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The 7 Traditional Welsh Foods You Must Try in Wales

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1 month ago

The oft-overlooked cousin of England and Scotland, Welsh cuisine boasts longstanding culinary traditions shaped by the country’s rugged landscape and natural bounty. With lush pastures for grazing cattle, it’s no surprise that meat features prominently in traditional Welsh food, but there’s a surprising number of incredible Welsh vegetarian dishes.

Interestingly, many traditional Welsh dishes don’t always feature on menus (particularly in Cardiff). We’ve given you our picks for the best place to try these dishes during your trip to Wales to make sure you get to taste the best of Wales’s cultural gems.

1. Glamorgan sausages

The thing with Glamorgan sausages is that they’re not sausages and they’re (usually) vegetarian. These crumbed cheese and leek croquettes are an absolute delight, especially when fresh off the pan.

You know they’re always going to be cheesy, but what you want to make certain of is that the sausages are coated in breadcrumbs. In my humble opinion, it’s the crumbing that gives these the wonderful crispy texture that makes them so moreish.

Glamorgan sausages were traditionally made using Caerphilly cheese and leeks, but Welsh chefs have started experimenting with many different types of cheese and vegetables. Nowadays, you’ll find red onion, capers and even sun-dried tomatoes to replace the leeks. They’ve usually got a dash of mustard for the heat which is always a good addition.

Travel tip: If you’re a strict vegetarian, you might want to confirm whether the Glamorgan sausages are made with Caerphilly cheese. It’s often made with animal rennet so might not be vegetarian.

Best place to try Glamorgan sausages

You can find these on menus throughout the country, but we think that Gwaelod y Garth Inn makes them the way everyone should make them: really, really good. And if you’re staying in Cardiff at the voco in St David’s, they serve it as part of their tasty vegetarian breakfast.

2. Cawl

This is the quintessential, hearty Welsh dish that all Welsh know and love. It’s essentially a soup of lamb and root vegetables (usually carrots, potatoes and the Welsh favorite, leeks) that is thicker than your average soup. There isn’t really a standardized recipe for cawl because recipes are handed down from family to family and village to village.

Local tip: Cawl is often better the day after it’s made because all the flavors have time to develop.

The best places will usually serve cawl in a wooden bowl with a wooden spoon and hopefully a slice of freshly baked bread and Welsh cheese. Delightfully, you’ll often see cawl on the menu throughout restaurants in Wales.

If you’re in northern Wales, you might see this on the menu as ‘lobscows’. It’s the same thing, excepting the variations from place to place.

3. Bara brith

Translating to ‘speckled bread’, this is a thick Welsh tea bread with dried fruits and spices traditionally served as a cake by the slice at tea time. What makes bara brith unique – and is probably what has made it synonymous with modern Welsh cuisine – is that it’s soaked in tea. This gives it a unique flavor which is uncommon in most tea cakes (and it’s not really like tea).

Best place to try bara brith

You can find bara brith all around Wales, but one of the finest experiences is to be had at Tu Hwnt I’r Bont in North Wales, just a 90-minute drive from Liverpool in England. Enjoy your afternoon tea at Tu Hwnt I’r Bont in their historic, grade II listed 15th century tearoom.

If you’re in London, you can find an excellent bara brith at Townhouse in Spitalfields. And the café is a stunning place to sit for an hour.

4. Welsh rarebit

Foodies love to disagree about whether Welsh rarebit does, in fact, originate from Wales, but regardless of its origins, the Welsh have embraced it with open arms and have made it a name recognizable throughout the UK (and even in France). Rarebits are made with flour, butter, Welsh cheese and ale (or milk), and seasoned with Worcestershire sauce or mustard. It’s then placed on top of a thick helping of toast and grilled until brown and bubbling.

And contrary to popular belief, it can be made vegetarian (though the purists won’t do it). All that needs to happen is the Worcestershire sauce is swapped out for something else (usually soy sauce) – and voila! It’s vegetarian.

Best place to try Welsh rarebit

There’s no better show of the versatility and pure pleasure of the Welsh rarebit than at the International Welsh Rarebit Centre in Brecon which serves at least seven different kinds. Aside from that, most pubs and a lot of restaurants will serve Welsh rarebit as a side (or as a main, if they’re particularly proud of their recipe).

5. Laverbread (ideally in a pancake)

Laverbread is a type of edible seaweed commonly found on the coast of Wales. It’s often served with bacon and cockles as part of Welsh breakfast, but can also be used as an accompaniment to other dishes. You’ve probably already gathered that laverbread doesn’t have any bread at all, but it’s common to spread it on hot, buttered toast.

If seaweed doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, think of it more like Welsh caviar. And if that doesn’t help, just remind yourself that it’s incredibly nutritious (laverbread is packed with protein and iron).

Best place to try laverbread

You want to try laverbread around the coast. In particular, you want to get yourself to Pembrokeshire, which we think is one of the best places to visit in the UK. The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company serves the freshest laverbread at its Cafe Môr, which is also one of the most Welsh experiences you can have.

6. Welsh cakes

The quintessential Welsh dessert, these dense cakes are a beautiful fusion of sugar and currants. Ideally you want your Welsh cakes fresh off the bakestone with a light sprinkling of sugar. But you can also have them cold with a little bit of butter.

The Welsh aren’t resting on their traditional recipes, though; nowadays you can find Welsh cakes with white chocolate, orange, and even salted caramel. And I know I said it’s a dessert, but it wouldn’t be Welsh if someone didn’t try to make a Welsh cake with cheese and leek (they have – and they do – and it’s excellent).

Best place to try Welsh cakes

Welsh cakes are quite literally everywhere, but if you’re looking for some of those flavors we mentioned above, we recommend the Rogue Welsh Cake Company at Newport Market.

7. Cyflaith

Cyflaith or Welsh toffee is traditionally eaten between Christmas and New Year in Wales as part of Noson Gyflaith (toffee evening). Nowadays, you can find Welsh toffee in markets and stalls throughout the country. Get yourself to Cardiff Market and look around the food stalls. There’s usually a few selling Welsh desserts.

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