Sunday, 21 April 2019

A Little Interview with Return of the Mac, Cardiff

Review: Return of the Mac, Cardiff {Local Business}

return of the mac mac and cheese cardiff delivery

Return of the Mac offer delicious tubs of mac and cheese delivered throughout Cardiff, at £5 each or 5 for £20.  Delivery is £1.50, but free over £15. They keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. 5 star hygiene rating. Also available for pop ups, weddings, events and private hire. Full information or to order, drop a message on Instagram or Facebook , or call 07747571268.

return of the mac mac and cheese cardiff deliveryreturn of the mac mac and cheese cardiff delivery

Little Cardiff Blog: Good afternoon, good sir. Thank you kindly for these delicious mac and cheese samples. So let's start at the beginning. What got you into the macaroni cheese business?

Return of the Mac: A few things really. I’ve always liked cheese, but after living in Melbourne where the food scene is incredible, I used to visit a place called @milkthecowmelb which matched different cheese to alcohol and my love for cheese grew! I then got stuck in a boring office job and I spent my free time cooking. A colleague suggested I started a “lunch club” where I would send an email out saying what I was going to make that week and then people would tell me if they wanted it - it started off as a couple members of my team and at one point I was bringing in lunch for 20+ people! I used to make all sorts of things from beef stew and dumplings to chicken and chorizo and jambalaya, but the favourite amongst my colleagues was my mac and cheese! I finally decided to quit and start my own venture, so naturally cheese was where I saw my future, and I went with what the people wanted!

return of the mac mac and cheese cardiff delivery
THE LOCK STOCK - Smokey cheese sauce with chorizo and pancetta. My number one!! Just the right amount of cheese, not too sickly or overwhelmingly cheesy. For me a box is two portions but I managed to eat it all at once....

LCB: Would you ever consider making a mac dish without cheese or a cheese dish without mac?

ROTM: I recently made a vegan version which I tested on my guinea pig Jay, who is a real life vegan, so I guess you could class that as a mac dish without cheese! It went down well though I have a few more tweaks to make to get it perfect, which I haven’t got round to doing, but I’ve lined up my next guinea pig who has agreed to sample and critique. I hope to then release it for sale with the rest of my menu as I appreciate the vegan community is fast growing!

As for a cheese dish without mac, cheese is life so yes anything with cheese in is a winner with me!! Love a grilled cheese 😍

return of the mac mac and cheese cardiff delivery
KEVIN AND PERI PERI - Peri peri cheese and peri peri chicken!! Insane! Love the top layer of hot melted cheese and the spiciness :)

LCB: What is your favourite takeaway in Cardiff? (other than your own, don't be vain)

ROTM: I’m not actually much of a takeaway person, I much prefer to dine out than order in! I also don’t really have a favourite as it would depend on what cuisine I’m after. I suppose if I had to pick it would be the @gatewayofindia1 Indian food in Rhiwbina, it’s not like your normal Indian takeaway though as you receive your food cold, seems strange but I’m yet to taste better Indian takeaway food in Cardiff even if it’s served hot! You get the option of heating it up in the microwave or the oven, and the food is banging. The only thing I’d say is I find they make everything spicier than most Indians, so I usually go a little milder if I order here. I’d highly recommend the non-vegetarian thali for £13.95 and despite the small price tag I can assure you it’s plenty for two to share, you get starter, rice, naan and 3 curries. And my favourite thing from G.O.I - the chicken pakoras!!

return of the mac mac and cheese cardiff delivery
THE DABA DEE - Blue cheese sauce with pancetta and blue cheese crumbles. Lovely creamy sauce and nice texture combinations on this one. 

LCB: If I was to tell you this interview was a trap and I plan to murder you right now after bringing you one final meal, cooked by top chefs, what would you go for? Starter, main and dessert?*

ROTM: Baked Camembert to start with fresh homemade bread and chutney. For main I want an A5 wagyu steak with chips AND dauphinois plus minted peas, sous vide carrots and a beef dripping/peppercorn sauce. Dessert would be a cheeseboard - not bothered about the crackers just give me as many different types of cheese and make sure there’s a smoked goats cheese in there somewhere. x

*just to clarify - no one got hurt in the making of this interview, other than my stomach somewhat after eating solely mac and cheese for 2 days straight (worth it).

