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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Brecon, Bread and Beef

A small market town like Brecon is a prime candidate for a Farmers Market, and it did not let me down. Conveniently just 30 miles away – local is usually defined as within 30 miles – and operating on the second Saturday of the month, it is an alternative to Usk.

As Brecon sits to the West of Torfaen it was likely that a different range of producers would be there and, indeed, only the fish stall attended both.

Whenever I try a new market I leave looking like a Sherpa on my way up to base camp and yesterday was no exception.

Several cheese makers had stalls which resulted in a range of new taste delights heading East, Hafod an extra mature cheddar type, a garlic and herb Gouda style cheese, and a cave matured cheddar being just three of the varieties selected.

Now, you can’t have cheese without bread and butter. A farmhouse salted slab of butter found its way into the bag ready for a taste off with the butter which I buy in Abergavenny Market, and on to bread. There were several providers offering a range of breads from Wholemeal through Focaccia but in the end I made my decision.

A Wholemeal loaf from Caroline’s bakery came home with us, along with a tasty looking Tea-cake which would be toasted and buttered as dessert. This bakery also had some good looking Soda Bread but made to a recipe which would provoke an uprising in Ireland. Yoghurt and Margarine instead of Buttermilk!!! Apparently the local EHO is not sure about Buttermilk - he or she should be grateful that Darina Allen does not live within 150 miles!

One of the ways that I judge good butchers is by their sausages. As Mrs K once said “A good Pork Sausage is often all you need”. Meat rich, well - seasoned and good looking a great sausage can indeed be a thing of beauty, far better than the ubiquitous euro-sausage which is all too often the staple of hotel or café breakfasts. A little flair with leeks, or chilli, apple or fennel can create a true dish in its own right.

So, encouraged by the fact that one of the butchers offered bones for stock (or the dog) I bought both beef bones and Pork sausages. A tasty midweek supper with mashed potatoes or Colcannon and a rich Onion Gravy beckons.

So I had bones and an afternoon of stock making in prospect.

Along with roasted bones stock needs Leeks and Carrots, so off to look at vegetables, two suppliers present and a large range of local and seasonal veg on offer. The bonus was that one also offered home grown Chillis and sprouted beans.

So now I had the makings of a stock, lunch and a dessert though still lacked Tea or a main course to go with the gravy which I would make from the stock.

The problem about tea was solved by the discovery of a small stall offering fresh Pasta and homemade Pesto. The Pesto was the usual mix of Pine Nuts, Basil, Garlic and Parmesan but with a family recipe addition of Peccorino. This gave it an extra depth of flavour and a higher than usual percentage of garlic reinforced this. Rapidly purchased the Pesto was added to Lumarconi for a great and light tea.

A butcher on the way into the Farmers Market resolved the what goes with the gravy issue. A stunning looking bone in Rib of Welsh Black went into the bags and I beat a retreat, monetarily poorer but richer for the experience and laden with really good ingredients to convert to meals.

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