Story

Culinary Excellence

Cornel Uys, our head chef, has spent seventeen years in the food industry. His experience stems from his time at manor house Ardanaiseig.

He carefully curates every dish on our ‘Art Room Menu’. Occasionally it is adapted in order to match the seasonal ingredients sourced in Pembrokeshire and beyond. The restaurant holds 2 AA Rosettes which is an award for higher standards. It has received this award consecutively in 2017 and 2018. A superb achievement for us with only 40% of the whole AA Restaurant Guide receiving this award.

Take a look behind the kitchen doors to see snippets of Cornel and his team at work. This dish is ‘Sea Trout, Mussels, Fennel, Potato, Saffron Chowder’ as part of the ‘Tasting Menu’.

Head Chef peels onions in preparation for evening service.
Head Chef, Cornel Uys, prepping Pembrokeshire ingredients for the ‘Art Room Menu’.
A roasting tray with garlic, chopped onion and spices.
Spices, garlic and onions for our ‘Curry Flavoured Monkfish, Roast Garlic, Parsley’ dish.
Head Chef, preparing elements of our award-winning menu.
Head Chef, Cornel Uys, uses parsley for as a decorative element for our ‘Curry Flavoured Monkfish’ main.

 

Our Game of Thrones

I don’t normally complain

but there are occasions when the whole experience has been so disappointing that something needs to be said

This was one such.  As readers will realize, we have a hotel ourselves in an 18th century building with 16 bedrooms and are well aware of the fact that things go wrong and with the best will in the world it is difficult either to predict them or resolve them immediately. However, our disappointment with this hotel was not so much a result of unforeseen events as, well read on.

We travel to our house in Greece every year, driving there and taking our dogs and making something of a road trip in each direction, choosing deliberately what we think will be interesting places to stay, preferably small independently run historic house hotels with good food. Our dogs cannot be left by themselves, poor little Bartleby is severely autistic and shrieks and howls if left alone and Mrs Ruskin joins in. Many years ago I left my then two dogs in a car and returned to find both front seats shredded – an experience I am not anxious to repeat. Hence when booking I always ensure that there is a place for us to eat where dogs are permitted.

On arrival at this nameless hotel in a 17th century chateau we were greeted by Monsieur Le Proprietaire who, while taking us to our room and, when asked about the dogs in the restaurant, said that they were not allowed and they would have to stay in the room or the car.

 

No, there was no bar area where we could eat.

 

No, there was no little private room where we could eat.

 

No, the meal could not be served in our room.

 

No, they could not come in the restaurant and if we did not want to leave them in the car or our room we should go somewhere else to eat but he added “As it is Monday a lot of places will be shut”.

 

I pointed out that there had been an exchange of emails where we had been told that dogs were welcome in the dining room and he flatly denied this.

In a previous life I have been both a lawyer and a judge and frankly to have my word doubted was offensive but hey,let’s not go there.

We were shown our room and this turned out to be a small room (tagged as suitable for the disabled) on the ground floor opening straight into the garden with a large lavatory in one corner and a shower in the other. ie no privacy whatsoever. Looking at other comments I saw that this had been mentioned before in a negative way, and Monsieur Le Prop said, in September 2017, it would be remedied. Beware, dear reader, it has not and if you are of sensitive disposition (which I suspect most people are) this would very definitely not be a room for you.

Third problem. The internet would not work. I wanted to find the email where the hotel confirmed that the dogs could go in the restaurant. I went to Monsieur Le Prop but he could not make it work either and still refused to countenance having the dogs in, well his exact words were “Je suis le propietaire and je ne veux pas les chiens dans mon gourmet restaurant”.

I went back to the Chamber of Horrors and, using my wife’s telephone, managed to get my laptop going and found the email which said “and of course the dogs are welcome in the restaurant”. I took this to Monsieur Le Prop and showed him it. He capitulated with very evident bad grace. Had he not done so I think we would have left but were tired so decided to accept the ghastly room and not argue further.

We were one of two couples dining in the restaurant that night. There was no one else and the other couple seemed completely unperturbed by our dogs who lay quietly under the table.

In fact our dogs had lain quietly under the table the night before at the restaurant in Northern Italy and, indeed, have done so at approaching 20 Michelin starred restaurants across Europe including several 2 stars.

The meal itself was 49 euros per person and competent – 2 AA rosette standard we thought – and as such the price was unremarkable.

However, the wine list. Our fourth problem. My goodness what eye-watering prices with a very limited selection but starting at 50 euros. We drank a bottle of Macon Solutre-Pouilly marked up at four times its cost price

And yes, (fifth problem)  there was a lot of vehicle and train noise so if one is used to the utter peace and quiet of the countryside, apart from the occasional animal or owl doing its red in tooth and claw number – as we are – this is not the place to stay .

Nor is it if you have dogs. We paid 30 euros extra for the privilege of having them in our lavatory with a bed in it.

