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Abergavenny 2016 Eisteddfod Festival Food Review

[one_full last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_text]Being a non Welsh speaker the thought of attending the annual Eisteddfod sounded a bit stupid to me in past years as I just assumed it was a week of church choirs and schoolchildren singing in a language I didn’t understand. It sounded like a cross between a school assembly and being stuck in an Christening on a Sunday afternoon except I wouldn’t have a clue what was bellowing out of the peoples mouths around me, so not thanks i thought.

 

This year’s event was set to take place in Abergavenny so only an hour up the road and with the largest Waitrose I’ve seen this side of the bridge in the centre of town along with the offer of a free ticket, a sofa to rest my head in for the night and the promise of some festival food and cider I had a welsh translator app downloading onto my phone within seconds!

The event is in full swing Monday to Saturday but the grounds do open on the Saturday and Sunday for a nosey around and to sample the local produce and street food vendors on offer before the masses of historical school children. Not only that but what I could only imagine as being like walking through M & S on a Sunday full of geriatrics only on a grander scale taking up the whole walkway talking to Doris and Dai they haven’t seen for a whole 7 days since their last visit for a Rotisserie chicken and a packet of dutch shortcakes to go with their afternoon cuppa, which drives me mental and has me cursing the grey haired lane hoggers under my breath!

The weather was set to be gorgeous all weekend so off I went Saturday afternoon in the Fiat up past Merthyr on the A470 towards Abergavenny, which must of been the furthest i’ve managed without using my sat nav as i’m bloody useless at directions.

Anyway I got in and managed to sneak through the back entrance to save my disco ravaged legs strapped up and e45’ed to death from a night of old school house disco dancing to Sasha at the Tramshed on Friday followed by an afterparty at Club Ifor Bach for Time Flies event with some Ibiza legends on the turntables. I must of burned over 5000 calories and sweated enough to liquids to fill the Rio Olympic swimming pool so I needed re-charging with some stodge and fermented apples like yesterday!

The Eisteddfod 2016 Festival site was much bigger than I imagined but luckily for me the fence I jumped over was right next to the food stalls and beer wagon. (I did have a ticket don’t worry I was just meant to walk about a mile around the perimeter to the front entrance and I wasn’t in the mood with my half melted skin graft needing inside legs blistering with every friction burning step I took)

I was a bit disappointed with the number of food traders having been to the Cardiff International Food Festival and the Royal Welsh a couple of weeks before but there were a couple of new faces but the first one I spotted was my good friend Gabriel of The Spanish Buffet with his wizard like churning of his cauldron / paella pan into golden mounds of Balearic comfort food.

I’d sampled his epic Paella down in Cardiff the month before and known him for a while from creating his website thespanishbuffet and had a chat the week after to catch up and see how the festival season is going at the Royal Welsh so gave him and wave and headed on to find something my ravaged lips hadn’t gnawed at before.

El Sals – Nachos

When you’re feeling like death what’s the first choice you scramble together on a plate in the house? NACHOS because you can throw the whole cupboard and fridge on there with little nuggets of cheese, piquant pockets of saltiness from the brined jalapeños, the refreshing taste of tomatoes with probably the only vitamin my body had seen that day tossed in fresh coriander, piled with chipotle pulled pork and fresh guacamole now then El Salsa load that bloody plate up thank you please!

The verdict: £7 fully loaded with chipotle pork I thought was a reasonable price for the portion considering you pay about £6 for a small tray of chips left dying in the open air for weeks on end with the gelatinous gloup of stingy nacho cheese, a teaspoon of salsa and a scattering of flavourless jalepenos in the cinema. To put them in the same sentence as cinema nachos though would be an insult to the girls of El Salso who knocked up the epic plate of Spanish happiness and would definitely recommend it. The guacamole was good too as sometimes they just spoon it out of a tub from Makro and the portions were as plentiful as you could want at a festival food stall if your anything like me and want small plates so you can tick off as many as you can before needing to lay down and have your stomach pumped for round two!

