Monmouthshire’s glowing reputation as a centre of culinary excellence was boosted at this month’s National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny, thanks to the successful delivery of an eight day gastronomic programme developed in collaboration with the town’s food festival.

The Vale of Usk Country Kitchen formed part of Monmouthshire County Council’s exhibition area at the Eisteddfod and featured demonstrations by highly-regarded local chefs and a display of the best local produce, pinpointing just why the area’s standing is held in such high regard. It was funded by the Vale of Usk Rural Development Programme, a partnership between Monmouthshire and Newport City Council to promote rural communities and businesses and increase prosperity.

Over 30 sessions showcased local talents like Penny Lewis of The Culinary Cottage, Pandy, James Hamilton of The King’s Arms, Abergavenny, Joseph Colman at The Bell, Skenfrith, Tim McDougall of Llansantffraed Court Hotel, Carol Adams of Food Adventure, and youngster Myfanwy Hywel of Little Bakers Blog.  In addition, Elwen Roberts of Meat Promotion Wales demonstrated Welsh lamb dishes to celebrate the reintroduction of Welsh Lamb Day on 1st August while a cider with charcuterie tasting, food quizzes and children’s cookery workshops attracted the crowds.

Among the fascinating demonstrations was the preparation of a three course meal by author and Brecon Beacons forager Adele Nozedar largely sourced from food collected from her garden or surrounding countryside.  Using wild moon daisies and lilac Ms Nozedar created a delicious taboulleh starter with vinaigrette.  A carpaccio of baby courgettes and purple kale with salmoriglio sauce followed, using wild oregano and meadowsweet growing in Abergavenny – and for dessert, rose geranium angel cake with wild honeysuckle syrup and garden rose petals.  As a finale, Adele offered a wild raspberry liqueur.

Local food and drink producers including the Llanfihangel Crucorney Farm Shop, White Castle Vineyard, Burren Bread, Apple County Cider and Wye Valley Apiaries offered their fare to eisteddfod visitors.  Other local products were featured in the chefs’ demonstration recipes, in wine and cider tastings and in food and drink quizzes.  Among these were Trealy Farm Charcuterie, butchers H J Edwards & Rawlings of Abergavenny, Ancre Hill, Parva Farm, Sugarloaf and White Castle vineyards, Ty Bryn Cider, Apple County and Raglan’s Untapped Brewery.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for food and tourism, Councillor Bob Greenland said:

“Monmouthshire has a deserved reputation as the food capital of Wales and everyone visiting the county is impressed by the quality of our produce and the standard of our food outlets.  The Vale of Usk Country Kitchen at the National Eisteddfod reinforced that reputation.  Visitors received a warm welcome and were invited to sample local produce and dishes made from it. They were advised on local outlets offering these products and encouraged to visit the area’s vineyards, cider orchards, cookery schools and eateries where local produce features on the menu.

“This opportunity to showcase our excellent food industry is in line with one of our main priorities – supporting business and job creation – and we hope that this sector goes from strength to strength.”

For further information about Monmouthshire’s food and drink visit www.visitmonmouthshire.com

  • The Vale of Usk Country Kitchen received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.  For more information about the Vale of Usk Rural Development Programme contact Rural Programmes Officer, Mike Powell – MichaelPowell@monmouthshire.gov.uk – or telephone 01633 644870.