As foodies exploring North East Wales for the weekend, we enjoyed discovering the best places to eat and local dishes that are typical for this corner of Wales. The rolling green hills are ideal for livestock farming and lamb is often found on the menu in dishes like Welsh Cawl cooked with root vegetables and leeks, the symbol of Wales.
There are also excellent cheeses and home-baked cakes like Welsh teacakes and Bara Brith, so read on to discover the treats that await you in the pubs, tearooms and farm shops around North East Wales.
Local dishes you’ll enjoy in North East Wales
Welsh Rarebit is one of the best known local dishes, a tasty lunchtime or evening dish that elevates cheese-on-toast to a whole new level. The cheese is mixed with butter and flour to make a roux, flavoured with mustard, Worcester sauce and Welsh beer, then spread over the toast and grilled with some extra cheese on top. I tried my tasty Welsh Rarebit at the Plas Newydd tearooms near Llangollen.
This home cooked dish combines two of the most popular Welsh ingredients; lamb and leeks. Cawl is the Welsh name for a hearty soup or stew and this one combines lamb, leeks and root vegetables, thickened with barley which is locally grown in Wales. It’s a dish that would have cooked slowly in a cottage oven in days gone by and perhaps served with hunks of crusty bread. Guy enjoyed his Welsh Cawl at the Plas Newydd tearooms near Llangollen.
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Welsh cakes and Bara Brith
For teatime treats look out for the small, flat Welsh cakes that are made with flour, butter and sugar studded with raisins and cooked on a griddle. You can buy them easily at any Welsh food shop and they are great for a picnic or to keep in your backpack on a walk. Bara Brith is another Welsh speciality meaning “speckled bread”. It’s a fruit loaf that’s made with dried fruit soaked in tea and is lovely and moist, served in slices with butter with a cup of tea. I bought a home baked Bara Brith from a cake stall by the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and it kept us going all weekend.
Places to eat in North East Wales
There are loads of great places to eat in North East Wales – here are some of the ones we recommend either because we ate there or because we visited and liked the ambiance and location.
Hawarden – The Glynne Arms is just a short walk from Gladstones Library where we stayed and is less of a traditional pub and more of a stylish bar and restaurant. We enjoyed our dinner there on Saturday night with a selection of small plates and salads and much of the local produce sourced through the impressive Hawarden Farm Shop down the road. We ate: a selection of their small plates (3 dishes for £15) – asparagus with poached egg, shredded duck bao buns, crab cakes, artichoke hummus.
Hawarden – Gladstones Library – we ate in the Food for Thought café while staying at Gladstones Library, but the café is also open to non-residents for lunches and afternoon teas. If you’d like to visit the impressive oak-beamed Reading Room, there are daily Glimpse visits at 12.00, 2pm or 4pm for a 15 minute tour that would be easily combined with a visit to the café. The cooking is home-style and reasonably priced. We ate: Vegetarian lasagne with a selection of salads followed by bread and butter pudding with custard.
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Hawarden – Estate Farm Shop café – in addition to its food hall, butchery and deli counters, the farm shop has a stylish café with indoor and outdoor seating. We didn’t eat here but thought this would be a great place for brunch or lunch – there’s a good range of vegetarian options as well as dishes using meat from the estate.
Llangollen – The Corn Mill – This old water mill turned pub has a stunning position beside the River Dee in Llangollen and serves classic pub food with a few more adventurous options. We didn’t eat here but did visit their outdoor deck that overhangs the River Dee, which we thought would be the perfect spot for a pint and a bite to eat on a sunny summer evening.
Llangollen – The Station Cafe and Bar – If you love all things vintage, you can step back in time for tea and cakes at the Llangollen Heritage Railway Station café. You could easily be on the set of the 1945 movie Brief Encounter where Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard look longingly into each others eyes over endless cups of tea in the station tea room. There’s also a train carriage beside the track that makes a cute café with seating on the platform. We didn’t eat here but would have liked to try afternoon tea on board the steam train, on the 10 mile trip to Corwen and back through the beautiful Dee Valley.
Llangollen – Gales of Llangollen – This wood panelled wine bar is tucked down a side street and well known for its excellent food as well as the extensive selection of wines. The menu is based on locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, and they make their own bread and ice cream. We didn’t eat here but it was highly recommended by food blogger Kacie Morgan of The Rare Welsh Bit who wrote about it in her article on the North East Wales Year of the Sea Challenge.
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Llangollen – Plas Newydd tea rooms – The small tearoom at Plas Newydd is possible to visit even if you are not going into the house and is open from April to October, serving home cooked dishes. We ate: I tried the Welsh Rarebit and Guy had the Welsh Cawl for lunch and we enjoyed the beautiful outlook from the courtyard towards the house and garden.
Ruthin – Myddelton Grill – We ate upstairs at the Myddelton Grill which is in an old half timbered and oak beamed building, facing the main square in Ruthin. We ordered their Sunday lunch roast beef,which was outstanding, with the slow cooked beef tender and flavoursome with crispy roast potatoes and root veg. This would be a good choice for Sunday lunch or dinner on a special evening out.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – Cafe Boat – You’ll find the cafe boat called “Butty and Sweet” in the Trevor Basin right beside the visitor’s centre at the aqueduct, serving teas, drinks, home-made cakes and paninis. We didn’t eat here but thought it would be a perfect spot for walkers, cyclists and visitors to the aqueduct to get a bite to eat on sunny days. It’s open daily except Monday.
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Where to buy local produce in North East Wales
We found that some of the best local food in North East Wales was to be found in farm shops, which have moved beyond selling just the meat and veg of one farm, to become foodie destinations in their own right.
