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Five food themed activities to keep the kids entertained this summer

So here we go, the school holidays are upon us and if you are anything like me (a bit last-minute) then you’ve barely begun to think about what to do with the kids. Its fine if you are lucky enough to have the summer off, but for me it’s such a busy time. With work most weekends its difficult to plan a big holiday, so what I tend to do is save that big holiday for spring or Autumn and just do day trips, activities and maybe the odd weekend away camping. One of the things that takes up a lot of time is the Green Man festival. My work period stretches for a tiring three and half weeks and I’m away the whole time. That makes for a big chunk of the school holidays, but there is still the odd week where there are no exciting plans and we want something interactive to do, or sadly we have to work. So how to keep my boy entertained?

Well he and I checked out a few ideas for things to do in over the summer …when his boring parents are otherwise engaged and there are no friends about to hang out with. Between us we came up with a list of five fun food themed and outdoor activities (he likes food and this IS a food blog after all) ranging from the most expensive to the almost-free. Reviews are by me, with added comments from Aidan age 10 and a half.

1. Young Cooks Holiday Kitchen at The Bodnant Welsh Food Centre  runs courses throughout the summer. Kids get the opportunity to make their own nachos with refried beans, guacamole, salsa from scratch, a five bean chilli to take home and bananas with chocolate chimichanga sauce.

Courses cost £45 which makes them a more expensive option but this includes all the ingredients. They run between 10am and 1pm and take place on the 30th and 31st July and 9th and 29th August. They do get busy so booking is essential.

Call 01492 651100

On the 27th/28th July the centre will also be hosting a children’s fun festival with games and lots of food themed entertainment for all the family.

If you don’t live in Wales check out your nearest cookery schools online or give them a call to see if they have special activites planned for the holidays.

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Photos courtesy of Bodnant Welsh Food Centre

2. On a similar theme, but a little cheaper…how about spending the day making your own chocolate lollies? North Wales based chocolatiers Baravelli’s are offering bespoke courses where kids get to create their own delights. Prices are £15 per child for an hour and a half session, with a maximum 6 to a group. Kids must be accompanied by a parent (as this is a hands on exercise it’s just as fun for parents to get involved) and at the end you get to take home the things you’ve made….if they last that long!

They also run 3 hour courses for older teens/adults where you can make your own chocolate truffles or learn cake decorating techniques. These run for 3 hours and cost £40 per person and again, you get to take home all you have made (which is apparently a lot).

To book a course call Mark on 01492 338121

3. For a fuller day of child care how about giving the kids a taste of the great outdoors? The aim of  Wonderwoods is to ‘get kids back outside being kids again’ and what kid can resist a bit of den building, some foraging and the lure of cooking on an open campfire?

Sessions will be running on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for the first two weeks of the school holidays starting this Tuesday (23rd July) and then the last two weeks.  Sessions cost £20 a day but they offer a £10 reduction for kids attending all three days (each week). The club runs from 10am until 4pm. For more information call Jon on the number on the poster below.

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My two guest reviewers Aidan (10) and his mate Maisy (11) spent the day and this is what they thought.

“The games at the beginning were a bit babyish for me, but it got better when we made fires and started cooking”. Maisy was the only girl and the oldest in the group. She enjoyed the hands on activities like fire and swing making and cooking pancakes the best but thought that perhaps it would be better to divide the kids in two age groups as she found some of the younger boys a bit annoying.

“I’d never made a swing or a hammock before and that was cool” Aidan was the second oldest, but was less irritated with the younger lads. He’s a laid back fellow generally and enjoyed all of the hands on activites, but agreed the games at the beginning were a little young for him. Nevertheless he want’s to go again so that’s as good a reference as any!

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chopping wood for the fire

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making the fire

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kids just love making fire!…Later they made and cooked pancakes and strawberry jam to go on top!

4. Celebrate fish! On the last weekend of the school holidays (31st August) it’s the inaugural Menai Seafood Festival. Based around the harbour and waterside in Menai Bridge it celebrates all things fishy, highlighting the coast and sea life that surrounds Anglesey and Gwynedd. Dylan’s Restaurant are the driving force behind what should be a busy, action packed, family day out. With rib rides, seashore safari’s with Anglesey sea zoo, educational talks from Bangor University marine biology team, watery themed art workshops, local music and a number of talented local chefs cooking up a  plethora of crustacean and pescatarian dishes to sample there is something for both adults and kids alike. All that and it’s free!