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Meet The Greek- Chicken Souvlaki Pitta

Well they were never going to gather dust on the table next to my pint of Thatchers Gold so it was only right to have a side dish to go with it and from being put off with the queue stretching and meandering to the entrance of the Wales Millennium Centre some 100 yards from the front of the queue of Meet the Greek at the Cardiff International Food Festival I thought I’d sample my first charcoal seared Chicken Souvlaki generously stuffed into a toasted pitta with shredded lettuce, fresh lemon, tahini and humous.

The verdict: I didn’t see what all the fuss was about at the Cardiff food fest with such a big queue of people waiting as I just saw it as a kebab but it was tasty and the toasted Halloumi extra was a nice touch. Worth the £7-8 I’m not sure, I did enjoy it but probably wouldn’t rush back if propositioned by someone new on the scene or one of my other fav’s on the festival scene in the near future.

Anyway after a few more ciders and as I didn’t get there till 5pm we headed back for a bit of cured meats, cheeses and bread for tea and that was Saturday night over with.

I’d been to Abergavenny a few times with the food fest and what have you over the years but never stayed the night or been there anywhere near early enough to catch breakfast so this time I was going to do it properly and find somewhere decent for a decadent breakfast of proportions whilst I was staying the night. After a bit of research online I couldn’t make my mind up and overlook the Angel Hotel as I’d heard the afternoon tea was good there but didn’t realise it was the same brand behind the Michelin Starred Walnut Tree just up the road, which I was denied sampling on Saturday as it was fully booked and they don’t open for Sunday lunch WTF what restaurant doesn’t serve food on what’s probably the busiest day of the year? Anyway my mind was set and I was going there for breakfast of which you can read the review over in another post when it’s finished as this is about the festival food.

I wasn’t planning on attending the Sunday at the Eisteddfod as I usually go up nanny Carole’s for her bicarb saturated roast on a Sunday but thought what the heck why not actually eat something with some flavour in on a Sunday for a change.

goats cheese proscuitto and fig pizza at the Eisteddfod 2016 in Abergavenny

Wood Fired Pizza – Goat’s cheese, prosciutto, fig and rocket pizza

After i’d left my full Welsh breakfast washed down with a smoked Chase Vodka Bloody Mary cocktail it was onto sampling the other delights on offer at the food stalls at the festival and i’m usually quite partial to a pizza especially a wood fired oven pizza. I studied the chalk board of concoctions and after finishing heaving from the first one on the list the Hawaiian (utter sacrilege in my eyes) my eyes were transfixed on what sounded like the most beautiful pairing to grace an ash crusted and blistered dough base…I give to you the prosciutto, goats cheese, fig and rocket pizza mamma mia! Anyway as soon as that volcanic puddle of cheese had dropped from the pizza cooks ashen peel that thing was snatched and savagely bubbling away on my gums the way it should as it tastes so much better with the inferno in your mouth blistering every surface with that pleasure and pain sensation I just don’t know why but I have to do it!

The Verdict: Everything about this pizza was perfect, the crispiness of the pizza base from it’s almost tracing paper thickness, the caramelisation of the cured pork strands of prosciutto, the oozing golden goats cheese tempting me in for another slice paired against the soft tender fruitiness of the fig and peppery rocket adorning the top. I was almost tempted to queue for another as I shared a couple of slices and wasn’t sure what time my next plate was going to come as there were no plans for the afternoons activities at that point.

Brecon Venison Farm – Venison Nachos

A few more ciders, a Caerphilly Hallet’s Cider to be precise were expertly savoured in under the glare of the suns rays perched on a bale of hay. Time for feeding 3 of the day and following the motto of go hard or go home it was time for sample 2 of the nachos on offer but this time it was venison nachos from the Brecon Venison Farm.

I went and ordered some veggie fritters whilst these were being assembled.

