Where to go during the Festival of Winter Walks

Britain’s Festival of Winter Walks is a great opportunity to take advantage of the stunning scenery Wales has to offer. With three national parks – Snowdonia, the Pembrokeshire coast and the Brecon Beacons – there’s plenty of choice when it comes to exploring and walking during this festive season.


To celebrate this year’s Festival of Winter Walks, which takes place from 19 December to 3 January, we’ve put together six of the best walking trails for you to enjoy in right here in Wales.

 Sugar Loaf, Abergavenny

We’re starting with a walk right on our doorstep that our guests always enjoy. Energise yourself this New Year and join a group walk up the Sugar Loaf Mountain on 3 January. This 10 mile trail will take you along rivers, up mountains and through towns, showing you the best Wales has to offer. The walk ends in Abergavenny, so be sure to pop in and visit us here at Llansantffraed Court Hotel and tuck into a meal at our award winning restaurant, where we use only the best locally sourced Welsh ingredients. 

Boxing Day Pudding Pounder, Brecon Beacons

 If you want to work off your Christmas lunch this Boxing Day why not head down to the Red Cow Inn for a group walk around the Pontsticill Reservoir? This walk is roughly five miles long and lasts just a couple of hours so it’s a great opportunity to take in the reservoir and woodland views. It’s also a dog friendly trail so you can get the whole family outside.

The Gwyllt, Portmeirion

The Gwyllt wild gardens are the perfect place for a leisurely stroll. The unusually mild climate of the peninsula encourages growth reminiscent of a rainforest, with exotic plants and flowers sheltering the walkway; a significant contrast to the traditional Welsh landscape. While you’re visiting the village, you could pop in to the Portmeirion Hotel for afternoon tea on the terrace and enjoy the views of the Dwyryd Estuary.

Nantlle Ridge, Snowdonia

If you’re looking for something a little bit more hardcore then this walk might be for you. This trail runs over seven miles of rugged landscape including part of the Nantlle Ridge, which allows for fantastic views across the region. There isn’t a group walk organised for this route so you can enjoy it whenever suits you best – we’d recommend a clear day so you can make the most of the scenery.

Porthgain to Whitesands, Pembrokeshire Coast

This costal walk is a fantastic opportunity to take in the spectacular scenery on offer on the Pembrokeshire coast. If you keep your eyes peeled you might even spot the grey fins of porpoises feeding off the coast. Bear in mind that this particular trail is 10 miles long, but don’t worry if you’re more of a novice as there are plenty of other trails on offer along this stretch.

Lake Vyrnwy, Powys

Lake Vyrnwy is an impressive man-made reservoir built in the 1880s surrounded by beautiful woodlands and rolling hills. There are five different walking trails in the vicinity of the lake offering something to suit all abilities. The Llechwedd Du walk covers five miles and, due to its relatively steep climb, offers fantastic views of the lake as well as the heather moorland. After a day of exploring you could drop into the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa which overlooks the lake, to warm your feet by the fire.


Make the most of autumn produce

Autumn really is one of our favourite times of the year. Not only does the Monmouthshire countryside explode with colour and beauty as the leaves change, our Victorian walled garden also bursts with fresh autumnal produce.

Unlike summer, where raw fruit and vegetables, salads and grilled foods are in full flow, autumn calls for a different approach to cooking. Many of us have now returned our barbeques to their rightful place in the garage, and are reaching for our slow cookers and stew pots to create warm and comforting dishes to see us through the shorter days.

To celebrate the start of the season, we’ve listed our favourite five autumnal ingredients to cook with over the coming months. Like us, you can either choose to grow them in your garden or, if your fingers aren’t quite as green, you can easily pick them up at your local farmer’s market or supermarket.

1) Pumpkin

shutterstock_155131223It comes as no surprise that one of the big players this season is pumpkin. Usually associated with scaring trick-or-treaters, this bright fruit can be used to make warming dishes such as soups as the weather gets colder. Pumpkin is also rich in minerals and great for keeping healthy as it contains only a small amount of calories.

