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Market House Delicatessen – Euro Disney

5 Apr

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The Place

We were at Euro Disney for a family holiday and unfortunately on this particular day it was a very wet one.  The umbrellas were certainly out in force.

The cafe was on Disney Main Street and did a good job of reflecting that mid-west homely old american vibe.  The service was good, especially under pressure of a screaming baby in desperate need of milk!

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The Drink

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The drink was served boiling hot, which considering I was in a wet, miserable and Paris that was very much appreciated. The hot chocolate was extremely bitter with a strong chocolate flavor.  It really hit the spot and was a welcome return to my hot chocolate drinking exploits after not blogging a review for some time.

The Cake

Sadly no cake was consumed on this occasion but I did have carrot cake in Disney which was very nice indeed.

The Rest

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The trip overall was lovely.  We made some amazing family memories.  That said, Disney with two children under 4 is very, VERY, tough.  I have never felt so close to breaking down as I did on this holiday.  The children have some fantastic experiences but they also proved that you can be miserable around the bright lights of Mickey’s house.

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Manorbier Castle Cafe

21 Apr

The Place

Wales, as I’ve said before, is beautiful, and we don’t always appreciate what’s on our doorstep.  I was struck by that thought after returning for what is now becoming the Hathway’s annual family annual visit to Pembrokeshire.

On this occasion we took a trip to visit Manorbier castle.

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The cafe was perfectly placed to take advantage of the stunning surroundings having been established within the existing structure of the castle.

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Inside the cafe was modern but tactful.  The staff was very helpful, if a little overbearing at times.

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There was a glorious outside area which was highlighted by the fact this was a particularly nice day.

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The accompanying large garden area for boys to play in only made the whole visit that bit more relaxed and enjoyable.

The Drink

It has been a while since I’ve had a hot chocolate. This particular cup was strong with a bitter taste, as I like. While it was nothing special it did provide a nice pick me up after hours of seaside walking.

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The Cake

Even though we had been up and about for hours it was still a little early in the day for cake.  In addition to that while there was a selection of cakes available carrot cake sadly was not on the menu.

The Rest

Exploring the grounds was great for Gryff who loves that sort of thing.

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Some of the views from the higher points were magnificent and really let you appreciate the magic of the Welsh Western coastline.

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In additional there was a dress up room in the grounds for children which was a lovely touch. Here’s Gryff taking full advantage.

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Best of all however was this random waxwork in the dungeon which terrified an unsuspecting Lauren.

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Rosie’s Vintage Tea Shop – Leamington Spa

17 Dec

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The Place

Rosie’s Vintage Tea Shop is a little boutique cafe off the main street in Leamington Spa.  A welcoming little venue that made for a pleasant break after the just under 3 hour drive to get there.

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The decor is lovely, and particularly appealing to my good wife’s taste.  In fact much of the wallpapers and decorations could have come direct from our living room.  Indeed, given the shop also sells little ornaments many of them will now, sadly, be filling even more shelves in the Hathway residence.

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The staff were very attentive and interested and a credit to the place.  There were a lot of staff on the day so no delays and while I don’t know if it was or not, it did feel like a family run business.

The Hot Chocolate

This was an absolutely delicious hot chocolate.  The flavour of the drink was a strong and bitter dark chocolate which really hit the spot.  However, it was the cream that was the star of the show.  Velvety and smooth and sprinkled with tasty coco.  A top-notch hot chocolate.

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The Carrot Cake

I’ve been on a bit of a health kick in recent weeks.  I’ve given up alcohol (or at least I had for 4 months until a weekend ago) and I’ve eaten a lot healthier.  Overall I’ve lost about 16lbs and in the process I’ve eaten no carrot cakes.  I’m pleased to say then that the first one back was well worth it.  Not just an ordinary carrot cake but a triple layered caramel carrot cake.

The frosting was creamy with caramel drizzled throughout giving it an indulgent lift.  The cake itself was full of flavour and moist with excellent texture.  A real contender.

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I also liked the little touch of providing specific cake eating folks.  Delicate little utensils that stopped me from gobbling this cake in quite as speedy fashion as I otherwise would have done!

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The Rest

I was in Leamington for a uni reunion.  I went to Aberystwyth uni but we all met there as one of my former university friends who lives in Leamington organised it.  Fair play we all scrubbed up well, even if our nights out are far more timid these days.  Middle age has got the best of us I fear.

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The South Beach Shack – Tenby

28 Aug

We went to Tenby for a little family holiday over the bank holiday. The plan was for one last trip as a trio before the new baby arrived. It is fair to say the weather wasn’t the best.

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Still, even in the miserable drizzle Tenby was more than picturesque.

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Fortunately we ended up having a really lovely first day as the sun eventually came out. The Gryffalo had the time of his life on what is a fantastic beach.

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The Place

Location wise you couldn’t want for a better place. There was a lovely little cluster of facilities all together. Bar grill/ice cream parlor etc

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The view from the outside decking was spectacular even on this over cast day. I imagine it is second to none on a bright afternoon.