return of the mac mac and cheese cardiff delivery
The Desperarado - Cheddar cheese sauce with beef chilli and nacho topping. Wasn't sure if I'd like these toppings with mac and cheese but it was really tasty. Follow their insta to keep up to date with special offers or one off flavours.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Review: The Bodyguard at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Review: The Bodyguard at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff {Cardiff Theatre and Shows}

theatre review the bodyguard 2019

Exploding on to the stage with a bang ( and my friend Bran nearly jumped out of our'll see what I mean if you go), The Bodyguard opens with a magnificent performance from Alexandra Burke as Rachel Marron. With some seriously impressive stage presence, Burke establishes instantly that Rachel is a superstar, an icon, a diva; you feel like you've been dropped in the thick of it at a big stadium gig.

I've never seen the original 1992 film of the Bodyguard with Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, nor had I read into how they adapted it to the stage. I thought the only song I'd recognise was 'I Will Always Love You', so I was beyond ecstatic to read through the track listing and see I knew and adored every single song. "How Will I Know", "One Moment in Time", "So Emotional", "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"...all the top Whitney Houston hits. Alexandra Burke sang the ballads with incredible power and confidence, but for me it was the upbeat performances which really made the show. Think smoke machines, fire, confetti, energetic choreography, a lot of very fit backing dancers, a dozen outfit changes and some really interesting use of lighting effects. It was all thoroughly entertaining.

theatre review the bodyguard 2019

If, like me, you've never seen the film, the story is very simple and easy to follow. World famous star Rachel Marron starts to receive threatening letters from a stalker, leading to a bodyguard (Frank Farmer, played by Benoît Maréchal) being hired to protect her. Predictably, after initially not getting along very well, they fall in love. Add into the mix themes of sibling rivalry (Rosie Cava-Beale as Rachel's long suffering sister stood her own with her strong, unique voice), jealousy, mystery, plus a lot of tension and you have a decent enough plot to carry the songs pretty seamlessly. It was well-paced and engaging with much more humour than expected; my friend and I weren't bored at any point. Someone had told me there had been bad reviews, but on an internet search I couldn't find much of this, perhaps it was word of mouth, but everyone I chatted to after the show seemed to have loved it as much as we did.

For the two of us, Rachel's young son Fletcher (Lemar Bucknor Jr.) stole the show whenever he came on, with his contagious smile and confident dance moves for someone so little. The mother and son relationship was the one that I felt most invested in, their love was portrayed as so deep, gentle and believable, whereas the romantic love story did fall a bit flat, most likely due to how one-dimensional the character of the Bodyguard was. Though they tried to explain some of his backstory, I just didn't empathise with him very much and found his character a bit dull. I'm not sure if he's like this in the film, maybe he's supposed to be like that, but I wasn't sure what Rachel saw in him if I'm honest!

theatre review the bodyguard 2019

It has to be mentioned, last but not least, that Tim Hatley's staging and incorporation of sliding panels (used throughout to depict a zoom effect or to isolate and frame parts of the stage, particularly effective in heightening the emotion in some scenes) was so well done. Being based on a film you could tell they wanted it to feel very cinematic and they achieved this. Some of the use of slow motion and video was a bit cheesy - I'm fine with a bit of cheese, but the montage near the end with Frank's face very large on the screen did make me laugh, it was a bit much!

Burke's rendition of 'I Will Always Love You' was a memorable highlight, seeing her elevated up from the crowd and demonstrating the strength of her vocal abilities. I think a lot of people like me were nervous to see if she could pull it off, but she definitely did. The atmosphere in the building was electric by the end. I'd definitely look out for her in other roles in the future (though I had a quick google and apparently she's going back to the recording studio and not doing musicals for a while, so grab one of the last available Bodyguard tickets now if you can!).

cardiff bay wales millennium centre
Pre-show drinks with my girl! Rosé and this to love the Bay :D

Some tickets for the Bodyguard are still available and the show is here until 27th April, click here to see what else is on. You can also call the box office to enquire on 029 2063 6464.

I'll be at Calendar Girls in April next, so excited as it looks to be a right laugh :) and have bought tickets for Les Mis and We Will Rock You! Absolutely can't wait.

