Unwaith ar un adeg, mewn castell yn hyn, bell i ffwrdd…
Ok very clearly I am not going to win any awards for my Welsh! Seeing as Cardiff Castle is pretty much on my doorstep, it also makes a slight mockery of the far, far away bit; but please indulge me because as culinary fairytales go, it should be on everyone’s wish list to eat in a medieval castle at least once in your life!
Now as much as it pains me to say it, I was never very interested in history as a child and while I can admire the beauty and architecture of historical buildings, as an adult I still basically get scared by people throwing dates at me. I usually don’t have the ability to remember what I did yesterday, let alone what happened in the late 11th Century! However if you are in to all ‘that’, Cardiff Castle has a long history and there are some fantastic tours that you can go on if you’re visiting the City.
I have actually attended one of the banquets before, however it was a while back circa 2005 AD, and so when the opportunity arose I thought it may be time to brush off the Welsh costume again and revisit the Castle! Ha ha..ok that bit was a joke (hats have never looked great on me!)
In reality you don’t have to don national dress (although some do!) – the banquets are relaxed and basically an informal evening of Welsh song, food and general merriment. At £45 a head, it isn’t the cheapest night out, however it does include the aforementioned entertainment, mead-tasting on arrival, a 3 course meal and half a bottle of wine per person.
Hosted in the stone-vaulted, atmospheric 15th century Undercroft of Cardiff Castle, the banquet is certainly a unique dining experience in Wales. Service is provided by the clearly multi-talented team, who while serenading you with song during the evening, also assist in delivering the dishes!
Being recognised as a national dish of Wales, we started the banquet with Welsh lamb cawl. Historically, this used to be made with either salted bacon or beef. However, we had the more modern variation of the broth containing lamb, leeks and seasonal vegetables including swede and carrots. Very pleasant and full of flavour, my only slight criticism would have been I would have liked a little more than the two cubes of lamb!
The main course was supreme of chicken with Perl Las cheese, cream sauce and seasonal vegetables. Served with the breast bone still attached, the chicken was beautiful and moist and the accompanying sauce, rich and well seasoned. The sautéed potatoes were crispy, however I will unfortunately say the vegetables were a little undercooked for my liking.
However, in a far away land where I rarely get to discover pudding (mainly because I am more of a starter queen and I’m always too full!), the dessert was ‘King of the Castle’. A beautiful Welsh cake and honey cheesecake accompanied with fresh strawberries, it was creamy and smooth and my favourite course of the evening.
Following the banquet the entertainment continued, and if wasn’t for the fact that I wasn’t sporting my Welsh jersey and didn’t have a pint in my hand (wine doesn’t count!), I could have imagined I had been out for a Rugby International Day! Lively renditions of Calon Lân, Sosban Fach and Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau rounded off the evening in true Welsh style!
Would I recommend experiencing a banquet at Cardiff Castle?
On this occasion, there were a number of tour groups in on the evening, and so let alone being by far the youngest there, we were in fact the only group from Wales dining too! This slightly surprised me, but target audience wise, they had I guess, succeeded in their objective. However, if you are local to the area and you haven’t experienced a banquet it is a fun and unique evening. If you are visiting Cardiff, I can highly recommend the banquet though – a true baptism into the wonderfulness that is Welshness!
Address | Cardiff Castle, Castle Street, Cardiff, CF10 3RB