LISTEN to Savory Road Radio Feature
Radio feature will air 91.9 KVCR FM, Jan. 19 at 6:45 and 8:45AM during NPR Morning Edition and again on Saturday at 5:35AM and 7:35AM during NPR Weekend Edition. Also streaming live on www.kvcr.org
It’s the land of mythical King Arthur and the place where you’ll find more castles per square mile than any place in the UK. It’s mineral rich land was pivotal to the industrial revolution, and it’s where lawn tennis was invented. Hi, this is Jeff Baker, and this week the Savory Road leads to Wales. The home country of Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins is famous for more things than I thought – including an ardent food culture. We discovered that while staying in northern Wales near the city of Conwy.
Melissa Gibbs is manager of Bodnant Welsh food, a converted farm located in the Welsh countryside. It’s the perfect setting for a unique store that makes, bakes, and butchers local Welsh food.
I asked Melissa about welsh cakes. I’d been told by everyone we had to try them. She said they are not like conventional cakes, rather a bisquit – round and circular and can be made sweet or savory. They are also called griddle scones because they are cooked on cast iron.
Cheese and Welsh cakes sounded like a match made in heaven. Melissa promptly lead us to the delicatessen. Melissa introduced us to Aberwen (Auba-when) which means river white in Welsh. It’s a hard cheese that’s slightly grainy. The younger aged has a nutty aroma and mild buttery taste. Abergoch (Auba_Goar) means “river red” and is similar to a red Leicester (lester) cheese that is popular in Britain. In the UK, most cheddars are pale in color, but the Red Lester looks more like our cheddar – the orange coloring coming from the same source ours does – the annatto seed – those little, red, “baco-looking” particles you see in the spice section of any Latino market. Melissia also shared their Abermwg (Auba Moog) which is smoked Aberwen.
I couldn’t help but notice that one of my favorite cheeses, one so common in Europe was missing. Melissa explained the reason I didn’t see blue cheese. The blue veins are mold that likes to multiply and affect every cheese surrounding it. Melissa explained that for that reason – places where blue cheese is made, ONLY make blue cheese.
Next, we followed her across the aisle to the butters. She explained how Welsh butter is saltier than other UK butter. It’s also very bright yellow. That rich color comes from the high fat content in butter. Cows that eat grass and flowers store the yellow pigment beta carotene found naturally in those plants in their fat.
Melissa also showed us Bara Birth a fruit cake soaked in welsh tea, and the superfood Laverbread, which isn’t bread at all, rather seaweed that is fried and eaten with bacon, or stirred into oatmeal. Again – superfood from Wales.
So what’s happening closer to home? Check out the Asian Pacific Lunar New Year Festival and find traditional Asian music, taiko drums, dance performances, art displays, martial arts demonstrations and Asian cultural displays. This lunar festival opens with a parade of nations at 10 a.m. In the evening, the closing ceremony includes a fireworks display ringing in the Lunar New Year. That’s Saturday January 28th in downtown Riverside