Your Last Mouthful

Cardiff based food blog

Category Archives: Events

The Wales True Taste Awards 2012

Earlier this year I was honoured to be asked to be a judge for the Wales True Taste Awards as a result of my blog and food writing. As a food lover living in Wales, I know that receiving an award is a true accolade and I was very excited to be able to be a part of selecting the products worthy of an award.

The Award ceremony was a few weeks ago and I took my seat on the night with winners and hopefuls.

Photo by Mark Adams

This year the ceremony took place at The Showground in Builth Wells and we were treated to a three course feast that included produce from winners prepared by E J catering.

My table was very award heavy with two awards going to Subzero, two to Forte’s and a gold award for Cardiff preserve maker, Eira from Inner City Pickle for her Mostarda di Frutta.

A gold for Subzero

It was very interesting to see who won the categories that I judged. The judging was blind so although I knew the products we had picked, I didn’t know who made them. I was delighted to discover that the winner of the Other Speciality Foods category that I judged was the fabulous Claire’s Kitchen from Newport. Claire’s lemon curd was absolutely wonderful, so good that I actually took it home with me after judging because I couldn’t bear to see it thrown away.

Other winners of my judging categories included a Bronze Award and a Gold Award for Carmathenshire Cheese Company in the Large Cheese Producer category,  and Munchcake Gluten Free Goodies for Special Dietary Options category.

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Afternoon Tea Halloween Style At The Hilton

This week in honour of that certain spooky time of year I was invited to have Afternoon Tea at the Hilton with a spooky twist.

I have had Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Hilton and they definitely go all out in terms of decoration with their themed teas and this was no exception.

We had sandwiches cut in the shape of bats and pumpkins in the traditional flavours; cucumber, egg, ham and salmon along with a good selection of sweets.

Instead of the usual scones and jam, we had spooky cupcakes, marzipan pumpkins, bat biscuits, mini toffee apples, sticky tarts and orange fondant fancies, topped off with a choice of Twinnings loose leaf tea. I chose jasmine pearls which came in a lovely Japanese teapot and my friend Mrs J had a traditional breakfast tea.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth and you’re looking for something fun to do after a day shopping, this will be for you. It is available until 4th November.

An Interview with Fuschia Dunlop

Abergavenny Food Festival is undeniably a great day out. The whole town comes alive with exhibitors, masterclasses, tutorials and foraging walks. This year I signed up for a masterclass with Cook and Food Writer Fuschia Dunlop– Chinese Home Cooking.


Fuschia’s book, Sichuan Cookery is a firm favourite in my kitchen and I was keen to see Fuschia demonstrate some dishes from her new book, ‘Every Grain of Rice’.

Fuschia spoke casually and confidently as she took us through some simple healthy Chinese dishes with a tasting at the end. Following the festival,  I had the privilege of interviewing Fuschia about her new book and love for Chinese cooking.

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What made you decide to write your latest book ‘Every Grain Of Rice?’ What was your inspiration?

Many people in the West don’t realise that Chinese meals can be delicious, quick and easy. People think of Chinese food as either over complicated or unhealthy fried food that is often found in restaurants. Certainly, Chinese banquet cooking is complicated but that isn’t the sort of food that’s eaten on a daily basis. Chinese cooking can be extremely easy. It’s basically vegetables, a little meat or fish, served with rice or noodles. I wanted to inspire people in the West by introducing this simple way of cooking delicious food.

What sparked your interest in Chinese food, Sichuan in particular, as opposed to other cuisines?

I have always loved cooking from childhood and my interest in China started through a job. When I won a scholarship to study there, I had an amazing lunch in Sichuan and so that’s where I went. When I got there it completely exceeded my expectations. I learned to cook regional dishes and absolutely loved it.

Are you disappointed by this country’s perception of Chinese food based on the typical generic Chinese take away menu?

I think it’s changed a lot. 15-20 years ago people had a low opinion of Chinese food or their experience of it was limited to what they ate in their local Chinese restaurant but I think that’s changed now. There are better restaurants now, lots of the big cities have regional restaurants that are very good. Also, British people are travelling more and getting a glimpse of the great food they cook in China for themselves and bringing it back with them. I see the perception as more wide and diverse than it was.

What can we learn from Chinese cooking to better the British diet?

