Abergavenny Food Festival on Tourism Awards Shortlist for ‘Best Large Event’ in the National Tourism Awards for Wales

The Abergavenny Food Festival has been shortlisted in the ‘Best Large Event’ category for this year’s National Tourism Awards.

Heather Myers2Heather Myers, the Festival’s Chief Executive says, “We’re delighted to know that we’ve made it this far. The Festival has grown incrementally over 16 years. Our event is all about celebrating the growers, the processors, the cooks, the campaigners, the artists and writers who in different ways fly the flag for craft, diversity and culture. In 2014 we had an unprecedented attendance of over 31,000 people. But you don’t measure the success of an event by visitor numbers alone, or indeed in the space of what happens in just one weekend.”

She continues, “For us success is also about building lasting networks in the wider food community (producer and consumer); by providing an environment for the meeting of minds, out of which new ideas are born. It could be about our guest performers discovering and working with new producers or giving fledgling artisan business the right sort of exposure. It’s also about the inter-relationship between culinary movers and shakers and the public; an educative process that works both ways. In doing this we showcase the best of Wales and Welsh food and help promote the country as an exciting and distinctive tourist destination. We continue to say ‘no’ to homogenisation and a big ‘yes’ to all the above. And there’s one other thing we’re also clear about: the focus is firmly on fun and feasting and great Welsh hospitality”.

The winners and runners-up will be announced during the National Tourism Awards for Wales 2015 gala dinner and awards ceremony on Wednesday 25 March 2015. The Abergavenny Food Festival was awarded the accolade of ‘Best Event’ in 2013.

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Blue Cheese Battle and Gold Star Bara Brith

Two of our Christmas Food & Drink Fair exhibitors have been in touch to give us their latest news and plans for Sunday.

Ann and James North from Flavours of Monmouth

“Just wanted to drop you a line to tell you of our plans for the Christmas Fair next weekend. Historically, us Welsh love turning the simplest of things into a competition (just look at our Eisteddfodd), so with this in mind we’re planning a ‘Blue Cheese Battle’ on our stall between our two favourite cheeses.

Capture 2

As normal, we will be freely offering tasters from the knife, but this time asking the public to vote (via pressing a button on a screen) for which cheese they prefer. Both cheeses will be available to buy by weight.” (pic of staff at the deli with selection of cheeses on offer in the shop). See them at stall 83 in the Priory Centre.

 Melanie Constantinou of Baked by Mel

“My first Abergavenny appearance was this September  with my Bara Brith.  I had applied for a grant from Creative Rural Communities for branding/packaging, so I felt I had something that looked professional and high-end. I had this lovely traditional product to show off … and to add to it I won 2 gold stars at this year’s Great Taste Awards! After the September event I was contacted by a Fortnum & Mason buyer and it looks as though our lovely Welsh bara brith will be on the Londons store’s shelves after Christmas.

Bara Brith

I also have the Bara Brith in the hamper from Toast – directly after being at the fab  Abergavenny Food Festival. I am so so pleased and thrilled! If you want to have a little look you can see me at www.barabrith.co; and in the hampers at www.toa.st – it’s in the section called ‘Christmastide’ and the hamper has only Welsh items in it. All my baking started in 2011. As a single parent who didn’t want to go down the route of expensive childcare I thought – what can I do from home? Well, here we are ….” See her at stall 60 in the Priory Marquee.

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Tudor Kissing Boughs bring traditional touch to Christmas Food & Drink Fair

IMG_0332 revisedSamantha Thompson-Taylor (Sam) knows a thing or two about decoration. Having trained in textiles at Hereford College of Art & Design she has been crafting for over 20 years. She also works at the RSC. Her crafting portfolio includes weddings and other events. A few years ago she was on our dem stage at the Christmas Fair with some clever ideas for festive table decorations. This year she’s been tasked with decorating the venues, with particular emphasis on the Market Hall.

“I have made mosaics, embroidery and fabric construction pieces – I am used to turning my hand to most mediums to fulfil customer requirements. But for this commission I really had to think about scaling-up because it’s such a large space. This year the focus is on tradition and natural elements.”

