Oct 1
Newport Food Festival 2012 – A Prologue
posted by: Gomez in Events on Oct 1st, 2012 | | No Comments »

Back in 2011 @babettesffest wrote about the 1st Newport Food Festival as “The New Kid on the Block“. At the time we both really liked it as it really felt like it was trying to be inclusive both to the social and food cultures of Newport.

Now on Saturday 6th October 2012, Newport Food Festival returns for a second year.  This time free of the shackles of having to compete with the much more mature Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival, will Newport flourish.

The Riverside Theatre

The Riverside Theatre

Well early signs are looking good.  Sticking to the previous three venue model that spans The Market, City Centre Streets and The Riverfront Theatre, the festival returns with more producers (nearly twice that of last year), an outside but covered demonstration area and a packed program of events.

Street Stalls

Shoppers Enjoy The Street Stalls

The Market will be hosting chef demonstrations on its upper floor and also at the stalls of Elston Butchers and Needhams Fishmongers. Commercials Street and Griffin Street in the City Centre will be packed with over 70 producers and will be host to the outdoor chef demonstration area (covered). The Riverfront Theatre will host more Chef Demonstrations, Chef Masterclasses and the Teenchef cook off as well as some Young People’s Cookery Workshops.

The Market Hall

Chef Demonstrations in the Market Hall

Last years Teenchef competition was a huge success, thanks in no small part to the generosity of Chef Hywel Jones of the award-winning Lucknam Park. This year the final three teams will go head to head to win a day at Lucknam Park’s kitchen with Hywel and his team.

Teen Chef Winners

2011 Teen Chef Winners

There will be a host of other top chef’s at Newport this year passing on their knowledge and experience.

North Wales very own, Bryn Williams owner of Odette’s in Primrose Hill will be in the Market Hall on Saturday Afternoon.

Bryn Williams

Bryn Williams

Michelin Starred James Sommerin, chef at the The Crown at Whitebrook will be demonstrating at the Riverfront, along with Adam Whittle of the White Hart Village Inn in Llangybi (see my review here.). Also at the Theatre will be award-winning Anand George from the Purple Poppadom in Cardiff (review here and here), Hywel Jones of Lucknam Park, Tim McDougall of Terry M at the Celtic Manor and Norman Musa of Ning, Manchester.

Tops Chefs

(Clockwise from Top Right) Anand George, Kate Jenkins, James Sommerin, Adam Whittle.

Other chef’s include Matt Dawkins of the Star Inn, Llansoy; Kate Jenkins of Gower Cottage Brownies and Country Kitchen; Liz Night from Forage Fine Foods; Rob Sands from the Bell Inn; Antonio Smith from the Backyard Company and The Ethical Chef himself, Deri Reed.

More Top Chefs

Deri Reed, Matt Dawkins, Antonio Smith, Rob Sands, Liz Knight, Hywel Jones

As well as producers stalls the city centre street will be full of entertainers for all ages.

Entertainers

So if you’re in travelling distance of Newport and are looking for a great day to suit all the family get yourself down to the Newport Food Festival 2012 and support them.

See you there!

Sep 24
Hiraeth at The Felin Fach Griffin
posted by: Gomez in Events on Sep 24th, 2012 | | 2 Comments »

Long time readers of this blog and followers of my twitter feed will know that I’ve long been a fan of The Felin Fach Griffin and not just for the food. (In fact as I write this I’m reminded of the fact that I’m long overdue to do an updated review, as the talented Ross Bruce has now been Head Chef since March 2011.) I’m not the only one that’s a fan either, Michelin awarded them a Bib Gourmand in the 2012 guide and they have been The Good Pub Guide Welsh Dining Pub of the Year for the last 3 years and are this year’s Inn of the Year for the whole UK. Check out the recognition page on their website to see the ever increasing list of accolades they have won.

Very early this year on receiving a cryptic message from Griffin Manager, the lovely Julie Bell, along the lines of ‘keep September 7th clear more info to follow’ I immediately blanked the date out in my diary. Then, in late May, came said information. It was to be a mini festival, with stalls, food, music and drink all taking place over one evening.

‘Count me in.’ was the obvious response. For me the next 4 months just involved sitting back and waiting for September 7th. For Julie and her staff it involved taking Hiraeth, a Welsh word best interpreted as a deep longing for a connection with the land of Wales, from an initial concept to “an evening dedicated to celebrating the local land, its bounty and its music.” Did I mention this was a rather ambitious little festival?

The event was to take place mainly in the garden of The Griffin, but with an indoor lecture theatre using one of the restaurant rooms.

We arrived on the night to find the stall holders putting the finishing touches to their stands. It was great to see how many people had come out to support the event. Selling their wares were Black Mountain Smokery, Chef on the Run Foods, Penpont Organic Produce, 100% Hay, Pips Cider, The Waen Brewery, Brecon Brewing, Talgarth Mill, The Hours Café & Bookshop and The Great English Outdoors.

There were talks by forager Adele Nozdar and the Griffin’s gardener Joe Hand. In the craft tent there were demonstrations of land art, wood work and basket making.

