It may surprise you to know that the World Heritage Site around Blaenavon not only boasts a historically important landscape and award winning museums, but it also offers up some tasty treats.
At the award-winning local cheese-makers, Blaenavon Cheddar Company you can take a bite into the past and try your hand at dipping your own cheese. From Pwll Mawr Cheddar - actually matured in the mine shaft at Big Pit, to Bara Brith Cheddar (speckled bread) - a traditional Welsh bread recipe of plumped juicy raisins and mixed fruit infused with 'Black Mountain' liqueur, these distinct and unusual flavoured cheeses are unique to The Valleys. And just down the road, you can satisfy your sugar cravings at Chocs Away, the ‘take what you make’ chocolate workshop. Indulge in your chocolate passions by hand rolling soft, creamy fudge, dark chocolate ganache or Welsh vanilla creams.
Delve into the area’s fascinating history and traverse the Heads of the Valleys, passing through the highest town of Brynmawr where ‘afters’ (great Valleys word!) can be taken in Ebbw Vale. The Industrial Revolution brought in workers from all over the world and fortunately, some of these were Italians with great ice-cream making skills!
Many Italians migrated to The Valleys from the late 18th century onwards, gaining work in heavy industries including farming, mining and tin plating as well as founding many of the cafés, ice-cream parlours and restaurants that have become institutions across The Valleys today. Voted the number one Valleys Essential Experience by the people of South Wales in a 2011 poll, Sidoli’s ice cream in Ebbw Vale has passed through three generations of Sidoli men who continue to produce ice-cream using the original recipe.
In 2010, the people of South Wales were asked to come up with a unique new ice-cream flavour combination to represent The Valleys. As a result, ‘Taffy Afal’ which is the Welsh for toffee apple, was proclaimed The Official Valleys Ice cream, produced by Subzero Ice Cream factory in the Rhondda and is now available to buy in supermarkets across south Wales.
You may already know of Ebbw Vale’s iron and steel-making history and it is quite fitting that the town, which was at the centre of the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago is still spearheading some revolutionary technological concepts in the 21st century.
Wales’ only distillery and one of the smallest in the world, Penderyn Whisky Distillery, nestled in the foothills of the Brecon Beacon is famous for its Penderyn Single Malt Whisky as well as the production of the more recent Brecon Five Vodka, Brecon Gin and Merlyn Cream Liqueur. Visit the distillery and take a fascinating journey through the history of whisky making in Wales or join a master class to really understand what really makes this Welsh whisky unique.
Situated in Gorslas in Carmarthenshire, Cwmcerrig Farm prides itself on controlling the freshest of produce from field to fork. As well as meat from the animals reared on site, the farm shop is stocked with locally sourced produce and traditional home-made Welsh treats such as fudge, honey, chocolate and ice cream. And the fully licensed on-site café serving home-reared carvery is sure to create a lasting memory.
Rhymney Brewery has taken up the most famous name in Welsh brewing to emphasise that they’re bringing back the old traditional flavours using modern methods and organic natural ingredients. All over Britain our beer has lost its local flavour. There are sadly few small independent breweries remaining in South Wales left to give us their peculiar tang, to remind us of the days when ale didn't taste like beer bags dipped in tepid water. Take a tour of Rhymney Brewery and see why good beer is something that really matters in Wales.