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Food in Wales holiday cottages

Food in Wales

Wales is renowned for many things, but its food is one of the attributes that is often overlooked. Traditional recipes have enjoyed a resurgence recently due to an initiative called “Wales, the True Taste”, and venues across the country have jumped on board with proud national allegiance. It encourages the use of Welsh produce across the land.

The rousing song that is synonymous with the country contains the lines ‘Feed me till I want no more’, so whether it is the bread of heaven with cheese on top, soups, suppers and snacks, Welsh food is undeniably wholesome, tantalisingly tasty and most definitely back on the menu.

Here we take a look at eight top traditional Welsh foods, what you need to know, where’s the best place in Wales to get them, and offer up some mouth-watering recipes to try it all at home. Our πŸ₯• ratings are out of five.

Cawl

Traditional Welsh Cawl

Cawl is a traditional Welsh broth or soup that is popularly considered to be the national dish. It is a meal that is tailor-made for winter and was traditionally stewed in an iron pot over an open fire, using local ingredients.

Secret ingredients

It usually contains all or some of the following ingredients. Salted bacon, scraps of Welsh Lamb, leeks, cabbages, swede and potatoes, but there are regional and seasonal variations. Family recipes and secret ingredients are often passed down through the generations and fiercely guarded.

Make it at home

This dish can be as easy or complicated to prepare as you choose. The beauty of it is, it is a one-pot stop where you can literally just throw it all in and leave it to cook itself.

We tried this fabulous one from Jamie Oliver for the ‘chuck and stew’ option.

Taste rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯• 

Difficulty rating: πŸ₯•

The best in Wales?

Milk and Sugar in Cardiff (a choice of five venues). Their cawl is heavy on tradition and gorgeous in taste. The thick chunks of Welsh lamb have a slight bite and it is served with wedges of bread coated in thick butter.

 

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit

This is a savoury sauce of melted cheese mixed with butter, mustard, beer or wine and poured onto the toast rather than grilled. It doesn’t however, contain any rabbits.

Mystery, myth and rabbits

The origins of this dish are surrounded in mystery and myth, although historians are pretty certain that it was originally called Welsh rabbit. The thought behind this actually comes from derogatory sources where the word ‘Welsh’ was used as a poor substitute for something.

For example

A Welsh hairbrush, for example, is a hand. Welsh rabbit could have been a dish where the meat was substituted with cheese. The first record of the word is in John Byron's’ Literary remains from 1725. He quotes “I did not eat cold beef, but Welsh rabbit and stewed cheese”.

Make it at home:

Try the BBC Food and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’ s version. It’s delicious. 

Taste rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•

Difficulty rating: πŸ₯•

The best in Wales?

The Tea Station in Deganwy. Ask for it well done and with bacon on top and a pot of freshly brewed tea.

 

Laverbread (bara lafwr or bara lawr)

 
 
 
 
 
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This is a delicacy that is now considered as prestigious as champagne in some quarters, and definitely a ‘marmite’ food, i.e. you either love it or hate it, there is no middle ground here! Made from laver, (pronounced lay-ver, not lah-ver) which is seaweed, boiled for hours and then minced or pureed. The gelatinous paste is either sold in this form, or it is coated with oatmeal and fried.

Sketchy origins

Origins are sketchy, but some say it was introduced to diets as a survival food by the Vikings. Laver is a superfood that is rich in important nutrients and essential vitamins from A – K. It is the perfect ingredient to start your day.

Make it at home

A traditional Welsh breakfast should always include laver and cockles.

Taste rating: Totally subjective

Difficulty rating: Again, subjective depending on what you are doing with it, but this recipe is rated 1/5

The best in Wales?

Anywhere along the Pembroke coast, but especially here. The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company

 

Glamorgan Sausage

The original veggie sausage, in a similar way to Welsh Rarebit, they have been sometimes called the ‘poor man’s sausage’ as they contain no meat and were a good way of using up stale bread. Some people say that they originated during rationing in World War 2 when meat was short.

