Eat Local Wales
It's a small country yet it is big on pride and passion. And so it should be. Especially the Welsh producers and restaurants who’ve quietly been putting their names on the world culinary map in recent years. But – simply prepared, great-tasting fresh food is not a new fad here, it’s just that outsiders are, at last, beginning to take notice.
The basic ingredients from this wild, rugged and fertile landscape’s natural larder make even the most economical dishes taste wonderful. Lamb stews, Welsh black cattle steaks, shell fish and delectable cheeses are outstanding. When the quality of ingredients are as good as they are in Wales, it's right they are left to speak for themselves.
Ali Ray's Eat Local loves:
Cheese – Perl wen (knocks the spots off brie!) and Cenarth. Meat – Gower salt marsh lamb, Rhug Estate Welsh black steaks. Seafood – Aberdaron brown dressed crab. Treats – Bara Brith tea bread, Heavenly ice cream in Llandeilo (the strawberry and white chocolate is truly divine). Places – Abergavenny and its food festival.
Just ten minutes' drive from Bala Club Site, nestled in the gentle rolling pastures between Lake Bala and Llangollen, the Rhug Estate Organic Farm shop is a worthy destination, if just to marvel at the great quality food on offer.
The shop showcases the best organic meat from the vast estate, including bison, rare-breed Duroc pigs fed on clover, and tasty, tender Welsh black beef. It sells its own sausages, ham, bacon, black pudding and homemade pies. If you don’t want to cook your own, then ‘grab-and-go’ from their charcoal grill burger bar opposite the shop.
Siop Y Gornel, at 21 Tegid Street in Bala itself is a gem of a bakery-delicatessen-cafe. The organic sour dough is delicious and there’s a great selection of cakes, pies and baguettes. They sell top quality local groceries here too.
A trip to Haverfordwest’s riverside farmers' market is proof that Pembrokeshire is not only picturesque but it’s also hugely productive when it comes to great food. Stallholders come from up to 40 miles away to sell fine Welsh cheeses, artisan fresh seafood, whole cooked lobsters and crab from local waters, prize-winning sausages, wild boar meat and local honey.
It’s a great place to people watch and soak up the local vibe – the place bustles and buzzes with life and passionate chatter about food and flavours, not to mention the rugby. It's open every Friday from 9am to 3pm.
The deli in the centre of St David’s is a joy. St David’s Food and Wine, on the high street, is a showcase for the best of Welsh produce. One side is a well-stocked shop and deli, the other is a popular sandwich shop. Made to order, with baguettes baked fresh on the premises, these are sarnies well-worthy of a detour if you are in the area. We also have a Club Site in the area.
The shimmering waters of the spectacular sweeping Cardigan Bay are bountiful as well as beautiful. Visit the little fish stall down on New Quay's harbour front and pick up the catch-of-the-day to grill a fresh fish supper back on site.
Specialities in the area are lobster, Cardigan Bay crab, mackerel and sole. I’m told the prawns are also particularly good. My top notch treat for the tastebuds is a meal at the Harbourmaster hotel restaurant in nearby Aberaeron. Famous for its great Welsh black fillet steaks and freshly-landed seafood, the stunning bay view adds to the occasion.
The annual Seafood festival in July is also a hoot.
It may not be on the doorstep, but if you are camping at this Club Site during October, then it would be criminal to miss the opportunity to visit one of the best food festivals on the circuit. The foodie town of Abergavenny comes alive with more than 200 stalls of gastronomic delights to stimulate the senses.
Taste your way around the cheese village, the beer tent and pastry displays, then head to the castle grounds to watch demonstrations and join in the vibrant party atmosphere.
On a smaller scale, the cafe at the Brecon Beacon Mountain Visitor Centre serves great value, home-cooked Welsh fare with unbeatable table-side views of Pen y Fan.