2) Beetroot

Fresh beetroot will brighten any meal. Roasted, pickled or boiled, this earthy vegetable goes great with smoked fish and adds a sweet flavour to salads. Beetroot is also great for keeping skin looking and feeling healthy, but be careful when handling- the last thing you want is a ruined wardrobe thanks to its handy staining properties!

3) Blueberries

Blueberries are renowned for their great taste and health benefits. These little berries are bursting with sweet goodness and anti-oxidants to fight away the inevitable winter colds. Not only do they make for a great snack throughout the day, they’re also a great addition to a bowl of warm porridge in the morning.

4) Hazelnuts

shutterstock_125386376Nothing announces the arrival of the cold weather more than the smell of roasting hazelnuts. Although small in size, these little nuts pack a big punch when it comes to giving us energy, perfect as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up if you’re struggling in the office as the days get shorter.

5) Venison

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the meat lovers. This season boasts an abundance of delicious meats, including venison. This red meat is packed with protein and can be added to stews for that rich velvety taste we all crave in the colder months. Venison is also another autumnal food that could help keep you energised as the nights draw in.

Autumn really is a season that caters to all. Whether you decide to grow your own produce like we do in our walled garden, or head to your local farmer’s market or supermarket, be sure to reap the great taste that these foods have to offer until winter hits.

Mike Hendry’s ultimate Welsh Rarebit recipe

As many people across Wales will know, today is Welsh Rarebit Day. As treasured as rugby and Brains beer, what better way to celebrate one of the country’s most iconic signature dishes than by cooking it yourself?

Dating back to the 18th century, and reflecting a time where meat was a scarce luxury in Wales, lots of people say that Welsh Rarebit originated from Welsh rabbit, but there is no real evidence to actually support this.

Welsh Rarebit is so much more than fancy cheese on toast, and is made with high-quality ingredients, including Welsh cheese, beer, mustard and freshly baked sourdough bread. With the Autumn months just around the corner, this dish really does hit the comfort food spot.

Over the years, many families have developed their own recipes for this traditional Welsh dish, our Head Chef Mike Hendry included. Here, Mike shares his favourite Welsh Rarebit recipe, with an extra cheesy twist!

Ingredients- Makes 8

20g butter (Welsh unsalted)

20g flour (plain)

150ml milk

80g Welsh cheese (Gorwydd Caerphilly works well)

½ bottle of Brains beer (or dark)

2 egg yolks (Medium free range)

8 thick slices of sourdough bread

Parmesan cheese


Begin by melting all of the butter in a non-stick saucepan over a medium heat but don’t let it colour. Slowly add the flour and stir until the mixture becomes a smooth paste that leaves the sides and base of the pan. Then, add the milk a little bit at a time to the pan and whisk until the mixture is smooth between each addition.

In a separate bowl, mix together the grated cheese and two egg yolks. Then add this mixture into the roux in the saucepan, turn the heat down a little and stir until the cheese has melted. Turn it off and leave it to rest.

In another saucepan, add the beer and boil until it has reduced by half. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon of English mustard. After stirring, add this mixture to the other cheese mixture, and stir until the sauce is thick and smooth.

Slice fresh sourdough into 8 slices, and toast lightly under the grill. Spread the cheese sauce thickly over the toast, making sure the slices are completely covered. Put the toast under the grill for 2 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. Then add a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top and grill for another minute until lightly browned and bubbling. Allow to cool slightly, then serve.

Whether you whip up Mike’s Welsh rarebit recipe for lunch, or even as an afternoon snack, it’s quick to make and bursting with traditional flavours. Why not send us pictures of your Welsh Rarebits to @LLCHotel?


As seen on Wales Online. To see the article, please click here.

Mike Hendry’s ultimate pedal power recipe: Trio of Welsh lamb with asparagus and wild garlic

Did you know that cycling is the third most popular recreational activity in the UK? Every month just over three million Brits hop on their bikes, and go for a cycle.

Whether it’s to boost fitness, help the environment or save money, cycling in the great outdoors is an activity that can be enjoyed by all, particularly during balmy long summer days.

