Food: Eating Vegan at The SWiGG

 

When describing Swansea to anyone new the fact that it’s by the sea will probably come up at least once. It’s great for surfing, long walks along the sands and generally admiring in all its beauty. I’d imagine “vegan” isn’t the first word that comes to people’s’ minds when they think about Swansea.

The SWiGG however has an exciting new menu that includes, not just vegetarian options, but SFV options too. The recently reopened bar and bistro has been working hard to tempt new custom down to the waterfront for a unique take on Welsh cuisine. Situated in the shell of the National Waterfront Museum’s older wing, directly opposite the iconic lighthouse and tugboats in the heart of the marina, The SWiGG is inarguably more sophisticated than ninety percent of the bars and restaurants around. It offers the chance to sample something a bit different – a Welsh take on tapas. Well, more like ‘small plates’ than anything, but it’s an opportunity to try something uniquely Swansea but crucially, with a Vegan twist.

To begin with a glance at their coffee and daytime options, if you’re looking for delicious and SFV then look no further than their cakes and chocolate cups from Naturally Kind Food, washed down with some Coaltown Coffee (Soy milk available, of course). If you’re sticking around for a drink then how about some of their SFV beers like the award winning Cwtch from Tiny Rebel Brewery. For the more sophisticated try a gin cocktail with Dà Mhìle seaweed gin. They also stock a great range of soft drinks and juices like Hartridge fruit juices.

FOOD Swigg

For lunch or supper there’s the Beetroot Hummus, Crudité and Pumpkin Seed Salad is a riot of colour and flavour. The hummus itself is big on colour but delicate on flavour. Their Laverbread and Leek Stuffed Mushrooms are gloriously meaty (forgive the expression), with a zingy filling that bursts with lemon zest. Finally, their Vegan Salad is laced with ribbons of carrot, with tangy hits of crunchy peas, dotted with jewels of pomegranate seeds and crunchy peanuts, dressed with a soy rich dressing. They also have a Tabbouleh Salad with bulgar wheat, tomatoes, pomegranate, parsley and lemon and they’re working on a new breakfast of avocado, tomatoes and mushrooms stuffed with laverbread and lemon on toast.

16880430_1352734674790721_1161536026_o.jpg

So, whether you’re chilling in the Cwtch Corner under the bespoke artwork, sitting at the bar, basking in the sun outside or inside at a table, you never feel like you’re just another customer. If you’ve ever wondered what Wales can offer the world beyond a SFV take on cheese on toast, then The SWiGG has the answer.

Vegan Salad

Advertisements

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.

 

IMG_5759.JPG

 

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.

 

IMG_5770.JPGIMG_5748.JPGIMG_5745.JPG

 

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!

 

IMG_5768.JPGIMG_5765.JPG

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.

Design: Home byKirsty

I’ve been meaning to do a post on this lovely boutique for a while, but until now I just hadn’t got down to it. I mentioned about this store briefly in my post about RSD ’15

Home by Kirsty opened in 2014, by trendsetter and designer Kirsty Patrick, who’s by Kirsty  brand had garnered her big press in the interior design world. Located in the trendy Castle Arcades, where tiny boutiques are squashed next to each other. As you step through the door, you step into a world of Scandinavian design inspired loveliness. With chipboard strewn walls, and pegboards filled with well designed objects, this is the contemporary space that Cardiff needs.

Stocked with pieces from my favourite brands, namely; Eastwick candlesPlumen, Pirrip Press and Mini Moderns, it alleviates having to go to London/Bristol for them and is a main reason to visit Cardiff. The place is chockfull of locally designed pieces too, with the wall on the far right lined with Welsh greeting cards.

It of course stocks the famous byKirsty pendant light. A plywood spherical light fitting that made waves when she first came on the scene. Proving her worth as an interior designer, the pendants suit the space perfectly, with the diffused light glimmering on the geometric items below.

