Foragers, beware giant hogweed

Giant hogweed grows over 10ft tall

If you’re out in the Welsh countryside foraging with your youngsters this summer, beware coming into contact with giant hogweed.

It is an invasive and potentially harmful plant. The Royal Horticultural Society says chemicals in the sap can cause photodermatitis, or photosensitivity, where the skin becomes very sensitive to sunlight and may suffer blistering, pigmentation, and long-lasting scars.

Giant hogweed, (Heracleum mantegazzianum), is a tall, cow parsley-like plant with thick, bristly stems which are often blotched with purple. It is often found on riverbanks, but has spread inland since it was first brought to Britain by Victorian gardeners.

The flowers are white and held in umbels, (flat-topped clusters), with all the flowers in the umbel facing upwards. The flower heads can be as large as 60cm (2ft) across.

It can reach a height of 3.5m (11.5ft) and has a spread of about 1m (3.5ft).

Giant hogweed is usually biennial, forming a rosette of jagged, lobed leaves in the first year before sending up a flower spike in the second and then setting seed. True biennials only live for two years, dying after flowering, but giant hogweed does not always behave as a true biennial and may flower in subsequent years.

The RHS says when controlling giant hogweed, you should always wear gloves, cover your arms and legs, and ideally wear a face mask when working on or near it. Cut plant debris, contaminated clothing and tools are potentially hazardous too. Wash any skin that comes in contact with the plant immediately.Protect yourself from any skin contact with the sap, especially your face, when cutting stems, and carry out control measures in overcast weather avoiding sunny periods. Wash off any sap as soon as possible.

Larger scale areas are probably best left to the professionals, who should wear full protective clothing, especially if they are using a strimmer. As strimmers send sap and fragments flying, face protection is essential.

The NHS says: If you touch a giant hogweed, cover the affected area, and wash it with soap and water. The blisters heal very slowly and can develop into phytophotodermatitis, a type of skin rash which flares up in sunlight. If you feel unwell after contact with giant hogweed, speak to your doctor.

All you need to know about Cardiff’s International Food Festival this weekend

60,000 people are expected at Cardiff's International Food Festival
60,000 people are expected at Cardiff’s International Food Festival

AROUND 60,000 food fans are set to descend on Cardiff Bay this weekend.

The annual Cardiff International Food & Drink Festival will feature eating, drinking, live music and entertainment.

Visitors can watch cooking demonstrations by top chefs, browse stalls selling local produce, and there will be a farmers’ market. There will be taste from around the globe. The timings for the free event will be:

Producer’s Fayre: 12noon-9pm Friday, 11am-9pm Saturday, 11am-7pm Sunday

Farmers’ Market: 12noon-7pm Friday, 11am-7pm Saturday/Sunday

Food Piazza: 12noon-10pm Friday, 11am-10pm Saturday, 11am-7pm Sunday

Craft Stalls: 12noon-9pm Friday, 11am-9pm Saturday, 11am-7pm Sunday

Blaengawney Farm Gwatkin Cider Sarah Cooks
Bread of Devon Gwynt y Ddraig Cider Ltd Selwyns Seafood
Caerphilly Preserves Homemade Country Preserves Septimus Spyder Drinks
Caws Cenarth Cheese Hot Roasted Nuts Shepherd’s Ice Cream
Celtic Country Wines Irvin Confectionary Snowdonia Cheese Co Ltd
Celtic Spirit Co Little Jack Horners Sub Zero Ice Cream
Condessa Welsh Liqueurs Llanfaes Dairy Ice Cream The Blaenafon Cheddar Company
Cowpots Love Patisserie The Chocolate Brownie Company
Devon Fishcakes Narna’s Chocolates The Fudge Box
Dewi Roberts Butchers Perfick Pork The Garlic Farm
Elm Tree Foods Produce of Stuttgart The Gift of Oil
Farmhouse Deli Radnor Hills The Handmade Scotch Egg Co
Fire Foods Ralph’s Cider and Perry The Original Welsh Oggie Pie Co.
Fudge Factory Riverford Organic Farms Tudor Brewery
Gilly’s Samosaco Wessex Pantry
Asiaspicebox Fresh As A Daisy Sorai
Carn Edward Farm Heather’s Harvest Susan’s Farmhouse Fudge
Caws Teifi Cheese Little Welsh Deli The Celt Experience
Claire’s Kitchen Mr Fitzpatrick’s Cordials The Continental Bakery
Contempo Catering Narna’s Chocolates The Dangerous Food Company
Cottage Sweets Oh Sugarplum! The Pudding Shop
Cwm Deri Vineyard Pastamore The Wiltshire Chilli Farm
Delicia Cakes & Teas Popty Cara Toffoc Ltd
Dream Blue Trading Co. Retro Shots Tudor House Preserves & Welsh Craft Foods
Emily’s Jams and Pickles Riverside Market Assoc Ty Gwyn Cider
Enhance Rowlestone Farmhouse Ice Cream Untapped Brewing Company Ltd
Field Barwine Ltd Samosaco Yo Go Go Frozen Yogurt
Food Station Wales Seasons Farm Foods  Crafty Devil Brewing
Parsons Nose The Strawberry Stop The Welsh Creperie
The Wrap Shack  Dusty Knuckle Pizza Company
Cambrian Organics Meat and Greek Ltd Taste of Persia
Gaucho BBQ Mela Street Food The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Co. / Café Mor
Glamorgan Vale Hog Roast Ltd Morgans Family Butchers The Spanish Buffet
Greta’s Wholefoodies Old Granary Pierogi Welsh Venison Centre
Griffiths Bakery Ltd Roly Poly Ltd Yum Yum
Indian Delights Shabbanakle

