Full line up for Abergavenny Food Festival 2015 announced

Tickets go on sale today as Abergavenny Food Festival announces the full line up for 2015. September 18, 19, 20 will once again welcome thousands of visitors to Abergavenny to sample the best food and drink the UK has to offer.

Tom Kerridge, the Hemsley sisters and Olia Hercules, will be joined by over fifty foodies who will share their culinary passion and expertise, demonstrating everything from baking to foraging, tea tasting to cooking up cultural delicacies.

Abergavenny Food Festival: Raymond Blanc

Raymond Blanc – President SRA

Raymond Blanc OBE will be appearing in his capacity as President of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. In conversation with Sheila Dillon from BBC Radio 4’s Food and Farming programme, Raymond will explore the roots of his passion for produce, dread of waste and respect for the land. He will reveal how early lessons learned from Maman Blanc have guided him throughout his career as chef and restaurateur – and how only by understanding that food connects with every part of our lives, can we truly secure a future for our food.

Be amongst the first to get your hands on the much-lauded new book by celebrated chef and author, Yotam Ottolenghi. NOPI: The Cookbook. Yotam, alongside his head chef, Ramael Scully, will bring the inventive NOPI ethos to the festival, pushing culinary boundaries.

The Festival line up also boasts Bake-Off champion Frances Quinn guiding you through her unique style of baking; exciting new London trio, The Groundnut Boys demonstrating recipes from their African Heritage with a contemporary twist and Festival favourite Cyrus Todiwala OBE who has been changing perceptions of Indian cuisine since his arrival in the UK from Goa in 1991.

Abergavenny Food Festival: The Groundnut Boys

The Groundnut Boys

Alongside household names are some demonstrations with a difference; Jon Old from the Wasabi Company will talk visitors through how, from a secret location in the UK, they grow one of the world’s most expensive crops and Mitch Tonks, renowned for his radical career change from accountancy to fishmongering, will be demonstrating recipes from his book The Seahorse, inspired by Italy and the South West of England.

In addition to food, the festival boasts a number of cocktail, foraging and alcohol master classes.  James Chase from Chase Distillery will expertly guide you through spirits, wines and ciders, while author and forager by day, Andy Hamilton presents ‘Wild Booze and Hedgerow Cocktails’ showing you how you can make delicious cocktails from a hedgerow near you.

Heather Myers, Chief Executive of the Festival said: “This year’s line-up is our biggest and best to date and definitely the most varied.”

“Whether you want to come along and explore the market, sample produce from over 220 hand-picked stallholders, or watch demonstrations from some of the finest chefs and food adventurers today, there really is something for everyone.”

It’s not just Festival goers who benefit from the biggest food Festival in Wales. It is estimated that the Festival brings £4million to the local Welsh economy, with the majority of 30,000 visitors spending between £50 and £100. Each year the Festival raises over £9,000 to local community groups, supports around thirty fringe events across Monmouthshire and employs an extra 120 young people over the festival weekend.

Abergavenny Food Festival: Sam and Shauna, Hang Fire Smokehouse

Sam and Shauna, Hang Fire Smokehouse selecting their free range pigs for the Festival – Pic (c) Huw John, Cardiff

Local success story Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn from Hang Fire Smokehouse came to the Festival last year as stallholders and return this year on the bill, since winning BBC Radio 4’s Food and Farming award for Best Street Food 2015.

Sam said: “It’s incredible that just one year on from our first appearance at Abergavenny Food Festival, and just two years since starting this business, we will be standing where our inspirations from the food industry have stood. We’re looking forward to both feeding the Festival goers our brand of Welsh slow and low BBQ and being a part of the Festival over the weekend.”

Shauna added: “This Festival is the highlight of the foodie event calendar and we’re delighted to be included in all aspects of the programme, for the first time, as we share the alchemy of meat smoking.”

Abergavenny Food Festival: Night market in Brewery Yard

Night Market in Brewery Yard – Image Tim Woodier

Alongside the bursting programme, Festival favourites return including the Night Market, transforming the Lower Brewery Yard into a magical place to eat, drink and hangout. New for 2015, the Festival will introduce the Meat Market, where you’ll find a selection of the best meats and butcher demonstrations Wales has to offer. The new Craft Brewery will create a relaxing area to sample some of Wales’ best-loved craft brews and ciders.

With parties on both the Friday (Swing Time at the Castle) and Saturday (Party at the Castle) evenings, visitors can experience music, dancing and food in the enchanted atmosphere of Abergavenny’s ancient castle.

Roll up your sleeves and book a place at The Artisan Kitchen School which gives you a unique opportunity to receive expert tuition first hand, taking your creations home with you. Children can show off their culinary talents at the Food Academy with a weekend of free hands on workshops for over 320 children and activities to tempt the most budding mini-master chef.

