Monday, 30 June 2014

Climbing Pen y Fan

Back here I said that climbing Pen y Fan was on my 'to do' list, I was planning on climbing it at the end of May but the weather prevented this. Happily, last weekend one of my colleagues asked if a bunch of us wanted to go up on the Sunday. 

After waking up at 8.30am I could have quite easily sent her a message to say I was too tired but I was determined to tick the first thing off my list so off I went. I won't go into detail but climbing Pen y Fan demonstrated how unfit I am, I thought about stopping twice but I'm glad I carried on as the views are worth the burning leg cramp.





Not a bad spot for lunch
Mummy sheep decided to try and eat Hannah's bag
Made it!
Whilst I'm not in a rush to walk back up the mountain anytime soon, I'm really glad I did it as the sense of satisfaction when you get up is great and it was good to finally be able to cross something off my to do list.

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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Dabbawalla Restaurant Review

A week ago my parents informed me that they wanted to go out for a curry and asked for a recommendation, I was quick to suggest Dabbawalla on City Road following a great experience there with a friend a few weeks earlier. When my parents asked me if I wanted to join them for dinner I wasn't about to turn down the opportunity.

After spending the day at the beach I was hungry when we arrived, I'm not sure if the weather was impacting on the number of customers in the restaurant (we were the only ones on our arrival) with the people of Cardiff opting for BBQ food instead of curry but our welcome was a warm one and it wasn't long before my parents were commenting on how nice the restaurant looked. It's easy for an Indian restaurant to blend into the others but Dabbawalla stands out. Here you'll find Bollywood movies on the TV and walls covered in brightly coloured Bollywood posters, it's modern and fresh. 

I already knew what I wanted before I had even stepped a foot through the door, after trying the meat lovers thali on my first visit I was back for more. After explaining to my dad what it was and even getting my phone out and showing him a photo that The Plate Licked Clean took of the same dish he was hooked. My mum opted for the CTM (Chicken Tikka Massala), we also ordered a Channa Aloo Chat as a side dish.

The meat thali came with one lamb curry and a chicken curry, the meat in both was tender and the sauces going for taste over spice, which is how I like my curry. It also came with a frankly out of this world lentil dhal, this is the stuff dreams are made of. Alongside these dishes is a bowl of rice (I don't know how they cook it but it's the best rice I've ever eaten), a chapati and a mound of salad. I knew it was going to go down well when my dad was raving just about the rice, he continued to rave about his food throughout the meal. 


The CTM is a classic, you usually know what you're going to get when you order it...which now I come to think about it, I don't think I ever have. The guys at Dabbawalla were happy to put the left over curry and rice into a container for my mum to take away with her, not being one to waste food. 


The Channa Aloo Chat was as suitable moreish as I'd like, it's one of my favourite dishes that I could happily eat a plate of by itself. 


In all this was another great meal at Dabbawalla, I've promised myself that next time I go back I'll try something else off the menu so if the guys there read this: don't let me order the thali!











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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Dubai holiday planning

Later this year (in 89 days time actually) I'm jetting off to Dubai for a week. This will be my third trip to Dubai and it'll be interesting to see how much it's changed in the eight years since I was last there, judging from photos I've seen it's clear that it's grown and changed a heck of a lot. 

I'm very lucky in that I'll be staying with a friend and her husband when I'm out there so no need to find a hotel, this means more spending money! My list of shops I want to visit is ever growing... 

Thankfully for my bank balance it's not just shopping I plan on doing when I'm out there, I want to get out and discover Dubai and throw in some good relaxing opportunities as well. I thought I'd list four things I want to do when I'm there, in another post my partner in crimes and travelling buddy, Nat, will run through four things she wants to do.

One. Desert Safari


I did this the first time I went to Dubai and loved it, although the people I was with weren't quite sure about the dune bashing which I'll admit is quite scary but in a fun way. After driving through the dunes you arrive at camp around sunset, there are camels to ride (I didn't do this last time but think I'll go for it this time as 2014 is a year of firsts for me) and sand boarding. On entering the camp you can have henna put onto your hands or feet, there's a delicious dinner with lots of kebabs and fresh bread followed by shisha. Entertainment comes in the form of belly dancing, which last time left me mortified as she pulled my dad up to dance with her - for an 18 year old that just isn't cool.

The opportunity to get out into the desert isn't one to be missed, it's the thing I'm looking forward to the most this time.

Two. Jumeirah Mosque


The Jumeirah Mosque is one of the most photographed landmarks in Dubai and it's very easy to see why, especially at night when it's lit up. It's stunning. It's the only mosque in Dubai that is open to non-Muslims with the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding organising tours of the mosque as part of its Open Doors, Open Minds policy.