Bandstand & Entertainment Timings

Bandstand (all sets 45 minutes)
Friday Saturday Sunday
12pm Donnie Joe’s American Swing Peel Your Own Spuds Slap Your Mama Big Band
1pm Baraka Red Ray Maelog
2pm Fiesta Resistance Miss Maud’s Folly The Zen Hussies
3pm Tantz The Dandos Slap Your Mama Big Band
4pm Rob Heron and The Teapad Orchestra Maddassa Soul Band Maelog
5pm Donnie Joe’s American Swing Peel Your Own Spuds The Zen Hussies
6pm Baraka Red Ray Slap Your Mama Big Band
7pm Fiesta Resistance Miss Maud’s Folly
8pm Tantz The Dandos
9pm Rob Heron and The Teapad Orchestra Maddassa Soul Band
Entertainment, Farmer’s Market (all sets 30 minutes)
Friday Saturday Sunday
12.30pm The Railroad Skiffle Quartet The Saxalettes 89-91 Band
2.30pm The Railroad skiffle Quartet The Saxalettes 89-91 Band
4.30pm The Railroad Skiffle Quartet The Saxalettes 89-91 Band

5 reasons to forage for whinberries this summer


They are a staple of Welsh summers – whinberries grow wild on the hills and valley sides and will be perfectly ripe in just a few weeks.

To those outside Wales, they are known as bilberries, blaeberries or whortleberries. Getting purple juice on your fingers is worth it for the taste alone – but here are 5 health reasons why we should be foraging for them:

  • They have been found to be good for the eyesight. It is said that the R.A.F. pilots were given whinberry preserves to eat before they flew on night missions, as it was thought that they cured “night blindness.” Modern clinical trials have shown that they are very good for the eyes the berries contain anthrocyanosides which have been found to boost the production of rhodopsin; a pigment which improves night vision.
  • People suffering from anaemia were given the fresh berries to eat because of their iron content.
  • Glucoquinines in the fruit help to lower blood sugar levels.
  • Anthrocyanosides are plant pigments that have excellent antioxidant properties and can combat free radicals in the body which damage cells – they are found in abundance in whinberries.
  • The dried fruit has been used to treat diarrhoea, nausea and indigestion and a gargle of the fresh juice soothes sore throats and mouths.

Tafwyl is baking up a treat of a fair for foodies in Cardiff

Last year, 16,534 people attended the Tafwyl fair in Cardiff.

The Great British Bake Off's Beca Lyne-Pirkis
The Great British Bake Off’s Beca Lyne-Pirkis

This year’s Tafwyl Fair 2015 will be held at Cardiff Castle, on July 4 and 5 – and it’s set to provide free fun for all the family.

There will be stalls in the fair promoting Welsh produce, and workshops, literary sessions, music, cookery, art and drama sessions. The fair runs between 11am and 9pm on both days.

On the main stage there will be live performances by folk, rock and pop artists in the Welsh pop scene, including Yws Gwynedd and Geraint Jarman, acoustic sessions, street entertainers, dance sessions, sports field, and activities for children of all ages.

In the food and drink marquee, there will be a talk with Poblado Coffee, pure chocolate workshop with Coco Caravan, an Indian cookery demonstration with Purple Poppadom, a baking demonstration with Great British Bake Off’s Beca Lyne-Pirkis, and a  cheese tasting session with Caws Rhydydelyn.

You could learn how to brew Cwrw Melyn Bach with Tomos & Lilford Brewery, and join a Welsh ale and cider taster session. For children there’s a chance to bake some cakes and treats for homeless and disadvantaged young people with Llamau.

