The picturesque town of Llangollen will be transformed into the culinary capital of the UK this weekend.
Thousands of foodies will be flocking to the town’s popular annual food festival that’s rated as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK and has provided a successful platform for innovative new food and drink from the area.
There to greet the gastronomes on Saturday and Sunday will be a host of top chefs, including Graham Tinsley, the star of ITV’s Taste the Nation and a former captain of the Welsh Culinary Team.
Another of the kitchen stars will be Dai Chef who famously cooked for opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti while he was head chef at the Bryn Howell Hotel just down the road when the opera superstar made a triumphant return to the eisteddfod 40 years after competing and winning there with his father’s choir from Modena.
This year festival-goers will find out that Wales’ most famous and saddest love song has inspired a new beer.
The song Myfanwy tells the tragic story of the unrequited love of a penniless young poet called Hywel ab Einion for a beautiful young noblewoman who lived in Dinas Bran castle high above Llangollen in the 14th century.
The new brew, appropriately a bitter, which can be tasted for the first time at the festival, is called Heatrbreak Hill as a tribute to Hywel’s spurned passion.
It’s the brainchild of Ynyr Evans, the head brewer at Llangollen Brewery, who was moved by Hywel’s response to being rejected by the woman who had captured his heart.
According to Ynyr, he was entranced by the story of the lovelorn Hywel and Myfanwy, who was the daughter of the Norman Earl of Arundel, and described as the “the most beautiful woman in Powys”.
Ynyr said: “Hearbreak Hill is perfect for those who want to cry in their beer. In terms of taste it’s quite hoppy and fruity and at 4.5% it’s not too strong.”
Festival committee member Pip Gale knows a thing or two about alcoholic beverages, as he runs the family-owned Gale’s Wine Bar in the town.
He said: “I have lived in Llangollen all my life but I must confess I had never heard about the story behind the song Myfanwy. I’m sure Hearbreak Hill is going to be very popular.”
A new exhibitor this year is Sicilian cook Marina Midolo, 51, who makes taste bud-teasing cakes, desserts and savouries.
Her company, Marina’s Italian Cookery, is one of four new producers being allowed to set up shop free of charge in a special section for newcomers at the festival.
Marina based in the newly-refurbished kitchen at the smallholding in Cyffylliog, near Ruthin, where she lives with husband Peter.
She believes the festival will provide the perfect launchpad for her fledgling company which she established with the help of a development grant from Denbighshire County Council.
A Thai food producer which has tripled in size in 11 years is to launch a brand new chicken satay starter at the festival.
The starter from Authentic Thai Cuisine, based in Llanferres, has been developed to add to its array of frozen curries, noodle dishes and sauces as part of a plan to encourage customers to make a banquet out of its products.
The business, which was launched by Saisuree Harvey 11 years ago while she was employed as a full-time nursery nurse in Wrexham, currently produces more than 300 curries, 80 noodle dishes and up to 50 side dishes every week which it supplies to farm shops and food outlets across North Wales – three times the amount produced in its first two years.
Meanwhile, a former teacher who runs a company making skincare products from goats’ milk has developed a new eco-friendly food wrapping made from cotton coated with beeswax.
Carol Allen, 60, who set up Llanvalley Natural Products eight years ago, will officially unveil the innovative wrapping at this year’s festival which has helped propel her business to success, putting her in the right place at the right time to secure new customers.
According to Carol, she was inspired to develop the new wrapping out of a desire to eliminate plastic waste from the environment.
The anti-bacterial qualities of beeswax make it ideal for food and the wrappings are reusable because they can be washed in warm water.”
Carol will also be selling her range of other products which include soaps, shampoo bars, various balms and bath soaks.
Llangollen Food Festival committee member Phil Davies said:
“Thanks to a whole host of indigenous companies, North East Wales is rapidly establishing a reputation as a centre of excellence for high quality cuisine.
“The food festival is a perfect shop window for the companies who form the backbone of our rural economy.
“The location of the Pavilion is absolutely spectacular – I can’t imagine that any other food festival in the UK has a more beautiful setting.”
For more details about Llangollen Food Festival visit www.llangollenfoodfestival.com