Here at Llansantffraed Court, we are blessed with having miles of beautiful countryside right on our doorstep. Whether it’s speeding along rural biking trails through lush valleys, or finding majestic castles, idyllic riverside picnic spots and hidden beauty spots, Monmouthshire is perfect for those who enjoy exploring Wales on two wheels. And if you fancy pedalling a bit further afield, a 35-minute cycle will take you to the border of the Brecon Beacons where you can discover all the national park has to offer.

Cycling all those miles can be hungry work, so if you’re planning on jumping on a bike and heading a long way this summer, it’s important to eat a hearty meal beforehand – or have a delicious tea to look forward to. Here our Head Chef Mike Hendry shares his favourite seasonal treat to give you that extra ‘oomph’ when pushing up the steepest of hills.

Trio of Lamb, Asparagus, Wild Garlic (Serves Two)

1 lamb loin, portioned to 150g

100g lamb sweet breads, floured

100g asparagus

500g wild garlic

250g butter

1 potato diced

400ml chicken stock

For lamb kofta

100g lamb mince

20g cumin powder

10g diced shallot

1 garlic clove

1/2 chili

20g coriander

Sauté shallots, garlic, herbs and spices and then mix with mince. Mold into balls that weigh approximately 40g each for the lamb koftas. Fry in a little hot oil until cooked through.

For asparagus

Cook in butter and 200ml chicken stock emulsion until tender.

For lamb

Place loin in hot pan, skin side down and sear for 3 minutes until golden. Turn and seal until all flesh has a little colour. Add some butter and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Take off pan and leave to rest. Meanwhile, add sweet breads and kofta into another hot pan and cook until golden brown in a little butter.

For wild garlic puree

Sauté wild garlic in butter until soft and then set some aside. Add 200ml chicken stock, bring to boil quickly then blitz in food processor until smooth.

For crispy potato

Deep fry diced potato in hot oil at 180 degrees.

To assemble

Spoon some puree onto the plate, arrange the sautéed wild garlic on top. Place the lamb loin, kofta, sweetbreads around and garnish with asparagus and crispy potato.

So, what are you waiting for? Pick a route, get your bike out of the shed and start enjoying the many benefits that cycling has to offer. Mike’s delicious lamb recipe will make sure that you have the necessary pedal power, no matter how challenging the ride.

Lamb loin, kofta, wild garlic and asparagus photo[3]

Where should you go during National Parks Week?

Over the next seven days, we are joining the rest of the nation in celebrating Britain’s Landscapes of Plenty for National Parks Week (27th July- 2nd August).

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 18.11.03If you live in Wales, you probably already know that we are blessed with three National Parks, including Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire Coast and the Brecon Beacons. But did you know that together these areas protect 20% of the country’s most precious landscapes, habitats, villages and heritage sites?

To celebrate National Parks Week, we have complied a list of seven places located in Wales’s National Parks where you can enjoy some of the country’s most beautiful views, and we have even recommended some of our favourite places to stay along the way!

  1. Nedd Fechan River, Pontneddfechan, Brecon Beacons

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, then why not drive to the heart of the Brecon Beacons, and discover the Sychryd Cascades? Once you’ve explored this breathtaking waterfall, you can even go in search of more by following the Elidir Trail along the River Nedd Fechan, which includes the highest waterfall in South Wales- with a drop of 27 meters!

  1. Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire

Worried about the Welsh weather ruining your plans? Why not give surfing a go- it won’t matter if it’s raining or not! Freshwater West beach on Pembrokeshire’s coastline has some of the best waves in the whole of Wales and has even been used as a location in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! Enjoy the breathtaking views of the coastline whilst catching a wave, if you can stand up for long enough that is!

  1. Zip World, Bethesda, Snowdonia

Do you consider yourself to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie? If so, why not soar through the air at 100 miles per hour on the longest zip wire in Europe? Enjoy panoramic views of the whole of Snowdonia as you zoom over moorland at 500ft! Not for the faint hearted, but definitely worth the rush for the stunning views.

