After appearing in the Guardian Top Ten of Seaside Fish and Chip outlets, Florries is once again in the headlines along with Etta’s Bakery on High St and in her stall in Carmarthen market. Both have been included in Wales Online’s list of the top ten of the best foods to try in Carmarthenshire whilst on holiday here. Etta gets a mention for her famous Royal cake, whilst Florries comes in at No. 4 alongside the Ferry Cabin across the water. Many congratulations to both establishments and their staff. Keep up the good work!!
Dining in the Garden of Wales
1. Carmarthen Ham
Legend has it that the Romans stole the family recipe from Albert Rees butchers and took it back to Italy, where they re-named it Parma ham. The family are still producing ham at their family home near Carmarthen and you can pick some up at the town’s indoor market. www.carmarthenham.co.uk
2. Etta’s Royal Cake
On a visit to Llansteffan in 2004, Prince Charles tried some of Etta’s cake, that she’d baked using her mother’s recipe. He was so impressed that he asked for the 50-year-old recipe, and was refused! So, instead he bought a boiled cake and scoffed it on the way home in the helicopter. He then ordered another eight for Christmas, and the Queen later ordered 20 more for her son’s wedding. www.ettasroyalcake.co.uk
3. Drink like Dylan
Seek out the folk of Llareggub at one of the great literary addresses, Laugharne. Dylan Thomas used to give out the phone number of Browns as his own when he lived in the village in the 1930s. His drinking haunt has had something of a makeover since then, though they say the listed bar is how Dylan would have remembered it. Another of Dylan’s drinking spots was the New Three Mariners, next door, where you can try cockles, laverbread and Carmarthenshire streaky bacon – on a pizza! www.browns-hotel.co.uk
4. Fish and chips in Llansteffan
There’s no better place to sit on a bench with a bag of chips and some fresh fish than Llansteffan seafront. There’s fine views over the River Towy towards Ferryside and the ruined castle in its fortress. Expect big portions at Ferry Cabin Café and Florries Fish and Chips, another cabin in the seafront car park.
5. ‘The Garden of Wales’
The National Botanic Garden of Wales is one of the county’s most visited attractions and there’s plenty going on for foodies. Learn how to cook with wild mushrooms on Wales Fungus Day (October 13) when there’ll be family activities and guided tours of fairy rings. While the weekend of October 19-10 is Apple Weekend, a harvest festival with displays, fun and games. The garden also hosts a Christmas food fair in its impressive Great Glasshouse on December 14-15. Aberglasney Gardens are holding a monthly series of cookery demonstrations and garden walks this autumn. The Tasteful Edible Garden Experience costs £25. www.aberglasney.org
6. Take a tea break
After a walk to discover the cave hideout of Twm Sion Cati – the Welsh Robin Hood – you can stop off for a cup of tea and a Welshcake at Ty Te Twm in the little village of Rhandirmwyn. It’s one of several little tea rooms dotted around the county close to key attractions and walking hotspots. Also with a good reputation is Penygawse Victorian tea rooms in Llandovery.
7. Sink a pint
Carmarthenshire holds its own when it comes to beer, so join the locals. The Buckley family have brewed beer since 1767 and today the seventh and eighth generations of the family continue the tradition in Llandeilo with the award-winning Evans Evans. If you’re in Llanelli, there’s the Felinfoel brewery, while Ffos y Ffin brewery in Capel Dewi uses its own well water to produce nine beers, including Cothi Gold. There’s also microbreweries Jacobi Brewery of Caio and the Red Kite brewery in Cross Hands.
A West is Best beer festival is being held by the local CAMRA at St Peters Civic Hall, Carmarthen on October 3-5.
8. Super Markets
The tradition of indoor markets are very much alive in this rural part of the country. In Llanelli, there’s more than 50 family-run businesses, including seafood and local veg from William Seward and Sons. while Carmarthen market has been around for more 800 years. There’s also an open air market in Llandeilo every Friday, Carmarthen Farmers’ Market on the first Friday of the month, Llandovery Farmers’ Market on the last Saturday of the month and Ammanford Farmers’ Market on the last Thursday of the month. In Carmarthen, the market has been in existence for more than 800 years – and be sure to visit on a Friday where Dai and John Ellis sell the delicacy of squirrel on their stall outside. They taste a bit like rabbit apparently.
9. Book a table
There’s no Michelin stars in Carmarthenshire but plenty of honest, hearty food as I found at Y Polyn and the New White Lion. Spot a Scarlets player at Sospan in Llanelli or try the fusion of Welsh, French and English food of Masterchef finalist Ludo Dieumegard, at Ludo’s at the Coopers in Newcastle Emlyn. And Cwmcerrig Farm Shop do a mean roast dinner from Wednesday to Sunday at their grill, which attracts custom from afar.
10. Run out of steam?
Then sit back and enjoy the open fields and wooded hills while you feast on a steam train journey. The Gwilli Steam Railway operates along the River Gwili, from Bronwydd, near Carmarthen to Danycoed Halt. Packages include Sunday lunch and afternoon tea. The timetable breaks for the winter in November – with the exception of Christmas parties in December. And if you’re still peckish on your return, you can pick up a snack at Gwili Tea Room in the Station Yard. www.gwili-railway.co.uk