Monday, June 27, 2011

In Which I Discover the Miracle that is Welsh Cheese. And Bread. Also Fudge. Oh and Cider. Strawberries, too. Did I Mention the Ice Cream?

Hay-On-Wye hosts a Food Festival twice a year and today was my lucky day. The festival is meant to be an opportunity for local food producers to showcase their wares but it feels more like a really really good farmers market. And if you know me, you know that I have a bit of a thing for Farmer’s Markets.

I had heard a rumour that the strawberry season had been a poor one this year in England due to an early spring, lots of rain and a non-existent sun. Well if these strawberries are considered ‘poor’, I’d like to see the good ones. I can’t eat enough of these. They are amazing.


That’s Zoe going in for another sample…

The baker at this stall told me he was looking for a way to “keep things interesting in the bakery”. I’d say he has been successful.


I spent a rather long time at the first cheese counter I came to. This may not surprise some of you. I sampled everything in sight but my favourite was the Welsh Perl Las. The sign says ‘Lovely’ and it really is. Perfect texture and flavour.

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Love the logo…


I also liked the Bishop’s Tump although it does sound a bit like something the choirmaster has come down with.

Anne: “No I’m sorry Nigel can’t come to the concert tonight. He has come down with a nasty case of Bishop’s Tump”

Sharon: “Oh, what a shame. My Brian had one of those a few years back. Right terrible it was. Couldn’t get his hat on for months”

I also came away with some smoked Caerphilly and no, I did not make that word up, although I could have!

Next was a short stop for ice cream from a local creamery. Zoe chose Blackberry and Apple crumble and it was to die for.


Then, as luck would have it again, there was another cheese counter. The Gods were smiling on me today.


I thought this was bread, and then I thought it was mouldy bread, and then I realized it was a huge round of cheese. Fabulous!

Equally amazing were these creamy little rounds of goat’s cheese


and these charcoal dusted logs of sheep’s milk cheese. One of these came home with us. Delicious.


In his spare time, this cheesemaker also bakes Pasties and pies.


These are traditional famers food and were meant to be taken out into the fields for lunch. One half has meat and potatoes, and then there would be a baked apple of something sweet in the other half.

All this sampling was making me thirsty so good thing Ralph was on hand with samples of his Welsh Perry, a sweet cider made from pears. Amazing. I had a couple samples, just to make sure it was as good as I thought.


Zoe tried the Perry but did not enjoy it. The local apple juice was more to her liking


This guy was selling all sorts of old-recipe drinks like Dandelion and Burdock, ginger beer, and Sarsaparilla.


Charcuterie is alive and well in Wales, and looks delicious, if a little puzzling. What, for instance, do you suppose is a Smoked Bath Chap? What is a Bath Chap smoked or otherwise? The imagination takes over in situations like this and I’m afraid it might be bad for business. Anyway, I’m sure the locals know what it is and I'll just stay out of it.

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Also on offer in the meat department was Welsh Black Beef, sold here by this fellow, who proudly  showed me a picture of his Welsh Black Cattle. Apparently, it is the best beef anywhere. I will report back after I have some.


I could also have bought Duck, lamb, or scotch eggs had I so desired.


Actually, I have no idea what a Scotch Egg is. What is it? Apparently there is an egg in there somewhere but I don’t get the ‘Wrapped in …” part. Does the egg have a shell on it? How do you wrap an egg in cheese? And why bother?

How about the Home-reared duck leg. Sounds to me like it was a pet…And I’m not sure I want just the leg. Sounds a bit…boney.


Fortunately, we had come upon the baking and desserts and they looked amazing


Say no more …


Zoe’s favourite. Make my teeth ache to look at them.

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These were both outstanding and I think the caramel ripple marshmallow would be fabulous in S’more. Unfortunately I will never know if this is true or not as I have eaten it already.

As we came out of the tent our bags were full and our wallets empty. And as if on cue, there was a group of Welsh Singers doing their thing. Perfect!


We made one more stop at the fudge shop…

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We had planned to take a trip to the so-called ‘Black and White villages (or, as my mother calls them, the Dark Villages) but I ended up getting spectacularly lost on some remote country back-roads and as my navigator (Jacob) didn’t seem to have a clue, I decided to head home and go for a walk instead.

As in most of England, there are posted walks all through the country-side and this is the case near our house as well. This time, we walked back to town, and then under the bridge and back across the other side of the river to the meadow that we can see across the river from our house.


On the way I found The Secret Garden…enchanting.


Our house from the other side of the river, which is quite high right now due to so much rain.


The kids involved in a bit of mole-hill vandalism.

And home for the night.

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Thanks for reading-



1 comment:

  1. These photos are fantastic - and absolutely unfair to show to a hungry person at work...