Petals of the Valley Fresh Rosewater to launch at Festival

Welsh Rosewater – Cook with the fragrance of summer all year round

Welsh Rose WaterWelsh Rosewater, made from pure, natural ingredients, grown and made in Wales is being launched at the Abergavenny Food Festival this year. Believed to be the first rosewater in the UK to be approved as a food ingredient, Petals of the Valley’s rosewater is rich in natural oil and flavour.

The fragrant Rosa Damascena roses are only distilled once in a traditional copper still then matured in glass demi-johns. These delicate roses have to be picked at dawn in order to capture the maximum rose oil content before it dissipates over the day. The result is rosewater rich in oil and flavour with no preservatives.

Rosewater was traditionally used for flavouring before the advent of vanilla and as such can often be used in place of vanilla in recipes. Think cakes, puddings, drinks, sweets.

Petals of the Valley Ltd can be found in the Souk at The Priory where you can taste their rosewater’s unique, fragrant, fresh and delicious floral flavour and
find inspiration for cooking with Rosewater on their website.

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BBC Radio 4 – The Kitchen Cabinet and Saturday Live at Abergavenny Food Festival

Two BBC Radio events will at the Abergavenny Food Festival:

The Kitchen Cabinet

Jay Rayner

Jay Rayner

On Friday 19 September the Kitchen Cabinet, chaired by Jay Rayner, will be recording in the Borough Theatre (time: 12 noon). The panel will feature food historian Annie Gray, Spanish food supremo Rachel McCormack, food writer and journalist Tim Hayward and Tim Anderson,  winner of BBC Masterchef (2011) and owner of pop-up Southern Japanese restaurant Nanban. The Rev Richard Coles from Saturday Live will also be featuring on this special edition. Some of the themes that will be talked about include cider and British charcuterie.


Saturday Live

Richard Coles

Richard Coles

The following day (Saturday 20 September) it’s the turn of Saturday Live with Rev Richard Coles, Suzy Klein and Jay Rayner (time: 8.30am). Guests will include Jancis Robinson, Doyenne of the wine world, tree hunter Rob McBride who travels the world tracking down ancient trees such as The Oak at the Gate of the Dead on Offa’s Dyke; and Beekeeper Scott Davies who served his honey to Barack Obama at the NATO conference in Wales and dressed up as a bee to meet the PM. John Humphrys will be tucking into Welsh rarebit with JP Devlin plus songs from Welsh-speaking Bajan singer/songwriter Kizzy Crawford and Inheritance Tracks from musician and broadcaster Cerys Matthews

Both events will take place in the Borough Theatre, Cross Street, Abergavenny. Apply for tickets now for The Kitchen Cabinet and Saturday Live off the BBC’s website

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Giant Pigs in Clover take top billing in Market Hall

Arts Alive Wales is putting the call out for creative and motivated people who’d like to volunteer and team up with a professional designer to create a magnificent art installation for Abergavenny Food Festival 2014.

This year’s theme is ‘Pigs & Garlands’. Inspiration will be drawn from our much-loved British breed pigs, including Gloucester Old Spot, Saddleback,  Hampshire and Tamworth. We’re talking really swanky swine here so creative hands are also needed to glam them up them with garlands of flowers and fruits. A fitting tribute to these visually distinctive animals who’ve graced our farms and agricultural shows for generations.

These extraordinary annual installations have become something of an institution. The pigs are destined to hang in Abergavenny’s Victorian Market Hall where they’ll be unveiled at the start of the Festival weekend (20 and 21 September). They will be a huge attraction for visitors and locals alike and remain on display for a year.

Come on board and turn ideas into reality. Textile, painting and sculpting skills would be particularly useful but beginners are very welcome too. You’ll be guided by professional designer, Bettina Reeves.

The workshops will take place at the Arts Alive Wales studio, Brecon Road, Crickhowell from Monday 1st to Wednesday 17th September and run from 9.30am to 5.30pm. Please note: there are no workshops on Thursdays or Sundays.

If you would like to get involved please email: or call 01873 811579 and say which dates you’re available. Please bring lunch to share.

The creation of this year’s installation has been funded by Abergavenny Food Festival and Abergavenny Town Council.

