Summer is finally upon us in Wales, you can smell it in the air, freshly mown grass, sizzling burgers on a BBQ on a balmy night and the gentle humming of bees and the sweet chirps of birdsong. Unless of course, it is chucking it down with sideways with rain, but that rather spoils my summer prose. The onset of summer means it is officially the start of picnic season and what better to pack your picnic hamper with, than the finest of Welsh produce? I’ve created a little guide to some of my favourite Welsh food and drinks that I think should be in your hamper this summer season.
The Snowdonia Cheese Company should surely be your first stop for a luxury range of cheeses? Snowdonia Cheese has been creating award winning truckles since 2001 using the finest of ingredients. My absolute favourite is their black bomber, which has a highly distinctive and rich flavour and goes perfectly with a cheeky glass of red. Other cheeses in their range include Red Devil, a Red Leicester with a spicy chilli hit, Green Thunder, a mature Cheddar with garlic & herbs and Amber Mist, a mature Cheddar warmed with Whisky.
One of the oldest and most established Welsh cheese makers – Caws Cenarth has a lovely selection of award winning cheeses to suit all tastes. Try their delicious Brandi Braf for a sweet tasting cheese, Dragon Welsh Caerffili for a smooth tasting and creamy cheese, or their Caws Cryf Mature Cheese for a strongly flavoured cheese nibble.
Preserves, pickles, crisps and crackers
Daffodil Cottage Welsh Oatcakes
Daffodil Cottage makes some super tasty traditional oatcakes using their very own Welsh recipes. Daffodil Cottage Welsh Oatcakes With Caerffili Cheese, are a perfect cheese accompaniment and have a lovely, crumbly consistency and subtle cheese taste that goes really well with a selection of top notch Welsh cheeses.
Jones Crisps are the only crisps company owned by a Welsh based company and are made using Welsh grown potatoes. These are proper, old fashioned, no nonsense, crunchy crisps that are the perfect picnic snack. They have four distinct flavours of crisps including Mature Cheese & Onion, Y Ddraig Goch Sweet Chili, and Sea Salt and Sea Salt & Vinegar, which are made using the lush Halen Môn PDO Anglesey Sea Salt, harvested off the coast of Anglesey.
Cwtch preserves have a fantastic selection of traditional, handmade Welsh preserves & chutneys including Strawberry & Champagne preserve, Apple, plum & cinnamon preserve, Tomato & Ale Chutney and Apricot & Brandy preserve. They are totally divine when popped on a cracker or a bit of toast. My favourite is definitely the Strawberry & Champagne, mostly because I am a classy lady.
Lurvill’s Delight was a popular drink in Wales back in the late 1800’s, it was invented by twin brother Harold and Lolo Lewis and included stinging nettles, dock leaves, and juniper, mixed with carbonated Welsh water. The drink ceased production in 1910, due to a shortage of dock leaves in the area. Lurvill’s has recently been revived and now this historic, craft-style botanical soda, is being sold once again and is being made at Mid Wales’ Radnor Hills works. I am not normally a massive fan of fizzy drinks, especially one’s where the main ingredient list includes the words ‘stinging nettles’, but I have to say Lurvill’s is a delightfully refreshing little number and is perfect as your pre-wine drink on a picnic.
Wales’ biggest and most established brewer, Brains Beer is surely the iconic drink of Wales and should form an integral part of your picnic hamper. Brains have a diverse range of ales and craft beers including their flagship brew SA Gold, Brains Black, a 4.1% ABV stout, the Rev James, an award-winning ale, and one of their newest guest brews, Barry Island IPA. You can buy both cans and bottles of Brains in most supermarkets and in independent stores across Wales.
Produced by the award-winning Penderyn Distillery, Brecon Gin is a high quality distilled gin, bottled at Penderyn Distillery using our very own lush mineral water from the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park. Brecon Gin features a range of botanicals and has delectable hints of orange and lemon. We created our own home-made sloe gin using Brecon Gin as the base and it was bloody marvellous if I do say so myself.
Welsh Brew Tea
One simply must have a flask of tea at a picnic, very useful for warming up when the weather turns. Make sure you pick up some Welsh Brew tea bags for your perfect picnic cuppa, made with a traditional blend of Kenyan and Assam tea it’s a very smooth tea with a lovely red colour, making it highly instagrammable.
Picnic connoisseurs that want to be a bit more adventurous with their hamper contents should pack some Penclawdd Cockles. They are locally sour locally sourced from Penclawdd, situated on the pretty Gower coast and are available to buy from the fantastic E. Ashton Fishmongers in Cardiff Market. They are certainly an acquired taste, but the payoff is your picnic looking dead sophisticated as you feast upon shellfish.
One of the most famous Welsh delicacies has just been awarded protected food status by the EU and would make for an excellent addition to a welsh picnic. Laverbread is made using a Laver, which is a fine seaweed collected for consumption along the Welsh coastline. Welsh laverbread or “bara lawr” doesn’t actually contain any bread and instead is a sort of purée that is served on toast. Parson’s Laverbread can be bought from their online store and comes in shrink wrapped trays, containing 10 tins.
Tregroes Waffles is a small, family run Bakery based in the beautiful rolling hills of the Teifi Valley. they make a scrumptious selection of waffles. My favourite has to be their gooey and lush butter toffee waffles. Make sure you pop one over your cup of Welsh brew to warm it up to a gooey loveliness.
What is nicer than alovelyy, buttery, crumbly welshcake as a little picnic sweet treat? Fabulous Welshcakes bakery located in Mermaid Quay, hand make delicious welshcakes in small batches, using a traditional cast iron griddle. As well as baking traditional welshcakes they also offer a fabulous selection of flavoured welshcakes such as lemon and white chocolate, maple pecan, lime and coconut, so you are spoiled for choice.
Where to get Welsh produce
Many farm stores and independent retailers such as Wally’s Delicatessen in Cardiff stock a range of local and Welsh Produce. Or you can buy produce online for websites such as Taste of Wales, which is an online marketplace for the best Welsh food and drink products. They stock a large range of Welsh drinks, chocolate, preserves, sauces and pantry products such as Blodyn Aur Welsh Rapeseed Oil and Halen Môn original Pure Sea Salt. Their website also features a blog on Welsh food and produce, as well as a recipe section for aspiring Welsh chefs.
For those looking for a ready made hamper should check out the Welsh Hamper Company these guys will send you a stunning hamper, packed with gorgeous Welsh produce. The products they offer are often limited in supply and are more likely to be found in specialist food festivals than the local supermarket, so you can be sure you are treating yourself to some proper home grown produce that is high in quality and superb on taste. You can choose from a selection of hampers including Welsh Farmhouse Feast, Gents Treat, Taffy’s Deli and Glamorgan Banquet.
What Welsh food do you like to take on a picnic? Let me know in the comments below!