  1. Portmeirion, Porthmadog, North Wales

If you enjoy a range of outdoor activities including paddle boarding, swimming, woodland and mountain walking, then Portmeirion is the place for you this week. This unique village, hotel and castle is set in its own peninsula overlooking both sea and mountains. The village is a combination of Italian, oriental and Tudor-style architecture in Snowdonia National Park that will simply take your breath away. You may have even caught a glimpse of the village in the 60’s British television series, The Prisoner!

  1. Mynydd Outdoor Adventure, Brecon Beacons

Do you fancy a challenge this week? Discover your wild side by going gorge walking, and enjoy Wales at its wettest and wildest! Witness the beauty of the countryside up close by climbing high into the hills at Brecon Beacons National Park. Whether you’re jumping from rock to rock, or making your way through the crystal clear mountain streams, gorge walking is a great way to enjoy the very best of nature’s obstacles!

  1. Bodiwan, Bala, Snowdonia

Looking for the ultimate outdoor adventure? Put on your walking boots, grab your rucksack and explore Snowdonia National Park via multiple walking routes, including one that leads you to Wales’s largest natural lake. After a long day of hiking, why not put your feet up at Bodiwan, a Grade II listed guesthouse offering bed and breakfast. Not only is the guesthouse full of history and has links to Welsh colonies in Patagonia, it is only a few minutes walk away from the park.

  1. Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Pembrokeshire

Fancy a change of scenery? Why not take a walk between Aberreiddy to Porthgain. After all, it has been ranked by National Geographic as the second best distance walk in the world! Take a step into the area’s local history, including the Blue Lagoon – a slate quarry turned coasteering venue. If you’re lucky, you may even have a chance to meet some of Wales’s friendliest seals!

IMG_9934If you’re passing through Monmouthshire on your way to the Brecon Beacons, make sure that you pop in and say hello to us at Llansantffraed Court. Being just a few miles away from Abergavenny, the hotel is a convenient base for exploring the Eastern side of the Brecon Beacons. A pit stop would not be complete without a nice ice-cold glass of champagne in our hotel grounds that overlook the beautiful Monmouthshire countryside. Our head chef Mike Hendry can even provide you with a selection of picnic treats whilst you take some time out and enjoy the stunning local landscape. If you’re in a rush to go and explore, Mike can alternatively make you a picnic basket ‘to-go’!

So, what are you waiting for? Join in with the National Parks Week celebrations and enjoy some of Wales’s most spectacular breathing spaces. Whether you decide to go gorge walking, surfing, ziplining or hiking through the mountains, there’s plenty of ways for you to enjoy Wales’s ‘landscapes of plenty’.

Our guide to the perfect picnic

IMG_9698June marks the beginning of the British summertime, with warmer weather and longer evenings creating the perfect conditions for a leisurely picnic with friends and loved ones.

Although relatively small in size, Wales is blessed with an abundance of breathtaking views, superb scenery and historical landmarks. At Llansantffraed Court we’re just a few miles away from medieval hotspots Raglan Castle and Tintern Abbey, with the Black Mountains and Monmouthshire’s rolling green fields all visible from our terrace.

When it comes to choosing a picnic spot that everyone can enjoy, you are officially spoilt for choice in Wales.

As the saying goes, it’s all about location, location, location. Oh, and of course, a hamper full of great food and good company helps too.

To celebrate National Picnic Week (from Saturday 13th June to Sunday 21st June), our head chef Mike Hendry has compiled a list of the five best spots to enjoy a picnic in Wales (when he’s not busy in the kitchen of course!). He also shares his expert advice on how to pack the perfect picnic.

1) Llanddwyn Island & Lighthouse, Anglesey

 Although geographically speaking Llanddwyn is not quite an island, it is one of the most magical spots in Wales. As well as being part of the Newborough Warren Nature Reserve, Llanddwyn Island has fantastic views of Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsula. Its rolling sand dunes and dotted historic buildings, makes it a great picnic spot for wannabe explorers.

 2) Eagles Nest, Wye Valley     

Located in an Area of Natural Beauty overlooking the Wye Valley, The Eagle’s Nest offers spectacular views high above the Wye at Wyndcliff, with the Severn River visible on the horizon. This spot has inspired many writers over the years and is accessible via several different paths, depending on how far you want to walk. A great way to earn that extra Welsh cake!   