Abergavenny Food Festival: Val Warner at Food Academy 2013

Val Warner at Food Academy 2013 – Image Tim Woodier

Fast becoming an institution of the Festival, Rude Health Rants are back for their seventh year in a row. The team, led by co-founder and chief ranter Nick, are a proudly outspoken gang who aren’t afraid of standing up for real, honest food. Throughout the weekend Festival-goers will be given the chance to join them in their mission to eat right, and stay brilliant by speaking up.

The 2015 Festival is supported by a number of high profile businesses from across Wales and the UK including Cardiff Airport, Alun Griffiths Contractors Ltd and Chase Distillery, as well as support from Welsh Government, Monmouthshire Council and Abergavenny Town Council.

Tickets available now at abergavennyfoodfestival.com

Beer Beautiful Beer at the Felin Fach Griffin

The Felin Fach Griffin love to throw a party and they throw great parties! We went to their festival Hiraeth and had a great time!

The Felin Fach Griffin is set in spectacular surroundings

The Felin Fach Griffin is set in spectacular surroundings

Chef Ross Bruce

Chef Ross Bruce

We are huge fans of their food. Chef Ross Bruce, cooks honest food using local and seasonal ingredients.

We are really excited about their upcoming special beer evening that will be held on Friday 20th June. The evening starts at 7.30pm with canapés followed by sitting down to a three course supper at 8pm. It will be a street food inspired menu with two beers matched per course (and two for the canapés). Four local breweries will be in attendance: Waen Brewery, Brecon Brewing, Celt Experience and Tiny Rebel. Price per person: £36.50

After the dinner, from 10pm, local band Junior Hacksaw will be playing. Tickets for this part of the evening will be £5 each which will include either a sample of each beer (a small sample taste) or 3 x 1/3 pints of the person’s preferred beer. Following that the beer will be £3 per pint. There is a late licence until midnight.


To reserve a place at what looks to be a fabulous fun evening, call The Griffin on 01874 620 111. Numbers are limited, especially for the supper so please book ahead of time.  We’ll see you there!




Learn Patisserie with former Claridges Patissier, Beverly Reed

Picture of Beverly Reed

Beverly Reed

I’ve always been of the opinion if you want to do something well you should learn from an expert.

So when I decided that I’d like to learn a bit more about making patisserie there was no better class to attend than one run by Beverly Reed.

Beverly began her love affair with food after leaving catering college and making a false start as a waitress in a Harrogate Forte Hotel. She returned to the kitchen and spent several years building up a dizzying CV, which included spells as a pâtissier at Claridges in London and Michelin starred restaurants at Château de Montreuil in France, Stuckis and Der Walserhof in Switzerland and L’Ortolan near Reading.

On my first course with Bev we learned how to make macaroons, scones and Gâteau Basque. This is the classic Basque dessert. It has a crunchy tart-like exterior and a soft filling. Typically Gâteau Basque is constructed from layers of an almond flour based cake with a filling of pastry cream (crème pâtissière).

Picture of a Gateau Basque

Gateau Basque

Everything we made that day tasted fabulous and we found Bev to a great teacher, making the complicated seem simple and with bags of patience (which she really needed).

So much did we enjoy our day of baking that we enrolled again for Bev’s next class. This time we made a Tarte Belle-Hélène, basically a chocolate and pear tart. It was absolutely stunning!

Picture of Tarte Belle-Hélène

Tarte Belle-Hélène

Beverly has recently expanded her cooking classes and is now running additional classes at Haberdashers School for Girls in Monmouth. So if you want to learn to patisserie from a real expert sign up for one of her classes now, but be quick places are selling fast.

Upcoming Patisserie Classes with spaces.

11th March, 6-9pm
Baked White Chocolate & Hazelnut Cheesecake

18th March, 6-9pm
Seasonal Panna cotta with Biscotti

6th May, 6-9pm
Strawberry Shortcake

Courses cost only £30 each. What a bargain!

For more info or to book on any of the above courses please contact Beverly on 01633 897550
email: bev@creativefood.co.uk
or visit: creativefood.co.uk

ffresh Restaurant’s Christmas Music Night.

On the 3rd December, ffresh at the Wales Millennium  Centre launched it’s program of events for Christmas 2012 with a Christmas Music Night. This is the latest event in series of live music nights where diners get entertained by members of the Welsh National Opera Chorus in between courses.

MrsA and I were fortunate enough to be invited along to sample the event and so we set off to the WMC looking forward to the festive fun. Apart from a slight mix up with the menu, which meant that the one that was published here earlier became a more traditional Turkey dinner, we settled down to enjoy the evening’s entertainment.

Starters took the form of a smoked salmon dish.  A fresh salmon mousse, wrapped in smoked salmon it was generously portioned. MrsA thought it was well seasoned  and the punchiness of the fresh micro greens and spicy horseradish gave a  nice balance. She would have liked a bit more toast though.

Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon Starter

Not being a lover of salmon, I switched to the vegetarian starter of Pear and Blue Cheese Salad. Again generously proportioned the cheese was really punchy, just how I like it.  The baby pears were a little on the hard side but had good flavour.  The whole thing was sitting on top of a kind of carrot coleslaw, which was just unnecessary and only served to confuse the dish. It would have been better to leave out the carrot and add more pear.

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Before our mains we were treated to the first recital from PEDW4R, the operatic quartet, who began with Winter Wonderland. Now I’m not the worlds greatest lover of opera and to my untrained ear I thought it took PEDW4R a few songs to hit their stride.  Once they had, they managed to put a novel spin on a lot of old favourites and brought smiles and enjoyment to their audience.

Our main course was a traditional turkey dinner with stuffing, pigs in blankets, sprouts, baby potatoes and carrots, parsnips cauliflower and cranberry sauce. The turkey was very moist and the gravy was lovely and rich, there just wasn’t enough of it. A separate jug of gravy would have been ideal. Gravy aside, everything was nicely cooked and the veg retained its flavour.  Although it was traditional it was very well done.

Traditional Turkey Dinner

Traditional Turkey Dinner

After another round of carols and Christmas themed songs from PEDW4R, it was time for dessert.


PEDW4R Meriel Andrew (soprano) Sian Meinir (mezzosoprano) Michael Clifton Thompson (tenor) and Martin Lloyd (bass)

It was a shame but the pre-made individualised Christmas pudding portions were a real let down. Rubbery with no flavour or texture and splash of white sauce they didn’t match the high notes of PEDW4R.

Christmas Pudding and White Sauce

Despite the poor pudding both MrsA and myself enjoyed the ffresh Christmas Music Night. It was an idea way to kick start ourselves into the Christmas mood. Everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves too and quite a few tables (MrsA included) were signing along to the carols.

The WMC has a number of other Christmas themed events running during December and you should also look out for any more ffresh music evenings.  Details can be found on the WMC website here.

Wales Millennium Centre
Bute Place
Cardiff Bay
CF10 5AL.

Tel: 029 2063 6465
Email: ffresh@wmc.org.uk 

We attended the event as guests of ffresh and as such the evening was complimentary.

Red Hot World Buffet Cake-Off

Red Hot World BuffetTo launch their new cake venture, Red Hot World Buffet in Cardiff invited me and a few other food bloggers to a ‘Red Hot Cake Off’. If you have never been to a Red Hot World Buffet, check out our previous write ups here and here.

If you are celebrating a birthday or any other occasion which calls for a sumptuous and beautiful cake, Red Hot World Buffet now offers delicious cakes to end a meal or even to take away! Head Pastry Chef, Darshan Choudhari has created a wonderful range of cakes that will appeal to all cake lovers: Dark Truffle Cake, Carrot Cake, Strawberry Cheesecake, Florida Gateau, Caramel and Brownies Sensation, Black Forest Gateau, Pineapple Passion. The price for a cake ranges from £11.49 to £15.99.

Celebration Cakes

Celebration Cakes

To celebrate the new cakes, we were given a demo by Chef Choudari on how to make the perfect cheesecake, and it really was the most mouth-watering cheesecake!


Making a Cheesecake

After our demo, we were invited to create our own cake using the same fine ingredients that they use for their cakes. Of course, ours did not look as beautiful but they tasted great, as we had good quality ingredients to work with: fresh fruit, rich chocolate ganache, freshly whipped cream and light and moist sponges.

Cake Ingredients

Cake Ingredients

My cake tasted fab but looked a disaster! I definitely need more than a morning session to learn that art! I used their ingredients to create a chocolate berry cake using chocolate sponge, ganache, mousse, fresh berries, slivered almonds and a white chocolate shard.

Corpulent Capers Cake

Great Taste, Shame About The Look.

Others were more successful decorators as you can see from the photo.

Our Cakes

Some other efforts.

As a matter of fact, the well deserved winner of the ‘Red Hot World Buffet Cake Off’ was a proud young Charlie.

The Winner

The Winner!

If you need a cake for that special celebration, do consider one of the speciality cakes from Red Hot World Buffet!

Cake Collage

You could win one of these.

Now, lucky reader, it’s your chance to win one of their fabulous celebration cakes. Please note, that if you win, you will have to go the Cardiff Red Hot World Buffet to pick up your cake. There are five ways to enter. You can leave a comment on this post, go to Facebook and ‘like’ our page, follow @babettesffest and/or @gomezadams on Twitter or tweet about our giveaway.  Why not do all five and increase your chances of winning. Our competition runs until October 29th and the winner will be announced on October the 30th. To enter simply use your facebook details or email address to login into the giveaway box below, where you’ll find five simple ways to enter.  Increase your chances by entering in more than one way. Good luck.

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