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Archive for March, 2012

Putting Local Cheese On The Map In The Vale Of Clwyd

30 Mar

Thought it would be good to share with you a good news press release that came in this morning – hope it helps some of you in the Vale of Clwyd area. PR follows:

A new initiative has been launched to turn the Vale of Clwyd into a cheese making area like Brie and Camembert. The rural development agency Cadwyn Clwyd believe the Vale’s top quality pastures are perfect for producing fine cheese. They are running special courses to encourage a new breed of artisan cheese-makers to learn the secrets that have made household names of their famous French counterparts.

The idea already has the backing of a top delicatessen, Leonardo’s in Ruthin, who would love to stock local cheese to sell alongside its array of British and Continental favourites. Ceris Brunzel-Roberts, of Leonardo’s, is keen to persuade local dairy producers to diversify into specialist cheese-making. She said: “We get lots of tourists calling and they ask about local cheeses and we would really like to be able to sell something that’s made on a local farm. Denbighshire and the Vale of Clwyd, in particular, is one of
the UK’s top dairy regions and yet we don’t have artisan cheesemakers the way they do in France and Italy. We would love to be able to stock Bodfari and Graigfechan cheeses alongside Brie and Camembert. “There is good quality cheese made at the creamery in Llandyrnog but no homemade localcheeses. If there were I’m sure it would fly off the shelves when tourists are here in the summer.”

Cadwyn Clwyd Agri-Food Project Officer Robert Price said: “We have two-day courses which we can run at the Food Technology Centre in Llangefni for anyone interested. It might be a farmer or farmer’s wife looking to diversify, it doesn’t need to be a dairy farmer, it can be someone who can access a supply of milk or perhaps someone interested in producing goat’s milk or ewe’s milk
cheese – after all we have plenty of sheep here. The same thing has been done in Anglesey with tremendous success and they now have a number of artisan cheesemakers there. Normandy is a big dairy area just like the Vale of Clwyd and there they have a Cheese Triangle with Camembert, Livarot and Pont L’Eveque, all soft white cheeses made within a few miles of each other – why not here?”

Cadwyn Clwyd will sponsor courses at Llangefni, paid for by the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government. The cheese making courses will be held at the Food Technology Centre, in Llangefni and Paul Roberts the Centres Business Developer explained: “We are
proud of the range of added value dairy products that have been developed at the Centre. We hope to build on the success of the local cheese makers we have supported in developing their excellent products, such as Y Cwt Caws and their goat cheese, Rhyd Y
Delyn and their Camembert and Gorau Glas with their award winning blue cheese. The courses we will be running in partnership with Cadwyn Clwyd will provide an overview of the cheese making process and hopefully inspire a new group of artisan cheese producers. Going forward, the dairy production facilities at the Food Technology Centre can be rented for up to two
days a week, which really helps keep initial start-up costs to a minimum’ This is an exciting opportunity, as with some further practice and guidance from the team at the Food Technology Centre, producers will be able to achieve consistent results so as to sell a high quality cheese to a market which has proven demand, not only in Clwyd but on a national level.”

Gorau Glas has even won a top award at the renowned Nantwich Cheese Show for its soft blue veined cheese and Robert Price is keen to hear from would-be local producers keen to emulate that success.

One who is interested is Ceris’s husband, Andreas Brunzel-Roberts, who said: “I’d definitely like to have a go. We get so many enquiries that I’m sure a specialist locally made cheese would do well. If they can do it on Anglesey then there’s no reason why it couldn’t work here.”

Robert Price said that they were also keen to hear from people interested in other areas of dairy diversification such as butter and ice-cream and he added: “We are also able to hold one-day ice cream-making courses at Llangefni and there is also potential in butter so we would be interested in hearing from anyone interested in these products too.”

For more details on Cadwyn Clwyd’s cheese-making and ice-cream making courses contact Robert Price on 01824 705802 or email robert.price@cadwynclwyd.co.uk

Cadwyn Clwyd continues to look for innovative projects to support which help safeguard the area’s natural, cultural and heritage assets and maximise their economic potential for local businesses and communities, for more details visit:www.cadwynclwyd.com.uk

This project is supported by Cadwyn Clwyd Rural Development Agency. The project is part funded by the EU Rural Development Plan for Wales and the Welsh Government.

 

 
 

Food Festival Listing Update

29 Mar

Another post as no press release from the Wag as yet as regards the food festival listing that was
promised w/c 19th March. The latest news into our office, although not from wag, is from an organiser who has been told they’ll receive news of funding by the middle of next week. So will this be better than an Easter egg from wag or not?

