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Monday, 21 November 2011

Shop Local and Shop Well

Saturday meant a return to my local Farmers Market in Usk. We visit every other Saturday and manage to plan most of a week’s menu from that visit.

This time I had a specific agenda in mind before we set off.
One of my favourite stalls is James Swift’s Trealy Farm charcuterie, winners of countless True Taste Awards and plaudits from The Observer and other influential food commentators and industry experts.

Trealy do an amazing range of product, largely sourced from their own stock though they also process meats from good local producers. Having crossed Europe training with experts, before setting up, Trealy make some of the finest charcuterie in the UK.

Ballymaloe Cookery School uses the similarly great produce from Gubbeen in Schull, County Cork, though during my time there I sang the praises of Trealy and in December I shall have the chance to show how good it is to the current students.

So, I needed to sort a good range of meats with James.

As the Air Dried Lamb is unique and a multi award winner that was a straightforward choice, but with only 15 minutes to get the story over and give tastings I had to select those meats which James considered best represented Trealy.

Between us we settled on Smoked Air Dried Monmouthshire Ham, Smoked Air Dried Beef, Salami with Cracked Black Pepper, Fennel Salami, Venison and Wild Boar Salami and Sweet Chorizo. Monmouthshire on a plate, and great tastes for the discriminating students.

Just down the hall from James was Roisin from the Abergavenny based Burren Bakery.

Good Soda bread is Roisin’s stock in trade Having fallen in love with Soda years ago, and made lots and lots at Ballymaloe I can confirm that Burren make really good breads and the local Hotels and Restaurants that she supplies speak eloquent testimony to this. One of my favourites combines Figs and Walnuts to produce a sweet bread that is almost cakey in texture and certainly in taste. Similarly the fruit bread (Spotty Dog in Ireland) is rich and tasty, great for breakfast with marmalade or a good jam.

Cakes are also available, the Irish Apple Cake is my favourite, though some amazing crisp and moist Brownies caught Mrs K’s attention and demanded purchase.

A couple on their first visit were stunned to see Roisin and I swapping chutneys that we had made and exchanging Sticky Gingerbread for the aforementioned Brownies. Their amusement turned to pleasure as Roisin offered to swap bread for some of their Walnuts on their next visit. Every Little Helps and you don’t get that in your local megamart.

Sandwiched between James and Roisin was Sue Ryder of Wye Valley Cheese. Some weeks ago I blogged about The Perfect Ploughman’s and bemoaned not being able to find a Monmouthshire based Cheesemaker, the All Wales Ploughing Championships were being held in one of our villages. Had I but known about Wye Valley then.

The cheese is made from unpasteurised milk and is a sort of cross between Gloucester, just over the border, and Cheddar. It is pressed in traditional presses, some of which were last used over 100 years ago!
Mature at around three months, having been stored in a purpose built room dug into a bank with an earth roof to create the right temperature and humidity.

I prefer the Extra Mature and the date on my piece said that it had been made in January of this year so 10 months old when bought. If you don’t make it to the Farmers Market you can buy the cheese direct from Lower Gockett Farm Shop Monday to Saturday.

A little local gem well worth a try!

As ever we selected vegetables from Ty Mawr Organics which would be paired with the Organic Free Range Chicken from Tom Llewellin at Penucha'rplwyf farm. Not only are Tom’s chickens superb, and come with giblets, but he also gives carcasses for stock on a first come first served basis!

A couple of Elmtree pies, minted mutton for Mrs K, boozy beef for me meant that we would have a good, and light lunch whilst I started the stock from the carcass.

Finally a dash to the fish stall for dressed crab and Arbroath Smokies. The Smokies would be breakfast but the crab would be mixed with a white sauce and covered in buttered crumbs and browned for tea, A simple garlic mayonnaise would accompany some Soda Bread and a mixed leaf salad to set the tea off.

I started with collecting Trealy Farm charcuterie to take to Ballymaloe and the salad for the crab reminded me of Ballymaloe again. Ty Mawr’s mixed leaves included Mizuna, Mibuna, Bok Choi, Pak Choi and TatSoi amongst others. Part of the Mid Term and Final exams at Ballymaloe are Salad Leaf recognition tests and Ty Mawr could have set them judging by their great mix.

Usk Farmers Market…. Local and Great

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