The evening’s music was provided by Repercussion, Al Cooper & Dan James and Johnny Crows Garden.

Amazingly September 7th turned out to be one of the very few warm, sunny days that the summer of 2012 could deliver, which in turn led into a balmy late summer evening. The smells of the BBQ wafted across to us as we sat, listening to the live music and sipping our drinks, in between wandering off to chat to the producers and buy some of their great produce.

Finally the food was ready. From the grill came moist, succulent Welsh lamb, super fresh sardines caught that morning in Cornwall and whizzed up the motorway, fresh ravioli and garden fresh vegetables. All washed down with a choice of local beers and ciders. Bliss!

We loved Hiraeth. It was the perfect way to spend a late summer evening. We met lots of interesting people, made new friends, enjoyed the good food, good music and revelled in the great laid back atmosphere.

Julie and her team did a fantastic job for the inaugural Hiraeth and should be congratulated by all. In fact they did such a good job that the only thing I can think off to improve the event would be for it to be longer.

We had the first two tickets off the press for Hiraeth 2012, this is my notice that I want the first two for Hiraeth 2013 too.

Scroll down for a collection of photos from this year’s event.

Setting Up

Setting Up

 Land Art

Land Art
The Waen Brewery

The Waen Brewery

The Craft Tent - Sculpture

The Craft Tent – Sculpture

The Craft Tent - Woodwork

The Craft Tent – Woodwork

The Great English Outdoors

The Great English Outdoors

The Hours

The Hours

Brecon Brewing

Brecon Brewing

Leigh from The Hours

Leigh from The Hours

Mike 'Chef on the Run' Carnell

Mike ‘Chef on the Run’ Carnell

Admiring the Twizzy

Admiring the Twizzy

Talgarth Mill

Talgarth Mill

Jonathan Carthews - Black Mountain Smokery

Jonathan Carthews – Black Mountain Smokery

Can yer ride tandem?

Can yer ride tandem?

Twizzy on Charge

Twizzy on Charge

Penpont Organics

Penpont Organics

Bread

Bread

Chef on the Run Preserves

Chef on the Run Preserves

Discover Penpont Apples

Discover Penpont Apples

Penpont Organic Produce

Penpont Organic Produce

Smoking

Smoking

You'll always find me in the garden at parties!

You’ll always find me in the garden at parties!

Repercussion

Repercussion

It's a lot drier than Glastonbury

It’s a lot drier than Glastonbury

More Crafts

More Crafts

Making Art

Making Art

Pasta Masterclass

Pasta Masterclass

Slam on the Lamb

Slam on the Lamb

As Night Falls

As Night Falls

Al Cooper & Dan James

Al Cooper & Dan James

Candlelight

Candlelight

After the Sunset

After the Sunset

Ghost Walkers

Ghost Walkers

After Hours

After Hours

Winding Down

Winding Down

 P9JUVV8ERXD8

Aug 28

This weekend, Gomez and I spent the day in Swansea at The Welsh Menu Food Festival (Gomez will do a full write up of the event).  One of the events was the pro-celebrity cooking challenge in Swansea Market  featuring Kieron Self from BBC One’s My Family. After the demo, we explored Swansea Market, stopping in stalls suggested by my twitter friend @swanseafoodie. If you have not made a trip to Swansea Market it is worth a visit. It is the largest indoor market in Wales and has a wide variety of high quality fresh produce.

Normally when Gomez and I have a full day out on the weekend, the last thing I want to do when I get home is cook. However as I was browsing the wonderful fresh produce in Swansea Market, I noticed that one of the fish mongers (Coakley Greene) had some beautiful, freshly landed, local mussels. Now, I don’t get mussels often in my neck of the woods but, I do know from days as a student in Paris, steamed mussels  are my perfect fast food. So, happy as a clam, I bought a kilo to cook later!
 
At The Welsh Menu Food Festival, we went to a talk given by Toloja Welsh Cider about their traditional and natural methods of producing cider. I thought to myself, why not use some cider in the broth to steam the mussels instead of the traditional white wine and so we bought a small container.
 
There are many different ways to prepare your mussels before cooking. The way that I find the easiest is to dump the mussels in a sink of cold water as soon as I get home. This helps to clean out any sand that may be in the shell. Then I throw out any that float to the top, are broken, or do not close after I have given them a good tap. The mussels I bought were already “debearded”; the hairy fibres that you find on mussels were already removed. These days most mongers sell mussels already cleaned so do try to buy those if you really want fast food but if not, it will only take a few minutes to clean them by yanking the fibres from the shell.
 
To cook the mussels, I heated a little olive oil in a large pot and then added some chopped, smoked, streaky bacon from The Welsh Pig Co. in Raglan, Monmouthshire and cooked for a couple of minutes until the fat had rendered out of the bacon. I used about 200 grams. Whilst it was cooking, I sliced a bunch of green onions, chopped a clove of garlic, and picked some fresh tarragon from the garden which I then threw in the pot and gave a good stir. After about 1 minute, I added about 150ml of cider to the pot, gave it all a good stir, added the mussels, and then covered the pot with the lid. The mussels are cooked when the shells are open. I checked on them after 3 minutes and they had all opened. If you haven’t cooked mussels before, you might want to use a pot with a see through lid so that you can see when the shells have opened. If you over cook they will become tough and if you open the lid too soon, you will lose the steam which is needed to cook them. As a guide, 1 kg of mussels will cook in 3 to 5 minutes.
 
