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Monday, 23 July 2012

Local and Great Live - the delayed preview

I really do believe that small strong local food producers and businesses are the way forward. By eating locally sustainably and seasonally we can reduce carbon footprints, lower food miles and support local economies and communities. Oh yes and heat a better, healthier diet!

This blog is a celebration of all of the above and concentrates on great producers and the benefits that accrue to our communities.

I was delighted, therefore, to be invited to run a session on Local and Great foods at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, and even more pleased to learn that I would share the stage with Alun Davies the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programme.
Amongst Alun’s responsibilities are:
Promotion of Welsh Farming and Food businesses
Rural development and European Funding
So who better to share a platform with?

Strenghtening rural communities and economies is vital for the continued development of the verall economy and retaining the money where it is generated. It is estimated that of every £1 spent locally 75p stays in the locality. Spend that £ in a supermarket and only 45p remains, buy online and the net retention is negligable,

Strong producers with strong local markets and producer networks are an essential.

Not only do they generate income but they provide real local jobs not just part-time minimum wage shelf-stacking or check out jobs.

So how do you illustrate this?

For me this was a simple question to answer and I headed off to Trealy Farm to collect some goodies for the demo.

Trealy make great award winning charcuterie, multi Great and True Taste winners they also sit at the centre of some local producer networks. Though a lot of their meats are home raised they also use local farms which meet their standards to ensure a consistent supply of high quality meats.

Some of their meats require smoking and here they are helped by Jo and Jonathon Carthew of Black Mountain Smokery who also smoke Blaenafon Cheddar for Susan Fiandr-Woodhouse. In addition to a range of smoked or flavoured cheddars Sue also produces Abergavenny Goat Cheese.

So armed with a good range of meats, Lamb,Pork, Beef and Venison all featured , and including a special Venison Kabano Style sausage developed for the Olympic Village, I headed for home and the production of some additional goodies.

First up a Smoked Salmon Quiche using Black Mountain Smoked Salmon, local organic eggs and Green Saffron Cubeb Pepper. This would certainly satisfy any pescatarians in the audience and for te vegetarians a Goat Cheese, Tomato and Spring Onion Tart using Sue's Cheese and vegetables from Ty Mawr Organics and Whitebrook Organics, with a light sprinkle of Halen Mon Sea Salt to finish and add a texture.

So lots of savouries but I needed something sweet as well.

Luckily I had recently been gicven the starter for a German Friendship Cake which would fit the bill relly well, and re-branded as a Community Cake would also fit the ethos of developing food communties.

A swift ferment and bake later the finished article was ready to roll!

The Community  Cake Instructions

A sourdough cake. It’s supposed to sit on your worktop for 10 days without a lid on.

You CANNOT put it in the fridge or it will die. If it stops bubbling, it is dead.

  1. You get a starter and put it in a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel.
  2. Stir well
  3. Stir well
  4. Add 1 cup each of plain flour, sugar and milk. Stir well.
  5. Stir well
  6. Stir well
  7. Stir well
  8. Stir well
  9.  Add the same as day 4 and stir well. Divide into 4 equal portions, one to bake, one as a new starter and two to give away to friends with a copy of these instructions.
  10. Starter is very hungry. Stir well and add the following:
1 cup sugar
  • half tsp. (teaspoon) salt
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2/3 (two thirds) cup of cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla essence
  • 2 cooking apples cut into chunks
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 heaped tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tsp. baking powder

Mix everything together and put into a large greased baking tin. Sprinkle with a quarter of a cup of brown sugar and a quarter of a cup of melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180C.

The batter will be very thick but don’t worry, the melted butter will filter through as the cake rises and you will have a lovely light moist cake!

 When cold cut into finger pieces. Cake freezes well and is also delicious warm with cream or ice-cream.

If you don’t get given a starter no worries they are very easy to make.

In a large bowl mix together

1 cup of plain flour

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of milk

Cover with a tea towel

Starter Made!
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Saturday, 14 July 2012

Hiraeth At Felin Fach Griffin

An intriguing tweet, from Julie at the Felin Fach Griffin, meant a slight adjustment to our planned morning at Brecon Farmers Market. Instead of meeting fellow blogger Gomez Adams (Corpulent Capers Blog) to shop and then head for coffee we headed straight to The Hours cafĂ© to meet Julie who “might have a little something to tell you”

Arriving first we grabbed fortifying double espressos and waited for the others.

Mark (Gomez) had barely settled into his cappuccino – despite it being after 11 and therefore not acceptable in Italy – when Julie and Max the Felin Fach Dog arrived.

The little something that Julie had mentioned turned out to be a big and very exciting something indeed and we were the first to learn of it!

The Felin Fach Griffin are planning a one evening food and music festival on 7th September from 6 till late!

