Restaurants, writing and awards with Cardiff’s favourite blogger
The talent behind Cardiff Bites “hobbled” through a chilly Queen Street to talk after a busy day of training in the Rhondda. Despite twisting an ankle and walking with a crutch, Nicki was still fifteen minutes early. I am greeted with a warm welcome and a beaming smile by the casually dressed blogger in jeans and a stripy jumper with her hair in a simple ponytail.
Charity project administrator Nicki Tudor, 29 has been blogging about food for five years now and it seems all that hard work has paid off after recently being crowned Best Food and Drink Blog at the Wales Blog Awards. “It’s just fantastic. It’s been a really crazy year. This year I was judging the True Taste Wales awards, then there was the whole Snoop Dogg thing [Snoop contacted Nicki via Twitter to ask her recommendation for waffles in Cardiff] which was crazy. Then to win this was just lovely. It’s just been a fabulous year,” she smiles.
Nicki is originally from Port Talbot but her mother’s family are from southern Italy and moved to Wales after the second world war. Food has always been a big part of her life. “By seven or eight I was cooking. It was as soon as I could roll pasta and copy what my grandma was doing.”
Cardiff Bites is a big part of Nicki’s life, and many people have contacted her, assuming the blog is her full time job. On whether she would happily give up her job to pursue the blog, Nicki said, “I like the freedom it gives me because I’m not being paid. I can be a lot more controversial and honest. I can write what I want to write about.” She did toy with the idea though, her eyes wandering for few seconds: “It would be lovely to get paid to do something with food, that would be fantastic. Although, I am wary of going freelance as I’ve grown quite attached to my paycheck.”
Nicki displays passion for her blog and enjoys the time she spends on it. You can hear in her voice how happy she is after the Blog Awards win, and at her recent commission for Olive magazine. Nicki excitedly explains, “I don’t know how they found me, whether they Googled me, or whatever, but I had an email off them asking me if I would like to submit to the Christmas issue.” She continues, “I wrote about Pontcanna as I wanted to be true to myself on a very deadline, and a very tight word count.”
Cardiff Bites is a very active blog, and Nicki balances it successfully with her job. “At the weekend, I spend three hours on the blog, whereas some other people might spend three hours watching football or going shopping. Blogging is my hobby and I do it because I enjoy it.”
However, things were not always this positive. When Nicki began Cardiff Bites five years ago she made herself ill due to overwork. “I think I put a lot of pressure on myself when the blog started properly.”
Today, Nicki knows her limits and says no to people’s requests if she does not have the time. “I try to be realistic about what I can do.” Nicki keeps blogging strictly as her hobby. “If I was running myself into the ground to try and maintain this blog it wouldn’t be fun. Blogging should be fun.”
Nicki welcomes comments on her work, whether negative or positive. “I’ve had one negative comment which said, ‘Oh, you’re stupid, you don’t know what you’re talking about,’ and they listed a few reasons which I then addressed. Blogs have comments for a reason, and it’s my opinion. If they don’t agree with me, fine.”
Over the years Nicki has eaten everywhere from Ffresh to Hooters, and has established her favourite places. “If I’m paying then I love to go somewhere like Bangkok café in Canton. It’s a little family owned Thai restaurant. They do really cheap, good food. If someone else is paying, then probably somewhere like Patagonia. The food is great.”
Nicki champions Cardiff’s independent restaurants. “You build up a good relationship with people if you go back a lot. I would try and support our local family restaurants because they are having a tough time of it at the moment.” Nicki did not want to name names for the worst places to eat, but thinks that chain restaurants can be very hit and miss. “They should at least provide consistency.”
The formidable Cardiff Bites blogger will continue to write about all things food, but worried establishments need not fear. “I’m not AA Gill. I won’t come in and tear you apart.”