Abergavenny Food Festival is a weekend-long celebration of local produce. A fab excuse to eat and drink, meet lovely people passionate about food and dance amongst the ruins of a castle… Dreamy! My recipe for a perfect weekend. 🙂 With our wristbands on (bought in advance so they were slightly cheaper) we had access to the expansive festival site, with lots of free tutored tastings and interesting demos.
To help you navigate, the festival is sectioned off into sections like Fish and Fizz and Cheese and Wine (spent a lot of time here…) and areas dedicated to established artisan food and drink to take away and some celebrating new and exciting products. You want to go hungry – as there is SO MUCH food to try. You could have an absolute feast! We shared a lot of dishes to try and fit in as much as much as possible across 36 hours, with highlights including:
- Crispy and tasty tempura soft-shell crab in a brioche bun with peanut sauce
- Huge juicy and garlicky king prawns and noodles
- Chorizo and cod bubble and squeak
- A breakfast of roast lamb roll and venison steak sandwich, with a “pudding” of steak from Hangfire BBQ – it just looked too good to resist!
Event tickets are extra – but give you access to an abundance of exciting food and drink related activities in various venues across town. Unsurprisingly, The Drinks Theatre became my favourite place…
Beyond the G&T: What makes the perfect Aperitif
The Aperitif is something I feel we are regrettably missing from British culture. Those beautiful drinks designed to wet our appetites and get the taste-buds ready for the meal ahead are just not part of the usual menu. Well luckily for me, Danny Walker from Bristol Microdistillery, Psychopomp and Drinks Writer, Kate Hawkins, are celebrating it!
We were taken on a journey from sherries and vermouths, through to the makings of an Americano cocktail (and the wonders of Campari) and ending with absinthe! Yes, absinthe is apparently making a come back, but unfortunately those aniseedy flavours are not for me. I shall be keeping with the bitter notes of campari and the crisp, dryness of a beautiful fino thank you very much.
Exploring Welsh Wines
We are seeing an explosion in the quality and range of British wines on offer. Wine experts Andy Clarke, Fiona Beckett and Robb Merchant led us through a tasting from leading Welsh vineyards, including:
- Llaethliw Vineyard Sparkling White,
- Conwy Vineyard White “Solaris”
- Montgomery Vineyard “Rose”
- White Castle Vineyard Red “ Pinot Noir”
Robb Merchant talked us through the challenges and opportunities of growing grapes in a Welsh climate and also the exciting times as the market for Welsh wines continues to expand and develop. Having being persuaded by his wife to start a vineyard, they have been running White Castle Vineyard since 2009 and he has recently taken the role of Chairman of the Welsh Vineyard Association – so he knows a thing or two about Welsh wine… And the Pinot Noir was something pretty special!
After two tasting sessions and a party in the castle the night before (I put my research in), the hangover cocktails were an absolute life-saver. Drink gurus Andy Clarke and Melissa Cole talked us through the making of some pretty special concoctions that will help make the-morning-after-the-night-before a little less sad…
Big breakfast – imperial stout with whisky and milk froth – served with a piece of chocolate covered bacon – a genius addition that changed the whole taste of the drink PLUS everything tastes better with bacon… Recipe: https://www.instagram.com/p/BnzVRCiFQx1/?taken-by=melissacolebeer
Power smoothie – NEIPA mixed with mango and passion fruit puree, topped with hibuscus flower jar juice and dusted with a sprinkling of sumac. A zingy taste sensation to bring your taste-buds back to life! Recipe: https://www.instagram.com/p/BnzTV_6lBJm/?taken-by=melissacolebeer
The “Good Morning” espresso martini – with the usual base of espresso, vodka and Kalhua, with Andy’s special genius of sweetness from hazelnut syrup and a kick of Tobasco and caramelised red chili flakes garnish.
The “Wake Me Up” citrus zinger – the best way to get your vitamin C fix. A combination of fizz (use of Asti means you don’t need a sugar syrup), gin, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice and clementine juice and a garnish of lemon verbena. I am definitely bringing this into Christmas traditions! See https://one4thetable.com/drink/abergavenny-2018-hangover-cocktails/ for both recipes!
We also celebrated local Welsh produce at Taste of Land and Sea: A Welsh Sunday Feast
The perfect way to end a fabulous weekend. Wright’s Food Emporium and Pembrokeshire chef, Matt Powell of Fishing and Foraging in Wales created a scrumptious seasonal Welsh menu sourced directly from the country’s incredible landscape. Dishes were created to represent a true taste of Wales and showcase their indigenous and wild edible ingredients.
- Creamy and rich onion and local butter broth. Deliciously smooth and rich – I mopped every bit with sourdough from the local Angel Bakery in Abergavenny.
- Cardigan bay crab served with a delicious shoreline salad
- Lamb hot pot – with gorgeous melt-in-the-mouth lamb from local farmer (who sat next to us at the table). Topped with scrumptious wild salsa verde
- A huge portion of Chocolate torte with heather honey and wild edibles ice cream.
- Welsh rarebit bite (not a bite – it was huge!) with local stout and cheese, seaweed bread and pickled wild garlic capers. I could eat bowls of those wild garlic capers.
We also tasted a few gorgeous natural wines from Wright’s Wines – I definitely need a trip to their Cardiff shop! Matt also offers incredible sounding foraging and food tours – https://www.welshbassguide.co.uk/a-food-adventure.
The festival will run on 21st and 22nd September 2019. Book accomodation early if you want to stay within or in close proximity of Abergavenny.
My biggest regret? Not going for longer so I could eat more food!! I will definitely be booking Friday to Sunday next year!