Thursday, 13 August 2015

Taste Swansea - Issue #1

If you've not been able to pick up a copy of Taste Swansea from the quality restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars and hotels in and around Swansea, here is a digital copy of the magazine, to enjoy on your laptop, phone or tablet. Enjoy!


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Welcome to Taste Swansea!

This month marks the release of the first issue of my new magazine, Taste Swansea - a completely independent, free publication dedicated to food and drink in Swansea, Gower and Llanelli.

I've been writing about food and drink in Swansea for over three years, and decided it would be fun to try a printed magazine - offering quality food and drink content including foodie news, restaurant reviews, opinion pieces, recipes and more.

At the end of the day we all spend too much time on the internet or staring at screens in general, and it is always a refreshing change to be able to read something that doesn't rely on a WIFI connection.

I've worked hard on the first issue, making sure it's packed with quality content, including:

  • A passionate look at vegetarianism by local chef and cookery teacher Danny Rees
  • Austerity Bites - a hunt for lunch under a fiver in Swansea city centre
  • Life in the Kitchen, with Paul Davies - owner and chef at Fairyhill
  • Beer writer Alex Jones asks the question - is the Mumbles Mile back?
  • Head brewer at the Mumbles Brewery, Rob Turner, reveals the story behind one of his brews
  • Four honest reviews of restaurants in and around Swansea
  • And competitions to win a Mumbles Brewery gift set and a cookery book worth £25!

That's a lot to get through!

You can pick up your FREE copy at pretty much any good quality restaurant, cafe, pub or hotel in and around Swansea, Gower and Llanelli. If you can't get hold of one, get in touch and we'll point you in the right direction.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you want to submit an idea for something we should cover, or if you want to advertise in the next issue.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

VIDEO REVIEW: The Victory - Village Hotel, SA1

It's time for another video review; the second I've done for Swansea On A Plate, following last week's visit to The Griffin.

The subject of this second review is The Victory Pub and Kitchen at Swansea's Village hotel, in the SA1 development. On the Village website the restaurant seems to be called 'The Public House' but on the exterior signs it remains 'The Victory', so that's what we'll call it for now!

This video was tricky to make as I tried to film in 4K mode, but that made editing on my computer near impossible. Really annoying, but I think I did a decent job in the end - although I had to do the voice over blind then make it fit later, so the audio quality suffers a bit.

Still, it's all a learning curve and they'll get better with time. Make sure to give the video a like and share it with your friends. Let me know what you think via Facebook or Twitter.




Saturday, 6 June 2015

B9-10 Bar - East Gate, Llanelli

You may recall a few weeks back I mentioned I would be expanding Swansea On A Plate to include a couple of eateries not technically in Swansea, but close enough to be relevant. And now is finally the time I venture further.

A couple of years ago I used to work as a reporter for the Llanelli Star. During my time there I grew fond of the people, even if I did find the general feel of the town... well, a little rough.

However, the East Gate development soon arrived to revitalise part of the town centre, offering the residents of Llanelli a taste of something special. As well as a multimillion-pound theatre and state-of-the-art cinema, a handful of good quality eateries began to appear.

Simple but modern exterior...

One of which arrived in December last year - B9-10 Bar, part-owned by Welsh rugby stars Stephen Jones and Dwayne Peel. The pair already had experience in the restaurant scene, having opened the award-winning Sosban in 2011, so I was happy to be invited to their bar for the launch of the new gourmet burger menu (more on that later).

...and a simple but modern interior to match!

The bar itself is bang in the middle of the East Gate development and is an inviting, modern space, although with such an industrial feel it could come across as a little cold. Still, there's plenty to look at besides exposed steel girders, with several nods to Llanelli's proud rugby heritage in the form of nostalgic photos and memorabilia on the walls.


I mentioned I was invited to the bar for the launch of the Bendigo Salt Marsh Lamb burger menu. Now, as I said in my recent review of Crumbs Kitchen, I've been eating less meat in recent months, mainly because - let's face it - we could all do with eating less meat.

However, when I do include meat in my diet, I try to ensure it's as ethical as possible, good quality and from nearby farms. So I was glad to learn that basically every part of the burgers on the new menu is locally sourced; from the meat that comes from the salt marshes of Llanrhidian, right down to the salad, which is also grown in the area.


And the quality ingredients ensured a tasty burger - moist and meaty, with a delicate flavour that worked well with a variety of toppings. I tried a local blue cheese and bacon version, as well as a double-stacked one with a subtle garlic sauce. Nothing overpowering, with each ingredient complementing the others. The fluffy brioche bun held it all together.

A mention must be given to the pairing of the burgers with two craft beers: Bedrock Blond, produced by the Bluestone Brewering Co - a ten barrel brewery hailing from Preseli Hills of North Pembrokeshire - and the more mainstream, ultra-hoppy, and oddly-named, Dead Pony from Brew Dog.

They may look the same, but tasted very different (Dead Pony on the left)

Although for Swansea diners it's perhaps a little out of the way, it was a refreshing change for me and a trip up the A484 I'm glad I took. 

Llanelli still finds it hard to shake the 'rough and ready' stereotype, but smart bars like B9-10 are doing plenty to help bring the town into the 21st century.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

VIDEO REVIEW: The Griffin, Wind Street

When I first started Swansea On A Plate back in 2012 I was originally going to make it a video review blog. But then I realised I was a better writer than speaker so just stuck to what I knew best.

