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Monday, 17 October 2011

Food Fest feast

Friday morning brought a smile in the post, well two actually as it contained the menus for the Newport Food Festival Feast and a request to make our selections.
The feast kicks the festival off and starts by showcasing the best of local chefs. The Bell at Caerleon provide the starters, Waterloo the mains and the desserts have a very Italian feel thanks to Gemelli.

Chef Robert Sands is producing award winning food at the Bell, one of Wales up and coming gastro-pubs. The choices for the feast come straight from their dinner menu and reflect local produce, especially the amazing Gwynt y Ddraig cider which crops up several times. Hearty starters but unlikely to prevent the mains from being devoured.

The Waterloo is a boutique hotel in Newport which offers arrange of eating styles from light bites and lunches through the chargrill and on to the cunningly named La Carte menu – made you think twice didn’t it. Reviews on various websites suggest that the food is well worth a try and the Feast offers a chance to try it out. I was particularly impressed by the Cheeseboard though some great classics such as Hafod could be added to make it even better.

Gemelli is a little piece of Italy in Newport and I like anywhere that states on its website “When you are here you are family”. Gives you a good feel about the place, its aims and the likely level of food and service. The dinner menu looks to be well constructed and with Tagliatelle con Aragosto e Capesante (Tagliatelle with Lobster and Scallops to you) on the at the heart it would get my vote any day. But it is their desserts that feature on the Feast menu and Italians do great dessert.

So what do we choose? Luckily with two of us going and a choice of three dishes in each course we can cover most of the menu.

Starters: for me the Scotch Egg – an overlooked gem of British culinary tradition, done well with good ingredients this eggy/meaty marvel is a meal in a couple of mouthfuls and with a free range egg and a proper sausage meat surround it is hard to beat. Mrs K loves Perl Wen cheese (and Perl Las the blue version) so the Mushroom, Perl Las and Raspberry Salad was not only the obvious but, she would claim, the only choice.

Mains: The Gower Cod and Laver Bread with Mussel Cockle and Vegetable Cawl stood out for me. I love my seafood and, being allergic to Lamb, don’t exactly get to try much Cawl. A chance not to be missed. The Venison Wellington was the choice for JT and I am sure that I will get the occasional taste so as to compare it with the version cooked by Wes Harris at the Charthouse.

Finally dessert and the only course on which we both agreed. It just has to be the Colourful dessert which combines Limoncello, Pannacotta, Marscapone and Florentine Sponge with a host of other ingredients and flavours
Overall an attractive menu and one which should get the Newport Food Festival off to a flying start.

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