The Emerald Island may have its lucky charms, but the lesser-visited country of Wales holds its charm in the inventive, organic cuisine that’s making capital Cardiff a haven for health-conscious foodies. (No green marshmellow clovers here.) We’re talking fresh from the farm ingredients whipped into new takes on traditional Welsh favorites.
Cardiff is a relatively young world capital – at least in name. Named the capital of Wales in 1955, this multicultural city with a population of approximately 325,000 people has, in recent years, moved away from its industrial past thanks to a building barrage from Cardiff Bay to the city center. Inside these new arenas you’ll find chefs willing to take risks for the ultimate culinary rewards.
The revitalized Cardiff Bay is now a true cosmopolitan experience – full of restaurants, bars and cafes, Where to start? Sample the haute cuisine of renowned forager Wesley Hammond at his Woods Brasserie. His dishes are wowing diners with updated Welsh classics like slow-roasted lamb rump in puff pastry and salmon confit with beet tartar. Afterwards, stick around for a boat ride and shopping. At one end of the pier you’ll find the historic Norwegian church. First established to serve the large community of Norwegian sailors working the docks, today it’s a café and art gallery.
Welsh cuisine focuses on more than lamb (hello, mutton chops) and pork. The locals also have a sweet tooth. Bara Brith is a sweet bread made with raisins, Zante currant and candied peel, and can be found in many bakeries. For breakfast, you won’t find the typical British clotted cream and biscuits, but eggs and cockles fried up with bacon and sausage. And then there’s the cheese. Caerphilly, Y Fenni, Hen-Sir, Llanboidy, Tintern…all semi-ripened and sublime in taste and texture. Spread some on typical laver bread and enjoy with a cup of Glengettie tea.
At the Riverside Farmers’ Market, across the street from the Millennium Stadium, stroll the stalls for sumptuous selection of cheese, plus vendors hocking local game meats and other farm-to-table goods. The Millennium Stadium is a sight in itself. An incredible piece of modern architecture, it was opened by the Queen herself. The futuristic Center hosts operas, dance and musicals throughout the year. You can see the inside for free, and live performances take place in the foyer every day during lunch. So grab a bite at the market and stay for the entertainment.
Thanks to the Prince of Wales, there’s been a thrust toward a completely organic food chain. The Duchy Home Farm is a completely organic system and is a flagship for the benefits of sustainable agriculture. The farm is home to the Rare Breeds Survival trust, to ensure the preservation of local animals such as the Tamworth and Large Black pigs, British White cattle and Cotswold sheep – all prized for the quality of their produce. The monarchy even has its own line of organic food, marketed under the Duchy Originals brand. You can purchase a range of products from His Royal Highness: biscuits, jams and even garden furniture with all profits going towards charity.
When people visit Great Britain, most head straight for England and Scotland. Don’t skip out on wonderful Wales. From London’s Paddington Station, you can be organically eating your way through Cardiff in just two hours.
Come taste the difference.