I’m sorry for those that are still contacting us by phone and email to get this listing, but as I’ve said before, when I get it, all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers will have it emailed to them and of course I’ll publish it in full, here on welshfoodbites and of course on welshcountry.co.uk.

 
 

Delay On Welsh Food Festival Listing From The Welsh Government

23 Mar

I’ve been contacted by a few of you over the last couple of days asking why the food festivals list has not been sent out to all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and not posted on welshfoodbites. Well sorry guys, but I can’t do that if I haven’t got it, and I
haven’t got it because Wag haven’t sent it to me yet.

I contacted Wag yesterday and have been told it’s been unavoidably delayed.

The festival organisers will be told when it is finalized and then a press release will be issued.

As yet I haven’t got a time scale from Wag as to when this will now happen.

So please, I’m not ignoring you all, but this is certainly not in my control.

Wag’s last press release on this topic was dated 30th January, they then had to consult with the Food and Farming Panel and we were told the list will be issued week commencing March 19th.

Wag’s press release was posted in full on welshfoodbites on 1st February.

In case it helps, welshcountry.co.uk does show a draft list of event dates and contacts and includes those festivals that may be funded, plus many more that run under their own steam.

 
 

Food Websites – Have Wag Been Listening To Me?

21 Mar

I’ve just been checking out some Welsh food websites and wonder if Wag has been listening to me – again? Yesterday as I tried to visit truetastetv, but  I was re-directed to walesthetruetaste, a site that has been owned by the old WDA since 2002.

Not sure what has happened here but surely one Wag food site has got to be better than still playing and confusing people with two sites, isn’t it? I’ve never been able to see the point of Wag trying to run two food websites, when neither were producing reasonable rankings, let alone rankings to be proud of.
According to Alexa rankings, WTTT was ranked @ 1,738,166, whilst thanks to you,
welshfoodbites is ranked @ 411,105. Rankings taken over a three month period by Alexa. I’m amazed at these rankings and the unbelievebale support you have given me and the team. It’s great getting your feedback whenever we see you, or talk to you.

Can I re-assure you that any comments you wish to add are totally confidential  – well apart from me that is – unless you wish to put your name to your feedback. I appreciate that some of you don’t want your name highlighted and understand your reasons why, so please don’t worry, that will never happen, you can trust me.

 

 

 
 

Brecon Beacons Chefs Show Their Initiative

19 Mar

I had the following press release through from Brecon Beacons:

A group of chefs working within the Brecon Beacons National Park area came together yesterday (15.03.12) to form
a Brecon Beacons Chefs Club to promote local produce in the National Park on their restaurant menus.

Meeting at the Gliffaes Hotel near Crickhowell, one of 26 hotels in Wales to achieve a Gold Award from Visit Wales, the new Brecon Beacons Chefs Club introduced 8 locally based chefs to each other allowing them the chance to discuss ideas and stories on ways promote local produce on their respective menus.

Project coordinator Carol Williams, Tourism Growth Officer for the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority part of the Mid Wales Local Food Talks partnership noted: “The aim of establishing a chefs club here in the Brecon Beacons is to encourage local chefs to get to know the food and drink produced in the area and get inspired to source local produce for their menus. Over the coming months the Brecon Beacons Chef’s Club members will visit local producers as well as sample local
delicacies and enjoy luncheons, such as today’s, prepared with locally sourced produce.”

Inaugural Brecon Beacon Chef Club members include Matt Voyle from The Bear Hotel, Crickhowell, Carole Paish of The Bridge Cafe, Brecon, Robert Bryant from The Coach and Horses in Llangynidr, Karl Cheetham of The Gliffaes Hotel, Crickhowell, Craig Wilden from The Star in Talybont-on-Usk, Kelvin Parry of Peterstone Court, Llanhamlach,  and Lousie Gudsell from Tipple ‘N’ Tiffin in Brecon.

According to James Suter, owner of the Gliffaes hotel who hosted the first meeting and arranged the inaugural
locally sourced luncheon: “Gone are the days of having to accept poor food in Wales when you go out; we have become a nation of foodies – you expect good food.  Our customers and visitors want to see local produce on the menus and know that what they’re eating and experiencing has provenance and comes from down the road.”

