Food: Oatsicles

We may well have had our fill of sunshine for the year already, but on the off chance that there is more sunshine to come here’s a quick and easy recipe for a dairy free alternative ice lolly for keeping cool in the sun.

 

You’ll need:

  • Lolly moulds,
  • 1 carton of chocolate Oatly,
  • 1 banana.

 

Chop the banana into slices and fill the lolly moulds. Don’t pack them in too tight, you need to leave enough space for the chocolate drink. Pour in the drink to the brim, stick the lids/handles in firmly and leave in the freezer for a good couple of hours or overnight if possible. One carton can easily make between 6 – 8 lollies, depending on the amount of banana you use and the size of your moulds. I used the small ones from Lidl. The creaminess of the chocolate drink combined with the fudginess of the banana are a fantastic (and cheap) alternative to the usual sugary lollies. This way you can control their sugar intake with natural ingredients!

It also works great with other flavours of Oatly like Orange & Mango, or for a grownup take on the above recipe, mix some coffee into the chocolate Oatly mixture for an iced mocha lolly!

 

Enjoy!

 

Food: Top 5 coffees in Swansea

Coffee isn’t exactly the first thing you think of when someone says ‘Swansea’ but the city has a rich history with coffee and cafe culture reaching back to the late 1800s. South Wales saw an influx of Italian immigrants looking for work in the South Wales mines. They quickly saw a gap in the market for small cafés, ice cream parlours and fish & chip shops to the extent that they sprang up all over South Wales. It’s said that for every colliery there was at least one ‘Bracchi’ cafe – named after one of the families that made their name during the period.

Swansea’s cafe culture has always been strong but with an influx of new blood onto the scene it’s gone from strength to strength. From the traditional to the new, young blood. Now is a good time to be a coffee lover in Swansea. Here are my picks for the top five best cafes in Swansea, in no particular order. If you have your own ideas or suggestions feel free to mention in the comments.

 

#1 Coffee Punks

Situated halfway along the Kingsway, what was once Swansea’s premier drag racing strip, Coffee Punks is a recent addition to the city’s coffee scene. With its exposed wood, concrete and metal interior Coffee Punks offers a focused menu of reasonably priced coffees with a variety of cake options. A variety of vegan cakes are supplied by Naturally Kind Food plus some of their food is supplied by Ultracomida, a Spanish/Welsh delicatessen based in Narberth and Aberystwyth. On evenings and weekends they’re often open for events like record sales, they even sell Chemex and their own mugs! Don’t expect Pumpkin Spice Lattes but do expect pour overs, flat whites and a killer espresso.

#2 La Parmigiana 

This one’s a little off the beaten track but it’s around the corner from Joe’s and The Westbourne, just up from St Helen’s Road. Blink and you miss it, La Parm is a Deli, Cafe and Restaurant all built into the downstairs of an old Fish and Chip shop. Francesca, the owner and primo barista/chef, holds court to a cross section of old school Swansea locals. It’s super friendly, the coffee is Italian (vis a vis, superlative) and you’ll end up coming away with an armful of deli meats, cheeses, pesto you’ve never heard of and a booking for the restaurant.

#3 The Kardomah

Now, here’s the place to go to sample a real slice of local history. Situated around the corner from the market, the Kardomah has been a hotspot for the older generations to pit stop for a coffee after a long Saturday of hitting the M&S sales, for generations. Actually on its second site (the first one was bombed during the Blitz) the cafe’s history has links to a group of Swansea based bohemian poets known affectionately as the Kardomah Gang – a group that included among its members Swansea’s most famous literary son, Dylan Thomas. The decor of the Kardomah screams the 1950s and hasn’t changed much – mirrors give a sense of space but the wood panelling and the Oriental aesthetic give the place its character. If you like the coffee you can even take a bag of beans home.

#4 Cinema & Co

Another relative newbie, this one’s also very central, situated at the top end of High St, nr the castle. Cinema & Co is a cafe and cinema combined. It sounds like one of those pie in the sky ideas you have in the shower – “Wouldn’t it be amazing if…?” – but never get around to doing. I can guarantee it’s as awesome in reality as it is in your imagination. With a similar smart industrial aesthetic as Coffee Punks, C&C offers another spartan menu of drinks over which you can choose whether or not you want to come back later and watch The Breakfast Club or Stand By Me. Out back, in the cinema part, the seats have been converted from packing crates but are actually incredibly cosy and comfortable. At the bag is a well stocked fridge of craft beers, perfect for avoiding the inevitable autumn showers.

#5 Square Peg Coffee

This one’s situated in Sketty, not far from the heartland of University life, on the other side of Singleton Park. Square Peg is quickly becoming a real student hub with a strong and lively atmosphere. It regularly has live performances and evening events from talks to acoustic sets. It prides itself on the fact it donates its profits to charity and provides jobs and training for people who “need help to get started in life”. Serving a wide range of drinks (including a variety of teas!), you’ll turn up early one morning to work on an essay, stick around for a slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake before ending up having lunch there too.

