Culinary Causerie

with Lesley Williams

Hat Stand Competition

We’ve teamed up with Callum Latham of The Hat Stand in Walter Road to bring you a competition to WIN a meal for two people including a bottle of wine.

To be in with a chance of winning simply send your name, address, and daytime telephone number to putting Hat Stand in the subject line. The first email or postcard selected at random will be the winner. Editor’s decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into. No cash alternative. Alternatively send your name, address and daytime telephone number to Hat Stand Competition, to 1 Cae Banc, Sketty, Swansea, SA2 9DN.



Last month I wrote about the family party for a 90 year old that Simon and I witnessed in Castellamare, and how lovely it was to be in the throng of a celebration with such a vast age range. Well on our visit to Truffle in Brynymor Road, we found ourselves in a party of revellers saying farewell and good luck to a retiree. ‘Marilyn’ was joined by a host of friends and colleagues and was being given a jolly fine send off.

Not that this bothered the staff and management of this restaurant – we didn’t feel in the least bit on the periphery. I can fully understand why Truffle would be such a popular venue for a large party as the set price menu makes for very easy calculations as to who owes what. Add to this the ‘bring your own’ policy on alcohol and you can see why it hits the spot. Three courses for £23.95 is pretty amazing when you consider the quality of the food on offer, and the fact that it is all freshly prepared on the premises.

By its own admission, Truffle is ‘quirky’ with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. I’d add that the newish owners Jon and Jodie have made it very welcoming too.

One of my go-to dinner party recipes is smoked mackerel pate – in fact my guests are a bit surprised if it isn’t on my menu. It’s a very simple recipe and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes – and it tastes infinitely better than any mass produced fish pate on the market.

  • I use smoked mackerel fillets – skinned and boned and flaked.
  • Equal quantity of cream cheese – low fat is fine.
  • 1 clove of garlic – crushed.
  • Juice of 1 lemon.
  • Mash it all together – I use a fork but you can use a processor or hand blender.

Put into a serving dish and chill for a couple of hours or overnight. Just before you serve it sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper. I sometimes add some finely chopped capers to add a little piquancy.

When I was in Portugal a couple of years ago, we went to a wine tasting evening where we were served small portions of food to go with each wine. One of these was a smoked mackerel pate to which they had added very finely grated carrot – this simple addition was delicious – it added just a hint of texture to the otherwise smooth pate. Well low and behold the pate at Truffle had a soupcon of carrot – it was served with a creamy potato and beetroot salad and crème fraiche.

Simon being an absolute sucker for any rich pasta dish that doesn’t contain tomatoes was immediately drawn to the tagliatelle with a creamy mushroom sauce. Initially he was concerned that the portion size was too small – by the time he’d demolished his main course of sirloin steak with chips and vegetables he was happy to concur that the starter was perfectly proportioned.

One of my favourite winter foods is an oven braised piece of lamb or beef, the slow cooking tenderises the meat until it is soft and melts in your mouth. Jon’s take on slow braised lamb with a red wine, rosemary and redcurrant sauce hit a perfect ten on my score-card. Red currant sauce is a tricky thing to get right – too much sweetness and it becomes syrupy – too little and it can be tongue curling tart. Here it was spot on – just enough to make a rich gravy to accompany the creamed potatoes and vegetables – the perfect winter warmer.

The 3 course menu includes a pudding or cheese – neither of which I had any room for, but Jodie had a perfect solution – take it home. I declined but I’m sure there are many who would be happy to have a tasty dessert in the fridge.

Truffle is open from 5.30 Wednesday to Saturday and booking is essential. They don’t take cards so remember to take cash – there’s a cash-point just down the road.

Truffle 1A King Edward’s Road, Swansea SA1 4LH Telephone: 01792 547 246

Welcome to Town

I can’t tell you how sad I was to hear from Natasha Crowther that she and her husband Paul had decided to close the Welcome in Llanrhidian. They took a tired chintzy restaurant and transformed it into a contemporary and slightly quirky pub that served great food. I really dislike the term gastropub – I know it has become popular to describe a pub that serves high quality food, but to me it just sounds a bit pretentious. Which is exactly what the Welcome wasn’t – the food was fab but it didn’t pretend to be anything it wasn’t. I hope that whatever path Natasha and Paul take in the future, that it brings them good fortune – they will be missed.


Oakhouse Foods

The lovely people at Oakhouse Foods dropped by last month and dropped off a couple of samples of their new winter menu. Interestingly the goodies they delivered were gluten free – something that I have had to address when my sister and her partner come to dinner as he is gluten intolerant.

The range of meals they have on offer is quite amazing. Although they do cater for people who can’t shop and cook for themselves, they really aren’t only for this audience. If you buy ready prepared meals from the supermarket, then this is the same, but with the added convenience of being delivered to your door.

We tried the Lamb with Mint and the Vegetable chilli which came with a generous helping of paprika and Cheddar cheese roast potatoes. Both were tasty and satisfying – perfect to pop in the oven on a cold winter’s evening. We also tucked into an Apple Crumble – lots of flavourful apples with an oaty crumble – I really should have made some custard.

I try not to ever go food shopping on an empty stomach as I always over buy – I suggest that you should apply the same rule when ordering from the catalogue – you might run out of freezer space.






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