Monday, 13 June 2016

Abergavenny Food Festival 2016

In just over three months time one of the biggest food festivals in the UK is due to return! Although I had heard many good things about Abergavenny Food Festival I had never been, that was until last year. Here I recount my experience as a festival first timer.

I cannot stress enough how easy it was to get to the festival from Cardiff. Mrs Clonc and I caught the train from Cardiff Central direct to Abergavenny, it was then a mere 10 minute jaunt into town. Perfect.
We got there early doors and that would be my top tip for anyone wanting to attend the festival as it gets A LOT busier later, that is unless you like queuing for food. We had a good look around and then decided what we wanted to buy and eat. There is nothing worse than buying/eating something only to realise there is something even more awesome around the corner!

I have to say the set up in the castle was probably my favourite. So beautiful and atmospheric. 

Castle entrance
It's here we had the most amazing calamari from the excellent Cafe Mor, winner of BBC Radio 4's Best Street Food 2014. Crispy coating giving way to melt in the mouth squid, insanely good! 

This was accompanied by a Smoked Bloody Mary cocktail made by the fabulous team from Chase. The vodka they make comes from potatoes and their classic vodka was voted best in the world. For the limited edition smoked vodka, water sourced from their own borehole is sat in the coolest part of the smokehouse for 5 days to pick up the distinctive smoky taste and then blended with their award winning Chase vodka! The smoky flavour totally comes through but is not overpowering and is a nice twist on a classic cocktail. 

I also loved The Dome in the castle grounds which was home to the Children's Food Academy with a series of free workshops. So plenty to keep the kids entertained. The Market Hall packed full of stalls with amazing products and a stage for demos should keep the grown ups entertained!

The Dome

The Market
Ambling along we spotted the infamous Onion Man and then gorged on a Seville Orange Chocolate Brownie with chocolate sauce from The Chockshop, which had a stand literally stacked full of brownies of all varieties. One slip and there would have easily been a brownie avalanche!

We rounded off the day with a Theo Randall masterclass at the Borough Theatre. The Masterclass is a chance to catch your favourite foodie personalities in either conversation on stage or as in this case demonstrating their recipes. Others who graced the Borough Theatre stage over the weekend included Raymond Blanc and Yotam Ottolenghi.

Theo Randall was showcasing recipes from his new book 'My Simple Italian'. It was both an entertaining and informative show from a man that has obviously done a few of these gigs before. 

It must be said that we loved just wondering around all the festival venues, soaking up the atmosphere (and some drinks) and chatting to people. Everyone was so friendly. I don't know if it was the glorious sunshine we had, the amazing array of food and drink available or that it is such a well organised event but Abergavenny Food Festival is now for me a must every year. 

This year is set to be as brilliant as ever with headliners including Monica Galleti, fresh off the set of MasterChef: The Professionals (I love her!) and exclusively showcasing her book 'The Skills'.  Joining her will be one of the Basque country's most well known chefs, the critically acclaimed and award winning Jose Pizzaro. 

The main man of Indian cookery Cyrus Todiwala will also be back again for his 14th festival appearance. This man is a force of nature and I had the great pleasure of meeting him last year. He will be bringing his new book 'Mr Todiwala's Spice box ' to Abergavenny. Jane Baxter will be be back too for her 10th appearance promoting her new book Leon: Happy Salads.

Me and Cyrus Todiwala

Essentially if you have not been before, trust me you are missing out! But here is a chance to win a pair of weekend wristbands for this years festival! Simply 'Like' my Facebook page and 'Share' the competition post or if you are on Twitter 'Follow' and 'Retweet' the competition post. The competition will run from the time this is posted to midnight on Friday the 17th of June. A winner will be chosen at random (names out of a hat, literately) and announced on the 18th of June 2016.

Good luck and see you there!

For tickets and more info on the festival check out the website:

Photos courtesy of Huw John and Cowshed. 

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