However, three years later, I decided to finally give it a go!

I had nothing better to do with my Tuesday evening and wanted an excuse to try out a new microphone I bought. And, while it was filmed on a mobile phone and making it tested my laptop to its limits, I think it's a decent first effort.

The finished review is below:


It's so much easier to write a review than film, edit, voiceover, upload and stream one - however I will happily do a few more in the coming weeks if this first one generates enough interest. 

So please let me know what you think. Give the YouTube video a like, follow me on Twitter and like this blog on Facebook


Monday, 25 May 2015

Gower Good Food Festival - Gower Heritage Centre

If you read my original review of the Mill Tea Rooms back in December 2013, you'll know I enjoy the Gower Heritage Centre in Parkmill, Gower.

A Bank Holiday. But where's the rain?

One of the reasons I make time to visit to the centre is their calendar of festivals over the year, be it food, drink or music (usually a convenient combination of all three!).

So I decided to pop down to the centre for the Gower Good Food Festival, which ran for two days over the May Bank Holiday weekend, showcasing a plethora of local food and drink producers.

Admission was £5 per adult

The centre provides a great little space for this kind of thing; big enough to fit in around 15 different stalls, but small enough to create a bustling atmosphere, all under cover so it's pretty weather resistant.

Busy little space

I won't go through everything I saw and tasted, but here are some of the highlights.

Chutneys and jams from Mamgu's Kitchen

I started by trying and buying some delicious runner bean chutney from Mamgu's Kitchen, a small Swansea based company which offered many different varieties. Aside from chutneys, the stall holder also ensured me that every one of her jams had alcohol in - sounds like my kind of breakfast condiment.

Some of the pies on show

Next came the stall of Sketty's Dilly's Kitchen, who - among several herb bushes - were showing off a good choice of handmade pies. Traditional fillings sat alongside more inventive tastes such as a chicken and chorizo pie, and an aloo gobi veggie offering, which was packed with Indian flavour. Very good, I bought one to take home for later.


Good enough to drink!

I enjoyed the chutneys from Little Black Hen, but was most intrigued by the Carmarthenshire company's fruit vinegars, especially when I found out they could be mixed into a drink. Always on the lookout for something new and odd, I tasted some of the strawberry and mint vinegar mixed with a little sparking water - fruity, but refined, and very refreshing.


A nervous Nigel contemplating some hot sauce.

Some of the other stalls at the festival were Mumbles Pate, whose rich pates were laced with generous amounts of tequila and vodka, while Halen Gwyr had samples of their Gower Sea Salt in dark chocolate to show off the flavour and versatility. 

Finally, separate from the rest of the stalls, towards the entrance of the centre, was Nervous Nigel's hot sauces, which were - as the name suggests - pretty damn hot, although still focused on flavour instead of just blind heat.

All in all a nice morning out and another successful food festival for the Gower Heritage Centre.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Crumbs Kitchen - Uplands Crescent

Happy Vegetarian Week! (if you're reading between 18-24th May 2015)

Although I'm not a traditional vegetarian, over the last year or so I've been eating much less meat and trying out more vegetarian cuisine. And I've been enjoying the variety of food and the health benefits. I still eat meat - I love a good quality burger - but just not as much these days. (I'm not one for labels, but I think this makes me a 'flexitarian').

Since eating less meat I've noticed that Swansea lacks a choice when it comes to vegetarian dining hotspots. For many years Govinda's was Swansea's only real vegetarian restaurant, but Crumbs Kitchen arrived a few years ago in the city's bustling Uplands area to offer an alternative.

Car outside is subject to change.

And it took me a while to try Crumbs - which sits just off Uplands Crescent. But last week I made the effort and I'm glad I did.

There are tables outside on the street, which is nice in the summer, not so appealing in the winter. Regardless of the dry weather I sat inside, away from the potential hazards of alfresco eating (bees, flies, dogs, odd people walking past).


Uplands: Alfresco

The first thing you notice as you walk in are the hot and cold food counters, which are full of good looking healthy options. I instantly clocked a three bean chilli and a chickpea and spinach curry, but - knowing I would be having a curry later that day (I do eat out a lot) - I decided to give their salad bowl a try.

Hot food counters entice you in

As you get more than just lettuce this seemed like a fair price. The bowl I had featured a mix of red cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, homemade coleslaw, brown rice, peanuts and more, topped with a generous portion of grated cheese. A standard bowl was about £6 while a small one was nearer £4.

The standard size salad bowl, which was about £6

I had a little food envy when I saw my dining partner's warm and cheesy omelette, but was satisfied with my choice. It was fresh, tasted good and I knew it was pretty healthy.

The mushroom omelette with a nice looking salad garnish

The cafe itself is pleasant, although not particularly cosy. It's a nice place to meet for a coffee or lunch, but perhaps not one I'd spend hours lingering in (having said that I rarely linger anywhere, so my point is invalid).

Overall I will certainly head back to Crumbs sometime soon. Maybe I'll try an omelette, a slice of veggie pie, or even a cooked veggie breakfast as it all looked very good. Maybe I'll sit outside. Or maybe not.

(If you know I've missed out a vegetarian restaurant in Swansea and want to call me on it, get in touch!)