Show some love with a lasting gift for your foodie this Valentine’s Day

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If a box of chocolates simply won’t hack it this Valentine’s Day, Welsh food and drink experts have some perfect ideas for lasting gifts:

For the wine lover

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White Castle vineyard near Abergavenny has a scheme where you can adopt a vine for your loved-one. That gives them a personalised certificate of adoption valid for a year, a plaque with their name on their adopted vine, a conducted vineyard tour for two people to include a glass of wine to toast the adopted vine, and the chance to join owners Robb and Nicola Merchant at harvest to handpick the grapes from your adopted vine.

The package also includes a bottle of wine from your adopted grape variety to take home and a warm welcome to events taking place throughout the year at The Cellar Door.The price is £45.00 Contact Robb or Nicola on 01873 821443 or email: info@whitecastlevineyard.com. See more details here.

For the chocolate lover

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Book a chocolate tasting and making course at Black Mountain Gold based in Crickhowell.

Your loved one can join a three-hour course for £85, or have a one-to-one workshop with master chocolatier Jules for £250. The courses include an introduction to truffle making, tempering, hand rolling and piping ganache, enrobing and detailing, using dipping forks, mouthfeel and cocoa butter, and chocolate moulding techniques. To book and pay for your place please call the shop on 01873 812362. See more details here.

For the fish lover

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Book  your Valentine a Welsh fish and shellfish cookery course at Bodnant Welsh Foods at Conwy.

The course teaches people how to cook and prepare sustainably-sourced fish and learn techniques such as skinning, filleting and boning. For lunch your Valentine will try the fish and shellfish they have cooked and pair them with matching wines from Bodnant’s onsite wine cellar.

 

The next course is on February 27. Your Valentine will learn to cook lobster bisque, citrus cured salmon, poached pollock and black curry powder, halibut wellington and baked scallops and coconut. The day course costs £115. See more details here.

For the cake and bread lover 

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Your Valentine can hone their baking skills at a half day bakes and cakes course at The Culinary Cottage at Pandy, Abergavenny.

The course will cover beer and soda bread, sweet and savoury pastries, and a chocolate genache-covered creation. The half day course cost £65. See more details here.

For the meat lover

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Book your Valentine a place at a Weber Essential course at Angela Grey’s Cookery School in Llanerch Vineyard, Vale of Glamorgan. The course teaches American barbecue, low ‘n’ slow cooking and smokehouse cuisine skills, creating deliciously authentic dishes from scratch. Dishes will include barbecued beef brisket and a side of signature slaw, spicy buffalo wings with gorgonzola dip, stacked ribs, and Bourbon and smoked bacon chocolate brownies.

During the four hours, your Valentine will get hands on with an array of different meats, expand your cooking repertoire on the barbecue and also use the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. The cost is £129. See more details here.

For the veggie lover

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Your Valentine will love the vibrant veggie recipes taught at Kather’s  Kitchen cookery school in Monmouthshire. The dishes will be seasonal The day course costs £85 per person. Call 01292 650801 to book. See more details here.

Maria Williams is a journalist, copywriter, and professional blogger www.wordsyoucanuse.co.uk

 

 

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Nine ways to make your Christmas a Welsh feast

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This Christmas, why not support Welsh food producers? Here are nine ways you can make your festive essentials Welsh.

Turkey

Graig Farm in Mochdre produces organic Christmas turkeys from £47.80.

The farm in Montgomeryshire has been in the same family since the 1940s. Jonathan Rees, the proprietor of Graig Farm Organics, has lived there all of his life.   His parents still play an active role, and his wife Sally and three young sons, Maldwyn, Max and Archie, are also involved.

In 1999 the family achieved their ambition to farm organically.   They take watch their lambs and cattle graze on lush pastures full of grasses, clovers and herbs, and the pigs forage in the woods.

In 2002, a purpose built cutting plant was erected on the farm and the family began supplying some of the best restaurants in the country.  The Dorchester in London was one of their first major clients.

www.graigfarm.co.uk.

Potatoes

What better than a potato called Rudolph for your Christmas dinner?

