Tag Archives: foodie cardiff

Viva Vegan Festival Cardiff

Have you been to one of Cardiff’s seemingly endless array of vegan festivals yet? We sent student Maika Wagner along to Viva Vegan to dish the dirt. Not literally. The food actually sounds totes delish there.

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My interest in veganism is personal, as I became vegan for health reasons about four years ago. In between I had a stretch of being vegetarian. It wasn’t until later that I started to think about the treatment of animals etc. I think it’s important to promote veganism in a peaceful way instead of the militant way some vegans go about it. It’s important for people to see that it is not as hard as they think to be vegan and that one person can make a difference with their diet, not just to the animals, but also for themselves and their health.
My neighbours had a stretch of being vegan back in 2012, and at first I thought it was quite extreme, because I did not get the motivation behind it. At some point I was looking at weight-loss diets and found this one book by Attila Hildmann. My neighbour had it, so I tried the 30-day challenge and stayed vegan afterwards, as during that time I had read up on all the animal cruelty and it just didn’t sit right with me.

There have been many vegan festivals going on in Cardiff throughout the last year, this most recent one looked like it might be the biggest one yet: The Viva Vegan Festival.

Having been held at the City Hall this Saturday, the Viva Vegan Festival attracted quite a few people who were interested in veganism or were already vegan. The entry fee of two pounds seemed reasonable enough for passers-by to give it a go. Being held in City Hall gave it a more official feeling than other vegan festivals in the city that I had been to. For £14 pounds, you could even have booked a VIP ticket in advance and get a goody-bag and also, most importantly, jump the queue.

If you didn’t fancy splashing out, there were some food trucks outside City Hall so you could have a taste of what was inside.

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The stalls featured at the festival were very diverse, ranging from different foods, over bath accessories, skin care, makeup, clothing, art etc, all the way to animal rights activists. Most of the stall-holders were not Cardiff based, but can be found online.

My personal favourites were Solkiki, Bohemian Chic Minerals, chaaboo and Flavour Fusion. However, the all-time favourites with the masses are Mr Nice Pie and The Vegan Bakery.

Solikiki is the most amazing raw chocolate (my favourites are his white chocolate salted peanut and white chocolate hazelnut). The chocolates are Fairtrade and it is ensured that a large amount of the profit goes directly to the farmers.

Bohemian Chic Minerals makes mineral makeup for extremely sensitive skin. Every product is hyper-pigmented, so a even though the tubs are small, they will stretch for quite a while.

Chaaboo makes amazing, cold-pressed, hand-made soaps. There are different scents and two different sizes, which allows one to buy a small hamper of test-soaps as a cute, cruelty-free gift. My favourite scent is the green-tea soap. Many people don’t realise that soap is often made from animal fat and it is nice to have an alternative without having to check the label.

Flavour Fusion is a sort of ‘vegan parmesan’, made from almonds and spices. You can either sprinkle it on top of food or mix it with some olive oil for a dip or pesto, for some amazing flavour.

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Apart from the stalls, there were also a variety of vegan talks and vegan cooking-demonstrations going on throughout the day, such as Jane Easton’s baking demonstration. She is the author of the Viva vegan cookbook and gave some great tips on baking, while also doing some myth-busting along the way.

I was born in Cambridge, but raised in Hamburg, Germany. Hamburg was probably one of the first cities to have a completely vegan supermarket. A lot of the vegan foods found in the UK are currently being imported from either the US or Germany, so it’s funny to be in a store here and start reading out german labels. There’s a district in Hamburg called Schanze. It’s the hip, young district and has a ton of vegan options, including a vegan ice-cream shop, which is amazing. But you’ll usually find vegan stuff even in normal supermarkets, although more limited than a health-food store. Also, many of my close friends in Germany are vegetarian or vegan, so it’s really easy when going out or going round each other’s houses.

Maika Wagner is 21 years old and was born in Cambridge, UK, but moved to Hamburg, Germany when she was five. From 2010 to 2011, she was on an exchange year in Lecce, Italy, learning the language and getting to know the people there. She moved back to Cardiff to study and is currently on her third year of Contemporary Music Performance at the Atrium.
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A Welsh food safari through Cardiff

Last week, I took part in my first ever food tour of Cardiff – a food safari, no less, taking in some sights, history, and a lot of tastes of the fair capital. Having lived here for as long as I have, I sort of presumed I had explored all of the culinary boltholes in the centre of it. How wrong I was!