And (oh yes, sixth problem) no milk, one bag of black tea, three coffee pods and a machine without instructions meant no early morning drink either. And no, we do not want to pay 18 euros each for coffee and croissants, fruit etc so did not and found, a couple of miles down the road, a boulangerie with all manner of nice things.

So all in all, following our previous night’s Michelin star experience in a old-fashioned coaching inn in Northern Italy, the previous night to that in the principal suite of a medieval Italian castle with a polished concrete bath in which 4 people could have disported and a bedroom where the ceiling had been painted in celebration of the marriage of a member of the family to a daughter of Tsar Nicholas I, to be stuck in a room containing an oversized lavatory (after what must have been the most unwelcoming of greetings in our lives) we could only conclude that Monsieur Le Prop was having a joke at the expense of Les Rosbifs.

Sorry to have gone on a bit but every one of our complaints, with the exception of road and train noise, was avoidable

Question for The Moral Maze “Should we also have complained about our room or simply told him what to do with his Bog Room?”

Anyway, we live and learn and visitors to Hammet@Castell Malgwyn can be assured that

  1. Dogs are welcome in all public areas except the restaurant (we are in the UK where a lot of people seem to dislike children and dogs) but their owners can eat with them in our bar, a small private room or their own rooms
  2. There is no rail or road noise
  3. Our wine mark ups are much less than industry norms
  4. There is a supply of coffee and teas with milk (fresh available on request) in every room
  5. Wifi is patchy in some rooms but good in public areas

and finally

f .All our bathrooms have doors…

Storm Callum

After our last post about ‘Storm Callum’ we encountered the highest record level of the River Teifi since records began – a huge six metres was recorded on Saturday 13th October…

Two of our members of the Hammet @ Castell Malgwyn team, Amanda and Sian, were personally affected by the flooding. With their homes being right next to the Teifi, the destruction that they both returned to on the Monday morning was phenomenal. Both of them are coping amazingly well, however they are both needing to be re-homed.

During the flooding, we had four guests, two dogs, five members of the team and three local residents and two cats marooned at the hotel. They managed to stay safe and warm with the log fire and cheese toasties with homemade soup (thanks to Cornel, the Head Chef) to share between them.

The hotel has been unaffected, thankfully, and we are back open for business. Any guests that are due to stay with us over the next few days should be aware that Llechryd bridge is currently closed. Please allow more time for travel and if you need any help with alternative routes then please give us a call on 01239 682 382.






Autumn

Autumn is officially here and with it brings ‘Storm Callum’. Some of our beautiful trees along our private drive are feeling the strain!

At the end of the lane, we welcome you with a roaring fire, hot chocolates and Welsh-roasted coffees to order, a gin flight special (three gins and a Fevertree tonic of your choice @ £13) and a two AA Rosette menu on offer most nights of the week. With over thirty gins stocking our Library Bar shelves, there will be plenty of choice; old favourites, something a little different and even a couple of our top-selling, Welsh gins.

New to the Art Room Menu is Cornel’s ‘Apple, White Chocolate Mousse, Blackberry and Mint’. We have reduced our menu to three options over the Autumn/Winter period as things start to wind down and life plays a slower pace in this corner of rural Pembrokeshire.

Mr & Mrs Jones

Lynne and Brendan chose to have their ceremony in our ‘Art Room’ restaurant (which is transformed especially for the occasion). The guests appreciated the melodies of the harpist, whilst they patiently awaited the arrival of the bride.

For the wedding breakfast, the couple decided upon striking fuchsia pink chair sashes, enhanced by the simple chair covers. We adored these large L-O-V-E letters and the LED dance floor – all provided by one of our recommended, local suppliers Bridget at ‘Pretty Seats and Bows‘.

The couple had selected our new ‘Shotgun Package’ which is only available six months before the big day. Ideal for those who can’t wait to get down the aisle! For information on our ‘Shotgun Package’ give us a call or drop us an e-mail.

 

Mr & Mrs McLaughlin

Emma and Aidan had a huge three day wedding, with extra accommodation on the croquet lawn in the shape of bell tents! They even hired some large outdoor games for the families attending.

We thought their ceremony tent was on another level! A beautiful, floral archway was built at the entrance and Emma walked up the patio steps to meet her future husband-to-be, Aidan. A special atmosphere was designed by simply hanging spotlight garlands around the inside of the tent. Pure magic.

One of our long time, recommended wedding suppliers, O&C Photography, were there to capture the big day. Emma and Aidan happily shared a selection of the images with us and we are delighted that they did! Take a peek below to see what the husband and wife photography team, O&C, created.

Mr & Mrs Clark

Maria and Nic decided to have a very small and intimate wedding, with their ceremony held in our Map Room at the front of the house. They then followed up with a wedding breakfast in our Ballroom which overlooks the patio and side lawn. We loved their purple and green colour combination with personal details for decoration.

Wedding portrait of Maria and Nic.
Maria and Nic at the Hammet @ Castell Malgwyn hotel entrance.

We can cater for weddings with 10 guests right up to 150 guests and we are licensed to hold ceremonies anywhere in the house or our seven acres of gardens.

