I was recently invited along to a spring showcase of Welsh food at ffresh in the Wales Millennium Centre. Ffresh, is committed to sourcing and serving the very best produce from Wales, and as such is the first restaurant to form a True Taste Partnership with Welsh Government. This is obviously working as ffresh not only appears in the 2012 Good Food Guide but also got a very good review from respected novelist and journalist, John Lanchester in The Guardian recently.
According to their web site, ‘Wales the True Taste’ is a brand which promotes the very best food and drink that Wales has to offer. Managed by the Welsh Government, it aims to raise awareness of Welsh food and drink among consumers and increase the consumption of Welsh food by the hospitality industry and the public sector in Wales.
As Wales Millennium Centre Trustee, Janet Davies, said in her welcoming address “To create a sense of place through food, we have been working with the Welsh Government’s food team in Aberystwyth over the past two and a half years to expand the number of Welsh Food suppliers, since we acquired the restaurant from its previous leaseholders. Our aim has been to create a centre of excellence for Welsh food, and this has meant working with much lauded award winning suppliers from Wales the True Taste Award Scheme. Now, some 80% of all our ingredients are sourced in Wales, and about 30% of those are Wales The True Taste award winners.
Some of these award winning suppliers were present to showcase their produce and we got the opportunity to talk to them and sample their wares whilst efficient staff continuously circled round bringing us dishes from the ffresh kitchen made from the very same ingredients.
Served in bowls as ‘little dishes’ and eaten standing as we talked, we tucked into Peli Pabo goat’s cheese and beetroot salad; Welsh Venison Centre faggots, mash and peas; fillet of Welsh seabass, Puffin potato cake and salsa Verdi; Wye Valley asparagus risotto with Hafod cheese and last but not least, bread and butter pudding with Baravelli’s lemon and Brecon gin marmalade. Standouts for me were both the faggots and the seabass.
But this wasn’t really the time to be doing an in depth review and so, in between mouthfuls of food, I took the opportunity to spend some time talking to the producers and sampling some of their produce. All of the producers present were previous True Taste Award Winners and I got to sample everything from blue cheese to smoked duck, via ice cream and beer.
Producers present were:
Carmarthenshire Cheese Company - Boksburg Blue Cheese.
Gornos Speciality Foods Ltd - Continental Sausages, Cured Meat Products and Charcuterie.
Black Mountains Smokery - Finest smoked fish, meats, poultry and cheeses.
The Celt Experience - Ales, lagers and soft drinks brewed in Caerphilly.
Total Produce (featuring Birchgrove eggs and Puffin Potatoes) – Distributors of locally grown produce.
Castell Howell Foods (featuring a variety of products) - Wales' largest independent food wholesaler.
Sub Zero - Award winning Ice Creams.
Welsh Venison Centre - Award winning venison, pork and lamb.
Capital Pates - Pates, terrines and relishes.
I was also lucky to be able to spend some time talking to WMC's Senior Catering Operations Manager, Heidi Urquhart, who was not only able to further explain the philosophy behind ffresh and the True Taste collaboration but also gave me an insight into some to the things that may be happening at WMC in the near future. All I'll say is watch this (that?) space.
With Cardiff Bay fast filling with chain eateries, ffresh is becoming a standard bearer for local produce and producers, through it's partnership with Wales The True Taste. Bookings are up since The Guardian's review, which is great because not only does that support them but it helps support many other Welsh food producers too. If you are in the Bay go and support them too.
ffresh Bar & Restaurant
Wales Millennium Centre
Tel: 029 2063 6465