I was interested in trying out some traditional Welsh food and was searching for food tours in Cardiff when I came across Sian Roberts’ Loving Welsh Food tasting tour. The tasting tour turned out to be the best introduction to Welsh food and Cardiff.
I met Sian at Cardiff castle, where she gave me a brief introduction to the history of the castle. She mentioned that after the castle had been gifted, by the Bute family, to the people of Cardiff in 1947, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (formerly the Cardiff College of Music) had functioned at the castle for 25 years.
We walked past the animal wall where I tried to spot which animals were the original and the relatively newly sculptured animals. We stopped at Pettigrew tea rooms, which was the former gate house of the castle.
There, we had a lovely Welsh tea with a slice of Bara brith and a Welsh cake. Bara brith is a mix between a bread and a spiced fruit cake, where the dried fruit is soaked in tea and then mixed into the bread dough together with the spices. I enjoyed my slice of Bara brith with a little butter, which was a perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of tea.
I also tried out a little of the Welsh cake, which is cooked over a griddle or flat pan. I found the sweet Welsh cake very filling and quite a meal in itself.
While enjoying our tea at Pettigrew tea rooms, Sian and I discussed our walking route and agreed that we would skip parts of it to make it easier for my legs. So we next made our way to the Castle Arcades, part of the Castle Quarter arcades opened in the late 19th century, which houses shops and restaurants and Sian pointed out some interesting cafes and shops, like the Science Cream shop which is the first liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour in Wales.
We walked along the Hayes, one of Cardiff’s historic shopping streets and where the Cardiff story museum is located at the old library. I did revisit the museum at the end of the food tour and found that it was an interactive, little museum mostly geared towards children.
Our next stop was at Wally’s located in the Royal arcade, which runs from The Hayes to St. Mary’s Street. I was treated to a tasting of continental charcuterie and Welsh cheeses, together with a brief history of the deli. The deli had been started by Walter (Wally) Salamon in 1981. Wally was the son of an Austrian immigrant, who had opened up a delicatessen on Bridge street in 1947, and which Wally and his brother ran till they sold the place. Wally then opened up Wally’s at the Royal Arcades and the deli is now owned by his son.
From Wally’s we walked back to St. Mary’s street and to The Cottage, one of the oldest pubs in Wales built in 18th century, now owned by Brains, a regional brewery started in 1882 by S.A. Brain with the financial backing of his uncle, J.B. Brain.
I don’t like beer generally but I quite liked Bragging Rights, an ancient Welsh style brew which has honey, nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, cloves etc. blended in and a festive taste appropriate for the Christmas season.
From The Cottage, we made our way to Cardiff market, a Victorian indoor market opened in 1891.
Our first stop at the market was at Ashton’s Fishmongers, which is one of the oldest limited companies in Cardiff and which has changed hands only twice in 200 years.
Sian prepared a delicious snack with oatmeal biscuits slathered with laverbread and topped with cockles. Laverbread has nothing to do with bread as suggested by its name but is a Welsh delicacy made of boiled seaweed. It was a Welsh breakfast staple in the 19th century and served with cockles but is more of a delicacy now.
From Ashton’s, we made our way to the Market Deli owned by Andrew Griffiths and Geoff Beer.
As I was not adventurous enough to try the traditional Welsh faggots, Andrew offered me a choice of chicken curry rice. I tried out their Chicken bhoona, which was well spiced.
Our last stop of the tasting tour was at Bar 44, a tapas bar owned by brothers Tom and Owen Morgan. The delicious cava with handmade chocolate truffles was a delightful end to the lovely Welsh food tasting tour.
What I enjoyed most about Sian’s Welsh food tasting tour, in addition to the opportunity of trying out traditional Welsh food and learning about its origins, is the showcasing of local, independently run businesses.
Diolch yn fawr, Sian, for the wonderful food tasting tour and the Welsh recipe DVDs!
Disclaimer: Sian Roberts kindly gave me a complimentary private tour of the Loving Welsh Food tasting tour, for the purpose of this post. All opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend experiences which I have enjoyed.