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Here’s What’s Happening!

Meryl Cubley has the lowdown on all that’s new in Welsh food and drink

Monty’s dark secret

Did you know that Monty’s Brewery award winning Dark Secret is both vegan and gluten free? This cleverly constructed taste sensation was one of only three to win the coveted Three Gold Stars at the Great Taste Awards. This excellent beer is now available at The Grange pub in Grangetown; the perfect excuse to check out a recently re-opened great Brains pub.

Buy it here:

Boxing clever with the brews

As a small company Welsh Brew Tea knows that waste is not good for anyone. The family company always reuse their cardboard boxes for shipping anything that is bought on their website – so the box your goods arrive in have an interesting story to tell of their own! Celtic Manor receive deliveries every week from the company and allows the Welsh Brew team to collect their boxes and reuse them. The bubble wrap too. In fact, any plastic or cellophane based packing will have been used at least once before.

James from Welsh Brew Tea reuses the peppermint Tea Birds teabag two or sometimes three times, because you still get a great cup of peppermint third time round. Same goes for all the Tea Birds range, he says, “OK so we’re plugging here – but it is 100% true!”

We can all recycle the teabags we use every day via composting council schemes too; and in addition, James says the team are in the process of making all Tea Birds with ‘soilon’ biodegradable bags. “It’s a case of making sure they are fit for purpose and don’t break up in the cup…it’s all a learning curve for us!”

Danny’s Russian Adventure

Former Culinary Team Wales captain Danny Burke has won the Northern Europe heat of the Global Chefs’ Challenge booking his place at next year’s final in St Petersburg, Russia. Burke was up against the continent’s best chefs at the regional heats held in Rimini, Italy; and was given just three hours to produce a three-course meal for six people. Support was provided by commis chef, Harry Paynter-Roberts and these two truly did the Welsh contingency proud. Burke wowed the judges with a starter of scallops and seabass, a main course of veal rump and kidney and a chocolate dessert. “I am delighted to have won and taken Wales through to the finals next year,” he said. “The level of competition was extremely high with some of the best chefs competing from across Europe. I knew it was going to be tough and had prepared well.”

Recycle it? We sure can!

The Llanllyr (pronounced “Clan-Clear”) estate is a pristine and magical place, nestled in the ancient glacial valleys of West Wales. The founder’s family has farmed the land sustainably and organically for more than 300 years. With rainfall abundant, the lush landscape of fertile fields and award-winning gardens embody the richness of the soil and the purity of the water, helping to produce premium water and mixers. Now launching their water in recyclable cans for the first time, the company has renewed their commitment to sustainability and community – whilst continuing their rise as world-class players on the international stage.

Lithic beers are back!

Brecon Brewing has welcomed the Lithic range of beers to its line-up, proudly reviving the excellent range. Head Brewer Buster Grant said “I’ve always been a huge fan of the Lithic beers, and very much respected what David Drabble, [Lithic Brewing’s founder], achieved in such a short time. I was very saddened when he announced that he would be ceasing production, as demand was exceeding his ability to supply without a significant investment. However, we were delighted when the opportunity arose to work with David to relaunch the beers. The Lithic beers will be a really great fit with what we do.”

Calling all talented Welsh Chefs…

Could you add value to Culinary Team Wales with your expertise as a chef? Nick Davies was recently appointed the new manager of CTW – and he’s now keen to bring gold to Wales once again by building a talented stable of twelve to fifteen committed chefs. He stresses that the team is open to all chefs who have the skills and commitment to compete at the highest level. To qualify, chefs must either work or live in Wales or be Welsh by birth.

“Ideally, I want a squad with different skills and talents and I want selection to be open and transparent. My phone is always on if a chef wants to join the squad. I shall be travelling around Wales to meet chefs and businesses and shall be scouting at the Welsh International Culinary Championships in February. “We are going to continue to have practice days but also regional cluster meetings to reduce the amount of travelling. We have quality Welsh food and drink products, the infrastructure through the Culinary Association of Wales and all we need now is the individuals to put their names forward.”

This is exactly what RAF chef Alun Davies did and, after two years with CAW, he has now been appointed Captain. His first task is to help Nick Davies recruit and develop a team ready for the Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart next February. He is keen to help Wales compete with the very best and insists the chefs will be going for gold. Want to find out more? Call Nick Davies on 07944 747902

Welsh Brew in a B&B near you

Sarah France, director of product development for Welsh Brew Tea, is big on recognising Welsh brands in a market that is so dependent upon tourism. “Visitors want to taste local quality brands when they visit hotels and restaurants,” and she says that tourists are also keen to take home a specific memento of their holiday experience. So for the hotel and B&B sector there’s now a range of bilingually packaged envelope string and tag teas suitable for bedroom and conference use. And for trade, Welsh Brew supplies catering tea bags and drinking chocolate to meet the requirements of cafés and fast food outlets. The gift sector remains an important and growing market across Wales and Welsh Brew has also launched two new bilingual tea caddy packs and a new gift caddy for hot chocolate drinkers.

