Our outing to St Fagans, National History Museum, Cardiff was most interesting: the array of period buildings and artefacts are well planned. The weather was warm and sunny which added to the ambience.
The site is being further developed with new acquisitions (old buildings) and it is intended to add more activity areas to show how things were done in the past. See below some photographs of the buildings and grounds at St Fagans.
A talk was given by Jean Campbell on India. Jean told us about a trip to Southern India, flying into Trivandrum, Kerala state, and staying down the coast at Kovalam, on the Arabian Sea. Moving on from Trivandrum to Bangalore and by coach thereafter to Mysore, and visited Seringpatam where in 1799 British forces captured this fort. Amongst the officers was a certain Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington. From Mysore they went by coach up the Nilgiri hills to Ootacamund (known to the British as Snooty Ooty) this being the family home location of Jean’s husband (Ian). It was where he grew up. She talked about visiting the house (now a school and convent), the Ooty Club (where the first game of snooker was officially played in 1881), and a visit to Ian’s old school (Breek Memorial School). They took a trip to the top of Dodabetta – at 8,600 ft, the highest hill in the Nilgiri range. Then down to the plains on the famous Blue Mountain Railway. Finally to Cochin, the only natural harbour on the west coast of India and a very old port from where the spice trade was carried on.
On Tuesday 12th April a talk was given by Linda Warren on the subject “The Wartime Kitchen”. She told us some interesting stories. Humorous and serious events were covered. After the talk we had the pork belly which we had cured as a collective group. This was cooked during our meeting and enjoyed by those who sampled it.
A demonstration and talk on curing meat was given by Jasper Aykroyd who cooked cured pork for us to sample. It was roasted at 150 Deg C for 3 hours, fat-side up so that the fat runs down and bastes the lean meat, then allowed to rest for at least half an hour. He also cooked cured bacon for us to sample.
We were shown various salts, tasted them and chose a salt to use by voting. The range of herbs he uses for curing was explained to us and a selection chosen to cure the belly piece.
The piece he cooked was a whole Back or Loin, and was par-cured with salt, muscovado sugar, and in order: Cinnamon, Corriander, Caraway, Fennel, Clove, Ginger and nutmeg.
Both that and the belly which we cured as a collective group came from Helen Browning’s Eastbrook Farm in Bishopstone. She has the largest herd of Saddlebacks in Europe, but those are breeding sows. The Boars are Large whites. Crossed, they create a pig for meat which has just a nice amount of fat and flavour, and have a mottled grey hide, which gives them their name of “Blue” pigs.
The very fatty bacon that he cooked is from a different herd owned by a friend near Fernam, and those are fluffy pigs from Hungary, called Mangaliza pigs: the preferred meat of the Viennese court in days of yore. (If you saw the programme Great British Food Revival on BBC 2 on Wednesday 16th March you would have seen the pigs which from a distance look like sheep.)