On Friday, Mark Drakeford announced that from tomorrow, we will all be allowed to meet up in parks and private gardens; as long as we maintain social distancing, avoid contact, and limit it to two households at a time. Like everyone else in the country, I can’t wait to make the most of this new lease of freedom and meet up with friends and family who I’ve not seen for weeks on end. Picnics in the park are about to become a daily occurrence!
But before I get ready to spend 99.9% of my free time in the local parks, I wanted to give a shout out to the deliveries and subscriptions that have made the last few weeks – mostly spent eating and drinking in our small Canton garden – that much more bearable.
My other half has been helping these guys out with their hugely popular home deliveries during lockdown. As a result, we’ve had a steady supply of fresh, chewy sourdough, Holy Yolks scotch eggs, and Uncommon Ground coffee. I have always loved living a stone’s throw from Pettigrew Bakery, but this period in lockdown has made me appreciate their presence at Victoria Park – and their astounding work ethic (!) – even more than ever.
I signed up as a Riverford customer almost two years ago, after chatting to them at Abergavenny Food Festival, being impressed by their commitment to sustainable organic farming, and watching some of their founder Guy’s rants on YouTube. When lockdown began, veg box sales and subscriptions from all suppliers boomed across the UK, with almost all schemes having to turn away new sign-ups in order to be able to prioritise the increased demand from their existing customer base. Luckily, I was already on the Riverford ‘nice list’, and after swapping my usual small box for a medium one, we’ve been stocked up on organic fresh veg throughout.
I am pretty sure these Dusty Knuckle DIY pizza kits have been a lockdown highlight for half of the population Cardiff. My first attempt came out so badly I daren’t share a pic on my grid, but I have definitely perfected my technique over the weeks. Now I know how to get my knuckles properly dusty whilst stretching my dough, and I even managed to get my last one to come out completely round! You still can’t beat the real deal though, and luckily, DK are also available for home delivery via Deliveroo and Indie Eats.
Lockdown hasn’t meant saying goodbye to juicy olives, wedges of Manchego or cold glasses of vermouth. Since the end of March, the team from Curado Bar have been delivering some of their deli favourites for free across Cardiff and Penarth. If you’ve been missing their ‘meet-the-producers’ tasting events, you’ll be pleased to learn that they’ve moved online. Tickets cost £20, including 4X250ml samples and some nibbles delivered to your door.
The Tidy Kitchen
Laura from The Tidy Kitchen company was the wonderful human who catered our wedding last year, and she’s been keeping hella busy since lockdown began. From cooking for the NHS, to delivering ‘date night’ three course meals for heating up at home, to assembling delicious grazing boxes for weekday lunches, I feel like there’s nothing this woman can’t do. We enjoyed one of Laura’s veggie grazing boxes in the sunshine (and ordered an extra roll of her raw cookie dough for freshly cooked chocolate chip treats for the rest of the week).
Gays Who Wine
Gays Who Wine is an ever-changing space for the whole LBGTQ+ community (and allies) to come together over a good glass of wine and a nibble. Traditionally, GWW was about informal wine-tasting events around the city, but lockdown necessitated the launch of the GWW at Home Box – featuring all you need for a great night in. Each box comes with two bottles of wine from The Bottle Shop, two British cheeses from Ty Caws, crackers, bread from Pettigrew Bakery, some nibbles and a surprise.
Cocorico Patisserie reopened for walk-ups and click & collect last week, meaning we could pop in for a Paris Brest on our way to pick up some weird beers from the Discount Supermarket on the corner of Heathfield Road (if you know, you know). Fun fact: owner Laurian Veaudour was crowned champion of the 2020 season of GBBO: The Professionals!
PASTA A MANO
A three-course, hand-made, Italian meal for £15 a head? OH YES HONEY. Pasta a Mano‘s fresh pasta meal kits are a revelation, and such a welcome sight on my Instagram feed after I managed to miss every single one of their pasta pop-ups at Wrights Wines last year. We treated ourselves to the Wild Boar Ragu last weekend, and scarfed it down before I could take a nice pic for IG – just buy the next kit they do. You won’t regret it.
