Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Let's talk about Wales... and what I ate there.

September 2012 has been a big month for me and I realize I’ve got to start covering some things on this blog. How did I forget to recount pizza at Pleasant House Bakery this summer? And, yes, then there’s the wedding (!!!), but I’ve got other fish to fry first.

I’ve recently returned from a mother-daughters holiday abroad. The itinerary included both Cardiff and Paris, and I think each deserves their own post, so let’s talk about Wales.
I love Wales. It’s romantic and magical. Really all of Britain is romantic and magical to me. I guess that’s what happens when you visit a place in your youth. Or maybe it’s what happens when you read a heavy combination of classic and young-adult British literature. Do you know The Dark is Rising and its sequels? My mom bought the first for me in a little bookshop off the shambles in York and I read it as we travelled through England and into the far north of Scotland.  Green mountains, grey skies, sheep and ruins were just the right backdrop for a twelve-year-old reading a book that was part Arthurian myth, part children save the world. Excellent recipe for adult anglophilia.
As an adult, the magic is still there. Wales was described in one poster we saw as “a holiday-land full of undiscovered charm.” I agree. The countrywide emphasis on dragons didn’t hurt either.
Like my twelve-year-old self, I kept a journal (or “plog,” according to my mother) of our journey, this time mostly discussing what I ate and drank (cheers for being old enough to booze on family vacations!), which I will abridge for this post.
Of the long flight I describe, “Disappointing cheese plate incident soon followed by hypothermia and fellow passenger vomit scenario.” And we’re off.
“We started with a spot of tea in the vineyard. Sat in the window seat to see the sheep in the garden. Are setting out from farmhouse to walk up to the castle and stop at the Tynant Inn for dinner and beer. Pub or bust. Need to learn puppy’s name. Yeah—there’s a puppy.”
“Stopped at Tynant Inn for dinner—no fish and chips compare to Pleasant House, I’m learning. Tried Brains Bitter w/ dinner—found it weak compared to my normal robust American craft beer preferences.”
“Bore da! Full welsh breakfast includes a fried egg, a sausage, 2 rashers of bacon, a broiled tomato half, and mushrooms. Toast, butter, jam, marmalade. Tea, orange juice, water. Delicious. Best meal of the trip. Loving the farmhouse.”
“It is quite hard to keep my thoughts together to write with these saggy rucksacks flapping their jacks contantly. Have just toured Cardiff Castle… Now we’re having a glass of cider and splitting a traditional Welsh rarebit.”
On traditional Welsh cockles: “No idea what those are.”
“We’ve decided to dine at the Bayside Brasserie—on the water at Cardiff Bay… a rather good dinner of scallops, beet and goat cheese tarts, and local brews.”
“Breakfast tomorrow at 7:30. I’m thinking more toast, less sausage, but I could be wrong.”
“We’re lunching now in sight of Tintern Abbey. Had a ham sandwich, salt and vinegar crisps, mom had welsh cakes—studded with yellow currants—, Mer had the cheddar ploughman salad plate.”
“Back in Cardiff we transferred to a train to Caerphilly. Upon arrival we received for the third time the man directions, “Go into town and then turn.” We took the scenic route—not for the last time in Caerphilly…didn’t manage to find place to eat in Caerphilly, and despite having eventually come back round the road to the train station—we took a taxi back to Morganstown… was pleased to find the taxi turning right, up to the Lewis Arms pub… We ordered British. Up at the bar w/ the number of the table we picked. Steak and ale pie w/ mash. Cheddar ploughman. Fish and chips. And pints. Back to Brains for me this evening. The Double Dragon last night was better than Brains bitter, but I think the Brains IPA gave a closer run.”
“Had the partial Welsh this morning, sausage only. Love the creamy yolk and salty meat combo. Saw the pup again—Marley—playing with a stick form the breakfast room window.”
“Sitting now at a table in the Departure Lounge of Cardiff airport. Just pulled together a picnic meal to polish off our last pounds. Cheese and pickle sandwich, crisps, lion bar, Satsuma. Chargrilled burger crisps available, no roast-ox. Not sure if I regret not trying those at Cardiff Castle. Don’t regret not having a jacket potato w/ beans. Bet that’s a chip flavor, too! Cheers, Wales!”


  1. Full Welsh breakfast...yes. Especially as cooked at Gelynis Farm.

  2. Who made you walk around Caerphilly that much?! UGH.

    Love this look into what all you were scribbling into your plog when we weren't allowed to talk to you! Worth it.

    Can't wait for Paris and Wedding and Fall!