Dec 16

Looking for the perfect weekend getaway? Award winning afternoon tea, castles, great food, wonderful nature walks, a bit of apres ski fun? Don’t head to Switzerland, book into the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny for the perfect winter getaway.

Regarded as one of the most exciting hotels in the UK, in 2016 the Angel Hotel won the ‘AA Hotel of the Year Wales 2016/2017’ award. The Angel Hotel, a former coaching inn built in 1829, is located at the heart of the historic market town of Abergavenny. This smart hotel now has 34 beautifully appointed guest rooms, The Oak Room restaurant, the Foxhunter bar, and during the winter season the quirky and fun pop-up Après Ski Bar.

Angel Hotel Bedroom

Located in the heart of Abergavenny, The Angel Hotel is a great base for exploring this quaint market town which has a bustling market Tuesday through Saturday and lots of charming independent shops to explore.


If you are a foodie, do not miss Marches Delicatessen on Nevil Street for some of the finest cheeses, charcuteries and pantry items. Just a few doors up you will appropriately find Cooks Galley, a family run cookware shop stocking a wide selection of kitchen gadgets and cookware. Whilst exploring the town, do not miss a visit to The Chapel, a sister property of The Angel, for a really good coffee or lite bite. The Chapel, located behind the market,  is open from 9 to 5 and offers a local and seasonal breakfast, lunch and lite bite menu. Not only does it have great food, but it also is a gallery and gift shop. The perfect place for a pit-stop during your wander around Abergavenny.


Enjoy a good walk? Just on the outskirts of Abergavenny is The Blorenge,  a prominent hill which overlooks the valley of the River Usk situated in the southeastern corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park.


Also, Abergavenny is located in Monmouthshire which some call the food capital of Wales.  3 miles from The Angel Hotel is one of my favourite restaurants, The Walnut Tree, a Michelin Starred restaurant, with chef patron Shaun Hill, a legend in British cookery, at its helm.  But if you don’t even have to leave The Angel Hotel for an award winning meal. The Angel Hotel is a member of the prestigious UK Tea Guild having held an ‘Award of Excellence’ since 2008. I highly recommend the High Tea priced at £27.80 per person and includes a selection of warm savoury pastries, sandwiches, cakes and pastries. The warm savoury pastries I had were to die for and included prunes wrapped in bacon, ham & onion quiche, beef & mushroom choux buns, pea, ham & mint spring rolls, coronation chicken tartlets and salmon mousse cups with gherkins. The cakes and pastries were equally delicious and to top it all off, there is a selection of over 40 teas, a selection of coffees and a list of sparkling wine and champagne if you want a bit of bubbly with your tea. This tea has been named the best afternoon tea outside of London and once you experience it, you will know why. A not to miss treat during your visit!

High Tea

For a fun evening, head to the Après Ski Bar, a pop-up bar bringing the atmosphere of an Alpin Ski Lodge to Abergavenny. Enjoy the well-stocked bar which includes a variety of German beers as well as signature cocktails and mocktails. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you can enjoy a 3-course meal of charcuterie, Swiss fondue and German style apple cake. And yes, the staff do dress up in Lederhosen and Dirndls!


With rooms from £85 per night,  The Angel Hotel is the perfect place for a getaway!  Great food, beautiful market town, fabulous places to explore…an angelic break!

The Angel Hotel, 15 Cross St, Abergavenny NP7 5EN Phone:01873 857121


I was invited to The Angel Hotel and as such the room and all food was complimentary.


Nov 29

I do enjoy going out for a good traditional Sunday Lunch, but I like finding places that serve a Sunday lunch with flair. If you are looking for a Sunday lunch with style and a delicious twist, do try Etc… in Penarth. Etc… is a modern restaurant and cocktail bar with a menu that has global influences. You will find flavours from Japan, India, South Africa, Thailand, Italy as well as modern British Cuisine. The atmosphere at Etc… is as vibrant and lively as its menu!

Sunday lunch is popular at Etc… There is an extensive choice of creative cocktails and mocktails followed by a Sunday lunch menu and that has some traditional elements but is inspired by world flavours. For starters, Mr A had Quack, duck and mango spring rolls with regional dips.


I had Holy Smoke – grilled paprika king prawn in lemon butter, Nasturtium Blue Pepe and whisky smoke.


