Winning the Gourmand Award & visiting a Sustainable Swedish Farm
This month I had the honour of accepting an award for my first cookbook, 'The Melting Pot: World Recipes from Wales.' We won Best in the World in the Migrant Category at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards!
This achievement means a lot as it isn't just for me, but is for all the wonderful cooks who contributed their recipes from around the world. With this book, I set out to show that food truly is a universal language, and this award is a wonderful symbolic recognition of that. Llongyfarchiadau and congratulations to all our contributors!
It was an honour to travel to receive the award in Umeå, Sweden and to meet fantastic food producers from all over the world. While there we had the privilege of visiting the Sapmi people, the local indigenous people of Umeå, and were fed several courses, including reindeer cooked in different ways. Local berries garnished most dishes, chanterelles showed up again, and we didn't even realise it was midnight by the time they were bringing out the final plate of a local berry pie. Such a taste sensation through food and drink from the Sapmi.
My trip culminated in a tour to a sustainable family farm, where the husband and wife team delighted us with foraged mushrooms, nettle pesto and a selection of dried sausage meats from their limousin cows. We washed this down with a refreshing drink tapped from the birch trees that Umeå is known for, and a 40% proof beaver wine... yes, beaver as in the animal!
Just as we were done stuffing ourselves, we were invited into their restaurant for a sit down meal of tender brochettes of limousin accompanied by celery foraged aioli, blackberry salsa and something else so delicious with new potatoes. All accompanied by a local limonet berry wine that is made solely for pairing with their beef. This was finished off with a dessert made from the first raw milk from their cows. Amazing, sustainable collaborative set up!
We eventually left the farm at 1am and it was still light enough outside for me to walk back to my hotel, and be delighted to find my errant luggage. The following day I attended the Holbars awards (Holbars being the Swedish word for sustainability). This is a huge part of the Umeå food symposium and I'm so inspired by the emphasis they place on this kind of farming and food. I also met and laughed outrageously with Cyril-Henri Prevost, the award winning French chef, journalist and TV host.
I'll remember this trip for a long time!