Last updated: 01:45 PM ET, Fri April 17 2015

Opinion Home | Why Wales? Discover Britain's Road Less Traveled!

  • Visit Wales Staff Writer | April 17, 2015 1:45 PM ET

    Savor South Wales: A region with Michelin Stars, Cozy Inns and Elegant Tables

    Savor South Wales: A region with Michelin Stars, Cozy Inns and Elegant Tables

    PHOTO: Welsh cheeses have now become a standard of excellence around the world. Courtesy of Visit Wales.

    If your experience with Welsh food is limited to a glancing knowledge of Welsh rarebit, a trip to Wales will be a journey your taste buds will long remember and your food-shot-frenzied Facebook friends will envy forever.

    Currently home to five Michelin-starred restaurants, Wales has long been a haven for foodie insiders. Chefs and food writers come here to be closer to lamb that's naturally salted from grazing on sea-mist flavored, free-range grass; cheeses that look and taste like they belong on a king's groaning table; and country inns and cozy restaurants noted for their elegant simplicity and award-winning menus.

    The proximity of so much high-quality food so close to scenic wonders such as the Wales Coast Path, Tintern Abbey and Mount Snowdon make a food-centric trip to Wales pleasurable to all the senses.

    For instance, at the Sloop Inn, an 18th-century pub within the heartbreakingly beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, you can sup on locally sourced pork sausages, Pembrokeshire lamb or caught-that-day Porthgain crab – all while enjoying harbor views and bracing breezes.

    Two miles east of Abergavenny, home to a popular, annual food festival, is The Walnut Tree Inn. Chef Shaun Hill's legendary fusion cuisine has more than earned his Michelin Star. Hill's food is mostly locally sourced and he prides himself on letting the first-rate quality of his meats, fishes and Wales-grown vegetables speak for themselves.  The restaurant has become a mecca for food lovers. Recently, The Guardian's Matthew Norman said that "the Walnut Tree's deep yellow pappardelle with deep brown hare sauce...was fit to be set before a Venetian doge."

    Welsh cheeses, such as Caerphilly, have now become a standard of excellence around the world. Go to Wales and the vast array of artisanal cheeses will have you longing for varieties with names like Snowdonia Amber Mist and Blaenafon Dragon's Breath when you're back in your local cheese emporium.

    In Wales, a proper cheese shop such as Madame Fromage, located in Cardiff's Castle Arcade, includes more than 150 varieties and a restaurant where you can savor slow-cooked Welsh dishes made with any number of local cheeses. Try the famous Welsh rarebit, done, as Madame Fromage says, "the right way, our secret.” The shop is situated across the street from Cardiff Castle – the fortress was visited by President Obama on his recent trip to Wales. It’s a charming place to relax after exploring the castle's vast Victorian halls and Downton Abbey-era rooms. Madame Fromage prides itself on lovingly cooked un-fast-food, so bring an appetite and hunt for souvenirs in the shop's well-stocked deli, where jams, chutneys and oils, as well as tinned delicacies like Welsh laverbread, or seaweed, can all be brought on the flight back home.

    And speaking of Downton Abbey, we're sure that the Dowager Countess would fall in love with "pudding" (what they call desert in the UK) at the Pettigrew Tea Rooms.  You can go traditionally Welsh and try the bara brith, a farmhouse-classic cake made from dried fruit and citrus peels that are steeped in tea overnight. Less traditional, but equally tea-friendly, is the earl grey, honey and white chocolate cake topped with pomegranate seeds and orange zest. Pettigrew Tea Rooms serves its dishes in old fashioned porcelain tea cups and saucers. The tea rooms’ building is centuries old and is located at the entrance to Bute Park in the center of Cardiff. The Park's 130 acres of gardens and lawns were once the property of the 3rd Marquess of Bute – the former owner of Cardiff Castle. Today, the park, like Pettigrew’s Tea Rooms, is open to travelers and locals alike and makes an afternoon excursion in Cardiff easily accessible from all the major hotels in the city.

    Finally, one can't leave Wales without trying a Welsh cake. Once you take a bite these freshly griddled cookies you'll want to come back for more. Fabulous Welshcakes, a shop in Mermaid Quay – Cardiff's scenic waterfront – makes these treats fresh daily with sultanas and butter churned at a local diary. The shop specializes in Welsh cakes but is a great place to purchase local chocolates; famed Halen Mon Sea Salt from Anglesey; or lovespoons, that iconic Welsh souvenir. All these gifts make the perfect promise to your kitchen at home, and your taste buds, that you'll come back and savor more great food experiences in Wales. 


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Visit Wales Staff Writer Why Wales? Discover Britain's Road Less Traveled!

Visit Wales Staff Writer Visit Wales is the New York-based government tourism office for Wales, one of four countries that make up the United Kingdom. A land with 641 castles, 870 miles of walkable coastline, three national parks and award-winning cuisine, Wales offers travelers a variety of activities and different landscapes to explore. The country's Celtic history and ancient language make it a distinctive British destination. For more information on Wales travel, trade can visit and consumers can visit
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