November 9th – Cardiff’s Christmas Kick Off

Christmas Day Santa

Christmas 2017

With the nights drawing in and the chill in the air, many of us may have been aware that Christmas is just around the corner however as of today Cardiff announces Christmas is here!

If you take a trip to the city centre today, you’ll find the festivities in full swing.

Christmas Visit Santa with his beautiful Cairngorm Reindeer as they rest in their pen on the bottom of St Mary Street for the night before they head back to the North Pole to prepare for the big journey around the world on Christmas Eve.
Visit Santa with his beautiful Cairngorm Reindeer as they rest in their pen on the bottom of St Mary Street for the night before they head back to the North Pole to prepare for the big journey around the world on Christmas Eve.
Image Credit

Cardiff’s Christmas campaign ‘Step into Christmas’ will reign in the season’s revelry with street parades and performances, music for the merrymaking and the grand illumination of lights. Free to all, the city kicks off its celebrations at 4:30pm and carries right through until 7:30pm and sees a whole host of events to entertain the family. Today also marks the opening to Winter Wonderland – and what says Christmas better than a trip into City Hall’s annual transformation?

An Evening Out

As of this evening you’ll be able to absorb the shop windows in wonderment as they display their glitziest garms and with spectacular savings available, maybe now’s the time to purchase your Christmas party attire. Or if you’re looking to start perusing the stores for the perfect present, late night shopping begins today, so you need not find yourself tackling the tumultuous weekend shoppers! Better yet, why not explore Cardiff’s Christmas markets for gorgeous hand crafted gifts – with a selection of stalls scattered along The Hayes.

If you know of some little ones that need to secure their spot on the ‘nice list’, why not pop in a good word with Santa and his Reindeer at the bottom of St Mary Street? Or even visit his grotto on Queen Street – he’ll never cease to

Christmas Try keeping these fun, fast, festive decorations in the box until Christmas Eve! There’s no stopping these beautiful baubles.
Try keeping these fun, fast, festive decorations in the box until Christmas Eve! There’s no stopping these beautiful baubles.
Image Credit

amaze with how quickly he can make it from one end of town to the other…If you don’t manage to catch the big man himself, there’ll be plenty to see among the streets of Cardiff with festive street theatre taking place throughout. From carol singers performing the classics to roller-skating baubles, there’s plenty to see to seize the start of the festive season.

So wherever you find yourself in the city this evening, be sure to soak up the some of the season’s finest frivolities! It comes but once of year after all…

Whats on Where

Highlights include:

  • PAW Patrol outside Y Hen Lyfrgell
  • Santa and his Reindeer – St Mary Street
  • Festive Street Theatre
  • Festive Quarter Christmas Markets – The Hayes
  • Santa’s Grotto Queen Street
  • Late night shopping & offers
  • Opening of Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland with Admiral Ice Rink
  • Festive Cocktails at Mocka Lounge

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.

Christmas Gifts

“The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.” —Pierre Corneille

Christmas is a special time, a time when gifts are at the top of our priority lists and imagination is at its peak – so just how beneficial is gift giving during the festive period, both for you and the recipient? Is it always important to give?

The answer must be yes, particularly when you take the time and trouble to buy special and thoughtful surprises for friends, family and colleagues alike.

Whilst it feels good to be on the receiving end, there’s a fantastic feeling of self-gratification when you hand over a gift that pleases. A present, no matter how big or small, is a sign of love. It is a gesture of thoughtfulness and can make the world of difference whilst being a reminder of memories and happiness for years to come. This means far more to us than those few joyful moments you get from opening a present, as giving provides us a special feeling that’s truly irreplaceable.

Christmas Gift Under a Tree

Restaurant vouchers afford us all an opportunity to stop, sit back and actually communicate with our loved ones – some of whom we may not have seen for some time. They are perfect gift for the friend who has ‘everything they need’ or the mum that spends 365 days a year enslaved to the stove.

With lashings of game pate and doorstep toast; succulent rib eye, rich with creamy peppercorn sauce; and the most indulgent Italian inspired bread and butter pudding, being just some of the offerings across the three of our seasonal menus, it’s hard to question how great food can say ‘I love you’ to everyone you’re gifting this Christmas.