The mosque opens its doors to the public six days a week once a day for a tour and question and answer session, I've not been inside a mosque before so there's no way I can turn down the opportunity to go inside such a wonderful building.

Three. Souks


Souk is an Arabic word that stands for market. Traditionally boats from nearby countries would come to unload their wares at the souks where goods would be haggled over. Today, souks are still markets and still quite impressive. Dubai has a number of souks: gold, fish, textile and spice. The souks are very well known, especially the gold souk which is very impressive - I've never seen so much gold! 

I'm hoping to visit the gold, spice and textile souks. I've no plans on buying any gold but the gold souk is great to wander around and admire the 22 and 24 carat gold glinting at you.

Four. Burj Khalifa


How could I not want to go to the tallest building in the world? The Burj Khalifa stands at 2,716.5 feet tall, not only does it hold the record for the tallest building in the world it is also has the highest number of stories in the world, the highest occupied floor in the world, the highest outdoor observation deck in the world and the tallest service elevator in the world. Impressive!

Have you been to Dubai? Where should I add to my list of must see places?

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Monday, 16 June 2014

The Discovery

For Father's Day this year I decided to book a table at The Discovery in Lakeside. It's only a five minute drive from my house and is a place I've visited a handful of times over the years, gradually watching it get grubbier and grubbier. The old Discovery really wasn't pleasant, to be brutally honest. The new Discovery, however, is really very pleasant. 

Gone is the drab interior and in has come minimalist greys and light colours. As soon as we walked in it was very apparent how much work had gone into turning the place around, it's completely different to the old look to such an extent that if you had blindfolded me and taken me there I wouldn't have known it was the same place. The people at Knife & Fork Food have done a great job.

Onto the food, whether because it was a Sunday or because it was Father's Day we were limited to a set menu which was fine but it would have been good to have been told this when I booked. In the end it didn't matter, the set menu had plenty of great dishes. We all decided to skip a starter and go straight for the main course.


Two of us ordered the roast rib-eye of beef, which gave the option of either coming pink or well done. Both were ordered pink and pink the beef was. It came with seasonal vegetables and a large Yorkshire pudding. Everything was very tasty, the beef tender and perfectly cooked. 


My mother opted for the baked lemon soul, which she described as "really great". 


My father ordered the fillet of cod, which was another hit. Both fish dishes looked and smelled very fresh and tasty.


Finally, my brother's girlfriend went for the risotto. The portion was huge but again it went down a treat. 


 Next up were the desserts, this proved tricky to order as all of the dishes on the menu sounded great. In the end I went for the Snickers tart which made everyone on the table say "Ooh!" when the waitress brought it to the table. That has to be a good sign, right? The tart was really lovely and the salted caramel ice cream equally as lovely, I especially liked the touch of the peanut brittle on top.


Both my brother and dad ordered the cheese board, it went down well. The only slight niggle my brother had was that the coffee he ordered to come with the cheese came way before the desserts so by the time his cheese board was in front of him the coffee was lukewarm, but that's the only niggle about the whole meal we had.


Lastly, my brother's girlfriend had the sticky toffee pudding which I sampled and can confirm that it was delicious.


I definitely want to go back mid week to try the dishes from the blackboard, I've heard so much about the duck egg starter and plank of pork. In all this was a wonderful father's day dinner, the staff were very friendly both via twitter (which is how I booked the table), over the phone when I called at the last minute to add someone to the table and in person. 

Our bill for food and three pints, two wines and two soft drinks - £105.65

 
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Sunday, 15 June 2014

Lately...

Lately...I've been rubbish at keeping this updated so here's a photo recap of what's been going on.

Launch Event

On 5 June the project I'm working on launched in Cardiff City Hall. It's a lovely building that's worth a visit if you're near the civic centre. It's also where Natalie is getting married next year (I'm bridesmaid!) so it was nice to spend a bit of time there.




Allotment

I spent the evening helping my dad at the allotment, it's really becoming a place I love. Last week was a really rough week with grown up stuff (which is code for divorce and house related things) and I needed a bit of fresh air and sunshine to perk me up. It did a great job, it's my happy place.












Relaxing

In addition to a new yoga mat (I've become a big fan of yoga) I ordered a Spoonk Mat, I'm still only using it for 10 minutes at a time at the moment but hopefully I'll build up for longer periods. The weather has also meant that there has been lots of time to chill out in the garden, I'm trying to push through the book for book club this month (The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul) despite finding it really awful - at least reading it in the sun helps. Nat and I also had a BBQ last night and got a bit of sunbathing in. Total bliss.





 
Hangfire

Finally! In their penultimate week at the Lansdowne I finally got back to Hangfire, it was worth the wait.






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