Food & Drink editors, Kathryn and Emma, get a taste for rural regularities in the centre of the city, at this year’s Cardiff Country Fair.
The friendly twang of a country accent, the faint waft of freshly baked bread and a checklist of animals from our favourite farmyard rhyme; it was hard to believe that we were still in bustling Cardiff. Alas Quench Food & Drink had not travelled for a day in the hills, but we were lucky enough to be invited to the Cardiff Country Fair where we were immersed in all things rural, slap bang in the centre of the city. Held within the beautiful grounds of Cardiff Castle, the annual Country Fair celebrates the country’s bounty with a wide range of stalls, talks, demonstrations, exhibits and competitions. Bustling with families, keen cooks and students; the event has something to entertain everyone.
Upon entering the lively grounds we, of course, made a bee-line for the food and drink stalls. With a wide range of local and regional produce, all lovingly crafted by independent retailers, there was a wealth of delicious treats to taste and buy. Although it hadn’t quite reached 11am, the first stall we approached happened to be serving up Welsh liquor, and having to uphold Quench’s famed reputation, a few sloe gins had to be sampled just to keep up appearances. We also tried the medieval tipple of choice, mead, which we were surprised to find out is a best seller with students. Sweeter than expected, the mead was actually pretty tasty, but I don’t think I’ll be chucking in the rosé just yet.
Cheese was next on the agenda, with each of the different brands offering an intriguing mix of creative flavour combinations – these were no ordinary cheddars. The Amber Cheddar was one of my favourites, a mature cheese infused with a rich sweetness of whisky, not usually my kind of thing but surprisingly good . We both also loved the tomato and basil and forest fruit flavours. There was a fantastic selection of chutneys to taste too, which we later found was my weakness as I ended up taking a pot of Moroccan chutney home. There were also local butchers and bakers displaying the fruits of their labour which looked delicious and if we weren’t living on a student budget, steaks would have definitely been on the menu for dinner.
Whilst at the fair, we also had the opportunity to watch one of the cooking demonstrations, which was a novel experience for the both of us. At first we thought an hour of watching someone cook healthy recipes may be a little boring, however once the chef revealed that we would be tasting each dish, things got a whole lot more interesting. Sampling tikka beef kebabs, a lamb superfood salad and a beautifully plump steak was both fun and delicious and what’s more, we picked up loads of great tips from the chef as she guided us through the methods (I now know not to stab a steak with a fork, as this allows all the flavour filled juices to escape.)
Our morning ended with a childish giggle at the array of farmyard animals on display. From humongous curly haired cows, to some extremely fluffy alpacas, it was lovely to experience some of the animals reared in the British countryside which we often take for granted. The owners were friendly and informative, and most of the animals weren’t shy for a little cuddle. In all, Emma and I had a fantastic morning at the Cardiff Country Show and when it rolls around next year, and you have a few pennies to spare, make sure to pay Cardiff Castle a visit.