Well! After a sleepless night & a busy day…..
…..home, at last; & too exhausted to even enjoy the rare evening out we’d promised ourselves. An early start saw Tony milking the goats & me running round gathering everything together for our very first Trade Fair, which was being held at the Halfway Inn near Nantgaredig. With the, errr, catchy title of “Meet the Carmarthenshire Food Producer” it was organised by the eternally helpful Antur Teifi, an independent company which supports enterprises that have the potential to create success in the local economy.
The event was attended by a number of producers across Carmarthenshire; with a diverse range on display including meats; alcoholic beverages; hampers; chocolate; cheeses; pickles, jams & chutneys; fudge; breads & flour; vinegars…& of course, ice cream. In fact four ice cream producers showcased their products at the event; the other three of which already have well-established businesses.
Our own stand was right next to Mary Jones’ Mountainview Ice Cream, made with milk from her pedigree herd of Holstein Friesian cattle. Until recently she’s been producing her lovely dairy ice cream at Horeb but has recently been lucky enough to build her own on-farm processing facility – something we aspire to, as soon as possible (we’ve got the walls – now all we need is the internal ‘tarting up’….!). During the Royal Welsh Show – where we launched our business – she generously gave us space in her own freezer for our Napoli Pans of strawberry gelato; so today it was our pleasure to return the favour & provide space in our own new mini-freezers to maintain her delicious ice cream at the optimum temperature.
Of course, it was great to see her again; as with so many of the other wonderful artisan food producers represented at the event: Elfyn from Sancler, whose wonderful Yogurt Cheese is so appetisingly versatile; Lorraine from Kid-Me-Not, whose goats’ milk fudge, smoothies, cheese & now dry-cured sausage are available in selected outlets of Asda & Waitrose; Rachel from Pemberton’s, whose mouthwatering dairy fudge & chocolates are made to traditional Victorian recipes; & the eternally effervescent Sian Elin from the Carmarthenshire Cheese Company, whose gorgeous brie-type cheese, the meltingly soft Garlic & Herbs, was awarded Best Welsh Cheese at the British Cheese Awards 2008 – as well as crafting the Best New Cheese on behalf of Kid-Me-Not. We also caught up with Steve from Ffos y Ffin Brewery whose real ales & beers are available throughout Carmarthenshire; & Liz from Bryngwenyn Farm, where the couple have built a small, traditionally-styled flour mill & who like us, launched their business at the Royal Welsh Show; suffered some frustrating setbacks; but should be milling their fabulous flours within the week – so do keep a lookout for them. And it was great to see our pals from Cowpots, & from Franks Ice Cream, too – we are especially grateful to ‘Cowpots’ who have been helpful from the time we originally intended to produce cheese, to our abrupt ‘about turn’ into the wonderful world of ice cream & gelato. However as we all make such diverse products – odd as it may seem – we’re not really in competition with one another: rather than rivalry there’s just good-humoured banter.
And we were privileged to make new friends, too: Rosa from Ddygoed Farm, whose tangy, natural apothecary-rich vinegars & beautiful hand-baked breads & cakes are not only delicious, but environmentally friendly as well; Anthony from Tywi Valley Foods Ltd, a family business specialising in finest-quality pork, beef, turkey bacon, ham & cooked meats as well as selling local butter, cheeses, eggs & chutneys; Teleri from the wonderful Ty Croeso, a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of a Delicatessen in Newcastle Emlyn; Ed from Celtic Pride, a wholesaler specialising in meats (but who also had some very naughty-but-nice fluffy cakes with which to temp us all!); & Andrew from Hope Acres, which is, fascinatingly, Wales’ first chilli-growing farm – we’ll certainly be regular customers as I suspect our St David’s Day specialist flavour – Dragonfire – which is made with ancho & chipotle chillies, will prove extremely popular.
As the event was only fairly small we had a steady stream of customers, all keen to sample the gelato. Inevitably there were those at the extremes who either buttonholed us specifically because we were so unusual or because either they or friends/family have a dairy intolerance or allergies such as asthma, excema or arthritis; but there were also those who as soon as they saw the dreaded words “goats’ milk” were unfortunately already too set in their opinions to at least give it a try (we have overwhelmingly found that once people sample even just a spoonful, their faces break into beams of delighted surprise as they exclaim over the lack of ‘goatiness’ in the taste – & they inevitably want more…!). Quite a few people also came back for ‘second -&-third’ helpings; & the Brandied Eggnog flavour I served at the afternoon’s Celtic Produce Cookery Demonstration, was met with excited to enthusiasm.
To our delight we’ve been invited to showcase our novel produce at several important Winter Fairs – including an exciting one-day Community Climate Change Event (one of our passions: hence our Dairy Complex is a completely carbon-neutral build; probably the first agricultural building in Wales to fulfil such criteria) on 22nd November. This is taking place at Bloomfield House in the picturesque little town of Narberth; & one of the speakers is Jackie Morris, whose lecture I’ll be very excited to attend – her inspiring book on the Snow Leopard is one the most incredibly wonderful accounts I have ever had the pleasure to read.
We have also been invited to attend a two-day event sponsored by the National Trust, at the glorious Dinefwr Park & Castle; this has a special Christmas theme & is taking place on 29/30 November this year – I’ll post more details, as soon as I have them. But I must say it’s an honour to be invited to such prestigious events, with our lovely gelato being not only recognised but indeed welcomed into the community for being something pure, fresh & natural – which (forgive my innocence) is what I believe we all desire & cherish in this sad old world of all-too-often disappointing pre-packed “mush”.
So after a productive day we returned home to the endless round of chores, all the busier as Tony’s away on his induction course for his new contract aviation job, a couple of days hence. As I said we had been looking forward to a rare evening out…..but there’s so much to do, & so little time: it’s a non-stop pace of life & set to get even harder & faster from hereonin- so hold onto your hats & enjoy the ride…!