Use your imagination when making steamed mussels. Instead of cider you could use coconut milk and sauté some garlic, ginger and lemongrass first. Or cook tomatoes until tender with onion and garlic and add white wine for the liquid. Saffron as well would be a beautiful spice to add to the cooking pot!
I served the steaming bowls of fragrant mussels with fresh bread to soak up the lovely broth and some chips which I had popped in the oven whilst the mussels were soaking. The mussels took 10 minutes to prepare and cook so for me the perfect homemade fast food!  Enjoy!
Aug 27

Interior Shot of Oscars of Cardiff

For the few of you left that don't know yet, Oscars of Cardiff occupies the old site of Le Gallois in Romilly Cresent. A location I've always liked as the restaurant itself is light and airy due to the glass frontage and I can always find somewhere to park.
 
But that was then and this is now, so what of Oscars itself? We’ll I’ve been a few times before and always left happy. The menu is eclectic, ‘our chefs are not afraid to experiment’ they say, catering well for both the traditional diner and the ‘nibbler’.  I’ve also found it an excellent spot when someone in the party is a vegetarian. 
 
Based on past experience it was a no-brainer when I was asked if I’d like to sample to new, improved Sunday lunch menu. In fact there are two menus. The first a prix fixe traditional style lunch menu offering two courses for £16 and three for £19.  The second, billed as the Lazy Sunday Menu, more contemporary with burgers, lobster wraps, sandwiches and soups all individually and reasonably priced.
 
To start we both chose the Chicken and roast garlic pate with toast & balsamic jelly.  It was an excellent pate, smooth and with a great depth of flavour. I was especially pleased that it was served with a decent portion of toast. For me there is nothing worse than being supplied a decent pate with hardly any bread to spread it on. The balsamic jelly was a great idea, but not quite as sharp as I would have liked, although it did a pretty good job of cutting through the richness of the pate. MrsA agreed but also thought it was too hard, more rubbery than jelly like.
For main course I opted for the traditional Oscars Sunday roast with herb roast vegetables, greens and gravy whilst MrsA opted for the lighter option of Fillet of line caught hake, potato tartar, asparagus and air dried tomato salsa to which she added a Garden Salad from the Lazy Sunday Menu.
Oscars Sunday Roast

Oscars Sunday Roast

The beef was served slightly past medium, but was nevertheless very tender with a good flavour. Extra gravy came in a bottle marked Jim’s Beef (no I have no idea who Jim is either) and was liberally poured over the accompanying roast potatoes, vegetables and green beans. A nice light and crispy Yorkshire Pudding finished the whole thing off. 
Jims Beef Gravy

Jim's Beef

MrsA’s fish was very nicely prepared and well complemented by asparagus with just the right amount of crunch. The tomato salsa was very tasty and she would have liked to see a lot more of it on the plate. Although the potato tartar tasted good it didn’t deliver textually having an almost granular consistency, we wondered if this came from using a floury potato variety rather than a waxy one. The salad was nice balance of freshness and flavour with a decent house vinaigrette. 
I alone chose to indulge in a dessert and the choice was easy, Oscars strawberry mess, vanilla cream, rose meringues and candy! This was a sugary delight and I have to say if Chef John Cook makes his own candy floss (or cotton candy as MrsA insists on calling it) and he’s looking for a side line, he’d clean up on a Bank Holiday Weekend at Barry Island! With all that sugar and cream this was a dish that could have easily become a sickly sweet disaster, but instead was one of the nicest desserts I’ve eaten so far this year. Top notch!
Whilst I sipped my coffee and MrsA her fresh mint tea we discussed our lunch and Oscars overall. With good food, friendly service, a varied menu and being family friendly to boot there is no doubt that Oscars is a great neighbourhood restaurant. We also think that it offers really good value for money.  The fact that it has just won a place in the Good Food Guide 2013 means that others seem to think so too. Keep an eye out too for Oscars Wednesdays where you can find a variety of special menus such as ‘Fish Supper Night’, ‘Very Vegetarian Nights’ and other specials.
 
I started this review by saying that I had been to Oscars a few times before and although we’ve highlighted a few very minor quibbles here, overall Oscars is a great place to eat and I know that we’ll be going back there again. I wish we had an Oscars in my neighbourhood. Recommended.
 
6-10 Romilly Crescent
Pontcanna
Cardiff
CF11 9NR
 
T: 029 2034 1264
 
Disclosure: I was invited to review Sunday Lunch at Oscars by Cake Communications and as such my meal was complimentary. MrsA attended as my guest and I paid for her meal in full.
 