Back to the venison nachos, which the girl behind the counter was just spooning a bit of what looked like good ole Makro esque guac onto my plate as I neared with my bowl of veggie fritters.

The verdict: I think I paid about £7, which was about the same as the fully loaded ones from El Salsa. The plate did have a lot more meat on this time probably and with the cost of venison being considerably more than pork that didn’t seem too high but they were a bit stingy on the portion of tortilla chips and the guac looked a bit fake but all in all they did taste good and I love a bit of game meat and what better to match it with than some nachos so win win.

No Bones Jones – fried veggie fritters with chilli jam

I nipped over to No Bones Jones as I’d been fancying their fried veggie fritters with chilli jam since I walked past it on Saturday. I ordered some of the freshly plunged veggies that had just come out of the fryer, topped with chilli jam (or sweet chilli sauce to you and me, which made me a little disappointed by the false advertising) and I sneaked a ladle full of mint sauce over the top too.

The No Bones Jones verdict: These cost just £3 or £4 if you want salad but I was in no mood for rabbit food especially with my side of venison nachos being prepared as I ordered these. To be fair there was a generous portion for £3 with about 3 large fritters and a few bits of broken ones added to the tub.

I was disappointed with the chilli jam as I was handed the bowl with nothing on I said is this the chilli jam pointing to the only bowl on the side but that was some kind of tomato sauce and pointed to the plastic catering bottle, with what looked suspiciously like sweet chilli sauce. For £3 I wasn’t in the mood for expressing the ins and outs of the trade descriptions act so cheekily spooned a good dollop of mint sauce to pair with the chilli sauce over the fritters. I shared the plate of nachos and the bowl of fritters and they were rather tasty compared to the bag of indian sides I bought from Samosaco at the Caerphilly food fest not long ago but these were freshly cooked and still warm whereas they had most probably been cooked the night before and were quite flavourless and hard to break down to chew whilst cold and ended up going in the bin after a single bit of all 4 items.

There were quite a few other veggie options on the No Bones Jones menu on the day such as veggie lasagne and some chickpea curry plus I did notice sticky toffee pudding but i’d just fought my way through a generous chuck of salted caramel brownie i’d bought for a good friend of mine Llio Angharad’s birthday that day as she was working at the festival and annoyed she wasn’t celebrating her birthday as well as she should be and not had the chance to blow out a candle.

At this point i’d probably eaten the average human’s weekly calorie allowance so I called time on anything else passing my lips that night and so my quest for festival food was over on this adventure at the Eisteddfod 2016 in Abergavenny.[/fusion_text][/one_full]

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Flavourly discount code for gourmet food box and craft ale subscription

I’ve been on a mission the past week signing up for every subscription service in existence i think! It’s probably something to do with my browsing history but i’ve been having a fair few deals popping up on my Facebook and one that stood out for me was the flavourly gourmet food box. Flavourly is like a giant graze box although you don’t have to worry about it being too healthy as there’s a few naughty things in there if you’re not counting your calories like me.

I’m a sucker for a bargain and good discount and the thing that caught my eye was the more than half price discount of the Flavourly box from the link on Facebook giving you £10 off the normal price of £17.

In the Flavourly box you’re promised 10-15 gourmet goodies from some well known favourites to upcoming and eager to break through food and confectionary producers from around the UK. You can either just get a random box delivered to your door or you can customise your box by doing a short quiz to let them know some of your preferences on the type of foods and cuisine you enjoy most and those you don’t.

My discounted Flavourly gourmet food box arrived at home yesterday and thank god my sister is on school half term to answer the door to the postie as I was dying to see what was inside and didn’t fancy taking a few hours off work to pick it up at my local post office, which is so local its over 10 MILES AWAY!!