There ends the positives of this story however. Service seemed to missing the smile (and the please and thank you in fact) and there wasn’t much else to write home about in complimentary tones.

The Cake

No carrot cake available.

The Hot Chocolate

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As you can see the setting for the drink was very special. The drink itself…not so much. The hot chocolate was tasteless. There was no strong flavors and in general a real let down.

The Rest

I had planned on a few reviews from this trip. There was a real nice looking 1940s afternoon tea venue in the center of Tenby town that I was looking forward to trying. Llew (my new son)had other plans and decided to turn up 4 weeks early and say hello, thus cutting short our holiday at 2:30am on the first night.

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So we went to Tenby as three and came back as a foursome. 

Maesmawr Hall Hotel

6 Aug
The place
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It was my 4th wedding anniversary recently so while me and my good wife were travelling to North Wales for the wedding of some of our best friends I arranged to stop at the Maesmawr Hall Hotel for a spot of afternoon tea.

 

The drive in was home to a stunning entrance through a row of trees. The building itself was beautiful and secluded and made for a fantastic setting. The added bonus of having a quiet and sunny day made this a lovely place to stop.

2The staff was very attentive and were a real credit to the venue.

The Carrot Cake

Unfortunately there was no carrot cake on offer as part of the afternoon tea.

The Hot Chocolate

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The hot chocolate came out delayed from the rest of the afternoon tea which was a slight shame. There was no cream as such but rather a was more frothy finish. The drink itself was very sweet. For some, perhaps most, people this may have been too sweet but to my pallet it was enjoyable.

The Rest

As it was afternoon tea we had a selection of other items.

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The sandwiches were not the pretentious slices you can get with many afternoon teas. Instead we were treated to chunky and toasted bread. The fillings were very satisfying.

In one sandwich there was thick sliced beef, medium rare, with prominent horseradish flavour. The other contained thick ham with an abundance of cheese. No stinging on the content here.

The chunky sandwiches meant the rest of the afternoon tea was eaten for flavour and not out of hunger

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The chocolate truffle was sadly a little too soft. There was a nice chocolate flavour but the texture was more akin to a mousse than a truffle and didn’t quite work.
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The Bara Brith was excellent. It was moist with a punchy flavour. This was the surprise star of the offering and was worth the trip on its own.
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The scone baked when ordered so very fresh. It came accompanied by quaint little pots of jam and cream.  My wife often complains there’s not enough cream and jam but there was a plentiful supply here. I found the scone slightly over if I’m honest but my good wife found the crunch excellent.
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The bakewell tart had a strong marzipan flavour. Again, as with the Bara Brith, the cake was moist.  There was a good level of icing and good jam. A winner.

 

Overall this was a recommended little break on the drive from South to North Wales.

Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

29 Jul

The Place
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The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama is a simply stunning looking building from the outside. It is fast becoming a real Cardiff landmark. Inside there is a lovely open space. It is fresh looking, modern and inviting and you can really sense that it is a hub of creative work. It is a pretty ideal area to take five minutes out to just stop and have a cake or drink.

The Carrot Cake

 
I was there for a 10am meeting so carrot cake was not really a consideration. They did offer a carrot cake muffin however. I haven’t seen that before so maybe worth a return trip.

 
The Hot Chocolate
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Firstly there was no cream offered which is always a dissapointment.The drink itself had a strong, deep and rich dark chocolate flavour which was very nice.  Bitter but also full of flavour.  While nothing special it was still a good hot chocolate that was worth a short stop.

Norwegian Church – Cardiff Bay

15 Jul

The Place

I was down Cardiff Bay with a group of friends and our children to enjoy the International food festival.

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It was a spectacular day.  The sun was shining and it was boiling hot.  On a day like that Cardiff, and Cardiff Bay in particular, can measure itself favourably against any capital in Europe in my opinion.

The Norwegian Church is a really beautiful looking building just off the main area of the Bay.

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The setting is ideal for a cake stop.  There is an outside seating area, which is where we based ourselves.  Inside there is a nice space.  I’ve been there for a few conferences and presentations in the past and it does lend itself to that environment as well as the more relaxed setting like we enjoyed on Sunday.

Due to the food festival being on during this visit it was all a tad manic and overcrowded.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be a fair reflection of an ordinary day but I have to say as a result service was incredibly slow when we were there.

The Carrot Cake

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I bumped into a friend and former work colleague Rhuanedd who had just had the carrot cake and recommended it to me.  I couldn’t really say no after that.  Me, my good wife and the Gryffalo shared one piece between the three of us (at this stage we’d already had a fair helping of what the food festival had to offer).

It was well decorated with little icing carrots.  The thickness of the icing was impressive and it carried a lot of flavour.  The frosting inside the cake was delicious. Fresh and creamy. The cake itself was moist and full of flavour with great texture.  All round it was a really good carrot cake and certainly well worth a visit.

