Culinary Causerie – PLUS your chance to WIN a case of Rocks Sparkling Elderflower

with Lesley Williams

Arthur Neave

You may have passed Arthur Neave – it’s the smart newly re-furbished building in Mansel Street – on the right as you drive into town. It must be an age thing as I always think of the antiques expert Arthur Negus whenever I see the signage – apparently I’m not alone. Owner Becky Williams, tells me that others have said the same, but that he doesn’t exist – it’s just an amalgamation of several family names.

It is the perfect place to stop off for a coffee or as we did, a beer on a Friday night. They’re billed as a café, grocers and caterer. I couldn’t resist picking up a few of their deli groceries – pickled caper berries with garlic;

I add them to tuna for a touch of piquancy that cuts through the richness when added to mayonnaise for a classic tuna sandwich. A jar of chick peas – these babies are the ones you need to make the perfect hummus; they are already skinned and therefore make the hummus much smoother and more refined, in the same way that double podding broad beans takes away the chewy inner shell. And a tin of sardines – not just any old sardines, these are not only in the prettiest tin imaginable, but the contents are truly delicious.

I’m not sure why we in Britain are so sniffy about using tinned foods. The Spanish and the Portuguese use tinned fish with alacrity – they positively rejoice in taking a humble tin of tuna or sardines and making it the star of the show. If you want to make a really simple summery supper dish, open a tin of high quality sardines or tuna – I look for Albacore as it is lighter in colour than some species – and make yourself a salad with lots of olives, tomatoes and crunchy lettuce, maybe a couple of pickled capers and add in a soft boiled egg or two. Dress with a simple salad dressing made with lemon juice, olive oil and a touch of mustard, or a dollop of mayonnaise. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of something chilled, preferably in the setting sun.

But I digress, back to Arthur Neave. They are open Monday to Thursday 8 ‘til 6 and until 8ish on Friday evenings, but check out their Facebook page for the latest news – this little gem is going to evolve as it grows. I’ll keep you posted.

Arthur Neave, 27 Walter Road, Swansea SA1 5NN

The Woodman

Every once in a while I hang up my apron and down my kitchen utensils and go on strike. I love to cook but sometimes I want to just sit back, relax, and let someone else slave over a hot stove while I drink wine. And so it was on a weekday evening that I came to be sitting in The Woodman with a large glass of Merlot.

I’ve noticed that sharing platters are increasingly appearing on menus – it’s a very sociable way to eat, as long as you know the etiquette – don’t eat all of one item and definitely don’t double dip!

Here there was a Fisherman’s Catch, a platter of cod goujons, whitebait, smoked mackerel, prawns and smoked salmon pate. I’d missed out on lunch, so I gambled on it being enough for one hungry greedy person and I was right. It was perfectly proportioned – and as I wasn’t sharing I had no concerns about etiquette.

But my main reason for mentioning The Woodman this month, is the service that we received. Nothing makes me feel more welcome, than being greeted with a smile and a friendly member of staff taking me to my table. It doesn’t take much – but the result sets the tone for the rest of the evening.

The Woodman, 120 Mumbles Road, Blackpill. Tel: 402700

Surfside Satisfaction

Another place that stands out for me, not just for great food but in terms of outstanding service, is the Surfside Café at Rotherslade. No matter how busy they get, the staff get on with cooking and serving while engaging with the customers – and at times this is done single handed. Bear in mind that these guys are all students. It must be in part, down to the staff training and owner’s Nigel and Helen’s ability to employ the right people. Whatever it is, let’s hope they keep on doing it.

Tafarn Y Deri

I was delighted to hear the news that Linda and Mark Clayton Evans have taken over the Gower Hotel in the Bishopston Valley. Its recent history has not been good, with the last owners having to put it into voluntary liquidation, leaving lots of couples who had booked their weddings there, high and dry. Linda and Mark have a great reputation and have turned the Llanedi pub the Tafarn Y Deri around in just 6 months, so I look forward to seeing them make this hotel blossom.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, it is down to the outstanding service they offer to all their customers. Whether you’re a regular visitor or it’s your first time, the welcome will be the same. Linda is a naturally warm and friendly person – all her working life, she’s been involved with customers face to face, so front of house is her ideal environment.

Mark has introduced a menu to the Tafarn that has people booking their next meal out as they leave. We popped up for a mid-week meal last month to see why it was getting so many rave reviews.

American prisoners on death row usually request a last meal of fried chicken or steak – for me it would have to be scallops or some other seafood. Thankfully, this wasn’t my final meal as I’m a definitely coming back for more of these juicy and plump darlings. They came with sauce vierge – which is a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, chopped tomato and chopped herbs, and little shards of crispy prosciutto. Each scallop was topped with a soupçon of caviar and some micro herbs, and was as pretty as a picture.

The chefs at the Tafarn must have had fun in naming my next course – 3 little piggies. There was certainly no huffing and puffing when it arrived – pork tenderloin in prosciutto, slow roasted belly and bbq pulled pork – in fact there were 4 little piggies if you include the chorizo in the crushed potatoes with spinach! Each element of the dish was perfectly executed – the belly pork was meltingly soft while the crackling was crispy, salty and had a satisfying crunch.

Sharing food is a very companionable experience – I like to make free with my fork – and can also vouch for the Forest Mushrooms and the Hake with red pepper coulis which was served with a Café du Paris butter. It was deeply savoury and I had to search with Google to see what it contained – it’s butter, anchovy, garlic, mustard and capers – I have filed that for future reference.

Happily, I learnt that Mark and Linda will be bringing the same menu to the Gower Hotel when they open this month.

Pinkster Gin

We love sampling new pro-ducts at Bay Towers, especially when it involves food and drink, so the arrival on my desk of dinky little sample size bottles of Pinkster Gin were very welcome.

Made in Cambridgeshire, Pinkster is distilled in small batches to an original recipe using five botanicals. It is then macerated with a further three botanicals and hand-steeped with fresh raspberries grown locally, giving it its distinctive pink colour.

The publicity blurb had me laughing out loud – I’ve never thought of mint in a dominatrix sort of way!

“Deliciously dry with a hint of fruit and an exceptionally smooth finish, it makes a refreshingly different G&T when served with a raspberry and a sprig of fresh, well-spanked mint (clapping in your hands releases the minty aromas….)”

Pinkster can be purchased from discerning retailers including Harvey Nichols, Majestic, Ocado, Selfridges and, priced around £35/70cl bottle.

Rock Me Gently

At the same time as I received the pink gin, another delivery arrived on my doorstep – and very timely it was, as we were in the middle of a heat wave. Rocks Sparkling Elderflower advertises itself as 100% squished – crushed elderflower with spring water. It is certainly refreshing – I just chilled it in the fridge for a couple of hours and then served it over ice.

Rocks, based in Devon, produce drinks in a variety of flavours from Ginger and Wasabi, Raspberry and Lime to Mango and Orange. The fruit is squished in a machine that literally squashes and squeezes all the goodness out of the fruit, making their drinks more pulpy than others. And there’s no artificial sweeteners just organic cane sugar.


The lovely people at Rocks Drinks are giving away a case of 12 bottles of Sparkling Elderflower to one lucky winner this month (Worth £15.48). All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is answer this simple question.

Where is Rocks based?

a) Cornwall b) Devon c) Dorset

Send your answer to putting Rocks in the subject line. Please provide your postal address and daytime telephone number so that we can arrange delivery should you be the winner.

No cash alternative. Editor’s decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.

Alternatively send the same information to Rocks, Bay Mag, 1 Cae Banc, Sketty, Swansea, SA2 9DN.

Closing date for entries noon on 31st July 2017


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