Both dishes were beautifully prepared. The king prawn was succulent and sweet. The whisky smoke made a pretty effect when served but the dish is not overpowered by whisky flavour. The lemon butter sauce was quite decadent…you may wish to ask for some bread to mop it up! The spring rolls were full of flavour and accompanied by 3 very tasty sauces – tamarind, sweet chilli and yoghurt sauce.

For mains, Mr A opted for “Dad’s Cooked Dinner” which consisted of slow roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, seasonal vegetables.  The beef was so tender that you could cut it with a spoon!  Mr A would certainly order this tasty dish again.


I chose “Over reacting Salmon” – wild crispy pan-fried salmon with powdered beetroot and spinach, 24-carat gold leaf served on a bed of salad.  This was a nice piece of salmon and was beautifully cooked and presented but the salad did need a vinaigrette.  The chef missed a trick by not creating a unique one for this dish. They will bring you oil and vinegar if you ask.   If you are not a fan of beef or salmon, there is also lamb with red current and port, traditional chicken and a vegetarian option to choose from.


If you are looking for a Sunday lunch that is a bit different but very tasty, friendly and efficient service and a really vibrant atmosphere then do book Sunday lunch at Etc… 2 course costs £18.99, 3 costs £22.95 and children eat for £9.99.

Etc… is also offering some special menus during the holiday season. Check out their Taster Tuesday at £36.99 per person which includes a glass of sparkling wine with rose petals, a selection of starters, main course and dessert. If you just want to pop in for a drink, enjoy a signature cocktail and choose from a selection of small plates.  Of  course, they are also open for lunch or dinner and have an exciting a la carte menu. Do call in advance because with its unique menu and lively vibe, Etc… is a popular spot!

Etc… is located at 1 Royal Buildings, Stanwell Road, Penarth, CF64 3EB. Click here to check out their website.

We were invited to Etc… and as such all food was complimentary.

Oct 23

I don’t seem to get into Cardiff too often these days, so it was great to get an invitation to Steak of the Art, that interesting combination of restaurant and art gallery on Churchill Way.

Since the restaurant opened in February 2015 it has seen some stiff competition from other city centre openings so I was interested to see how it’s stood up to the challenge.

We arrived at 6.45pm on a cold October Thursday and are grateful to find the bright and quirky interior is warm and inviting. As well as having a separate art gallery the inside of the restaurant is a work of art in its own right. Featuring several booths, each with its own theme, the interior certainly offers plenty to keep the eyes interested during dinner.

One of the Booths

One of the Booths

Seated in the Roald Dahl inspired Willy Wonka booth, carved out of a single tree trunk we got ready to find out if the food would be as interesting to the palate as the décor to the eyes.

I was immediately impressed with our server, Molly, who obviously had great knowledge of the menu and could answer our questions with ease.  It is so important that restaurants invest in their staff training and not only ensure that the front of house team know what is in the dishes and how they are prepared but also get to taste them too!

I decided to start with the Smoked Sausage, Chorizo and Ciabatta (£5) while MrsA went for the Garlic and Chilli Tiger Prawns (£6).

Smoked Sausage, Chorizo & Ciabatta

Smoked Sausage, Chorizo & Ciabatta

My starter was generously proportioned with plenty of sausage and chorizo. Unfortunately, it was served covered with some kind of smokey BBQ sauce that only served to overpower the flavours, a shame as the meat itself was up to being the star of the show.

Garlic & chilli tiger prawns

Garlic & Chilli Tiger Prawns

MrsA’s starter was also a little lacklustre, the ginger and chilli sauce struggling to lift the rather bland prawns.

Whilst Steak of the Art serves fish, salads and vegetarian options for us the clue is in the name and so we both decide that for mains it’s meat all the way

Although traditionally fillet is the steak of choice for most and I appreciate the tenderness of a good fillet, I’m mostly to be found revelling in the flavour of a piece of skirt, bavette or flank.

This time I picked another flavourful cut, the Rump with Hand Cut Chips (£14) and a side of Broccoli and Flaked Almonds.

Rump Steak with Hand Cut Chips

Rump Steak with Hand Cut Chips

MrsA chose the Flat Iron Steak (£12), served with a Rocket, Tomato and Parmesan Salad with Onion Rings on the side.

Flat Iron Steak

Flat Iron Steak

It’s really important with these cuts that they are cooked properly. Overcook them and you end up with tasteless shoe leather. Both mains more than made up for any prior disappointment. Both steaks were juicy, full of flavour and cooked exactly as ordered (rare).  Delightfully the sauces, Béarnaise with my rump and Porcini Mushroom & Tarragon with the flat iron, were excellent, fresh, well balanced and with bags of flavour. If you’re looking for a perfectly cooked steak and sauce combo, in Cardiff, you should head to Steak of the Art.

