There’s a “banquet” of Welsh food talent at this year’s celebratory 20th anniversary of the Abergavenny Food Festival to be held over the weekend of 15th/16th September in the Monmouthshire market town.
Festival chief executive Aine Morris says that the prominence of exciting Welsh produce, innovative chefs, and inspiring voices in food is currently experiencing a surge presenting the opportunity to really fly the flag for the dynamic Welsh food scene. Aine says:
“From farmers and producers such as Halen Mon, Martha Roberts, Black Welsh Lamb, incredible new products from Rogue Preserves, Brybeque Sauce, and Rhondda Rarebit, to the reviews for Gareth Ward’s extraordinary food at Ynyshir in mid Wales, there is a banquet of riches amongst the Welsh food scene and the recognition these people and their passions are getting presents a real opportunity to showcase what the country has to offer. We want to most definitely celebrate this at our landmark festival this year.”
There is also an active Fringe Programme as part of the festival this year including a tour of White Castle Vineyard and Welsh wine tasting on Friday 14th, a Monmouthshire Breakfast on the Saturday morning using food sourced from within the county of Monmouthshire and the annual Love Zimbabwe Kids Parade.
Plus there’s Farmyard Tent Talks with the likes of David Herbert of Hermit Crab Eggs – Wales’ most successful egg exhibitor, microholder and poultry pundit, Pamela Mason and Abergavenny Just Food group, Welsh grain farmer and baker Torth y Tir’s Rupert Dunn, pasture fed raw milk and beef micro-farmer from Mountain Hill Farm Alex Heffron, farmer turned Wagyu beef farmer Will Prichard, and local pig farmersMartha Roberts and Helen Joy. And The Great Farmyard Debate with Saturday seeing Martha Roberts (High welfare pig farmer) and Gaby/Bec Kelly (Milgi Vegan Cafe, Cardiff) among others taking part in a debate on ‘The Rise in Veganism’, and on Sunday ‘An Opportunity for Wales to Feed Itself: What’s Next for Welsh Farming?’ will be discussed by Sarah Dickins (Chair), Mark Lloyd (Angling Trust), Rob Yorke (rural commentator), and further panelists tbc.
Highlights of Welsh produce and chef talent appearing at this year’s festival also include a Welsh Sunday lunch with Wright’s Food Emporium and chef forager Matt Powell,a salt & caramel tasting workshop with Halen Mon, a demo from Gareth Ward with Welsh Wagyu, Welsh lamb with James Sommerin, a showcase of Welsh wines with food & drink writer Fiona Beckett, TV producer Andy Clarke and White Castle Vineyard’sRobb Merchant, and don’t miss the Fringe event eel release by the Severn & Wye Smokery at Llangorse Lake on Friday 14th. Look out for the Welsh dragon sign on stalls in the Markets selling produce from and made in Wales.
Chesters Wine Merchants in Abergavenny will be hosting a number of Fringe events including Redefining the West: A Modern Take on Californian Wine on Friday 14th plus An Introduction to Natural Wine and A Different Down Under on Saturday 15th.
Check abergavennyfoodfestival.com for more details and how to book for forages, Fringe, Tutored Tastings, masterclasses, Cookery School, After Hours events and Drinks’ Theatre. Wristbands for entry to festival areas are on sale via the website now.
Thursday 13th September:
Street Food from Syria – Fringe Programme
Abergavenny Community Centre, 6.30pm
Syrian cuisine can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish. For last year’s food festival our local Syrian families put on a ‘Syrian Supper’, this year they are offering the chance to try ‘Street Food from Syria’. So, if you have a taste for falafels, hummus, tabouleh and foul come along and sample the delights of locally produced Syrian cuisine.
This fringe event is organised by Abergavenny Town of Sanctuary, part of a national movement called City of Sanctuary which aims to support refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.
Angel Bakery Community Feast
Market Hall, Abergavenny, 7pm – 10pm
Our first feast of the festival weekend is by the community, for the community.
Indian Night with Cyrus Todiwala – Fringe Programme
Bridges Centre, Monmouth, 7pm – 11pm
Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL (BBC TV Food Personality of the Year 2014, celebrity TV chef, award-winning restaurateur and author) comes to Monmouth in advance of his guest appearance at the Abergavenny Food Festival. Cyrus has kindly offered to put this special event on for Bridges to help support their work in the community in Monmouthshire.
