I meet Lauren on a late July afternoon in the middle of the crazy heat wave we have been experiencing here in South Wales. Both predictably busy, her with the imminent opening of her café Wild Thing and I with the magazine launch, it is a wonder we have any time to meet and chat about her new venture. However, I am so glad we do – frazzled from the heat, finding a parking space and inevitably running late, I text her to let her know I might be delayed – her response? ‘No worries, I am out here enjoying the sunshine’. After all, Wild Thing’s ethos is Be Kind to the Planet, Be Kind to Yourself – words which, I later learn, Lauren literally lives by and which result in me leaving our meeting a little lighter, a little less caught up in everyday stress and very much looking forward to the launch of Wild Thing. Enjoy the interview (and the bonus recipe!).
Tell us more about Wild Thing and how your idea for a vegan brunch based café began.
The idea for Wild Thing was effectively a response to the lack of vegan café venues in Grangetown – most places are found in the Roath area. Friends would come round from London asking for brunch places and it hit me that there weren’t many, if any, on this side of town. Pushed by this gap, and to give myself an incentive, I set up an Instagram account publishing pictures of my vegan meals – the reception was great and people have shown a real interest.
You mentioned wanting to be in the Canton or Grangetown area, why this focus on this side of Cardiff?
Being originally from Bridgend, I have been gradually discovering the food scene in Cardiff – I love all that Cowbridge Road offers and since there are no vegan places in Canton or Grangetown, I am looking forward to sharing the vegetable love on this side of town. Above all, I want the café to be accessible for everyone – the ethos of Wild Thing is reflected in every single choice I make for the venue. The furniture is being arranged in collaboration with NU Life (a body which upcycles unwanted furniture and aims to equip volunteers with the necessary skills to move them into paid employment) whereas the pottery is being created by Vision 21, a charity which offers employment opportunities to those with learning disabilities. I have been approached by local brands in terms of whole foods and the Cardiff Salad Project will deliver salad and vegetables by bike. I am passionate about food poverty and in the future, I would love to set up a community fridge in Canton and offer cooking classes accessible to all.
What sort of food will we be able to look forward to trying at Wild Thing? The caramel muffins or brownies we have seen on Instagram look to die for!
Something that annoys me is when you go to a café to be told brunch isn’t being served anymore despite the fact it was being offered just 10 minutes before! So, what you can expect at Wild Thing Café is all day brunch made up of pancakes, banana bread, breakfast bowls and porridges with all the toppings. Some options will be more indulgent than others but all with be vegan, gluten-free and contain no refined sugar. I have a sweet tooth but I have also been experimenting with different twists on options such as Avocado toast as well as different types of flour including oat and almond flour.
What other places in Cardiff are your go tos for delicious Vegan food?
I like Milgi – everytime a friend suggests dinner, I always mention it and their whole food bowls are amazing. I also like Ana Loka and, while I am yet to eat there, I would like to try the Lazy Leek.
And finally, for our readers, what simple Vegan recipe would you recommend in time for Autumn?
I have been thinking ahead about Autumnal options for Wild Thing – it would have to be my Sweet Potato Porridge or my Chai cookies. I also love soups in Autumn – my blender is my best friend!
Lauren has kindly provided readers of The Squiggles Edit with her recipe for her Sweet Potato Chai Spiced Porridge – perfect for a Lazy Autumnal Sunday. You can find Wild Thing’s Instagram (where it all began!) here or, alternatively, check out their website.
Sweet Potato Chai Spiced Porridge
“Here’s a lovely autumnal breakfast recipe for you to try. I absolutely love porridge and there are so many weird and wonderful ways to enjoy it! This is a Wild Thing take on the classic breakfast dish, inspired by my favourite season. It is so comforting on a cold morning in Wales. Enjoyed best whilst cwtched up on the sofa, listening to the rain outside.”
- -Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- -Meanwhile prep all the components; slice 1 sweet potato in half lengthways, chop 1 apple into small chunks and measure out your oats & plant-based milk.
- – Once the oven is heated roast the sweet potato at 180 degrees for 30-35 mins.
- (You can speed things up by roasting the sweet potato the night before, perhaps as part of your dinner, reserve one roasted potato and keep refrigerated overnight.)
- – Once roasted set aside and allow to cool.
- -When cool, scoop the insides of the sweet potato out and puree in food processor or mash using a fork/ masher. Set aside.
- – Start your Porridge by adding oats, milk, maple and chai spices to a small-medium saucepan and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, stir to ensure oats don’t stick.
- -Meanwhile make your Maple Cinnamon Apple topping by adding the apple chunks,1 Tbsp cinnamon and 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup to a separate small saucepan on a low heat. Stir & cook for 10 minutes/ until apples are browning.
- – After 10 minutes of the porridge cooking, add your sweet potato mash to the porridge saucepan, and continue to stir and cook for 10 further minutes.
- – Serve up the porridge, top with the maple cinnamon apples, a sprinkle of granola and pumpkin seeds.
~For extra Autumn goodness try this recipe using pumpkin or squash in place of the sweet potato. Try adding in seasonal blackberries as an extra topping too! ~