Sure is no ordinary plum

The Vale of Clwyd Denbigh Plum has been awarded protected food name (PFN) status by the European Commission, joining the ranks of Caerphilly Cheese, Halen Mon and Welsh Lamb.

The fruit, which had its application submitted by the Denbigh Plum Group, boasts the only native variety of plum in Wales and has seen a resurgence of plums being grown in the area over the last decade. Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said: “I’m delighted The Vale of Clwyd Denbigh Plum has been honoured with PFN status and hope it will prove a welcome boost for businesses in the area.

“… We are determined to support Welsh food and drink businesses and ensure they are given all necessary help in a challenging marketplace. This prestigious title should help strengthen the Vale of Clwyd Denbigh Plum’s identity and allow it to further its brand not only in Wales, but across Europe and other markets too. “We are proud that so many Welsh food and drink businesses have been successful in their applications for protected food name status. It is testament to the high quality and unique nature of their produce.

Dusty Knuckle’s new SafeSpace

Once a month, Dusty Knuckle has decided to open their Printhaus kitchen up to host new chefs, street food traders or anyone who fancies giving professional cooking a go – for free. They’re calling it the SafeSpace. The idea of the SafeSpace is that the guest chef gets free reign of the kitchen environment to cater for their own crowd of customers, family and friends; the freedom to explore their enthusiasm, and a platform to flourish. It is hoped the monthly events will attract new talent to the kitchen, but also appeal to customers simply looking to try something new.

Apple County’s Cider

The West Country may pride itself on its cider heritage but just over the Marches there’s contenders to their claim. Following on from their award-winning apple fare, Monmouthshire’s Apple County’s Cider have successfully expanded into the increasingly colourful fruit cider market. With locally-pressed blackcurrant, rhubarb and raspberry at their heart, Apple County’s creations are the ideal summer spritzer but even gave us a lift during the cold winter months. Very much an adult version of Ribena, the blackcurrant variety beings an intense avalanche of flavour from its deep purple midsts. By comparison the rhubarb and raspberry bottles have a milder fruit flavour but are no less refreshing: the latter bringing oodles of tart tingling from its clean taste; while the latter is dry and crisp, perfectly balancing the acidity and sourness of the fruit.

BUY IT: £42 for a case of 12 x 330ml bottles

Edwards Scotch Egg-selence

The resurgence of the Scotch Egg trend shows no sign of slowing; with this pub regular favourite now quite the gourmet star. There’s plenty of competition among Welsh producers to be the best too and Edwards of Conwy are hot on the trend. This time the artisan butcher and delicatessen has gone all out with their latest offering – the Country Herb Scotch Egg: handmade on-site, using their own traditional sausage meat. For more information, recipes – and an online shop – check out and get a taste of north Wales delivered to your door.

News just in…

Wild Thing café in Grangetown has had one of the most successful openings in recent years; and it’s no surprise when you take a look at this imaginative and tasty vegan café menu. Loved by the blogging cuisine community in Cardiff, you can expect Spiced Black Beans on Riverside Sourdough or Sweet Potato Toast, Green Pea Pancakes, Whole Food Bowls and Black Polenta Chips; as well as lots of scrummy cakes and great coffee. Mm-mmm. The philosophy here is a vegan café – with goals! Getting more people to eat vegetables, reduce environmental impact and tackle food poverty. There are no single-use coffee cups available here – so bring your own if you’re looking for a caffeine hit on the go. And if you want to take away your tasty meal (a cert to make everyone jealous at the office) bring along those lunchboxes to be satisfyingly filled!

Anna Loka is now able to serve alcohol, following owner Adam completing his alcohol license training. There’ll be a range of great quality vegan wines available there from March, perfect to quaff whilst enjoying the delicious new menu.

The New Old Havana

Old Havana gives you a taste of the original Latin quarter of Cuba in this new bar and restaurant in the freshest cocktail area of Cardiff: High Street. The home to authentic Cuban food and drinks, the team behind the brand also has a location in Swansea – situated on York Street. Enjoy authentic churros and street pastries on the terrace, or try the sharing platters, light bites, Cuban Mains and a full children’s menu, whilst you admire the bright and funky real Cuban car that also serves as a seating area in the Cardiff location. And when there’s a nip in the air – there’s plenty of heaters, blankets and cosy areas for any time of the year.

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