Chef Karl Chetham of the Gliffaes continued, “We are so lucky of our location here right in the middle of the Brecon Beacons National Park.  Here we are surrounded by farmland that is not intensively farmed which provides us with
especially good local lamb and beef.  Moving through the seasons we enjoy the best of game, partridge, pheasant and venison during Autumn and Winter and a few years ago we started growing our own vegetables here at the hotel – all be it on
a small scale at present.”

The Brecon Beacons Chefs Club is one of a growing number of clubs established in Wales.

Well this is impressive and I hope that this idea continues to grow. The beauty of using local producers, highlighting Welsh local produce on menus is what we at Welsh Country magazine have been trying to achieve for a long time. I hope that all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers in the Beacons area are already talking to the chefs in their area and I look forweard to hearing lots about more clubs forming across Wales.

Well done Brecon  Beacons and I do congratulate all those involved. Please let’s keep this going……………………………….

 

 

 
 

Welsh Government Support For Food Festivals

15 Mar

I’ve had a couple of calls today asking when Wag’s list for the food festivals they are supporting will be published. Not sure why these calls weren’t made to the obvious place – Wag’s own office, as I can assure you all that I will not have priority on this information. According to Wag’s Press Release that was dated 30th January, Wag are consulting with the Food and Farming Panel and will be issued week commencing March 19th.

As soon as I have the list, it will be sent around all our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers and posted on welshfoodbites and welshcountry.co.uk.

Wag’s Press Release was posted in full on welshfoodbites on 1st February. 

In the meantime welshcountrry.co.uk does have a draft list of event dates and contacts on its website which includes those that may be funded, plus many more that run under their own steam.

 
 

Deputy Minister Appoints New Members To HCC Board

15 Mar

Follows is a Press Release received this morning from the Welsh Government.

Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Alun Davies, has today announced the appointment of four new members to the board of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC). The Deputy Minister has appointed Mr Prys Morgan to represent the processing sector, Mr Richard Rogers and Mr Richard Tudor to represent the producer sector and Mr Gwynn Angell Jones as an independent member.

In addition, The Deputy Minister has invited seven of the existing HCC Board members to remain on the Board for a further term (of three years).  All seven have accepted their re-appointment from 01 April 2012.

To ensure the HCC Board has a continually developing membership, members are replaced on an ongoing basis. This policy seeks to strike a balance between experience and continuity and the need to replenish the HCC Board with new members who can add to the expertise of the Board. Approximately 30% of Board members are replaced every three years, to ensure a continually developing membership as well as ensuring business continuity is maintained.

Announcing the appointments, the Deputy Minister said: “I am delighted to appoint the four new members to the board of HCC. I am sure their expertise will contribute greatly to the already excellent work that HCC is doing to promote Welsh meat both at home and abroad.”

HCC Chairman Dai Davies said: “I look forward to welcoming the four new Board members to the team, and I am confident that they will help guide the development and promotion of the Welsh red meat industry to even greater heights in the future.”

Gwynn Angell Jones lives in Y Felinheli, Caernarfon and founded his company, GwynnAngell and Associates, in 1998. He undertakes consultancy roles across a range of business and charitable sectors.

He worked with the Wales Tourist Board for 10 years in Machynlleth and Swansea before becoming the first head of operations for Inter Hotels UK, tasked with restructuring a worldwide marketing and purchasing consortium. He later joined Hamdden Ltd as Managing Director before moving to run Cardiff (university) Union Services.

Mr Jones worked as Director for Wales of Ontrac Marketing, and later became the first head of marketing and supporter development for the National Trust in Wales. He has served on the Wales Government Ministerial advisory committee on tourism matters and the Wales Government Ministerial advisory committee on food strategy. He was chair of the Phab Wales charity for eight years and currently runs a charity raising funds for a hospital in Jowai in North East India.

Prys Morgan is the Sheep Procurement Controller with  VION Food Group, responsible for purchasing lambs for the company’s red meat business unit throughout Britain. The company supplies major retailers both in the UK and abroad.

Mr Morgan works closely with all elements of the red meat industry to help improve efficiency and to meet the specific requirements of their customers. He has a joint honours degree in Agriculture and Bio-chemistry, and an MSc in Rural Resource Management from Bangor University. Mr Morgan previously worked for the Meat and Livestock Commission as Industry Development Manager until 2003, when he took up the same role with the newly-formed HCC until 2008. 

Richard Rogers farms Anglesey in partnership with his parents. The farm comprises of 1,700 head of breeding ewes and 300 head of beef cattle, and is involved in numerous projects including being a Farming Connect Demonstration Farm.

