There are many pleasures associated with getting away on holiday and not just seeing new places, experiencing different cultures and trying a new language, but the thrill of sampling the local Welsh food and drink.
Well here in Wales we can tick all those must-have tourism boxes and certainly on the food and drink side because our artisan producers are outstanding. The variety and quality of Welsh food and drink is exceptional as we have every aspect covered from meat and fish, honey, dairy, bread and cakes, ciders, beers, whiskey, wine, gin, rum and fruit juices. Our Welsh produce list is endless and the quality is faultless.
I think more work is needed to encourage some establishments to highlight how much local produce they use and where they source from. Yes it does involve a little more work, but it really enhances the visitor experience and that is what it’s all about – selling Wales and our Welsh food and drink to our tourists. Many establishments have got this down to a fine art, with some able to also sell produce for their visitors to take home with them. I really don’t want to see an English breakfast on a menu; I want to see a ‘Welsh’ breakfast. I want to know where the bacon, eggs and sausages have been sourced from too. It’s an important touch that gives visitors a true sense of Wales and also shows, but rather shrewdly, how important Welsh food and drink is to the Welsh economy. Words: Kath Rhodes
Situated in the foothills of the Preseli Hills in north Pembrokeshire you’ll find Bluestone Brewing, a very exciting family run brewery. The water used for brewing is unique to Bluestone. Their water filters down the Preseli mountains and collects in a well on their land. As Bluestone’s spring water is so natural and crystal clear it goes directly from the well into their range of flavoursome Rock Solid Ales, without requiring filtering or chemicals being added.
What started as a small diversity project for the family, Bluestone has quickly grown into something really special. With a new bottling plant currently under construction, they’ve also opened a Visitor Centre where locals and tourists alike can come and take a brewery tour and enjoy a real microbrewery experience. There is always plenty going on at Bluestone whether it’s a full line-up of live music, comedy, charity choir competitions, beer festivals and banquet evenings. The events are all held underneath the Brewery’s large stretch tent that’s covered with fairy lights and making this a warm and welcoming venue. The plus point though without a doubt is their outside bar serving the best Bluestone Beers direct from the Brewery. 2017 saw the family run a packed programme throughout the summer offering a great variety and something for everyone to enjoy. But the highlight of last year was a sell-out gig for Congolese star Kanda Bongo Man, which saw 450 people fill the Brewery Yard and dance the night away to his Soukous beats. Visitors to Wales love trying Welsh food and drink whilst on holiday and a trip to Bluestone Brewery is a great way to start.
Worry over declining bee populations has led to a new kind of holiday with a positive impact. It’s no secret that these wonderful insects are in trouble. Pesticides, disease and weather are all contributing factors to declining numbers.
At New Quay Honey Farm it’s clear that they are passionate about bees. Established as a bee farm in 1995, the Farm is a traditional family-run honey farm based in mid Wales. The farm produces 100% pure, raw honeys and boasts a Meadery with production of over 6 distinctive characters of mead.
Hidden on the rural outskirts of New Quay, this picturesque farm, set in an old chapel is steeped in history to inspire the imagination and, with their incomparable promise to treasuring authentic small scale production, New Quay Honey farms’ products are the signature of the Ceredigion landscape.
New Quay Honey farm displays an exhibition which highlights how we all need to be attentive that bees are at crisis point and that their role in the food chain cannot be underestimated. We also host live hives where we demonstrate honeybees, allowing intimate inspection of their fascinating miniature worlds and the opportunity for sensory experiences through webcams and listening ports.
But this new trend of holidaying with a positive impact also takes in the products. With a quaint tea room and shop selling the delicious Afon Mel honey inspired cakes, chutneys, fudge, honey and mead. But for those Bee-lovers who want to help further their knowledge they can also try bee keeping workshops run by owner, Sam Cooper. 2018 is the year for going on trips that are fulfilling for you but also good for the places you visit and their wildlife, especially when it’s a hive of activity.
Blas ar Fwyd explained that they are a Welsh food manufacturer and fine food wholesaler with free delivery throughout Wales, working with over a hundred Welsh producers to provide artisan products and a large range of wines.
‘‘We are a supplier of choice to many tourist venues in Wales from Ffestiniog Railway to Melin Tregwynt. The company also played a part in the success of the re-launch of Conwy Council’s Visitor Centre, based in Llandudno. We worked closely with Conwy Council to develop the product range and are proud to be supplying over 50 different Welsh brands directly to store. The Visitor Centre was able to deal with Blas ar Fwyd, instead of each brand individually. This is because we work hard to develop quality relationships with our suppliers and are able to achieve efficient pricing for our customers.
We are also proud to wholesale and manufacture Blas ar Fwyd’s own handmade products made in our SALSA approved kitchens which have won over 40 Great Taste Awards.
Conwy Council are also building on the success of their Llandudno venture by looking to remodel the Tourist Centre in Conwy in the same manner and we hope to play a part in what will be a successful venture there also.’’
Felin Talgarth Mill – A Working Watermill In The Heart Of The Brecon Beacons National Park
Felin Talgarth Mill is an 18 Century watermill, restored to full working order in 2011, and now a hub for visitors and local residents who are keen to sample great food and see traditional water power turn grain into flour. The company explained that they mill four days a week and visitors can take a tour with one of our millers or guides and learn about the history of the mill, the restoration project and the Mill’s current place in the local rural community.
‘‘Our onsite café and bakery, The Bakers’ Table, bakes fresh bread 5 days a week and offers an award-winning range of teas, coffees, cakes and light lunches. In the Mill, wheat, spelt and rye is used to create five flours perfect for bread making and four flours for cakes, pastries and biscuits. Six bread kits contain everything you need to make a perfect loaf, including expert instructions. Alongside our regular milling and baking, the Mill also offers a range of baking and craft courses, including drop in workshops, and a ‘Taste of Milling’ experience – a hands-on session where visitors can learn every step of the milling process.’’
With such a historic building, a working watermill, a bakery, a café, gardens and a craft shop it’s no wonder Felin Talgarth is such a draw for tourists. Nestled in the foothills of the Black Mountains, Felin Talgarth Mill is part of the Visit Wales ‘Food Itinerary’ – a lovely slice of history and good food in one place!
Chairman of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board
”Never has there been such a perfect match than that between Welsh food and drink and tourism. We all like to try something new and different when we’re on holiday and this could be the catalyst to choosing Welsh food and drink in the regular weekly shopping basket for consumers across the UK and abroad. As Chair of the Food & Drink Industry Board for Wales, I would encourage Welsh Tourist locations to actively engage and promote local Welsh food and drink produce which ultimately should be a mutually beneficial relationship. Wales is a fantastic place to visit and our food and drink will always deliver something new, authentic, tasty and reliable.
The purpose of the Board is to grow, promote and enhance the reputation of the Welsh food and drink industry to deliver the Towards Sustainable Growth: An Action Plan for the Food and Drink Industry 2014 – 2020. This plan targets 30% growth in the industry by the year 2020 which the Board will work towards achieving.”