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Sunday, 27 March 2011

A true Welsh Rarebit

Now think of 'welsh rabbit' and you think toasted cheese on toast, which by rights should be the most boring dish on the planet. Not so yesterday.

I was in Cardiff for a Masonic function where the chef put on a dazzling display of Welsh cooking for the 100 or so guests.

At many large functions, the 'veggie in the corner' is usually given a bowl of tinned soup for a starter and perhaps a 'dinged' veggie lasagne.

Not here. I had a fresh asparagus soup, followed by a freshly baked Feta and Spinach Cannelloni with a Welsh Bread Pudding served with a Berry Compote for afters. But the best of the night was saved until the very last.

Instead of the usual cheese course we were given a proper Welsh Rarebit. Veggies sometimes have to avoid this dish, because its often NOT vegetarian due to the addition of fish based Worcester Sauce.

On seeing the slick team of young waiting staff buzzing into the room carrying bottles of Lea and Perrins Worcester Sauce I figured the chef had left it out this time. I was right. Instead they'd used wholegrain mustard, which worked brilliantly. I ate it really slowly because it really was scrumptious.

As it was a dish served at the end of a meal, it was served on a small muffin. However, it could easily be made into a main course that could easily be served in a cafe like the one myself and a couple of friends visited (very briefly) in Cardiff city centre earlier in the day.

It was about midday, and realising dinner wasn't going to be until around 4, we'd decided on a snack. Passing through a sports shop at the entrance to a shopping centre, we ascended the escalator to a pretty looking cafe and occupied a table.

Fortunately the service was slow enough for us to peruse the depressing menu of insipid pap (all at London prices) for long enough for us to hightail it to the nearest Greggs for a sandwich. Seriously, if I go a capital city and visit what looks like a privately run cafe, I would hope to be able to get something local. I don't expect to see cook-chilled 'penne pasta' (which I can make for about 50 pence), or 'baked potatoes with beans' at £6.00 a pop.

I'd suggest to the owners of that cafe that they have a look at this. This video shows a version of the one we had yesterday, although like the chef in Cardiff I would not melt the cheese beforehand. Instead, I would just grate it and stir in the mustard and beer.

Finding a fairly local cheese maker, baker and salad producer would hardly be a problem in that area. Put something like this on your menu and you could justify £6.00 a pop and it would be far more enjoyable than the over priced microwavable pap currently on offer.

Click below to view the video