Reaching Out for New Stars, the Guild of Fine Food Launches Great Taste Portugal

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 greattasteawards.co.uk.

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.

Our 6 favourite places to eat in 2015 and what 2016 might bring.

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

Coast

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.

Lamb Cutlets, Burgers and Sausages from Bodnant Welsh Food

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
Tal-y-cafn
Conwy
LL28 5RP

Tel: 01492 651931
Email: retail@bodnant-welshfood.co.uk

 

James Sommerin: Seasonal Root Vegetables and my Pumpkin Crumble

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
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 300g pumpkin
  • 50g butter
  • ½ chilli
  • 100g milk
  • 50g cream
  • 100g pumpkin (diced )
  • 100g parmesan
  • Breadcrumbs or pine nuts to top (optional)
Instructions
  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
Penarth
CF64 3AU
Tel: 029 2070 6559
Web: www.jamessommerinrestaurant.co.uk

New Website Porc.Wales Will Promote Welsh Pork

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,
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: British
Ingredients
  • 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
Equipment
  • 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,
Instructions
  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
Notes
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.