Saturday, 9 July 2016

Nina Eats - Wagamama

A few weeks ago I was invited to settle down in Wagamama's with a well deserved glass of wine and to work my way through their menu. I was allowed to bring a guest with me so I took my much taller and more glamorous sidekick Jade with me.

Jade hadn't been to Wagamama before so it was fun to experience it with her. The Wagamama in Cardiff is located in a beautiful building right next to the Cardiff Library and St David's Cardiff. It's an airy and bright location making it great for people watching.

I've been to Wagamama a few times. I enjoy the seating arrangement of the benches, it feels very communal but at the same time there's enough spacing between the seats so you don't feel like you're gatecrashing someone's dinner or date.

The staff here are great, they take you to your seats and straight away ask if you've visited before. If the answer is no, which in Jade's case it was, then they explain how it all works.  

At Wagamama there are no 'starters', if you want the side dishes specifically as a starter just let the staff know. Everything at Wagamama is cooked ready to order, there are four different sections in the kitchen each focusing on the different types of food Wagamama offers. This means that mains don't always arrive at exactly the same time, but the staff ensure that all tables are served speedily and that no one in the group has to wait too long for their food to arrive.

As you can see Jade and me took full advantage and sampled lots of things from their menu. 

We especially loved the variety of gyozas and the garlic chilli salt covered edamame. The pork steamed bun was also delicious - the bun was soft and fluffy whilst the pork melted in your mouth. Also a side note, the green tea at Wagamama is free of charge and you can top it up as much as you want. Green tea has all sorts of health benefits, but helpfully it also makes you feel less full and bloated post food overdose. So it's good to have a cup after you've worked your way through the menu.

I'm guilty of always eating the same dish when I visit. It's either the Yaki Soba, the Pad Thai or the Raisukaree (which is the delicious curry dish Jade went for). Whilst Wagamama are famed for the Katsu Chicken Curry that's not really up my street. So this time I stepped outside of my little Wagamama comfort circle and went for the Grilled Duck Donburi.  

I would without a doubt have this again. The shredded duck was perfectly cooked and really offset with the teriyaki sauce and the vegetables. The rice was super fluffy and the fried egg with the perfectly runny yolk just brought it all together. A word to the wise - this looks like a misleadingly small sized dish but it's best tackled on an empty stomach. There was a lot to get through and I'm afraid to say I was a little defeated by it.

I say we were defeated, we of course also had to give dessert a crack.  We went for the mini three dessert plate plus a side of coconut ice cream with coconut shavings and passion fruit sauce. The chocolate fudge cake was so so, the passionfruit cheesecake delicious but the real winner was the ginger cheesecake. Perfectly zingy and refreshing after all the strong main course flavours.  The coconut reika is my staple favourite and wraps up the Wagamama experience perfectly.

If you're Cardiff based and you're intrigued by all my food adventures get yourself over to the St David's Eat Club. Once you're signed up you'll be the first to know about all things foodie whether it's new openings or special offers, cooking inspiration and recipes. Wagamama frequently revamp their menu so it's worth keeping up to date with!

So all in all Jade's first visit went pretty well. We both rolled home completely happy with our experience. No doubt I'll be back soon.

NB: I was invited to Wagamama's through St. David's Cardiff but all opinions are my own

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Saturday, 18 June 2016

Nina Travels - Paraty | Part 1

So I never got round to posting many pictures from my time in Rio in December. When I'm with my family I'd rather spend my time with them than squirrelled away behind my laptop. That and I've been in a blogging rut. Saying that my blogging mojo has come back and whilst going through my iPhoto I felt that some of these photos were too beautiful not too share. I'm also a little homesick for Brazil so that might also be why the urge to blog about Brazil has struck.

When I was in Brazil for Christmas we decided that as a family we would spend the Christmas days in Paraty, which is an old colonial town located on the Costa Verde - the Green Coast. It was a long drive from Rio but worth every second in the car.