 

Oscars of Cardiff on Urbanspoon

Jul 31

Gomezadams and I discovered Mint and Mustard several years ago. Consequently I am actually rather surprised this is the first review we have written. We were so excited by the concept of “Redefining Indian Cuisine” and the resulting fabulous meals that we had there.  When we first dined at Mint and Mustard, the Head Chef was Anand George who then moved on to his own restaurant, Purple Poppadum. We went back to Mint and Mustard after Chef George left; at that time it was still the same menu that he had created. The meal we had didn’t disappoint but we did wonder would Mint and Mustard just keep to that menu or would they find another brilliant chef to continue their concept of “redefining Indian cuisine”. 

Gomezadams and I were recently invited to attend a complimentary taster evening at Mint and Mustard. We were excited to go as their new award winning Executive Chef Pramod Nair and his team created a special seafood and fish menu to have its debut in June. For our special Chaakara fish and seafood taster evening we sampled about 10 dishes. Our starters included Scallops Thengapal: Hand Dived Scottish Scallops simmered in lemon zest flavoured coconut milk, Kekada Sirke: Soft shell crab in garam masala marination, batter fried, Chemmeen Porichathu: Shrimps marinated in chilli, shallots & curry leaf grilled & served with mustard & coconut sauce and steamed Salmon Cake.
 
 
All 4 dishes were stunning. The scallops were so sweet and enhanced by the delicate sauce. The prawns were succulent and meaty and the salmon was moist and fragrant from the beautiful blend of exotic spices. Gomezadams is not a fan of salmon so I sat there, like a cat in a fishmonger, hoping to snatch his salmon. Alas, he ate the whole thing with delight, much to my chagrin. My favourite dish was the soft shell crabs! Sweet but spicy, soft but crunchy!  
 
This was followed by King Fish Steak Vattichathu Masala: fried steaks of King Fish tossed in shallots & tomatoes served with salad and potato cake. If I remember correctly, Chef said that he used kokum in this dish which is a fruit native to southern India. It has the same souring qualities as tamarind and is often used on fish curries in that region. This dish had beautifully intense flavours and a real wow factor. Being a firm, moist and meaty fish it takes well to the deep seasoning. The fresh green salad and potato cake were a perfect balance for this dish. 
 
This was not the end of our meal! Next up was the Queens Silver Pomfret which is a recreation of the dish Chef Pramod prepared for the Queen during her visit to Kerala in 1997.
 
We also has Pearl Spot fish which is a freshwater fish from Kerala. It was coated in a shallot and tamarind sauce, wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. This was a subtle and beautiful dish. The Pearl Spot is a sweet and creamy fish and the flavour is enhanced with the tartness of the tamarind. 
 
Another one of my favourites was the Nandu Masala (crab masala). The crab was earthy but tasted of the sea. The masala included roasted coconut and spices but they did not overpower the crab instead they intensified the wonderful crab flavour.  
 
Our last 2 fish dishes were Konju Manga Curry (tiger prawns simmered in fennel, coconut and a raw mango sauce) and Mixed Seafood Pachadi (cod, monk fish shrimp, squid and mussels cooked in a pineapple and coconut sauce). The tiger prawn curry again was delicious but the mixed seafood was too sweet for me.
 
 
Dessert was a tongue in cheek trio of ice creams, comprising Jackfruit, Rose & Vetiver and finally a Mint & Mustard. The jackfruit was definitely the best and something I would order again. The rose and vetiver was just too perfumed to be enjoyable. The mint and mustard, well let’s just say it’s a work in progress…….
 
 
What the Chef did that night was show us a beautiful myriad of ways fish and seafood could be prepared. Some dishes were subtle and delicate and others were intense and spicy. There was something for every palate at the table. Each dish was exquisitely prepared with great skill at using the variety of spices and to bring out the best of each variety of fish and shell fish. If you are a fish lover, you will not go wrong with any of these dishes. Of course, Mint and Mustard of course also serves meat dishes…..
 
134 Whitchurch Road,
Cardiff,
CF14 3LZ
 
T: 02920 620333
 
Disclaimer: We were invited to attend by Mint & Mustard via their PR company and as such the meal was provided on a complementary basis.

Mint and Mustard on Urbanspoon

Jul 19

Sushi

I love raw fish! I lived in both New York and the Bahamas as a child and when in New York, my mother would take me to raw clam bars where we would both eat raw clams until we were giddy with happiness. When in the Bahamas, my father would take me to the docks for a Bahamian delicacy, raw conch. The conch would be diced and eaten raw or quickly marinated in lime and served in a salad with diced onion, bell pepper, tomato and hot peppers.
 
So, when I went to university and was first introduced to sushi, I fell in love with it. I loved the variety of raw fish, the beautiful presentation, the textures and the heat of the wasabi along with the cooling pickled ginger. At one point in my life, I owned a sushi mat and attempted to make sushi rolls but I could never get them right, so it is a type of food I now always eat in a restaurant. As @gomezadams is not a huge fan of sushi, I just don’t get as much of it as I would like. So when I was invited to a sushi masterclass for International Sushi Day, I jumped at the chance to learn.
 
