Vegetarian on Vacation: Wales
After leaving Dublin, we flew to Cardiff – where I had an encounter with some stairs – and then got on a bus to Cardiff Bay. The drive from the airport to the bay was gorgeous, filled with old homes and rolling hills and occasional glimpses of the sea. Eventually we got to downtown Cardiff where we were informed that there were no bus services to the bay due to the holiday. So we did what anyone lost in a new city with no cell service would do – went to Starbucks! Luckily my sister happened to pick the same Starbucks to visit with her friend and she was able to quickly navigate us to our hotel. Quick note: our hotel (Future Inns @ Cardiff Bay) was INCREDIBLE! I wish I had taken pictures as everything was simply perfect, especially the door that swung two ways. After settling down we moved on to the Doctor Who museum, which was our primary reason for visiting Cardiff. After the museum we decided to check out a street fair where we might have indulged on some delicious treats.
Our first stop was a mobile creparie set up by CrepeAffaire – where I decided to give a British classic a try. I had heard of Golden Syrup before and when I saw that was an option I skipped over all the savory vegetarian options for a walk on the (ultra) sweet side.
From the crepes we walked over to the cupcakes where my sister indulged in the most decadent of decadent cupcakes – the triple chocolate. This chocolate cupcake was filled with molten chocolate and topped with a rich chocolate buttercream, total insanity. For science I took a bite of this sweet treat.
For dinner we went to Bellini’s, which Doctor Who fans will recognize from Boom Town as the restaurant where the Doctor took Margaret for dinner. While their dinner didn’t end well ours was incredible! The restaurant is traditional Italian with a few vegetarian options (clearly marked with a large V) but no clear vegan options, though the menu notes they are willing to make accommodations. For a starter we got the Cestino de Capra which featured some of the richest goat cheese I’ve ever been fortunate enough to try. It was truly melt in your mouth and worked perfectly with the addictive red onion marmalade. For the main course it was hard to pick – all the pasta are made in house including the giant spinach stuffed ravioli. For the non-pasta eaters there are brickoven pizzas which both my sister and her friend dined on. Since this was a special occasion we also got desserts – tiramisu, Coppa gelato, Budino al cioccolato, and the Torta al formaggio all made their way to our table and all were greatly enjoyed!
After a night of indulgence we spen the next day walking around Bath – which will be covered in my England edition – before heading back to Cardiff for dinner and sleep. After a few walks around the Bay we decided to try a local chain: Las Iquanas. I never thought I would have S. American food in Cardiff but why not??? As a bonus they have a Veggie & Vegan menu, making it super easy to find great food that is animal free. I went for the Epic Enchilada going for the tomatillo salsa though I was debating that against the Moqueca up until time to order. While the dish was labeled as spicy it was (IMHO) very milk but still incredibly good.
For our final Cardiff meal we decided to skip the standard restaurants and grab sandwiches so we could take advantage of the incredible weather. While we had packed for standard UK weather (rain, cool, grey) it wound up being in the upper 70s and sunny for all of our time in Cardiff, which is why our final lunch was enjoyed in the shade of the Cardiff Castle. I had heard of Waitrose in a number of my Brit Chick Lit books, and knew it would be perfect. I decided on a falafel sandwich with red pepper paste and halloumi cheese along with some local raspberries. The tart fruit with the squeaky cheese wound up being the perfect companions for the incredible scenary as we watched and ate until it was time to catch our bus to London.
I wish we had more time in Cardiff, and Wales in general, but the short amount of time that we did have was incredible. While this area isn’t as vegetarian friendly as Dublin they still focus a great deal of energy on local and organic ingredients. It was amazing seeing all the notes on the various menus about the local farms where the lamb, lettuce, tomatoes, berries came from and how standard that was. I can only hope that more cities in the US start heading in that direction.
Next up: London, Oxford, and Bath