We met Sian (who was leading the tour) along with fellow tour-attendees, Doug and Val in the cafe at the castle. Doug and Val had lived here between 1985 to 1990, then moved away. You can imagine how different the city is today to when they’d been here originally.

Cardiff Castle

Although we didn’t eat anything at the castle, Sian gave us a potted history of the castle through the ages. One of my favourite anecdotes was about how it used to be the Royal College of Music and Drama (as the council initially didn’t know what to do with it when it was handed over by the Butes) – Sian had music lessons there as a child. Imagine having music lessons in a castle!

Anyway, this was our first stop: bara brith and tea at Pettigrew Tea Rooms.

Pettigrew Tea Rooms
Pettigrew Tea Rooms

Andrew Pettigrew was Head Gardner for the Third Marquis of Bute , and the tea room is named in his honour. I am ashamed to say we ate the bara brith so quickly I didn’t manage to get a photo … (that’s the sign of some good cake!). It was really good too – super moist!

We then wandered through Castle Arcade. Although I must have walked through here hundreds of times, it was the first time I ever noticed the stag in the mirror (above the exit that goes out onto High Street – see below!)

Cafe Barker, Castle Arcade
Castle Arcade
Castle Arcade
Castle Arcade

It was then into Cardiff Indoor Market, taking a leisurely look around the stalls (I spotted some very tasty faggots and peas in a tupperware box that took my fancy!), but we stopped outside Ashton’s. You’ll know it as the fishmonger that’s at the entrance to the market from the Hayes side. Ashton’s is also the oldest limited company in Cardiff (fact!), and you can buy laverbread and cockles from them to eat there. Sian had baked some oatcakes and brought them with her, to make us small ‘tapas’ style morsels. They were absolutely delicious!

Ashton's at the market
Ashton’s at the market
Sian preparing our tasters
Sian preparing our tasters
Fish faces
Fish faces

We then went on to try some cawl and Welsh ciders! This was a definite high point. (My favourite cider was the Gwynt Y Ddraig medium dry, in case you ever want to take me out for a drink).

A bowl of cawl!
Cawl at Yr Hen Llyfrgell

From there, we went down to the bay. Doug and Val were most excited about this part of the tour, as the bay had been in its very early re-development when they left. No Millennium Centre, no Senedd, no barrage.

To give you some perspective, this is what it would have looked like when they left …

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This is what it looks like now (!)

Big wheel and Pierhead building, Cardiff Bay

(obviously the locations are slightly different, but you get the idea)

We wandered around the bay a bit, and Sian imparted more historical knowledge. I live in Butetown but rarely spend time just wandering around, chewing the fat. In this case, chewing on the amazing Welsh cakes from Fabulous …

Millennium Centre
Millennium Centre
Fabulous Welsh Cakes
Fabulous Welsh Cakes
Sian outside Fabulous Welsh Cakes
Sian outside Fabulous

Our final course was in Ffresh. They’ve recently refurbished the inside with a load of copper coloured trees – beautiful!

Also the food. OMG the food. We stuck to deserts – I had a very nice and light iced pear, followed by this amazing shared cheese board. Per las … my downfall …

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Iced pear
Iced pear
Food tourists!
Food tourists!

After dessert, I was so full I pretty much rolled down towards the water and into the Princess Katherine, one of the water taxis that runs between town and the bay. There’s actually an onboard audio guide that gives you information about the places you’re going past as you chug past them.

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Sailors
Sailors
Aboard the Princess Katherine
Aboard the Princess Katherine

“We have many spectacular mountains, a stunning coastline and a little rain – that all helps to create an ideal environment for growing produce which results in award-winning food and drink!” says Sian, who’s been running food tours for a few years now (she also reads the news and used to present the weather, so gets recognised occasionally while you’re walking around with her!). She’s also fluent in French, Italian, Spanish and German as well as English and Welsh (feel like you messed around too much in school?? Me too!).

It was wonderful having Sian to guide us – she is incredibly knowledgeable about Cardiff and so passionate about food – she told us about everything from Welsh vineyards to the history of Italian food in Cardiff. All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our food safari – and ended up discovering some proper hidden Cardiff food gems. Cockles in the market will be on the itinerary for every trip we ever make to town, forever!

Find out more about Loving Welsh Food

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