Culinary Causerie

With Lesley Williams

Beach Party

How do you entertain 30+ children when you live in a tiny cottage? You throw your party on the beach, that’s how. Grandson’s 4th birthday party was looming, and we had to get creative – other children in his class had already exhausted the options such as Limitless, Café Play, Juniper Place – yes, I know that’s a gin bar, but they do host children’s parties too. So, we came up with the idea of a pirate themed beach party – all we had to do was check the tide times and pray for good weather.

As this was all taking place at the seaside it was important to us to keep plastic to a minimum. All the party bag contents were either wooden or paper with the exception of the metal hair slides and glass marbles.

I didn’t fancy preparing sand-wiches etc and transporting them to Caswell, as from experience I knew that little ones rarely eat party food, being more interested in playing games. What we needed was chips and ice-cream, so I popped along to see Alison and Robert who run The Beach Shack to pre-order my party food.

The day of the party the sun shone, and the guests arrived at 1.00. After a short time, it was obvious that the party games were unnecessary as the little ones were far more interested in playing in the rock pools and building sand castles. The chips were ready for collection at 2.00 and were eaten with gusto by children and adults alike and were declared some of the best chips ever tasted. Praise indeed. Ice-creams followed and were also devoured. I had made the birthday cake – that’s seven hours of my life I will never get back. Note to self – order one next year – cake decorating is not your strong point and you can do without the stress.

What I would do again and can highly recommend is to order food from The Beach Shack. Alison and Robert made catering on this scale an absolute doddle and they even bought into our ethos of no plastic by serving the chips in cardboard cones.

By 4.30 many of the little ones were soaked to the skin, tired but very happy as they made their way back up the beach.

The Beach Shack, Caswell Bay, Swansea SA3

New Gower Hotel

Following the beach party, we made our way to the New Gower Hotel for a much-needed drink. Situated in the Bishopston valley, the hotel has undergone a transformation in the past couple of years under the ownership of Mark and Linda Evans. Its west facing terrace is a sun-trap and the weatherproof sofas are perfect for lounging and relaxing on.

We had one very tired and hungry birthday boy who needed feeding, and fortunately the hotel restaurant Monroe’s, caters for little ones with their own special menu. Chicken goujons are the current favourite and thankfully they were available – I was happy with my glass of perfectly chilled Sauvignon blanc.

Eating al fresco is a special treat in Swansea, and the number of places available to do so, are few and far between. Here you can sit outside and enjoy the peace and quiet of the valley and eat without breaking the bank. Monroe’s Restaurant Family Favourites menu has fish and chips, burgers, lasagne along with many other choices all priced at £10.95. Lunch is served from midday until 2.30 Tuesday to Sunday – Sunday being a traditional roast from £9.95. Dinner is served every evening from 5.30 to 8.30.

Sitting in the late afternoon sunshine it was the perfect end to a memorable day.

New Gower Hotel, 11 Church Lane, Bishopston SA3 3JT Tel: 01792 233363


Our household increased from two to five in recent months with the arrival of our daughter, her partner and our grandson to live with us until their house is ready to move into. With this increase came a much larger weekly shop and that in turn has meant more packaging to dispose of. Every week I rage at the amount on non-recyclable food wrappers that have to go into my black plastic waste. So, I was excited to hear that a new shop, ‘balance’ was opening in Eversley Road this month – and will sell food, household products and personal hygiene products all without packaging – you simply take your own containers and fill them up.

Owner Russell Storer tells me that he will stock dried goods such as rice, pasta, quinoa and lentils, herbs and spices, nuts and dried fruits.

Also, refillable products like laundry liquid, fabric conditioner as well as window, toilet and kitchen/bathroom cleaners, body wash, shampoo, conditioner and hand soap. Other items include reusable coffee cups, water bottles, straws and wax food wraps.

The process will be that the customer weighs their empty container and lid, making a note of the weight on a label. They then fill the container with the desired product and it is then reweighed, and the price is calculated less the weight of the container. When you finish the product you simply take it back and refill it again.

They will sell various sized jars/containers/bottles for anyone who doesn’t have their own, but you could start saving them now in readiness.

balance, 63 Eversley Road, Sketty, Swansea SA2

Swansea Street Food Festival

A very badly timed weekend away meant that I missed out on this year’s Swansea Street Food Festival, but as my mum always used to say ‘it’s not lost what a friend gets’, so my lovely daughter and grandson went along, in my place to see what was on offer.

Held on the green at the Waterfront museum – the same site as the Winter Wonderland, the Street Food Festival was back for a second year. This year it coincided with Swansea Pride, so there was a party atmosphere and plenty of hungry revellers.

The street food is influenced not only by international cuisines but by local ones too. From their pink caravan, Pink Peppercorn had a range of Welsh dishes – salt marsh lamb, Pembrokeshire potatoes and ham hock cawl. The stand out dish for her though was the Gourmet Street Kitchen ‘Cheesey, Gooey &Oh So Moreish Mac’n’Cheese which was eaten at home where it was devoured with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

This really is a family friendly event – with entertainment and music as well as a huge selection of food.

I hope that the guys at the Street Food Festival will bring it back next year – I will make sure that I am around this time.



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