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Monday, 5 September 2011

Mid Wales Market

Local, to me, means local to where you are, so if I am in Italy I will bring home Amalfi Lemons or Pepperoncino, Spain means Manchega Cheese, Chorizo and Saffron, no added food miles – I was there any way!

So it was that we were headed down the A470 having spent a very rock and roll night in Aberystwyth.

On a foodie level Aber was a bit of a curate’s egg.

Lunch at Kings Brasserie – no relation but on the site of the old King’s Hall – posed one of the great conundrums in cooking. I ordered Liver and Bacon with mashed potato. “We have run out of Mash but we can give you boiled potatoes” – surely any chef - even semi-conscious – could have worked out that boiled potatoes + butter + cream =Mashed Potato? But no boiled it was.

On the other hand the Richmond Hotel on the front was brilliant.

The Dinner menu was laden with local produce, the tea and coffee tray had only Dwyfor products and the bottled water was from Carmarthenshire. It was breakfast that really stole the show though, local sausage, bacon and eggs and an amazing array of seasonal fruit, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and properly segmented grapefruit with lots of local yoghurt. I recommend staying there unreservedly.

Anyway, after breakfast and a wander along the prom we set off through Mid Wales back home. Red Kites demonstrated that the conservation programme was going strong, six on the way up and nine going home.

By lunchtime we were a little peckish but I wanted to call in at a Country Market in Talgarth.

The Town Hall hosted the event and I bought really good peppers and Tomatoes from Kington based Revolution Organics, including a purple bell pepper - the like of which I had never seen before.

Gloucester Old Spot bacon and sausage from Sue’s meats in nearby Bronllys also found their way into the shopping bag but disappointingly the Dexter beef was sold out. Memo to self the market starts at 10 so 12 is not a good time to arrive.

Farmhouse butter – a great 1 kilo slab – was eagerly purchased and divided into more manageable pieces at home; organic sourdough and a malted grain loaf seemed to be natural accompaniments to the butter and joined it in bag 2.

I recently wrote about the Perfect Ploughman’s and was delighted to see Rhian from Usk River Pickles.

We tasted a large range of seasonal chutneys and pickles, before settling for a jar of a slightly boozy Star Inn chutney with Red Dragon real ale and Pearlili.

Pearlili has an amazing 20% pear content in a traditional Piccalilli – oh and a little chilli bite. Unsurprisingly this Monmouthshire Chutney won Gold at the Great Taste Awards and is used by Chef Wes Harris at the Charthouse (see earlier blog post). We determined to create the perfect ploughman’s for tea with our purchases and some Perl Wen (brie style) and Perl Las (blue) cheeses, the bread and buyer and, of course the Pearlilli. The Pearlilli proved epic on Tongue in a granary sandwich for lunch the next day.

All this sampling and buying had worked up an awful fierce appetite and we shot next door to Talgarth Mill for lunch.

The mill, recently featured on Village Rescue, is a restored and working mill which does tours, bakes and sells bread and has a coffee shop/restaurant. Sadly, as the notice on the door announced, since the BBC aired the programme lots of people head for the café and mill so there may be a delay in getting a seat!

We didn’t have to wait long before sharing a table with a couple just about to leave and, before we left we were joined by a second couple.

The menu naturally features their own breads and all the other food is locally sourced, some from the butcher who has his own slaughterhouse just 50 metres down the road. I fancied the Chickpea  and Chorizo Soup, especially as the Chorizo cane from Trealy Farm - themselves multiple award winning charcutiers = and was accompanied by a lovely floury roll. Janet fancied Smoked Trout salad – Jonathon at Black Mountain Smokery worked the magic with the wood chips- and the Granary Bread that went with it.

Both were really good and accompanying homemade Lemonade proved the perfect acidic counterpoint to the smokey richness of both the Trout and Chorizo.

Refreshed we hit the road again for the last 40 minutes or so back to the kitchen and stashing away the day’s comestible purchases and to hope that teatime would come faster than the clock was actually moving.

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