The butcher, the baker and the candlestickmaker, rub a dub dub, are all on site at Bodnant Welsh Food. Furnace Farm, ‘home farm’ of the 5,000 acre estate, most famous for its gardens, has been repurposed into a showcase for Welsh produce. I didn’t see candlesticks being made but I did meet people at the new National Bee Keeping Centre, just across the farmyard from the shop. There is also a dairy, making amongst other things, fancy ice creams squeezed out of Italian machinery.
During the press event rain poured down on contractors racing to finish work ahead of the royal opening on 9th July; the show must go on. £6.5 million has been invested, about half by the owners (Michael and Caroline McLaren) and half by Welsh or European government, creating sixty jobs. It is hoped that there will be 200,000 visitors a year and this is what it looked like on the day:
For me my highlight was a sausage-making lesson from Miles the master butcher. Not any old sausage but a breakfast chipolata made with rare breed Gloucester Old Spot pork and Miles’s secret seasoning. No artificial collagen casings but traditional sheep’s intestine stuffed with a state of the art hydraulic sausage filler.
As well as a top class restaurant, complete with executive chef Peter Jackson, president of the Welsh Culinary Association, there is a tea room in a cow shed and a beautifully equipped cookery school. Sandy Boyd is managing director, probably the only non-local to be employed, who brings to the table his experience at Chatsworth and in setting up the Ludlow Food Centre.
Good luck - it looks and tastes great.