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Friday, 28 October 2011

Newport - the excitement mounts

Just 24 hours till the launch of Wales’ newest food Festival in Newport and the excitement is mounting. Tonight we shall be at the Meal showcasing the talents of three local establishments, The Bell at Caerleon, The Waterloo Hotel and Gemelli’s, and then tomorrow it all kicks off in the Market, the Riverfront and on the streets.

Though the more established Cowbridge Food Festival is also on this weekend Newport has a strong line-up and should become part of the festival calendar.

I have booked to see two chef demos and will also be hitting the stalls pretty heavily.

The first demo is by The Pumpkin Patch (Lisa Fearn). Lisa is the owner of The Pumpkin Patch Cookery & Gardening School and also cooks on S4C's Wedi 3. Lisa is committed to teaching children to cook and will be running a series of workshops over the weekend. I will be seeing her adult demo and hoping to pick up a few tips and wrinkles.

Secondly I will see Justin Llwywelyn who cooks at the Newbridge on Usk. The Newbridge has just become part of the Celtic Manor Collection having previously been run by Chris Evans. Justin has cooked for the Queen and was previously head chef at some highly prestigious kitchens in hotels.

Out on the streets I will, in particular, be looking for Elmtree Foods and Burren Bakery.

Collette Crewe started Elmtree in May of this year and is already gaining a huge reputation for her pies. I love the Porky Pear and Mrs K is a fan of Minty Mutton. Selling mainly through Farmers Markets, Collette is a regular at Usk though she also visits markets throughout Wales and the South West. One thing that I love about her approach is her use of Twitter to debate Pork Pies, with or without Jelly before settling on the final recipe. Clearly in touch with her market, Collette also sells through Sourc’d in Caerleon.

Another Usk Regular is Roisin from Burren Bakery. Roisin started producing great Soda Breads in her kitchen but has moved up production and now operates out of the Sugar Loaf Caterers premises in Abergavenny. Though straight Soda is her major product innovative use of ingredients such as Walnuts gives her bread an interesting and innovative flavour. I particularly like the Nutella based bread which would be the Irish equivalent of Pain au Chocolat and more of a breakfast bread than Stripy Cat the other bread and chocolate Irish classic.

The great thing about a locally based festival is that there will be small producers from Newport and the surrounds that I have not yet encountered but who will, I am sure prove to be Local and Great.

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