As you well know, the perfect festive celebration involves forward planning and careful thought on the culinary front. Get it right and you’ll be giving friends and family a Christmas to remember. This year’s Abergavenny Christmas Food & Drink Fair takes place on Sunday 8 December, 10.00am to 5.00pm. Box Office goes live on 5 November. The event has been supported by the Welsh Government, Monmouthshire County Council, Griffiths Civil Engineering and Construction and Homes of Elegance.
But before you start shopping here’s a chance to really get into the spirit of the festive season with a most unusual cocktail party (Saturday 7 December, 6.00 to 7.30pm at Homes of Elegance, Abergavenny). It will prove conclusively that sweets are definitely not for kids! SweetieFest Pick ‘n’ Mixers shows that certain traditional sweeties transform from playground treats to a distinctly more grown-up pleasure when infused in spirits. Sample several different flavours, marvel at the weird and wonderful stories behind your childhood favourites, and, best of all, find out how to make your own in time for Christmas. Tickets for this event cost £7.00 and are available to buy online only, Read on for more on SweetieFest at the Fair.
Well, if you haven’t overdone it the previous evening, then Sunday’s your chance to get ahead of the game and buy wonderful local and regional produce. Discover the sensory delights offered by around ninety hand-picked food producers. Stock up your cupboards with every imaginable seasonal treat. There’s fresh and cured meats, poultry and game, cheeses and chocolates, cakes and desserts, wine and liqueurs, ales, ciders and more.
An adult stroller ticket costs £4.00 and gets you into the market venues: Market Hall, Corn Exchange, Upper Brewery Yard and The Priory. Free entry to children if accompanied by an adult. Avoid the queues. Buy advance Stroller tickets at abergavennyfoodfestival.com or through the Borough Theatre (01873 850805).
This year you’ll be able to indulge your taste for top-class traditional confectionery too, because SweetieFest is coming to town. This new event (all part of the stroller ticket offering) is a unique and quirkily-irresistible celebration of the Great British Sweetie, complete with a selection of stalls, live toffee-making, sugar sculpture, and a chance to discover the explosive secrets of gobstoppers! It’s all been conjured up by Adele Nozedar, author of a forthcoming book: Great British Sweets: A History of Old Fashioned Sweets and How to Make Them At Home. Buy great stocking fillers and learn how to make your own, which as we all know, make the very best presents.
As well as shopping and tasting you can absorb some festive foodie know-how through the rolling programme of chef dems in the Market Hall. Liz Knight and Kather Marland, creators of Forage Fine Foods and Kather’s Kitchen use rosehips to make things that little bit wilder; Denise Baker-McClearn of Moel Faban Suppers dishes up the perfect pâté; and Iain Sampson (The Bear Hotel, Crickhowell) teams up with Jim Hamilton (The Kings Arms Hotel) to produce a lip-smacking 3-course dinner in 30 minutes.
Meat or Veg? Karl Cheetham and Steve Williams from Gliffaes and Buckland Hall cook meat and vegetarian versions of the same dish. You decide the winner. Penny Lewis, creator of the Culinary Cottage Cookery School demonstrates how to make quick and easy 5-minute edible gifts, while Jane van Rossum of Hay Wines explains how fortified wines are made and invites you to taste interesting examples. Tim McDougall, Head Chef at Celtic Manor’s flagship fine-dining restaurant Terry M will also be in the mix with top tips to impress.
And last, but certainly not least – particularly if you’ve got a sweet tooth – remember the Curly Wurly? The last dem of the day sees Adele Nozedar, the conceptualiser and curator of SweetieFest, and Karl Cheetham attempt to make history by creating the largest ever ‘Curly Wurly’. Will they pull off this giant chocolate-coated piece of caramel heaven? Be there and find out. Could be sticky. View the full programme and buy tickets online now. Free postage!