It’s Springtime; get out there! Go for a wander, rediscover Welsh culture. How about planning a road-trip round our finest foodie hot-spots, and consider the gastro side of our visitor centres? Experience your favourite Welsh panoramas over breakfast, lunch and dinner; go for the thrill, but do stay for an appetizer!
Lowri Haf Cooke takes us on a tour of some of the more foodie focused Visitor Centres boasting great welsh fare as well as a stunning vista or cultural experience….
Caffi Castell Harlech, Harlech Hands up who collected key-rings, various ‘gonks’ and car-stickers from castle gift-shops all over Wales? Consider a brand-new pilgrimage, around the castles of Wales, to fight those battles anew against Edward I’s evil forces – then make a bee-line for a spot of refreshment. After all, it’s what Owain Glyndŵr – and Bendigeidfran – would have wanted; two ‘giants’ who – over the centuries – set up home at Harlech Castle. One of the chicest, most contemporary visitor cafes in Wales, is attached to the hilltop-castle floating bridge, in the ancient Welsh commote of Ardudwy. With floor-to ceiling windows, this minimalist glass cube offers vistas of Snowdonia, and Harlech beach below that’ll leave you gasping for a Poblado Coffee. Sister-cafe Llew Glas is located a stone’s throw away on cobbled courtyard Plas y Groits. Shannon’s home-made cakes – including her freshly baked scones – will have you humming ‘Men of Harlech’, and possibly plotting another Welsh revolution. I’r Gâd! Caffi Castell Harlech, Castle Square, Harlech LL46 2YH, tel: 01766780200 www.visitharlech.wales/to-eat
Y Gegin Restaurant, St Fagans National Museum of History Whilst Stockholm’s got Skansen, we’ve got our own world-class folk history attraction that – like the Urdd camp at Llangrannog – is a rite of passage for children all over Wales. If it’s been an age since your last visit, you may have heard of the brand new galleries, as well as recent additions of Llys Llywelyn, Gweithdy, Bryn Eryr Iron Age farmstead – not forgetting, of course, the brand new Coed Lan high ropes and zip wire tree-top course. Another recent upgrade is the visitor centre restaurant, an open cantina-style cafe with a choice of hearty Welsh fare. Although the choices may be timeless – such as cawl, bara brith, faggots and peas – there are some traditional dishes that may be new to you. The ‘Anglesey Eggs’ are a must, for example – mashed potatoes, boiled eggs, leeks and creamy cheese sauce, the definition of comfort food. Talking of comfort, the restaurant booths were upholstered in a bespoke Melin Teifi woollen pattern. For a full-on gastro-folk experience, don’t forget to pop in to Popty’r Dderwen for a tin loaf, or Gwalia sweetshop for ‘losin du’ before tea! Y Gegin Restaurant, St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff CF5 6XB, tel: 0300 1112333 museum.wales/stfagans
Rhug Farm Shop and Bison Grill Bistro, Corwen If you’re a foodie visiting Bala, for some watersport adventures on Llyn Tegid or the river Tryweryn, you must make a 10 minute detour North-East to the Rhug Estate Farm Shop and Bistro near Corwen. Not only is Rhug one of the UK’s biggest single producers of organic lamb, but Lord Newborough’s estate lamb has PGI (Protected Geographic Indication) status, like Champagne, Caerphilly Cheese and Parma Ham. With over 3000 Welsh products the timber-framed farm shop is reminiscent of ‘Daylesford’, only better, as it’s closer to home! Indeed, it’s the only Welsh finalist in the running this Spring to claim The Guild of Fine Food’s award for ‘Farm Shop of the Year’ for 2019. At the Bison Grill Bistro, how about a ‘Rhug Estate Breakfast’, or even a ‘Date with a Duck’ for your tea? The bison burger is served with triple cooked chips – but if you’re really in a rush, the organic bacon bap is a must, from the ‘On The Hoof ’ Takeaway! Rhug Estate, Corwen, Denbighshire LL21 0EH, tel: 01490 413000 rhug.co.uk