top of page
BW_Practical-Support_SkyscraperBanner_12

Reaching for the stars





From the mountains to the sea, Wales has long been known as a land abundant with beautiful food. And in today’s food scene - with its focus on artisanship, sustainability and provenance - the nation is showing it can compete with the best in the world in terms of quality and taste.


With support from the Welsh Government, Welsh food firms have flourished in their communities, as well as on a national and global scale. Nothing could demonstrate this more clearly than this year’s best-ever crop of Great Taste award-winners, with the nation taking home a record number of wins across the one-, two- and three-star categories. Great Taste is the world’s largest and most trusted food and drink accreditation scheme and being awarded stars is a highly respected seal of approval of these wonderful Welsh products.



Congratulating the winning producers, Welsh Government Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, said:

“A huge congratulations to all of our Welsh companies on their achievements in this year’s Awards.

“We have some of the best food and drink products in the world and it is great to see the commitment and hard work of businesses being recognised by the judges from the much respected Guild of Fine Food.

“I would encourage people in Wales as well as visitors to support our Welsh food and drink businesses and try some of their fantastic products.”


And, as the need for financial belt-tightening dominates the agenda, buying these bites of Wales’ brilliance will provide the small taste of luxury needed to see the nation through difficult times, while also ensuring that its burgeoning food scene can continue to thrive.


Join us here on a tour of our beautiful country, dropping in on this year’s two- and three-star winners in their communities, from cottage kitchen jam-makers to national butter brands, to celebrate their lip-smacking success.

Mid-Wales

It’s the mountainous heart of Wales known for its verdant beauty, but did you know that it’s also famous for ground-breaking entrepreneurship? Newtown claims to be the birth of the mail-order retail business in the 19th century after entrepreneur Pryce Jones started despatching goods direct to people in Europe. Now the town is proving that it is still just as ambitious, as well as being the nation’s juicy centre: a raft of small preserve companies from the region carried off prizes this year.



At the top of the pile is Newtown’s Hilltop Honey (lovehilltop.com). Its Spanish Orange Blossom - stocked in Holland & Barrett - claimed two stars. But the firm can also claim strength and depth in its products’ quality; 10 other kinds of honey from the maker were awarded one star, including its Spanish Lavender Honey, Bulgarian Coriander Honey and Manuka Honey.


Al

so in Newtown is Radnor Preserves (www.radnorpreserves.com). It carried off one-star awards for its hand-made, locally sourced and world-class St Clement’s and Seville Orange Marmalades, while Black Mountains Preserves (www.blackmountainspreserves.com), based near Brecon, also grabbed one star for its Damson and Orange Extra Jam and its Asian Butternut Achar. All these winning jams are available from their makers’ websites.



Fruit isn’t the region’s only winning offering. Black Mountain Smokery (www.smoked-foods.co.uk) claimed one star for its Smoked Sea Bass Fillet and its Traditionally Smoked Trout Fillets, as did Monty’s Brewery (www.montysbrewery.co.uk) in Montgomery for its Magnitude ale, and the March Hare Bakery (themarchharebakery.co.uk) in Llanbrynmair for its Green Apple and Fennel Martini Macaroons.


South Wales


Further south the sweet success continues. At the foot of the beautiful Wye valley in Chepstow is the Preservation Soci­ety (thepreservationsociety.co.uk), founded by a farmer's daughter, who grew up making preserves with her mum and grandmothers. Don’t be fooled by the traditional overtures, though. Her winning offering for 2022 was the sweet and spicy Candied Jalapenos, which claimed two stars. Brilliant on burgers, they are made with 60% chillies and are sure to give life some flavour.



Abergavenny’s Apple County Cider (www.applecountycider.co.uk) in Monmouthshire - Wales’ cider county of fertile red earth nestled between the Brecon Beacons National Park and Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - claimed two stars for its Medium Dry Cider. Made from 100% bitter-sharp Browns apples, this tangy, crisp and clean drop is a fine testament to the region’s apple-growing pedigree. Buy it on the website or pick it up from Whitehouse Farm Shop.



The brew could be enjoyed alongside some two-star Abergavenny lamb. In particular, Black Welsh Lamb’s (www.blackwelshlamb.com) pasture-fed, organic shoulder of mutton. Raised on the edge of the Black Mountains, its lambs are fed only natural grass and hay, maturing at their own pace for meat that is tender and low fat with a complex flavour.



More marvellous Welsh lamb can be found at NS James Family Butchers - the oldest family butcher in Wales - (www.nsjames.co.uk) in Raglan, whose Welsh Lamb Chump Chop carried off two stars. The village boasts a two-star brew, too. The Untapped Brewing Company’s (www.untappedbrew.com) Ember is an old-style ale with baked chocolate biscuit notes, followed by flavourful yet balanced hop and malt textures. Buy it online or visit the brewery for pickup.