Puffin Produce Ltd, which is majority owned by a group of farmers in Pembrokeshire, is supplied by a farmers in Pembrokeshire and the Wye Valley, grow the red-skinned variety alongside Maris Peer Pembrokeshire Earlies and Estima Bakers. They created the Blas y Tir brand which can now be found in major supermarkets across Wales.

See a list of the growers here http://puffinproduce.com/farmers/grower

Mince pies

The Welsh Hills Bakery in Hirwaun makes gluten-free cakes and pies – perfect for any festive visitor.

The firm charges £2.53 for a box of four luxury mince pies.

Welsh Hills Bakery, an established bakery for nearly 60 years, started making gluten free cakes and short crust pastry pies in 2001 and was the first to supply two of the UK major supermarket chains with their own brand of gluten free products.

In 2008, they launched their own brand of gluten-free products named Lovemore Free From Foods which now includes a range of shortbreads and cookies, along with traditional apple pies and cherry Bakewells, fruit slab cakes and iced cakes along with mince pies.

All Lovemore products are approved by the Coeliac Society.

http://www.lovemorefoods.com/our-range/seasonal/mince-pies/

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Christmas pudding

You could try a Christmas pudding from the Siwgr a Sbeis Bakery in Llanrwst, for between £4 and £12.

The bakery has been a resounding success since it was started in 1989 by two school friends, Rhian Williams and Rhian Owen. It produces an extensive range of cakes (Victoria sponge, coffee cake, carrot cake), muffins, scones, mince pies, flapjacks, fruit cake and Christmas pudding as well as savoury quiches and salads.

Not a fan of Christmas pud? The bakery also makes a speciality called Quiche Eryri, the principal ingredient of which is Snowdonia Cheese and Toffoc Crunch (vodka liqueur). The recipe uses the Welsh vodka liqueur with a crumb base to create a cheesecake-style dessert.

http://www.siwgrasbeis.com/

Brussels sprouts

Try out the sprouts from Whitebrook Organic Growers, based at Llanvaches near Newport, Gwent.

They say there are no pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides used on their produce and all plant and chicken feed used is organic and GM free.

Catch them at Usk Farmers’ Market on December 5 and December 19.

Wine

Sample some of the wines from White Castle Vineyard, Abergavenny, for your table this festive season.

Their 2014 Rondo, a rich, full-bodied red, is £19.50 a bottle, and their sparkling rose is £23 a bottle.

The vineyard’s Gwin gwyn 2014, a dry delicate white wine made from a selected blend of Phoenix and Siegerrebe grape varieties, is £15 a bottle.

http://www.whitecastlevineyard.com/welsh_wines.html

Chocolates

Tuck into something sweet from the Wickedly Welsh Chocolate Company which produces handmade chocolates from its base on the outskirts of Haverfordwest. The company is run by couple Mark and Karen Owen.

The “Decadent Selection” of 48 handmade chocolates costs £35.99.

http://wickedlywelsh.co.uk/shop/

Cheese

Fill your platter with cheeses from Pant Mawr Farmhouse Cheeses. The business was established in 1983 when the Jennings family returned to Wales from the Middle East where they had been involved in setting up some of the first commercial dairy enterprises in Libya and North Yemen.

The family business is run by David, Cynthia and Jason Jennings at their small traditional hill farm in the foothills of the Preseli Mountains at Rosebush, Pembrokeshire.

All their cheese is suitable for vegetarians as they use vegetarian rennet.

Their gold Christmas hamper is £38.25 and includes 1.6kg of all seven of their cheeses, guest cheese Welsh Perl Las, a jar of chutney, mustard, Welsh cakes butter, and shortbread.

http://www.pantmawrcheeses.co.uk/

Liqueurs

Condessa based at Holyhead, Anglesey, has been making the Welsh liqueurs for over 40 years. The firm’s range includes fruit to cream liqueurs, cocktail recipes and liqueur gift boxes.

Its Original Welsh Cream is £14.65 for 50cl, while its Welsh sloe gin is £15.46 per 50cl bottle.

http://www.condessa.co.uk/