Sunday, 1 June 2008

Welsh Bank Holiday Cookoff

After a long week with work in France, Cowie and I zoomed off to Pembrokeshire for the bank holiday. I slept. Cowie drove. I got told off for farting. 7 hours after being picked up from Reading we arrived having exhausted all of the 49 junctions of the M4 and then some!

Little Haven map

The journey to Wales is all about the road signs. From the civilisation and high brow English signs with one language and clear directions... to the multi language gobble-de-gook of the Welsh ones. Best of all near Carmarthen there is a brown road sign for McDonald's. I rest my case.

Without going into too much detail we had signed up for a weekend of cooking with James and Henry, experimenting with easy to eat foods. James and Henry had slaved over a fabulous hunk of pork belly which made me feel like I was having a picnic in an Elysian field. Soft, warm, salty, oozey and so moreish and naughty! Well stuffed and still exhausted we slept with a view over the coast towards Ireland and America and woke to see the sea crashing against the rocks.

Saturday brought military precision and military drinking. After a well paced breakfast started the cook off. I was despatched to the second kitchen to make a leek and bacon quiche. Armed with Thomasina and a big fat reliable cook book I went to work. Bacon, onion, leek and garlic got sweated and reduced to a satisfying filling. At no point did it look like I had got the quantities right. It seemed like the contents in the frying pan would overwhelm the pastry case and splat all over the floor. With the pastry case blind baked with gravel on top and the cream, milk, eggs and cheese whisked up, all I had to do was pour. And remarkably it all fitted! There was room left for me to place an egg yolk in the centre for artistic effect! If all else failed at least we'd have an egg in the middle!

Astonishingly it worked. I might be able to rival Tamysn's medium rare quiche afterall one day!

Leek and bacon quiche

Meanwhile the chaps and chapesses were busy cooking, peeling, soaking, drinking and generally being what my Mum would call good "doers".

Henry made a trout and potato cake...

Henry cooking

Which emerged, quite incredibly, looking like this.

Potato cake 2

Trout cake

So far, so camp!

Henry's tortilla was a little less gay and tasted delicious.


By this point we had burnt our way through the Welsh parsley quota, so our garnishes started to take a less prominent role.

As the gin and tonics started to flow from our charming yellow watering can...

G and T wateringcan

... and Willy's jokes began to seem funnier...

Arms aloft


... and the drinks began to take their toll...

Henry napping

... everything was perfect.

Before we knew it it was time for afternoon tea. Henry, Lucy and James laid on an incredible spread of chocolate tiffin cake, fruit cake, macaroons, cookies and flapjack. All of which was fantastic. The highlight being James's moist flapjack which got thumbs up from everyone.


Chocolate cookies

Chocolate Tiffin

Henry's fruit cake

Henry's fruit cake was a little overdone. We worked out that this was because Henry had cooked it for 4 Pimms rather than 3 - which works out in everyday language to be 15 minutes too much!

Post tea we larked around playing extreme boules.


Before settling in for dinner which involved us being overwhelmed with bulgar wheat, cous cous, chick peas and a vast array of delious dishes. Highlights included a mackerel and beetroot salad, grilled haloumi and apparently, my quiche!


The day's activities soon started to take their toll. Cowie couldn't move for fear of farting from all the grains and pulses, Willy had a brief snooze on the sofa and James seemed to go all blurry!

Blurry backhouse

We chatted well into the early hours with our creativity rising as the wine stocks plummeted. If only all of creative sessions at work involved a cook off and a small cellar of wine, we would be winning awards left right and centre!

Thank you James and Henry for a wonderful weekend. Cowie and I are in love with Pembrokeshire and can't wait to return with more time and a surfboard!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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