A couple of weeks ago I attended the Real Bread Campaign’s ‘Real Bread Uprising’, a conference bringing together bread-heads and foodies from across the UK united by a passion for bread (made from four simple ingredients; flour, water, salt and yeast/starter) rather than highly manufactured industrial loaves (with a host of extra ingredients added to aid mass-production). I met so many interesting people and had a great time chatting about bread, flours, bakeries, food projects and food festivals across the UK.
Many people I spoke to were discussing upcoming food festivals they were heading to and I recommended one which takes place right here in Pembrokeshire as well as extolling the many foodie treats our far south-west corner of Wales has to offer. These conversations inspired me to write a (very overdue) blog post. So… here it is!
Narberth Food Festival, which is coming up this weekend on Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th September, is a gem of a food festival. I’ve visited for the last few years, the first time while on holiday before we moved to Pembrokeshire. As food festivals go it’s not the largest, compared to the packed streets of Abergavenny it’s tiny, and I think that’s one of reasons I enjoy it so much. Many stallholders are from Pembrokeshire with some from further afield, offering a wonderful array of Welsh produce.
This year I’m really excited to be involved with the Education Day, on the Friday before the festival proper begins. Another great feature of Narberth Food Festival is the invitation extended to local primary school children to get involved. They experience talks, demos and hands-on workshops run by a range of local food businesses. For my workshop I’ll my challenging their sensory perceptions as they choose, smell and taste foods. It’s going to be surprising, don’t want to give too much away..!
I moved to Narberth last year, drawn to it as a buzzing little town with great live music and arts venues and strong community spirit (last year a grassroots campaign saved the swimming pool from closure and it’s now run as a community enterprise). Wander around town and you’re spoilt for choice with independent food shops and producers, upmarket clothes and gift shops and a host of vintage clothes and furniture shops.
For anyone new to town I’d recommend trying Spanish deli Ultracomida on High Street and taking a seat at a shared table in the cafe at the back of the shop to sample the tapas and Er Boqueron on tap – the world’s first beer made with seawater. On James Street the eponymous owners of Plum Vanilla cafe offer an interesting menu including great salads and cakes. Across the road Fire and Ice have a juicy selection of Welsh and West Country ciders, lots of local ales and Welsh spirits alongside their award winning homemade ice creams produced in small batches of seasonal flavours and refreshing cider and cocktail sorbets.
Lovers of Welsh cakes can pick up a bargain at Tan Y Castell’s factory shop on Redstone Road, besides your mamgu’s (Welsh for ‘grandma’) these are the best around. Anyone visiting Narberth on a Friday should pop in to Queen’s Hall for the local producers market, the veg stall is a highlight and there are a handful of other food stalls most weeks alongside craft makers and the teddy bear doctor – a lovely curiosity. Wisebuys delicatessen on High Street is a treasure trove of local and exotic delicacies and can be relied upon to stock the most obscure ingredients (liquid smoke anyone?!). Even the Spar has a good selection of local foods and beers alongside their standard stock.
I love showing visiting friends around town, especially those from big cities who are pleasantly surprised that a small Welsh town has so much on offer. Do get in touch if you’re visiting and want any local tips, I’ll help if I can..!