Food & Wine

Food & Wine

Good to see the Welsh restaurants in the new 2019 Michelin guide:

* The Whitebrook, Monmouthsgire.
* The Checkers, Montgomery.
* Ynyshir, Machynleth.
* Walnut Tree, Llanddewi Skirrid.
* Sosban & the Old Butchers, Menai Bridge.
* Tyddyn Llan, Llandrillo.

* James Sommerin, Penarth.

According to the latest edition of the Good Beer Guide, published by the Campaign for Real Ale, the Bridge End Inn public house in Ruabon has been named the best pub in the United Kingdom. May be worth a trip to North Wales. Great scenery and beer !

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Catalan Wine - Wine is an essential part of Catalan culture - its temperate Mediterranean climate and fertile grounds ideal for the vineyards but did you know that even an area high in the Pyrenees it has its own wine culture? The county is called Alt Urgell, bordering with Andorra and, here, the harvest season will begin after the end of this month.

There are over 300 hectares of mountain vineyards in Catalonia - 16 of which are in Alt Urgell. It's predicted that high-elevation viticulture will become more common in the future, in part due to climate change. Local winegrower Xavier Ribes waxed poetic about the end result: "You won't find the acidity, the aroma, the sweetness from up here absolutely anywhere else." He added: "It's true that the productions are quite small, but really what's made here is worth it, it truly is." Must give it a try.

Welsh Wine - We have the Romans to thanks for introducing wine to Wales; and a mere 2,000 years or so later, the Welsh Ancre Hill Estates' 2008 vintage was voted best sparkling wine in the world at the Bollicine del Mondo International Competition in Italy.

The first commercial vineyard in Wales was planted in 1875 near Castell Coch, the 19th century Gothic castle built on the outskirts of Cardiff by industrialist Lord Bute.

The award-winning Cariad wines are grown on the slopes of the 22 acre Llanerch Vineyard - just outside Cardiff and open to the public.

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Cawl is a traditional Welsh dish made of meat and vegetables. There are many recipes often handed down through the family and vary from town to town throughout Wales. It is often better the day after preparing when all the flavours have developed. In years gone by it was often served in a wooden bowl (with chunks of homemade bread and Welsh cheese) and eaten with a wooden spoon.


• 1kg/2lb 3oz neck of lamb (on the bone), preferably Welsh, cut into serving pieces
• 2 litres/3 pints 10½fl oz lamb stock
• 225g/8oz potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 225g/8oz onions, peeled and chopped
• 225g/8oz leeks, trimmed and sliced into 1cm/½in slices
• 225g/8oz carrots, peeled and chopped
• 225g/8oz swede, peeled and chopped


Place the lamb into a large pan and pour over the stock. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat until it is simmering and continue to simmer for one hour. Add the chopped vegetables and continue to cook for a further hour. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside to cool overnight. When you are ready to serve the stew, return the mixture to the boil and continue to boil for 15 minutes, or until completely heated through. To serve, divide the cawl equally among four to six serving plates. Serve with crusty bread and Welsh cheese. Lovely !

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Butifarra amb Mongetes is a Catalan brunch dish, dating from the 16th century, and made with pork sausage caramelized and cooked in red wine and butter. The sausage is placed on top of sautéed white baby beans with a Salsa Verde and served alongside a fried egg:

15 ounce butiffarra pork sausage
3 ounce cooked white beans
2 tablespoon salsa verde
1/4 Red small red onion
2 Sprig cilantro
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon butter and an Egg
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
Homemade Salsa Verde
1 Bunch parsley
2 cups olive oil
1/8 Loaf of Stirato bread
6 Cloves of garlic
Salt to taste

Sear a few butifarras on both sides until caramelized. Add red wine (about 1 cup per piece) and cook. Remove the butifarras from the wine and reduce the until all of the alcohol is cooked off. Add butter and let thicken.
In a sauté pan, add oil and when the oil is smokes add the beans (without any water). Sauté until crispy. Add salsa verde.
Plate the butifarra on top of the beans, sauce with the wine reduction.
Cook an egg a la plancha and put on top of the butifarra.
In a bowl, mix the red onion (cut in julienne), the cilantro, the olive oil, the sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt. Place in between the eggs and the butifarra.
Cube bread and fry at 375 degrees until golden brown.
Peel garlic and De-stem parsley.
Take parsley, oil, garlic and bread and blend in vitaprep until thin. Salt to taste.

Gin

Gin Mare is made in Vilanova, a fishing town, just outside Sitges. It "epitomises the Mediterranean spirit. Crammed with local Mediterranean botanicals and positively singing a pretty little sunshine ditty, it's a true mark of luxury, with rich oils filling the cheeks and sending the drinker on something of an adventure". It is seriously good, reflected in the price, and can be found in some bars in Wales and Waitrose !

A Mid Wales micro distillery has become the first in the UK to win the coveted Best British Gin award twice. The Dyfi Distillery in Corris, near Machynlleth, which collected the trophy from the Great British Food Awards in 2017 for its Pollination Gin, has retained the award this year (2018) for its Dyfi Original Gin. MasterChef's John Torode, the lead category judge, said: "A wonderful gin straight up or in a martini or with a mixer. Smooth, beautifully flavoured and not overpowering in any way. I am a convert."


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A chat with Montserrat Prat, Owner of the Restaurant "La Cuina" in Cardiff.

Why did you decide to open La Cocina: the Catalan restaurant in Canton, Cardiff?

"This is the city where I have lived for more than 18 years and where my children have been raised. They are Welsh and Catalan and it seems appropriate that this is the business identity too."

Can you tell us more about your business?

"No matter how big or small, a company is an economic company and, therefore, I believe that we have to take into account the impact this will have on the products it buys from both suppliers and for customers. We import many of our ingredients from Catalonia, since they can not be found in Wales. Most of the products are handcrafted, made in small quantities. We only buy from small producers, people who respect the land, respect work and they work in harmony with the environment and the people that surround them. One of our wine producers is a socially aware company that produces wines of the highest level, but also supports people with mental disabilities. What does that mean for us? The difficulty in handling the imports ourselves is that we pay much more than the majority of the products of Spain that you could get in this country and our margins are very small, but we do it because we really want to put a bit of Catalonia on our tables. Many people appreciate what they have eaten and we believe that this is a real success. "

Montserrat Prat - Owner