Monday, 22 January 2018


As I previously stated in the last issue of the Taste Swansea magazine, "My raison d’être is as much to help grow local restaurant businesses, and especially those smaller, family-run eateries, as it is to bring to the foodie public a good culinary read." With that in mind I feel it's important that restaurants and cafes are made aware of the following changes to the Data Protection Act which come into force in May 2018, thereby potentially curtailing their marketing activity! Should you ignore the changes, breach them and be reported (and sadly, yes there are such people who will report such deliberately whether or not it was an accidental breach), then the penalties are very harsh. The penalties are purported to be £25,000 or 4% of your turnover.

New Data Protection Laws
Under the current Data Protection Directive within in UK, it allows a “soft” opt-in approach for anyone or any business establishing a database i.e. telephone numbers or email addresses etc, generally to be used for marketing purposes. The current "soft" opt-in data collection regulations allows data to be collected from communication with customers, tradeshow meets, business card exchanges, a checkbox for signing up to communications from a company, table bookings, and thereby allow organisations to market to this data.

May 2018 will see the introduction of new legislation forcing businesses to have to collect data by way of, "double opt-in". Not only that but if approached by the authorities one has to be able to prove the source of the double opt-in. In order to sign up for communications, prospects/customers will have to fill out a form or tick a box and then confirm it was their actions in a further email.

Why Does This Matter To Restaurants?
I can just hear many of you saying, "Oh well, I won't bother with all that, it doesn't (or won't) affect me!" or "Well I use Facebook to promote my business!"

Let me put this into perspective. Firstly, a lesson regarding Facebook versus Email Marketing. Research indicates that on average a post on a Facebook business page reaches only 6% of its intended audience. (Source: Hubspot marketing USA 2016). In comparison, an email marketing campaign will be read by an average of 34% of recipients...for the food and drink sector slightly less. From experience my clients can achieve anything up to 52% 'read' by email recipients. So let's take a practical example 100 likes on your Facebook page v 100 customers in your database - your Facebook post reaches 6 people, versus an email which is read by 34 people. Of course you can 'pay' Facebook to boost your post (there are other free ways to reach more people but.... read on) but I truly wouldn't trust them to send your post to those to whom would attend your restaurant. From experience Facebook's claims are wholly inaccurate and should be challenged by trading standards. Here is a typical example:

My client is based in Mojacar, southern Spain. Mojacar is a resort with a population of, give or take, 6,400 people. The city is 90 kms away, and has a population of approx 190,000 people so it doesn't enter the 45 kms range the advert projects. The entire province is approx 200 kms from top to bottom and not very wide. Fact: there aren't 510,000 people residing within a 45 kms radius of Mojacar (especially as it is a beach resort and much of that radius is Mediterranean sea) There are 704,000 population in the entire province, and the main conurbations within the 45 kms area total a population of a mere 56,630, and many old folk Spanish will not be using the internet let alone Facebook! So unless Facebook have included the many thousands of goats on the hillsides or the fish in the sea, it's difficult to see how they justify 510,000 'people' reach!

Add to the above, that Facebook have recently announced that priority now will be given to posts from friends and family over and above those from businesses. So your current 6% reach is likely to diminish, unless of course you pay to have your business post boosted! Facebook is a third party platform. Most table booking systems are third party platforms from which you cannot always access the database of your customers. If Facebook is going this route, then you can bet that others will also go this route in time. The very best solution therefore is 'double opt-in' databases which come under your complete control via your own website but you only have until May to convert your current database if they are not currently double opt-in. Taste Swansea can advise on this for free!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Sosban Scales New Heights...

It's fair to say that when it comes to Swansea, Gower, and Llanelli i.e. the current Taste Swansea catchment area, high-end dining is falling way behind the likes of the capital, Cardiff. Indeed, the best Swansea can muster is one or two eateries at high-end and a few restaurants whom are on the cusp of high-end, and only one gastro-pub with an AA Rosette. With the closure of Fairyhill as a day to day restaurant, the numbers are dwindling ever more. 

Many readers will be familiar with what was originally a bistro style restaurant Sosban, but with the introduction of a very dedicated new Executive Chef at the helm since February 2017, things have changed....and in my opinion, for the better! Executive Chef Andrew Sheridan, a Liverpudlian has ventured across the Welsh border to transform the food at Sosban, and breath a new freshness into the kitchen. With his team starting at 5.30 a.m. and Andrew himself in at 6.30 a.m. true dedication and ambition abounds. Indeed, if they aren't in so early then they are out in all weathers foraging for your food, in the woods, on the beaches, in amongst the rocks to bring you some of the freshest ingredients you are ever likely to taste. And what's more, such is the dedication of the Executive Chef that he personally oversees every single plate that leaves the kitchen!

