21st September, 2014
The previous day Tim had promised his dad and Zoe he’d cook Sunday lunch, so in spite of going to bed at 6am he was awake and cooking a couple of hours later. Fortunately Tim’s not a team chef so I wasn’t required – phew! I got to lie in until midday. After a spectacular roast chicken (infused with rosemary, sage and thyme) and home made onion gravy, we headed back to Abergavenny for day two of the food festival.
Today we went to the Market Hall (next to the clock tower, top photo) which was a lot less crowded than yesterday. The hall dates back to 1870 and houses the regular retail and flea markets, craft fairs and farmers markets. Note the fantastic pigs hanging from the ceiling.
I was particularly interested in the Seville Orange Gin, which tasted like marmalade (which is not surprising on reflection) and the tart Black Cherry Liqueur. These drinks are not cheap, but the presentation was stylish and professional. They had an endless queue of people buying a couple of bottles each. I would imagine a lot of them will be great Christmas presents.
Chestnut Meats specialise in goat.
Having cooked curry goat recently, I chatted to them about other goat recipes, which they just happened to be handing out in a useful flyer.
Trealy Farm had what was probably the largest charcuterie stall at the festival. It’s amazing just how much excellent British charcuterie there is being made these days. 20 years ago it would have been hard to find artisans here producing high quality cured meats.
As a lover of Spanish Chorizo I was drawn to trying the Blood, Wine and Chocolate Chorizo. It tasted deep and rich with spicy pimentón coming through afterwards. There was no hint of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, because (of course) they use raw chocolate and not sweetened confectionary.
Veal is a by product of the dairy industry – cows produce milk after giving birth. Female calves become milk producers themselves, whereas male calves become veal. Without a veal industry most male calves would be shot shortly after birth. At Bocaddon Farm, the male calves are raised in the open air on diets of milk, cereals and straw. They are slaughtered at 6 – 7 months, which is older than most chicken, lamb and pork.
We sampled the cider at Gwynt Y Ddraig (The Welsh Cider and Perry Company)
and bought pints of Ancient Warrior, a dry cider with 6.5% alcohol by volume.
Hobbs House Bakery had some excellent organic sourdough bread,
along with a darker organic rye. Hobbs House Bakery is the family business of The Fabulous Baker Brothers – their sourdough “mother” is 58 years old.
I know The Garlic Farm from London farmers’ markets – apparently they are the largest specialist garlic producers in the UK.
Beacons Farm Shop at the Welsh Venison Centre
had some Welsh Venison Scotch Eggs. I’m slightly amused by Welsh Scotch eggs, since the Scotch Egg isn’t Scottish and was, apparently, invented by Fortnum and Mason in London… Regardless, these eggs are delicious.
Above is a selection of venison meat, without any verbal ambiguity from me.
I came across a mermaid at the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company. No kidding, her name is Fran Barnikel!
Fran very kindly let me sample her toasted laver (seaweed). The taste is very much like the nori seaweed sheets used for Japanese sushi. I was surprised not to see any laverbread at the festival, but Abergavenny is inland and not a coastal town. Fran must have swum up the river Usk…
I came across another regular from London farmers’ markets – Isle Of Wight Tomatoes. It was nice to bump into Jeff Macdonald, who I’ve know since I first visited Islington Farmers’ Market back in 2000.
I’m sure I could see a devilish glint in Colin’s eye as he dispensed the Naga Chilli Vodka to unsuspected punters. There was a certain amount of merriment in the crowd too as people lost the ability to speak! Nevertheless, both the Sloe Gin and the Naga Chilli Vodka were excellent.
Very late in the day I came across the stall of N.S. James – Master Butchers. They were proudly selling their homemade faggots, “Recently served to over 300 Commissioners of the European Parliament at a major banquet hosted by the Welsh Assembly’s First Minister.” Sadly I was too late and they’d run out! Anyone unsure about what a faggot is, should read my post here.
Suddenly it was all over and stall holders were packing up to go home.
We left the market and had a few more beers, before heading back to Tim’s for a supper of cold chicken and chorizo from Trealy Farm.
Big thanks to Tim for inviting me to Abergavenny for the Food Festival and to his dad Ieuan, for putting me up in the spare bedroom.