Believe it or not, my Sushi Masterclass was held at Red Hot World Buffet in Cardiff; not a restaurant I would normally associate with Sushi.  Red Hot World Buffet though does indeed have Sushi section and some highly experienced chefs as well. Our tutors for the day were Head Chef Uttam Kamoka who has been a chef for over 18 years and has worked in the restaurants of some of the world’s top hotels, including the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Ably assisting him were Red Hot World Buffets Sushi chefs Arvind Rawat and Dinningson Poththmi. They both have years of experience working in Japanese restaurants in Dubai before joining the team in Cardiff where they make between 800 to 1,000 pieces of sushi every day!
 
Everything was ready for us when we arrived, in order to make sushi which consisted of some of the ingredients they use daily. Each day on the buffet, they offer six different sushi rolls (mango & avocado, cucumber flying fish roe & crab, avocado & cucumber, salmon & cucumber, tuna & avocado, and prawn, cucumber & avocado) and three nigiri (salmon, tuna, prawn). Already prepared as well was the Japanese sushi rice which was boiled in water with rice vinegar, sugar and salt and allowed to cool to room temperature
 
 
Making a beautifully presented sushi roll is not as easy as it looks. Here at my station you can already see some of my 1st rolls falling apart! 
 
 
Making a stunning ngiri (raw fish on top of rice) takes precise finger placement as Chef Arvind tries to show us.
 
 
I must say, making sushi is not as easy as it looks! Thanks to the chefs, at the end of the day, I finally managed to make a presentable sushi roll and ngiri (raw fish on top of rice).
 
 
You may not think of Red Hot World Buffet as the place to go for sushi. Although it does not offer the variety of a specialist restaurant, it does offer a huge buffet which includes sushi as well Indian, Chinese, Italian, Tex Mex, Cajun, Thai, Mediterranean and British cuisine.  So if your friends are not fans of sushi or you do not want a whole meal of just Japanese food, this family friendly and economical restaurant may be the place for you. One thing I can assure you is that the sushi ingredients are fresh and are expertly prepared by a team of very patient chefs.
 
Jun 25

Close of of seeds on dough

One of my enduring memories of childhood was going in ‘town’, with my parents, on a Saturday morning to do the weekly shop.  No Tesco™ in those days, Aberdare had a Fine Fare (anyone else old enough to remember Pink Stamps?) and apart from Boots and Woolworth’s that was about it for national chains.

One of the highlights of our weekly trip was accompanying my father down the arched alleyway in Weatherall Street, into the bake house of Len Godding. Most people went to the bakers shop in Canon St, but we would go to the bake house proper. My father was a coalman and it was he who supplied the coal to fire the oven.

We would get a ‘crusty white’ (my father could not stand his bread to be doughy it had to be crusty) and a Hovis. Len Godding also made miniature Hovis, tiny little loaves just right for one. I would get one of these to myself and consume it later with butter and cheddar cheese.  He also made small white rolls from two pieces of dough, the second smaller piece of which was stuck on the top like a crown and egg-washed so it turned golden brown in the over.  The joy was in ripping this piece off the top exposing the soft white bread centre underneath.

I can remember the bake house now, always hot of course from that huge oven. Wooden tables covered in metal tins some empty, some full of proving dough. Big metal racks full of cooling loaves. Huge peels (long wooden bakers paddles) leaning against the walls ready to load and unload the ovens. Everything is covered in the white dust of flour. In the corners, where it had been allowed to settle, it mimicked miniature snow drifts blown against the walls.

But what I remember most is the smell, that incredible smell, of fresh baked bread, so complex in its make up, yet so simple in its pleasure. Supposedly the most universally loved smell on the planet and a supposition that I’m not about to disagree with.
Forty odd years later and it is that smell that once again fills my nostrils as I sit in Elisabeth Mahoney’s kitchen in Cardiff, the kitchen that is better known as The One Mile Bakery.

Previous visitors to this blog might have already read my article about The One Mile Bakery’s weekly bread, soup and jam deliveries. If not and you are so inclined you can find it here.

For those that haven’t then The One Mile Bakery is a micro-bakery that delivers fantastic quality freshly baked artisan bread within a one mile radius of its kitchen. Owner Elisabeth Mahoney is also about to start delivering Baking and Cookery Classes and it is to this end that myself and three other Cardiff food bloggers have been invited along to experience the ‘Introduction to Baking Bread’ at first hand.

Sitting with me around the table, that is going to be our work surface for the day, are Nicki Tudor a.k.a Cardiff Bites and Cardiff’s longest established food blogger; Nikki Vivian from the Your Last Mouthful website and fellow food blogger Bev Downes, better known as Eats For Wales.

As we sip our coffees and teas Elisabeth explains to us the format of the day. The aim of this class is to introduce the key stages of baking a loaf (mixing ingredients, kneading, resting, shaping, proving, baking) and to build confidence in each of these in small, easy steps.

To start we will each make a simple loaf, choosing our own flour form a choice of plain white, wholemeal, spelt or malthouse. Nicky and Bev choose to make a basic white loaf, Nikki opts for a spelt and I go for a simple wholemeal.

No matter what flour you are using the recipe is basically the same, although using the different flours side by side certainly allows you to see the different characteristics each type of flower has as you begin to make the dough.