The fair’s popular Bake Off competition returns thanks to sponsorship from, with guest judges Beca Lyne-Pirkis and Nerys Howell. The competition for under 11’s is to bake and decorate 3 cake pops, and the competition for under 16’s is to bake and decorate 6 cupcakes.  For adults, the brief is to bake and decorate a sponge cake so let your imagination run wild and create something special! For the winner of each category we have a special prize – afternoon tea for two at Waterloo Tea Gardens. You must register to compete at


The street food corner will include ten tempting reasons to visit:

Bangkok Cafe –

Authentic Thai street food, using locally sourced ingredients and herbs and spices imported from Thailand

Parsnipship –

Hand-crafted fine vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Original and provocative dishes packed with big, punchy flavours

Grazing Shed –

Gourmet burgers from Cardiff


Healthy fast food on the go.

Welsh Creperie Co. –      

Gourmet sweet and savoury crepes and Breton galettes, all made to order with the freshest of ingredients.

Ffwrnes Pizza –

Wood Fired Pizzas made using simple ingredients produced by real artisans

Meat and Greek –

Cardiff based Greek Cypriot family sharing their authentic Souvlaki with the rest of the community.

Fablas –

A rural company based in the Vale of Glamorgan producing high quality artisian ice creams. Fablas go from cow to cone within a 3 hour period, producing a high class proiduct that is unbelivelbly fresh and locally produces. Look out for a few special adult ice cream flavours including the pink champagne sorbet and mojito ice cream!

Brodies Coffee Camper-

Quality coffee & home baked goodies

Milgi – 

For the first time this year Milgi will be hosting a cocktail bar – the Hedgerow Bar. The concept really is simple – to serve super seasonal, foraged homemade drinks to anyone who needs a little thirst quencher.

Bar Syched

There will also be two bars with a large range of ales, lagers, wines, spirits, soft drinks tea & coffee. Our Syched Bar will be selling a range of Welsh ales.

Why you should check out Milford Fish Festival

Crowds to kick off Pembrokshire Fish Week at Milford Haven
Crowds to kick off Pembrokeshire Fish Week at Milford Haven

PEMBROKESHIRE’S fish week opens on Saturday with Milford Fish Festival.

Visitors to the event at Milford Fish Docks between 10am and 6pm will learn how to prepare and cook fish with filleting and chef demonstrations, enjoy fishy feasts from caterers, soak up the atmosphere at the music stage with acts including Saundersfoot’s X Factor finalist Jay James Picton, and find out about the Milford Fish Docks developments for fishermen.

X Factor finalist Jay James Picton
X Factor finalist Jay James Picton

There will also be a ‘Chowder Trail’ where you can put local eateries to the test and enjoy activities including kayaking and pavement painting.

Standard Entry is £3, children (under 12’s) go free. Chowder Trail entry is £5.

Exhibitors will include:

Good & Proper Brownies – Baked chocolate goods – brownies, cheesecakes, flapjacks, chocolate tarts for vegan, gluten free and diabetic also.

Caws Teifi Cheese and Da Mhile Distillery – Artisan Welsh cheeses and organic spirits/liquers.

Bluestone Brewing Co. – Selection of hand crafted real ales by bottle, 1/2 pint and 1 pint.

Pieroth – Importer of a selection of international wines.

Marine Conservation Society – Handing out their new Pocket Good Fish Guide and answering any questions people have.

Urban Jungle Coffee – offering a choice of gourmet coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

The Bean – Mobile Espresso Bar – Serving freshly ground coffee plus a selection of teas, hot chocolates, cold drinks and pre-wrapped snacks.

Port of Milford Haven – Find out about Port operations and the latest plans for the Milford Dock Master Plan.

Milford Fish Docks – Find out about the latest improvements made for local fishermen.

Darwin Centre / Silent World – In partnership with SW2U there will be hands on workshops linked to local coastal organisms (in aquaria) and plankton experience using microscopes.

Chantler Teas – Pre-packaged, ethically sourced loose leaf tea and tea accessories including Welsh blends.

SJ’s Pig Roast – Pork rolls with apple sauce, stuffing and onions. Teas and coffees.

Sugar Rush Pembs – Freshly made hot crepes and waffles with a selection of toppings.

Caws Cenarth Cheese – Pre-packed locally made Artisan cheese.

Bas y Tir –  providing samples of our Blas y Tir Pembrokeshire early potatoes for visitors to try, along with displaying other Blas y Tir products (potatoes and vegetables).

Shore Seafoods – Ready to eat shellfish products.

Beelief Botanics – Handmade therapy and skin care products.

The family focused, fish-themed event is being organised by the port with the support of Pembrokeshire County Council so that businesses in the town don’t lose out on the massive increase in tourism revenue that is generated by the thousands of people who normally attend the opening day of Pembrokeshire Fish Week.

Food festival competition winner will get deluxe stay – and tickets to see TV chef

TV chef Tom Kerridge
TV chef Tom Kerridge

A foodie is being dished up a tasty treat at this year’s Abergavenny Food Festival in September.

