Monthly Archives: August 2013

Menai Seafood Festival: this Saturday August 31st!

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So, moving on very swiftly from the Green Man I’ve barely had time to draw breath before its full steam ahead with preparation for Saturdays Menai Seafood Festival, a day of FREE activities and entertainment for adults and children.

I’m booked to help team lead the chef demonstration tent where I will be introducing a host of talented chefs including Michelin star chef Bryan Webb (Tyddyn Llan), Aled Williams (Cennin), Rob Alexander (The Black Lion), Neil Davies (Dylan’s) and Rowan Clark with her team from Coleg Menai. They will be sharing tips on how to cook and prepare a variety of local seafood dishes. To conclude proceedings I will be doing a joint demo with local fish monger Matt White who will show you how to fillet fish while cook up two quick fish dishes. Recipe cards will be available to take home and lots of tasters handed out to try.

The demonstrations will be swiftly followed by live music performances by The Gentle Good, Gwyneth Glyn and Trwbador

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and this ain’t all folks…on Saturday night there will be a very special charity supper club hosted by Jess Leah-Wilson at Shop Cwtch with celebrated local chef Eamon Fullalove (previously head chef at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and now at The Oyster Catcher, Anglesey) cooking up a superb seafood menu…

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…and finally to finish the weekend and wind up this inaugural Seafood Festival there will be one last night of live music on Sunday 1st September. Six local bands will close the festival with an eclectic mix of music. The Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge are hosting this FREE event, although donations will be collected during the night which will go to supporting local community projects. What a great way to end a fab weekend….Hopefully see you there!!

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Filed under British food, festival food, Food activities for kids, Food festival, local produce, Seafood recipes

Black pudding regrets and other Green Man food stories…

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Early morning haze over Glanusk

Every August I disappear into the hills of Brecon to cook for the crew and production of the Green Man Festival. It’s a fantastic, frantic, hard-working month filled with highs and lows, time spent catching up with friends and making new ones, parties, hangovers, sleepless nights, topped finally by one big festival in the middle. Every year I intend to catch up with writing over the few days I have a break, but always I fail. Tiredness catches up and my brain just can’t compute.

This was my third consecutive year so I’ve pretty much cracked the routine bit and so with Lizzie my assistant from last year we ran like a well oiled machine! We even had an extra pair of hands to help with washing up! This gave me more time to think about being creative with the cooking. Even though we work to a budget I still like to experiment and try new dishes. Old favourites, big one pot meals and hearty pies make up the staple diet but it doesn’t take much to create well-flavoured, tasty grub and as ever our efforts are greatly appreciated. In fact even as we sat down to dinner at The Bear (our traditional first night on site evening out) talk turned to what was on the menu for my first week of cooking and everyone has their special request….fish pie, cottage pie and a good curry, which along with the Welsh cheese board, honey baked gammon and vast array of cakes, have become standard Green Man fare. I try to vary the menu to keep things fresh. This year I cooked my first crew roast dinner, finally getting over my fear of screwing up the timings for so many people so I braved it.

Spiced pulled pork with crispy crackling followed by warm chocolate torte with ganache was the triumph of the week…and the dinner that saw me peak too soon! The torte, as expected, was so good it broke a few grown men. Ben arrived in the morning claiming he would not be eating cakes and puddings this year..before devouring two lots of chocolate torte the same evening. Another was overheard declaring “holy shit!!” as he took a mouthful….I took that as a compliment).

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Spiced roast pork

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The cake that broke a thousand men…warm chocolate torte with ganache and strawberries

By Monday the numbers had increased and I never quite reached the heady heights of that dinner again.  Embarking on a lemon meringue pie for fifty with home-made pastry, nearly gave me a nervous breakdown as I struggled to get it ready on time and my battles with a temperamental Aga raged over the week…its constant use meant it cooled down rapidly refusing to cook the food. Fair enough if you have all the time in the world, not so good if you have half an hour until dinner and the carrots still haven’t come to the boil. We peered despondently into the pot willing them to be ready in time….they weren’t, and dinner was half an hour late.

Still, we hit a few high’s; poached pears with rum and cinnamon caused our dairy free crew member to come over all unnecessary, potato pancakes at breakfast got everyone a bit excited and of course cake formed the basis of everything…even a bit of sculpting to mark out the stage set-up

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Hi-tec design: main stage and speaker lay out in cake

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“How will I live without potato pancakes” (Tash)

and lots of black and white pudding was consumed…over heard from the kitchen…

“I’m having black pudding regrets”

“From eating it?”

No, from not eating it”

Being part of the Green Man experience is unique. It’s hard to explain to others the family feeling this festival evokes. As a group we spend time with people we might only see once a year, live closely together and share the excitement, the highs and the lows of building a festival. We see the love, care and attention that goes in to every bit of the build and the dramas that go with it. We gear ourselves up for the party, almost to the point of elation and then its over in a flash and we find ourselves on the other side tired, broken and bereft as the family goes its separate ways. Its hard and emotional but worth every second.

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The Green Man team (for the build): Claire, me and Lizzie

And as the tiredness creeps in, it gets harder to stay creative and on the ball. One kitchen, an Aga blasting out its heat twenty-four hours a day as the sun beats down outside, it’s easy to end up a bit hot and bothered, distracted and lacking focus…although to be fair on this occasion I can’t just blame that on the heat in the kitchen ….but that’s another story altogether.

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