Saturday, 27 March 2021

Meat Matters, Online butcher delivery, Wales review

Nothing makes something more desirable than seeing the words “limited release” attached to it.

The latest Nike Dunks.

The newest release from wild brewing maestros Mills.

And the home delivery delights from Hills Brecon, Kapow Ribs, St John and Ty Melin, all of which have been challenging to get hold at various points over the last twelve months.

In recent months I’ve coveted the beautifully marbled beef from Gower-based online butchery Meat Matters. Every Thursday there’s a new beef drop and the most popular items are reported to sell out pretty swiftly. By the time I got my arse into gear to place an order on the Sunday, I’d missed out on beef short ribs and bone in rib-eye.

So, I had to settle for bone-in rib, aged beef mince, shin and bone marrow. It’s a hard life.

Our meat arrived the following Thursday, neatly vac-packed and well-chilled.

A bone-in rib of aged Pembrokeshire ex-dairy cow (£45.90) was an absolute beauty of a piece of meat. Holstein-based in breed, its flesh was a deep ruby red and very well marbled. Over 1.8kg in weight, it was a double rib so we were able to split it in two and freeze half for a later date.

With beef of this calibre, I really wanted to do it justice by cooking it properly. So, I contacted Oliver Woolnough, owner of Meat Matters, who was only too happy to chat me though a suggested method.

A ferocious sear on the hob, an oven cook until the interior temp reached 54 degrees, and a 20 minute rest later and the result was a gorgeous medium rare with a bronze crusted exterior.

It was an absolutely class piece of meat, tender, deeply beefy in flavour and juicy with an addictive seam of crisp yellow fat. Served with hispi cabbage, fries and bearnaise sauce, it made for a top notch Friday night dinner.

A 1kg bag of aged beef mince (£9) transformed into delicious burgers. With a lovely intensity of flavour and a good crust, I heaped our double pattied burgers alongside melted American cheese, tangy burger sauce and pickles into toasted Friends in Knead brioche buns.

A trio of Fred Flintstone-esque bone marrow canoes (£4) were used to make St John’s iconic bone marrow on toast. It was a ridiculously easy recipe and seriously delicious.

Toasted Ty Melin seeded sourdough was loaded with beefy, fatty, wobbly marrow and a punchy flat leaf parsley salad with plenty of cutting citrus, caper and shallot.

Behemothic bone-in pieces of beef shin were given the low and slow treatment. After three hours of braising and subsequent sauce reduction, the result was a pot of spoonably soft meat in an aromatic bone marrow-flecked gravy. It certainly wasn’t a looker but it made up for it in flavour.

We used a Nigella Lawson recipe as a starting point and stuffed the pieces of shin into pillowy bao buns alongside a zingy Asian-influenced salad.

The produce from Meat Matters is first class and a showcase of the best that Wales has to offer. With around 14 generous portions for just over £80 including delivery, it’s good value for the quality too. Whether you're a dab hand cooking over open flame or an enthusiastic incompetent in the kitchen like myself, I heartily recommend checking them out. 

The Details:

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Som Saa, Thai nationwide delivery meal kit review

Another Zoom family meal called for another nationwide meal delivery kit. It’s been pretty much the only upshot of not being able to see my relatives or visit the North East for over a year. 

With Thai food being my sister-in-law’s favourite, Shoreditch’s Som Saa was the clear front runner for our meal kit of choice this time around. Their acclaimed regional Thai cooking has been on my hit list for years and they’ve recently started offering nationwide deliveries via the Dishpatch (much like our very successful delivery from St John).

A three course Thai red curry feast for two costs £55 plus £5.50 delivery and as expected everything is packaged up precisely with individually numbered pots and clear instructions - the most complicated element was cooking the rice.

Crisp little rice crackers (a major upgrade on Snack a Jacks) were a neutral base which played host to chicken mince heady with coconut, peanut and familiar Thai spicing - lemongrass, kaffir lime, and chilli. Slices of pickled ginger added sweetness and clarity.

Coarse chilli whoomphed slices of Thai sausage were accompanied by a lightly smoky aubergine relish topped with the addictive and slightly bittering crunch of crispy garlic.

Green papaya salad combined crisp fruit, green beans, sweet tomatoes and the crunch of fried shrimps and peanuts with a potent dressing of sharp citrus, ferocious chilli and balancing sweetness. It was the spiciest dish of the meal yet looked so harmless.

An absolutely first rate piece of 35 day aged HG Walter sirloin was the focal point of a belter of a Thai red curry. 

The red curry sauce had layers and layers of spice and creamy coconut. And a last minute addition of Thai basil added even more fragrance to the dish.

A massive bowl of sticky fragrant jasmine rice was accompanied by bang-on cooking instructions which I’ll certainly use in future. There was no risk of going hungry with all those carbs.

For pud, Thai sweets were tasty but not quite at the same level of the rest of the meal. Squidgy and sticky of texture, one combined mango, coconut and caramel whilst the other was more of a dark treacly sesame affair.

They were lovely washed down with a cup of sticky-rice toasted oolong tea which tasted uncannily like its namesake. Apparently the tea is blended with a Chinese herb called Nuo Mi Xiang which naturally tastes like sticky rice. 

We had an excellent dinner from Som Saa and my sister-in-law declared it her best meal of lockdown. Their complex spiced Thai food is definitely worth checking out. 

The Details:

Address - Som Saa, 43A Commercial St, Shoreditch, London E1 6BD
Web -
Telephone - 020 7324 7790

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Quality Chop House at Home, nationwide delivery review


It’s the emotion which keeps this whole blogging schtick chugging along the tracks.

I read about a delicious meal that someone else has eaten and then can’t bear the thought of not having it myself. So, I promptly book a table or order a takeaway.

