by Laura Rowe
It’s the season of food and drink festivals: a time for camping in the rain, snacking on the beach, fishing and foraging. Laura Rowe packs up her bags and shares her top summer survival kit for foodies…
I’m not going to lie, I am a little obsessed with Fabulous Welshcakes. A trip down to Cardiff Bay isn’t complete without a naughty bag of these sugary treats. As well as the classic recipe we all know and love, this shop celebrating the best crafts and food Wales has to offer, also has contemporary flavour combinations such as the delicious cranberry and white chocolate. Every cake is made with Welsh butter from Castle Dairies in Caerphilly. Throughout the summer the shop will also be selling new flavours hot from the griddle every Sunday. In July look out for milk chocolate and coconut, while in August don’t miss apricot and white chocolate.
Fabulous Welshcakes, £2.70/box of 6, www.fabulouswelshcakes.co.uk
A picnic isn’t complete without a Scotch egg. It’s the ideal finger food, a meal in one, and requires no cutlery or crockery to be enjoyed. We love these handmade Scotch eggs from this family business based just over the border in Herefordshire. Our favourite has to be the Morgan Scotch Egg, which was inspired by the stall holders of Cardiff’s Riverside food market. It includes free-range pork, fresh chives and goat’s cheese. We also can’t get enough of the Black Watch, which is a blend of pork and black pudding. Why not collect the set!
Morgan Scotch egg, £2.75, www.handmadescotcheggs.co.uk
Barbecue on a budget
This mini charcoal barbecue grill is so compact it could almost fit in your pocket – almost but not advisable. With only a 30cm diameter and removable legs it can fit on a bike though, making it perfect to take to a festival, down the park or even to the beach. The body is made from enamel-coated steel, while the handle is heat-resistant silicone. It comes in a range of colours and the grill is big enough to fit two steaks, some sausages and veg. You can even make a bacon sarnie in the morning and then American-style s’mores at night. Plus, once you’re done at the festival, it will tuck away nice and neatly on the patio.
Bodum Mini Picnic Grill, £35-40, John Lewis (Cardiff) and www.bodum.com
Barbecue in luxury
If you’re the type who likes glamping then this luxury portable gas barbecue, endorsed by the Michelin man himself Mr Marco Pierre White, is for you. The MarcO-Grill 300 has a 1,450cm2 cooking area, push-button ignition and retractable legs. It comes in four colours and just needs a disposable gas canister to get things cooking. Marco swears by it when he goes hunting and fishing, apparently.
MarcO-Grill 300, £179.99, www.heavenchef.co.uk
Welsh blankets don’t come much more iconic or comfortable or stylish (you get the picture) than Melin Tregwynt and this year the Pembrokeshire-based weavery is celebrating its centenary. There is a range of colours and designs, as well as special backed picnic blankets (check the website for stock details) but we love the traditional woolen blankets, in these colourful, simple designs.
Melin Tregwynt blanket, prices vary, www.melintregwynt.co.uk
Slice and store
Preparing fresh food when on the go or stuck in the middle of a field can be tricky but this clever ‘Slice and Store’ set from modern design gurus Joseph Joseph keep things clean, compact and convenient. When not in use the knife simply clicks in flush to the chopping board keeping everything together and safe. It’s also dishwasher safe if you can pack one of those in your cool bag, too…
Joseph Joseph Slice and Store, £13, www.welshfarmhousecompany.com
Modern picnickers might insist on plastic cutlery or even go so far as to suggest melamine (if they’re posh) but for modern elegance why not opt for this eco-chic wooden cutlery from Welsh e-boutique Seld (there is also a proper shop in Aberdyfi, on Cardigan Bay). Each set is supplied with a cotton napkin and an equally stylish brown paper bag. Plus, when you are done you can just bung them in the compost with the rest of your biodegradable waste.
Picnic cutlery, £2.90, www.seld.co.uk
It’s award-winning, it’s Welsh, it’s cider – what more do you need to know? Black Dragon is a special reserve, medium-dry cider hand-crafted by Gwynt Ciders. The apples are grown by traditional methods in aging orchards. The juice is fermented and then matured in oak barrels to give the drink its distinctive rich flavour and colour. It’s the perfect drink for a hot summer’s day (if we ever get one of those again) and rivals anything you can get over in Somerset.
Black Dragon Welsh Cider 6.5%, £30/12-pack, www.gwyntcidershop.com
What’s that? You were expecting wicker hamper? A plastic cool bag? 2012 is all about the retro picnic tin. Add a splash of colour to your al fresco feast and stop your sandwiches from getting soggy with this practical tin.
Red Tea Hamper, £69, www.bodlon.com
A bottle of bubbly
Did you know that we Welsh actually produce very good wine, particularly sparkling wine? Grown on the slopes of the Ely Valley in Glamorganshire, Cariad wine has been in production since 1986. They smell great and taste even better – the perfect way to celebrate the summer. Plus, visit the vineyard where it is made and you can take a tour of the 22 acres where the grapes are grown and enjoy a tutored tasting of these unique wines.
Cariad wine sparkling wine, £22.50, www.llanerch-vineyard.co.uk
What can’t you live without? Tweet us at @thewelshmenu