What to eat in Wales? I was intrigued by that question when I decided to include Cardiff in my UK itinerary. My knowledge of British food didn’t extend beyond fish and chips, Scottish haggis, the full breakfast, and black pudding with its oh-so-scary ingredient. But after some research I found that Wales had pretty much to offer to a travel-for-food type like myself. With just a little over 24 hours to spend in Cardiff, I was glad to be able to sample what are considered Welsh delicacies.
I went to Garlands in Duke Street Arcade for my first attempt at Welsh meal, its full breakfast. Traditional Welsh fry-up should include cockles and laverbread; the latter is fried seaweed purée and oatmeal. As I didn’t fancy cockles, instead of going for “Good Morning Mumbles” (the eatery makes up names for the food items in its menu) which had both laverbread and cockles, I opted for the “Welsh Veggie” that, in addition to laverbread, came with another Welsh delicacy, the glamorgan sausage. Despite being called sausage, it’s actually a vegetarian food made from Welsh Caerphilly cheese, leeks and breadcrumbs. Toast, two hashbrowns and eggs, beans, grilled half tomato, and mushrooms completed my dish.
A Welsh delicacy with a rather unfortunate name. Paired with peas and typically served with mashed potatoes and gravy, faggot is made from minced pig’s offal. The ingredients—similar to those for Scottish haggis, only from different animal—may be a put-off, but, just like haggis, save your comments until you’ve actually tasted it. I also had been sceptical about eating faggot, but eventually I found out that it wasn’t much different from an Indonesian meatball dish called semur bola daging. (Yeah, seriously!) I had my Welsh version at The Bull Terrier Cafe on the upper floor of Cardiff Market. The faggot and peas here didn’t come with mashed potatoes, though. Mine was served with a slice of buttered bread.
The Welsh-style stew. I read the earlier version used salted bacon or beef, but today a piping hot bowl of cawl consists of chunks of lamb meat and vegetables, most notably leeks. I had mine at the Norwegian Church Arts Centre’s Norsk Café when sightseeing in the Cardiff Bay area. I walked up to the counter and said I’d like a cawl (like in “shawl” or “brawl”). But even after saying it twice the waiter still looked puzzled. Only after telling her that I wanted a lamb cawl she finally got what food I wanted to order. ‘Ah, /kaul/?’ she said. So, people, please remember how to correctly pronounce “cawl” when you’re in Wales.
Originally called rabbit, though no bunny parts are involved in the preparation, it’s basically a toast poured with melted cheese. Even the sound of it made me drool. But Welsh rarebit isn’t as simple as that. What I had at Madame Fromage (Facebook) in Castle Arcade, for example, was a concoction of cheddar cheese, ale, mustard, and béchamel sauce grilled on toast. Any Welsh cheese will do, though Welsh cheddar is the most common, if not traditional. My cheesy toast at Madame Fromage also came with salad and I regretfully only ate the tomatoes and cucumbers; it was the third “heavy meal” in six hours I had that day.
Welsh cakes, sometimes spelled Welshcakes, are traditional cakes baked on a griddle. Round in shape and sprinkled in caster sugar, they traditionally have pieces of sultanas. I got to try several variants including lemon, chocolate chip, and strawberry and cream in the Cardiff Market; still, the traditional one with sultanas was my No. 1 favourite. There are a couple of bakeries that sell Welsh cakes in Cardiff Market. I think Bakestones, where I bought my bag of cakes, is the famous one. Another specialty shop, Fabulous Welshcakes, can be found in Mermaid Quay on Cardiff Bay. Bear in mind that Welsh cakes have very short shelf life. I couldn’t bring some home to Jakarta for this reason.
Sadly I didn’t get to try bara brith, the Welsh fruit bread. But I guess you should be able to find it at local cafés or tea rooms. I actually spotted it in Garlands, where I had my first Welsh meal when I just arrived in Cardiff. It was also available in Cardiff Market but was sold by the loaf. (Too big lah!)
See also: Food souvenirs from the UK