Category Archives: food

Monmouthshire: the foodie’s paradise (via monmouthshirecc)

A bit of a reblog. But it’s about food and where a live. Two things I love. So there.

In anticipation of this weekend’s Abergavenny Food Festival and to celebrate some of the local businesses that make Monmouthshire so great for food and drink, here’s a video celebrating Monmouthshire’s food heroes. Local food blogger Bill King writes the blog ‘Local and Great’ and interviews some of the Monmouthshire food stars who were kind enough to let us visit and film them. (You may need to boost the volume until we can improve the sound qua … Read More

via monmouthshirecc

Restaurant/hotel review: “The Drawing Room”, Powys

We stayed here recently and I though it might be worth sharing our experiences.

More a restaurant with rooms or a boutique hotel, the owners of The Drawing Room set very high standards of presentation, decor, comfort and cooking, without being stuffy or overly formal. If you are staying in the area and can afford it, I’d recommend this over one of the larger hotels in Builth or Llandrindod Wells, particularly if you like elegance and peace and quiet.

The rooms are decorated in pastel shades with hand-made wallpapers and furniture in keeping with the archtiectural era of the house. Sumptuously thick materials suggest no expense was spared in getting the curtains and bedcovers right. There were more pillows and cushions than I could imagine using. Bad luck meant we weren’t able to get one of the larger rooms, but ours did not feel cramped.

As for the food, starters of a sort of crab timballe and a seafood meunière were competent and tasty while not dramatically good. The main courses delivered on their promise though. I had a Tournedos of Welsh Beef with caramelized Shallot “Tarte Tatin”, Potato and Root Vegetable Pavé, Horseradish and Parsley Cream and Beef Jus with Oxtail while Mrs Monnowman had a haunch of venison with sweet potato and asparagus. Both were very good, though of the two I was glad I had gone for the beef: the shallot tarte tatin was a revelation.

Cappuccino Mousse was a very grown up (read: “not too sweet”) dessert for Mrs M. while I went for the Toasted Pine Nut & Honey Tart with poached Figs and “Glaslyn” Estate Wild Flower Honey Ice-cream: a delightful combination of flavours and textures.

The passion of the proprietor chef for good, local ingredients, sympathetically cooked, is obvious in the richness of flavours delivered without the food becoming over-contrived in that fashionably- Michelin-starred way.

Only quibbles were the request in the literature not to drink your own alcohol in the rooms (you are asked to buy their -very expensive- stuff); we could easily hear our neighbours in the adjacent room; and the hostess, when serving food, said “thank you” too often!

But these are minor niggles. We really enjoyed our stay and the food was very good: recommended.

Recipe: My favourite comfort food: Chicken Liver Risotto

This is a meal I make when I need comfort food. It’s not an authentic Italian-style risotto as it uses Basmati rice and the aim is not to produce the creamy nursery food dish that is the mark of a real risotto. So if that bothers you, call it “Rice and Chicken Livers”. If you use frozen ready chopped garlic and blitz the onion in the blender, it can be produced within 40 minutes on a weeknight while listening to The Archers on BBC Radio 4. Adjust proportions of rice to chicken livers as you like; just keep the ratio of rice to stock 1 to 1.

Serves Two.


400g fresh chicken livers (preferably free range), cleaned of any green-looking bits and chopped in half
1 large mug full of basmati rice (definitely not ordinary long grain rice)
1 fat garlic clove, chopped finely
1 onion, chopped finely
200 dry cure smoked bacon lardons
2 large mugs of hot chicken or duck stock
1 Bay leaf
Small handful each of finely chopped fresh sage and oregano/marjoram or whatever herbs you fancy (tarragon works well too)
Small handful of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
Half glass of white wine or dry sherry
Freshly ground black pepper
1 glug of olive oil or a dollop of goose fat
A shake or two of Barbados hot pepper sauce or Tabasco.


In a suitably-sized heavy-based pan that that has a tight fitting lid: Gently fry the bacon, onion and garlic in the olive oil/goose fat until beginning to turn golden. Throw in the livers, give them a stir, then put in the rice. Stir again so the rice is coated with oil, then add the bay leaf, herbs, pepper sauce/Tabasco, wine/sherry and a generous grind of black pepper. Stir, then add the stock. Stir again and reduce to the lowest heat you can, cover tightly with the lid, then wait until the rice has softened and absorbed all the stock. If it threatens to dry out, add a little more stock or wine.  It should take no more than 15 minutes. Check seasoning, adding salt if necessary and stir in the parsley. Serve in a bowl to your grateful spouse first then scoff the rest yourself.

Good dining in Monmouthshire

Ate dinner at “The Bell” at Skenfrith with friends from London on Saturday to celebrate K.’s birthday. To call it a “gastropub” seems a little unfair as it has a standard of cooking that would not be out of place in the best of London’s restaurants. All the better then that it is a fifteen minute drive from Monmouth and set in beautiful countryside. The ambiance is classy but not stuffy or pretentious and this seventeenth century coaching inn is obviously run by people who know – and care about – high quality local food. There’s even a blackboard with the names of the local suppliers so you know who provided that venison/guinea foul/sea bass etc.

I had been wondering where the upmarket restaurants were in Monmouth. Seemingly none. Odd, when it’s obvious that there are plenty of upmarket people around with the money and tastes to support them.