The sides (all £3) were very well prepared.  The broccoli served slightly al dente as opposed to the overcooked mush so often delivered.  The onion rings, made on the premises not out of a packet, served in a light crispy batter with a satisfying crunch.

Having polished off the mains we were offered the dessert menu.  Well, it would have been rude not to!

I was taken by a Lemon Posset with a Passion Fruit Coulis (£5.50). Nice and tart, the sharpness of the lemon nicely offset by the passion fruit this was delightfully creamy.

Lemon posset with a passion fruit coulis

Lemon Posset with a Passion Fruit Coulis

MrsA chose the Chocolate Mousse on Peanut Biscuit Base with Praline and a Dollop of Ice-cream (£5.50). As Molly said, it’s not as light as you might think of something called a mousse, but it is packed with flavour. Sheer indulgence!

Chocolate mousse on peanut biscuit base with praline and a dollop of ice-cream

Chocolate Mousse on Peanut Biscuit Base with Praline and a Dollop of Ice-cream

Starters aside I was impressed by Steak of the Art.  The mains and dessert were excellent and I think they have got the price point right in comparison with the other offerings in the city. The fixed price lunch menu at £11.95 for 2 courses and £13.95 for 3, along with the afternoon only Menu Rapide (Steak and chips for £7.50 anyone?) offer fantastic value for money if you are around in the daytime.

The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic and you can even support a local artist after your meal. One thing is for sure if I’m in Cardiff and I fancy I steak you are far more likely to find me walking along Churchill Way than through The Hayes.

Steak of The Art
Helmont House
Churchill Way
CF10 2HE.

T: 029 2039 7284

We were invited to Steak Of The Art and as such all food was complimentary.

Aug 29

Forget about the Roast Beef – look to the sea for a great Sunday Lunch in Cardiff.

Sunday Lunch at Fish At 85.

Back in my early days of Twitter I’d fire up the software and scroll back through my timeline to catch up on what had happened that day.  Of course, then, Twitter was far less popular and I followed far fewer people.  These days, when I check in I can hardly keep up with my timeline going forward let alone backward.

So it was very fortuitous that I opened Twitter up in the middle of an interesting conversation that had just started. Interesting enough to make me scroll back through my timeline to pick up the start.

There it was then I noticed a single tweet from Fish At 85

Two things stood out –

1)      Fish At 85 are open on a Sunday

2)      3 Courses for under £20.

A table for two was secured very quickly.


MrsA chose the Gower Coast Moules Mariniere whilst I went for the Pan Fried Scallops, Sautéed Chorizo & Bell Peppers, Tomato and Chilli Jam.

Corpulent Capers: Fish At 85 Moules Mariniere

Moules Mariniere


Corpulent Capers: Fish At 85 Scallops

Pan Fried Scallops, Sautéed Chorizo & Bell Peppers, Tomato and Chilli Jam.

The Scallops were plentiful, sweet and cooked to perfection. The Chorizo and Bell Peppers brought a nice heat that was balanced by the sweetness of the Jam. MrsA really enjoyed the Moules and appreciated that she was able to swap the cream sauce for a Chorizo based one.


For Mains MrsA had Pan Fried Gower Coast Wild Seabass Fillet, Mash Potatoes, Fine Beans, Chive butter sauce whilst I had Baked Hake Fillet, Sautéed Potatoes & Samphire, Sauce Veirge.

Corpulent Capers: Fish At 85 Seabass

Pan Fried Gower Coast Wild Seabass Fillet, Mash Potatoes, Fine Beans, Chive Butter Sauce

The Wild Seabass was excellent, with lovely fresh flavour. The mash was smooth and rich. The beans cooked with just the right amount of crunch.

Corpulent Capers: Fish At 85 Hake

Baked Hake Fillet, Sautéed Potatoes & Samphire, Sauce Veirge

My Hake was firm and meaty, but retaining that flakiness texture that I love. It’s easy to overcook most fish, and hake is no exception. Fortunately this one was perfect. Although it is quite a mild fish it does stand up to strong flavours very well and the balance of accompaniments here allowed it to show both sides of its nature.


MrsA skipped dessert but I was tempted by a Tarte Aux Citron with a Raspberry Sorbet.

