Abergavenny Food Festival – the way a food festival should be

As you may remember, I recently had a less than enjoyable experience at a food festival, but I’m now happy to report that my faith in food events has been restored by the Abergavenny Food Festival in Wales.

The Abergavenny Food Festival

The Festival has been going and growing for 19 years (longer than any other!) and offers a brilliant way for people of all ages, cultures and professions to come together and learn about food.

Last weekend Alex (Gingey Bites) and I took at early(ish) morning (hey, it was before 9am!) drive through the lovely Welsh countryside to get in early for a day of food celebration.

At the press launch, we heard from Aine Morris the CEO of the Abergavenny Food Festival, and Tom Kerridge, who you’ll know from various cooking shows. They shared why the Festival was so important to them and it got me excited about what the event was aiming to achieve around educating people about food.

Abergavenny Food Festival

We may also have tested some delicious baked goods from Alex Gooch and this surprisingly good chocolate almond milk from Boringly Good.

Abergavenny Food Festival

After the press launch, I raced off to the Priory for the workshops I’d prebooked. While my day was set in stone, Alex was very lucky to wander the event site checking out traders, the Castle, and the Linda Vista Gardens while I learned a few tricks (she’ll probably tell you about her day on her blog!). I was a bit jealous, but I’ve learned my lesson and I won’t pack out my days next year!

Never fear, there was food nearby! I was excited to find that there were plenty of food options and some great traders in the Priory courtyard, so I wasn’t missing out on the festival entirely.

Ticketed events

To access the non-ticketed events, you needed a wristband. This gave you access to the market, the Castle and the Linda Vista Gardens, where a range of fun things were organised, including cooking demonstrations (over the fire and in a proper kitchen).

The ticketed event options were brilliant though, ranging from chef talks to hands-on workshops like photography, and gin masterclasses. I went for the hands-on workshops and spent the day learning tips and tricks about smartphone photography, and food styling. As someone who never takes notes, I learn by doing and both sessions were great for giving us an opportunity to get involved.

It’s defintely worth getting a couple of ticketed events in, but don’t make the mistake I made and book out your whole day with ticketed events unless you’re going to the Festival for both days. You’ll soon (like me) regret missing out on the amazing traders and other activities.

Abergavenny Food Festival

Traders

I had an hour to walk round the market area in the late afternoon and it was brilliant to see a mix of traders selling a wide range of goods from smoked meats and fish to grains, tomatoes, bread and cured meats. While there were some traders who had come a fair way to be involved in the event, many were local to Wales (one was just eight miles down the road!) and quite a few were from just over the bridge in Somerset and Wiltshire.

That’s the way a food festival should be! We loved seeing local produce and talking to traders about why they came to the Abergavenny Food Festival.

Abergavenny Food Festival

Abergavenny Food Festival

Abergavenny Food Festival

Abergavenny Food Festival

Abergavenny Food Festival

Eat Your Words

After our long day, we needed sustenance and we were glad we’d booked tickets for the Abergavenny edition of Bristol’s Eat Your Words.

We were lucky to have our meal cooked by the author of the chosen cookbook! Olia Hercules cooked up a Georgian feast based on recipes from her new book Kaukasis and shared her passion for food from the Caucasus region.

Abergavenny Food Festival, Kaukasis and Eat Your Words

Abergavenny Food Festival, Kaukasis and Eat Your Words

Abergavenny Food Festival, Kaukasis and Eat Your Words

At the end…

It was a long day, but it also wasn’t. In fact, I think it went way too quickly. There were so many things to see and do in Abergavenny, and so much of it was about local and good quality producre that it’s the perfect example of a food festival.

I *cannot* wait for the 20th anniversary of the Abergavenny Food Festival next year! In fact, Alex and I are already making plans to be there for the full weekend!

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Best-ever blondies

Blondies are one of my go-to baked goods. They are always received well and I’m often asked for the recipe.

They’re moist and not too rich, and you can add whatever you like to them – nuts, fruit, more chocolate – much like these cookies or brownies, you can make them whichever ‘flavour’ you like.

My favourite combination is cherry and almond.

blondies

Ingredients:

  • 400g white chocolate
  • 150g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 200g almond meal
  • 90g plain flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 200-300gm of nuts, chocolate or fruit

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180.
  2. Line a baking pan (rectangular).
  3. Melt chocolate and butter.
  4. Set aside to cool.
  5. Stir vanilla into the butter/chocolate mixture.
  6. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar together until thick.
  7. Add butter/chocolate mixture to the eggs and sugar.
  8. Fold in sifted almond meal and flour.
  9. Fold in your extra bits.
  10. Pour into the lined baking pan.
  11. Bake for 40 minutes.
  12. They are best left in the fridge overnight before cutting them up.

 

The combination I made for this post was cherry and Bounty, so a little bit like Cherry Ripe. The Bounty didn’t quite work as expected, but you could definitely get the coconut and cherry.

PS. They make a pretty good gift!

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