The best way to find out what we can offer you is to give us a call and book a wedding showaround. You will be able to see the venue for yourself and also meet our lovely Wedding Co-ordinator, Carys. In the meantime, you can always view our current brochures

Hand-picked flower arrangement.
Hand-picked flower arrangement for the ceremony.
The Ballroom set up with a purple colour scheme, overlooking our patio.
Maria and Nic asked for one table for all the guests with a lounge area for afterwards.
Buffet; scones with jam and cream, mixed leaf salad, cheeses and focaccia.
Wedding breakfast buffet; home-baked scones with locally made jam and clotted cream, mixed leaf salad, Welsh cheeses and focaccia.
Our Map Room set up with a green colour scheme.
Ceremony held in our Map Room for Maria and Nic’s big day.
Our Map Room set up for the wedding ceremony.
One of our alternative choices of rooms for smaller ceremonies.
Our Map Room set up for the ceremony.
Beautiful green bows on our designer Philippe Starck ‘Ghost’ chairs.

 

 

Cardigan River & Food Festival

‘How to Cook the Perfect Steak’ 

For the first year Head Chef, Cornel Uys, teams up with local butcher, Dafydd Davies of ‘Dewi James a’i Gwmni‘. They give an exclusive, live demonstration at the Cardigan River & Food Festival about cooking the perfect steak. Cooking a steak can be intimidating, but it is easier than you think! Grab these simple tips from Cornel, who has seventeen years experience. 

Promotional material for Cardigan River & Food Festival 2018.

First of all, we’d like to thank all those that attended the demonstration. It was a full turn out and we were delighted to receive so much support. If you did not catch the festival this year, here are the main points.

Cornel Uys and local butcher, Dafydd Davies, at Cardigan River & Food Festival 2018.

Dafydd, one of our main suppliers of high quality meat for the restaurant, gave a short introduction about the variety of steaks you can buy from their shop on Cardigan high street. After this, Cornel explained how to prepare, season and cook the steak. His preference is to season with salt, pepper, crushed garlic and handfuls of rosemary and thyme and to serve medium rare!

Cornel explains the process.

To prepare, season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper. Warm up a large frying pan on a medium heat until it begins to smoke. Add the steak of your choice (ours was sirloin). Turn the steak over and colour the other side, then add the unsalted butter and herbs. The steak should have about 3 minutes for medium rare. Test the steak with your finger, depending on how you like it will depend on the texture of the cooked steak. Resting is important. One of our questions from the audience ‘Doesn’t the steak cool down whilst resting?’. A very important question, to which Cornel explains that heat rises, maintaining the temperature of the steak as it rests. As a result, resting allows the meat to relax and juices to evenly distribute throughout.

Cornel Uys, seasoning steaks for his live demonstration at Cardigan River & Food Festival 2018.

Eating at Hammet @ Castell Malgwyn

Our ‘Filet Steak and Chip’ dish is a popular choice on our ‘Art Room Menu’ or we offer the ‘Minute Sirloin Burger’ with homemade slaw and skinny fries from our simpler ‘House Menu’ which is served all week between 12pm and 8.45pm (during Summer Hours). Please note that our menus are amended, depending on which ingredients are available in Pembrokeshire and beyond. To see our most up-to-date ‘Art Room Menu’ click here, or to see our current ‘House Menu’ click here.

Cornel Uys at Cardigan River & Food Festival 2018.
Local butcher, Dafydd, at Cardigan River & Food Festival.
‘How to Cook the Perfect Steak’ by Cornel Uys at Cardigan River & Food Festival 2018.

A First Hello

Lately we have been wanting somewhere to tell you; our regular visitors, our newlyweds, members of the Pembrokeshire community, and ‘just passing by’ers a little bit more about what goes on at the hotel. What better way than to do that than through a blog! So here is our first hello.

Our Pembrokeshire hotel is nestled quietly in the countryside. This perfect introduction is for those stumbling upon our blog by chance and who have not heard of us before….

History

The house was built in 1795 by Sir Benjamin Hammet, who also purchased the Penygored tin works up the river.

Sir Benjamin died in 1800 leaving his wife and son at the estate. John Hammet, his son, died at the age of 44 in 1811, the estate remained in the Hammet family until Louisa’s death in 1824. At which point it was purchased by Abel Anthony Gower.

Part of the original estate is now home to Llechryd Cricket Club, which is fitting as famous former England cricket captain David Gower is a descendant of James Gower, brother to Abel Gower.

The house was converted into a hotel in 1960 and has been functioning as one ever since.

In 2012 the estate was re-christened ‘Hammet House’ in honour of Sir Benjamin Hammet.

It has been 18 months since Chris and Nicky took the reins over and decided to bring back the former name of ‘Castell Malgwyn’, as it was known to locals for many decades.

*

So if you didn’t already know, Castell Malgwyn is back. To book a romantic getaway, a weekend break or a family holiday at our hotel click here.

For any other enquiries give us a call on 01239682382.

Best,

The Hammet @ Castell Malgwyn team

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