Corpulent Capers: Fish At 85 Lemon Tart

Tarte Aux Citron, Raspberry Sorbet

I’ve written before about how much I hate ‘hint of lemon’ so I did say ‘If it doesn’t have a real hit of lemon then bring me something else’. They didn’t and I’m not complaining!

MrsA has been fortunate to have dined at Fish at 85 a few more times than me and she summed up our lunch by saying, ‘Once again they delivered, serving high quality, fresh fish that was expertly cooked. It so good to have access to such a great place that remains consistent time and time again.”

At £15.95 for two courses and £19.95 for three, this must surely be one of the best value Sunday lunches in Cardiff.  Tear yourself away from the Roast Beef and Yorkshires and treat yourself to some superb fish dishes.

Fish At 85
85 Pontcanna Street, Cardiff, CF11 9HS
Tel: (029) 2023 5666 |

Aug 29

Plant based fine dining with Milgi at Street Food Circus

I was fortunate enough to get an invite to the preview of the Milgi pop-up restaurant at the launch of this year’s Street Food Circus at Sophia Gardens.

Now I’m a pretty committed carnivore but I’d never managed to get to the Street Food Circus in its previous incarnations so I was curious to pay it a visit.

I was also quite interested to see the Milgi sky yurt. A 3 course communal feast set under canvas with natural decor, organic wines and a modern vegetarian and RAW menu that uses the finest seasonal organic produce? Intriguing! Their ambition is to introduce a new audience to plant based eating.

Well the menu sounded quite ambitious and so I was eager to give it a try.


Corpulent Capers Milgi Pop Up Starters

Raw sunflower & sundried tomato galette with chickpea & basil houmous, micro basil, toasted pumpkin seed, heirloom tomato, radish sprouted aduki beans.

For me this was the stand out dish. I absolutely loved both the flavour and texture of the galette.  A revelation.


Corpulent Capers Milgi Mains

Za’tar Tempeh with lemon & saffron brown rice, garden peas, gem lettuce, mint, and harissa cashew sauce.

I’m very familiar with Za’tar, we use it a lot at home.  Tempeh, however, was new to me. In general terms it’s the Indonesia equivalent of Tofu, but instead of curding Soy milk it is made by fermenting cooked soya beans with a mold. This makes it firm and chewy as opposed to the soft, smooth, spongy consistency of Tofu.

Overall I liked this dish, the sauce complimented the Tempeh very well and the rest of the ingredients made it very fresh.  My only comment would be that the rice was a bit lacking and needed something to lift it.  I didn’t really get the lemon or saffron and felt it could have done with a lot more of both.


Corpulent Capers Milgi Dessert

Raw blackcurrant cheesecake with almond & date crust and summer fruit salad

Raw blackcurrant cheesecake with almond & date crust and summer fruit salad

Whilst the crust wasn’t really to my taste, MrsA loved it. The raw blackcurrant filling however, was something else indeed. I would not have believed that a non-dairy fruit filling could have been so thick, and dare I say it, creamy.  Also it certainly packed a serious flavour punch!

I was very impressed by the food served at the Milgi Pop Up, especially as for a large part of the evening the food was prepared in darkness with the kitchen staff just wearing head torches.  Hopefully they remembered to bring the kitchen lights for day 2.

Street Food Circus is open every Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun until the 25th September, for more details and opening times check out You’ll also find more information on all the other participants.

The Milgi pop up runs Fri/Sat/Sun. More details on Milgi can be found here –

Jun 2

Press Release

Having judged more than 100,000 entries from across the globe in the UK and Ireland over the past 22 years, Great Taste is now set to head overseas for the first time, launching Great Taste Portugal in association with ConsumerChoice – Centro de Avaliação da Satisfação do Consumidor, an organisation that champions Portuguese brands delivering exceptional quality to their customers.

With entry now open until the end of June, preparations are well underway for the many weeks of judging ahead. Top chefs, buyers, fine food retailers, restaurateurs, food critics and writers are being assembled to taste each and every entry, before the coveted Great Taste stars are awarded in October and the Supreme Champion is unveiled at the Festival Nacional de Gastronomia de Santarém later that month.

Valuing taste above all else, with no consideration for branding or packaging, the judges will be searching for the very finest food and drink in Portugal, using the same rigorous blind-tasting process and robust judging methods that have been honed by the Guild of Fine Food in the UK over the past two decades.

