Lovely local leaves

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Pleased to say we’ll be using lovely green leaves from Cardiff Salad Garden on this week’s Herbivore menu at the Embassy Cafe. Not only are they probably the tastiest and freshest I’ve tried but they are grown less than a mile away in Bute park by a not-for-profit organisation that works with refugees, asylum seekers and individuals with mental health problems. It’s win-win really.
This week will also see the return of the romanesco cauliflower and the legendary tower of mango soup. Full menu here.

The Fall

applesNot only the name of one of my favourite bands, the fall sees all kinds of culinary treats appearing. Here we have windfall bramley apples from Pontypridd just waiting to be cooked down into a buttery, soft compote, to be served alongside an almond cake scented with orange blossom. Meanwhile the last gasps of summer continue with courgettes still doing their thing on the allotment and even some tomatoes ripening in the greenhouse. This week’s menu for the Embassy Cafe here. Not going to be at the Embassy next week (14th/15th Oct) but back on the 21st as usual.

Eat Your Greens

greeenbunchWhen you’ve been cooking vegetables for as long as and as frequently as I have it’s refreshing to come across something new. I think I must have had Chrysanthamum greens before in an oriental mix but never new what they were so I was intrigued to find them on the list of available produce from Blaencamel Farm – a fixture at Riverside Markets and one of my favourite suppliers.

Used across South Asia in stir fries, soups and salads, and sometimes referred to as chop sue greens in the Western world, these attractive leaves have a fragrant, grassy, delicate flavour with a touch of bitterness. I’m going to serve them on top of wasabi & spinach cakes with a tomato & miso sauce. Full menu for this weekend here.

Flower Power

nasturtium

A versatile weapon in the Herbivore kitchen, the nasturtium. Keeps blazing strong into the autumn when so many other plants have fallen by the wayside and is useful in many ways. This weekend the leaves and flowers are going to garnish the white bean and chard cassoulet: the warm pepperiness providing a sharp contrast to the smoothing sweetness of the sauce. Meanwhile I’ll be pickling the seed pods to use as a British version of the caper – little blasts of salty heat to pep-up autumn and winter dishes. This weekend’s menu here.

August Opening

Seeing as Cathays becomes a bit of a ghost town in the summer months we’ve decided to close on Sundays throughout August. This Saturday’s menu see the first picking of wild blackberries, a new noodle dish, brought to you by the letter “C”, and a return of last week’s masala bubble and squeak cakes with spiced aubergines – one of my favourite recipes cribbed from a battered old Madhur Jaffrey book. Full menu here.

Summer time

…and the cooking gets easier. So much good produce to choose from. The last of the gooseberries and blackcurrants from my garden. Padron peppers from Blaencamel. Courgette flowers, rainbow chard and green tomatoes from Field Days Organic. Full menu for the Embassy Cafe this weekend here.

Also, we’re now listed on the Happy Cow website: the go-to listings for vegetarian and vegan eateries around the world. Not that I’m saying you should leave a review…

If it wasn’t for those pesky birds..

The pesky birds of Pontypridd seem to have developed a taste for gooseberries, red currants and black currants this year. Serves me right for not stocking up the bird feeders I suppose. Still, there’s enough for a batch of Gooseberry & Nigella Seed Chutney (adapted from my favourite tomato chutney recipe – thanks Cinnamon Club). The remaining black currants will make their way into an almond cake. Full menu here

Sorry to say there will be no supper club in July. Last week’s sell-out Twisted Bistro was a big success but there’s just too much other stuff to fit in next month. Herbivore will be on the road again – this time up to MOMA in Machynllteh for a one-night-only “culinary intervention” at ceramicist Lisa Krigel’s exhibition on Thursday 27th July. More details on that coming soon. Watch this space for details of the next Cardiff event too.

Mangos!

The short and sweet alphonso mango season is upon us and I have a box of carefully wrapped specimens from mumbai releasing their gentle floral perfume in the kitchen. I’m going to pair them with elderflower syrup as a topping for a cardamom and almond milk rice pudding. Also on the menu this week is another favourite of mine: panel – chickpea fritters in a roll, the classic street food of Palermo, Sicily. Full menu here.

Twisted Bistro 24th June

Next up in the Herbivore supper club line is number 039: Twisted Bistro.  Checked table cloths, candles in bottles, gypsy jazz playing and 4 vegan courses of classic bistro food seen through the Herbivore lens for twenty quid. Also, for the first time, we’re taking bookings at any time between 6.30 & 8.30. It’s BYO alcohol with a £2 corkage per person payable on the night.  Embassy Cafe, Cathays Terrace, Cardiff 24th June. Menu here. Bookings: simon@theherbivore.co.uk

Hand Picked Menu

Chef Manuel & I have been putting our heads together and wandering the fields, hedgerows and shoreline to come up with a menu for our collaborative supper club coming up at the Embassy Cafe on the 19th of April.

Once you start looking there are so many different green shoots out there just waiting to be picked so it’s been a process of narrowing down what we want to use and trying to predict what will be ready for harvest at the Amelia Trust Farm, Blaencamel and Riverside Market Garden.

It’s still a bit of a work in progress but you can see the prototype menu here. We only have a few spaces left for this one so act quickly if you want to come  – email me: simon@theherbivore.co.uk