If you deem yourself an all-round foodie, find yourself intrigued by Welsh cuisine or just have a passion for independent food ventures in Cardiff, then what’s better than going on a food tour of the Welsh capital. Luckily two tasty local food tours have been created by former tour guide and owner of local food tourism company Loving Welsh Food, Sian Roberts.
With its roots being established back in 2016, the tours have been evolving ever since and provide people with a mouth-watering array of independent local coffees, cakes, tapas and some of the best in street food as those taking part wander from venue to venue and enjoy a true taste of Wales.
“Our aim is to invite all of our guests – locals and visitors to Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan – to experience the best of traditional and modern Welsh dishes and drinks, visit independently-owned shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants and meet the producers,” states the website. This delicious day out will also teaches you about Welsh life, history and culture and with Welsh-speaking tour-guides (there are four including Sian) you’ll even learn some Welsh lingo.
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The concept of food tourism is something Sian discovered while on a trip to Chicago some years ago. She says: “In Chicago, they were trying to get people to come to the city all year round, but people were only coming for the holidays, or for big events – a bit like Cardiff really.” She discovered they were looking at building tours around food to give people a reason to visit all year round. “And so when I saw that, I thought, ‘Oh, I think I’m gonna try that’.”
With two incredibly scrumptious private and public walking tours now on offer in Cardiff, there is something for everyone. “The whole idea on the food tour is you get to try different foods,” says Sian.
The company’s origin tour, the Cardiff Tasting Tour , focuses on Welsh food, while its newest, the Cosmopolitan Cardiff Food Tour , explores the delicious international cuisine on offer in the Welsh capital by independent business. This was borne in October 2021 after the pandemic as Sian says the food tour industry was advised to branch into international cuisine to peak the interest of not just visitors to the capital but locals too. “Sadly, a lot of Welsh people are not that interested in Welsh food,” she laughs.
Alongside the walking tours, there’s also a coach trip that covers Ogmore-By-Sea’s Cobbles restaurant, Hensol Castle, Penderyn Distillery, Meadow View Vineyard in Cowbridge or Vale Cider.
Both walking tours start at Cardiff’s magnificent castle, and here we take a look at the independent businesses you will be lucky enough to enjoy tastings from enroute.
Cardiff Tasting Tour – four hour walking tour
Currently available for private groups – Monday to Friday
Price from £60 per person (plus booking fee)
Having baked traditional Welsh cakes using their own recipe for the best part of 15 years, Fabulous Welsh Cakes is a staple stop off in the city – you simply cannot go to Wales without trying these deliciously fluffy baked beauties. With stores in Cardiff city centre and Cardiff Bay showcasing varying flavours each day, you will be spoilt for choice. They even have gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free options.
Bird & Blend Tea Co.
Located in Castle Quarter Arcade, this beautiful tea company’s new shop in Cardiff is a must-try for any tea lovers. With stores across the UK, Cardiff has a tea unique to the Welsh capital – Welsh Cake Cwtch, which tour-goers can try. Meanwhile Brett, the store manager, matches you with your perfect Matcha tea.
“He’s just so enthusiastic about teas and talks a lot about the health benefits and the different kinds of teas. The store is amazing, I think they’ve got 100 different kinds of loose leaf tea,” Sian explains.
Any foodie worth their salt wouldn’t miss a trip to Cardiff’s famous deli.
“Wally’s originally started as a delicatessen for Eastern Europeans, the owner was a Polish immigrant who came over just before the Second World War. He is the kind of unique selling point,” say Sian of current owner Steven Salamon’s grandfather, Ignatz.
“Wally’s used to be charcuterie [Polish cooked meats, pickles, Hungarian salamis, German hams and sausages and European-style breads], so we have some continental meats, but then we also have four Welsh cheeses. And one the staff will talk about the story and the cheeses and the meats.” Those taking part in the tour also get a discount on any produce they buy.
From Wally’s the tour will take you on a trip around Bute Park with a potential stop-off at Gareth Bale’s famous Eleven’s bar before heading to every Welsh foodie’s dream: Cardiff Market.
Cardiff Market has become a mecca for foodies and has a wealth of brilliant stalls where you can pick up snacks, lunch or tea time treats. Among some of the latest editions are Tukka Tuk, Sage Deli, Tokyo Nights and The Naked Vegan. You can read about all of the food stalls here.
At Ashton’s you will sample Welsh delicacy laverbread – made with laver, an edible seaweed – and cockles, visitors will be privy to the kind of produce available at “Wales’ largest independent fishmongers”.
Market Deli has been at Cardiff Market since 1906, and now, this family run business will be sharing their faggots and peas and famous Clarke’s Pie – “a staple food for Cardiffians” – with the visitors from all over.
And Ffwrnes offers Italian woodfire pizzas with Welsh ingredients is Jez Phillips and Ieuan Harry’s speciality – whose faces you may recognise from BBC One’s show, Pizza Boys, which saw the pair travel to the European Pizza Championships.
The final stop of the tour is Spanish tapas jaunt, Bar 44, which is renowned for its brilliant small dishes and accompanying wines. What better place to raise a glass of wine or sherry as the tour comes to an end.
Cosmopolitan Cardiff Food Tour – five hour walking tour
Runs every Friday from March to November 2022 or guests can book a private tour – Wednesdays to Friday.
Price from £75 per person
This adorable cafe was founded by Portuguese bakers in 2012 after they noticed a “lack of authentic Portuguese pastries” around the Cardiff area, according to the website. Now, after 10 years, the store has grown to become it’s very own little Portugal where both Cardffians and tourists can satiate their sweet tooth.
A similar visit to the Cardiff Tasting Tour, tour go-ers will try out continental cheeses and meats to ensure “the tastings are slightly different”.
Prego’s is next on the international food tour, where guests can try authentic bruschetta and a glass of Italian wine straight from the restaurant’s very own vineyard in Naples – saluti!
Back at Cardiff Market, where the tour members will visit some different stalls to those chosen on the original tour. If bitesize snacks and moorish nibbles are what you’re craving, Mediterranean Foods stall has you covered. From an impressive variety of olives in oil and herbs to sweet treats like Turkish delights, dried fruits and nuts, and mouth-watering freshly made baklava – a popular delicacy of the Ottoman empire, it’s made of layers of filo lovingly packed with chopped nuts and sweetened with a dollop of syrup or honey.
Expect big flavours at Indian street food stall Tukka Tuk, jointly owned by Purple Poppadom chef Anand George and entrepreneur Rupali Wagh. Located on the top level of Cardiff Market, try their signature dishes including Keralan fried chicken with Bombay fries and mutton rolls a tangy garlic and chilli ketchup. One taste and you’ll be drooling for an excuse to go back.
The tour also calls at Fabulous Welsh Cakes, because, although this particular tour features international cuisine, as Sian says: “We still have Welsh food on the tour!”
Once again the final destination is Bar 44. “We finish in Bar 44, where they have some chocolate truffles, tea and coffee and a tasting of sherry. And it’s lush,” says Sian.
(Please note:Choice of dishes vary according to seasonality. Venues vary according to the day of the week.)
For more information on the tours, please visit: https://lovingwelshfood.uk/
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