We start by measuring out our flour, putting it in a bowl and making a well, into which we put the yeast and a small amount of tepid water.  Then we leave it for 15 minutes until it forms a sludge on top.  This means that the yeast has activated. Once this has happened we add the rest of the water and salt and mix it all together.

Then we turn it out onto an un-floured surface (that’s right no flour) and start kneading. It’s about this time that my previous attempts at baking have mostly failed as faced with a sticky, gooey mess I’ve either given up or resorted to sprinkling copious amounts of flour in an effort to regain control that’s lead ultimately to disaster. Elisabeth is adamant that all we have to do is keep kneading for 10 whole minutes. Ten minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time until you have to knead non-stop for it, but sure enough the longer we go on the less and less sticky the dough becomes as the gluten forms and the dough becomes more elastic. The dough is ready when it springs back to the touch.

In the following short clip Cardiffbites demonstrates how to knead the worlds stickiest dough – enjoy!

An hour later the dough has ‘rested’ and doubled in size, and Elisabeth shows us how to ‘punch down’ and start shaping.  This is a bit like origami for dough as we form it into a rough oval and then fold the corners (I know an oval doesn’t really have corners but it’s fairly obvious when you see it done) into the middle.

Then you roll it into a tube, gathering it as you do so, about the length of your tin. Any joints are sealed with the heel of your hand or by gently rolling to smooth them out.

Pop it into the tin and leave for about 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Then put it into a very hot oven for 35 minutes until it is golden and gives a hollow sound when you tap the bottom. Cool on a wire rack and try to resist eating immediately!

This video shows the loaf coming out of the oven:

Throughout the rest of the day I made a rye loaf with caraway seeds that was simply delicious and remained fresh for nearly a whole week, which means we had finished eating it long before it would have gone stale.

Here's a video of the Rye Bread fresh from the oven:

We also did a mixed flour loaf using white and rye flour that we filled with bacon and red onion.

The culmination of the day was a Pain de Campagne, a French rustic loaf that is made with a pre-dough (also called a ferment) that is prepared in two minutes the day before and added to the dough mix the following day. This was made using a cane banneton to give the characteristic shape.

In between all the mixing, kneading, shaping and baking we discussed why if our bread has 4 ingredients a mass produced loaf from the supermarket needs 24. We learned about different types of yeast, how to slash the bread with a lame and why you should soak any seeds you want to add overnight.  Oh and we drank coffee and ate bacon sandwiches as well, although on a real course a proper lunch will be provided while the dough proves.

By the end of the day we all had four loaves of freshly baked bread to take home with us as well as lots of new found knowledge and a big dollop of inspiration for what we could do next.

Elisabeth is a great teacher, with bags of enthusiasm that really rubs off. She is also very passionate about what she does and how she does it, using great ingredients to create great produce. It truly was one of the best days I’ve had in a very long time, because not only was it was great fun but it was also inspirational in equal measure.

In fact I enjoyed it so much I’ll probably be booking myself on the “Introduction To Sourdough Baking’ course later this year. I might even get a gift a gift voucher for MrsA to do “Bread and Jam” as well.

If you’ve got any interest in making breads, jams, or soups then you should do one of these courses. I promise you won’t regret it. Pass the butter……..

Details of all of The One Mile Bakery’s courses can be found here.

The One Mile Bakery
21 Syr David’s Avenue
Cardiff
CF5 1GH

Tel: 07939 211809
Email: info@onemilebakery.com

Web: www.onemilebakery.com
Twitter: @OneMileBakery

Disclosure: I attended this course at the invitation of The One Mile Bakery and as such it was provided gratis.

Jun 11

South Wales based foodies and social media users can't fail, over the last few weeks, to have noticed the buzz that's been created by journalist, home cook and baker Elisabeth Mahoney's new venture The One Mile Bakery. There was such chatter at one point that I jokingly tweeted that I'd soon be opening an Estate Agents in Pontcanna as I was expecting a property boom as everyone tried to get  into the catchment area!

So what's all the fuss about?
 
Well The One Mile Bakery bills itself as is a small, passionate food company delivering beautiful, wholesome artisan bread and partners for great bread (soups and preserves) within a one-mile radius of its kitchen.
 
What to me sets it apart from other micro-bakeries I've come across is that it has a rather unique business model. Food is sold on a subscription basis (monthly or three-monthly), with six different packages available namely, Classic Breads; Sourdough; Classic & Sourdough mix; Bread and Soup; Bread & Jam; Just Soup.
 
Currently serving Pontcanna, Llandaff and Canton; Elisabeth delivers everything on foot or by bike. The business is very eco-friendly sourcing all ingredients locally wherever possible. Soups and preserves are also made from seasonal ingredients. All packaging, except the labels, is 100% compostable. Sounds good so far.
 
Elisabeth kindly offered to let me try a sample delivery to see what I thought, but as I live well outside the catchment area, there were a few logistics to sort out but eventually I was able to detour MrsA on her way home from an appointment to call in and collect.
 
What we had been given was a typical first delivery for the Bread, Soup & Jam package (£23.50 a month).  There were two loaves of bread, some jam and a large tub of soup with a garnish of fresh herbs to sprinkle on top.
 
