One of the surprising consequences of our worldwide travels is that we have grown to appreciate what we have on our own doorstep here in Wales. Not only do we enjoy rediscovering the local area ourselves but we want to share our enthusiasm with visitors to the UK and get more of you to cross that bridge and experience all that Wales has to offer.
If you want to find out more about visiting Wales why not watch our video – Our Top 5 Reasons To Visit Wales. You can also read more about the stunning South Wales coastline and beaches and our personal favourites in the post – Top 10 Places To Visit On The South Wales Coast.
Food & Drink Wales
On this trip, we were invited by Food & Drink Wales to revisit some of these beautiful Welsh destinations and this time experience the exciting range of local food and drink that Wales has to offer.
As well as the great local food and drink, we would also get the opportunity to meet with the farmers and local producers who share a passion for seasonal and fresh Welsh food and drink.
Jabajak Vineyard Restaurant With Rooms, Whitland, Carmarthenshire
The Jabajak vineyard and restaurant with rooms is only 20 minutes from Carmarthen and is easily accessible from the M4. Sitting on the border between Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire it is a perfect base from which you can explore the beautiful West Wales countryside.
With its 8 unique rooms, Jabajak is not only a tranquil place to stay, it has excellent food being highly commended in Gary Rhodes food hero campaign, Trip Advisor Winners of Excellence and recommended by the Good Food Guide.
The dishes are all prepared to order using locally sourced ingredients with many herbs and vegetables grown on-site in the kitchen garden or foraged. I actually tried nettle soup for the first time which was delicious, it tasted similar to spinach and if you’re still wondering, the nettles do lose their sting once cooked.
Not only do they serve good food, more importantly to me (Mr W) Jabajak has its own vineyard producing a white and a sparkling rosé under the original farmhouse name ‘The White House’.
When it comes to British wines, like many, we mistakenly assumed it was an inferior product to its European neighbours but how wrong were we. In the last couple of years, we have tried some outstanding local wines, especially dry whites. The ‘White House’ wines from the Jabajak vineyard were no exception.
Although we are not big fans of rosé wines the sparkling Welsh Blush was great and perfect as an aperitif while walking through the vineyard before dinner.
Apparently one of the secrets to the success of the wine is the unique terroir of the West Wales blue stone region. This blue stone region is actually the original source of Stonehenge’s giant bluestones over 140 miles away.
Windmill Park Farm – Harvesting Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes
We love visiting Pembrokeshire for the same reasons the potatoes grow so well here, the mild, frost-free coastal climate thanks to the Gulf Stream. If you didn’t know Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes have a distinctive, strong, earthy, nutty flavour and have been awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission. This means only potatoes originating in the county are allowed to be called a Pembrokeshire Early Potato.
We were lucky to be shown around Windmill Park Farm during the harvesting by farmer Will Richards. The harvesting occurs from the beginning of May until the end of July.
His farm overlooks the picturesque St Brides Haven just yards from the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. Better than working in an office although I think Mr Richards may disagree when the Atlantic winter storms roll in.
You can buy Will Richards’s Pembrokeshire Earlies under the ‘Blas y Tir‘ (‘taste of the land’) label. One of the best ways to try these potatoes is the simplest, boiled when fresh and served with butter, sea salt and chives.
The Gower Salt Marsh Lamb from Weobley Castle Farm
After the potatoes, it was time for the meat (sorry to the vegetarians amongst you)! So we headed along the South Wales coast to the Gower Peninsula and Weobley Castle Farm, the home of Gower Salt Marsh Lamb. The farmhouse and its shop overlook the Loughor Estuary and the salt marshes where the sheep graze.
It’s these salt marshes which gives the meat its incredible flavour and makes it succulently tender. The marshes are covered with sea lavender, samphire, sorrel and thrift which give the lamb the unique taste sought after by leading chefs.
After walking to the water’s edge which can be a very long way as the estuary has a large tidal range it was time to return to the farm. Thankfully the farmer, Will Pritchard brought down his trailer and using his sheep farming skills, herded us into the back of the trailer and towed us back to the farm while the puzzled sheep looked on.
You can buy Gower Salt Marsh Lamb from the Weobley Castle Farm Shop and it is also available to order online.
Salami HQ – Cwmfarm Charcuterie
Another epicurean gem on our tour of South Wales was a visit to the Salami HQ, to meet Ruth and Andrew, the producers of award-winning salami Cwmfarm Charcuterie. All the charcuterie products come from their own Cwmfarm pigs based in the Swansea valley.
They combine the classic European salami styles and add a local twist such as in our favourite, the Laverbread Salami. You may have noticed Nduja appearing on more menus lately, Cwmfarm also produces their own award-winning spicy Nduja which is perfect spread on toast as well as an ingredient in other dishes.
So armed with a selection of charcuterie we now headed to Llanerch Vineyard in the Vale of Glamorgan near Cardiff for some serious wine pairing. It sounded like a hard afternoon of sun, wine and eating but someone has to do it.
Wine, Cheese And Charcuterie Tasting At Llanerch Vineyard
Llanerch vineyard lies in the fertile Vale of Glamorgan. While sitting on the peaceful terrace overlooking the vineyard it’s hard to believe you are only 20-minutes away from Cardiff city centre. As well as the vineyard there is an excellent restaurant and accommodation. They are actually in the process of increasing the number of rooms which is great considering the proximity to Cardiff.
Anway, let get down to the food and wine. As well as the Cwmfarm charcuterie we picked up earlier we added some more from Trealy Farm and some Welsh bread and cheeses. A selection of Welsh wine was opened from across the country from the most northerly vineyard in Wales to White Castle, Abergavenny and Llanerrch’s own Cariad wines.
We were expertly guided through the various products and the suggested wine pairings to enhance their flavours. However, as the number of wines increased our professionalism started to decline just a little and some giggles did set in.
Finally, making the most of the warm dry weather, we were given a tour of the Llanerch vineyards. Yes, there some more tastings as well.
As mentioned earlier, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality and flavour of the British wines now available and if you still haven’t tried one, we definitely recommend giving it a go.
So as well as the beautiful beaches and countryside, the local food and drink are another couple of reasons why you must visit Wales. But if you can’t get here immediately, you can still experience the taste of Wales as many of these produces now sell online.
Do you have a favourite destination in Wales or what Welsh food do you fancy trying? Let us know in the comments below.