Right now Sosban, understandably, have their Christmas menus in situ, and with the main menu changing regularly (usually every fortnight) you can always ensure that there will be something on the list to surprise your taste buds. As for my visit, I went for the Six Course Tasting Menu which gave me a really good insight into the overall standard of fayre, spread over a variety of very different, but festive, dishes. What I should emphasise is that the philosophy of Executive Chef Andrew's cooking is to naturally use fresh local ingredients but to also cook British classics with the flavours of those classics but in a creative and surprising way, so the Christmas menu tasted very much of Christmas flavours but not as I have ever before sampled.

Course One (no photo) Spicy Brioche with Home-made Brandy Butter and Dried Oranges. 
At first glance the uninitiated may think upon visual interpretation “What on earth is this that they are serving me?” But rest assured it's a very clever opener for a Christmas meal. Christmas spices coupled with the Brandy butter and the dried orange flakes worked really well together. And as an 'opener' they certainly didn't skimp on the portion control! 

Course Two (photo below) Potato Foam, Pumpkin Ice-cream and Pumpkin seeds
This was a 'Wow!' combination, and probably the most surprising of the six dishes – by the way, I purposely didn't study the menu in advance of the meal preferring my taste buds to wallow in whatever came my way – and of course akin to the pumpkin and potato soups etc that conventional Christmas sees each year. The pumpkin seeds were slightly roasted and gave a great crunchy texture against the smooth and delectable pumpkin ice-cream and the light frothy potato foam. If the meal had finished there and then I'd have been very comfortably content!

Course Three (photo below) Prawn Cocktail, Apple Curd and Prawn Crisps
My first and immediate impression was 'de-constructed prawn cocktail' and no matter how you approached it this dish was indeed a prawn cocktail. But here's the rub, King prawns to boot, delicate green and red tomatoes, an excellent Marie Rose sauce, delicious apple curd (very well executed) and in-house 'real' prawn crackers made entirely from scratch by the team in the kitchen specifically for this dish. So much nicer than the usual prawn crackers from any takeaway Chinese.

Three down, three to go...

Course Four (photo below) Stuffed Turkey Breast, Smoked Bacon Cheek (Pigs Cheek) and Cranberry Gel
A well thought out and executed dish with great Christmassy flavours in abundance, through the turkey, cranberry gel (made in-house), bread sauce, roast potatoes, a stuffing parcel and winter veg. But for me the pièce de résistance was the pig's cheek! I've consumed many of these delicacies in Spain over the years and I have to say, this just melted in one's mouth bringing a different dimension to the 'festive' plate. Bravo!

Course Five (no photo) Baked Alaska Winter Raspberry Sorbet 
Ok, my first of two dining confessions of the day. I forgot to take a photo of this dish as I was too busy talking to my fellow diner and by now the Chef. (During the first course I deliberately decided not to photo in consideration of other diners but as time went on I wanted to keep a record of at least three dishes, and I was clearly distracted by interesting conversation during the dessert). What I can recall is consuming a raspberry pink Christmas tree of meringue which housed raspberry sorbet and crushed pistachio. There. All the colours of Christmas and a great way to polish off my meal. 

Course Six (no photo) Chocolate Orange, Orange Sherbet, and Chocolate Sorbet 
This takes me to my second dining confession for the day in question. Unfortunately I had run out of time, and had to take a relative to a medical appointment so the Chocolate Orange, a classic reminder of most people's Christmas stuffing in front of the TV, had to go by the least for now.

Service - I can't let this post go without mentioning the service. If any restaurateur wants to know how to attend to customers and offer excellence in customer service, then visit Sosban, as it has it absolutely right - both the Restaurant Manager and the Maître d' were supreme. Something I can't say very often at other establishments. 