Friday 14th September:
Cyrus Todiwala Cookery School – Fringe Programme
Bridges Centre, Monmouth, 10am – 3pm
Learn how to cook Cyrus’s signature dishes in the beautiful surroundings of Drybridge House, Monmouth.
Cyrus Todiwala will be teaching his signature Asian fusion style at The Chef’s Room at Bridges. Coming from Mumbai, India, Cyrus decided to pursue a career in catering, graduating in hotel administration and food technology and rising to become corporate executive chef of the Taj Group in Goa. Today, Cyrus is the proprietor and executive chef of the Café Spice Namasté group based in London.
Severn and Wye Smokery: Eel Release – Fringe Programme
Lakeside Caravan Park, Llangorse Lake, 12noon – 4pm
Now in its eighth year, Severn and Wye Smokery will be releasing approximately 20,000 eels at Llangorse Lake as part of its eel restocking programme. This year’s guest chef is Freddy Bird from Bristol’s Lido who will be helping with a BBQ for those attending.
Vineyard Tour & Welsh Wine Tasting – Fringe Programme
White Castle Vineyard, 1pm – 3pm
A great experience, well worth going that extra mile! Visitors are invited to meet the owners of White Castle Vineyard and experience the beauty and tranquillity of their rural setting. On arrival, you’ll receive a warm welcome to all and introductions.
Enjoy a conducted vineyard tour lasting approximately 45 minutes allowing time for questions and answers as we tour. Talking topics will include from early beginnings, planting, grape quantities, varieties, yields. On return to the cellar door, you will then join a tasting of their award-winning quality Welsh wines served with a Welsh cheese platter.
Food, Poverty and Power – Fringe Programme
St Mary’s Church, 7.30pm – 9pm
Abergavenny Just Food promotes debate about big issues to do with food. This year, they will be hosting a meeting at St Mary’s Church to address food, poverty and power.
Across the UK more than 2,000 food banks provide short-term emergency aid every week and demand is soaring. In Wales alone, 43,509 food parcels were distributed between April and November 2017. In areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out demand rose by 30% on the previous year. Why is it that growing numbers of people are unable to afford nutritious food as a matter of course? Join the discussion with Abergavenny Just Food during this year’s Abergavenny Food Festival.
Music & Wine – Fringe Programme
Waitrose Café, Abergavenny, 7.30pm – 8.30pm
This is wine tasting with a difference!
Music in Hospitals & Care are proud to host an exciting new event in collaboration with Waitrose Abergavenny, where a selection of fine wine and cheese are complemented by music to match their country of origin and style.
Taking place in the British produce store café on Friday 14th September, guests will be able to indulge in a selection of hand-picked wines, cheese & nibbles, all accompanied by world-class live music performed by professional Welsh musicians in an intimate setting.
Saturday 15th September:
A Monmouthshire Breakfast – Fringe Programme
Abergavenny Community Centre, 9am – 12noon
Welcome to a Monmouthshire Breakfast. This traditional cooked breakfast made will be prepared from foods grown or produced within the county of Monmouthshire. Monmouthshire has some fantastic food producers and you’ll have an opportunity to sample some of the very best this beautiful county offers.
Ceramic Makers Market – Fringe Programme
The Chapel, Market Street, 10am – 5pm Saturday & Sunday
After the great success of last year’s Ceramic Makers’ Market upstairs at the Chapel, they have now gathered together more outstanding, talented makers. All work is hand crafted by these professional artists, who have been perfecting their practice over many years. You’ll be sure to find something for everyone’s table. Everything is for sale, with a rare opportunity to meet the makers.
St Mary’s Priory Centre, 10.30am – 11.30am
We’re all partial a bit of smoked salmon, but have you ever wondered what the process behind the finished result is? And what other food apart from fish can be smoked? Join Jonathan Carthew from Black Mountains Smokery as he guides you through the journey of the smoking process.
Bollywood Brunch with Imran Nathoo
Chef Demo, Market Hall Stage, 11am – 11.45am
What better way to start a Saturday than with a late morning brunch? Imran Nathoomade it to the final 10 of MasterChef 2017 and now runs a supper club and food blog. Cardiff-based Imran will be bringing a Bombay vibe to brunch, taking us on a spicy journey into the quintessential weekend meal, courtesy of curry baked eggs, masala french toast and a delicious mango lassi.
Storyteller’s Soup – Fringe Programme
Abergavenny Library, 12noon – 1pm
A selection of story morsels for children and parents from age 4 upwards, organised b Alison Newsam. Hear stories about food from around the world and be prepared to take a story home. Stories to share around the meal table!
