Archive for July, 2014

The Wynnstay Hotel’s Gareth Johns At Lampeter Food Festival

29 Jul

I have quite a few Welsh chefs that are on my ‘favourites list’ and Welsh Gareth is without doubt one of those. So as I wandered around the Lampeter food festival, early last Saturday, I was delighted to see Gareth chatting to Rob Vaughan, who owns the Carn Edward stand, discussing which of Rob’s products he’d cook with during his cookery demonstration at Lampeter. Chops were agreed upon and I was looking forward to seeing Gareth in action later that morning.

I’ve watched a few of Gareth’s demonstrations over the years and he never fails to impress me, but it’s not just his cooking skills, it’s his attitude and approach to doing cookery demonstrations at food festivals. Gareth always arrives at a festival early, he goes around all the food stands, checks out what producers have on sale and then decides from their selection what he’ll cook during his demonstration.

Gareth’s demo was superb – how he managed to cook four scrumptious dishes in 30 minutes, showed off his professionalism and his talent. Every single product he used from the festival was mentioned, including some very tasty Toulouse sausages from Harmony Herd from Carmarthenshire. That is what all chefs should be doing because it’s additional encouragement for those watching to go out after the demo and purchase those items. A brilliant bonus for those  stands that Gareth selected. To see a chef working in harmony with festival stands is, in my view what it is all about. Well done Gareth and well done Lampeter.

Gareth is the owner/patron of The Wynnstay Hotel in Machynlleth, Powys so if you are in the area do call in for a warm welcome and fabulous food. I’ve eaten there on a number of occasions and can’t wait to return there.

I’ve decided not to post on food festivals, but to see Gareth fully backing our food producers I simply had to. He’s such a great ambassador for Welsh food and drink. The new committee running Lampeter food festival must be pleased that all their hard work was rewarded. They put on a great day and had made many improvements to the layout and the programme. Both producers and visitors had a delightful day and were blessed with sunny weather.


Another Wag Food Invite Lost In The Post?

17 Jul

Well not strictly lost in the post as this one was emailed, so lost in the ether or the big black hole might be more accurate! Today, one of our most supportive Best Of Welsh & Borders producers, (BOW) emailed an invitation that had been sent to their company yesterday, Wednesday, 16th.

Here’s the gist of it – The Food & Drink Wales Reception.

The detail was that the Deputy Minister for Agriculture & Fisheries, Rebecca Evans AM will be delighted to welcome you to a reception to celebrate the Welsh Food & Drink Industry. Please come and enjoy the Welsh cuisine and take the opportunity to meet the key people from the Welsh Food & Drink industry. 

Well I’m grateful for our BOW person taking the trouble to keep me in the food loop, after guessing that I just might not have been told about this reception, let alone invited. But why would wag food invite any media, like me, that’s passionate about Welsh food to this reception? Not sure why wag food, who have told me in writing that I have a role as a direct stakeholder on food issues, then not invite me, but as I can’t possibly qualify as a key person from the Welsh Food & Drink industry, it could make sense, well to wag food anyway!

I also don’t think there’s an excuse for the lateness of this invite. I appreciate Wales has just ‘lost’ our Minister of Natural Resources, but I would have expected this event to have been planned weeks ago and the invites sent out then too. Of course wag food haven’t assumed that  every food producer in Wales will be at the RWAS on Monday and I doubt very much if they’ve all got an invite either. But with such late notice wag food are really only targeting those that have managed to get stands at the RWAS. As for ‘the key people from Welsh Food & Drink industry’, are we all aware as to who they are?


Welsh Secretary Replaced In Cabinet Reshuffle

15 Jul

Under Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle, David Jones, MP for Clwyd West has lost his place in the cabinet and is expected to return to the back benches. Yesterday the Prime Minister announced a series of major changes to the makeup of the UK government affecting high-profile figures such as William Hague, Ken Clarke and Owen Paterson.

It is highly likely that Jones’ deputy Stephen Crabb, the Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, will now step up to the role of Welsh secretary.


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Wag Wind Turbine Scrapped

14 Jul

Apologies that this post is not food related, but as it’s tax-payer money related, I’m assuming you would be interested. A wind turbine, sited outside the Welsh Government offices at Aberystwyth and cost us nearly £50,000 has been scrapped. The civil servants were warned that the 60ft turbine, which was erected in 2009, was being placed in the wrong location, the civil servants were informed that the wag site was in too sheltered a site and would not get sufficient wind. Despite this advice and not looking for a site just down the road, nearer to the coastline of blustery Cardigan Bay, the civil servants decided to site it instead in a sheltered valley, with tall buildings and hills all around it.

I’d have thought that commonsense would have told these decision makers that wind turbines need wind from all directions before they can even be classed as efficient in producing electricity. Revelations show that the turbine was producing on average just 33 kilowatts of energy a month, the equivalent of just £5.28 worth of electricity. If you work off those figures, the turbine would need to be in place for over 750 years before its cost was offset!

As the wind turbine’s performance was monitored from January 2012 until July 2013, finding it generated just 33 kilowatts per month, these figures should be accurate. The turbine broke down in January this year and the manufacturer went into administration soon after that. I now understand that the government don’t believe they can find a company who would be able to take on the maintenance of the turbine so are now looking at options for its removal.

So as this is my food blog, I cannot end this post without equating this nearly £50k spend back to Welsh food and drink. This could have helped five food festivals at the top rate of £10k per festival or could easily have paid for CLES/Wavehill to review food festivals for the next two years. This is our money that’s been wasted, but will any civil servant be taken to task over it? Answers on a post card please…………………..


Minister For Natural Resources & Food Alun Davies Sacked

08 Jul

Minister For Natural Resources & Food Alun Davies has been sacked from the Welsh government after asking officials to provide details of farm subsidies paid to opposition AMs.

Mr Davies was told by his staff that the information was not publicly available, but asked again for it to be provided.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said Mr Davies’ actions were “unacceptable”.

A new Environment Minister will be appointed later today.

The Blaenau Gwent AM apologised in the Senedd last week over a separate row in which he was judged to have broken the Ministerial Code while lobbying for a race track to be built in his constituency.

Mr Jones said in a statement on Tuesday that “communications” between Mr Davies and his civil servants had been brought to his attention.

Mr Jones said: “The emails indicate that the Minister asked the civil service to give him private information about the financial interests of a number of members of this chamber.

“These relate to CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) payments made to these individuals.”

The requests, Mr Jones said, were “poorly judged, inappropriate and the fact that they were made at all is unacceptable to me as First Minister”.

“As a result, I have asked the Minister For Natural Resources And Food to leave the government.

“I made this decision with some regret and would like to record my appreciation for the contribution that Alun Davies has undoubtedly made to the work of the government during his time in office.”

News piece taken from BBC Wales News website.

Will our Welsh farmers be rejoicing about this news at the forthcoming Royal Welsh Show………………………..?

Latest update:

A new Minister for Natural Resources & Food has not been appointed, instead Mr Davies previous ministerial duties have been divided between other ministers.

Economy and Transport Minister Edwina Hart will look after agriculture, fisheries and food, Sport and Culture Minister John Griffiths has had environment added to his portfolio and Rebecca Evans is promoted from the backbenches to become deputy minister for agriculture and fisheries.