5. Last but certainly not least why not spend an afternoon picking your own fruit? Always fun. It whiles away a couple of hours in the sun (something we have plenty of at the moment), you can eat while you pick and still bring some home for tea. Hunt for your local pick your own farm online or ask at a farm shop, or just take a trip into the countryside surrounding you and see what you find….the two closest to me (one in Tregarth and one on Anglesey) are…

Moelyci Community Farm  is open for picking between 12 until 7pm everyday. They have plenty of strawberries, raspberries, loganberries and huge quantities of currants (red, white and black). Prices are very reasonable and the setting is stunning.

Hooton’s  PYO site is on the A5025 just one mile from Menai Bridge in the direction of Pentraeth – LL59 5RR (Look out for the signs). It’s open between 11am and 5pm during peak season.

Aidan says:”it’s great because it doesn’t cost much, you can eat loads and take stuff home to make all sorts of things like Eton mess” 8/10

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Blackcurrants ripe for picking at Moelyci

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***THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED WITH PICTURES AND COMMENTS AS AIDAN ATTENDS THESE ACTIVITIES. THE SEAFOOD FESTIVAL IS THE EXCEPTION AS IT DOESN’T HAPPEN UNTIL THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE HOLIDAYS

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Filed under chocolate, cookery courses, Food activities for kids, Food festival, Foraging for fruit, seasonal food, Travelling with kids

Baravelli’s…the Welsh chocolatiers

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During half term Rosie the teen and I took a drive along the blustery Welsh coast to visit Street Food vendor Jon from Providero coffee.

We bought coffee, cake and a minted hot chocolate for the teen and stood chatting about the wonderful local produce we get to source from. We discovered that his chocolate sticks are from somewhere not that far up the road, so decided to drop in and see the suppliers, Welsh chocolatiers Baravelli’s,on our drive back home along the coast.

Our first mistake was going to visit a chocolatiers on Valentines Day…what was I thinking!!? As Rosie and I opened the door of their workshop in Conwy Industrial Park (not the most glamorous place) the smell of sweet cocoa filled our senses.  Our eyes lit up as we spied the array of chocolate hearts, truffles, chocolate sticks and cakes laid out around us. Suddenly the teen wrenched the camera from my hand stating firmly that she HAD to take some pictures of their amazing cakes. I let her get on with it as I chatted to Mark, the owner.

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I have to admit I was slightly embarrassed. Mark and Emma remembered me from a brief meeting we had a couple of years before at Conwy Honey Fair….my only excuse for not recalling the earlier encounter is that I have a memory like a sieve. When Jon had mentioned Baravelli’s I didn’t make the connection as back then they ran a small delicatessen.

Since that first meeting the deli has closed but the chocolate business which they started in 2010 has grown into the ‘bean to bar’ operation (the first in Wales) and in 2012 they moved into their new premises. Now they are firmly focused on full-time chocolatiering.

Trademarking their Chocstix product (extra-large chocolate shots for stirring into hot milk) is their first priority and rightly so. Although there are other people doing similar products, theirs are larger shots and come in a range of flavours from the straight up milk, white and dark chocolate to all kinds of strange and wonderful combinations…mint, strawberry, caramel, mocha, spiced orange, hazelnut and white rice pudding.

Hhhmmm…well, it did get me thinking about my market stall and whether people might buy proper hot chocolate and I’d prefer to sell the locally made stuff! My customers are a discerning bunch and love to try new local products, so to help me decide what to go for Mark gave me some samples to take home.

The following afternoon my avid team of taste testers had a great time trying our six samples which included, a spiced orange, hazelnut, dark chocolate, white rice pudding, milk chocolate and strawberry.

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We all loved the milk chocolate, hazelnut and orange. They were rich and creamy, the flavours were not too intense and they had just the right level of sweetness. Rosie the teen snuck off with the strawberry later that day so I didn’t get a taste…but she declared it delicious. Only two failed to hit the spot. The dark chocolate was rather bitter and not sweet enough for our tastes, but then none of us are big dark chocolate fans and we really weren’t keen on the white rice pudding which had an overpowering nutmeg flavour and was quite sickly. It turned out this view was unanimous, none of my taste test team were very keen.

As for the rest of their products, well I didn’t get to test their truffles or preserves while we were there but if they are half as good as the Chocstix i’d highly recommend them…also, you can call me a silly romantic but a girl could just fall in love with someone who presented her with one of those Valentines creations (instead I spent two days making heart-shaped cupcakes and biscuits with my ten-year old son…at least he’s in tune with his romantic side!)

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Baravelli’s website is still under construction but they do have an online shop up and running. You can also call to discuss their products (especially if you want something special for Easter).

They are also planning chocolate making courses…so keep an eye on the website for details (as I will be!)

T: 01492338121

M: 07854905485

E: sweetstuff@baravellis.com

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Filed under British food, local produce, Sources and suppliers