Friday, 6 July 2018

Exploring Welsh Food And Drink With Food & Drink Wales

I'm Welsh and I'm proud of it. Wales is a beautiful country and has some fabulous tasty food, so when Food & Drink Wales asked me to join them on an exploration of food and drink in South and West Wales I could hardly say no. 

Over the course of two days, we visited a number of local food producers and vineyards and spoke to the passionate people behind the businesses, all making outstanding delicious Welsh produce.


Jabajak Vineyard


Our first stop on this culinary tour was Jabajak. Jabajak is a vineyard and restaurant with rooms in Whitland, in the heart of West Wales. Originally starting as a Bed and Breakfast it has evolved over time and in 2007 a vineyard was planted with the aim of producing a Welsh sparkling wine. Over time the restaurant with rooms has won many accolades including Winner of the TV series Four In A Bed, a Trip Advisor certificate of excellence, and a listing in the Good Food Guide. 




The owner Amanda was very welcoming and her enthusiasm for the wine she produces shone through.


The first vintage (2014) of still white called 'White House' arrived at the end of 2015 and immediately won an internationally recognised silver medal and the first sparking blush (2014) was launched in 2017. Oz Clarke described it as "a delightful come hither flavour of passion fruit and a beguiling floral scent." 


What makes the wine interesting is the that Jabajak’s grapes produce wines with a “mineral” quality. This is because the area’s distinctive growing media – or “terroir” – includes a lot of slate, said Amanda.




The vineyard has now planted the grape Pinot Noir so it will be interesting to see and taste the results when it is ready. 

If you stay here you are in for a treat as the rooms are beautifully decorated in a traditional style, some with four-poster beds, and the bathrooms are modern with showers with some featuring slipper baths. 


The food here is exceptional. From the light peppery nettle soup with hints of mushroom to the tender Welsh Celtic Pride beef with a rich Perl Las sauce, and sweet and earthy Pembrokeshire early potatoes. A rhubarb crumble like your mum would make, rounded the meal off as well as scrumptious gin and tonic truffles from the Welsh company Nom Nom.





Windmill Park Farm

The next day we travelled to Windmill Park Farm in Haverfordwest. Windmill Park Farm is a 300-acre family run farm growing early potatoes, cereals and rearing beef cattle. It is a five generation farm run by the owner Will and his son Ed.



The soil here is special, made of a red sandstone and perfect for growing Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes. Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes (Pembrokeshire earlies) were granted PGI status in 2013.

You may wonder what this means, Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) means that the product is strongly linked to the place of origin, using traditional methods of production and local skills which have been passed down through generations.



We had a go at digging up some potatoes, you can tell when a new potato like this is in season, as when you rub the potato the skin comes off. Did you know the best way to cook them is to boil them gently and if your knife goes into the potatoes easily then they are cooked?



Top them with salted butter, Welsh preferably, and enjoy. I like to serve them with roast lamb and they also make a great accompaniment to a bacon and mature cheese quiche for a light dinner. Look out for the Blas Yr Tir (meaning taste of the land) early Pembrokeshire potatoes in the supermarket.

Weobley Castle Farm

Our next stop was to Weobley Castle Farm, the home of Gower Salt Marsh Lamb.



Welsh lamb has PGI status, and is an important part of Welsh heritage and culture, with traditional husbandry methods handed down through generation. The quality of Welsh lamb is known throughout the world. Gower Salt Marsh lamb is, however, extra special. In this idyllic setting, the lambs graze on the salt marsh grasses, samphire, sorrel, thrift and sea lavender and this gives the lamb the unique flavour.



Farmer Will Pritchard, took our party to see the lambs grazing in the field.


No intensive farming methods here, just happy sheep grazing on the marshland. You can see why Gower Salt Marsh Lamb has won a number of awards including the Great Taste Awards 3-star award on a number of occasions. You can buy from their online shop.





Cwm Farm

We stayed that night at Llanerch Vineyard with some amazing food (more on that later), and the next morning travelled meet Ruth and Andrew Davies from Cwm Farm at Salami HQ! Ruth bought Cwm Farm in 2010 near Pontardawe with the intention of producing their own pork and sausages, but due to demand, they decided to sell to the public as well.



Ruth is just so enthusiastic about the charcuterie they create, you can tell she really believes in the business and the delicious products they sell. We tried a sample of their best selling laverbread salami. A slight taste of the sea but not overpowering it added a different flavour to the salami.

She spoke about how the business evolved, a trip to Denmark to find out ways to add value to the business culminated in a stay on a pig farm with 52,000 pigs and thus her passion for salami was born.




During our visit, I saw where the salamis are kept. After being dried in a special dryer, it goes into the 'cave'. The 'cave' is a fridge with a cool, dry dark setting which mimics the conditions of a cave, with low humidity.

Cwm Farm produces some interesting products, from the aforementioned laverbread chorizo, their most popular product to a Ndujla which is like a spreadable spicy pate, to my favourite a chorizo with brandy. It's great to know that everything is made and produced in Wales, from the rearing of the pigs on Cwm Farm to the preparation of the meat and the curing of the charcuterie at their Salami HQ. Cwm Farm has also won a number of food awards for the quality of the products and you can see why with the tremendous flavour, love and care that goes into the charcuterie.




