Great Welsh Food – Laver Bread, Leeks and Lamb
Welsh Black Beef
If you’re on a culinary tour, we suggest that you make sure you try some Welsh Black beef – an ancient breed that’s descended from pre-Roman cattle - and also some Welsh lamb, raised on rich green pastures. Lamb is used to make the traditional Welsh dish, cawl, a sort of soup that also includes leeks (a vegetable that’s one of the great symbols of Wales) and potatoes.
You might also see salt-marsh lamb on the menu in Wales. This is lamb that that is reared on coastal areas, such as Harlech in
The lambs feed on vegetation that’s saline rich, which imparts a distinctive delicate, sweet flavour (no, it’s not salty). You'll find it - and many other Welsh specialities - on sale at the
Bodnant Farm Shop
by Conwy in North Wales.
Welsh food isn’t just about meaty dishes. With an extensive shoreline and sparkling waters, fish and seafood plays an important role in the cuisine of Wales. You might find salmon, trout and even Arctic char on the menu. In the Snowdonia area, the Conwy Estuary and Menai Strait with their shallow and strongly tidal waters, provide the perfect conditions for the cultivation of mussels, which are often served in a white wine sauce.
The pastoral island of Anglesey, in North Wales, and the shores around Pembroke and Milford Haven in South Wales, are great places for the culinary traveller to find excellent oysters, crabs and lobsters. If you’re in Swansea, childhood home of Hollywood star Catherine Zeta Jones who came from the Mumbles area, then look out for Penclawdd cockles. They’re collected on the Gower peninsula and sold at Swansea market. Another traditional Welsh food is also associated with the beautiful coast of Wales: laver bread. This isn’t bread at all, but a type of seaweed with soft leaves. It’s collected from the shores of South Wales, then cooked until it becomes rather like jelly. Laver bread (bara lawr) is said to be very nutritious. It’s mixed with oatmeal and often fried for breakfast, together with bacon. You’ve got a good chance of trying it in Swansea.
One of the best known Welsh foods is Welsh rarebit, a tasty mix of cheese, mustard and ale that’s grilled on toast. Welsh cheeses are produced in the pastures of the south and west of the country. The best known Welsh cheese is Caerphilly, a crumbly white cheese that’s used to make delicious Glamorgan sausages - a type of vegetarian sausage.
There are also a number of artisan cheesemakers in Wales, producing both dairy and goats’ cheeses. You can visit some of them, such as Caws Cenarth set in glorious countryside in Carmarthenshire, which has a visitor centre and offers tastings too. You might find artisan cheeses flavoured with laverbread, leeks or herbs. Not too far away is Pant Mawr a family-run cheesemaker near Rosebush, at the foot of the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire.
There’s a strong tradition of baking in Wales, so make sure you stop for a traditional afternoon tea on your culinary tour. You’re sure to find Welsh cakes on the menu. They’re a sort of flat fruited scone, cooked on a griddle and spread with butter or caster sugar. Another delicious Welsh food is Bara Brith, an old-fashioned fruited tea bread.
The clear waters of the Menai Strait in North Wales, are also used to produce a high quality sea salt, that’s a culinary ingredient used by many top chefs. Halen Môn Seasalt, is an artisan crystal salt from Anglesey and you’ll find it on the tables of many restaurants in Wales.