(Disclosure: I was invited to the press launch event for The Bodyguard).

theatre review the bodyguard 2019

Coming up at the WMC:

whats on in cardiff wales millennium centre theatre

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Review: 5 reasons why I loved Motown the Musical (Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff)

Review: Motown the Musical at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff {Cardiff Theatre and Shows}

wales millennium centre motown the musical

(Disclosure - WMC invited me to the press night & to watch this musical, in return for my review).

I always forget how much I adore musicals when it's been a while since I've seen one. There's something so magical about the anticipation in those few minutes at the start; being seated and flicking through the programme, surrounded by the murmurs of the audience which start to hush as the curtain opens and the music starts to play. It always makes me feel emotional, in the positive sense! As someone with an embarrassingly short attention span, it's even better and a sign of a great show when the production manages to keep me engaged until the end, which Motown the Musical managed to do. I went into it not having a clue what to expect but came out with a smile on my face. Here's why:

1. It boosted my mood

At the time of writing this I feel a little glum for various reasons, and I can't think of anything more appealing than going to go and watch Motown again. If I didn't have my weekly date with an online fitness video scheduled in for after work (already putting that off by writing this blog), I would be booking a last minute ticket and dragging my butt back to the WMC. It's a lot of fun with a friend, but I'm a firm believer that you don't even need company to enjoy a show - don't be scared about turning up alone. Take yourself for a date and escape into a world of glitz and glamour, featuring some of the catchiest songs ever recorded.

review of motown the musical 2019

2. I never even realised I was a Motown fan...!

The music is of course the glue that holds the whole thing together. As more of a jukebox musical, Motown features a huge number of ridiculously good tunes which will get you having a little boogie in your seat. Bonus points for a bit of audience participation as well - if you're brave enough get a seat at the front, you can volunteer to go on stage and have a singalong with Diana Ross (my personal reaction was a jolt of fear then a "thank god we didn't sit at the front").

Over 50 songs feature, including medleys and snippets, which allows so much of the incredible, ground-breaking music to shine through. There will be some songs that you know, even if you don’t expect to. Highlights included “I Heard It Through the Grapevine," “Dancing in the Street” “Do You Love Me” "Stop in the Name of Love," "My Girl" and "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough".

3. Stunning visuals and excellent performances

Performances are outstanding and costumes are particularly dazzling. Edward Baruwa is convincing and well-cast as Motown founder Berry Gordy, whilst Karis Anderson plays Diana Ross supremely well (pun intended) with so much confidence, stage presence and believable chemistry with Baruwa. I found the cast members in the smaller roles (especially little Michael Jackson!) all really embodied the energy of the performers they paid tribute to. The effective use of vibrant projection seamlessly changing throughout the show worked perfectly, couple that with the strong choreography and it all together adds up to a very slick production.

review of motown the musical 2019

4. I learned a little bit

Whilst there is heart and romance to the story, I will say that it isn't the type where you feel the greatest deal of emotional investment in the characters. The pacing and plot might come across to some as a little rushed, since there's a lot to get in to a short amount of time. However, there is a good story here and I personally enjoyed it. The musical is based on the autobiography of Berry Gordy, the rags-to-riches tale of a man who discovered many of the Motown greats, launching their careers through the Motown label. The darker chapters covering the social politics of the time and the setbacks Gordy faced are covered too and having never read into the Motown story before, I really enjoyed learning about it.

5. I enjoyed the fantastic venue ;D

I was so thrilled to be invited that I feel I couldn't end the blog without expressing some of love for the good old WMC. Everything is always so well organised there, very relaxed atmosphere, as well as a nice coffee shop and restaurant. The setting of the bay is always lovely too, with so many good restaurants nearby. I make it a rule to see at least one or two musicals a year at the WMC and I have already booked my tickets for Les Mis this December :)

If you missed Motown, or won't be able to make it on one of the last few showings this week, click here to see what else is on. You can also call the box office to enquire on 029 2063 6464.

I've compiled a list of top musical picks and dates below:

whats on at the wales millennium centre 2019

As explained above, I was invited to review the musical at the press launch event and spread the word across my social channels. Had full creative control of the copy but was provided the images to include. Would have LOVED to have been able to take my own photos...but cameras aren't allowed in there! The press evening was sponsored by Radio Platfform (Welsh youth-led radio station and training programme, check them out if you are 14-25 and interested in getting into radio production or presentation). Thanks for a fabulous evening :)

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Me and @lisagraceactor

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