Llanerch Vineyard

So our last stop was Llanerch Vineyard. Llanerch Vineyard is a twenty-minute drive from Cardiff in the pretty Vale of Glamorgan. The vineyard and restaurant with rooms is the place to go in the area for some tremendous locally sourced food. I've visited before and can highly recommend the Sunday dinner which was served with huge Yorkshire puddings and also cauliflower cheese. Delicious!



We met Simon Gatley here, a local wine expert. We were encouraged to choose what we wanted from the menu and Simon matched the food with various wines from Llanerch. Although he suggested the pairing, his ethos is - if you like the wine then why not have what you want!





The next day, after visiting Cwm Farm we came back to the vineyard for a wine tasting and tour.



First, we tried some charcuterie from Cwm Farm and Trealy Farm, another Welsh producer and also some local cheeses. Wales has so many brilliant cheeses including Hafod cheddar, Pearl Las and Golden Cenarth, so be sure to check them out at the supermarket, from your independent deli or when visiting Wales. Simon encouraged us to try various white and red wines with the cheese and charcuterie.

The tour started with some history of the vineyard then onto a tasting and a tour of the vines. Llanerch's first vines were planted in 1986, a mix of French and German hybrids. The vineyard was taken over in 2010 and it now harvests between 8-12 tonnes of grapes each year, producing approximately 10,000 bottles of their 'Cariad' wine. Why Cariad? Well, Cariad is Welsh for beloved, sweetheart or darling, it's a term of endearment in Wales and an apt term for what is becoming one of Wales most beloved vineyards.

We tried the Cariad dry white, a white wine that had crisp fresh flavours of apple. The sort of wine that would go well with chicken and fish and wouldn't overpower the food. It was easy to drink, with low to medium acidity.



So with full stomachs and giggling like school girls, (wine always goes to my head in the afternoon) we finished our exploration of Welsh food and drink. 


Pin for later

In 2016, the Welsh government commissioned research to understand the value of 'Welshness' in the UK, and over 80% of consumers in Wales, when questioned, stated they prefered to buy Welsh produce. When you taste amazing produce like I did on my recent trip, you can see why - excellent quality food made in authentic ways, from enthusiastic people with a real zest for life. Did I say I am proud to be Welsh?

Let me know, have you eaten Welsh food. What food do you associate with Wales?

*This is a sponsored post, I was invited on the trip by Food & Drink Wales
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40 comments

  1. the vineyard sounds amazing! I love doing tastings at the site - always so lovely and kind and give generous tastes :)

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  2. Oh wow how fab is this! I love that you got to delve so deep into how the food even digging up those potatoes! Gotta love fresh food the best.

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    1. It was brilliant to digging up the potatoes and then given some to take home, covered in dirt. Super fresh!

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  3. There is just some of the most beautiful produce in Wales, I have had some of the best meals I have ever eaten there! :) x

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  4. What a beautiful trip and one that's totally worth it. I'm all about the good wine and food. And nothing beats locally produced goods!

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  5. Although we have only been to Wales once, we had a great time and would love to go back.

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  6. I love days out like this, had no idea that Wales had vineyards!!!

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  7. I have only ate Welsh cakes, which I find delicious! I would like to do a food tour of Wales though and visit local producers.

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    1. It was really interesting to find out about locally made food.

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  8. I am a big foodie too hence totally enjoyed reading your post on the lovely food & drinks in Wales. Jabajak Vineyard sounds like a great place to visit, will make a note of this next time we are in Wales.

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  9. Annemarie LeBlanc8 July 2018 at 01:20

    A wine tour is always a pleasant experience. I love that you had more than just learning about wines, vineyards, and the grapes they produce. Learning about the salami and other meats to be paired with a particular wine was also great!

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  10. I think Welsh food is fantastic quality and taste and always buy Welsh whenever possible

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    1. I agree Christine. We have great pastures for the sheep and cows too.

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  11. I am so jealous of this food tour, I would definitely love the visit Wales again and indulge into the local delicacies.

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  12. What a wonderful culinary performance. The wines and food sound wonderful and you are so lucky to have experienced this trip.

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  13. The vineyard sounds great. It must have been lovely to do the sampling you can discover some lovely new wines when you do those.

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    1. Both vineyards were fabulous to wander around.

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  14. My family is a good percentage Welsh. And I have always meant to go out there and visit sometime. It looks like such a fun tour and I would love all of those various foods to try. Looks amazing.

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    1. You need to come to Wales David! We are very friendly :)

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  15. Loved reading your post Mel! I really enjoyed this trip, it reminded me of how lucky we are to have such great food and drink here in Wales.

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  16. I would love to try this. Those food looked so delicious!

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  17. It looks like you had a great time exploring the food and drink here! Welsh food sounds like a dream.

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    1. We have an amazing climate, lots of rain and fabulous soil to grow excellent potatoes and other vegetables

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  18. I love all of the food and drink from Wales that was showcased on the day. It looks delicious!

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    1. It was Jemma. Hope you can visit Wales one day.

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  19. I love how fantastic the local produce is here in Wales - for such a small country is has so much on offer

    Laura x

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  20. The vineyards sound really amazing as does all the other foodie places. It sounds like an amazing trip.

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  21. I am not too aware of Welsh food apart from lovely Welsh Lamb. But we love Wales for holidays.

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    1. Welsh lamb is amazing, it's the pasture they graze on. Maybe next time try some of the food :)

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