 3) Pen-Y-Dyffryn, Shropshire

Fancy taking a break from the constant buzz of 21st century life? Switch your phone off, stock up your wicker basket and relax with a picnic overlooking steep hills and deep valleys. The Pen-Y-Dyffryn Country Hotel straddles the England-Wales border and has the perfect little summerhouse where you can enjoy your lunch in style, and in perfect peace.

4) Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia

 Picnicking in the clouds is the perfect recipe for hamper heaven. Take the train to the top of Wales’ highest peak and find a spot with spectacular sights over areas of natural beauty and unforgettable scenery. And once you’re finished with the bird’s eye view, it takes about three hours to walk back down – plenty of time to burn off all those calorific treats.

5) Llansantffraed Court Hotel, Monmouthshire

IMG_0099Rolling in at number five is yours truly. Well, we had to give ourselves a cheeky mention didn’t we? We invite you to sip champagne from your picnic blanket by our lake, and enjoy the panoramic views of the picturesque Monmouthshire countryside. I’ll even whip up a delicious selection of locally sourced picnic treats, allowing you to head off exploring our gorgeous surroundings for the day.

Chef’s top picnic tips

Keep it cool

Everything can be kept cold these days thanks to portable refrigeration technology, but this creates extra weight. I recommend sticking with products that are happy at ambient temperatures, for example cured meats and fruit. Don’t dress salads until you are ready to eat them and consider packing some pulses- not only do they taste great and are happy at all temperature, but they also gradually release their nutrients- just what you need if your picnic involves a long walk!

Seasonal peaks

Asparagus is in season at the moment throughout the Wye Valley. This time of year also means that lots of delicious fresh fruit and green vegetables are in full season – perfect for salads with broad beans, peas and fresh leaves.

My picnic must-haves

There’s nothing like the refreshing taste of a great wine to wash down your picnic. I always recommend investing in a quality wine as it really helps to lift the flavours in every dish. Ancre Hill Sparkling Rose complements light summer dishes really well and also helps to create a special, romantic atmosphere for your outing. For a great soft drink alternative, elderflower is in season at the moment, so why not try making your own cordial to enjoy. I would also make sure that your picnic basket has freshly baked bread and Welsh unsalted butter- they work perfectly together.

The right tools

Make sure that you have a top quality (and huge!) picnic blanket or rug, so that everybody can sit and enjoy the food together. I would also invest in a sharp, high quality knife, or even a multi-tool penknife – you never know when it might come in handy!

Plan ahead for picnic perfection

I would try and plan ahead, taking all of the ingredients you need for dishes with you.  Part of the fun is then putting it altogether once you’ve found ‘the right’ spot. It’s worth spending a bit of time before you leave checking maps and local websites for recommended spots to save you any disappointment.

So why not make the most of the warmer weather by packing up your hampers and blankets, and going in search of the ultimate picnic spot?


Pictured: Our scrumptious picnic hamper containing locally sourced ingredients.

Happy picnicking!

The language of food

How important dLCH_Food_ 01o you think the language on a menu is? Well it may mean more than you think.

According to a report by Professor Dan Jurafasky of Stanford University, California, the use of words to describe a dish is a sign of how high end a restaurant is.

In fact, after studying thousands of menus, Professor Jurafasky calculated that for every extra letter in the description of a dish, diners could expect to pay an extra 11p to be added to their bill.

He concluded restaurants often use more words to convince customers of the quality of a dish. The study showed words such as ‘exotic’ and ‘spicy’ are used to add value, however superlatives such as ‘tasty’, ‘terrific’ or ‘rich’ can reduce costs by up to 5p.

Here at Llansantffraed Court we like to do things a little bit differently. We want to keep our menus as simple as possible, focusing on the main, high-quality ingredients of a dish rather than losing impact through wordy phrases.