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In my first Flavourly Gourmet Food Hamper I had:

  • Salted Caramel Popcorn
  • Rosemary and thyme pitta chips
  • Coconut sugar
  • Bakarwadi bites
  • Umami spiced garlic paste
  • Oregano infused rapeseed oil
  • Cook’s companion seasoning blend
  • Thai red curry spice mix, oil and paste
  • Superfusions berry mix
  • Janis quality mixture savoury snacks
  • Willie’s Cacao El Blanco chocolate

I’d estimate the box contents cost around £20 without delivery whereas I paid £7 instead of the normal £17 with the Flavourly discounted first box and £4 for delivery totalling £11. So yo are probably getting your money’s worth with the full priced box compared to some hampers that are quite expensive and you just normally end up paying for the packaging and box.

The good thing about these Flavourly boxes is they hunt down some great suppliers and producers that you won’t find in your supermarket as some are just starting out or might only be selling them at their local deli and food markets but that could be the other end of the country so it’s a good way of stumbling on some right nuggets that you would’t have come across otherwise.

If you’re thinking of testing out the Flavourly Gourmet Food Hamper but not sure on the £17+pp then get a £10 discount on your first box here.

Once you’ve signed up you can also keep getting discounts on your future orders by recommending friends and family with them also getting £10 off their first box but you also get £5 credit towards your next box. Who knows if you’ve got enough friends who don’t like eating bland crap like most people and you can tempt them to join up you might never have to buy another box yourself with the flavourly discount referral theme.

Want something to wash down you’re freshly delivery culinary delights? Flavourly also do a subscription craft ale delivery box too. You can get a mixture of boxes from all white for your pale ales and beers, all dark for your richer drinks and stouts or a mixed box to sample and pair with your snacks. You can also get a £10 discount on your first flavourly craft ale box paying just £10 instead of £20 and they even throw an extra two bar snacks to soak up the hopey nectar.



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Beer52 subscription craft beer delivered to your door

I’ve been a cider drinker most of my adult life following the food and drink festivals around South Wales since I can remember and local cider farm open days at Gwynt y Draig along with the infamous cider festival over Llanwono in the summer. Choice of drink used to be Weston’s Organic until they dropped the alcohol % and changed the name to Wyld Wood.

I’ve moved away in the last year or two with my palate changing to spirits and favouring a spiced rum and coke whether its Morgan’s Spiced, Sailor Jerry’s or Kraken if i can find it cheap enough. Even more recently with the mass of street food venue’s and event’s going on i’d much prefer to sip a long drink rather than chug back my own bodyweight in pirate juice with my food. I started trying a few pale ales as i’ve never tried beer before as I didn’t see myself as an old man and thought i’d need to immediately have to purchase a pair of fluffy slippers and smoking jacket even though i’ve lived in a pub most of my life but then again i’d probably seen the sad and boring old guys who who sent me to sleep on more than one shift behind the bar pulling pints when i was a student.

With the likes of Grillstock importing their American style IPA’s at their summer shindigs, street food circus in Cardiff serving Otley Breweries latest barrel, who happen to be located about 2 miles up the road from me and my recent obsession for the ultra cool Brewdog Brewery trying to make my way through the ever changing drink (and food menu, have you tried the horse jerky yet?) i’ve become quite a appreciative non beer drinker.

 

I happened to stumble on a banner on Facebook which is quite unlike me as i avoid any advertising on websites especially Facebook like the plague normally but it was for a box of beers and i’d just got over my headache after a recent trek down to a street food event and still had a taste for a random rocket fuelled, hopey, craft liquid golden white beer! The name was beer52 and they had an awesome deal at the time for first time subscribers with money off the first box and an extra two beers thrown in just because why the hell not.

The box arrived on a Friday (great timing!) and before the cellotape had dropped to the floor half of the box had found it’s prime position in the cooling chamber or fridge to you normal folk to bring my expertly sourced globe trotting IPA’s to optimum beverage tasting coolness.

The first bottle out of the selection delivered was a Berlin BRLO Pale Ale that went lovely with a packet of chilli biltong i picked up on the way home from work that Friday.