Sam had to be up bright and early (3.00am) to source fruit and veg from a Birmingham market so she could focus on colour-ways and sizing for the different elements of her designs. She’s also had 150 metres of red organza delivered. Over the last two days she’s been busy bringing her designs to life in Abergavenny.

So what’s in store for visitors?IMG_0359

“In the Market Hall we have a giant ball of mistletoe with ruched red fabric swags and festoon lighting; plus fir swags between the pillars with festive fruits such as pomegranates. And I thought that Tudor kissing boughs would be a nice touch at the entrance. At the gates to the Priory there will be swagging, and other foliage and bare branch decorations in the first courtyard. I had huge fun creating these and do hope that visitors will enjoy them too.”

The Abergavenny Christmas Food & Drink Fair takes place on Sunday 14 December from 10.00am to 5.00pm.  View full details online. Adult stroller tickets cost £5.00. Free entry to children under 16 if with an adult. Buy your ticket at the information stand in Cross Street (outside Borough Theatre) and be sure to pick up a free copy of the site map with details of all exhibitors as well as the programme of entertainment

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Fab and Groovy Psychedelic Lollipops and traditional Welsh Toffee

Adele Nozedar is  a bit of a whizz when it comes to sweeties. As author of ‘Great British Sweets and How to Make Them At Home’ she’s well placed to dish up some brilliant treats for the festive season.Adele Nozedar on stage 2013 2

Great British SweetsAnd that’s exactly what she will be doing at our Christmas Fair on Sunday 14 December. She’ll be joined on the chef dem stage in the Market Hall by Karl Cheetham, head chef at the Gliffaes Hotel. See the full lineup

(pic above of Adele and Karl at last year’s Fair creating a giant curly-wurly)

Here are two recipes from Adele to get you started, together with information on the traditions involved.

Noson Gyflaith

Noson Gyflaith – which translates as Toffee Evening – was, at one time, a traditional part of the Welsh holiday season, and a way to while away the hours until it was time to go to Church for the Plygian ritual. Meaning ‘Cock Crow’, Plygian was a vigil of singing between the hours of 3am and 6am on Christmas Morning. It’s likely that the older, wiser members of the family might have gone to bed and risen early, but the younger ones would have thought it far more fun to stay up late making toffee, driven to sing better, presumably, because of the sugar rush, as well as a few pints of apple cider!

After dinner, the toffee-making was a real hands-on affair, everyone getting sticky together …. and apparently was something of a courting ritual, too. The ingredients would have been boiled in a pot over an open fire and then poured out, when cooked, onto a slab; a well-scrubbed hearthstone by the fire would have done the job nicely, the heat from the flames meaning the toffee remained pliable as the participants rolled and pulled it after buttering their hands. Can you imagine the mess it must have caused? It will be interesting to see the state of the Market Hall kitchen after we’ve finished with it!

If you fancy having a go, here’s the recipe. You will notice that I haven’t included any temperatures, but, if you prefer to be precise about these things, the heat you’re aiming for to make a hard toffee is approx 130 degrees C. Worst case scenario, if the toffee doesn’t set you’ll have a quantity of delicious treacle toffee sauce. If you have the luxury of a large open fire and ancient stone flags, why not try it the old fashioned way! Just make sure you have permission from the person who has to clean the floor afterwards, otherwise Santa will cross you off his list for sure…

  • One pound of black treacle
  • A quarter of a pound of butter
  • One pound of brown sugar
  • One teaspoon of vinegar

Put everything into your usual heavy-bottomed pan, and stir together until everything is melted. Bring to the boil and boil briskly, stirring all the while. Be careful if you’re going for the over-the-fire method. Drop a little toffee into ice-cold water, and if the water stays clear, pour the toffee onto a slab oiled with butter and pull it into twisted strands. Alternatively, let the toffee set in the tray and then smash it to pieces with a toffee hammer.

