Posts Tagged ‘food’

When Is A Food Hall Not A Food Hall?

23 May

When there’s no food in it!

But welcome to the Royal Welsh Smallholder & Garden Festival, which ran from 21 – 22 May as the new Food Hall housed the Green Horizons (Eco) Exhibition. Sadly some traders who understood they’d paid to be part of that event, were instead put into the Members Restaurant, where there was a distinct lack of customer throughput and for many traders a waste of two days trading.    

As reported here on 21st July 2010 at the Royal Welsh, amid great pomp and trumpet fanfare, Rural Minister Elin Jones officially opened the new Food Hall on the showground announcing a new deal between  the Welsh Assembly Government, WAG ,and the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, RWAS, to manage the £1.6m food hall. I am told that WAG will financially support the Food Hall with £300,000 over the next three years, which means RWAS will be paid £100k per year for WAG to run two food events, the Royal Welsh and the Winter Fair.  So that’s why no food in there this time but to the visitors it looks totally stupid to have this new, expensvie Food Hall – but without food in it.  Although that’s the latest figure I’ve heard, I’m sure that this isn’t the only money Wag is putting into the RWAS.


Food Festival Request Via Freedom Of Information Act

06 May

I think in the my dim and distant past, that I won a Girl Guide badge for endurance, so  do you think the Welsh Assembly Government Food, (WAG),  might like to consider awarding me something similar whilst I continue to ask for a list of food festivals they are supporting this year? For those of you that aren’t up-to-date, the WAG Food press office promised to send me their list at end of March – I’m still waiting – although not patiently. The WAG Food press office have now taken the decision not to answer any of my questions – in case I blog them! I’m not sure how many times I need to explain to them that I’m only resorting to blogging because they are not giving me the information I ask for as a journalist.  I’m now waiting for an offical response from WAG Food before I decide what to do next.

But back to the food festival listing request. With another failure with WAG press office, my next option was the Freedom Of Information Act and I submitted two food festival questions to them on 14th April. On the 4th May, I got an acknowledgement from WAG Food saying they had received my request on 15th April and that I could expect a reply by 17th May…………………………..

Well I shall look forward to that, but can WAG really believe they are serving the public with this sort of sloppy, laid-back service? I do not believe for an instant that this information isn’t available, as a food festival organiser has told me they should get to hear today, 6th May, on how much funding they will receive. So if that information is correct,  and it is because this festival organiser has just rung and told me how much they are getting. So why do I have to wait until the 17th May? Are WAG Food, like their press office too busy to respond to me any quicker than this, or is it that Welsh Country doesn’t matter?  




Are There Any Checks On How Our Money Is Spent?

04 May

Today, whilst I was searching for some website statistics on Alexa, I did a quick check on Golwg360 web figures which was interesting  – no that’s not true – horrifying is a more apt description. Golwg360, a site that has money pumped into it from the Welsh Assembly and the Welsh Books Council over the last 2 years, was only ranked at 12,624,621 – yes over twelve million. Recently this site has had more funding for a food feature, again also being funded by by the Welsh Assembly Government via the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in Rural Areas the Rural Development Plan.

If it were easy to find out exactly how much funding has been poured into Golwg360  over the years, I would do it, but even with limited research, it is in excess of £660,000 over 3 years. The objective to have a Welsh language website is laudable, but  apart from just being there, what is it supposed to achieve? What are its aims? But just as importantly, who is checking up how it is progressing – or is this another instance of money ebing thrown at another project and then – just waste it as you wish?’   

We are in difficult financial times, no-one will disagree with that, so it has never been more important that there should not be a total disregard for taxpayer’s money – it’s neither right nor fair!  Does this website strike you as good value for money or do you feel because it’s Welsh maybe that’s ok? I’d love to know how you feel on this issue.   

For interest, welshfoodbites and Welsh Country websites are not funded and are ranked at 301,394 and 226448 respectively  – source again Alexa.


Thanks So Much – Our Rankings Are Still Rising

16 Mar

I think it’s amazing that our rankings still improve  – of course it is all thanks to you. On 15th March welshfoodbites was 409,087, was 1,919,717 whilst walesthetruetaste was 1,582,454

For some time now I have added these figures as a footer on my emails, but have now decided that I will no longer plug Wag’s two food websites for free!! I’m sure all you business people out there will understand this move perfectly!!

My thanks to you all for your support and the feedback comments left on welshfoodbites. It makes interesting reading. If you wish to leave comments I promise you your details will not be published, so feel free to let us know what your views and any issues that are causing you concern.