The Hot Chocolate

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To look at the hot chocolate I was expecting big things but sadly I was disappointed.  The cream was a bit fluffy but without any real quality. The drink was watery and lacked any proper chocolate flavour. It was a shame as it really didn’t measure up to the cake.

The Rest

As with any visit to Cardiff Bay the Gryffalo forced me to ride the carousel with him.  I have no idea why he enjoys it so much as he never goes on the horses but would rather sit on the chariot.  Dull.  Still, he clearly has the time of his life so I can’t begrudge him.

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Parker’s Cafe Bar – Newtown

4 Jun

The Place

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Me, my good wife and the Gryffalo were travelling to North Wales for a christening and decided to take a break when we reached Newtown. It was a extremely wet and miserable day and this was a much need needed break, if only to get away from the nursery rhymes of Peppa pig that had been on repeat for some time.

The welcome was great with very accommodating staff who made a special effort with Gryff. The interior was smart and clean.

The Hot Chocolate

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I was offered a large-sized drink and cream and marshmallows. This is an offer often overlooked when buying a hot chocolate. I held on the marshmallows as I just don’t think they work.

The cream was a real treat, silky and smooth. Arguably the best cream I’ve had to date with hot chocolates on the blog. The powdered chocolate dusted on top was rich and added texture.

The taste of drink was a strong Cadbury style chocolate flavour and was all in all a very well turned out hot chocolate.

The Carrot Cake

There was no carrot cake available unfortunately but I did have this Victoria sponge.

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Sadly this was a tad dry and didn’t live up to the appearance. A small blip in an otherwise highly worthwhile stop to break up the A470 hell that is South to North Wales transport links.

The Piccolo Bar – Porthcawl

7 May

The Place

The Piccolo Bar is located along the Porthcawl seafront and so is ideally placed as a stop off point when enjoying a nice walk with the view.

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The cafe does have indoor seating if you wanted to shelter from the weather.  With large glass windows it allows good views of the sea and would be a lovely location to enjoy a hot chocolate on a day with rough seas I’m sure.

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On this occasion, while it was a little windy, the weather was nice enough for us to carry on walking so we had the drinks to take out.

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The Carrot Cake

I’m not sure if they do offer carrot cake but as we were walking I opted not to have anything to eat.

The Hot Chocolate

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I chose the advertised “thick deluxe” hot chocolate and I’m pleased to say that the drink lived up to its reputation.  The texture was thick which is always a good thing in my book.

There was a strong bitter dark chocolate flavour to the drink which was well appreciated, although with the bitterness it may have been worth also having a water to follow.  That isn’t necessarily a complaint of the drink just an enhancement that could be made if I was to return.

Often, take away hot chocolates are served luke warm but this one was absolutely boiling.  If anything it was too warm. That being said, as it was being drunk while walking along beside the sea, it was great for keeping me warm.

I didn’t have cream as I don’t think it works for the take away experience. However, my good wife did and gave it a good review.

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I’m also pleased that my continuing mentoring work is going well. My young hot chocolate apprentice is developing quite the palate.

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The Rest

Overall the Gryffallo had quite the day out.  As well as the marvels of a nice hot chocolate we also took him to the height of Welsh sophistication.  Porthcawl fair.

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I’m not too sure how much he will thank us for that mind.  At one point he went on a caterpillar rollercoaster (a children’s one obviously).  To say he hated it is an understatement.  I think I may have scarred him for life.  I’m not sure what was worse for him.  Being shunted around in terror or seeing his mammy in tears of laughter at the face he pulled coming around every corner.  For those concerned about him a quick ice cream seemed to sort him out.

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Birthday Afternoon Tea: Pettigrew Tea-rooms – Cardiff

25 Mar

The Place

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I’ve been meaning to pop into Pettigrew Tea-rooms for a while and always comment on it when passing. Fortunately my good wife must have been paying attention as she arranged for us to go there for afternoon tea to celebrate my 31st.

The place is lovely inside with a vintage look and situated in Sophia Gardens it is an ideal location where the Gryffalo could then run around in the fresh air after we ate.

The Hot Chocolate

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One of the reasons I have avoided going for afternoon tea is that I don’t drink tea or coffee. Thankfully the staff at Pettigrew were kind enough to substitute in hot chocolate.

The drink itself was very nice although maybe could have had a tad more of a chocolate kick. The cream was delicious. Very silky and smooth and did really lift the drink from your average hot chocolate.

The Gryffalo however is far more content with a cup of tea.

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The Carrot Cake

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(My good wife was thoughtful enough to bring a birthday candle with her)

The cake was beautifully moist with a fantastic flavor. The right levels of spice with perfect frosting. Overall I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this carrot cake. Whisper it….it may very well be the best cake I’ve had yet. Highly recommended.

The Rest

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As part of the afternoon tea we also had finger sandwiches (Ham & Mustard; Beef & Horseradish and Brie & Chutney) and two huge scones with clotted cream and a selection of jams.

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All of these were very tasty and along with the accommodating staff made the day very special. Thanks to my good wife for organising.

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