The winners will earn the right to display the unmistakable gold and black Great Taste logo on their products, helping them to increase sales and improve brand awareness, while all entries will benefit from comments given by the expert panel of judges, providing highly valuable feedback for market research and product refinement purposes. Those products deemed worthy of a 2- or 3-star accolade will also be listed on

John Farrand, Managing Director of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of Great Taste, explains; “The Great Taste logo is an established seal of approval, reflecting the hard work and commitment of producers who are making outstanding food and drink, so we’re very excited about extending its reach to the Portuguese marketplace in 2016. We’ve been delighted to see more and more international entries coming into Great Taste each year and feel that Great Taste Portugal will give the country’s small artisan producers an even better opportunity to gain recognition for their efforts, raise their profile and jump off the nation’s crowded shelves, as we direct Portugal’s buyers towards the best of the bunch. With so many Portuguese products already awarded Great Taste stars in previous years, we know we’ll be in for a treat when the judging takes place on home soil.”

José Borralho, Managing Director of ConsumerChoice Ltd, creators of the Consumer Choice Awards, adds; “This is an important moment for Portuguese food and drink producers, especially small artisans and those who are looking to export. The Great Taste stamp of excellence is highly sought after throughout Europe and beyond, with buyers and retailers on the lookout for exceptional products using the list of stars as their guide. Great Taste Portugal will offer our artisan producers a unique opportunity to grow their businesses and reach new markets.”

The judging process will take place throughout September and October, with the award-winning products due to be announced on Tuesday 18 October.

Jan 1

Happy New Year

As we caper merrily into 2016 it seems obligatory to write a short retrospective on the year we leave behind.  2015 was a year which saw reduced input into Corpulent Capers for a number of different reasons.

The year started with Babette appearing on Radio Wales on the Jamie Owen Show, continued with her cooking live on ITV’s Mel & Sue show and culminated in her explaining to Sir Terry Wogan and Mason McQueen why Abergavenny was a such a great stopping point for their Great Food Trip.

Corpulent Capers: Babette cooking Gumbo live on ITV's Mel & Sue Show

Babette cooking Gumbo live on ITV’s Mel & Sue Show

Other things took our attention including the formation of the first Slow Food group in South East Wales which had its official launch in early June at St Fagans National History Museum.  That, in turn, led to Babette and I being appointed to the board of Slow Food Cymru Wales.

Corpulent Capers: Slow Food South East Wales Committee and Jane Hutt AM

Slow Food South East Wales Committee and Jane Hutt AM

Then Babette was away in the States for 3 months which took care of the rest of June, July and August. I also attended far less openings in 2015 than in previous years as I became somewhat bored by the endless stream of burger joints that are opening in the capital.

The upshot of all this was that we ate at far fewer places than we normally would, and far less time to write about those we did.

As is general at this time of year I’ve taken the opportunity to evaluate the recent past and to think about what 2016 means for Corpulent Capers.

First off we’ll be changing our look sometime this quarter. I’ve been toying with this for a while but I’ve finally found a look I like and so I’m working on converting things in the background.  The new site will look much better on mobile devices and the advertising will either disappear completely or be much less intrusive.

Content wise there will be much less emphasis on reviews and much more on food, food policy, food producers and the like. Of course we’ll still bring you news about the best places to eat as and when we find them.

We hope you like the changes as we phase them in and look forward to your feedback.

Of course we can’t let 2015 end without a roundup.  So here are my top picks of places that I did manage to visit last year.

Fine (but not stuffy) Dining

Restaurant James Sommerin

Without a doubt the highlight of our food year was the meal we had to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary at Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth. We opted for the 10 course (1 per year) chef’s blind tasting menu.

It was a true delight as James took us through culinary journey that wowed and amazed us.  Truly cooking of the highest level. I’m not the only one to notice as apart from their great reviews they also won 3 AA Rosettes this year too.

Look out for some exciting new menu concepts in 2016 as well including a great value fixed price Market Menu (2 courses and a Bellini for under £30).

Corpulent Capers: Some dishes from our Tasting Menu at Restaurant JS.

Some dishes from our Tasting Menu at Restaurant JS.

The Walnut Tree

I don’t mind admitting I’m a bit of a fanboy when it comes to Chef Shaun Hill. He’s a great raconteur as well as a great chef and his, simply presented, food is always packed with flavour. Not only seasonal and local he also presents dishes you are unlikely to find in other restaurants.  Where else would you find ‘Woodcock Rossini’ on the menu? The woodcock was ‘shot by my neighbour’ he said.

There’s a fixed price set lunch menu offering 2 (£25) or 3 (£30) courses on offer too.

