Adventurous cookies-and-cake car tour of Carmarthenshire’s sweet temptations
Melt-in-the-mouth Welsh cakes and moist bara brith fruit loaf. Welsh pancakes or crempog slathered in butter and juicy jam. Tiessennau mel, the yummy mini muffins also known as Welsh honey cakes.
Sweet-toothed visitors and keen home bakers alike are sure to lap up all the little slices of heaven served up in Carmarthenshire’s cafes and restaurants.
Get a taste for all Carmarthenshire’s sweet hot spots on this new Cookies and Cake Car Tour of the county. Do the whole adventure in a day or pick ‘n’ mix your favourites - we’ve included details on top sweet spots, where they are, what to try and how far it is to the next one.
We’re not just talking cakes, biscuits and buns either. The county’s other sweet treats include creamy ice cream, chocolate, tarts and rich pastries, too.
Carmarthenshire even has its own confectionery hero. Liam Burgess created hugely successful NomNom chocolate bars in November 2011, with a loan from the Prince’s Trust, when he was only 18. Now available in numerous gourmet flavours including Welsh lavender and Celteg sloe gin, you can buy NomNom everywhere, even in London’s upmarket department store, Fortnum & Mason.
muffins also known as Welsh honey cakes.
There’s also information on great Tourists’ Treats to enjoy along the way, from castles and country houses, to beautiful Carmarthenshire countryside.
1. Amser Te
12, St John Street, Whitland, SA34 0AN.
Breakfast - Make an early start, and head for the Amser Te in Whitland. The huge variety of cupcakes, sponges, scones, brownies, flapjacks, rockroad, millionaires shortcake and bara brith will set you up for a great day’s sightseeing. You must also try the homemade Welsh cakes - tasty little traditional treats, flavoured with spices and currants, baked onsite and served with melted butter on twee china plates. Feeling indulgent then team with a cool and creamy icecream sundae - sundae-licious!
Tourists’ treats - With energy levels topped up, leave for Laugharne, a 16km drive away, and burn off some calories on the guided 3.2km Dylan Thomas Birthday Walk and discover the picturesque town and landscapes that inspired the country’s most famous writer, with magnificent views of the estuary, the Dylan Thomas Boathouse, the Gower Peninsula, North Devon, Caldey Island and Tenby.
2. Dylan Thomas Boathouse
Dylan’s Walk, Laugharne, SA33 4SD.
Mid-morning coffee break - You’ve earnt a treat so head for the tearoom at Dylan Thomas Boathouse in the poet’s home town of Laugharne. Crumbs of comfort here include the home-baked Welsh cakes, scones and bara brith - it means speckled bread and is a traditional Welsh fruit loaf made with tea.
Tourists’ treats - Spend an enjoyable couple of hours on a 4.5km circular walk around the pretty seaside village of Llanstaffan, only a 30 minute drive on from Laugharne, taking in such sites as St Anthony’s well, named after a 6th-century hermit who was devoted to the saint, and reputedly gave its waters incredible healing powers; medieval Llansteffan Castle with staggering views across the estuary; and the secluded golden sands of gorgeous Scotts Bay.
3. Wright’s Food Emporium
Golden Grove Arms, Llanarthne, SA32 8JU.
Lunch - You must be hungry again by now; a 30-40 minute drive from Llansteffan will take you to Welsh foodie heaven Wright’s Food Emporium, where daily homemade breads include granary, sourdough and ciabatta and a great granola - bread of heaven indeed. The succulent Pork Belly Cubano sandwich is a savoury sensation; pud is unmissable, with local butter, eggs and cream used to conjure up melt-in-the-mouth yummies such as baked sultana and nutmeg cheesecake, plum and almond tart, and delicious pastries, including fresh apple turnovers.
Tourists’ treats - The magnificent estate of Dinefwr, a National Nature Reserve, historic house and 18th-century landscape park incorporating a medieval deer park, is just a 15-minute drive from Wright’s and provides the perfect backdrop for an afternoon stroll, or take fewer steps inside Newton House, built originally in 1660 and today’s grand Gothic-look building with four impressive turrets dating back to the 1850s.
1 Market Street, Llandeilo, SA19 6AH.
Cake - Cake Next stop, the attractive town of Llandeilo with its gorgeous Georgian and Victorian buildings, chic boutiques selling fabulous fashion, jewellery, homewares, art and antiques, and winding streets where you’ll find marvellous cafes and food shops, including Ginhaus.
Chef Becky is a patisserie chef who trained in France and has also worked at The Ritz. Needless to say, she makes amazing cakes daily from scratch.
The cherry frangipane tarts and recently introduced rhubarb and custard frangipane tarts are scrumptious, especially when eaten straight out of the oven. The cake menu changes daily but might include traditional bara brith, courgette and lemon muffins, beetroot and chocolate muffins, French-style croissant and butter pudding, and gluten-free chocolate brownies. Occasionally there’ll be a gin-soaked cake to try - not for the driver, naturally.
Tourists’ treats - Have a gentle exploration of the town’s yummy food shops. Heavenly in London House, 60 Rhosmaen St, Llandeilo SA19 6EN, hevenlychoc.biz, 01558 822800, stocks jazzy Welsh cakes hot off the griddle with a modern lilt, such as cranberry and white chocolate or lemon with cherry as well as the traditional version. Heavenly is most famous for incredible ice cream though, which you can’t save for later so go on then, eat some now...!
5. The Plough Inn, Rhosmaen
Rhosmaen, Llandeilo, SA19 6NP.
Afternoon Tea - Tea time at Plough Rhosmaen, only a short drive outside Llandeilo, where you have a choice of three: Welsh cream tea with homemade scones, cream, homemade fruit compote and a pot of tea, £5.95; Welsh afternoon tea, with appetizer, finger sandwiches, homemade scone, bara brith, homemade cakes with cream, fruit compote and a pot of tea, £13.95; or upgrade to Sparkling afternoon tea with a glass of Prosecco, £16.95.
Tourists’ treats - Work off your cake curves with a walk around Carreg Cennen Castle, a 15-minute drive from Llandeilo. The atmospheric ruins stand around 900ft above the River Cennen; prepare to be amazed by the 60-mile panoramic views west to the Preseli Hills and south to remote Black Mountain. There are three walk routes taking from one hour to three if you have the time and inclination.
Tourists’ treats - Drive just 20 minutes up the road and you will be surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Head to the Visitor Centre in the picturesque Myddfai village for a spot of tea and a dose of history and heritage as you learn about the Physicians of Myddfai and the legend of 'The Lady of The Lake'. Tucked away and reached by narrow lanes, it's well worth the trouble to reach it to enjoy the lovely home cooked food, tasty jams and chutneys and a select gift shop with a wide variety of local home crafted items.
Tourists’ treats - If you’re still peckish, head back to the Plough for supper - and pud in particular. How good does elderflower trifle, orange-scented rice pudding and bara brith ice cream sound? It’s called Blas Cymru, a Taste of Wales.