Remarkable Welsh cuisine...not to mention great golf...Jim's Deal of the Day
CARDIFF, Wales - I remember writing a story about England some 15 or 20 years ago and making fun of the cuisine. It was an easy shot. A cheap shot, really.
As I recall, my English-born city editor at the time sent me a note. He might have agreed. Or he might have called me a nasty name. I honestly don’t recall. The point is that things have changed in a massive way, and today Britain is serving up some of the finest meals on the planet.
I had some great food in London when I was there in February. But nothing as good as what I’ve had here in Wales the past few days. Last week I had dinner at the Crown restaurant at the Celtic Manor resort, which is owned by Welshman turned Canadian Terry Matthews of Ottawa. Tremendous place with a great, Romanesque spa and three renowned golf courses. But it was the dinner that blew me away. I remember a leek and potato soup drizzled with local honey and some succulent roast quail and a killer dessert with ginger ice cream.
The next night I had a Spanish tapas platter in the bar and it was enormous; filled with olives and sun-dried tomatoes and three types of bread and manchego cheese and chorizo and Spanish ham and I can’t remember what else, all for about $20 Cdn. On Sunday night I was at a hotel called Fairyhill on the Gower Peninsula, not far from Swansea. The sea bass was exquisite (the bartender/order taker said it had been caught just two hours prior) and the toffee pudding was to die for. They also had an incredibly tasty Welsh beef carpaccio, and forgive me if I’m drooling on my keyboard….
PORTMEIRION AND NEFYN GOLF
From the ridiculous (sort of) to the sublime.
I spent Saturday night at a hotel in Portmeirion, a bizarre little village where an eccentric Welshman built small replicas of everything from Italianate villas to Russian orthodox churches high on a hill overlooking the Atlantic.
Weird doesn’t begin to describe it. But I must say I kinda liked it. I remember a friend of my father’s once telling me that any job worth doing is worth doing right. And I like that philosophy. If you’re gonna play the cello, for example, then play it as best you can. If you’re gonna build a weird little village with architectural styles borrowed from all over the world, or at least Europe, then go big or go him.
And that’s what they did.
You can get a feel for it by the picture here. It has no real bearing on Wales, but it represents the eccentricity of the British that I’ve always found appealing.
Anyway, that was part of the weekend. The best part was playing the Nefyn and District golf course in north Wales, which is perhaps the most awe-inspiring scenic golf course I’ve ever seen. Actually, I take that back. It IS the most awe-inspiring golf layout I’ve seen. It hugs giant cliffs right along the Atlantic and offers the most stupendous views I can imagine, and I can imagine a lot.
It’s got some quirks that keep it from being a GREAT golf course, but it’s a fun course with the most wonderful sea views you might ever see. Definitely worth checking out if you get a chance. A real joy.
JIM'S DEAL OF THE DAY
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