Despite only sampling five of the six dishes, I can happily say that I didn't leave feeling hungry one bit. Indeed, quite the opposite. It's pretty clear to me that not only have things changed in the kitchen at Sosban, but the owners are very serious about turning this dining establishment into a high-end venue. And why not. Their preferred target market has to be those that appreciate great food and I know only too well from experience that those people travel for such and are prepared to pay good money. And long may high-end dining thrive! This was, without doubt an excellent dining experience, and I wish the team well in the future. I know I'll be back to sample their main menu too after Christmas once my waist-line has recovered from the festive bludgeoning! Highly recommended.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Taste Swansea Magazine - Issue #12 (Oct/Nov 2017)

Autumn is here and so is Issue #12 of Taste Swansea magazine!

As usual, this edition is crammed full of delicious foodie content, with news, reviews and expert opinion along with recommendations of where to eat across Swansea, Gower, Neath and Llanelli. The magazine is available in its digital format below, and will be out in print from 6 October.

The magazines are taken to many outlets across the city and beyond, but please get in touch if you want us to point you in the right direction of a printed copy.

(Link not working? Try clicking here)

There's plenty to get your teeth into this issue:

  • Cauliflower Power - Innovation and development chef David Llewellyn takes a look at the ways we can prepare the wonderfully versatile veg, cauliflower!
  • Culture Unlocked: High Street - In his final issue, our editor Chris Carra and local arts writer Mark Rees look at the culture and cuisine in and around Swansea High Street.
  • Five to Try: Takeaways - Forget going out if the weather's bad - stay in and try these places!
  • Boozy Dude - Adam Sillman returns to highlight three of his favourite autumn drinks.
  • Student Eats - Monique Djarn is back with a super pea soup recipe.
  • Foodie News, Local Produce Markets, Cookery Book Review 
  • ...and more!

Please remember to support our advertisers. It is thanks to them that this magazine exists. Tell them Taste Swansea sent you!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

David Llewellyn: Return of the Mackerel

Originally published in Taste Swansea magazine, Issue #11, July 2017

With barbecues across the country tentatively waiting for the sun to be out long enough to fire up, make sure you have some mackerel nearby - just one of the ways to serve this beautiful fish, as innovation and development chef DAVID LLEWELLYN explains.

Growing up beside the sea has always heavily influenced me. I continuously miss the beauty of our coastline whenever I am away. But it is not just the scenery and serenity I miss – it’s the glorious list of fresh seafood it provides.

Fresh fish on display is a true spectacle, and none holds the same striking beauty as mackerel. A member of the tuna family, these beautiful fish are packed full of goodness and being caught just off our shores they arrive to our local markets in stunning condition. Mackerel are naturally an oily fish, so love acidic and smokey flavours.

Simply rub all over in olive oil and sea salt, and put straight on the BBQ for a few minutes each side until the flesh just falls away from the bone. Squeeze over plenty of fresh lemon juice and serve with a light fresh watercress salad for a simple gorgeous supper.

To elevate it, ask your fishmonger to fillet the fish for you then mix together some chopped tinned anchovies, diced sun-dried tomatoes, flat leaf parsley, fresh breadcrumbs and lemon zest. Place one fillet skin side down, then spoon your stuffing mix on top. Place another fillet on top so the filling is encased and the skin is on both sides. Tie with some butchers string to stop the filling escaping and drizzle over some olive oil and head back to the BBQ!

Pickling is once again on the forefront of cook’s minds and some pickled cucumber, sliced fresh red chilli and spring onion makes an excellent addition to smoked mackerel on toast. Continuing on the theme of toast, a pate is always a crowd pleaser and great to share.

For a super tasty mackerel pate, take two smoked mackerel fillets and two small fillets of fresh filleted mackerel. Wrap the fresh fillets in foil and bake in the oven or BBQ for around 8-10 minutes until the flesh flakes away from the skin. Set aside to cool, but keep all the juices.

In a large mixing bowl add a heaped tablespoon of soft unsalted butter and mix until light in colour, then flake in the fish (both smoked and cooked fresh), and all the lovely cooking juices. Add two tablespoons of Greek yogurt or crème fraiche and a teaspoon of creamed horseradish.

Season with salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some finely chopped herbs (chives, dill and chervil are all fantastic). Once mixed taste and season to your preference. Serve with fresh bread and a citrusy IPA from one of Taste Swansea’s Boozy Dude recommendations, for a light lunch or party pleaser.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Taste Swansea Magazine - Issue #11 (May/June 2017)

We're back! Issue #11 of Taste Swansea magazine is here!

Slightly later than originally planned, this edition is well worth the wait as it's packed full of excellent foodie content, with news, reviews and expert opinion among recommendations of where to eat across Swansea, Gower, Neath and Llanelli. The magazine is available in its digital format below, and will be out in print from 14 July.