The Wye Valley Meadery (www.wyevalleymeadery.co.uk) continues the region’s drinks pedigree. The small, family-run company founded by two brothers and now based in Caldicot grabbed two stars for its Traditional Mead and a bumper three stars for its Hive Mind: Big Smoke - Smoked Honey Porter, a dark and smoky smooth porter, which oozes with honey notes. Get it online or visit the Caldicot taproom to try their delicious drinks alongside a pizza.


Three-star glory was also claimed by Tintern’s Parva Spices (www.parva-spices.co.uk). Its unforgettable Sambal Hijau combines fresh cooling mint, aromatic coriander and warm green chillies to make a delicious sauce that is a perfect pairing for Welsh lamb. It's available from Brockweir and Hewelsfield Village Shop and Cafe in Chepstow, and Cardiff’s Pen y Lan Pantry and Wally's Delicatessen.



The spicy vibes continue in Newport’s pretty Belle Vue Park, where you can try Tasty Bites’s three-star worthy - and truly delicious - Curried Goat Pattis at Iona’s Kitchen at Belle Vue Tea Rooms (www.facebook.com/thewelshjamaican). Heading to the Gwent valleys, Bargoed is home to family-run specialist desserts business Terry’s Patisserie (www.terryspatisserie.co.uk ). Its delightful Blackcurrent Delice claimed two stars, with judges saying it was ‘sublime in every way’. It can be bought at the Novice Kitchen (www.thenovicekitchen.com) in London.



Caerphilly’s Castle Dairies (www.castledairies.co.uk) is one of Wales’ biggest food success stories, supplying its beautiful butter to the UK’s retail giants. This year its Welsh Butter with Halen Môn Sea Salt Crystals - made with 100% Welsh cream and Anglesey natural sea salt crystals - was awarded two stars. Find it in Marks & Spencer and Tesco.


In Bedwas is Williams Brothers Cider’s (williamsbrotherscider.com), whose two-star winning, hand-crafted Biffyn Sweet Sparkling Bottled Cider continues the area’s winning streak. Its soft tannins and fruity taste will truly tickle the taste buds. It can be bought nearby at Well Drawn Brewing in Caerphilly, as well as Pop 'n' Hops in Cardiff and other outlets in Wales.


Cardiff’s Llandaff North is home to Al Ponte Deli, where you can buy Chilli of the Valley’s (www.ChilliOTV.co.uk), two-star-winning Picca Chilli, a cheeky relish with a tickle of heat from habanero chillies. Run by Arwel and Dan Reed, a father and son team from Merthyr who share a passion for spice, Chilli of the Valley uses locally sourced ingredients to bring their love of all things hot and spicy to food lovers everywhere. Picca Chilli is also available on their website.


Along the A40 in Llandow, in the Vale of Glamorgan, is Sloane Home (www.sloanehome.co.uk), an award-winning gifts and hamper company. Two of its delightful gins, Lone Stag Raspberry and Rosebud Infusion - made with freshly picked local farm-grown raspberries and organic rose otto - and Lone Star Strawberry and Mint Spirit Infusion - with fresh-from-field farm strawberries, hand-picked wild mint and a pinch of black pepper - claimed two stars. As well as being stocked by the National Trust, they can also be purchased from the company’s website.

Based in Windy Corner near Swansea is Good For You Ferments (www.goodforyouferments.com), run by duo Aoife and Jon, who, after searching for ways to preserve their gluts of home-grown vegetables, discovered lacto-fermentation - an ancient way of preservation using salt. Their Sea Green, a naturally fermented, unpasteurised sauerkraut, tastes of the sea, with cabbage, kale, seaweed, spirulina and ginger, was deemed two-star worthy. It can be found at Swansea Market, as well as other outlets in the region, and on their website.


Selwyn's Seafoods (selwynsseafoods.com) has been part of the Swansea's food landscape for years, with more than five decades of history selling seafood through the South Wales Valley. Its two-star winning Cooked Cockles are hand-gathered in Penclawdd for an authentic taste of the city by the sea’s long history with this special seafood. Grab some on Selwyn’s website or make a day of it by visiting Selwyn’s Seafood shack and visitors centre on the picture-perfect shores of the North Gower Peninsula estuary.


Over in Burry Port is local coffee bean roasting company Whitford Coffee Company (www.thewhitfordcoffeecompany.co.uk), whose two-star winning Y Draig Goch - a Penderyn Whisky Single Malt-infused coffee - is available as ground coffee or beans to deliver a smoky, sweet and smooth drink. Get it on their website and enjoy a beautiful brew.