We stayed in the most amazing Pousada - an equivalent word in English would be bed and breakfast but that's not a very accurate description. The Pousada Literária is more than just a bed and breakfast.  It's located in the hustle and bustle of the old town of Paraty but the second the driveway gates close behind you the noise seems to stop and you're in a bubble of peace and quiet.

Life in Rio is non stop, there's noise constantly and you're never alone. So switching off at the pousada was exactly what our overstimulated minds needed. During our stay we'd just relax in the pool reading the books from the library or if you're me - working through all of Serial season 1. It honestly couldn't have been any more perfect.

Paraty itself is beautiful, I can't help but think that Wes Anderson would have a field day if he came here.

The first thing my mum warned me about when we were packing was to leave the heels at home. All of Paraty features these cobbled rocky streets which are misleadingly hard to walk down. It was Havaianas all the way.

My brother is photography mad so on our first evening we went out armed with all the photography equipment and just took it all in. You really feel like you're in another world.

Paraty is a popular destination for the Christmas break. Everyone wants to head out of Rio and every single hotel or pousada is booked up. Brazilians are night owls so when we were walking around at just before dusk it was very quiet.

One of the most popular things to do in Paraty is rent a boat and head out to explore the surrounding islands. We did this on one of our days and I can't wait to share those photos with you. I'm still in awe of the beauty of Brazil. Getting these photos together has made me so 'home sick'.

There's something about Brazil that just grabs hold of your heart and doesn't let you go. 

Can't wait to share the rest of my LONG overdue photos with you!

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Monday, 30 May 2016

Treat Yo Self / Love Yo Self

Jumpsuit: Topshop
Shoes: ASOS
Sunglasses: Oysho

Confession time - I've owned this jumpsuit for almost one year and despite writing this post about it, I've never worn it out of the house. I went for a personal stylist shopping session in Topshop last year and let the stylist talk me into this. I was feeling confident, bold and snazzy in it so before I knew I walked to the till with it.

Once I got home I chickened out in classic Nina fashion and it's hung in the back of my extremely tightly packed wardrobe ever since.

I think I've said this so many times on here, but ever since I was 14 I don't think I've ever been happy with my body. In my head I know that if I stuck to some food rules and a gym routine then I could probably in all likelihood have that body I've always wanted. But despite some deep self hatred I can't find the motivation to stick to it. I also think that even if I managed to get what I perceive to be the 'perfect body', I still wouldn't be happy because I can fix what's on the outside but not what's running through my mind.

My body is wobbly, I'm sure I have cellulite on the backs of my legs but I don't care to check. My arms most certainly wobble and flap about, I hate wearing things without sleeves. My stomach jiggles and I can't remember a time when it was flat. I shy away from wearing things that cling to me.

With all that said, since early 2015 I've taken to running. I started off slow, it was hard and sweaty work. But in March 2016 I ran my first 10km race in 1 hour and 11 minutes. I'm due to run the Cardiff Half Marathon this October.

What running has taught me is that whilst my body wobbles and jiggles about the place, it can still do amazing things that it couldn't do before. With that vague confidence in mind this weekend I decided to finally wear this jumpsuit for its maiden voyage because if I can run a 10km race then I can bloody well wear a sleeves clingy stripy jumpsuit for a day out with one of my best friends.  So I did just that, and you know what? The world didn't stop moving and in fact, nobody cared about my body hang ups because everyone, including myself, was having too much fun in the sun living life.

I get so annoyed by myself and that my own self consciousness gets in the way of me doing what I want to do and wear what I want to wear. So this is me doing what I want to do and wearing what I want to wear despite what inner Miss Self Conscious says.

The moral of the story is, if you see something you want to wear - wear it. Treat yourself to it, wear it and feel amazing because you most certainly are. Don't let the negative voices in the back of your head get louder and talk you out of it.

"Accept who you are; and revel in it."

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