Food: Jamaican Jills

Jamaican Jills has been one of Neath’s best kept secrets for some time. Now it’s migrated west to Swansea and taken up residence at the bottom of Wind St. You’d be forgiven for thinking Jills was a chain restaurant as the scale and the impact of the place screams success. Perhaps it helps that the previous residents left a shell that could easily be adapted, but it’s really the heart and soul of the cooking and the people who cook it that shines through.

 

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Using the Jamaican flag and the Caribbean as its decorative cornerstone the restaurant is bright and cozy, with splashes of Patois overhead and her signature hot wing challenge on the wall near the kitchens. The design lover in me also noticed the Artek A330S lights, designed by my favourite Architect and designer, Alvar Aalto. Probably a repro, to have something Finnish in the place, seems odd but the glow of the brass on the lights does suit the warmth of the place.

The whole place sings with its unique selling perspective – cosy, good value and gloriously Jamaican. Building on the reputation of its parent restaurant, this bright new light in Swansea’s culinary spectrum looks set to set many a tongue alight with its big flavours and great atmosphere.

 

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The menu sports the dishes one would expect of a Jamaican restaurant but I think, and I’d hope, that people would be brave enough to go off piste and try some lesser known delights. Standouts for me included the wonderfully tender and spicy goat curry, served with rice & pea, her Ackee and Saltfish is also deliciously moreish, served with gorgeous fried dumplings. Lunch menus and seasonal special menus are available too (like the recent one for Valentine’s Day) and are as varied and interesting as can be. Typically, the Jerk chicken is bold and punchy, the wings big and juicy. If you’re feeling brave you can try the Spicy Wing Challenge and get a t-shirt and your face on the wall. If you’re bold enough to sign the disclaimer then bragging rights come at the price of 7 hot wings in fifteen minutes with a 5 minute cool down – no drinks!

 

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Their bar is fully stocked with regular favourites (including Red Stripe, naturally) with a particular emphasis on cocktails for that Caribbean dimension. Two for one exists on most of the favourites with the Rum Punch being a particularly delicious and unique offering. They also offer a range of “smoking” cocktails served over dry ice for that added wow factor. The Children don’t get short shrift either, their meals echo the adult menu but come in Small Portions or Big Portions so you can gauge them by the appetite of your child. They also come with unlimited drinks and a dessert, which is a nice touch.

 

It’s so easy with new restaurants for them to have a muddy and confusing atmosphere, like they don’t know what they’re about, but that definitely isn’t the case with Jamaican Jills. From the bubbly staff to the slick management, Jills has hit the ground running and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. Locally grown successes like this should be sung from the rooftops and supported wherever possible, but when the food is this good it’s all the more satisfying to just go along and see for yourself what the fuss is all about.

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Design: Normann Copenhagen in Homesense

On Monday evening, perusing around Homesense with Tom, I came across this treasure trove of Scandinavian design. They had boxes and boxes of Normann Copenhagen design. I couldn’t believe my luck!

Agnes Vases in all different shapes & sizes from the mini up to the 32cm one & the fat  ‘plant pot ‘ looking one, all priced from £3.99 up to £7.99, (Which is an absolute bargain considering they usually start at £10 and can go up to as much as Seventy quid!)

The Agnes Vase, designed by Agnes Fries uses Handmade Chinese porcelain from Jingdezhen and combines & contrasts it with a top of black hand-painted brush strokes. Its subtle yet striking, graphic and perfect for a monochrome/ Scandinavian styled interior.

I decided to go for the 20cm vase, a Goldilocks among the rest in my opinion. Being ‘Not too big, not too small’ it doesn’t get swallowed up by a room, but it isn’t also too large to be a centrepiece on my small dining table, and at £6.99 instead of £39.99 I just had to get it!

They also had the Floe tealight holder there in so many shades & hues. I picked up two considering they were £3.99 each in coral and dark green, perfect for both my Spring/Summer  & my Autumn/Winter looks! Designed by the Spanish designer Ramírez i Carrillo to echo a traditional antique oil lamp, it gives a small but impacting atmosphere when styled into your interior.

When I got home I immediately had to take them out of the boxes and incorporate into my Winter décor.

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the Agnes Vase looked perfect on my Normann Copenhagen Block Table, rubbing shoulders with some succulents & my Yule candle from Flying Tiger Copenhagen & Menu X Stokke Austad candle holder. I used a branch, that we had lying around from last christmas and adorned it with some of our homemade baubles & himmeli.

I followed this tutorial by Nalle’s House to make the ornaments. It all fits so well together, with the vase completing the look. Not too ‘out there’ & Kitschy Christmassy. Monochrome, just festive enough & classy!

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The Floe fits perfectly on my IKEA side table keeping my little Tomte company. It looks great with the Sanna Annukka illustrated ‘The Fir Tree’ by Hans Christian Andersen underneath, strengthening the green and it also works well with the Iittala Aalto pieces, all creating a nice harmonious look.

Let’s hope some Normann design is at your local Homesense store, but get it quick as it will vanish fast!

Design: Part II of the London Jaunt

After a lovely night of sourdough, Chianti and some quality Welsh cheeses, I had fallen victim of the dreaded hangover. Never fear, Lowri with her warm smile and a warm cuppa at hand to heal my self-induced woe!