How to make vegetables taste so sensational that we don’t miss meat! The Chinese use fragrant ingredients such as soy sauce, chilli and black beans to give vegetables an amazing rich, savoury taste. In these times when people are thinking about health and environmental concerns, we can learn a lot from the Chinese. Chinese food offers a lot by way of addressing these concerns without losing the pleasure.

What 5 ingredients do you always have in your kitchen?

Sichuan chilli bean paste, soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, chilli oil and preserved Chinese vegetables.

What is your favourite Chinese inspired breakfast?

There are so many good ones! One to cook at home would be rice porridge with pickled vegetables, topped with fermented bean curd.

If you’d like to have a look at Fuschia Dunlop’s latest book ‘Every Grain of Rice’ you can purchase it from her website.

The Cheesiest Of All The Festivals

Summer time is food festival time! With so many to choose from, some good, some bad, one that I always do my best to visit is the The Great British Cheese Festival at Cardiff Castle. Cheese is my chocolate so to have so much cheese under one roof is heaven to me.

If you can bear the crowds and the scuffles to get to each stall through people fighting for their freebies, there were some lovely cheeses to be had this year. Here are my top five.

1. Strafton Blue Ewes Cheese fromThe Great British Cheese Shop– Strong, creamy and blue- perfect!)

2. Tunworth Cheese– This smelt and tasted like cabbage in the best possible way. I love a stinky cheese)

3. Coolea Matured– A delicious Irish hard cows milk cheddar.

4. Wild Gralic Cornish Yag (Lynher Dairies) Crumbly cheese with a strong taste of garlic

5. Blacksticks Blue– A well known one but still one of my favourites

As well as filling my fridge with cheese, this year I was also able to interview one of the exhibitors. Here is my interview with Tim from Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese.

What is the name of your company?

F.W.Read and Sons Ltd or Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese based in Lincolnshire

Where can we buy your products?

A large number good independent cheese shops and delis as well as Waitrose nationally.

What made you decide to become a cheese producer?

We started producing cheese in 1992 when Simon [Brother] came back from agricultural college and the farm was fully staffed so he had the time to go and research cheese production and set up  a small cheese dairy.

How did you decide on the name for your company?

Our father thought of the name and it is plagiarised from the old Lincolnshire Poacher song dating back several hundred years

What makes your cheese stand out above the rest? 

Firstly we only use our own milk which means we can control the diet of the cows, the health of the cows and the freshness of the milk. When the cows are milked in the morning the milk is immediately pumped into the vat for cheese making while it is still warm!

Are you planning to develop any new cheeses?

Not at the moment.  Our plan for the time being is to concentrate on making the one cheese as well as we possibly can.

What are your top three favourite cheeses?

Perroche (Neals Yard Creamery), Stichelton (Stichelton Dairy)and Tunworth (Hampshire Cheeses)

 

 

 

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CUPCAKE WEEK: FRIDAY- Cupcake Decorating With The Happy Cupcake Kitchen

With the cupcake craze still going strong, cupcake classes are making their entrance into the market and are proving popular not only with people wanting to learn how to do it themselves but as a social event. Groups of friends are getting together and it is becoming a popular activity for Hen-do’s.

As part of my cupcake week feature, Sara from The Happy Cupcake Kitchen very kindly ran a cupcake decorating class for me and two friends in her beautiful kitchen.

I do bake quite often but the decoration part is my downfall. I’m not patient enough or skilled enough and I get cross when I can’t do something immediately and perfectly so I tend to avoid cupcakes in my repertoire and just admire the ones that other people make. However, I was excited to give this a try.

Sara was friendly and welcoming making us cups of tea and passing around macaroons. She chatted confidently and made us feel very at home. Before we went along to the class, I was asked to pick a theme for the cakes from a long list or to come up with my own. I chose ‘retro’ and Sara had already created some retro style cupcakes for us to start decorating. The cakes were a multicoloured sponge so Sara started the class by showing us how to make them using batters died different colours.

We worked at Sara’s kitchen table where individual stations were laid out for us with all the equipment we would need for the day. There were also ample supplies of colouring paste and ready-made butter icing and fondant icing.

We got to work dying our icing, starting with the butter icing and Sara showed us how to pipe, resulting in some quirky multi coloured designs as we mixed the colours together in the piping bag.

Moving on, we set to work dying the fondant icing for the next set of cakes. Sara encouraged us to try to think about how the box of cakes would look as a whole. I never thought about this but I’m glad she pointed it out because they looked really nice in the box and if I’d just been let loose to use all manner of colours and styles it just wouldn’t have worked.