Corpulent Capers: Lunch at the Walnut Tree Inn

Lunch at the Walnut Tree Inn


Will Holland, another ex-Ludlowite like Shaun Hill, opened Coast in Saundersfoot in 2014. We visited in April 2015 and found the food as good as the location and the views. As you can imagine from the name and the beach side location the menu is mainly fish based, with a gentle nod to the vegetarians and the carnivores. Fortunately Will knows how to cook a piece of fish so if you’re in the area a visit is highly recommended.

Corpulent Capers: Dinner At Coast

Dinner At Coast

‘Casual’ Dining

The Felin Fach Griffin

What more can I tell you than I probably ate here more than anywhere else in 2015.  Under the watchful eye of the awesome GM Julie Bell the Griffin is comfortable and relaxed, cosy with its open fire, they are even dog friendly. More than all that though it serves great food and has a wine list well worth exploring. Surely, they must be running out of wall space to hang all their awards on by now.

Corpulent Capers: Belly Pork still remembered from September!

Belly Pork still remembered from September!

The Gallery

Welsh Sustainable Restaurant of the Year, Good Food Guide Readers Restaurant of the Year, the Gallery goes from strength to strength. With a menu that changes monthly, owner Barnaby Hibbert ensures that the Gallery offers outstanding value for money. And it’s in staggering distance of Barry Station as well, so there’s no excuse for you Cardiffians not to go pay them a visit.

Corpulent Capers: The Gallery, Barry

The Gallery, Barry

Bar 44

What can I say about the guys at Bar 44.  When I first discovered them they had one restaurant in Cowbridge and I was completely bowled over by their commitment to sourcing and serving the best of Spain.  Now they have 3 outlets (Penarth and Westgate St, Cardiff) and have managed that difficult task of remaining true to their roots and ethos whilst expanding.

Corpulent Capers: Tapas at Bar 44, Cardiff

Tapas at Bar 44, Cardiff


And to you, dear reader, thanks for all your support in 2015. We love to get your feedback so don’t be shy in 2016. Get involved, comment on our posts, tell us what you like and don’t like, tell us what you think about the Welsh food and drink scene.

Happy New Year and may 2016 bring you all that you might wish for.

Nov 16

I have a file of places that are food related that I would like to visit. There’s the famous La Boqueria Market in Barcelona, Ver-o-peso Market in Brazil which showcases the foods found in the Amazon, Castries Market in St Lucia, known for its spices, and the Mercado Central in Santiago Chile. Closer to home is Bodnant Welsh Food Centre in Conwy. The centre is overlooking the River Conwy with a B&B in a restored 18th century farmhouse.

Bodnant has a butchery which carries an award winning range of meats, many of them sourced from neighbouring farms and the locality. They stock Welsh Black Beef dry-aged on the bone for 28 days for the best flavour, salt marsh lamb, rare breed pork, game and more. They make all of their burgers and sausages on site.

Since I have yet to visit Bodnant, they kindly sent us 3 of their butchery products to sample and review: Aberwen Melts, Salt Marsh Lamb Cutlets, and Beef, Horseradish and Wild Mushroom Sausages.

Corpulent Capers: Bodnant Aberwen Melt

Aberwen Melt

Aberwen Melts are burgers made from Welsh Black beef, minced in their butchery, with an Aberwen cheese centre. This cheese was awarded a bronze in the World Cheese awards in 2014 and is made in their state of the art dairy.

This was a very tasty burger. The meat was well seasoned, the cheese nicely melted in the middle of the burger and only oozed out when the burger was cut. This is a tasty 8 ounce burger with only herbs and spices added to the beef.

We also sampled the Beef Horseradish and Wild Mushroom Sausages. Again, because of the quality of the meat, the sausages were very tasty. I however could not taste the horseradish.

Corpulent Capers: Bodnant Salt Marsh Lamb Cutlet

Salt Marsh Lamb Cutlet

Finally, we sampled the salt marsh lamb cutlets. This was some of the best lamb that I have tasted. This delectable flavour is due to the lambs being able to graze freely on the salt marshes of Porthmadog which contain an abundance of samphire, sorrel, sea lavender and other natural herbs. Lambs that graze on salt marshes produce a quality meat that has a flavour, colour and texture that is like no other.

I am still hoping to visit Bodnant next year. But whilst I am waiting for that opportune time to visit, I know that I can buy some of their award winning food and drink products through their on line shop.

