National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Foodie adventures

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. chunkofche­

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. grubkitche­

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 so„est whisper of vanilla and pine. The new visitor centre is the place to stock up, perhaps a„er 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. aberfallsd­

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. fishingand­foragingwa­

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. abergavenn­yfoodfesti­

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 ??  ?? Sweet treats at the Abergavenn­y Food Festival
FROM LEFT: Forager, fisherman and chef Matt Powell; Aber Falls
Whisky Distillery
Sweet treats at the Abergavenn­y Food Festival FROM LEFT: Forager, fisherman and chef Matt Powell; Aber Falls Whisky Distillery
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