The much anticipated annual Abergavenny Food Festival returns this weekend, and friend of Little Otter Events, Baked by Mel will be there. Mel has been attending the festival for a few years now and will be situated in the Upper Brewery Yard next door to Hallets Cider. (Cider and cake, sounds like a good combination!)
As well as her award winning bara brith, Mel will be selling a beautiful selection of scrummy treats all baked in her kitchen in Llantwit Major. If you haven't tried her persian rocky road, brownies or gin and tonic cakes, you are in for a culinary treat!
I interrupted Mel's baking to ask her a few questions ahead of her busy weekend...
What do you enjoy about the festival?
Well it's all about food of course, and in a relatively small space you can go and try so much variety, see your fave celebs and get in on the party atmosphere too… it's just lovely. It’s a very well attended and prestigious event attracting a lot of people and food fans so there is a lovely festival vibe around the town.
Who you are looking forward to seeing?
So many people!! The Preservation Society, Samosaco, Welsh Coffee, The Parsnipship, Hangfire Smokehouse, Hallets cider, Petals of the Valley, Sytch Farm Studios, Shellys Shortbread and I am hoping to hear Allan Jenkins talk on Sunday…fingers crossed. Its really a big annual event and I love having a catch up!
How is your prep going?
I never seen so many sultanas in my life…
Good luck Mel! We hope that you have an amazing weekend.
Find out more about the festival programme and tickets on the official website.
Since I started Little Otter Events, I have met so many talented makers and I love following them on social media and seeing their latest work.
Last year, Cardiff based Elena Floarea came along to our Rhiwbina and Penarth events selling her range of beautiful French macarons. Elena is an amazing baker and creates some truly stunning cakes. Recently I met up with Elena to find out where this talent came from and if she has always enjoyed baking....Introducing Elena...
When did you start baking?
I started when I was 16. I went to a culinary college and at the end of the course I won a french patisserie contest. The prize was an apprenticeship in France with one of the best French pastry chefs there was that year.
That’s when I fell in love with baking and creating delicious cakes and macarons.
Who was your biggest influence?
My mum always encouraged me to reach as high as I can. I went to France to complete the apprenticeship I’ve won because she encouraged and supported me. I was only 18 so she was my rock, helping me increase my confidence.
Where did you study?
I studied for my Culinary diploma at a college in Bucharest. Then in France I’ve received a french patisserie diploma for completing my apprenticeship and also been offered a 1.5 year contract with a popular french patisserie in France.
When did you start your own business?
I set up Lolo’s Cake Away in 2015.
Where do you get your creative ideas from?
I use a lot Pinterest for inspiration! I’m also part of many cake and wedding groups on Facebook where I can follow trends and see what people like most. Then combined with my knowledge and experience acquired over the last 12 years I try to get something different to ensure our customers like the suggested design.
What is the inspiration behind Lolo's Cake Away?
‘Lolo’ comes from Lawrence which is my partner and our gorgeous son Lawson (Lo-Lo). I was in my second year of uni studying Business Management at Cardiff Uni when my partner said he would help me set up the business and follow my dream. It was one of the best days ever and I went for it! Three years later Lolo’s Cake Away is a recognisable brand in Cardiff.
I’m also trying to make Majestic Macarons the best macaron business in Wales. We’re growing every day and maybe one day we will have a shop where we can combine cakes by Lolo’s Cake Away and delicious macarons by Majestic Macarons.
Do you have a favourite flavour cake/macaron?
I have quite a few favourites. However, Ferrero Rocher macarons are my no. 1 favourite ! I’ve mistakenly ate some from my order and realised I had to make some more
And my second favourite is pistachios macarons. It always reminds me of my trips to the Parisian patisseries in France.
As you can see I find it difficult to choose one favourite only! Guess I really love my job!
What is the longest time you have ever spent creating a cake?
One week was the longest time I’ve spent on making and creating a cake. It was for a four tier wedding cake with cascading roses in pink and yellow.
I loved the end result and the hard work definitely paid off! Sugar Flowers are very time consuming but when they’re finished they look so amazing it is worth all the time in the world.
The bride and groom were over the moon and I’ve receive so many compliments on design and skill.
Thanks so much Elena!
Elena's creations are absolutely amazing - she is on social media and regularly posts up photos of her latest work.
She is very kindly offering friends of Little Otter Events a 20% discount - so if you have a birthday, wedding or special occasion coming up, get in touch with Elena to discuss your ideas.
What an amazing maker! I want to get married all over again just so Elena can make me a cake!
March has been such a strange month hasn't it? Sunshine then snow, then rain along with biting winds. It seems that every time I get a summer dress out, the forecast changes and I put my Saltwater sandals back in the box. Let's be optimistic and ignore any reports of the return of the snow in time for Easter! Bring on the blossom please!
Here is a bright and sunny collection of gifts from our talented directory makers to remind you of sunny days, blue skys and flowers in the garden...
Flower pot cake by Lolo's Cake Away.
Braided fabric knot ring by p&d designs. £14 plus postage.
Foldover mini clutch bag by Lynda Shell Textiles.
Organic clouds romper by Zac & Bella. £23 plus postage.
Floral collection from Seascape Curiosities.
Personalised icecream notebook by oh! Susannah. £5 plus postage.
Blue and mustard leather messenger bag by Pocket Pirate. £320.
April Liddell. Founder of Little Otter Markets. Lives a crafty life. Loves going for walks with her dog Betsi, listening to music, and eating chelsea buns.