In the case of London’s Quality Chop House, it’s Mrs G who is the agitator in chief. On a couple of work trips she’s had solo dinners at this modern British institution and made me feel thoroughly jealous about the heaving bowls of fried potatoes that I’ve missed out on.

So, as they’re now offering feasting menus and steak nights for two people with nationwide delivery, an order was always going to be inevitable.

£120 buys you a four course meal consisting of ten individual dishes. It’s a lot of food and I’d be mightily impressed if anyone could manage it in a single sitting. We spread it out over two evenings and were nicely full both times.

As expected, everything is beautifully boxed up and accompanied by clear instructions, with most dishes just taking a few minutes to plate up.

A bowl of tip top salted marcona almonds were a lovely snack with a glass of fizz to kick off the meal.

A coarse terrine was loaded with a bevy of meats; salty bacon, mangalitza pork, tender duck and the offaly twang of chicken liver were flecked with sweet apricots. A light and mustardy pickle of crunchy green beans was a lovely foil.

Smoked cods' roe was taramasalata royalty. Super creamy with an indulgent wobble, it was topped with a dusting of salty and savoury cured egg yolk.

A decent-ish loaf of house sourdough was fairly dense. Once you've had a loaf of Ty Melin’s sourdough, it's very difficult for anything else to pass muster.

A hugely meaty venison ragu with long cooked caramelised onions was accompanied by cavatelli pasta. Al dente yet with a comforting heft, they reminded me of a gnocchi-pasta hybrid. Orange fragranced toasted breadcrumbs and parmesan shavings completed the excellent dish.

Onto the main event, and a pair of stupidly tender Desperate Dan proportioned beef cheeks were bathed in a glossy meat gravy, aromatic with the savoury funk of truffle. Savoury, earthy roasted artichoke puree added a further dimension.

Tender roast caramelised hispi cabbage was liberally basted with butter.

Quality Chop's confit potatoes have spawned a thousand imitations and I can see why. Soft layers of shaved potato are confited in duck fat, pressed overnight and then deep fried until golden brown - the combination of tender interior and gnarly exterior is as good as potatoes get. A drizzle of tangy mustard dressing balanced the richness nicely.

For pud, sweet yet tart rhubarb pieces with a bit of bite were layered with pieces of soft pistachio, blood orange and olive oil cake, the crunch of a caramelised seeds and oats, and a silky, slightly cucumbery borage honey custard.

Next level silky and buttery fudge with chunks of white chocolate and the occasional flake of salt rounded off the meal.

We really enjoyed our feast from the Quality Chop House. The only issue, my Quality Chop FOMO is now even worse so I'll have to visit the restaurant soon.

The Details:

Address - The Quality Chop House, 88-94 Farringdon Rd, Farringdon, London EC1R 3EA
Telephone - 020 7278 1452

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Vegetarian Food Studio and Calabrisella Gelateria, Cardiff reviews

It’s been a very long time since my only visit to the Vegetarian Food Studio in Grangetown. Back in 2013 I was a little underwhelmed by a thali which featured fried goods lacking in crispness.

In the intervening years I’ve only heard good things about this multi-award winning vegetarian restaurant. So, it was time for a revisit.

With an extensive menu focusing on Gujarati food they also serve a range of Southern Indian and Indo-Chinese dishes. Whilst you can order via the usual delivery platforms, it’s much cheaper to purchase direct.

A thin masala dosa (£5.95), which had lost most of its crispness on its journey, was stuffed with a comforting mustard seed flecked potato curry. Its accompaniments elevated it no end; creamy coconut chutney and warming lentil sambhar with a good chilli hit.

A pair of behemothic vegetable samosas (£3) were golden, crisp and full of flavour. Filled with a meaty vegetarian mince studded with peas and sweetcorn, they were accompanied by sweet, tangy and spicy tamarind chutney.

Ringan no-oro (£6.95) tasted of time well spent on the hob. Soft roasted aubergine and thoroughly well caramelised onions and garlic were bathed in a multilayered sauce - sweet, savoury and spicy in equal measure.

Chilli paneer (£6.50) had clearly had a much briefer dalliance with the saucepan - the golden, slightly chewy cubes of paneer were coated in a sweet, spicy and sour Indo-Chinese sauce mingled with crunchy onions and peppers.

I really enjoyed my Vegetarian Food Studio revisit. A few of the dishes were a bit greasy but I was impressed by their big flavoured vegetarian food. I won’t leave it so long until my next order.

The Details:

Vegetarian Food Studio
Address - 115-117 Penarth Rd, Cardiff CF11 6JU
Telephone - 029 2023 8222

Calabrisella Gelateria, Canton

To go alongside their excellent pair of pizzerias in Canton and Cathays, Calabrisella have recently opened a gelateria on Cowbridge Road East.

I've heard that people queued down the street to get hold of a scoop of their traditional Italian gelato on the first sunny Saturday of the year. We of course visited for a mid-morning snack so were able to beat the rush. 

I've been trying to track down a brioche con gelato since a trip to Bologna around ten years ago. Calabrisella's version was worth the wait. A soft, rich and sweet brioche bun (£5.50) was stuffed with their super smooth and milky gelato; we had excellent pistachio and Ferrero Rocher flavours. 

Alongside their gelato, Calabrisella's fridges and freezers are filled with lush looking ice cream cakes and desserts. I spotted some cannoli on the counter waiting to be filled. If they're anything as good as the ones they sell at Calabrisella Cathays, you'll be in for a treat. Uber crisp pastry shells are loaded with a creamy and tangy sweetened ricotta filling. 

The Details:

Calabrisella Gelateria
Address - 187 Cowbridge Rd East, Cardiff CF11 9AJ
Telephone - 029 2280 1081