12596982_10156460683965191_460454481_o

I left the store with a stunning print by Rolfe & Wills of a dramatic lake scene and some great black & white gift wrap (at only £1.70)- perfect for my monochrome/Scandinavian Christmas scheme for 2016. The place also does click + collect available from her online store. I’m not the only one who appreciates the store with it winning the Entreprenur Wales Awards 2015 and Cardiff Life Awards 2015.

This shop is a must if you visit Cardiff! Its staff and owner are friendly and its filled with stunning contemporary design you’d normally have to visit London for.

Find them at:

16 Castle Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1BU

http://www.homebykirsty.com/

Facebook                      Twitter                 Instagram

 

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.

12583908_10156447167825191_1969450086_n

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!!

12570835_10156447167615191_1077097931_n

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

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

 

Food: Calabrisella in Canton

After getting my Mac fixed and a trip to Ikea (why not, like) instead of having the usual köttbullar at Ikea,we were on the way to this unassuming place in Canton on Cowbridge Road East, following the review from Gourmet Gorro. The aesthetics of the place, make the place even more special to me, with its slightly tacky brick effect wallpaper and clocks with a mug of coffee on them, you’d expect to see at B&M Bargains, it totally adds to the charm of the place. Beneath the Ikea bistro chairs and the ropey Italian power ballads playing on the stereo, this joint is serving phenominal food.

Walking in at around 7ish, it was already packed with families celebrating birthdays, couples celebrating new jobs, luckily we were able to get a seat.

The staff (all Italian) greeted us and asked what would we like to drink, Myself and the Mr ordered two bottles of Peroni Rossa whilst we perused the menu (and taking a note from Gourmet Gorro’s book I also ordered a can of Chinotto – the amazing bitter Italian soda.

Scanning the menu, we quickly knew what we wanted and ordered…

To start we had the Aranccino Bolognese. Amazing deep fried, pockets of risotto, ragu and cheese (so much cheese!) in a golden crispy jacket, they were huge! At first we thought we screwed up by ordering two, but I’m a greedy bugger and we managaged to finish them.

Next, was the main.

Pizza, the signature dish of the place.

I ordered the Campagnolo, an earthy mix of mushrooms, Italian sausage, peppers and weirdly cooked iceberg lettuce (it worked, somehow). Tom ordered the Milano, punchy and creamy with mozzarella, Milano salami and Strachino cheese.

Whilst we waited for the pizzas to be made, the lads entered the restaurant. Presumably family of the owners or friends, or something, but they came in chatted, one charged his phone next to us, then left… you couldn’t have made it up, was imagining they’d sit outside chatting and eating like they were at Satriale’s.

Our 14” pizzas (they don’t some in any other size) came shortly afterwards and oh my! They were so big, and thin, and mmmmm. The fennel seeds in the sausage popping, with each bite releasing their anise-tinged goodness and the lettuce, giving a nice bitterness, we had to ask to ‘doggy bag’ it up for us, so we had room for dessert!

Too full for a dessert each, we decided to share one. With my love for pistachios, when an opportunity arises to have something made from the nut of the Gods, well I just had to 😉

IMG_2543

A pistachio mille feuille, the buttery flaky pastry, the gorgeous pistachio and mascarpone filling topped with chantilly cream and chopped pistachios. It was almost a Meg Ryan moment, I tell ya!

With some time for our food to settle we decided on a little something to cap off our lovely evening. Tom ordered a latte, and myself a digestivo of Limoncello (again- pistachos & lemon anybody 😉 ) Having a sip of Tom’s coffee. It was amazing, so deep and smooth. I could tell this was good coffee not some burned crap from Starbucks (and this is coming from a guy who historically has hated coffee)….well I’m growing to like it now, but I’d still say I’m a tea man, myself.

When we asked for the bill we thought it would be at least 50 quid for the quality of food, but £36 quid is all that it came to!

We really need to go here again, and if anybody is near here, it would be silly not to pop in.