Saturday, 12 March 2011

Deli a gogo

Deli a gogo
3 Penlline Rd
CF14 2AA

"We’re all middle class now,” said some prick way back in the 90's. I don't agree with the comment or most of anything else he said, but when it comes to food he might just have a point.
I was raised by working class parents and spend twelve hours a day working with my hands and carrying around heavy objects that slowly inch the discs out of my spine, so have always considered myself to be working class. The thing is, as I sit here reading my torn and battered copy of The ragged trousered philanthropists, whilst sipping on a montepulciano and nibbling a Roquefort the colour of Orwells Wigan miners, I begin to have my doubts.
I know people who would still consider fine dining a poncy and elitist practice, and others who think that only chavs and scutters eat at McDonalds and K.F.C. so perhaps to some people, what we eat may very well still reflect our social status, but If we all really are middle class now then surely nowhere reflects this better than the deli. They sit astride the social divide like the taxi tours that show the poverty of the favelas to rich American tourists. Peasant or ghetto foods like Pastrami or Kabanos sausages are sold at prices that dent the kiddies trust fund and Deli a gogo in Whitchurch is no different.
The village has been crying out for a decent deli for years, and I think in Deli a gogo we might just have found it. The produce on sale here is excellent, but of course comes at a premium. I don't mind this as I believe that if you want good ingredients then you have to be prepared to pay for them. If you don't agree that's fine, there's an Iceland down the road.
The place hasn't been open long and the range of products reflects this, something I’m told is being added to all the time, but if the constant stream of customers that I’ve witnessed is anything to go by then they've hit the ground running. The standard deli fare is on sale here, such as your pastas and pasta sauces, flavoured mustards and a range of herbs and spices. They also however stock cans of risotto as attractive as anything Warhol ever painted, and wild boar pate that I would buy were it not for the fact that I’d eat it all with my hands before I even got it home.
The meat and cheese counters are again run of the mill, but I’ve spoken to the owners who have told me of the stocks of meat they have maturing ready to go on sale, and their trips abroad sourcing new products. I dearly hope this is true as in my opinion a deli should be somewhere you can go to get more exotic ingredients. It should be a place that intrigues customers and tempts them to try new things. I've paid many visits to wallys deli, that Cardiff old timer, and been disappointed by the blank looks I’ve received when asking for Nduja, Guanciale, Andouillette and Lardo along with many other things that I’ve fruitlessly searched the shelves for, and I hope that Deli a gogo can be the sort of place that stocks these hard to find ingredients, making it a destination for any committed Cardiff foodie.
You might be thinking from what I’ve written so far that deli-a-gogo is the same as your average deli, and not worth going out of your way to visit, but I’d like to explain that's not the case. It is worth paying a visit not just for ingredients but also for the place as a whole. You can get a coffee here that ranks whole leagues above most of what you'll find in Cardiff and it comes with a biscotti. A little crisp cloud of beauty the likes of which you're unlikely to taste outside of Italy. It's served by the friendliest of staff who seem as keen and enthusiastic to see the business thrive as the owners and customers alike. They also do soups and hot meals, and have a liquor licence, so you can enjoy a sample of one of the many interesting bottles of wine they sell while enjoying your lunch. I myself tend to visit for their sandwiches and baguettes that cost around the two or three pound mark depending on whether you sit-in or take away, amongst which I’ve tried the Parma ham and mozzarella (heavenly), and a chorizo and cambozola baguette that I immediately raved about to anyone who would listen. The one sticking point that I just can't bring myself to applaud is the salt beef sandwich that will cost you a hefty £7. It's a good salt beef sandwich but that's all it is. Accompanied by a lonely gherkin and nothing else...for £7. You might be thinking that I typed that wrong when I said it cost seven quid, but I never, it's the truth. Although actually perhaps I did. Perhaps what I meant to write was "SEVEN FUCKING QUID! For a fucking sandwich ?!?! At least that's what i thought when I came to pay for it. I have a kilo of brisket sat in my fridge brining away as I write this and it only cost me a fiver. Were I to shove the entire kilo between two slices of bread and sell it I’d still be making a healthy profit. It's advertised as the Deli a gogo signature, and this is a huge mistake on their part. Not just because of the price, but because on their opening night I tasted a Scotch egg better than any I’ve ever eaten in my life. Far, far better. When Cardiff has it's annual food festival the only place that stands out amongst the generic stalls is the Scotch egg company. It always sells out early because the people of Cardiff enjoy a good Scotch egg. The one I tried at Deli a gogo is the best Scotch egg you will eat. A bold statement I know, but I’ve never tried one better. The thing is they don't even sell them. The one I tried was made by the chef in The Promised Land bar in town, and if Deli a gogo need something to be signature then it's this egg. Priced reasonably it would be something people would talk about and that I would spend the majority of my monthly wages on.
So far the owners seem to have done everything right. From the design of their frontage, which places it among the few interesting looking shopfronts in the village, to their keenness to embrace the community and their customers. I just hope they don't rest on their laurels but continue to become not just an asset to Whitchurch but to Cardiff as a whole. I want the people of Cardiff to not have to worry about searching the internet and paying delivery fees for hard to find ingredients, but to know they can head straight to Deli a gogo.
The prices are indeed high on certain things, but even in this recession it seems that something the people of Whitchurch still have, is disposable income. You only need sit in the Fino lounge on a Sunday afternoon to see the young mothers, who should be struggling to make ends meet more than any other, sipping latte's and white wine whilst their brats scream loud enough to put you off your Scrabble. What is needed is for these sorts of people to by-pass the Co-op or Iceland and head further up the road and make use of our newest independent.
In summary, I’m glad we now have a deli in whitchurch, and a good one at that. I look forward to seeing it thrive.