Recipe taken from Adele Nozedar’s ‘Great British Sweets and How to Make Them at Home’ (Random House/Square Peg 2014, £12.99)

Fab and Groovy Psychedelic Lollipops

These are colourful, whacky and most wonderfully easy-to-make lollipops. They look a bit like stained glass and, wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bow, would make the loveliest Christmas presents. Here’s how to make them.

  • 20 paper lolly sticks (easy to buy online)
  • 3 drops each of yellow, blue, and red food colouring.
  • ½ tsp of the flavouring of your choice (strawberry, orange, mint….whatever you fancy)
  • 227g water
  • 227g golden syrup
  • 400g granulated white sugar

20 paper lolly sticks (easy to buy online)                                                                                                             You’ll also need a silicon baking sheet, or a tray lined with baking parchment.

First, arrange the lolly sticks on the tray, leaving at least 5 cms of space between each one. Then, have to hand a bowl of cold water, large enough for the bottom of the pan to sit in.

In a heavy-bottomed pan( preferably one with a pouring spout), mix together the golden syrup, sugar and water. Attach a sugar thermometer to the inside of the pan. Stir over a low heat to dissolve the sugar and then increase the temperature, bringing to the boil. The mixture needs to reach 150 degrees C (hard crack stage). Carefully remove the pan from the stove and dip the base into the cold water for 15 seconds to arrest the cooking process. Stir in the flavouring. Then, divide the mixture between 2 heatproof jugs. Add yellow colouring to one of the jugs, and blue to the other, stirring thoroughly with a skewer.

Spoon a little of the mixture onto the sticks, making freeform, hippylicious designs. The add a drop of blue colouring to the yellow mixture (to produce green) and add red to the blue one (to produce purple). Pour a second layer of syrup onto the lollipops. If the coloured syrups start to go hard, just pop them into a warm oven, or microwave for a few seconds to soften. Let the lollipops go hard (this will take about 20 minutes) before lifting from the sheet. Wrap in cellophane, tie with a bow, and present with pride.

 

 

 

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From the ‘Victorian Domestic Goddess’ – real meat heritage mince pies adapted by Illtud Llyr Dunsford

Illtud Dunsford low res credit Warren OrchardREAL HERITAGE MEAT MINCE PIES

Illtud Llyr Dunsford, producer of heritage charcuterie, will be on the chef dem stage at our Christmas Food & Drink Fair on Sunday 14 December. What will he be cooking? Here’s the full line-up  See what Illtud’s up to on twitter

A new system of domestic cookery

Here’s an adapted Victorian recipe from a work by Maria Eliza Rundell (1745-1828), now regarded as the original ‘Domestic Goddess’ predating the perennial favourite Isobella Beeton, by nearly a century.

Ingredients

Mince meat:

  • 450g beef sirloin, finely chopped/minced
  • 450g beef suet
  • 4 large apples, peeled, core removed, flesh chopped
  • 35kg currants
  • ½ small loaf of day old breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg.
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon.
  • ½ tsp ground cloves.
  • ½ tsp ground ginger.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 450g sugar
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 3 large oranges, juice only
  • Candied peel, diced
  • 250ml brandy
  • 250ml ruby port

Short crust pastry:

  • 225g flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 115g butter, cut into cubes (or 50/50 butter and lard)
  • Water, as necessary
  • 4-6 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp sugar

Method

This recipe makes 8-10 mince pies.                                                                                                             Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

For the mincemeat:

Mix all of the mincemeat ingredients together by hand in a large bowl until well combined.

Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan and heat over a very low heat for 3-5 hours, stirring occasionally, or until it has reduced to a thick, dark paste.

Shortcrust pastry:

Meanwhile, for the shortcrust pastry, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter or butter and lard cubes, then rub them into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Gradually add the water, a tablespoon at a time, stirring well until the mixture comes together as a stiff dough.

Filling the pies:

Turn out the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface and knead well until smooth and elastic.

Roll out the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface to a 1cm/½in thickness. Using an upturned bowl, cut eight discs from the pastry. Reserve the remaining pastry.