Love Zimbabwe Kids Parade – Fringe Programme
Throughout Abergavenny, 1pm – 2pm
Pupils, parents and teachers from local schools join Love Zimbabwe Charity at the Food Festival in learning and sharing African songs whilst raising awareness of fair/ethical trade, and global food sustainability issues. The Mayor of Abergavenny will start the march from Castle Street Methodist Church at 1pm, before heading to the Castle, the Angel Hotel and the Lower Brewery Yard stage. At each stopping point songs will be sung and a speaker will say a few words.
Love Zimbabwe is an international charity based in Abergavenny, run by Martha and David Holman. The charity’s mission is to improve quality of life of disadvantaged communities in Zimbabwe through health, education and poverty reduction interventions and fostering sustainable global education in Wales.
Hang Fire BBQ
Cooking Over Fire, The Castle, 1.30pm – 2.15pm
Join Sam and Shauna, chefs, writers and stars of the TV show Sam and Shauna’s Big Cookout as they share their love of all things BBQ. Drawing on their experiences, they’ll be cooking up smoked and grilled pork tomahawks with quick pickled apples, coal roasted onions and a Welsh cider sauce.
Tutored Tasting, Corn Exchange, 1.30pm – 3pm
Three years ago, Nick Miller, of locally-based Black Welsh Lamb used the Abergavenny Food Festival to launch lamb tasting – taking the approach of a wine tasting to help people appreciate the differences in taste between different samples of lamb; based on breed, location, approach to rearing and length of maturation. This event focuses on the increasingly popular taste of mutton – meat from sheep aged two years or more. The event will be compered by chef and writer Cyrus Todiwala, and cooked by local chef Jane Baxter.
The wonders of Welsh Lamb with James Sommerin
Chef Demo, Market Hall Stage, 2pm – 2.45pm
Join top Welsh chef James Sommerin as he explores the wonders of Welsh lamb, along with his chef daughter Georgia. During his demo, he’ll show you some simple butchery techniques, before cooking up two signature dishes, both paring lamb with seasonal and local produce.
Bloody Lovely: A Tasting of Blood Products
St Mary’s Priory Centre, 2.30pm – 3.30pm
Leading UK producer James Swift of Trealy Farm Charcuterie, joins Elisabeth Paulof the Italian cooperativa of Valli Unite, whose work includes research conducted with the Nordic Food Lab, to talk you through the varied uses of blood; from its chemistry and culinary properties, to its use in a range of traditional products from different cultures.
Wood Fired Oven Class – Fringe Programme
Orchard House, Abergavenny, 2.30pm – 4pm (Saturday & Sunday)
Rachael Watson will demonstrate how to mix and knead her secret pizza dough recipe, then you’ll roll up your sleeves and make your own pizza ready to be baked in the searing heat of the wood fired oven. Sit back, relax in the peace of a cottage garden with uninterrupted views of the Blorenge hillside, a glass of wine in hand and the unbeatable experience of freshly baked pizza eaten al fresco. If the weather is unfriendly, you can still enjoy your delicious pizza in the sunroom.
Seasonal plant and real dairy ice cream making with La Grotta Ices and Fern Varrow – Fringe Programme
The Angel Bakery, 4pm – 6.30pm
Kitty Travers runs La Grotta Ices, established in 2008 as a small inventive ice cream manufacturer specialising in fresh ripe fruit ice creams and sorbets for all seasons.
At this year’s festival, Kitty will team up with Jane Scotter from Fern Verrow Biodynamic Farm in Herefordshire to demonstrate some simple tricks to making vibrant, seasonal plant and real dairy ice creams.
Kitty’s ﬁrst recipe book ‘La Grotta Ices’, published by Penguin Random House in June 2018, will be for sale at the event.
Craft British Cheese and Welsh Beer
St Mary’s Priory Centre, 4.30pm – 5.30pm
Spend the afternoon quaffing craft beers and chomping cheese with Slow Food’s Shane Holland and Enrico Messora of Borough Market fame. These two charismatic connoisseurs take you on a taste-tastic tour of the British Isles, culminating in you becoming the master of matching.
Festival Stories and Secrets; 20 years of Abergavenny Food Festival
Borough Theatre, 4.30pm – 5.30pm
To celebrate 20 years of Abergavenny Food Festival, we’ll be hearing from the festival founders and friends about what the event means to them.
With festival founders Martin Orbach and Chris Wardle, long term friend Jane Baxter, plus more to be announced. Hosted by Guardian food editor, Bob Granleese.