Sara showed us how to cover our cakes in fondant icing. This is more tricky than it looks if you want to get it smooth and finger print free!

Once we’d covered the cakes, we were introduced to a range of cutters, ways to imprint patterns and letters and pens with edible ink. After some demonstrations from Sara we were free to make up our own designs. Some things were easier than others but it was a lot of fun playing around with different ideas.

When I bake I’m usually alone but I had such a good time doing it with friends and chatting and laughing as we decorated. I can see that with a bottle of wine for a hen-do or a birthday party it would be brilliant. Sara was a great teacher and she just seemed like one of the group (albeit a more talented member of the group when it came to cake).

I didn’t think I’d learn a lot from a cupcake decorating class but I did and even if you think of yourself as pretty knowledgable, it’s still great fun. I’d love to do this again and I highly recommend it for a group of friends. My cakes didn’t turn out too bad either!


A class like this is £48 and you get to decorate 12 cakes which you take away with you. It icludes the use of all equipment and ingredients and we had 4 hours worth of tuition. Cupcake parties are £20 per person and you get 4 cakes to decorate and take away. Sara also does children’s parties at £16 per person.

You can find out more on The Happy Cupcake Kitchen website.

Thanks to Sara for having us.

CUPCAKE WEEK: WEDNESDAY- Animal Face Cupcakes

I have happy memories of baking with my Mum when I was little. On the kitchen stall so I could reach the counter in my little apron, waiting eagerly to lick out the bowl. When I have children, I am really excited about teaching them to cook and these cakes are exactly what I can imagine baking.

Jayne from Teisen Deg baked these with her daughter during the wet and windy summer holidays and has been kind enough to share her recipe.

Use your imagination to create animal faces that can be represented in buttercream, chocolate buttons, sprinkles and sweets. Jayne made a monkey, bear and pig, but the choice is yours. Happy baking…

(Recipe adapted from a recipe by Annie Rigg featured in “Decorating Cakes and Cookies”)

ANIMAL FACE CUPCAKES

For the buttercream:

Chocolate

125 g butter, softened

250 g icing sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp milk

30 g melted chocolate

Strawberry

100 g softened butter

125 g sachet strawberry icing sugar

1 tbsp warm water

1 drop red food colouring

To decorate

Marshmallows

Jelly beans

Assorted chocolate buttons

Chocolate sprinkles

Candy laces

Liquorice

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) Gas mark 4.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the side of the mixing bowl from time to time.  Add the vanilla.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and add to the mixture in alternate batches with the buttermilk.  Mix until smooth and divide between the cupcake cases, filling two-thirds full.

Bake on the middle shelf for 20 minutes or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter until soft and gradually cream in the sugar until smooth and creamy.  Add the other ingredients and mix well to give a firm spreading consistency.

Cover the cakes with buttercream, spreading smoothly with a palette knife.  Use marshmallows in assorted sizes to make noses and snouts.  Cover these with buttercream to match the rest of the face and push into place.  Use marshmallows or individually stacked chocolate buttons for ears and stick in place with a dab of buttercream.

Use halved jelly beans for nostrils or large eyes, and strips of liquorice or candy laces for mouths.

Adapted from a recipe by Annie Rigg featured in “Decorating Cakes and Cookies”

Teisen Deg make all kinds of delicious cakes. Have a look at my previous review and take a look at the website for further details.

It’s a Cake Off! Cake Decorating at Red Hot World Buffet

Last week Red Hot World Buffet in Cardiff launched their new ‘Cake-away’ service and to celebrate the event, I was invited along to take part in a cake off!

Head Pastry Chef, Darshan Choudhari has designed eight cakes ready for customers to order and take away to enjoy at home. The cakes are have been designed so that there is something for everybody from a classic Strawberry Cheesecake to a more exotic Pineapple Passion.

Photo by Lauren Mahoney

I joined Cardiff bloggers, Helen Limbrick, Babettesffest and Cardiff Food Project along with two competition winners to sample some of the cakes and to decorate our own. The morning started with a demonstration from Darshan on how to make the perfect baked strawberry cheesecake which he made look effortless and then it was over to us! With tables full of icing, cream, ganache, unlimited supplies of fruit and the all important chocolate and other toppings, we were left to get creative.

I do enjoy baking but nevertheless, my impatience usually gets the better of me and my decorating skills wain slightly after a time. Neat and symmetrical is not my forte so I decided to go for ‘effortlessly random’ which is a stance I usually take when dressing and doing my hair on account of my lack of skills to make anything match and look ordered.