 
The first loaf of bread was Seeded & Honey Loaf. I was in work when MrsA got home, but she rang me to ask if she could have some of the bread, which confused me a little. She was just 'being polite,' she said as 'it was my sample'. When I got in I asked how the bread was – "You're lucky you've got any left", she said. 
 
Once I'd cut myself a slice I could see that she wasn't joking.  We'd actually planned steak for dinner that evening, but we looked at one and other, put it back in fridge and started to butter bread and warm the soup. That Honey Loaf is divine, it's moist, flavourful and with bags of texture. I'm not exaggerating when I say it might be my favourite bread ever!
 
 
The soup was Carrot and Cardamom. This soup caught me by surprise as the aroma was fresh not spicy, but by the end of the second spoonful my whole mouth was enveloped with a gentle warmth from the Cardamom. The spicing here was very well judged I thought. 
 
Cardamom has such a strong, unique taste whenever I see it billed high on a dish I'm often expecting it to be the dominant flavour to the detriment of everything else. However, here it was subtle, slowly creeping onto the palate and never in danger of over-powering the freshness of the carrot or the brightness of the garnish. Elisabeth bills this as a 'sunny soup for a wet day' I can't think of a better description.  
 
Our other loaf was an Amaretto Sourdough. Now this did make me shiver when I first read the label as I had visions of half a bottle of cheap liqueur being poured into the mix. Luckily The One Mile Bakery had supplied some notes with the delivery and so I was able to see that this Amaretto is infact a Spring Wheat, that is grown in Hertfordshire but milled by Anne Parry at Felin Ganol, her watermill in Ceredigion.
 
Amaretto flour is lower in protein than most bread flour and doesn't like to be overworked. Elisabeth is still tweaking her recipes to get the best from this flour, so included this loaf on the basis it was 'experimental'.  Despite being a little too dense for me, it still had a great flavour. I've tasted lots of sourdough that did well in the consistency stakes only to fail at flavour.  This one though really carried that distinctive flavour of a good quality sourdough.
 
Finally we opened the jam, Strawberry, Raspberry and Vanilla.  The first thing I noticed here was the 'set' it was nice and firm. I often buy jam at farmers markets only to find that I've really bought a thick fruit soup. At the other end of the spectrum we find the mass produced jams that, whilst always set, tend to spread as if they were jelly. This was thick and firm but with a great spread, a little sweeter than our own home made jams, it nevertheless was well balanced, again with a great flavour combination.  Everything working in harmony and nothing clashing or masking the other flavours.
 
At £23.50 a month (you get a 10% discount if you sign up for 3 months in advance) the Bread, Soup and Jam subscription, although the most expensive package, still provides excellent value based on the quality of the items in my sample. The Classic Bread package, on the other hand, gets you a weekly delivery of a handmade classic loaf made from organic stone-ground flour for only £9 a month.
 
If you live in Pontcanna, Llandaff or Canton then all I can say is you're very lucky indeed to be able to take advantage of The One Mile Bakery's output.  Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until they launch the 23 and a Half Mile Bakery!
 
The One Mile Bakery
21 Syr David's Avenue
Cardiff
CF5 1GH.
 
Tel: 07939 211809
 
Jun 10

I entered a contest via Twitter for a free meal to trial Chef Anand George’s new  summer menu.  I was one of the lucky seven to win!  The theme of the new menu is “Deep Blue” as Chef is introducing a variety of fish and seafood dishes to the menu for summer.

I had a trial menu so the dishes that I write about here may have change slightly or be presented in a different manner.  What will not change however is Chef Anand’s flair for making each dish a beautiful harmonious symphony!

Our appetizers consisted of a trio of Mirror Varuthathu: mackerel fillet marinated with chili, turmeric and lemon served with a rice vermicelli salad and herb butter, The Green and Gold: a refreshing salad of mango and avocado, and Tuna Pillow: spiced tuna croquette in crispy breadcrumbs.  The mackerel was spicy but definitely not overpowered by the spice, the tuna was delicate with a wonderful contrast of texture and the salad was smooth, cooling and refreshing.  All 3 dishes were very distinct as instruments in an orchestra but they were harmonious together.

This was followed by Spirit of the Sea, an incredibly succulent loin of swordfish marinated in fresh mint and coriander and grilled in the tandoor.  This was served with a chili and garlic risotto.  The swordfish was perfectly cooked.  This is a fish that if not cooked properly can be very dry and tough.  The marinade was very subtle allowing the wonderful flavour of the fish to shine through.  The risotto was not a traditional runny risotto but a risotto cake adding some punch and heat to the dish.

We were then served an apple and green chili sorbet. I personally prefer a sorbet that cleanses the pallet and the chili in this sorbet was burning instead of soothing.

Our main course was Halibut Kokum, an authentic Kerala Boatman curry.   Kokum is a fruit, native to the western coastal regions of Southern India and is used to add a sourness to dishes like tamarind would.  The kokum was smoked so the sauce had smoky and sour flour that complimented the halibut.

 

The halibut was served with  green vegetables sautéed with cashews, coconut, mustard and curry leaves.  The vegetables were infused with a wonderful flavour from the aromats and also were a great balance to the spicy halibut curry.