West Wales

They say west is best, and that’s certainly true for sunny days out. And Mario's Luxury Dairy Ice Cream (www.mariosicecream.com) is a feature of many of those days across Wales. Based in Cross Hands, the three stars awarded to its very grown-up Espresso Martini Ice Cream is a testament to the firm’s inventiveness and ambition. It also claimed one star for its cookie dough and clotted-cream vanilla ice creams.


Dunbia (dunbia.com) is a huge company with a base in Cross Hands, and its Welsh Hill Lamb Eye of Loin grabbed two stars.


Coaltown Coffee (www.coaltowncoffee.co.uk) is a brand that’s been busy putting its name on the map over the past few years. The Ammanford-based company’s Union blend - its first designed for filter brewing, delivering a clean, medium-bodied and perfectly balanced cup - won two stars. The company’s on-site The Roastery features a hip espresso bar and shop where coffee lovers can indulge themselves – but the blends are also up for grabs on Coaltown’s website.


Seidr y Mynydd (www.seidrymynydd.cymru), a cider company based in Kidwelly, also claimed two stars for its delicious medium-sweet, whole-juice Premium Cider, which is widely available online.


A little further west there are more two-star worthy sweet treats to discover. Dryslwyn, near Carmarthen, is home to honey company Gwenyn Gruffydd (www.gwenyngruffydd.co.uk), where it produces Welsh Heather Honey - gathered from across the Welsh uplands and featuring a unique dark amber colour and jelly-like consistency (available on the website). Mabel George in Narberth claimed the same honours for its delicious Stem Ginger Fudge, which can be bought in Wisebuys, Narberth.


The presence of the Atlantic Coast looms large among the winners as we head further west. In Kilgetty, Still Wild’s (stillwilddrinks.com) Coastal Gin - a dry, savoury spirit, with notes of foraged seaweed, rock samphire, gorse, thyme, sea buckthorn and bitter orange - took away two stars (available on website). In Haverfordwest, Atlantic Edge Oysters’s (www.atlanticedgeoysters.co.uk) Pembrokeshire Rock Oysters - grown on the Atlantic Edge where the company is leading the way in restorative aquaculture - also grabbed two stars.


The taste of the sea also helped Pembrokeshire Sea Salt Co (www.pembrokeshireseasalt.co.uk) - based in Dinas - crown its Sea Salt with Saffron (available on the website) with three stars. Its honeyed smoky aroma of saffron is ideal for adding glamour and depth to fish and rice dishes, and even creamy desserts (available on website).


Havefordwest’s Pembrokeshire Lamb Ltd (www.pembrokeshirelamb.co.uk) claimed two stars for its Hogget Leg. The business, which delivers lamb, hogget and mutton boxes direct to door also won an amazing three stars for its rich and delicious Hogget mince.


Head north along the coast from Haverfordwest to find two more small businesses offering products with big flavour - and two-star seals of approval. Pointz Castle Ice Cream (www.pointzcastle.com), near Solva, won acclaim for its Pembrokeshire Honey Gelato, while in historic St Davids – Wales’ smallest city and the resting place of our national saint - Old Farmhouse Brewery’s (www.oldfarmhousebrewery.co.uk) Cwrw Clôs, is a twist on a classic bitter and a testament to the company’s Welsh farming roots and featuring honey from its own hives. It is widely available across the region and from the website, so there’s no reason not to raise a glass to St David.


St Dogmels’ Cardigan Bay Fish (www.cardiganbayfish.co.uk) heads back to the fruits of the sea for its winning produce; its Dressed Crab carried off two stars. But in the rest of Ceredigion, it was the fruits of the land that shone to claim two-star glory. In Newcastle Emlyn, there’s Ceri Valley Orchards’s (www.welshcraft.co.uk) winning Welshcraft Cider Vinegar, while, in Llandysul, cheese and honey took the prizes: Caws Teifi Cheese in Ffostrasol (www.teificheese.com) claimed two stars for its Teifi Organic Halloumi and Teifi Mature cheeses (widely available) and would be beautifully partnered with Cardigan Bay Honey’s (www.cardiganbayhoney.co.uk) two-star winning Summer Wildflower Honey.


Crwst (www.crwst.cymru) - an artisan bakery and cafe in Cardigan - claimed double two-star honours for its Aber Falls Whisky Salted Caramel, a silky, smooth and boozy sweet treat, and for its Welsh Honey Butter (available on website).


