Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Welsh Menu Live, Swansea

The Welsh Menu Live (25-27 August 2012) is the first food festival to be staged in Swansea for many years. Swansea Market ("established 800 years") used to hold a food festival. This modern revival similarly champions local produce and independent local traders. I attended this afternoon (Sunday).

The Welsh Menu Food Theatre is located in The Dragon Hotel. Here, I saw Luke Thomas cook Welsh lamb with summer vegetable fricasse, braised lettuce and goats cheese. For the past six months Luke has been Head Chef at Sanctum on the Green in Berkshire; at 18 he's the youngest Head Chef in Britain. He passed on some useful tips. Wine Merchant N.D. John paired his food with a Martinez Lacuesta Rioja Crianza (plenty of oak, I do like a good Rioja).

A late addition to the programme proved to be my highlight of the day: Andrew Hanson (pictured) from the nearby Chelsea Café cooked poached salmon, risotto, scallops, asparagus and buerre blanc. Fish is a key feature of his restaurant's menu. There were generous portions for the audience afterwards; it tasted great. I'll definitely be cooking my salmon and scallops more delicately in the future.

The programme of chef demonstrations tomorrow (Monday) includes Bryan Williams and Anand George (from Cardiff's Purple Poppadom).

Elsewhere, the event centred on Castle Square (pictured). There was live music of a nostalgic variety (below the big screen showing the Aviva Athletics from Birmingham) and several food stalls.

I had a gourmet burger from the Got Beef bus: a Soprano (with chorizo, bacon, jalapeno mayo and mozzarella cheese). Some of the ingredients in their burgers (e.g., pesto, beetroot puree) seemed a bit "out there" (although fried onions and relish usually does it for me), but there was no doubting the quality of their Welsh black beef. Other "Live Street Feast" caterers offered hog roasts, a Taste of Persia, and ice cream.

The relatively small number of producers in the festival's pavilions was a little disappointing. However, there are lots of competing events and markets this weekend. The meats, seafood, cakes, cider and wines that were on offer looked good. Wales’ largest indoor market is nearby.

The Welsh Menu Live food festival marks the launch in June of the Welsh Menu Website, which promotes local and regional food and drink within Wales.

The Welsh Menu

Swansea Market / Marchnad Abertawe

Hanson at the Chelsea

Got Beef



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