Our Rankings Go Up, Up, Up – Thanks Again To You

24 Feb

I can’t believe you busy people can find the time to browse welshfoodbites – but you certainly are, as figures below show – can you guess which two sites are funded by us the taxpayers through, WAG,  the Welsh Assembly Government?

Ranking @ 24/2/11: welshfoodbites was 570,424 as compared to at 2,037,060 and walesthetruetaste at 1,642, 717 

Our Welsh Country and welshfoodbite team are loving all your input. It’s helpful and encouraging to hear your thoughts and concerns about the Welsh food scene. We’re also pleased that you love what we are doing. Many thanks


Our Rankings Rise – Again Thanks To You

18 Feb

Gosh you have all been very busy visiting welshfoodbites and it really is appreciated. As of 18/2 welshfoodbites was 627,015 compared to at 2,070,854 and walesthetruetaste at 1,661,858   (Source Alexa taken over a 3 month period)

How good is that against two WAG funded sites?  

(Source Alexa taken over a 3 month period)

Isn’t that great news?

Here at Welsh Country, the team and I really appreciate your support, your suggestions and your queries. I think most of you know that we’ll do whatever we can to help if you have specific issues or worries about the Welsh food industry, but after reading posts on welshfoodbites, you’ll know how difficult it is for us to get answers.


Llanwrtyd Wells Food Festival Pulls The Plug For 2011

02 Dec

I was sad to learn in a phone call from Chef Peter James this morning that his committee has reluctantly decided not to run their food festival next year. This long running festival folding and one which we have been involved with as media sponsors for five years, is very upsetting and I fear, a sign of bleak times ahead for the food industry. Peter and his team have had to make this decision now as they have been told by WAG Food, as I have that, they will not know whether there is food festival funding until the end of January. As Llawnrtyd Wells takes place early April, it really doesn’t give them much of a choice does it?  

As regards Food Festivals I have been saying the same thing for too many years; the funding scheme really wasn’t fair. Large festivals were well funded, despite them having the opportunity not only to charge an entrance fee but to attract sponsors – yet they could still take the lion’s share of this ever-decreasing budget. To my mind this wasn’t a difficult scenario, as was evaluating festivals to see if they were doing a decent job. But it was only this year, as the credit crunch bit even harder, Welsh Assembly Government, WAG Food brought in Miller Research to survey all the festivals. Like me you might well ask, why now, to what end is this all about? But on that we shall just have to wait and see if we get told when their job has been done. Although Peter’s festival took place eight months ago, he’s still not had any feedback through yet, not even an interim report. I’m not saying that if Peter had got any feedback, that the outcome for 2011 would be any different, but I know how many hoops organisers have to jump through, ‘ticking WAG boxes’ but where WAG fail is that they don’t feedback. Communication as always is the key, but it appears WAG haven’t got key………

 I’m sure that this will not be the only festival to give up the struggle in 2011 and Wales will certainly be the poorer for it.

 I’d like to thank Peter and his hard-working team of volunteers for all their efforts over the years, it’s one of the friendliest festivals we went too – hence we were keen to take on the role of media sponsors. I hope that WAG Food will also pass on their thanks too……………………………………………………….


True Taste Awards 2010 – Winning Best Of Welsh Producers

12 Nov

The Wales the True Taste Food & Drink Awards 2010-11 awards dinner was held last night (11th November 2010) at the Withy Bush Showground in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

There are 15 award categories covering all areas of the food and drink production, retail and hospitality sectors. More than 350 companies have entered this year’s awards, and at the preliminary judging in June the judges sampled and sipped over 700 products, with the final judging held in Cardiff.

The Following Best of Welsh Producers have won a True Taste 2010-2011 award which recognise quality, innovation and excellence in the Welsh food and drink industry.


North Wales

 Blas ar Fwyd, Conwy – Gold

Gill’s Plaice, Gwynedd – Gold, Silver, 2 Bronze

Hawarden Estate Farm Shop, Flintshire – Bronze

Hufenfa’r Castell, Harlech – Silver

Llandudno Smokery, Llandudno – Bronze


Mid Wales

Monty’s Brewery Ltd, Powys – Bronze

Y Caban (Sarah Bunton Luxury Chocolates), Ceredigion – Silver

Trethowan’s Dairy Limited, Ceredigion – Silver


South West Wales


Andrew Rees Butchers, Pembrokeshire –Silver

Carmarthenshire Cheese Company, Carmarthenshire – Gold 

Caws Cenarth Cheese, Carmarthenshire – Gold

 Pembrokeshire Tea Company Ltd, Pembrokeshire – Gold

Sanclêr Organic, Carmarthenshire – Gold, Bronze

The Little Welsh Deli, Swansea – Silver

Welsh Seafoods Ltd, Pembrokeshire – Silver


 South East Wales

Douglas Willis Ltd, Cwmbran – Silver

Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider Ltd, Vale of Glamorgan – Silver