It was great fun being let loose on all the toppings and I think I got carried away with my three layer chocolate cake covered in ganache and coated with cream. Sickly was not the word! To cover my sorry attempt at icing, I topped my cake with randomly placed fruit and chocolate pieces and dashed almonds around the outside to hide the mess I had made with the cream.

I have to say, I don’t think my attempt was all that bad. Obviously it wouldn’t pass as a professional offering but considering the resources and the time, I was fairly happy. Saying that though, I did get pipped to the post by a small child!

You can view the range of cakes on offer from Red Hot World Buffet on their website.

Mr V cooks with the Purple Poppadom!

You may have gathered that Mr V and I have a soft spot for The Purple Poppadom. I would go as far as to say that it is my favourite restaurant of the moment in Cardiff. It’s the kind of food we love. Refined, beautifully presented and packed full of flavour. It pushes the boundaries of Indian food with a touch of fusion. It’s the kind of food we like to experiment with when cooking at home.

When the Purple Poppadom announced their cooking competition, my husband Ben (Mr V to this blog) was straight in the kitchen preparing his entry. Contestants had to design a dish, or cook one they knew well and present a description and photo of it to the Purple Poppadom. The best three, would then be selected to cook in a heat with Anand George in the Purple Poppadom kitchen and then go on to cook with Anand at a food festival.

After a few experiments and some nice meals for me, Ben settled on his Indian British fusion entry of spiced pan-fried seabass served on crushed potatoes with a toasted coconut masala sauce, asparagus and a chilli and cardamom yorkshire pudding.

Ben was selected as a winner and after a day in the Purple Poppadom kitchen learning Anand George’s prize-winning dish, Tiffin Seabass with Curry Leaf Mashed Potato, Ben was invited to cook it at a demonstration as part of The Welsh Menu.

Cooking with Anand was a great experience for Ben and he learnt some useful techniques and tips. More than cooking in front of a room full of people, Ben was excited to be able to learn from someone he considers to be such a great chef.

I enjoyed watching the demo and I am very excited that now Ben will be able to cook this wonderful dish at home.

Cupcake Week 2012! Calling All Cardiff Cupcake Lovers!

It’s almost cupcake week 2012!

Last year, my week long feature on cupcake week 2011 was my most popular search ever so this year I will be doing it again. Expect reviews, recipes, tutorials, guest posts and cakey interviews.

Cupcake week starts on 17th September so get involved and get baking. I’d love to see the cakes you make and will post them all on the blog if you send me photos.

Making Sushi With The Chefs At Red Hot World Buffet

I am fascinated by Japanese culture and food. Japan has always been on my list of places to visit but sadly on two occasions I have been set to go and something has prevented me from getting as far as booking tickets.

The freshness of the food and the idea of simple flavours that enhance the ingredients in a dish rather than over-complicating things is a revelation to me and one I have been dying to discover. Unfortunately, this post isn’t going to end with a visit to Japan but I did however recently get invited along to cook with the Sushi Chefs at Red Hot World Buffet in Cardiff.

I love sushi and I have made it at home before but without the proper equipment, I have used a cheaty method so I was very excited about being shown how to do it properly.

We were introduced to chefs Danny Dinningson Poththmi and Arvind Rawat who both have an impressive background having worked in restaurants all over the world including Japanese restaurant Japingo in Dubai. Head chef Uttam Kamokar has been a chef for 18 years and his CV includes Burj Al Arab in Dubai (the world’s only 7 star restaurant!). I felt that I was in good hands and after a demonstration, even more so.

Making around 800-1000 pieces of sushi a day, the chefs made it look very easy. It definitely wasn’t as easy as it looked but I did pick it up after a while and although significantly slower, my attempts were passable. We used the traditional method of making sushi roles with a sushi rolling mat covered in cling film and experimented with sushi rolls, moving onto Nigri. We even tried some Uramaki which was a challenge. These involve rolling the sushi so that the rice is on the outside.

If you haven’t made sushi before, I definitely recommend giving it a try. It’s great fun and once you get the hang of it, it isn’t too difficult. I recently bought a sushi mat and have been making sushi at home. They are very reasonably priced and you can pick up everything you need from any Japanese supermarket or online. Make sure you have a sharp knife though, this is vital otherwise the sushi gets squashed when you cut the roll into pieces.

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