Place a coffee mug into the centre of each pastry disc and draw the sides of the pastry up against the mug, overlapping the edges, to form free-standing pastry cases.

Divide the mincemeat evenly among the pastry cases.

Lid the pies:

Roll out the remaining pastry onto a lightly floured work surface. Using the same mug as before, cut eight discs from the pastry to create four ‘lids’.

Place one pastry ‘lid’ on top of each pie, tucking the edges into the pastry case. Pinch the pastry together well to prevent the filling from leaking out during baking. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of each pastry lid to allow the steam to escape.

In a bowl, mix together the milk and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Brush the top of each pie with this mixture.

Cook:

Place the mince pies onto a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown.

Remove the mince pies from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

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A recipe for Pine and Sloe Gin Mincepies from Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods

Liz Knight (3)Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods will be on the chef dem stage in the market hall from 12.30 – 1.00pm as part of our Christmas Food & Drink Fair entertainment on Sunday 14 December. The topic of her dem will be ‘A Wild Christmas: Festive Cooking with Pine’. Meanwhile here’s her recipe for Pink & Sloe Gin Mince Pies.

PINE & SLOE GIN MINCE PIES

I love spring’s neon green flavours, summers perfumed blooms, autumns laden fruit & nut trees. But most of all, I love Christmas. From the moment the first buds of spring start turning from angry clenched fists to wide open welcoming hands, I am thinking about and gathering for the biggest feast of the year. And every year our mincemeat is the grand culmination of the best flavours gathered from those first green days of spring onwards.

This spring I made a bottle of beech leaf & pine gin. Since May this little bottle has sat next to the remnants of last years sloe gin, waiting to be turned into something to do justice to the aromatic flavour that could ruin the most puritanical of mothers.

Recently I mixed the piney gin with a slug of syrupy sloe gin, poured the tempting elixir over wet walnuts, russet apples and raisins. The result was tasty: woody, aromatic, fruity and rather boozy. This year’s mincemeat was born – it’s too good to keep to myself  and you can emulate the spring flavours with your Christmas tree.

It’s too late to make beech and pine gin this year (but next spring force some zingy  & sour beech leaves & pine shoots into a 2/3rd filled bottle of gin – you’ll thank me.)

You’ll need:

  • 100g shelled wet walnuts or dried walnuts
  • 250g chopped russet apples (russet apples hold their shape when cooked & are a perfect mincemeat apple)
  • 250g raisins
  • a large sprig of pine*
  • 150ml sloe gin
  • 150ml gin – the more botanical the better.
  • sugar or zyiotol (a delicious sugar free sweetener extracted from birch trees) to taste

Method

  • Chop the walnuts & russet apples until they are the size you like your mincemeat to be (no rules, you know how you like your mouthful).
  • Add them to a bowl with the raisins, pour over the gin, stir in the sweetener & taste to check for sweetness.
  • Press into the mixture a handful of pine sprigs.
  • Cover the mixture.
  • Pour yourself a gin, make a cup of tea, unload the dishwasher (reload the dishwasher with the dishes you just unloaded but look dirtier than when they went in)
  • Wait for a couple of days … tasting every so often.
  • When the fruit is plump & tastes of pine woods take the pine sprigs out &  it’s ready to cook into mincepies that will make you want to eat your Christmas tree.
  • There will be quite alot of liquid left at the bottom of the bowl. What ever you do, don’t throw it away – pour it into a hipflask, go into the woods & drink it with the Whisps.

*You can use pine needles from douglas fir, scots pine  and spruce. Just remember not to mistake Yew trees for pine as they are incredibly toxic & you won’t see Christmas out let alone the New Year in if you nibble on Yew leaves. *

Forage Fine Foods will have a stall in the Market Hall.

 

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Arun Kapil – Turkey Delight and Snowman on a Stick

Arun Kapil 2 Fresh Spice - Arun Kapil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Saffron stall - photographer Tim Woodier - CopyArun Kapil of Green Saffron will be on the Chef Dem stage in the Market Hall at 3.30pm as part of our Christmas Food & Drink Fair (Sunday 14 Dec). He has a new book out: Fresh Spice: Vibrant recipes for bringing flavour, depth and colour to home cooking (Pavilion Books). He’ll  be doing a book-signing. Green Saffron will also be exhibiting.