Bodnant Welsh Food Centre
Furnace Farm
LL28 5RP

Tel: 01492 651931


Oct 30

In the first of a series of guest posts, award-winning chef James Sommerin gives us some Autumnal ideas for root vegetables and provides a great recipe for all the pumpkins that are available this time of year.

As the chill starts to creep into the air and the leaves turn a burnished orange my thoughts always turn to warmth – the glow of fires, hearty stews and cosy evenings in.

There’s no better food type to embody this than the root vegetable but sometimes people are stumped about what to do with them and quite frankly put off by their appearance.

Over the years we’ve become a bit more accustomed to seeing sweet potatoes, celeriac and even yams alongside turnips, carrots and swede on our supermarket shelves, but I find all too often people might like the idea of them but simply don’t know where to begin.

Raw Sweet Potato and Squash

Raw Sweet Potato and Squash

A good starting point might be a simple creamed root soup, roasted vegetables to accompany roast lamb or a traditional cawl with parsnips and swede.

Here at Restaurant James Sommerin we’re serving beetroot alongside Pant-ysgawn goat’s cheese which is not an automatic but works fantastically. Another pairing which is going down well is our vegetable salad with hazelnuts, which adds some depth and seasonality lighter summer salads.

Roots work brilliantly with an array of other ingredients and seasonings. Try adding coconut milk to soup or coating parsnips in honey or maple syrup mixed with orange or cinnamon, perhaps sprinkled with pecans.

A balsamic vinegar or syrup can really liven up a warm root vegetable salad, especially beetroot.

And now for one of the highlights of fresh produce this season, but not only is it not a root vegetable, you may be surprised to know that the piles of pumpkins you’ve been unable to ignore for the past few weeks are not vegetables at all but actually piles of fruit!

But while we’re used to their yearly fleeting appearance the proportion of the them that are used solely as lanterns, with the sweet flesh discarded is likely to be huge and a real shame.

So if an American style pumpkin pie isn’t quite your thing …..

Why not try my Pumpkin Crumble?

Pumpkin Crumble
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 300g pumpkin
  • 50g butter
  • ½ chilli
  • 100g milk
  • 50g cream
  • 100g pumpkin (diced )
  • 100g parmesan
  • Breadcrumbs or pine nuts to top (optional)
  1. Remove the flesh and seeds from the pumpkin. Roast in tin foil with a little olive oil for 30 minutes at 180ºc or until the pumpkin becomes soft.
  2. Once the pumpkin is roasted place into a pan with the chilli, butter and add the milk. Bring to the boil, extract part of the liquid and blend with a hand blender until smooth. Pass through a sieve to create a purée.
  3. With the 100g of diced pumpkin, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute then roast in a pan to add the flavour, maybe add a slice of garlic or rosemary.
  4. Add the roasted diced pumpkin to the the pumpkin purée. Add the 50g of fresh parmesan and stir to a thick paste.
  5. Transfer the pumpkin mixture to an oven-proof dish, top with extra grated parmesan, and, for an extra additional flavour add some toasted pine-nuts or breadcrumbs. Cover with either tin foil or a lid and bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes at 180ºc. This will help to toast the top of the crumble. Remove the tin foil and bake for 1-2 minutes just to finish the top completely. Serve with fresh bread.

Restaurant James Sommerin
The Esplanade
CF64 3AU
Tel: 029 2070 6559

Oct 11

pigShoppers looking for quality, local pork can now find it through a new website.

Porc.Wales will tell the story of the Welsh pork industry and what makes the pork it produces so special. Welsh consumers will be encouraged to eat more high quality, locally produced pork products as well as helping them to find a supplier to support local farmers and producers and cook up a storm in the kitchen with a range of new recipes.

Porc.Wales, created by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), showcases the finest pig farmers and premier porcine producers from around the country and includes a directory of regional stockists to link consumers directly with pork producers and butchers – enabling them to source pork produce locally. With a growing innovative pork industry, the Porc.Wales website includes interviews with farmers, butchers and chefs who describe why pork produced in Wales is so unique.

Other highlights of the new website include recipes and features which explore how to use different cuts of pork.

Melanie Hughes, HCC Market Development Officer said: “Wales is well known for producing top quality Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef but this shouldn’t overshadow the nation’s pork offering. The profile of the Welsh pork industry is growing and it has a fantastic story to tell which we can all be very proud of.

“We believe that the pork that is produced in Wales stands out for many reasons; the climate and the landscape, not to mention the expertise and knowledge of the pig farmers which has been handed down through the ages. The sector is also innovative and has a new generation of passionate artisan producers who make award-winning products.