THE ANGEL BAKERY
Last year my ‘day job’ in comms gave me a chance to join the team of freelancers working on Abergavenny Food Festival. This meant heading up there on the train once a month for meetings, and on the walk to the office, always treating myself to an Angel Bakery pastry. I loved that little ritual.
Though the festival is essentially a no-go for this year, the Angel Bakery is now delivering to Cardiff twice a week, with an expanded range of staples like milk, eggs and butter; wine, beer, fruit, veg, and of course, their bread and pastries. Though my addiction to Pettigrew sourdough batons will never be broken, I’ve always got room for more delicious, handmade carbs in my life – especially when it comes in the form of an Angel Bakery almond croissant; a little taste of normality from my life before lockdown.
Disclosure: I was gifted the below items by the Angel Bakery team.
Founded in Cardiff in the tail end of 2019, the Matsudai Ramen pop-up is Wales’ only dedicated ramen ‘slurp spot’; serving up steaming bowls of hand-made noodles, long-simmered broths and deeply flavoured toppings. Tickets for Matsudai Ramen’s events routinely sold out within minutes of going on sale, but when the Coronavirus lockdown came into effect, Matsudai founder James Chant was forced to shut up shop.
Luckily, Matsudai Ramen’s online shop launches this week and will be selling frozen, handmade ramen kits for home delivery. Each kit costs £7.50 and contain the broth, tare (complex seasoning), aroma oil and a bundle of specially paired noodles. I’ve had a sneak preview (James was kind enough to drop off some frozen ramen for me at the beginning of lockdown – I know, I’m so jammy) and the good news is, Matsudai Ramen is just as delicious warmed up on the hob at home.
Now offering ‘warm up at home’ curry boxes for collection from the beer garden at St Canna’s pub are the lovely folks from Keralan Karavan. We already had plans for dinner last Friday, but couldn’t resist the chance to swing by to pick up two pints of cider (BYO reusable pint glass) and a couple of warm samosas & bhajis to eat in the evening sun at Thompsons Park. Bliss.
ISLE OF WIGHT TOMATOES
I can’t tell you how good these tomatoes are. They smell like a greenhouse in high summer. They are so sweet, they could almost be dessert. I am obsessed with them! You can get these for home delivery via the Tomato Stall website, or they also sell them on Ocado. Once you’ve tried them, you’ll never be able to go back to supermarket tomatoes, I promise.
To celebrate that in my day-job, as a freelance PR consultant, I hit my two year self-sufficiency anniversary during lockdown, my other half treated me to a little dinner in the garden – a takeaway from one of our faves, Heaney’s in Pontcanna. I was lucky enough to work on the launch of Tommy’s restaurant when it opened, so it was a fitting feast, and bloody lush to boot. Your average ‘takeaway’ this was not.
Awesome dinner from @CardiffHeaneys last night – to celebrate my 2 year freelanciversary (yes that’s a made up word) – followed by a DIY @dusty_knuckle pizza kit experience for daddy Cook today, with @bar44tapas truffles & a glass of @CuradoBar PX for his dessert 🍷 #cardiffeats pic.twitter.com/etlxAH5ySI
— Jane Chico Mendes (@JaneChicoMendes) June 21, 2020
Not a foodie subscription but definitely worth a mention, I subscribed to TOTM just before the lockdown came into effect. They are an ethical, sustainable, plastic-free period care brand, driven by a mission to tackle period plastic and end the silence surrounding menstruation. Their tampons, pads, and liners are made with GOTS certified organic cotton, grown without toxic, synthetic pesticides and using sustainable farming methods. Having their products delivered to my door each month means I never have to make a time-of-the-month mad dash to the shops ever again.
I also wrote about my experience of lockdown for We Are Cardiff’s ‘Letters From Lockdown’ series, which you can read here.