 

 

 

 

Food: Chocolate & liquorice pinwheels

With the huge influx of Nordic stuff on TV recently, heres a handy recipe for a pastry perfect for watching the latest Scandi drama (with a kaffe of course- a la Fika) 😉

To make, you’ll need:

  • 1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry
  • 4tbs of homemade chocolate & liquorice ganache (made here)
  • 1tsp soy milk
  • 50g soft eating liquorice, chopped finely

To glaze:

  • 2 tsp soy milk

 

Making could not be easier! Simply, unroll a pack of pre made puff pastry and keep it on the paper lining – this will make cleaning up much easier. Spread the ganache, mixed with a little soya milk, evenly over the pastry and sprinkle as liberally as you like with small, chopped nuggets of liquorice. Using a pizza cutter (knives have a tendency to bunch the pastry and make life difficult) cut the pastry into 6 or 8 strips, depending on how tall you want them, and roll into individual spirals. Dab a little soya milk on each one for a glaze.

Place them evenly and spread out on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook at 180c for 12 to 15 minutes – or until golden brown. The coils should unravel and begin to burst at the seams. Serve warm with coffee.

Enjoy Fika!

Food: Vegan espresso gelato

This is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made. It uses a handful of ingredients and minimal effort, but produces a rich & creamy dairy-free ice cream.

You’ll need:

  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • A splash of soy milk/almond milk
  • 3 tbs of freshly brewed strong espresso
  • A Splash of Amaretto
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • A sprinkle of salt

 

I had nearly a full tin of coconut milk (left over from the Spicy sweet potato and chickpea recipe here) that needed using up. I started to think what to make with it – and vegan gelato popped into my head.

Only full fat coconut milk will work here, so put the can of reduced fat milk away!

The actual recipe is easy, begin by spooning it into a mixing bowl, and with an electric whisk, mix until it comes together into a thick batter. Next, add a splash of soy milk/ almond milk – or any non dairy milk to loosen it up a bit. Mix again. Add the espresso and amaretto and mix again. See I told you this was easy 😉

Sift in the icing sugar and you guessed it, mix. Add a sprinkle of salt. Mix on the top speed to add a tonne of volume to it. When it’s nearly doubled in mass scrape of the excess from the whisk and pour into a lidded container. Now place in the freezer. It’s essentially done.

There’s only one thing left to do, it’s not hard though – every hour, just take the container out and stir it thoroughly with a spoon. Do this about 5/6 times and then leave it a few more hours to set properly (I left mine overnight). This will make sure the gelato is smooth and creamy when it hits your tongue.

The next day I made a salted chocolate sauce to serve with it.

To make this all you need is:

  • 50g good quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cacao solids)
  • 1 tsp flavourless oil (I used sunflower)
  • 1tbs agave
  • A pinch of good quality Sea Salt (I used Maldon)

 

To make: chop and melt the dark chocolate in a pan on a low heat on the stove. Add the agave and oil and stir until it comes together into a glossy, dark mixture. Take off the heat and pour over the gelato. The temperature difference should start to set the chocolate mixture. Sprinkle the salt on the dark topping & devour!

Food: Coffee Punks, Swansea

Opening just 5 weeks ago, I’ve passed this little treasure on the bus into town many a time. On Saturday finally myself and Tom went in. The brainchild of Glen Adams, this new coffeehouse might be a David compared to the likes of the Goliath big name high street chains, but its coffee certainly packs a punch.

With an interior of mismatched chairs, reclaimed wood panelling and Edison filament light bulbs galore, the whole place has a stripped back, industrial feel without removing the warmth. Think Shoreditch mixed with a warm jumper knitted by your gran.

As you walk in the place, you’re invited by the welcoming scent of coffee and the sight of the yellow custom Kees van der Westen Arte coffee machine pumping the air with coffee scented steam. The counter, made from reclaimed wood, is pitted and weathered with age,  imbuing the place with a sense of real history (albeit only having been open 5 weeks!) and adds to the warm edge of the place. But the real star of the show is the coffee and Adams is a real expert of his craft.

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Myself & Tom sat down and ordered two latte’s and a parsnip, lemon and ginger cake, supplied by local Swansea baker, Naturally Kind Food (maker of all things sweet, vegan and awesome). The warm spice of the ginger really complimented the smooth warm tones of the coffee. At under £3 for a great coffee in a great space, it beats getting ripped off in a conglomerate coffee shop, feeling like you’re just a number. Plus their food is supplied by Spanish/Welsh Power house Ultracomida, whose spots in Narbeth and Aberystwyth have given the towns a Mediterranean glow with their great food and wine.

The coffee was brought out by one of Tom’s old friends, Izzy – who was warm, friendly and great to chat to – to the sound of the Beatles playing in the background (great soundtrack guys btw!). We enjoyed the experience so much we even bought some of these funky mugs. And they even match and compliment the colours of our kitchen!!

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Visiting Coffee Punks is a no-brainer. Don’t just keep on passing by, walk in, support a local business and they’ll reward you with some of the best coffee (and cakes) in Swansea.

 

Find them at:

32, The Kingsway, Swansea

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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!