Wonderful Wales has plenty to offer

Friday, December 2, 2016

Wales has a wealth of farmers’ markets, artisan producers, food festivals, and award-winning restaurants.  It produces some of the finest ingredients, which epitomise the beautiful surroundings.  Salt-marsh lamb, black beef and leeks characterise the farming landscape, and the local waters boast some of the best sea bass and mussels – and let’s not forget that this salty water produces arguably the world’s most revered sea salt – Halen Môn.

Llanddwyn Island, Wales

Welsh larders are stocked with culinary heritage – from Caerphilly cheese to Carmarthen ham, Welsh cakes (flat, sugary, currant scones), laverbread and cockles.

Wales, very wrongly in our opinion, tends to get forgotten on the foodie map. Perhaps this is because there are only five restaurants with Michelin stars, who knows?  Whatever the reason is, there are many more reasons that Welsh food should be celebrated.

It is not just about posh cheese on toast - think Cawl, a delicious stew; Bara Brith, a traditional fruit bread; vegetarian Glamorgan Sausages, made with Caerphilly cheese, leek and coated in breadcrumbs.  All utterly delicious and each is a potted history of Wales.  It’s honest, hearty stuff, made with fresh seasonal ingredients.  Food has historically been a simple wholesome fare – thrifty dishes made with just a few simple, quality ingredients. This was fuel designed to satisfy the hearty appetites of those working the land: farmers, quarry workers, coal miners and fishermen.

So, get your diaries out because Wales also holds some of the food calendar’s top events. The annual Abergavenny Food Festival in September is renowned as one of the best food and drink events in the UK. Pembrokeshire Fish Week, The Neath Food and Drink Festival… we could go on.

Despite only five restaurants holding coveted Michelin Stars (The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, Tyddyn Llan in Llandrillo, Denbighshire, The Crown at Whitebrook in Monmouth, Ynyshir Hall in Machynlleth, Powys, and The Checkers in Montgomery, Monmouthshire) there are plenty of restaurants that deserve accolade. The Felin Fach Griffin, near Brecon, was awarded the Bib Gourmand, while, further south, Stephen Terry’s Abergavenny-based restaurant, The Hardwick, was once described by Michel Roux Jr. as his “favourite Welsh restaurant”.

The Welsh food industry continues to play a vital role in the country’s economy and, with the Welsh Assembly supporting local Welsh produce by promoting the ‘Wales: the True Taste’ brand, there is a groundswell of interest in the nation’s food culture. Even without the Michelin stars, Wales has earned its place as an increasingly popular destination for gastro tourism. Let’s do our best to not to forget the wonder of Wales.