|Cook on Welfield Road opened last Friday|
I walk around the quaint shop which is painted a pale lemon colour, complimented by 19 large white freezers sitting on terracotta tiles, decorated with red gingham material. (I was caught off guard and armed only with my camera phone so please excuse the image quality!) I am not usually a fan of the Cath Kidston ‘kistch’ but in here it works really well bringing a wholesome feel to the store, which is reinforced when one of the owners, Liz Smart, greets me with a tray of chocolate cake to sample (always a winner with me!). Liz and her business partner Karen Purchase opened the store a week ago and have been given a truly Welsh warm welcome.
|Friendly advice is offered by Liz|
|The store is designed to feel like somebody's kitchen|
“People were reading the article in the Western Mail in the morning and coming down in the afternoon. We had 244 customers on the first Saturday!” says Liz. Nestled among other gift and artisan shops on Welfield Road, off Albany Road in Cardiff, this cute shop offers big wicker baskets for customers to fill with frozen prepared meals. Freezers are thoughtfully organised into Meals for one and two separately, as well as family sized and party sized.
|Meals for two include Coq au Vin, pies, lamb mousakka and cottage pie|
|Most of the meals also come in single portions|
Liz is originally from Newport and opened the store last Friday to a fantastic Welsh welcome. Liz saw the Bristol Clifton franchise and was so impressed she decided to start one in Wales, which she says is so far doing incredibly well. “It was the first time in my life I tried convenience food and thought it was good.” she explains. A busy mum, cook and teacher for 22 years, Liz appreciates the speed of ready meals, but dislikes the average quality. These smart meals however, are locally sourced and happily made.
Liz continues to tell me how the food is made in batch by chefs in Kent. The food is locally sourced to these kitchens, which produce meals with a quaintly British feel. Liz explained she had been to the kitchens and seen them mince a whole leg of lamb, there are no nasty hidden artificial ingredients and everything is made all by hand. “It’s clearly very important for them to keep it high quality” she says to me in the store on a sunny Sunday which has a steady stream of customers, whereas the previous day the shop was consistently jam packed.
|The lovely Liz from Cook, Cardiff|
The price of the meals are enough to make the average supermarket shopper raise an eyebrow, but after consideration they are the same price as an M&S meal. But anything remotely well made, wholesome and good for you has to be overpriced to compete with the monotonous giant mass produced alternatives so I feel that it is justified.
However, when talking about what is essentially a ‘ready meal’ this complicates matters for someone on a budget. As most of you know, I do not mind splashing out on special occasions but when a special occasion comes along I usually like to cook it myself, not buy it ready made. However in the present climate when people don’t have the time to do so regularly I think this is a great way to shop. I also think if you are throwing a dinner party you could buy a couple of bits (such as the example below) and cook the others yourself to spread out the hassle.
Taste Test - Smoked Salmon and Pesto Tartlets £3.99 for two
My mum and I had these for lunch and they were beautiful. There was plenty of salmon and they were definitely not overpowered by the cheaper ingredient (pesto). The tartlet had crisp pastry which wasn’t too thick and it was topped with a thin layer of breadcrumbs. I served them with a leaf and watercress salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar and dotted with strawberries. They were the perfect size for lunch and add a jacket potato and they would make a lovely tea as well.
|Authentic, wholesome packaging as well|
|balsamic vinegar and strawberries go really well together|
I found out that there is another store in Henley, a short drive away from Reading. I can’t wait to go and try some more meals out – especially the One Pot range which would be perfect for work lunches.
|These sold like hot cakes (or pots?!) over the opening weekend|
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