Hawarden Estate Farm Shop
A great example was the Hawarden Estate Farm Shop, just down the road from our accommodation at the Gladstones Library, also run by the Hawarden Estate. This foodie emporium offers meat and vegetables from the estate but also deli and cheese counters where you can take away or eat in the stylish café.
The Food Hall showcases the best artizan food producers in North Wales, with bread made with flour from nearby Walk Mill and local beers, cakes and condiments.
Outside there’s a smoke shack, adventure playground and pick-your-own fruit and vegetables through the summer as well as outdoor stalls for the weekend marketplace. The farm shop also hosts the Good Life Experience on Gladstones Farm, with a weekend of discovery, music, ideas and food cooked over the camp fire.
Rhug Estate Organic Farm Shop
The heart of the 12,500 acre Rhug estate is the organic farm in Denbighshire, close to Llangollen where we found the Rhug Estate Organic Farm shop. Not only do they have a large butchery counter with meat from the estate, but also stock 3000 other food products from local Welsh producers, including a range of organic wines and spirits.
The Bison Grill restaurant that adjoins the farm shop is open daily until 5pm, with a menu that reflects local and seasonal produce and especially popular for Sunday lunch and Afternoon tea. If you’re just passing through then you can still pick up a Bison or Aberdeen Angus burger from the On The Hoof Takeaway, which you can eat on the picnic benches outside.
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Local Produce to look out for in North East Wales
Look out for some of the great locally made produce from North East Wales and other neighbouring areas, when you’re shopping in the farm shops or eating in the local restaurants.
Wrexham Lager – brewed locally in Wrexham, you’ll see the bottled Wrexham Export lager in pubs and shops all over North East Wales. The brewery in Wrexham dates back to the 1880s but the brand has recently been revived with a new state-of-the-art brewhouse in the town.
Llangollen Brewery – Just outside Llangollen, this brewery and farm shop makes country ales and offers a pre-booked brewery tour with tastings.
Aber Falls distillery – This distillery near Bangor makes whiskey and a popular range of flavoured gins – check out the pink Rhubarb and Ginger or Orange Marmalade gins which sounded interesting, or stick to the classic Welsh dry gin
Patchwork Pâté in Ruthin – look out for this award winning range of artisan pâtés in the deli cabinet of farm shops and grocery stores – there’s a huge range and you can also visit for a tour at their factory in Ruthin to hear their story if you book in advance.
Chirk Trout Farm – I really wanted to visit this trout farm, which is close to Llangollen and Chirk castle – they farm the troup in pools fed by spring water and smoke their trout as well as other smoked products. You can buy the trout from their farm shop, which also sells a range of meals using their products, in case you are self-catering.
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Snowdonia cheese company – you’ll spot their colourful wax coated cheeses in the farm shops and they are well known for their Black Bomber – a creamy and extra mature cheddar with full flavour
Caws Cenarth Cheese – an artisan cheesemaker based in Carmarthenshire – their creamy blue Perl Las cheese is a favourite
Food Festivals in North East Wales
There are lots of food festivals throughout the summer in different parts of North East Wales, so check out the following if you’d like to discover more local food producers and chefs;
Great British Food festival at Bodelwydden Castle – 30 June – 1st July 2018
Food challenges, live music, kid’s cookery classes and lots of food stalls in the stunning park and grounds of Bodelwyddan Castle, close to the coast at Rhyl.
Mold Food and Drink Festival -15-16 Sept 2018
Now in its 13th year, the festival is held in the pretty market town of Mold with a perfect recipe of exhibitors, activities, music, and cookery demonstrations.
Good Life Experience – 14-16 September 2018
Brought to you by the same team that run the Hawarden Farm Shop and Glynne Arms, this festival is held on Gladstones Farm, with a weekend of discovery, music, ideas and food cooked over the camp fire.
Llangollen Food Festival– 13/14 October 2018
Held in the Llangollen Pavilion close to the river, with local chef demonstrations and over 100 stalls to showcase the best local Welsh producers.
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Stay at Gladstones Library in North East Wales
We highly recommend “sleeping among the books” at Gladstones Library, which makes an unusual place to stay with a rather special atmosphere. This residential library was founded in 1894 to house the book collection of England’s Prime Minister William Gladstone, in his home village of Hawarden, and one wing contains the Victorian Reading Room with vaulted oak beams.
The boutique bedrooms are stylish and modern, with a comfortable sitting room where you can read, add a few pieces to the jigsaw puzzle or engage in conversation with other guests. The library tends to attract writers, book-lovers or those who are looking for a comfortable base to explore the area, but you can book a stay just like any other hotel. The collegiate atmosphere makes it easy to chat and mingle with other guests and the beautiful gardens and calm atmosphere make for a very relaxing visit.
The Food For Thought café offers locally sourced home cooked dishes and is open daily for lunch and afternoon tea, which you could easily combine with a daily Glimpse tour to see the Reading Room at 12.00, 2pm or 4pm.
Gladstones Library Website | Twitter @gladlib | Instagram | Facebook |
To plan your visit to North East Wales
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You’ll find plenty more information to help you plan your trip on the North East Wales Tourism Website and follow their social media channels on Twitter @NthEastWales | Instagram | Facebook. There’s also more information available on the Visit Wales Website. and the Discover Flintshire website and Explore Flintshire and the Discover Denbighshire website
There are excellent road, rail and air links to get you to North East Wales – more detailed information on the North East Tourism website The region covers the counties of Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham and is around 3 hours by train from London and 2 hours from Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester.
Thanks to North East Wales Tourism who hosted my trip
This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here
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