If you wanted proof of just how vibrant the Welsh food and drink scene is right now, you need only look at the amazing array of food and drink represented at a recent Discover North East Wales showcase hosted by Hannah Blythyn AM, Assembly Member for Delyn, at the Senydd in Cardiff in partnership with Food & Drink Wales, Food Technology Centre/Grwp Llandrillo Menai and Menter a Busnes/Fine Food Cluster.
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs said: “Welsh food and drink are key components of the Welsh economy and also an essential part of the tourism offer here in Wales, giving us the opportunity to provide visitors with a real sense of place. The outstanding businesses represented at the ‘Discover North East Wales’ showcase event are prime examples of this, illustrating the strength, depth, and quality that we can offer here in Wales.”
In summing up Hannah Blythyn AM said: “It was fantastic to be able to bring so many of North East Wales’ successful and emerging food and drink producers to the Senedd. I’m pleased to have been able to provide the platform to showcase what we have to offer in our corner of the country to a wide and influential audience.
“The growing food and drink offer of the region not only adds to our amazing tourism offer that I’m a keen advocate of, but also provides jobs and is a key contributor to the local economy.”
A spirited performance
Leading the way, were a number of companies at the forefront of the craft beer and gin boom in Wales. Since 2011 Hafod Brewery has created over 50 different beers, from Iron Age ale to IPAs, all from the four ingredients you should find in good ale: malted barley, hops, water and yeast. Using the best quality ingredients, not the cheapest, the quality of the beer speaks for itself.
Cariad Gins use the purest water sourced from the foothills of the North Wales mountains, a traditional copper alembic still and six essential botanicals infused with the finest local Gorse Flowers as the basis for their wonderful, flavoured gins.
Wrexham Lager is a great story of renewal and rebirth. After a slow decline at the hands of a plc, local businessmen Vaughan and Mark Roberts have brought historic Wrexham Lager, Britain’s first ever lager brewery, back to life using the original recipe, as it was on the Titanic, and garnering numerous awards and accolades along the way.
Dovecote Brewery is a microbrewery, specialising in unfined and unfiltered cask and bottle conditioned, traditional and modern ales. They already have a number of their own micropubs where you can taste the brews along with a range of bespoke, entirely natural Dove gins made using spices and fruit infusions. They are ambitious plans to open more micropubs too.
And then there’s Shlizzy with their lovely gift-sized bottles of fruit infused vodka and gin in apple, blackcurrant, cherry, gooseberry, plum and raspberry flavours.
Fine foods aplenty
Not to be outdone, food producers were also present in force. Patchwork Pate is one of Wales’ longest established artisan producers, producing a range of award-winning pate’s from classic chicken liver pate through to more unusual pates such as Wild Boar Liver Pate with Rum and Ginger. There’s also an extensive vegetarian range. Llaeth y Llan is another well-established producer supplying retailers, big and small, with delectable award-winning yogurts from the family farm.
Newer on the scene, and perhaps a little less synonymous with Wales, is Sabor de Amor. Also a family concern, the company specialises in authentic Spanish cooking sauces and condiments. Their award winning Paella sauce is proving a real winner but also look out for their tapenades and alioli. At the other end of the scale Maelor Foods Ltd is the UK’s premier state of the art purpose-built poultry processing facility. Based in Wrexham, North Wales, all its products carry the British Red Tractor mark ensuring the highest standards of animal welfare as well as the very best quality meat. So keep an eye on your local supermarket for Welsh chickens!
Historically, North East Wales’ most famous food is the Denbigh Plum. Sweet and juicy, this ancient variety is the only plum native to Wales and now has protected origin status. Staying with the sweet theme, artisan chocolatier Aballu Chocolates produces delicious high quality, innovative chocolates, using the best ingredients and no artificial additives or preservatives. They look as good as they taste. With a client list that includes Virgin Trains and Ridiculously Rich by Alana (of Apprentice fame), it’s no surprise that The Pudding Compartment makes great cakes and desserts. With an ambitious plan for growth the range will be increasingly available in retail and hospitality across Wales.
Working the local network
Many of the producers taking part wouldn’t be nearly as successful without the support of both local and national organisations that include Flintshire, Denbigh and Wrexham tourism departments who were on hand to help out, ably assisted by the Good Grub Club, a local co-operative of independent business promoting food and drink and local tourism. Also attending were support organisations Food Skills Cymru and Food and Drink Federation Cymru.
Further information: Hafod Brewery: www.welshbeer.com Cariad Gins: clwydianrangedistillery.co.uk Wrexham Lager: www.wrexhamlager.co.uk Patchwork Foods: www.patchworkfoods.com Llaeth Y Llan: www.villagedairy.co.uk Maelor Foods: www.maelorfoods.co.uk The Pudding Compartment: www.thepuddingcompartment.co.uk Sabor de Amor: www.sabordeamor.com Aballu Truffles: www.aballu.co.uk