Just outside the town, in the hamlet of ​​Tanygroes, lies another winner – but not just any winner: it’s champion of champions Bay Coffee Roasters (www.baycoffeeroasters.com). The company prides itself on its west Wales location, where it roasts its coffee using electricity sourced from a 100% traceable renewable energy supplier. Caring for the environment clearly doesn’t distract from quality as its Indonesian Sumatran Fairtrade Organic Coffee won a magnificent three stars as well as the Great Taste Golden Fork trophy for Wales – the top accolade which crowns it Wales’ most exceptional food and drink product of the year. Judges during the blind tasting praised it as having

“gentle, sweet, spicy flavours which dance around the mouth and then come together in a balanced harmony that finishes with a sweet, slightly fermented linger.”


Devil’s Bridge - in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains, 12 miles from Aberystwyth - has a somewhat spooky reputation. The nearby Devil’s Bridge Falls is a world-famous tourist spot where, according to legend, the original bridge earned its name because the devil appeared and promised to build a bridge in exchange for the soul of the first living thing to cross it. So it’s good to know the village has a sweet side with Sarah Bunton Chocolates’s (www.sarahbunton.co.uk) two-star winning Orange Fudge. Available in the village’s Y Caban and online, it's made with candied orange peel for a wonderful fresh flavour. Devilishly good.


North Wales

North Wales has no shortage of quality produce, and this year’s winners have an emphasis on traditional Welsh fare. Dolwen Welsh Lamb and Beef (www.dolwenlambandbeed.com), an organic farm near the beautiful village of Llanarmon DC, near Llangollen, started selling its meat directly to consumers in boxes three years ago. Its PGI Welsh rack of lamb claimed two stars, as did the Welsh Beef Steak Burgers from Conwy’s Edwards (www.weareedwards.co.uk), which can be found in Aldi, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, among other retailers.


More two-star honoured beef can be found in Holyhead in the form of Anglesey Fine Foods’s (angleseyfinefoods.co.uk) Black Label Wing Rib of Beef. Also on Anglesey is Dylan’s Restaurant (www.dylansrestaurant.co.uk), which claimed two stars for its leek oil (available on the website).


Welsh lamb claimed another two-star success in the form of Rhug Estate’s (www.rhug.co.uk) Organic Lamb Chops. The 2,500 acres estate, near Corwen, extends from Gwyddelwern in the north, Carrog to the east, Cynwyd to the south and Maerdy to the west and is an organic farm producing meat. But it has much more to offer beyond meat - there’s a farm shop, the Michelin-recognised bistro, accommodation and even a range of toiletries. Perfect for mixing beautiful food with a brilliant day out.


North Wales also seems to have a talent for sweet treats. In Caernarfon, there’s Glaslyn Ice’s (www.glaslynices.co.uk) two-star winning Halen Mon Salted Caramel ice cream. Family-run Glaslyn is the oldest Ice Cream Parlour and Pizzeria in Snowdonia National Park, named after the river that flows through the legendary village of Beddgelert, where the grave of medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn’s faithful hound, Gelert, can be found. The prince killed the hound in error, thinking it had killed his child. Pick up a treat from the parlour to enjoy on a wander to the site of Gelert’s grave to be immersed in Welsh legend.


And there are lots of fruity success stories in the region in the form of two-star winning jams. Abergele, on the north Wales coast, is where Celtalan of Conwy (www.celtalan.co.uk) makes its delicious, artisan and two-star winning Seedless Raspberry Jelly using traditional methods in small batches in a cottage kitchen. Welsh Speciality Foods (www.wsf.uk) in Rhyl carried off accolades for its Welsh Breakfast Marmalade, which is stocked by the Co-operative Group, while, in Wrexham, another cottage business, Bev's Been Baking (bevsbeenbaking.co.uk), claimed stars for its Raspberry and Morello Cherry Jam.


Two honey companies in the region also triumphed with two-star awards. Black Mountain Honey (www.blackmountainhoney.co.uk) based in Nercwys, near Mold, won with its Hot Fire Honey (available on the website) - made with Welsh chillies - while family bee-farming company Hedgerow Honey (Hedgerow-honey.co.uk), in Penyffordd, near Mold, won with its Soft Set Honey (available online).


Back in Wrexham, there’s an award-winning way to whet the whistle at the end of a long and tasty journey around Wales. Magic Dragon Brewing’s (www.magicdragonbrewing.co.uk) Eyton Gold - a well-rounded, golden easy-drinking ale - was also deemed worthy of two stars and would make a perfect tipple with which to raise a glass to Wales’ award-winning produce. Iechyd da!


6 views0 comments

Comments


BW_WELSH_Practical-Support_SkyscraperBan
bottom of page