We do this not only to make our menus easy to understand, but because we believe simplicity is best – we don’t want our customers to be knee-deep in adjectives and adverbs. We would rather let our food do the talking. We are proud believers of using only the highest quality local, seasonal produce – 75% of our ingredients come from within a 20-mile radius, and much of it comes from our very own walled garden. Food yards, not food miles.

See for yourself an example of one of our set dinner menus below.




We have designed our menus to be slightly mysterious. This gives our diners the opportunity to discover new surprises when our dishes are finally revealed. Of course our very popular 7 and 9 course Tasting menus are full of little gastronomic surprises too.

Naturally, if you would like to know further details, for example, if you have children or an allergy, then please do not hesitate to ask a member of our team who will gladly describe the dish in more detail.

Next time you’re dining with us, take a look at our menu – we hope that reading our dishes will tingle your senses and leave you with a sense of enigma.

Please note: our menus are subject to change, as we only use the highest quality seasonal ingredients. To view some more of our menus or our list of local, trusted suppliers please click here: http://www.llch.co.uk/menus.htm

6 reasons why you should use local suppliers

Photo 03-04-2012 14 08 31  The average Briton will spend more than £43,000 dining out in restaurants over their lifetime. But how much do we really know about the dishes on the menu? Do we know when the vegetables were plucked out of the ground or the source of the meat? Is it even important?

We think so. And so do millions of people from across the UK. According to research conducted by The Department for Rural Affairs, more than two thirds of the population believes buying homegrown, British produce is important.

So, what are the benefits of working with local suppliers and purchasing food from your local area?Photo 27-09-2011 17 40 40

  1. The taste. Let’s take potatoes as an example. Which do you think will have more flavour? supermarket potatoes, which have travelled thousands of miles to reach your plate, and sat on shelves for days, or spuds picked from our walled garden the very same day? Not only do fresh vegetables and fruit taste much better due to lower nitrate levels, but also often contain more nutrients.
  2. By sourcing food locally, you can also create seasonal dishes and menus to celebrate the best the British countryside has to offer! This will allow you to experiment with flavours and discover the variety of veg available from UK soil.
  3. If you run a hospitality or retail business, then sourcing local ingredients can also keep your customers happy! Over the last 10 years, the UK has seen a substantial shift in consumer trends and attitudes towards buying ethically sourced products. Sales in ethical food and drink (including organic, fair-trade and free range IMAG0319foods) rose to £7.7 billion in 2012 (in 2005 this figure was less than £3 billion). The green consumer is here to stay as this trend is predicted to continue long into the future.
  4. ‘Going local’ can also encourage a healthy lifestyle. A menu with fresh, pure and flavoursome ingredients is now highly sought after by many customers who are health conscious and are concerned about providing a healthy diet for their family.
  5. It’s also cost effective. With food prices constantly on the rise in supermarkets, especially for organic and fair-trade produce, you can dramatically cut your costs by sourcing locally instead. Why not even grow them yourself? You never know, you could be a budding gardener and not even know it!
  6. By using suppliers within your local area, your moral conscious will also be able to sleep peacefully at night. Going local means cutting down your eco-footprint and helping the environment to be that bit greener. Local food has lower carbon Photo 27-09-2011 16 20 36footprints, not just because of the energy used to transport food but also because it uses substantially less energy when it comes to being refrigerated, processed and packaged.

Here at Llansantffraed Court, we are extremely proud to be working closely with local Welsh and English farmers, fishmongers, butchers and other suppliers, as well as growing fresh produce ourselves in the grounds of the hotel. To see exactly where our ingredients come from, please click here.

Enter our new competition!

Do you think you’re Monmouthshire’s biggest foodie? If you want to show off your culinary expertise, then you’re in luck as we are on the hunt for the county’s biggest self-confessed gourmand!

We are running a competition to find the county’s biggest foodie, with food-themed prizes on offer for the winner and two runners up.

We’re asking residents of Monmouthshire to share a reason in no more than 150 words highlighting why they should be crowned ‘Monmouthshire’s biggest foodie’.

Our head chef Mike Hendry will judge the answers, so it’s important to ensure yours stands above the rest.

Mike has gained a decade of experise, previously working as Sous Chef at the Michelin starred Crown at Whitebrook. He is passionate about using only the highest quality produce from trusted Welsh suppliers.