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Top Chefs Head for ‘Best Event in Wales’

Last year the Abergavenny Food Festival won the accolade ‘Best Event in Wales’ (National Tourism Awards 2013), so the bar has been set high for 2014. This year’s programme won’t disappoint. The Festival takes place over the weekend of 20 and 21 September and box office is now live at

Over fifty of the brightest lights of the culinary world have Abergavenny as a firm date in their diaries.  Join the masters, get inspired and take your culinary skills to another level. Buy tickets online or from the Borough Theatre on 01873 850805.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, one of the UK’s best-loved cooks, is first off the block on the Friday night (19 September). He’ll be discussing his new book ‘River Cottage Light and Easy – healthy recipes for every day’ with journalist Joanna Blythman.

The Festival prides itself on great hospitality and a laid-back convivial atmosphere. Award-winning chef Cyrus Todiwala says, “The Abergavenny bug has smitten us hard. We just love to be there and make many new friends.” Cyrus will be taking the stage with Tony Singh, his co-presenter on ‘The Incredible Spice Men’ (BBC2). Their mission is to wake up Britain to the power of spices. Expect a high-octane demonstration as they conjure up dishes from their book and TV series.

Thomasina Miers also knows a thing or two about spices. She fell for the food of Mexico and cooked with some of the country’s top chefs before winning MasterChef in 2005 and opening the Mexican street-food chain ‘Wahaca’. She’ll be cooking from her latest book ‘Chilli Notes – recipes to warm the heart.’

The special events programme represents a real melting-pot of diverse food cultures, each taken to new heights by amazingly talented people. The line-up also includes Claudia Roden, the legendary doyenne of cookery writing, who’ll be returning to Abergavenny for a rare cooking demonstration on the food of Italy; Iranian-born rising culinary star Sabrina Ghayour – one of the strongest voices in Middle Eastern food today; and Sam and Sam Clark, the inspirational duo behind ‘Moro’ restaurant and little sister ‘Morito’ with a focus on Spanish and Moorish cuisine.

And what of the UK? Well, Marcus Verberne, Head Chef at ‘Roast’ – a restaurant located in the foodie mecca of Borough Market – celebrates both heritage and innovation with his seasonal British cooking. He’ll be showcasing the glories of British cuisine; and River Cottage’s Steven Lamb will demonstrate how to smoke and air-dry your own produce. Closer to home, Wales-based Illtud Llyr Dunsford – who raises Mangalitsa pigs with an Austro-Hungarian pedigree for his artisan company Charcutier Ltd – will be hosting a charcuterie tasting with restaurant owner and blogger Eliza Flanagan.

While the guests are performing live, the Festival’s five main venues will also be in full swing. “A buzzing place for tantalizing smells, exotic foods and smiling faces all over. Pure joy.” So says master chocolatier Marc Demarquette who’s looking forward to sharing a tasting of his sweet and savoury ganaches.

The Artisan Kitchen School is a brand new initiative for 2014. Sign up to hour-long classes in artisan food and drink production throughout the Festival weekend. Don an apron, learn a new craft and create an artisan product to take home. You can, for instance, make bacon with James Swift from Trealy Farm, discover the world of home-made seasonal fruit liqueurs with Lindy Wildsmith, finesse the art of pasta-making with Abergavenny’s own Franco Taruschio, and join Marie Cheong Thong to brew your own sake.

The Festival markets have over two hundred top-notch exhibitors across five locations as well as a children’s food academy sponsored by Organic Centre Wales, chef dems and other entertainment; and there’s a brand new Night Market on the Saturday too.  A brilliant collection of street food traders will be open in Lower Brewery Yard, transformed into a magical place to eat, drink, shop and hang out, complete with pop-up restaurant and tastings from top cheese experts at La Cave à Fromage;  plus live music too.  Free to stroller ticket holders or £2.00 on the spot.

Special events start at £8.00 a ticket. Stroller tickets for the main markets start at £6.50 (early-bird prices) and children accompanied by a paying adult get in for free (strollers only). You can also pick up a complimentary 80-page guide on the day which contains everything you need to make the most of your Festival visit.