So for those that want to seize the festive season, tailor a gift to their taste (quite literally) with our restaurant vouchers, at The Meating Place, The Potted Pig or Porro

An  article by Hannah Tuck

Christmas Dinners that we’ve grown to love…

Brussel Sprouts

One phenomenon of the Christmas dinner (besides the pig in blanket) is its capability to change depending on whose hands it’s crafted in. Despite being constructed of the same components, somehow each home holds its own flavour – from the attributes of the gravy to the adornments on the Brussel sprouts. Crisp and fluffy roast potatoes, sausage meat stuffing and sharp cranberry sauce, it’s all the same – is it not? And although home cooks may share their culinary secrets, these are ideas merely borrowed, never replicated, making each Christmas dinner unique.

Brussel Sprouts
The Brussels sprout is a member of the Gemmifera Group of cabbages, grown for its edible buds. The leafy green vegetables are typically 2.5–4 cm in diameter and look like miniature cabbages

From sordid ingredients to poor pallet preferences, family favoured recipes aren’t always worthy of ovation but the nostalgia they hold is more valuable than a Michelin star. We asked the likes of The Potted Pig and Porro, who know their way around a kitchen, what the Christmas dinners in which they were weaned entailed.

David Watson, sous chef tells a tales of his mother’s culinary genius. With the menu finalised and a stringent strategy already in place (it’s evident this isn’t her first rodeo) the kitchen is strictly out of bounds come Christmas day. As a nation devout to tradition, the turkey still remains the centrepiece of most celebrations but not for the Watson’s! This year it’s venison accompanied by anything-but-traditional trimmings. And of course, the Christmas pudding was made months ago!

However some of our chefs came from much humbler beginnings. When asked what his mum’s Christmas dinners consisted of, Rhodri Davies, chef at The Potted Pig exclaimed “Overdone veg! The first time I had veg al dente I was convinced it was raw […] my mum didn’t think veg was done unless it was mush. My Sunday roasts were average at best and Christmas dinner was no exception.” Jane Davies, albeit “a saint”, leaves the Christmas dinner to Rhodri these days.

Christmas Veg
“my mum didn’t think veg was done unless it was mush.”

Pre-dinner pandemonium

Christmas isn’t Christmas without the pre-dinner pandemonium and it’s no different in our Shannon Daly’s house. Red of face as well as hand, her Dad’s braised red cabbage and apple is the real star of the show…sometimes. “Delicious when done right but many years has highlighted the delightful incompetence of my dad […] red cabbage, if overcooked, has this tendency to turn an inky blue but we eat it anyway for fear of stressing him out any further!”.

So whether it’s your mum’s mushy vegetables or your dad’s blue cabbage that you’ve grown to love, why not leave it to the professionals this year and dine at one of our fabulous restaurants? Each of our restaurants have crafted and created unique and equally delicious Christmas menus so you can indulge in the most festive of feasts. So if it’s a relaxing restaurant Christmas party or a festive lunch before a big night out, we’ve a handful of places to play host such as The Meating Place, The Potted Pig and Porro.

An  article by Bryony Fenton

a "typical" Family Christmas Dinner
a “typical” Family Christmas Dinner

What makes a ‘jolly holiday’?

Christmas at Mocka

Excluding the Scrooges among us, it’s known as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ and with Christmas fast approaching many of us will have begun strategising how to spend the festive season. Undoubtedly it can also be the most stressful time of the year – from decking the halls to finding the perfect present, cultivating a Christmas is enough to make the best of us crack! So this year, ensure you take some time for yourself to enjoy the festive season. No matter how your Christmas countdown concludes, we’ve an array of ideas to ensure Christmas in Cardiff 2017 is one to remember.

Christmas in Cardiff 2017

Many of us will feel the grind on the run up to the Christmas; frantically trying tofinish those final emails before the clock strikes 5 – and often the office Christmas party is the only opportunity to blow off some steam at the end of a busy year. So whether that be a merry luncheon or a banquet to fill your boots, each of our restaurants have crafted and created unique and delicious menus so for you to indulge in – from the prime cuts of The Meating Place to the generous selection of gins that The Potted Pig have to offer.

However planning a Christmas party for your colleagues can be tricky so if you’re looking for a spot to please the masses, why not make Mocka Lounge your destination? With party packages available you can completely customise your Christmas to suit you and your guests. With Christmas cocktails and canapés to offer, as well as a dancefloor and DJ in tow, Mocka Lounge is sure to fulfill all your festive wishes!

