Friday, September 2, 2011

Medieval banquet in Cardiff Castle

Way back in 76AD Cardiff Castle started life as a Roman Fort.  Today the castle is an integral part of a lovely city where modernity mixes effortlessly with a past watched over by a 12th century Norman Keep.  The castle's sumptious Victorian interior; stained glass windows, richly emblazoned walls and ornate ceilings that rival any I've seen in Spain and France can be attributed to its wealthy patron the Marquis of Bute.

Catherine Evans with Barney the Red-tailed Buzzard
In keeping with its past, an on-site falconry center re-enacts for the public the medieval sport of hunting with birds of prey.  Confined within the castle's battlements, a Red-tailed Buzzard named Barney clings with wicked claws to the leather gauntlet of falconer, Catherine Evans, while brilliant peacocks sweep majestically across emerald lawns.

An event not to be missed for visitors to Cardiff,  is a medieval banquet in the cellar of the castle.  Guests are treated to a traditional meal accompanied by mead, a drink made of honey and wine 

We dined on Glamorgan sausage, Caerphilly Cheese Souffle Tart served with cream and herb sauce.  And then my favourite, Welsh Honey Cream Mousse topped with raspberries and chocolate served with a Danzy Jones creme anglaise. 

Alun Saunders our Welsh host at the banquet was in top form.  His group of entertainers were in full voice serenading us with the songs of a people that love to sing. Saunders invited us to join in if we knew any of the songs and "If you don't know the words then shut up", he said.

At a later banquet, the Welsh Guards pictured here played a stirring rendition
of Tom Jones's "Delilah" much to the delight of all of us.
 Tom Jones, that famous singing Welshman - much loved by the ladies, including me - who took the world by storm with such songs as "Delilah" was ragged unmercifully throughout the night.  Saunders, after telling us that we were supposed to have peacock pie for dinner, doubled with laughter in his telling, "Tom Jones took the last peacock.  Apparently it's the only bird he can catch these days".  This followed an exchange with the castle chef when Saunders shouted for him to bring on the peacock.  The chef roared back "There ain't no peacock". Altogether it was a jolly evening, lots of clapping, laughter and powerful Welsh vocals.

At one point in the evening I suspected that Saunders had plans to call up some of the audience for a spot of fun.  And yes I was one of them.  Next time I shall sit well back from the stage.

Posted by Anne Gordon on Friday, 2nd September, 2011

Photos copyright Anne Gordon


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