Abergavenny – along with Ludlow – is one of the biggest food festivals in the calendar, and happily very easily reached from our Birmingham base. Over a hundred stallholders colonise this small Welsh borders town, spreading themselves over 6 locations. There doesn’t seem to be a unifying theme to the stallholders, but there are plenty of local producers representing the Welsh harvest; cheese, lamb and mutton, shellfish, venison, beef, apples, etc.
But I have to say the festival has gotten so large now it may unfortunately be a victim of its own success. On Saturday when we went the crowds were excessive, making it hard to walk from location to location without pushing or being pushed. The covered market was periodically closed due to overcrowding. There was very little seating and so it felt a bit like hard work, unable to take a relaxed, grazing approach. I like to have the opportunity to chat more with stallholders but the queues made this difficult. If you do fancy going, I suggest the Friday or the Sunday might be a better bet.
A few highlights:
- Trealy Farm Charcuterie – These guys make amazing charcuterie made in Monmouthshire. We treated ourselves to their own air-dried ham, semi-cured sausages and chorizo. These guys really know their stuff – the best charcuterie you will find outside of France or Spain – it is well worth seeking out, or ordering online.
- Bellota – their imported tins of beech-smoked mackerel are revelatory, ideal served as a tapa.
- The “Raclette” Stand – serving a melted raclette-style cheese called Ogle Shield over potatoes and gherkins
- Cafe Spice Namaste – a London based restaurant serving up masala dhosa to the hungry crowd
- Claws Shellfish – impeccably fresh dressed crabs served up by a man not dissimilar to Tony Soprano
There is also an event programme, we went to see Valentine Warner and Richard Bertinet do a cooking demo. They opted to do apple desserts. Valentine was a bit subdued but luckily Richard, once the crowd had tuned into his thick French accent managed to engage the crowd. I feel a bit sorry for the stooge who was taught unsuccessfully to knead dough the French way, but it was entertaining.