This afternoon it was the Dyfed Smallholders’ Association annual Harvest Lunch.
It’s a much-anticipated event & as this is the first year we’ve been Association members, the first one we’ve attended. For our contribution we took with us two napolis of gelato – one of our light, delicate Strawberries & Cream (which was awarded First Prize in its’ class at the Royal Welsh Show this year) & the other, of Chocolate Straciatella (basically rich chocolate infused with fine shards of crisp, dark chocolate).
We contributed the napolis because we wanted to thank all those people who work so hard behind the scenes of the Dyfed Smallholders’ Association: whether in administrative roles; organising meetings; writing articles for the Newsletter; or hosting open days & social events such as this. Each & every one of these is vital to keeping a thriving organisation such as the DSA, alive; & all are substantial tasks in their own right. Knowing how busy smallholders are, it’s a tribute to their dedication & selflessness that they’re prepared to ‘burn the midnight oil’ on behalf of the membership.
Having been so busy with setting up the Dairy Complex we unfortunately haven’t been able to get involved nearly as much as we’d like; however we were determined that we’d attend today so that we could meet more of the members & offer our gratitude to the organisers. We were made to feel extremely welcome by this great bunch of people: who are enthusiastic, dedicated & a lot of fun, too.
The event was held at Nick & Glyn Falcon’s immaculate smallholding, which is a self-catering holiday cottage business nestling at the edge of the picturesque Preseli Mountains (see link for details if you want a really special & tranquil holiday).
The Harvest Lunch consisted of a hearty community barbeque followed by a charity auction & then the challenging Annual Smallholders’ Competition: with prizes for produce such as jams, chutneys, cakes, flower arrangements, baskets of fruit & veg, crafts, photos; & even hay, haylage & silage. However this year – for perhaps the first time ever – no prize was awarded for the haylage because there were no entries to the competition: for nobody has, as yet, managed to harvest any. So it’s worryingly ironic that for once the Harvest Lunch is being held before the harvest has even begun!
As we’d opened our makeshift ‘Gelateria’ shortly after the results of the competition were announced we didn’t manage to snatch the main course until after we’d served everyone else (these days we’re getting used to ‘upside-down’ meals of dessert first, main course later!). But at least the gelato was enthusiastically received with only one negative comment – apparently the serving dishes weren’t big enough..!
Once we finally managed to snatch something to eat, our meal certainly did prove worth the wait: the food we’d rustled up for the barbeque proved utterly delicious….plump chicken joints, marinated with Sylvia’s simply delicious, secret sticky glaze; & foil-wrapped parcels of succulent salmon topped with whole fresh prawns then dusted with a delicate concoction of selected dried garden herbs, a smattering of crushed green peppercorns, a knob of creamy butter & just the lightest squeeze of zesty, fresh lemon juice. Tony conjoured up some piri-piri peppers: half a green pepper stuffed with tiny pieces of diced mushroom mixed with a combination of Worcestershire & piri-piri sauces. It was delicious but the sauce unfortunately just a little too hot for my preference (to be honest it was postitively explosive – I’d recommend using the mild sauce unless you don’t care about burning out your tastebuds!). Served with a light salad & washed down with a crisp chardonnay it was the perfect meal for a warm summer’s afternoon (that’s two in a row…!). We rounded off our meal with baked bananas marinated in brandy, brown sugar & butter…& of course, a scoop of the luscious chocolate ice cream.
One gentleman made the most lovely comment: he said that tasting our gelato was for him reminiscent of exactly the same delight he’d experienced when sampling the first-ever honey from his hive of bees….magical, & unforgettable. I was truly touched because in that moment all that we’ve strived so very hard to achieve was suddenly, simply, all worthwhile. After trawling through so much miserable paperwork whilst in the Military I have finally completed what now realise was a Bond-like mission: put a genuine smile of sheer delight upon someone’s face with something we’ve created.
And to cheer up so many anxious smallholders, each & every one so very worried about the ‘credit crunch’ & this year’s harvest & whether they’ll actually manage to feed their poultry & livestock (this year we are literally, all in the same boat & tragically having to bale water rather than hay from smallholding’s sinking ship) – well, that’s surely something to smile about….especially as the ‘Countryfile’ weather forecast for the week has proclaimed this will be ‘Harvest Weather’. Fingers crossed, eh….?!
Incidentally we’d just like to express our gratitude to Nick & Glyn for hosting such a lovely afternoon; & to the membership of the Dyfed Smallholders’ Association for extending such a warm welcome, to us.