The magazines are taken to many outlets across the city and beyond, but please get in touch if you want us to point you in the right direction of a printed copy.

(Link not working? Try clicking here)

Here's just some of the great content you will find in Issue #11:

  • Foodie Walk Guide - We've put together a guide to international eating around the city centre - from Italian to Turkish, your tastes are covered with our map!
  • Return of the Mackerel - Innovation and development chef David Llewellyn gives us some easy but effective tips on how to make the most out of mackerel this summer.
  • Culture Unlocked: St Helen's - Our editor Chris Carra and local arts writer Mark Rees look at the culture and cuisine around the area of St Helen's.
  • Five to Try: Worth a Drive - This popular feature offers five places to try after a good drive. 
  • Boozy Dude - Adam Sillman returns with a refreshing article, highlighting three of his favourite summer drinks.
  • Student Eats - Danish student Monique Djarn takes a look at making your own ice cream and reducing waste.
  • Foodie News, Local Produce Markets, Cookery Book Review 
  • ...and more!

Please remember to support our advertisers. It is thanks to them that this magazine exists. Tell them Taste Swansea sent you!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Taste Swansea Magazine - Issue #10 (May/June 2017)

Welcome to Issue #10 of Taste Swansea magazine, which has a fresh new look!

While we may look a little different, the same superb foodie content remains, with delicious foodie news, expert opinion and lovely recipes from our expert contributors. The magazine is available in its digital format below, and will be out in print from 6 May.

To find your nearest free printed copy, please get in touch and we will point you in the right direction. But for instant access to the digital issue on your phone, tablet or computer, check out the new issue below!

(Link not working? Try clicking here)

Here's a taster for what you will find in Issue #10:

  • Making the Most of Asparagus - Taste Swansea's innovation and development chef David Llewellyn take a look at in-season asparagus, and gives his tips on how to get the best of this wonderful vegetable.
  • Culture Unlocked - In this brand new feature, editor Chris Carra and arts writer Mark Rees take an in-depth look at the culture and cuisine on offer at the Dylan Thomas Centre
  • Five to Try: The Kingsway - This famous street may have a bit of a bad reputation, but it's actually a gem for foodies. 
  • Boozy Dude - Adam Sillman is back with three excellent drinks recommendations.
  • Student Eats - Danish student Monique Djarn returns to give us some tips on how to make the humble wrap last a little longer.
  • Foodie News, Great Foods of China, Local Produce Markets, Hot Products 
  • ...and much more!

Remember to support our advertisers - without them, this magazine wouldn't exist. Tell them Taste Swansea sent you!

Our next issue will be out in July. Please get your foodie news, events and advertising queries in before the end of May. Get in touch today!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Taste Swansea Magazine - Issue #9 (March/April '17)

Spring is (kind of) here, and so too is Issue #9 of Taste Swansea magazine, which is once again full of delicious foodie news, expert opinion and lovely recipes from our enthusiastic contributors. The magazine is now available digitally below, and will be out in print from 10 March.

Looking for a printed copy? Please get in touch and we shall point you in the right direction. But for instant access to the digital issue on your phone, tablet or computer, you can check it out below!

(Link not working? Try clicking here)

What's in store for Issue #9?

  • Making the Most of Wild Garlic - Taste Swansea's innovation and development chef David Llewellyn looks at wild garlic which grows across Swansea, and how best to use it this spring. 
  • Vegan Shopping - Vegan champion Danny Rees runs us through some of the best things to add to your shopping list if you are seeking a plant-based lifestyle.
  • Five to Try: City Centre Fry-Ups - Who doesn't like a full English? We highlight five city centre cafes offering great breakfasts. 
  • Boozy Dude - Adam Sillman returns to recommend some superb springtime tipples.
  • Life in the Kitchen: Mary Bea Miller - The American cook, who rustles up favourite dishes daily at Brynmill Coffee House, takes some time to chat with us about her love of food. 
  • Student Eats - New contributor Monique Djarn reveals her tips for a quick, cheap and nourishing student breakfast.
  • Foodie News, Local Produce Markets, Real Recipes, Hot Products 
  • ...and much more!

Don't forget to check out our back page which includes some exclusive offers for Taste Swansea readers dining in Llanelli's East Gate development!

Our next issue will be out in May, so please get your foodie news, events and advertising queries in as soon as possible. Get in touch today!