Culinary Causerie

with Lesley Williams

Eccentric Gin

I love my job. It’s the not knowing what’s going to pop into my inbox every day – the diversity of the people who get in touch.

Last month I received an email from Rob Higgins. Rob is the director of Eccentric Gin, a distillery based in a secret location in Caerphilly.

Rob and his team have been inspired by a true Victorian eccentric, William Price  1800 – 1893, one of the most radical and innovative thinkers of his time. He was a physician, a druid, a believer in free love and the emancipation of women; he was also made a freeman of Llantrisant. He dressed in emerald green robes, wore no socks as he deemed them unhygienic – and yet wore a fox fur hat!

William Price refused to accept established conventions, and so he served as an inspiration for Rob and his team of experienced craft brewers and distillers who were disappointed in the quality and flavour of mass produced gins. With input from local foragers and mixologists they decided to create small batch, craft gins using established and not so well known botanicals, even resting some gins in wooden Burgundy barrels to create their own distinct flavours.

One challenge the team are about to undertake is to grow and harvest juniper in Wales.

We are delighted to have teamed up with Eccentric Gin to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win a bottle of Madam Geneva – London Dry: 42% ABV. A London Dry as it should be. Simple, dry and juniper forward with citrus and a hint of liquorice and some subtle floral and sweet characters added by the secret duo Meadowsweet and Wild Sunflower.

All four varieties of Eccentric Gins can be purchased direct from their website You don’t have to be eccentric to give or receive, but it might help – just a little.

Gin Festival

Gin Festival is returning to Swansea on 28 – 30 April in the Brangwyn Hall. Here you’ll be able to sample more than 100 gins – although I cannot advocate such irresponsibility. But if you’re going along with friends it is possible to try at least eight without difficulty. You’ll be able to experience the four Eccentric Gins.

Tickets are available for Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon. Each session costs £9.50 + a booking fee per ticket which are available from

Gin Festival was established in 2013 by Jym and Marie Harris. They wanted to go out, enjoy fantastic entertainment and great food whilst drinking the best gins and learning more about all things juniper. They wanted this all under one roof – but it didn’t exist. So they created Gin Festival.

Three years later and Gin Festival has grown from a single event to a nationwide phenomenon. Each venue has four fabulous gin bars, showcasing the very best in British and international gins as well as the finest gin liqueurs. To create the perfect serve, each gin has a carefully matched garnish alongside a specifically paired Fever-Tree Tonic or mixer.

Gin Festival isn’t just about the gin and tonics though, there’s a regular cocktail bar serving up fantastic gin-based libations, as well as additional seasonal treats. You can chat to the distillers and brands who love to make gin, drink gin and share a sample or two. If they get you hooked, attend one of the amazing master-classes where you can learn all about gin how it’s made, its history and beyond. Alternatively, just relax. Soak up the atmosphere, relish every gin and tonic drunk, try delicious street food and enjoy the entertainment.

We’ll drink to that.

Coffee Fresco

After a walk around the Marina Market on sunny November afternoon, a spot of lunch was called for. Coffee Fresco is the perfect place for lunch on a warm day when you can sit outside and watch the hustle and bustle of the marina. The café is situated to the exterior of the Maritime Museum overlooking the waterfront; its interior embraces Swansea’s industrial heritage. I believe the building was originally part of the goods yard that served Victoria Station – a casualty of Dr Beeching’s cuts in the early 1960s.

Anyway, I digress – back to the subject in hand – the food. The freshly made, truly home cooked soup was amazing. Proper restorative chicken and barley soup served with decent chunks of fresh bread and all for about a fiver. We also had a chicken sandwich which was real chicken – not plastic wrapped soggy meat – and plenty of it. A bowl of chips topped it off – proper chunky chips. The coffee was top notch too.

I highly recommend Coffee Fresco anyone in the marina at lunchtime, looking for good food at very reasonable prices. Next time I will try the Polish soup as recommended by our friendly, smiling waitress who said she had it every day for her lunch – now that’s a recommendation.

Coffee Fresco, Unit 3 Waterfront Museum. Telephone 01792 472331 Open 10.00 to 17.00



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