Chef Ellis Barrie, a finalist on the BBC’s latest series of the Great British Menu, has ensured that cultural campers at the National Eisteddfod - Wales’ biggest and busiest arts festival - will feast on new season lamb in Anglesey next week.
Independent research suggests that the annual event brings with it a £6-8 million benefit to the local economy, which includes support for local food and drink producers. The Eisteddfod's local sourcing policy insists that the produce served to its 160,000 visitors, is procured from local, Welsh companies wherever possible.
Plots for around 800 caravans and 200 tents were sold in record time this year with the Eisteddfod’s caravan park fully booked with at least five months to go. Ellis Barrie, co-owner of Newborough’s Marram Grass restaurant, was invited to design a menu of locally produced food for the eager Eisteddfod-goers staying on-site.
It includes a special Anglesey Lamburger, which perfectly coincides with red meat agency, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) festivities following Llamb’s Day on August 1st, the occasion that puts the spotlight on the peak season for Welsh Lamb.
Earlier this week, acclaimed chef Tom Simmons, originally from Pembrokeshire, dished-up a specially-designed Welsh Lamb menu for an exclusive event in his new London restaurant. He wowed the city’s food writers with a crispy Welsh Lamb breast starter and an exquisite Welsh Lamb cannon main.
But Chef Ellis Barrie, alongside the Eisteddfod organisers, knows that Welsh Lamb will also be enjoyed on home ground. He said: "For me, Welsh Lamb is by far the best quality lamb on the market. For flavour, taste and texture, you can't cook with better. You only have to see the beautiful pastures of Wales and the outstanding clean environment to understand why Welsh Lamb is the 'go to' lamb in the restaurant industry!
"But for me, it's more than that. By supporting Welsh Lamb you are supporting local farmers, their values and families. I have the honour of knowing some great farmers across Anglesey and north Wales and their constant efforts to strive for quality is nothing but admirable and it assures me that Welsh Lamb is the way to go! Try it for yourselves at the restaurant and shop on the Eisteddfod's caravan site; I know you won't be disappointed."
Welsh musical and creative talent will be centre-stage at the Eisteddfod, but the organisers are also keen to provide a platform for local food and drink producers. Elfed Roberts, Chief Executive, said: “The National Eisteddfod strongly feels that quality food and drink should be offered on the ‘maes’ with all the produce sourced from Wales if possible. We are delighted that all but one of the catering companies at the Eisteddfod this year are from Wales.”
Locally produced meat can also be bought from the Gorau Môn shop on the caravan site, co-ordinated by Menter Môn’s Jane Davies. She said: “Menter Môn are proud to support Gorau Môn's local food shop, which has been developed with our local producers, and in promoting Welsh Lamb which we know will be a hit at the Eisteddfod.”
HCC’s Market Development Manager, Rhys Llywelyn said: “The Eisteddfod’s location this year is a rural, agricultural area and we commend the organisers for ensuring that the produce on offer will be Welsh, which complements the ethos of the event. Look out for the Welsh Lamb tagine at Pl@iad, one of the best sellers in the restaurant on the ‘maes’!”
Llamb’s Day celebrations will continue into the months of August and September as people all over the country – including visitors to the Eisteddfod - are invited to partake in the ‘Big Baa-BQ’ by sharing their stories and photos on social media using the #LloveLlamb hashtag.