“This new website will inform foodies about the wonderful producers and the products we have in this sector of the meat industry in Wales, and will encourage consumers to buy good quality, locally produced pork. We’re confident that once they’ve tried it, they’ll be discerning about any future purchases.”

Welsh Pork: Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs

Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs

We were asked by Porc Wales to create 2 recipes featuring Welsh Pork. The breed of pork was Oxford Sandy and Black (OSB) and was supplied by Mary Benfield, Teyrdan Hall Farm, Llanelian, Colwyn Bay via Bodnant Welsh Food Centre. The OSB is one of the oldest British pig breeds, having existed for around 200 – 300 years. It is believed to have developed in Oxfordshire. Oxford Sandy and Black are a rare breed pig. They are in the Slow Food Ark of Taste as their numbers are still low. Extinction was a real possibility in the 1980’s but thankfully there are more farmers breeding this pig across the UK.

They are slow growing breed but time does equal flavour! Although flavoursome, OSB is a tender and delicate tasting pork and it makes excellent bacon and ham.

I was inspired by my Bahamian heritage and created a Bahamian recipe using the tenderloin of pork. You should be able to get a copy of the recipe here very soon.

For my second recipe, I was inspired by the fact that this is a rare and old breed pork and I wanted to make a dish using another ingredient that is not as popular today as it was a few hundred years ago: the quince. Quince belongs in the same family as apples and pears and so is a fabulous pairing with pork. I bought the quinces for this recipe at The Riverside Farmers market in Cardiff. I do know I am giving a recipe with an ingredient that is not as easy to find but I am on a little crusade to reintroduce to our plates ingredients that used to be very popular in the UK. If we don’t start using again these traditional ingredients, they will become lost to us.

Rolled Pork Shoulder with Quince
A succulent pork recipe using quince instead of apples,
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: British
  • 2 pound pork shoulder boned and rolled with skin scored for the crackling
For the rub
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Fresh rosemary leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary or ½ teaspoon dried
For the Vegetable Ragu
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 1 large red onion chopped
  • 3 small parsnips chopped
  • 3 large quinces peeled and cored with each cut into 8 wedges (see tips)
  • 5 large garlic cloves peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
  • 1 teaspoon of honey, rowan jelly or red current jelly
  • 1 cup of water (you may need to top up during cooking) (you can use white wine, cider, or chicken stock)
  • Fresh rosemary (2 sprigs)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • A deep roasting pan large enough to take the pork, but small enough that the vegetables form a thick layer on the bottom or they will burn,
  1. Preheat oven to 220ºc (200ºc fan) / 425ºf / Gas Mark 7
  2. Mix the ingredients together for the spice rub.
  3. Spread mixture all over the shoulder including the skin. Set aside.
  4. Add the chopped vegetables (excluding quince) to the roasting pan.
  5. Add the liquid, herbs, honey/jelly and stir.
  6. Put the quinces on top ensuring the bottoms are in the liquid.
  7. Place the pork on top.
  8. To get a good crackling, rub the skin with some sea salt and place on top of the veg in the roasting pan.
  9. Place in the hot oven for 30 minutes. This initial high heat and salt on the skin will give you nice crisp crackling.
  10. After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 190ºc (185ºc fan assisted) / 375ºf / Gas Mark 5.
  11. Check the liquid in the pot and top up if it has evaporated.
  12. Cook the roast for 35 minutes per pound
There are a few ways to tell if the meat is cooked:

• Insert a skewer in the thickest part and the juices that run out should be absolutely clear without any trace of pinkness.
• Use an instant read meat thermometer. Take the temperature at the thickest part of the roast. When temperature is 62ºC the meat is cooked.

When the pork is cooked, remove from the pot and allow to rest. The vegetables and quince should be nice and tender and the liquid reduced to a nice gravy. Stir in the juice of the half lemon.

To serve

Slice the pork and serve with the vegetables and quinces. Steamed broccoli or cabbage would be a good side dish.

Pork Shoulder with Quince

Tips: Quinces are very hard when raw and can be tricky to cut and core. I freeze the quinces which makes it easier to peel, cut and core. The freezing does not change the taste and will have the same texture after braised.

If you’d like to learn more about Welsh Pork, ‘nose to tail eating’, the importance of ingredients and even gain some basic butchery skills then pop over to Food Adventure and check out our Learn How to Make Pâté, Faggots and Black Pudding course led by Illtud Llyr Dunsford, founder of the award winning Charcutier Ltd.

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