The Festival is supported by the Welsh Government, Visit Wales, Monmouthshire County Council and Abergavenny Town Council, with additional valuable ongoing support from local businesses and individuals.

Chief Executive Heather Myers says, “Everyone who contributes to the Festival also plays a vital role in promoting the best of Wales alongside other food cultures. Wales has loads to offer and the Abergavenny Food Festival is a great place to start. Monmouthshire in particular has an exellent year-round food offering which is why it’s now known as ‘The Food Capital of Wales’. Come along and experience it for yourself”.

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Say No to Waste for the AFF Grow It, Cook It, Eat It Competition 2014

Calling all schools and groups in the South East Wales area with young people of secondary school age. Now’s the time to sign up to the 2014  Abergavenny Food Festival ‘Grow It, Cook It, Eat It’ competition. This year’s theme is ‘No Waste’.

Last year’s winners were King Henry VIII School who came up trumps with their Harvest Meal Recipe. Here’s a pic of the winners, with Judges Kate Humble and Julie Barratt, Director, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (Wales)


The competition is a really important part of the Festival and gives students the chance to show off their culinary skills and perform centre stage. It is an eagerly anticipated part of the Food Academy at the Castle, sponsored for the second year running by Organic Centre Wales with Waitrose Abergavenny contributing to the cost of the ingredients.

Prizes are being provided by The Celtic Manor Resort. The lucky winners will be awarded Celtic Manor Resort  5 in 1 Adventure Activity Passes. These comprise a full day of fun across the full range of Celtic Manor activities including 18 hole Adventure Golf , Forest Jump Treetop Adventure, Laser Combat and Archery or Crossbow and a snack and soft drink. And a ‘best food hygiene’ prize awarded by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health will also be up for grabs.

Groups are being asked to plan a week of dinners, with a close eye on minimising waste. For instance they might want to consider:

* using ingredients for more than one meal
* creative use of leftovers
* composting and recycling
* growing their own produce to avoid unnecessary packaging
* using local (ie: ingredients produced within a 50 mile radius) to reduce air miles/carbon footprint

These are suggestions to get you started. Add your own ideas too.

Students should also consider the shelf-life of their food and how it should be stored safely, and the benefits of using organic produce.

The Festival is big on recycling and reducing waste so the ‘No Waste’ theme goes right to the heart of the event.

The judges will be looking for delicious, healthy meals which can easily be adapted to suit most households.

Two finalists will be chosen to cook their choice of one dish from their menu at the Abergavenny Food Festival on Sunday 21st September, with the winner being crowned on the day.

Feedback from the schools and groups who have taken part in previous years has always been very positive. It has proved to be a fantastic way not only to help young people learn about choosing and eating healthy, locally produced, food, but also giving them the skills to prepare a meal and the satisfaction that comes from doing it.

Please e.mail to confirm the details of your group and be sure to submit your entry by Friday 4 July. Finalists will be notified before the end of the school year on Friday 18 July. Garden Organic is kindly donating seeds, so please let Kirsty know if you require any seeds for your produce.

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Fred Bray wins SweetieFest Sweetie Hero Award

Sheila Woodhouse, Mayor of Abergavenny presented the inaugural Abergavenny SweetieFest Sweetie Hero Award 2013 to Fred Bray at our Christmas Fair on Sun 8 Dec.

The Mayor presents SweetieFest Sweetie Hero Award to John Bray low res

Here’s the text that was used for the presentation: 

Abergavenny SweetieFest Sweetie Hero Award 2013

If we consider our British sweeties as not just a simple piece of confection, and if we look at them more closely, we find that they hold many stories.

Sweets of boiled sugar, transformed into candies or toffees, have been made all over the UK for hundreds of years. These humble sweets, particularly in poor areas, provided mothers with an income to feed their children as well as a means of local pride (think of the many sweets belonging to specific place names, such as Everton Toffee, Jesmond Bullets, Edinburgh Rock and also Wales’ Lossin Dant mints). Our sweets symbolise the ingenuity, hard work and quirky imagination of those who invent and make them; all these are qualities are quintessentially British, too which is why we make sweets like nowhere else in the world. Think of the Curly Wurly, made with complex equipment by engineers trained in the car trade of the Midlands, or the complex pressing jigs invented by Swizzels Matlow to print words of compressed candies.

