National Geographic Traveller (UK)
From nibbling on insect pakoras to tasting cheese matured in a coal mine, try something new with these memorable Welsh foodie experiences
Five memorable experiences
Try cheese that’s been matured in a mine
On the southern fringes of the Brecon Beacons, the Big
Pit National Coal Museum stokes the flames of Wales’ industrial heritage. This is no ordinary museum — exhibits are displayed in mining galleries and at pithead baths, and the guides leading visitors on the 300 descent into the old colliery are former miners.
Local cheesemaker Susan Fiander-Woodhouse, of Blaenafon Cheddar Company, saw a glimmer of opportunity in these dark mines, recognising them as the ideal temperature in which to mature cheddar (10.5C-12C). Besides Big Pit-aged Pwll Mawr cheddar, the company sells other Welsh-themed cheddars, such as bara brith; ta y apple; and Dragons Breath, which has a fiery chilli-mustard kick. museum.wales/bigpit chunkofcheese.co.uk
Eat a bug burger in St Davids
Entomophagy: it’s not a word everyone knows, which goes to show that eating insects is still something of a novelty. Dr Sarah Beynon, an entomologist, and her chef husband Andy Holcro want to change this perception at the Bug Farm and Grub Kitchen in St Davids. Why? Because eating insects is the sustainable way forward and could just help to save the planet.
Cooked in a converted pigsty and served in an art-slung former cowshed, the food at Grub Kitchen lives up to its noble aim and is full of interesting textures and robust flavours. The signature bug burger arrives charred and smoky, with a tropical jackfruit hit and tomatoes topped with toasted crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers.
The spiced insect pakoras and mealworm hummus, meanwhile, are sensational.
If bugs aren’t for you, the cheery seaside town of St Davids has plenty to o er hungry visitors. Case in point: the forage-focused The Really Wild Emporium serves up hedonistically rich sweets like seaweed brownies and elderflower and pennywort drizzle cake in a revamped art deco building. grubkitchen.co.uk
Try the world’s fastest zip-line, then relax with a gin
On Snowdonia National Park’s northern cusp, the Afon Goch river leaps over a cli face at
Aber Falls. The nearby Aber
Falls Whisky Distillery uses this pristine water to create highly creative Welsh spirits: think gin with a hit of rhubarb and ginger; a dry gin with a citrussy edge; and liqueurs laced with salted to ee or violet. There’s also a single malt whisky with scents of sweet hay, flavours of chocolate and golden syrup and the soest whisper of vanilla and pine. The new visitor centre is the place to stock up, perhaps aer a behindthe-scenes distillery tour.
A sti drink may be required for those who’ve braved nearby Velocity 2 at Zip World Penrhyn Quarry. The world’s fastest zipline hits speeds of up to 100mph on a spectacular dash across the quarry. aberfallsdistillery.com zipworld.co.uk
4 Catch and gather your own dinner
Pembrokeshire has the kind of coastline that makes you glad to be alive: rambling trails that lead over gorse-clad cliffs to wavebattered coves, and ancient rock formations dating back to the time dinosaurs walked the Earth. There’s a choice of exquisite food to be found here, too: samphire, sea purslane and edible seaweeds matt the shores, pungent wild herbs and plants thrive in the hedgerows and gourmet fungi are up for grabs in the woods.
For foragers, the county is a wild food fantasy — and no-one has a sharper eye for the good stuff than forager, fisherman and chef Matt Powell, who ditched the Michelinstarred kitchens to return to his Welsh roots. A full day’s foraging experience with him on the Pembrokeshire Coast concludes with a multi-course ‘chef’s table’ feast. Showcasing his profound sense of place and love of nature, Matt’s cooking is akin to sorcery: he dishes up lobster paired with the plants and seaweeds it lives near; hen-of-thewoods mushrooms artistically presented on bark with pickled ash shoot, elderflower and a trio of wild garlic; and ‘stack rocks’, a duck eggshell filled with gorse-flavoured custard, nestled among birch-flavoured meringue rocks coloured with hay ash. fishingandforagingwales.co.uk
5 Be part of Wales’s biggest food festival
In 1999, two Welsh farmers had the idea of setting up a food festival in Abergavenny to resuscitate the ailing farming industry and restore faith in British produce. The event soon mushroomed, attracting a starry lineup of chefs and celebrities.
Held every September, the Abergavenny Food Festival shines a light on the attractive market town, which is home to such restaurants as The Walnut Tree Inn and The Hardwick and has vineyards, farms and the bounty of the Brecon Beacons on its doorstep.
During the event, expect stalls, street food stands and chef demos covering everything from working with sourdough to cooking with fire. Craft cider, Cardigan Bay lobster, local venison — you name it, it’s here. Advance tickets sell quickly. abergavennyfoodfestival.com