Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Enjoying a Purple haze at the Abergavenny Food Festival

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Last weekend was another first for us as a family. We were invited to the Abergavenny Food Festival to give a talk. Alex's advice to me the day before was wise. "Mum, just in case there are children in the audience and they get bored with you going on about vegetables, bring along some cakes." So that night we cooked past midnight, baking Beetroot and Chocolate Cakes and Petit Pois Muffins to take with us. And there were lots of children in the audience and the cakes were very useful.

Abergavenny is an ancient market town in South Wales, surrounded by beautiful mountains and countryside and this is a two day festival devoted to celebrating fantastic local produce and expertise about food and cooking. On Saturday night we walked up to the ruined castle for the festival's tenth anniversary party. We sat round fire braziers munching on delicious welsh lamb skewers, staring at the fireworks and the stars and listening to jazz bands, harp music and stand up comedians. I know Abergavenny from my school days, but this was my first visit to a festival which has been voted the greatest event in Wales. If you love good food, cooking in a beautiful setting, you will love the annual festival in Abergavenny.

Where ever I go I seem to collect new vegetables. In one of the hundreds of market stalls there was an organic vegetable growers and I spotted some some purple cauliflower, grown in South Wales. So on Sunday night when we returned home I made a special Purple Cauliflower Festival Soup as a thank you to Abergavenny for inviting us for a great weekend.

Purple Festival Soup

1 large purple cauliflower, thicker stalks cut off

1 large potato, peeled and diced

1 large onion, peeled and sliced

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons Hillfarm rape seed oil

900 ml ( 1 and a half pints) chicken or vegetable stock

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard (or English mustard!)

3 tablespoons of creme fraiche from Rachel's Dairy in Aberystwyth

a little grated beetroot to decorate

Salt and pepper to season

Heat the oil in the pan and saute the onions, finely chopped garlic for 3 minutes on a medium heat. Add the potaotes and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring them all to stop them burning. Add the vegetable stock and dijon mustard and the purple cauliflower florets. Chop up the stalks and add. As soon as the stock reaches boiling point, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the creme fraiche and puree in a food processor or with a hand blender. Serve with a little finely grated raw beetroot for added purple power.

This is my entry for The British Food Fortnight Blogging Event which is being hosted by Antonia at Food Glorious Food. The aim of this event ( details here) is to celebrate British produce and to raise the profile of much maligned UK cuisine. So I thought our purple cauliflower festival soup would do the trick....Cauliflower, potatoes, onions and beetroot grown in Wales, creme fraiche from Rachel's Dairy in Wales and Scottish garlic. The rape seed oil came from Hill Farm in Suffolk and the only interloper was a spoon of delicious French Dijon mustard. I know - I should have used English mustard but I slipped up!

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  1. That cauliflower is beautiful! Glad you had a good time.

  2. Great Big Veg Challenge6:23 PM

    It was beautiful. And it tasted delicious too - its just such a wonderful colour it almost looks like someone has been using the purple food colouring...

  3. The festival sounds amazing Charlotte.

  4. It was great fun Bellini. Really good. If you are ever in Wales...try it out!

  5. Ah lovely Abergavenny - we spent some of our honeymoon there! Looks like you had so much fun. Hope you are all well

  6. What an amazing time! I think Alex is fast becoming a PR genius!

    Mmmmm! I must get my hands on some purple cauliflower seeds (and mesh to keep the caterpillars off them) – Oooooo YES! – they're in the new Organic Gardening Catalogue which arrived yesterday – 'Violet Queen' and 'Purple Cape' Lovely!!!!


  7. Oh that Freddie is soooooo clever. And that soup looks gorgeous and I expect it tastes gorgeous too.

  8. Pat and Magic Cochin - I am beginning to be a big fan of these purple vegetables - the purple asparagus from Worcestershire was fantastic - and this tasted great too...not sure whether its the same plant gene that makes it purple?

  9. Wow, I don't think I could have walked past that cauliflower either! Was the flavour any different?

  10. Holler
    Well no it doesnt not taste like a cauliflower if that makes sense - but it was very sweet and fresh and organic and I think a wonderful vegetable. I don't think the purple changed the flavour in any way - the colour is so beautiful.

  11. Alex totally cracks me up. I will remember his advice everytime I have to go anywhere and make a presentation.

    Thanks for the introduction to the purle cauliflower. It is gorgeous and look at the colour it gave to the soup.

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  13. This is a great chance to eat different types of vegetables.

    Shreevysh Corp

  14. That is the most beautiful cauli I have ever seen! What a gorgeous soup - I shall be scouring the markets of London this weekend in search of this gorgeous veg. Thank you for a perfect entry to the challenge.

  15. Chiming in from the US we too have these fabulous purple veg. There is also a variety that is orange red.
    We usually steam it, mash it in the food processor, toss in a bit of butter or yogurt spread and serve as "mashed potatoes" to my son. He loves the color and the flavor.
    I'll be trying the soup this weekend.

  16. Oh how neat, I've never seen purple cauliflower before. What a lovely soup. And I am positively drooling over your china pattern Charlotte.

  17. How did Freddie score the soup? It looks good but we rely on his opinions!

  18. Great Big Veg Challenge10:17 AM

    Top Veg
    The score - it was not bad as a seven out of ten. I think it would have been higher if I hadnt grated raw beetroot on top...strange thouygh it might seem.

    Lori Lynn - the dish is an 1890s dish - I only have two!

  19. It's interesting that you bought this on an organic veg. stall.

    I saw some of these purple cauliflowers in our local greengrocers a few years ago.

    The greengrocer was withering when I asked about the colour, asking how I thought it got there if it wasn't dyed. Variety? He looked at me as if I were an utter fool to be so gullible - so I never bought any.

    (Unfotunately, he's since closed, so I can't go back!)

    Esther Montgomery


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