We started our venture to the beautiful town of Abergavenny on a bright but cold morning, the 18th of September. After a long day of travelling via plane and train a charming local taxi driver welcomed us. His Welsh twang was a lovely greeting to Abergavenny.
Accommodation was at The Kings Arms central of the market town of Abergavenny. The hotel dates back to the late 16th century displaying character and original features throughout. It provided a perfect pit stop for the exciting weekend ahead!
Once settled in the charming Inn we hurried along to the Borough Theatre, just along the road, where we attended “Tom Kerridge in conversation with Xanthe Clay.” His chat with the acclaimed food journalist Xanthe Clay, was a very chilled out discussion about his third cookbook “Tom’s Table: My Favourite Everyday Recipes” However this didn’t dominate the whole hour as Xanthe took the audience though a natural path of his career starting from his time in school through to his restaurants (The Hand & Flower and The Coach) and the success of his BBC TV show. Tom’s charming West Country accent and openness about his journey made for a very relaxed and entertaining evening, a lovely way to start our weekend at the Food Festival.
Come 8 o’clock we made our way over to the “Friday Fry up with Jane Baxter” cooking a glorious feast for all those involved in the Food Festival. The staff and Jane made sure we had plenty of the delicious food to sample due to our late arrival. Seconds and even thirds of some courses were enjoyed which was just what we needed after a long day of travelling. With full stomachs we made our way back to The Kings Arms to get a good rested sleep ready for our exciting day ahead!
Feeling very refreshed we decided to indulge in a Full Welsh Breakfast to start the day- it certainly kept our energy levels going!
Cookery demonstration for “Indian Kitchen” was due to start at 12.30 at the Masonic Hall so we arrived promptly at 11.30 to familiar ourselves with the set up and layout of the demo. With people entering the hall, before we knew it there was a full house, which was marvellous to see. Two dishes from Indian Kitchen were cooked: Chicken Rezala (Chicken in yoghurt, cardamom and ginger) and Paneer Bhurji (Stir-fried Paneer with chilli, turmeric and peppers.) The audience was relaxed with how simple and quick both recipes were. Chicken Rezala is a creamy dish with loads of flavour, which is perfect for a dinner party whereas Paneer Bhurji is a great alternative for those non-meat eaters (however as a meat eater myself, I love paneer.) Visually it looks very similar to scrambled eggs due to the paneer being coarsely grated however is a great addition to Brunch or even as a snack. Once both the dishes were complete mini tasters went round the audience. Their delight was obvious at getting to sample the food that had been made temptingly in front of them.
Feedback from the audience was lovely with their enjoyment obvious. Copies of Indian Kitchen were then sold which included a book signing, an enjoyable experience to end the success of the food demonstration.
Next on the itinerary was to do a “Rude Health Rant.” For those who havnt came across Rude Health it is a London based food and drinks company. Co-founder’s Nick & Camilla Barnard state “We’re a small and proudly outspoken bunch that isn’t afraid of standing up for real, honest food-the way it should be.” Producing many healthy products such as drinks, granola, muesli, porridge, drinking oats, cereals, thins and snacks Rude Health are growing and are very passionate at what they do. At the Food Festival they had their own stall named the Rude Health Rant. Speakers were invited prior to the festival to come and rant about a topic in food they were passionate about. My chosen topic to talk about her love of home cooking and that more people should be doing it- after all if you cook something yourself, you can see what’s going into it. No added sugars or any artificial flavouring, makes sense!
After the rant a look round the festival was a must! With the sun shining it was a perfect weekend for the festival to be held. So many stalls had an array of food to offer and sample! Ranging to cheese stalls, sauces and chutneys to Beers and Ciders and street food there was something for everyone, no one went hungry.
Our last scheduled event of the day was the greatly anticipated Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully demonstration/talk at the Borough Theatre. They certainly didn’t disappoint. Together they showcased three of their favourite recipes from their new book: NOPI. Naturals in front of an audience it didn’t faze them that they were cooking in front of a full house. Friendly banter was exchanged between the pair giving the audience a glimpse into how their relationship is both professionally and as good friends in the kitchen. The aromas filling the theatre were tantalising with the pair working synonymously together. NOPI binds a unique mix of influences from both Yotam and Ramael into their recipes with the heritage and passions of both Chefs combining into a beautiful book. Towards the end of the demo the floor was open to questions from the public, which both chefs handled very well, being informative and honest. A perfect end to the evening was a comment from one of the audience members stating to Yotam and Ramael that herself and the rest of audience felt at complete ease and relaxation during their demo. There was no part of their cooking where people felt out of their comfort zone or intimidated by the two-whereas with other chefs of their stature, you may.
The highlight of the trip was meeting Yotam and Ramael. A chance to chat to Yotam about his passion for food. An awe-inspiring part of the evening was to discover that Ottolenghi has given me a name check NOPI!