RECIPES: Here are two clever recipes from Arun to make the most of your festive left-overs:

TURKEY DELIGHT – with coconut, spice and lime (serves 4-6 people)

For a delicious way to use up left-over turkey, chicken, ham or beef try this recipe. Delicate, superbly aromatic, bursting full of flavour. Fresh Tamil spices, creamy coconut milk, lime juice and fresh coriander…absolutely beautiful. Our version of the Tamil ‘Vadagam’ blend:  ‘Turkey Delight’….full of Indian promise!

Ingredients:

  • 500g or 1 lb onions, peeled, diced
  • 60g or 2 oz ghee, butter or 3 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or blitzed
  • 20g or 1 fat inches ginger, grated or blitzed

Spices: 2 tsp cumin, 5 green cardamom pods, 4 cloves, 1tsp black pepper, ½ tsp fenugreek seeds grind these all then add, ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli flakes, 1 heaped tsp ground cassia, 1 heaped tsp turmeric,1 tsp black mustard seeds and 4 gratings of nutmeg.

  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 tin tomatoes, chopped
  • 1kg or 2 lb COOKED meat (turkey, ham etc), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • juice and zest of ½ lime
  • coriander, fresh, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt, to taste

How to make your meal:

  1. Sweat the onions in the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan until soft.
  2. Turn the heat up to medium, add the garlic and ginger. Stir for a couple of minutes.
  3. Next, add your spice blend and stir for another minute.
  4. Turn up the heat a little, add the tomatoes and coconut milk, sugar, stir and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked meat and cook on a gentle heat until everything’s deliciously warm, approx 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Take off the heat, grate the lime zest into the pan, squeeze in the lime juice, sprinkle with the fresh coriander.
  7. Stir, check the seasoning, adding salt if you think it needs it, stir again, then serve immediately.

Serving suggestion: Sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander and serve with Green Saffron’s Vintage ‘AAA’ Basmati rice.

Alternative suggestions: Try replacing the cooked meat with the same quantity of raw – cut into mouth-size pieces; but remember (at stage 5, above) to cook it for about 20 minutes for chicken and about 1½ hours for lamb with the lid on until your chosen meat is cooked. Fish could also be used. Monkfish is recommended as it has a firmer texture. Again, remember to only just cook the fish. This could take as little as 15 to 20 minutes.

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SNOWMAN ON A STICK (Makes 6 sticks)

Ingredients:

  • 50g smooth apricot jam
  • 1 tblsp water
  • 1 x 390g Green Saffron Crimbletastic Christmas pudding, or any amount of left-over Christmas pudding
  • 60g desiccated coconut
  • 30g white chocolate
  • 6 small brochette skewers
  • 12 raisins
  • 2 or 3 red glace cherries
  • 6 sultanas
  • 6 small dice mixed peel

Method:

  1. Pop the water and apricot jam into a saucepan, heat, stir and melt. Set aside.
  2. Put the pudding into a mixing bowl and break it up with a knife until it resembles bread-crumbs. Set aside.
  3. Pop the coconut onto a plate, grate the chocolate onto it and mix together with metal spoon.
  4. Roll 6 balls of pudding weighing 40g and another 6 weighing 20g. Brush them with the jam, then roll them around in the coconut chocolate flakes, until they’re fully covered.
  5. Brush the raisins with the jam and pop them on as eyes. Cut 6 small pieces of cherry, coat in jam and add on as noses.
  6. Finally, slide a sultana followed by a small piece of mixed peel up the stick and wedge into place to stop the snowman sliding down his perch. Insert the sticks into some foil covered oasis and serve!

For handy hints and complements contact Arun on: 00353 (0)86 833 1030, eatwell@greensaffron.com, www.greensaffron.com                                                                           Unit 16, Knockgriffin, Midleton, Co Cork, Ireland

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