Delicious

One thing is for sure, they are delicious and are traditionally made mainly from leeks, herbs and Caerphilly cheese.

Make it at home: Recipe

Taste rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•

Difficulty rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•  (You need to get the froth and the binding right or you could end up with a kind omelette!)

Best in Wales?

On the lunchtime menu at this beautifully restored Victorian beach shelter, The Fig Tree is in the Vale of Glamorgan and the sausages are heavenly.

 

Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakes

These have been popular since the 19th century and are also known as bakestones as they are cooked on a cast-iron griddle that is about 2cm thick, placed on the fire or cooker.

Au naturel

Occasionally they are also referred to as griddle scones. Unlike scones that usually come with jam and cream, they are best served straight from the griddle with just a sprinkle of sugar.

Make it at home

Try the one in our blog all about Welsh Cakes..

Taste rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•

Difficulty rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•

Best in Wales?

It’s a difficult choice, as so many places make such beautiful cakes, but we’ll go with the Little Valley Bakery as they use traditional methods.

 

Bara Brith

Bara Brith

Bara Brith literally means ‘speckled bread’. It is either yeast-based or uses self-raising flour, and is enriched with dried fruit. These two ingredients are the cause of hot debate as to whether it as a bread or if it qualifies as a cake. Whichever party you may belong to, there is no denying that Bara Brith is absolutely delicious.

Bygone era

In bygone times, this would have been cobbled together at the end of the weekly bake in the village oven. Any left-over bread was gathered up and paired with the dried fruit to create this sweet treat in the dying embers.

Make it at home

Try Mary Berry’s family recipe that omits the use of yeast.

Taste rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•

Difficulty rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•

Best in Wales?

After a climb up Snowdon, a couple of slices of Bara Brith slathered with Welsh Butter and a hot cup of tea here is heaven.

 

Caerphilly Cheese

Caerphilly Cheese

This is a hard, delicious and crumbly cheese made from unpasteurised cow’s milk and described as having a grassy, citrusy, mushroomy and salty flavour. It originates from the South Wales town of the same name and was first made in about 1830. It is affectionately known as “the crumblies”

Make it at home

Try Tom Kerridge’s take on a traditional cheese and onion quiche. This is an amazing recipe that uses Caerphilly cheese and icing sugar!

Taste rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•

Difficulty rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•

Best in Wales?

Due to politics and rules about the transportation of unpasteurised milk, the only producers of genuine Caerphilly cheese is a family-run business, Castle Dairies in Pontygwindy.

The cheese is exclusively distributed by Cegin Cymru and is made to a recipe developed by miners’ wives. It’s available to buy at Caerphilly's visitor centre.

 

Leeks

Leeks, the emblem of Wales

We can’t write about traditional Welsh food without including leeks. The emblem of Wales, this cousin of the onion actually originates in central Asia. Legend has it that St David advised the Britons to wear leeks in their hats to distinguish them from the Saxons on the eve of battle and victory was secured.

Excellent source

Leeks are an excellent source of vitamin K and have many health-boosting properties. For a nutrient-rich way of cooking leeks, the quicker the better, i.e. steamed or sautéed is the best. Let leeks sit for about five minutes prior to cooking and after chopping thinly.

Make it at home

This recipe is so healthy

Taste rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•

Difficulty rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•

This one less so, but highly tasty

Taste rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯•

Difficulty rating: πŸ₯•πŸ₯•πŸ₯• The papery layers add a point, but worth the effort!

Best in Wales?

The Owl and the Pussycat in Laugharne. Their cream of leek and potato soup is served with crusty bread and is yummy.

 

If you would like to sample the fruits of Wales on home soil, we have a beautifully eclectic collection of cottages across the country with all the ingredients for a fabulous holiday.

Ty Granary in Pwllheli, North Wales
Ty Granary in Pwllheli, North Wales
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