A TOP chef is calling for a national trail to help dedicated foodies seek out the best produce in the finest restaurants, farm shops and delis in Wales.
Gareth Johns, head chef at The Wynnstay Hotel, in Machynlleth, has already created his own “slow food trail”, featuring the surrounding Dyfi Valley.
And now he would like to see a similar gastro trail expanded throughout Wales. Featuring all the best local produce available, from organic meat to full-flavoured cheese, Mr Johns hopes it would act as a tourism tool.
He said, “The slow food movement is all about good clean food that is properly and fairly produced and traded. As a chef, I’m a fan of the movement and anything that gets people thinking about Welsh food and visiting.
He suggests diners could start their gastronomic journey at The Wynnstay with a Welsh pizza, topped with smoked Gaerwen bacon, local leeks and Pont Gar cheese, or a marinara featuring mixed seafood from Cardigan Bay. Wine stocks include a pinot noir rose and a sparkling Chardonnay from the newly established Penarth vineyards and a mixed blend red from Ffynnon Las vineyards, plus delicious handmade chocolate.
Heading east, his slow food trail includes Jonathan Rees at Welsh Farm Organics.
Past the salt marshes of the Dyfi estuary, with its delicately flavoured lamb and “sea-vegetables” is Ynyshir Hall, a country house that has gained a great reputation for food.
And he says the trail could extend to Castle Cottage, five-star accommodation in Harlech, up to Plas Bodegroes where Chris Chown has a Michelin star and back down through Mid, West and South Wales.
Chef Dudley Newbery believes a food trail for Wales is a “great idea” and he signposts Anglesey as another “culinary hotspot”.
He said, “In Scotland they have a whisky trail that has been well publicised and Anglesey with its oysters, fresh fish, smokeries and Welsh Black beef, would be a great start for a food trail.
“There are a lot of good quality food producers that have sprung up over the past five years after realising that good packaging and marketing is as important as the product.
“Butchers now focus on high quality meats rather than cheap imports and the message for the food trail must be seasonal local produce which is now available all over Wales.”
Colin Pressdee, a food writer, said the trail could include farmers’ markets, food festivals, food halls, farm shops and specialist delicatessens.
He added, “In my forthcoming book, Food Wales, we will feature foodhalls such as Langfords, in Welshpool, Eynons of St Clears.
“The restaurant scene in the Usk Valley has improved significantly too and a trail there could take in The Celtic Manor and The Chandlery at Newport, The Hardwick and The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, The Foxhunter, Nantyderry and The Clytha Arms.”
Carol Williams, a tourism growth officer working in Brecon Beacons National Park, said food and drink was worth £27.1m across the park in 2006.
She added, “Food brings in tourists, especially from abroad and we have 21 local food producers working on Welsh breakfasts alone. We use picture information cards on tables in park pubs to introduce diners to the farmers who have produced the food they have eaten.”
Page 2 - The route a foodie trail across Wales could follow