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Cowbridge Food Festival Is A Huge Success

01 Nov

The producers I spoke to on Sunday had a brilliant day on Saturday with many of them running low on stock. I think it was the best attendance they have had and I’m pleased that locals and visitors came along and enjoyed a wonderful selection of great local food. That was great news to hear and gives the producers and their bank balance – a real boost. One area I particularly like at Cowbridge is the hot food area; I really do think that this is one of the best for quality and variety on the festival circuit. I think they only drawback which I worry about everywhere is this are gets so busy and there’s not much space outside to sit, eat and enjoy this tasty food. People were struggling especially if they had young children and babies in buggies to find a spot to sit. It was a pity that tentage area couldn’t have been much larger but of course I do understand, tentage is expensive to hire in and the budget is sadly not there, but it would have made such a difference.

Now I have to confess an addiction………… because guess who was in this lovely tented area? Yes, SamosaCo, a company who excel in producing authentic Indian meals and snacks, that are not only tasty, they’re often locally sourced too.  But I just can’t resist them and did succumb to their chicken biriani, which was totally delicious.         

I was delighted to hear such good feedback on Polly and her team, that they had looked after everyone so well. It’s what I expected to hear though and is why I enjoy Cowbridge so much. It’s a very well organised event and Polly’s team do work hard to help and are always polite and friendly, which is not easy to do when you’re dealing with the public as well. I was also pleased to see some of the High Street shops open on Sunday and with plenty of street entertainment; it gave Cowbridge town quite a buzz.


HRH Launches The London Welsh Lamb Club

29 Oct

Although I have yet to be told by HCC or the Press Office  – I thought you’d be interested in this Press Release from HRH The Prince Of Wales 

The Prince of Wales helped launched an initiative to promote Welsh lamb at Clarence House today. His Royal Highness is a keen supporter of British farming and the new London Welsh Lamb Club will promote Welsh lamb as a premium brand, and encourage increased demand from consumers in London and the South East which in turn will improve market prices for farmers in Wales.

Restaurateurs who join the London Welsh Lamb Club are given a certificate to display in their eateries which confirms the meat being served has been verified as Welsh lamb.

The organisation was established by the Welsh red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) to capitalise on the growing interest in the produce and it already has 50 members with more waiting to be accredited.

Part of this success has been attributed to Welsh Lamb having been granted Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status from the European Commission. Other UK foodstuffs that enjoy PGI status include Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, and Welsh Beef.

Those already signed up include a number of gastropubs and high-end restaurants like Odette’s in Primrose Hill, run by Welsh chef Bryn Williams, and Irish chef Richard Corrigan’s restaurant in Mayfair.

In a speech The Prince, who keeps Lleyn sheep at his Highgrove Estate in Gloucestershire, told his guests:  “Bearing in mind the sheep’s unerring desire to commit suicide, it really is a miracle anything ever arrives on anyone’s plate. I spend my life trying to extract sheep stuck in fences or upside down somewhere or other, or marooned on rock ledges or at the bottom of cliffs as the tide comes in.

“Or the ones that very, very slowly cross the road in front of your car or those held fast in a bramble bush.

“In fact I dare say almost at this moment my eldest son may be rescuing one stuck half way up a mountain in between other damsels in distress.”

Welsh Lamb was granted Protected Geographical Indication status from the European Commission in 2004 helping to preserve its uniqueness.

The Prince has been a long time supporter of Welsh lamb and guests were served a lamb stew, made with carrots, cabbage and swedes, made with meat from mid-Wales farms who are members of his Cambrian Mountain Initiative – which promotes rural enterprise.

Other popular producers from Wales include Elwy Valley near Denbigh in the North of the country.

The HCC hopes to widen the club to cover the rest of the country and believes their project will see more people eating varieties of the meat like saltmarsh lamb, from areas like the Gower coast near Swansea, or the more widely known hill lamb.

Martin Lam, proprietor of Ransomes Dock Restaurant, in Battersea said:  “Welsh lamb has always had a good reputation but what the good farms in Wales have done is bring it back into the market as a regional speciality.

“People might not ask for it but they recognise it when they see it on the menu.”

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