After a long chat and some (more) tea and toast, it was time for myself and Tom, to set off. We started off in Tufnell Park, on the Northern Line, to visit a design shop, which had been there on my last visit. But, alas it had vanished 😦

Left a bit disappointed, I only managed to notice it in the corner of my eye. Near Tuffnell Park station a lovely little coffee cavern, Bear + Wolf. It’s been open nearly a year now, so it is still a bit of a secret.  A lovely design focused coffee shop, this ain’t no ordinary trendy London café, instead it’s a lovely relaxed space, where you can sit on vintage barstools and on teal Eames DSW to the back of the room. They have a kids cave, that’s a bright, colourful space contrasting with the matte grey of the rest of their shop. Did I mention their cakes? Man, the pistachio lemon cake, was divine, perfect with my green tea.

Leaving all cheered up, we decided to fulfil my crave for a design store and headed for The Conran Shop in Marylebone. The Mecca for design lovers, with its carefully curated collection. Things on display like precious jewels. I was left drooling after a black Anglepoise desk lamp. AAAHHH! That silhouette, such a classic! – And Marie-Louise Groot Kormelink’s Small house Wardrobe reminded me of the cute biscuits I had bought the day before in HEMA.

Tom then fancied going to Camden, so next, we headed there.

As it was a bloody hot day, we both needed something to cool down. Good thing that our first port of call was ChinChinLabs a regular haunt of ours when we head up to London. I always try their specials, so I had their vegan Easter special of passionfruit and marshmallow ice cream sprinkled with cacao nibs, whilst Tom had his favourite of Pondicherry Vanilla . What an ice cream! Sweet and tart, then the deep bitterness coming in from the cacao. So good! I’d urge you to get one if it’s still on the specials board when you visit.

The ice cream still tangy on our lips, we started to peruse round the market. We visited a Camden favourite of ours Atomium at The Stables Market. This time, among the myriad of treasures, there was a period Arne Jacobsen Series 7 chair, Stelton steelware an Alvar Aalto table and a good selection of West German vases. Heaven.

With all that looking. My belly was well and truly rumbling. Lucky our London regular, Honest Burgers have a branch within Camden market. We knew exactly what to order. The Honest, cooked medium rare. Paprika onion rings. Homemade lemonade. So bad for me, but did I care? HELL NO! The meaty, savoury juice  running down my fingers as I bit down on the buttery, shiny brioche bun. This is the definition of dirty food. DIRTY, DEVIOUS, DELICIOUS FOOD!

Full up and deeply deeply satisfied, Tom and I then got ready for our long and arduous journey home. Three cheers for MegaBus!

 

Food: A big hug in a bowl!

Coming home from a rather arduous 9-5 shift on Bank Holiday Monday, (I know, “what a way to make a living”- it’s been in my head all day :/).  I needed a pick me up. Today hadn’t been the worst, but it really hadn’t been the best, and with the weather beaming outside, It made me long to finish sooner.

Thankfully, when I got home, Tom gave me the hug i needed, but he had also cooked us both dinner, a relieving surprise (as I didn’t feel like cooking tonight!) Major Brownie points won there.

Tonight’s dinner, (classic yet understated), the 80s classic carrot & coriander (cilantro) soup.

A simple, cheap, flavoursome dish that is exactly what I needed, a big hug in a bowl!

To make it he softened a large, chopped onion and two large cloves of garlic, then he chopped up four/five carrots; three/four sticks of celery and half a bag of new potatoes.

He added all that to the pot and covered with water (using boiling from the kettle).

He seasoned it with with bouillon, lots of black pepper and a generous handful of fresh coriander.

Then he covered it and let it simmer until the carrots and veg fell off the fork. Finally, he blitzed it down with a hand whisk and checked the seasoning.

I finished it off with a dollop of sour cream and some more fresh coriander – 80s-tastic I know 😉

(You can omit the sour cream, and it would be suitable for Vegans 🙂 )

We served it with fresh bread on my Iittala Solaris side plates, and devoured quickly!

Design: Happy Easter!

Happy Easter guys!

Thanks for reading my blog posts! I hope you all nosh until you’re sick of chocolate and enjoy the merriment with friends and family!

I decided the photo i should use this year is my Iittala Aalto vase (Savoy vase) filled with tulips in seasonal hues on my Saarinen Tulip table (tulip inception 😉 )

Glad påsk!

With love,

Nathan x

Food: Fika with the inlaws

This morning, I found out Tom’s parents were coming over to help with the floor in the living space (building site), so I got out the teapot, percolator and the necessary cake for a little Fika.

So, out came the Marimekko teapot, Mid century Iittala Solaris crystal plates by Tapio Wirkkala, Alessi forks and my vintage Hornsea creamer.

We had some Valencian orange and almond cake, leftover from my Spanish dinner party, yesterday,

– homemade Spanish Amarguillos served in my Georg Jensen leaf dish

– representing Italy were Amaretti di Saronno in a vintage Deka ‘Cathrineholm style’ lotus bowl

– representing Denmark were some Romkugler in an Iittala Aalto dish

And…

– representing good ‘ol Blighty were some custard creams in a Marimekko/Iittala Maribowl.

Even though it was last minute, thankfully they enjoyed. Tom’s mam even praised the Little My Moomin Arabia Finland mug 😉 – these days she even can recognise Marimekko 🙂