Monthly Archives: May 2013

Live in the Future Tomorrow!

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‘Living in the Future‘, a new film about low-impact, self-sufficient living at the Lammas eco-village in Pembrokeshire, will be shown by Transition Town Llandeilo tomorrow, Thursday May 30th, at 7.30pm in Llandybie Memorial Hall, Woodfield Road, Llandybie SA18 3UR.

The creation of Lammas has meant struggle against planning restrictions and against conventional notions of ‘rural enterprise’, struggle that continues.

No ticket prices, but suggested donation of £3. Refreshments available.

Local Food Flourishes at West Wales Food Fair

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Good food at the West Wales Food Festival come fair weather or foul.

Good food at the West Wales Food Festival come fair weather or foul.

Munching on a venison burger from Sam’s Meat Roast, originating from the other, northern side of the Tywi Valley in Taliaris, I left the West Wales Food Festival last Sunday as the grey clouds released yet another downpour onto the venue, the National Botanic Garden, Llanarthne. The big surprise for me was the big international influence, from ‘The Spanish Buffet’ to ‘Rasoi Indian Kitchen’, the first from Pontypridd and the second from Swansea.

Aromas of India: Rasoi from Pontlliw, Swansea.

Aromas of India: Rasoi from Pontlliw, Swansea.

The Spanish Buffet’s paellas, hams and Mediterranean-inspired dishes are delivered to customers’ doors and to parties and events large and small. Rasoi Indian Kitchen has customers come to them, at their restaurant in Pontlliw, serving “traditional Indian flavours with a modern Welsh twist”, the twist including Welsh lamb. Rasoi, finalist in the Welsh Curry House Awards 2013, spiced up the food fair with delicate aromas.

Whisky is probably not the first product to come to mind when you think of Welsh beverages, but Penderyn wysgi, distilled at Penderyn north of Hirwaun, combines a rich, mellow taste with a welcome kick on a cold day. The stand was very popular! Hirwaun itself is the home of Taylors’ Welsh potato crisps, made using Wales-grown potatoes. The fiery taste of beef and horseradish matches the golden dragon on the packet.

So far, so international, but the interesting tastes from even closer to Llanarthne included meat-free sausages from Contempo Catering’s VDeli range, which has joined the traditional range of cakes and other bakery goods supplied for parties and other events. Lisa Rees’s Contempo Catering is at Llangain, south-west of Carmarthen.

Just over the Carmarthenshire boundary in Ceredigion, at Glynarthen, Llandysul, there is Chocolate Fusion, an artisan chocolate factory, opened in 2012. Wales cannot yet produce cocoa beans but other ingredients are local and the chocolate can be ordered online. Luxurious.

Sarah Jones of Cnwd, Cross Hands: smoked fish caught from coracles and many other fresh local ingredients.

Sarah Jones of Cnwd, Cross Hands: smoked fish caught from coracles and many other fresh local ingredients.

Only a mile or two from Llanarthne, at Cross Hands, is Cnwd, producing smoked salmon, sea trout and mackerel, and terrines and pâtés using local pork, chicken and venison, besides fish. West Wales chef Scott Davis creates the recipes.

The Little Welsh Deli from Grovesend, Swansea: amazing iced cakes and lots more.

The Little Welsh Deli from Grovesend, Swansea: amazing iced cakes and lots more.

Down the road in Grovesend, Swansea, Clare Phillips’ Little Welsh Deli cooks cakes and pasties, including amazing iced cakes for special occasions, and treats like rocky road and seeded muesli bars.

Wales has great food and drink, and the food fair is an ideal way to taste a great deal of it. Just as well that the venison from Sam’s Meat Roast is extremely lean, because the temptation to eat too much is overwhelming.

by Pat Dodd Racher

Eat Local: Great Tastes at Carreg Cennen

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The café at Carreg Cennen Castle, Trap, was a great local food choice for Llandeilo Food Network’s lunch-cum-planning-meeting on May 3rd. The farm, tea room café and craft shop are run by Bernard and Margaret Llewellyn and their family, who breed and raise Longhorn cattle. These are slow-maturing and so fell out of favour when farmers were prioritising cattle with rapid weight gain, but they are attractive, historic, and suit the landscape around the castle, which draws around 30,000 paying visitors a year.

The imposing ruins of Carreg Cennen Castle.

The imposing ruins of Carreg Cennen Castle.

Carreg Cennen Castle itself is managed by CADW, the Welsh Government’s organisation for the protection of historic buildings and environments, but is owned by the Llewellyn family. The café is in the farmyard, at the foot of the slope leading up to the majestically sited castle, and has seating in the adjoining function room with panoramic views of the rural landscape.

Our lunches included Longhorn beef raised on the farm, excellent taste and also excellent value at £6.25 in either cottage pie or salad comprising local produce accompanied by potatoes. Beef packs can be ordered from the farm, too (see the poster below).

We followed with rhubarb in rhubarb crumble cake, £1.95 by itself, £2.60 with cream or £2.95 with dairy ice cream. The crumble cake is a superb dessert (based on my many years of dessert tasting!)

The café is relaxed, coffee comes with a free refill, the staff are genial and helpful, all in all a first-rate choice for lunch or tea (as well as for weddings, parties and other functions). Open to the public 9.30am to 5.30pm in summer, to 4pm in winter, every day except Christmas Day.

Longhorn beef from Carreg Cennen  has fine flavour.

Longhorn beef from Carreg Cennen has fine flavour, and can be purchased for home consumption.

Climate change in your garden

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Gardening in times of unstable climates, like now, is a venture into the unknown, but casting around the internet for advice, I came across this website:  http://www.myclimatechangegarden.com/blog/about. The author is Debbie Scott Anderson, and I think it is well worth a look. See ‘How your garden can help beat climate change’, posted on April 18th.

The Royal Horticultural Society also has a section devoted to climate change on its website, http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/Sustainable-gardening/Gardening-in-a-changing-climate.

Reading University and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have a research project, described at  http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/crg/climate-change-and-gardening/. The site includes a link to a survey on gardening and climate change, in which members of the public are invited to participate.

This late spring in West Wales, coming as it does after a long, cold winter and a cool, wet summer, is a reminder that ‘global warming’ does not mean that all parts of the world will become uniformly warmer. It is more a story of instability, which makes planning a lot more complicated. It’s strange seeing leafless trees at the start of May, when it’s still light after 9pm, no blossom on the fruit trees yet, the strawberry plants looking cold, only the rhubarb copying Jack’s beanstalk and shooting skywards.

We need a lot more research, and so the Reading and RHS project is very welcome.