Entitled “Hiraeth” which has no direct Welsh-English translation but means longing, homesickness, nostalgia and yearning has a very direct context of place, and it is place that lies at the heart of this one evening festival.
Most exciting was that it would be a "Field to Fork Production with a Musical Finale"
All of the activities, foods and drinks will have a direct connection to the Felin Fach Griffin and the garden in particular.

First the drinks that you would expect to be associated with a pub. Wines will come from Ancre Hill the Monmouthshire vineyard famed for their award winning sparkling whites made by the method champaignoise. Pip’s Cider will be available as it is every day in the pub and beers will come from Brecon Brewing and Waen.

Both Brewers have a good range of beers with Brecon having some seasonal ales including Six Nations – only available during the International Rugby tournament, and Merry Cwrw-istmas a cunning bilingual pun!

So where’s the link to the garden?

Both brewers will be making special festival beers incorporating ingredients from the garden in their flavouring. A Brew Off  between the ales will take place on the night with drinkers voting for their favourite! Just to ensure that you try both the admission price will include a voucher for ½ pint of each and you drop the voucher into a box of your preference.

Food on the night will come from the pub’s award winning chefs and incorporate ingredient from both the garden and Penpont Organics who supply vegetables to the kitchen. Meats will come from the regular suppliers and there could well be a butchery demonstration to boot, whilst there will be a large input from Black Mountain Smokery.

The award winning Talgarth Mill are also involved and may be producing a festival flour especially, but will certainly be providing the basis for rolls, tarts and cakes.

All of the foods on the evening will be cooked over either wood or charcoal and are all included in the admission price.

And if you are feeling full of good food and drink you can work off some of it by dancing! Several bands and artists are lined up including Johnny Crow’s Garden band led by the Griffin’s own Head Gardener!

A full range of demonstrations and talks are planned and for children there will be a wild life nature trail (adults can forage) and vegetable art.

Admission will be by ticket only at £20 for adults and £12.50 for children but with the food and some drinks included that looks an absolute bargain.

To get your ticket ring  01874 620 111.

See you at the Felin Fach Griffin on Friday 7th September!
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Morphy Richards

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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Abergavenny Food Festival -The Excitement Mounts

The countdown has begun. At 9:30 this morning the box office for the Abergavenny Food Festival went live! As usual I was waiting with phone and card in hand though not counting down as per Euro2012.

Thanks to a subscription to Fork Magazine I had received the programme some weeks earlier and had time to plan my two day experience.

In addition to the 200 plus stalls there are a range of Tastings, Master classes, Food Talks, Book signings, Chef demos and foraging opportunities, a real cornucopia of choice. This year’s really big hitters have to be Richard Berthinet, Atul Kochar, Yotam Ottolenghi, Claudia Roden and Pierre Koffman so demand for tickets for their events will sell out rapidly.

 If you feel brave enough the scary Monica Galetti is running a master class and I am sure she is a lovely person in life and not at all like her television image!

I will be going to Atul Kochar’s “Curries of the World” master class on the Sunday. Having loved his food at Corrigan’s – tasting menu by Atul and Arun Kapil of Green Saffron – I really want to find out more and, short of a spell in his kitchen at Benares where better?

The other master class that I will attend is Tom Parker Bowles, Matt Tebbutt and Matthew Fort on the Saturday cooking recipes from Tom’s new book –Let’s Eat. Two years ago they put on a totally entertaining 45 minutes, the highlight of which had to be overheating chillis to the extent that a wave of chilli hot smoke rolled down the room reducing the audience to tears as if they had been gassed by Chinese Riot Police. Though a repeat is not hoped for the three have a chemistry that sparkles.

I shall, however, start on Saturday morning with Raw Milk 2. A tutored tasting. Last year Abergavenny Food Festival hosted the world’s first Raw Milk tasting, despite concerns raised by some over letting the public taste the stuff as nature intended. What was clear was that Raw Milk tasted a lot better than pasteurised and infinitely better than a certain “Triple Filtered” brand. The same held true for creams and butters. This year will be a taste off between unpasteurised milks, creams and butters from Jersey, Guernsey, Friesian and Shorthorn herds, with the audience determining the winner.

Just one other ticketed session is on my agenda (at the minute) Scott Davis from Cnwd leading us through the Gourmet Harvest of West Wales and, having enjoyed his Smoked Sewin from Riverside Market, this is  a must for me.

Beyond that there are new tastes to try, old friends to meet, Chef Demos to see and purchasing plans to be drawn up. You can’t do everything in a day so two days is the only realistic option and they will be two full days!

Most of Wales True Taste ward winners will be there including local producers such as Trealy Farm, Ty Mawr Organics,and Black Mountain Smokery. Otley Brewing will run the Blorenge Bar and a burgeoning Fringe Festival is developing year by year.

So get there! You can order weekend wristbands on line or by phone on 01873 858805 and get tickets for the talks master classes and tastings the same way. Whatever else happens on September 15th and 16th Abergavenny Food Festival is the only place to be.

Foodies100 Index of UK Food Blogs
Morphy Richards

Visit UK Food Bloggers Association