Although a night on the tiles appeals to some, contributing to the city’s festive cheer, for others nothing says Christmas like a bit of R&R. If you’re looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre and long for a quiet and cosy Christmas then Porro is the place to be. With a site on Llandaff High Street, close to the famous Cathedral, you can soak up some seasonal cheer with a whole host of events throughout December, from their Christmas Fair to their carol service; Porro Llandaff is the perfect place to partake in the festivities.

Christmas in Cardiff 2017

However if you reside on the other side of town, we’ve a Porro situated on Wellfield Road. Surrounded by boutique shops and bars, Porro Wellfield (whilst welcoming to all of the family) can cater to an array of Christmas ideals. Some may wish to peruse the shops for presents whilst others make merry over mulled wine, followed by a festive feast at Porro.

Whatever Christmas means to you, we want to make sure you have a very merry Christmas in Cardiff – and what says ‘jolly holiday’ like indulging in the festivities with your favourite people? Whether it be painting the town red or relaxing with relatives, we’ve a handful of places to play host – from The Meating Place to Mocka Lounge, Porro to The Potted Pig.

An  article by Bryony Fenton

View our Christmas 2017 Booklet for all our venues!

Request a Brochure Download Now

Christmas in Cardiff 2017 Booklet Cover
Christmas in Cardiff 2017 Booklet Cover

Secrets of Sloe Gin from the depths of The Potted Pig

Gin Range at the Potted Pig

a Guide from The Potted Pig

Sloe Gin Start with slow berries on a blackthorn bush
Sloe gin is made from ripe sloes, which are traditionally picked after the first frost of winter (late October to early November in the northern hemisphere). Each sloe is pricked, traditionally with a thorn taken from the blackthorn bush on which they grow.

Ruby in colour and ripe cherries on the nose, with warm blackberries and heavy rose on the palate –finishing with rich lychee, leaving you with a lingering balance of sweet and dry. Sloe gin really is a tipple to tantalise your senses.

As autumn is upon us, now is the time to get your sloes in tow ready for Christmas! Picking your own sloes has become one of the UK’s best kept secrets – the proprietors of the purple berries will never reveal their sought-after stash however should you be able to locate a wild blackthorn tree, you’ll find it throbbing with fruit at this time of year. Nevertheless, there’s another plentiful source from which you can purchase your berries – online!

So whether you’ve foraged for your berries first hand or they appear in the post, before plunging into the maceration process you must ensure your sloes are ripe. How can you tell? Simply squeeze. If the berries are hard, they’re not quite ready – ripe berries should bruise between your fingers. Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to wait until the first frost to pick your sloes – instead simulate the first frost at home by freezing the berries overnight.

How To:

With your sloe berries ripe and ready, follow this simple method to that first sip of the season:

  • Freeze your ripened sloe berries overnight. This process ruptures the skin so there’s no need to prick the berries, as many recipes suggest
  • Sterilise your airtight bottles (assuming you’ll be making more than just the one bottle for Christmas)
  • Fill the bottles with the frozen fruit up to half way
  • Top up the remainder of the bottles with good quality gin
The Sipsmith Boys (Left to Right): Jared Brown, Sam Galsworthy, Fairfax Hall
The Sipsmith Boys (Left to Right): Jared Brown, Sam Galsworthy, Fairfax Hall Sipsmith was established in London in 2009. The first copper-pot based distillery to start up in London in 189 years, it is one of only four gin distilleries located within London’s city limits

It’s important here to comment on what gin to use. Sloe berries can highlight a gin’s quality, rather than mask it so it’s worth splashing out on a special bottle for the festive season. We asked the gin buffs at The Potted Pig what they’d recommend. From their extensive list of 36 gins they suggested Sipsmith’s London Dry, “an award winning small batch gin, produced in London’s only copper still. It’s bold, complex and aromatic with a warming spice” – perfect for Christmas!

  • Add one crushed almond per bottle – this highlights the rich marzipan characteristics to the stoned fruits
  • Seal your bottles and leave until Christmas. Make haste as sloe gin needs at least three months and with Christmas fast approaching, you’ve really no time to waste!


Once your gin is ready (and not a moment before) taste test your festive treat. If you feel it needs a little extra sweetness combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat. Warm the mixture until the sugar dissolves then allow to cool – and there you have your own sugar syrup! Then simply add to taste.

And there you have it, your very own sloe gin – the perfect way to top off your festive feast!

An article by Bryony Fenton of The Potted Pig

Gin Range at the Potted Pig
a selection of the extensive range of Gin available at The Potted Pig!