There was no award specifically honouring our wonderful confectionery industry…but there is now.

SweetieFest founder Adele Nozedar with SweetieFest Hero Award-winner John Braylow res

SweetieFest founder Adele Nozedar and Fred Bray

The first recipient of the Abergavenny SweetieFest Sweetie Hero award, which in future will be open to all of Great Britain, is Wales’ own Fred Bray. This Merthyr boy is the living epitome of ingenuity, resourcefulness, hard work and the wicked sense of humour characteristic of us Brits, as well as the grittiness and passion associated with this part of Wales. The Bray Confectionery dynasty, still going strong today, started prior to the 1880s in South Wales. In 1896 one of Fred’s ancestors gave John Mackintosh the recipe for the Special Toffee that made that particular company famous; in his own lifetime Fred has made Colliers Lumps specially for miners, (to ease their throats down the mines), has supplied the House of Lords with Welsh Lossin Dant Mints, another Bray trademark, and even made fruit out of molten sugar for Rolf Harris. Fred was a regular favourite with visitors to St Fagins, where he made toffee ‘live’ every weekend.

The award itself is based on a rare regional delicacy from Nottingham. The Sugar Chook, a sort of lollipop made in the shape of a proud rooster, looks like an expensive piece of Murano glass; so we went one further and modelled the trophy, in Murano glass style, in honour of the sweet. It was made by Herefordshire-based Laney Mead.

The Bray Family

The Bray Family

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Christmas Fair stroller ticket lucky dip – lots of prizes to be won!

Once you’ve got your stroller ticket (wristband) then do head down to The Priory Centre to see if your wristband number is up on the board. If it is then you get a go in our Lucky Dip. Inside the envelopes are vouchers that you can take to the relevant exhibitor / shop to redeem your prize. Top prize is a day’s cookery course (worth £100) with Penny Lewis of Culinary Cottage

Here is a selection of just some of the goodies donated by exhibitors and the Festival: 

Abergavenny Food Festival: aprons
Abergavenny Food Festival:  bags
Barry Colenso Master Chocolatier Ltd: bag of truffles
Blaengawney Farm: Christmas gift pack of cider
Ccs Coffee Bar: large hot drinks
Chantler Teas: 50g bag of tea
Chestnut Meats: 2 Packs of home cured bacon
Chestnut Meats: pack of diced goat meat
Chocolate House: bar of Chocolate
Claire’s Kitchen: preserve of your choice
Coity Bach Produce: pack of chilli sausages
Cotswold Gold: bottle of raspberry drizzle
Deb Perelman’s Cook Book
Devon Fishcakes: mini gourmet tray of fishcakes
Glam Lamb: cooked luxury glam lamb burgers
Hardwick Hampers: pack of cheese sable Biscuits
Hay Wines: bottle of Rubis chocolate wine
Homes of Elegance: tbc
Hollow Ash Orchard: hot mulled apple Juice
La Cave a Fromage: selection of cheeses
Miranda’s Preserves: large jar of preserve
Miserable Cow Coffee Bar: hot chocolate – the works & bag of organic coffee
Patchwork Foods: paté
Raw Chocolate Pie: pack of 3 raw chocolate pies
Sugarloaf Catering: jars of red onion marmalade, chilli jam and apple sauce
Sue Gilmore’s Wonderful World of Chocolate: Christmas gift pack
The Anglesey Sea Salt Company: mini gift box (with 4 types of salt)
The Blaenafon Cheddar Company: mini gift pack of cheese
The Culinary Cottage: voucher for a cookery course
The Ludlow Nut Co: pack of granola
The Olive Press: fig cake
The Parsnipship: Welsh haloumi Moroccan nut roast
The Parsons Nose: £5 voucher to spend at the stall
The Preservation Society: pack of buttery & boozy mincemeat
The Pudding Shop: sticky toffee pudding
Tipsy Fruit Gins Ltd: 100ml bottle of Seville Orange gin liqueur
Trealy Farm Charcuterie: large platter of Charcuterie
Usk River: jar of chutney

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