Richard is an active member of the Anglesey Grassland Society and of the National Farmers Union and is a company director involved in the development of a number of renewable energy projects.

Richard Tudor farms a 700 acre upland beef and sheep farm at Llysun, Llanerfyl. The farm has a 1500 strong Mule, Texel and Aberdale flock producing lambs for Waitrose. The 140 Saler and Simmental suckler herd produce young store bulls and finished cattle. He places great emphasis on meat production from grass.

This PR has also been sent out directly to our Best Of Welsh & Borders producers

 
 

Swansea Food & Drink Festival

05 Mar

I didn’t attend this one which ran on 25th February.

But talking to some Best Of  Welsh & Borders producers at Saundersfoot it was not a huge success. Not certain on this but was told stands were £185.00 for one day. It said one day event  on the web and on the listing I had through from Wag it showed this event was running either the 25th Feb or 3rd March, but apparently it was a two day show!!!! The tradestand prices are certainly not cheap, especially as this event got £8,004 funding  from Wag.

It is a poor show when traders don’t bother coming back for the second days trading. Generally the Sunday is always the quieter day, but if you can’t make money on the Saturday, do you really want to waste you time and fuel going back?  

It was the 6th year this event has run and obviously can’t give my comments as to how they can improve it but I’m certainly not happy to hear that traders were disappointed with the numbers of visitors and so that they were not able to make any decent money.

 
 

Saundersfoot St Davids Day Festival

05 Mar

Well another year and what changes did I find at this event that ran over 3 – 4 March?

I’d got a press release, courtesy of Pembrokeshire County Council, so that was a good start. But despite searching the internet, there was no way I could find a list of producers who were attending, a job I wouldn’t have thought that was too difficult to do. I didn’t see any signage as I drove through from Ceredigion to Saundersfoot, so no improvement on last year there. It was about 1.00 when Iarrived to see a sign informing me that the cawl bowls that you had to purchase to join in the Cawl Cooking Championships, had already sold out – although I believe it was running until 3.00. So whether they’d produced less bowls or had more people coming through, who knows, but one venue taking part still had cawl left at 3.30pm. What I didn’t realise this that all the venues pay for the cawl they produce themselves and they see this as supporting their villiage. 

There was still a charge to go into the food and craft marquee of £2.00 per person. Now if you want to disagree, please do so, but why would I want to pay £2.00 to go into a marquee so I can buy some food? Is it worth £2.00 to maybe grab a seat to watch a ‘person’ cooking? Another annoyance was that I couldn’t see a board saying which cooks/chefs were cooking, but I did get a comment from a producer who said only one cheese producer had been asked by the kitchen crew for any cheese, but why wasn’t the bulk of the producers involved in this cookery demonstration?

I’m now thinking that I have got this food festival lark totally wrong. If the festivals are for the benefit of the producers then many of the organisers are not doing their job properly.  Many are not giving the producers any publicity on the web, there was no printed programme, so no publicity there either, and then the cooks/chefs can’t be told to use the produce from the producers that have paid their money to be there.

There was only one producer that I spoke to that felt a charge to come in was OK, because the marquee had to be paid for, butdid feel that £2.00 was a but steep. I explained that Wag had put in £5006.35 funding, and stands were being charged £100.00 without electric and £125.00 with electric. He then had a ‘light bulb moment’ deciding that maybe any door charge was the reason that there weren’t many people there!

Bearing in mind that Saturday is always the busier day than Sunday, I actually only spoke to one stallholder who was reasonably happy with trade, but as he was being paid by a producer, to be there, so maybe that explained his attitude, as against being self-employed. I couldn’t understand why a festival would allow 3 pasty producers to attend, especially when two of them were sited next to each other,  – now that’s not difficult to avoid is it? But even worse was having 6 preserve producers. Some intelligent person out there please explain how these producers are supposed to break even, let alone make any money with this going on?  There were quite a few Best Of  Welsh & Borders producers there but upsetting to hear that they were hardly rushed off their feet.

There were about 3 food stands outside, plus a climbing bungee platform for the children, and a duo making music. Inside the copunt was 10 craft stands and 19 food stands.

I’m all for food festivals, but this one, but like many others, this event belongs in my category of village fete. If you cannot be bothered to tell the world who is going to be at your festival, if you can’t be bothered to put some signs out as a reminder for people, let alone attract some passing drivers, then why should Wag help you foot the bill? I still believe that the interests of the producers should be the main objective for the organisers. If this is not case then don’t apply for a Wag donation when Wag’s objective is to help promote Welsh food via these producers.