them. You can use whatever cut of chicken you like but you want the chicken to still be moist after braising, as it gets steamed with the rice afterwards. After removing the skin, I braised the chicken thighs for about 1 hour in a small amount of water in which turmeric, saffron, carrot, salt and bay leaf were added.

Heat Diffuser

I use a heat diffuser over the lowest flame to keep the heat very gentle. After the chicken was cooked, I let it cool and then picked the meat from the bones which I then discarded. The chicken was very moist, tender and infused with the flavour and colour of the rich turmeric and saffron.

Whilst the chicken was cooking, I soaked 600g of basmati rice for 1 hour, boiled it in about 2 litres of water in a very large pot until al dente (about 4 minutes) and then drained it. The dish was assembled by mixing ½ of the rice with 2 eggs, a tablespoon of plain yoghurt and saffron which had been soaked in hot water. This mixture was spread in a pot which had enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. The shredded chicken was put on top, and the plain rice on top of that. I wrapped the lid of the pot with a tea towel, put the lid on the pot ensuring a tight fitLife, and let the rice cook on lowest heat (I use the heat diffuser), for about 80 minutes.

The rice on the bottom of the pan forms a golden crust called tadiq. You then get ½ of the rice which is fragrant with the saffron, turmeric and chicken and a plain steamed fluffy rice.


A Wedge of Tah Chin

The dish is presented inverted on a platter, cut in wedges and served.

This dish is not only fabulous for life after BRAT but for any occasion.

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