Saturday, 10 December 2011

Festive Food Fair, Chapter, Cardiff

Today’s Festive Food Fair at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff was a great success. There was a sizeable crowd and most of the stallholders were generally doing very good business.

I Want to Bake Free was selling, among other things, Victorian sponge cakes, gingerbread houses, loose tea and peppermint creams. The stall raised around £100 for the LATCH charity. The traditional tearoom will be opening, somewhere in Cardiff, next year. If David's stall at Chapter is anything to go by, it will be an interesting prospect.

Mark’s Bread had an eye-catching display. Although Bristol-based, Mark Newman sets up a stall every Wednesday afternoon at Chapter. Today we came home with Pan au Chocolate and a Malthouse loaf. Artisan slow-fermented sourdough bread was also available from Cardiff’s Hungry Planet and Bridgend-based Tortoise Bakery.

I always enjoy looking at The Parsnipship for their creative Vegetarian dishes, which today included a seasonal Roast Chestnut and Jerusalem Artichoke Dauphinoise. We went for the Lapsang-Souchong Smoked Butternut Lasagne, the Glamorgan Crumble, and a Stilton and Spinach Cake, which we heated up and had for dinner tonight.

Box vegetable schemes were being promoted by Riverside Market Garden (Cardiff) and Riverford Organic Veg (Devon). The other stallholders included Gwatkin Cider and Gwynt y Draig Cider, Llanfaes Dairy Ice Cream, The Nut Hut, Welsh Brew Tea, and Hipo Hyfryd.

There was also a range of workshops (gingerbread decoration, pottery, mosaics and more) and a raffle (I won a bottle of perry). Carols were performed under the Christmas tree by jazz singer Brigida Melly. The jazz arrangements fooled my daughter for a while, until she heard the words.

Outside the arts centre, there was a demonstration of a rocket jet-stove. This sealed unit can be used to cook potatoes (or chestnuts, as it did today). It is a very efficient way of burning wood, as it burns to a combustible gas that does the cooking. Biochar is producing as a by-product, which can be mixed with manure to make a great fertilizer.

A key part of proceedings was a meeting of Siop y Pobl (The People’s Supermarket), with the Core Group of this initiative updating us on progress, followed by a cooking competition. Siop y Pobl will be the subject of a longer blog post next week.

The Festive Fair was one of those events that exceeded expectations. Well done Chapter, Green City and Hedfan Arts for making it happen.

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