A dessert of Mango Crème Brûlée with fresh mango slices sprinkled with Kashmiri chili was the perfect way to end the meal!

Every course was served with an accompanying beer or cider.  In the future Purple Poppadom will either offer beer and cider 'pairings' with their dishes or will at least be in a position to recommend a suitable match.

If you haven’t been to Purple Poppadom, I highly suggest you go!  Chef George is innovative and pushes the boundaries of Indian cuisine.  The result is a beautiful symphony of flavours.  

"Deep Blue" launches on Monday 11th June, 2012.

Have a read of Corpulent Capers review as well http://www.corpulentcapers.com/purple-poppadom/
 

Purple Poppadom
Upper Floor
185a Cowbridge Road East
Canton, Cardiff, CF11 9AJ
Tel: 029 2022 0026

http://www.purplepoppadom.com

Purple Poppadom on Urbanspoon

May 20
Wright’s Independent Food Emporium
posted by: Gomez in Events, News on May 20th, 2012 | | 1 Comment »

Wright's Independent Food Emporium Logo

So having filled our bellies at Y Polyn, it seemed the obvious choice to go and check out Simon & Maryann Wright’s new venture, just up the road in Nantgaredig. Twitter had brought news that they had opened, just a few days earlier, at the site of the old Four Seasons restaurant. So off we went not quite knowing what to expect from Wright’s Independent Food Emporium.
I think I was just expecting, from the name, Wright’s Independent Food Emporium to be an old fashioned shop, maybe I was expecting to find Arkwright behind the counter calling for “Gr-Gr-Granville”. If that’s what I was expecting then I was wrong on every count.
Despite being housed in a converted cowshed, the interior is light and airy with lots of stone and natural wood. Our first surprise was that as well as being a shop, Wright’s is also a casual café with a simple menu written on a chalk board screwed to the wall.
Wrights Menu

The Menu

Down the centre of the shop area runs a long trestle table loaded with organic fruit and veg.  There’s a deli counter full of cheeses, meats and charcuterie. Dry goods are on shelves lining the walls and there are some further tables with a selection of breads and cakes.
Organic Veg at Wrights

Organic Veg at Wrights

Wrights Deli Counter

The Deli Counter

Wrights Meringues

Cakes and Bakes

A separate room houses the drink, both alcoholic and soft. There is the “refillable wine” option where you can initially purchase a re-sealable wine bottle for £2.50 and then keep coming back to refill it, red or white, for a fiver a time. There is a similar scheme for olive oil.
Drinks at Wrights

The Drinks Room

All products are of the highest quality and sourced locally where possible. Chicken is free range from True Taste Award winning Capstone of Haverfordwest. Pork comes from Nant Du Pork in Llandeilo and jolly good it is too. Organic beef and lamb is from Hazelwell Farm in Whitland.
With charcuterie from Trealy Farm and Native Breeds, smoked fish from Cnwd it looks like Wright’s is set to become a local foodie’s shopping paradise.
With what seemed to be the whole Wright family in attendance on the day of our visit I was lucky to be able to grab a quick chat with Simon about how the whole thing had come into being.  Simon told me that the original idea had grown out of a conversation between him and his eldest son, Joel, whilst discovering some the restaurants that sprung up in Brooklyn during a trip to New York a few months earlier.
Looking onto the Restaurant Area

Looking through to the Restaurant Area

Shortly after returning home the opportunity arose to take over the premises that had once been home to the first restaurant that the Wrights had been in involved in. With little time to think lest they missed the opportunity they moved swiftly and the Independent Food Emporium was born.
Wrights Reading Room

“The Reading Room”

Of course as well as just selling produce, they are also serving teas and coffees, a range of cakes and baked goods together with a simple menu of hot food, prepared by Maryann. For breakfast you can have French Toast with Cinnamon or a Bacon Bun with or without Black Pudding. Later on try a Toasted Welsh Rarebit Sandwich or a Pork Belly Bun with Slaw.
Despite the serious aromas coming from the open kitchen area, we had just eaten, so I was unable to try anything.  However, the following weekend we made a quick trip to the West Wales Food Festival at the National Botanical Gardens and so made a quick detour on the way home, ostensibly to pick up some veg for Sunday Lunch but in reality to try the coffee and a Pork Belly Bun. Both were excellent, with the moist pork belly being some of the most succulent pork I’ve had in a while.
The Emporium is open Mon & Tues 11am to 7pm, Wed to Sat 9am to 7pm and Sundays 10am to 4pm. Hmm maybe my ‘Open All Hours’ analogy wasn’t that far from the truth!
If you’re looking for something that you won’t find in your local supermarket, or want a tasty snack made from the best ingredients then it’s well worth a visit. I’m certainly trying to find another reason for a visit to Wright’s Independent Food Emporium.
Addendum: Since the time of writing Wrights has now moved and can be now found at the address below. Lookk out for a revist to the new place coming soon.
Golden Grove Arms
Llanarthne
Carmarthenshire
SA32 8JU
Tel: 01267 290678

« Previous Entries Next Entries »