Exploring Welsh Wines
Drinks’ Theatre, 6pm – 7pm
As the climate in the UK becomes more suitable for wine production, we’ve seen an explosion in the quality and range of British wines that are on offer. Join us for this exploration of the Welsh wine industry, its history, and how it has grown and developed in recent years with wine experts Andy Clarke, Fiona Beckett and Robb Merchant.
Sunday 16th September:
Hearth Breads; The Secrets of Starters
Chef Demo, Market Hall Stage, 11am – 11.45am
Join Rachael Watson from the award-winning Abergavenny Baker School of Artisan Breads as she delves into the topic of starters and pre-ferments. She will talk you through why they are important, how you can use them in your home baking, and give you some top tips and secrets to making and looking after your starters.
Patisserie with Cocorico’s Laurian Veaudour
St Mary’s Priory Centre, 11.30am – 12.30pm
Do you know your choux from your shortcrust, your ganache from your praline? What better way to start your Sunday than with a sugar hit to get you going and a lesson in patisserie.
Pastry chef, Laurian Veaudour, is the owner of Cocorico Patisserie in Cardiff. He is passionate about creating delicious French delicacies whilst focusing on using quality ingredients.
Castle Meadows and Linda Vista Gardens, Abergavenny, 12noon – 1.30pm
Join local forager Liz Knight as she takes you on a family foraging walk through the local area around Abergavenny. As you walk, you and your children will learn how to identify and gather a range of wild foods including spices, seeds, nuts, berries fruit and more, turning what grows in your garden and in the wild into store cupboard ingredients.
Gareth Ward celebrates Welsh Wagyu Beef
Chef Demo, Market Hall Stage, 12.30pm – 1.15pm
In this demo, Gareth Ward, Chef Owner of Ynyshir, a Michelin star restaurant and rooms in mid Wales will be celebrating Welsh Wagyu beef. Gareth will be showing how his principles of ingredient led and flavour driven cooking are a perfect fit with Wagyu beef, talking you through its unique taste, texture and superior marbling.
Salt and Caramel; A lesson in deliciousness with Halen Mon
St Mary’s Priory Centre, 1pm – 2pm
Come and taste salted caramel like you have never tasted it before! Join acclaimed sea salt experts Halen Môn, and renowned master chocolatier Marc Demarquette as they take you through a lesson in the nation’s favourite ingredient combination. They’ll start with a tutored comparative sea salt tasting with an overview of what makes Halen Môn a superior seasoning. Then they’ll look at how adding this most magical of ingredients affects Marc’s indecently good caramels.
Taste of Land and Sea: A Welsh Sunday Feast
St Michael’s Centre, 1pm – 4pm
Wright’s Food Emporium in Llanarthney will be teaming up with Pembrokeshire chef and foraging expert Matt Powell to present an über Welsh, hyper-seasonal menu sourced directly from the country’s incredible landscape.
Severn Estuary, 2pm – 5pm
A rare chance to explore wild estuary foods of the Severn and Wye with experienced foragerHenry Ashby. Henry, who has 50 years’ experience of foraging, supplies top local restaurants such as The Whitebrook. Expect to find sea spinach, samphire, sea blights, sea asters, scurvy grass, sea arrow grass and orache.
Sherry with Tapas
St Mary’s Priory Centre, 2.30pm – 3.30pm
How did sherry shake off its fusty reputation to become the drink of the moment? Owen Morgan, co-owner of the hugely successful Bar 44 Tapas Y Copas restaurants and the first certified international sherry educator in Wales, will be challenging perceptions and sharing their love of sherry to convince you why it’s a drink that we should all be enjoying.
Owen will use his expert knowledge to give you a complete overview of sherry, from its history to its new found popularity. Covering all styles from the bone dry to the super sweet, you’ll get a taste of 6 sherries, each one paired with tapas or nibbles.
Breaking Bread – Fringe Programme
The Angel Bakery, 4pm – 6pm
Established in 2016, The Angel Bakery is bringing together a new generation of bakers, millers and grain growers around their table at this year’s Food Festival. Together they will break bread and discuss the ﬁner details and wider implications of making real bread in the UK today. Guests at the table include Kimberley Bell (Small Food Bakery), Ben Glazer (Coombeshead Farm Bakery), Andy Forbes (The Brockwell Bake) and Anne & Andrew Parry (Felin Ganol Watermill). The discussion will include audience Q&A and tastings.