The entrant with the best answer will not only be crowned Monmouthshire’s biggest foodie but will win a visit from Mike who will cook a three course dinner for two in the winner’s own home.

Our runners up will also be awarded.The person at second place will win a day’s hire of our Renault Twizy ‘Tipyn’ to explore the countryside along with a luxury hamper for two, while third place wins a delicious afternoon tea in our lounge where local jazz band RedRug play on the first Sunday of every month. The top three answers will also be published within the Abergavenny Chronicle.

Monmouthshire has long reigned as the foodie capital of Wales, and is the home of the Abergavenny Food Festival, otherwise known as the ‘best event in Wales’, and an abundance of impressive restaurants, locally sourced produce and award-winning vineyards.

If you think you know your smoked Brecon venison from your Welsh beef, then this could be the competition for you!

The competition will run until Friday 10th October. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 14th October.

If you are Monmouthshire’s biggest foodie, simply email your answer with your contact details to mbf@llch.co.uk or post your answer to the Abergavenny Chronicle, Nevill Street, Abergavenny, Gwent, NP7 5AA. We wish you the best of luck!

Shaking up summertime strawberries

strawberry dessertWhile tennis fans have been embracing the traditional pairing of strawberries and cream, during Wimbledon fine dining experts are modernizing the summer staple using new techniques and flavour combinations. Adventurous diners are realising the many ways in which strawberries can be transformed and updated; strawberries injected with a balsamic vinegar burst and cheesecake-filled strawberries are both recent creations of top class fine dining chefs. This season, we are trying something new by growing white strawberries with red seeds – luckily they still taste just as delicious as the red variety!

Mike Hendry, our Head Chef, has created a dish that combines the complimentary tastes of the strawberry with Italian soft cheese. To maximise its potential, he transforms the hard but delicate form of the strawberry into textures to surprise and impress taste buds. Below, Mike shares his recipe for one of his irresistible strawberry reincarnations, made from strawberries picked freshly from our walled garden, which you can recreate at home.

Strawberry parfait and sorbet with mascarpone cream


230g mascarpone (a soft cheese found in the chilled aisle at supermarkets)
760g cream cheese
200g icing sugar
1 vanilla pod (cut open, with the inside paste scooped out and the outer pod discarded)
50g liquid glucose (available in larger supermarkets)
150g sugar syrup (available in larger supermarkets)
200g strawberries (with their tops cut off)
4 egg whites (to separate from yolk, put the egg through a sieve and keep what drips through)
200g strawberry purée (available in larger supermarkets)
200g sugar
400g semi-whipped cream
50g strawberries soaked in a berry liqueur (you can order frais de bois liqueur online, but many cheaper berry liqueurs are available in supermarkets. If you wish, you can omit this garnish)

One ice cream maker (we use the fantastic machine called Pacojet 2, but alternative brands are available in larger supermarkets, department stores and online)
Four bowls
One saucepan
One sugar thermometer (available in larger supermarkets, department stores and online)
One whisk
One spatula
Shallow bowls to serve


First, start by making the strawberry sorbet. Put the strawberries, sugar syrup and liquid glucose into the ice cream maker and set the machine to mix for as long as it usually requires for ice cream (this will vary for each machine)
Then, in a bowl, start to make the parfait. With a spatula, mix the sugar with a little water
Pour the sugary water into a saucepan, insert the sugar thermometer then boil the mixture it until it reaches 121˚
Once this happens, slowly add the egg whites and whisk them in. This constitutes what is known in fine dining as ‘Italian Meringue’
Set the saucepan aside
In another bowl, mix together the four egg yolks and strawberry purée
Using the spatula, fold the strawberry and yolk mix into the Italian Meringue in the saucepan. Then fold in the semi-whipped cream
Now make the mascarpone cream. In a separate bowl, use the spatula to mix together the mascarpone, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla. Keep mixing gently until they are fully combined
To serve, assemble the finished trio on a small plate or shallow bowl. Garnish the dish with the liqueur soaked strawberries and enjoy!