One visitor who buys a weekend wristband on the official website before the end of June will win a VIP festival experience.

That will include a two-night, deluxe stay at The Angel Hotel, a festival foodie bag, an access all areas pass, two front row tickets to see Tom Kerridge in conversation with Xanthe Clay at 7.30pm on Friday September 18 at the Borough Theatre, and a signed copy of his book, Tom’s Table: My Favourite Everyday Recipes.

Visit for more details.

June 11 is National German Chocolate Cake Day

Something we can all get behind today…

Foodimentary - National Food Holidays

german chocolate cake day

German chocolate cake has layers of chocolate filled with buttery frosting.

Most people are unaware the original recipe was named after German’s brand chocolate, not Germany, the country.

Today’s five facts about cakes:

  1. Have you heard of Celtic people? They celebrate a festival by name Beltane festival. During this festival, they lit bonfires atop a hill and will roll down round cakes from the hill. If the cake doesn’t break, they believe it will bring good fortune.
  2. Cakes definitely play a major role during wedding, but how these wedding ceremonies were completed during ancient times? They either break a big bread loaf on top of the bride’s head or simply throw pieces of bread on her.
  3. Do you like cheesecakes? I love them…yummy, delicious; how old are these cheesecakes? It is believed that these cakes are present since the bygone era. During the first Olympic Games, athletes were given cheesecakes.

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Six things for a Welsh foodie to do this bank holiday

This bank holiday is the perfect time for a food-lover in Wales to try something new. But….what to do?

Here are my suggestions to sweeten the three-day weekend with some top-notch Welsh food and drink activities:

1. Take a trip to Selwyn’s Penclawdd Seafoods in Marsh Road, Llanmorlais, Swansea, to pick up some world-famous Penclawdd cockles, laverbread, or crispy seaweed for a real taste of the Gower. You could  also bring home some seaweed soap.

2. Make your way along the Clwydian food trail, showcasing the gastronomic delights of the north Wales area of outstanding natural beauty. The trial which can be easily driven in a day goes from Loggerheads through the market towns of Ruthin and Denbigh, on to Llandyrmog and back through the Vale of Clwyd. It starts at Caffi Florence in Loggerheads Country Park, takes in Rhesgoed Farm Shop and Leonardo’s Delicatessen in Ruthin, Denbigh Chocolate Shop, Rosies Cider, Patchwork Pate and Llaeth y Llan.

Find out more at

3. Visit the pop-up street food night market in Cardiff city centre, which is running throughout May and June.

The street food circus is open between 5pm and 11pm at the old stable yard, John Street, and includes food from Hokkei Box – Baos, Purple Poppadom Street Kitchen, Hangfire Smoke House, Mr Churros, Slow Pig, El Salsa, Ffwrness, Tipi Pizza, Patagonia Steak Shack, and Nelly’s Barn.

4. Check out the Welsh perry and cider festival at Caldicot Castle and sample some of the 120 perries and ciders on offer. See previous Gusto post for details.

5. Treat yourself to a gorgeous ice cream  from Verdi’s  at the Mumbles. The ice cream parlour has fantastic sea views and is the perfect pit-stop after a day’s walking. The Turkish delight ice cream is a personal favourite.

6. Stroll through the vines at Parva Farm vineyard in Tintern, sample and buy some of the winery’s award-winning vintages.

Enjoy your bank holiday!

Welsh perry and cider festival gets under way in Caldicot

Tonight marks the start of the 14th annual Welsh Perry and Cider Festival – with the event opening at 6pm in Caldicot Castle.

There are more than 120 different ciders and perries to try, with the annual championship for producers taking place tomorrow.

Local caterers are on hand to offer home-cooked food, there are local produce stalls, craft stalls, chainsaw carving demonstrations, and cookery demonstrations from the History Chef.

There is a line-up of bands to entertain the crowds this bank holiday – from acoustic sets to rock and ska. Bands include Fireroad, Henry’s Funeral Shoe, James Clode Band, and Big Mac’s Wholly Soul Band.

Tickets are £7.50 (Friday night only); £9 Saturday only; £9 Sunday only; £7.50 Monday only; £25.00 for a weekend pass. Weekend camping and entry is £50. Under 18s go free when accompanied by a full paying adult.

Sessions at this autumn’s Cardiff Gin Festival selling out

Gin is the spirit of the moment, with festivals springing up across Britain.

And Cardiff’s gin festival – still five months away in October – is already showing some sessions at its site  in Portland House, Bute Street, are sell-outs.

The event is being held from October 1 and 4, and will boast over 100 gins, tasting sessions and tips for garnishes, and talks from industry experts. Check the website for ticket availability. Sessions are £7.83 per person plus drink tokens at £5 per drink to be bought at the event.