The Llyn Peninsula is a secret jewel in North Wales' crown. While the tourism spotlight shines on Snowdonia and Anglesey, those in the know turn left at the top of the Cambrian coastline to delight in the lesser-explored Llyn.
This finger of land pointing into the Irish Sea enjoys a micro-climate of warmer weather, dramatic coastline, green space (much of it an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and plentiful campsites including our Llanystumdwy Club Site.
The fertile conditions make it perfect for growing abundant produce and raising livestock. Without even leaving the site members can enjoy great local food. A fresh fish van and a local farmer visit the site to sell fresh vegetables as well as cheese and meats.
Just five miles north, Glasfryn Farm Shop sells Glasfryn Fawr Farm's award-winning Welsh black beef, Llyn lamb, game, pork and bacon. The farm, overlooking the stunning coastline of Bae Ceredigion, supports indigenous livestock breeds.
The pure breed Defaid Llyn (Llyn sheep) originate from the Llyn Peninsula and thrive on the fresh mountain grasses and luscious green lowland meadows in this unspoilt environment giving the meat its own distinctive flavour. The farm’s lamb and beef is also used in the fantastic homemade ready-meals. Open 10am to 6pm every day except Christmas Day.
Beddgelert Camping in the Forest site
The forest location of your campsite may get you in the mood for a foresty-themed fry-up for breakfast. Just two miles away is fungi fanatic Cynan Jones, winner of a National Trust Fine Food Award.
The Mushroom Garden produces chestnut, oyster, field, shiitake and porcini mushrooms that thrive on the Welsh mist and rain. It's open for visits and sales but check times before visiting.
While the Welsh weather seems suited to growing fungi, it's more surprising to learn that just 15 minutes' drive from the campsite is a vineyard. Richard and Iola of Pant Du Vineyard are producing red, white and sparkling wine with their grapes from the 6,600 vines they have growing on their south-facing glacier slopes in the Nantlle Valley near Caernarfon.
They have also planted some 2,000 vintage cider apple trees and 800 Welsh apple varieties. They're a selling local produce on-site too.
Certificated Sites (CS) with food
Spring Meadow Farm in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, run by Tim Young and Lynne Whittemore, is on a 13-acre site that produces an impressive range of fruit and vegetables. The on-site farm shop is an open-sided barn brimming with beautifully displayed baskets of produce.
They sell a huge range from herbs, carrots, beans, leeks, peppers and courgettes to garlic, strawberries, blackcurrants and plums. Tim also runs a weekly stall at the Fishguard producers' market.
The campsite is a true haven, hidden behind a natural wall of willow hedge and sycamore. Each pitch has a campfire hearth and its own picnic table. Spring Meadow Farm Shop is open May-September, Wednesday-Sunday 10am-2pm.
Cwrt Hen is an oasis of calm and tranquillity. This CS is surrounded by 50 acres of green fields, just north of Cardigan on the west coast. Chris and Gill Cordy run a market garden and can provide campers with fresh vegetables all year round. Campers can put their orders in overnight, and the produce is picked the morning after to ensure the freshest food possible.
Favourites over the summer months are cucumbers, lettuce, rocket salad, bags of mixed salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, beef tomatoes, broad beans, aubergines and courgettes, as well as soft fruits, herbs and rather surprisingly Canteloupe melons!
The 30 free-range hens are also on hand to provide campers the freshest, tastiest eggs for their breakfasts.
Wern Oleu, occasionally has eggs and home-grown veg for sale, but is just a few minutes' walk from Llanfechain Community Shop. This is a great little enterprise open every day for milk, bread, meat, vegetables and many other grocery essentials, some of which are locally produced.
This community-run shop opened in 2010 and is a vital resource to the people living in this rural area. The village post office closed some 20 years ago, and the village shop shut ten years ago leaving this community without a much needed hub.
After much campaigning and hard work, the community shop opened to become a focal point for villagers to meet, have a cup of tea and buy groceries. It’s worthy of supporting and a good source of local news.