Friday, August 18, 2006


Our visits to Aberdyfi can cause a lot of confusion when people ask where we are going on holiday. 'Abu Dhabi? How exciting'. 'No,' I reply, 'Aberdyfi, it's in Wales.'
I suspect that those who know where Abu Dhabi is far outnumber those who could find, say, Machynlleth on a map. Although Machynlleth (the nearest town to Aberdyfi) lays claim to the title of Ancient Capital of Wales few people outside Wales know where it is. Only one person with whom I have had the 'where are you going on holiday?' conversation with knew precisely where Aberdyfi could be found, because she and her husband used to have a stake in a restaurant there.

Anyway, Aberdyfi is a delightful seaside village tucked into the hills of the Snowdonia National Park. The harbour is filled with boats that change direction with the tide, the houses and shops on the front are tastefully painted in pastel colours and there is even a bandstand perched on top of the cliff.

On the food front Aberdyfi has changed a lot over the past few years. When we first started spending our half-terms and holidays there four years ago things were a lot more hit-and-miss. More usually miss. But things have changed for the better with the opening of several shops and a couple of new restaurants to complement the ever-popular Penhelig Arms.

Derek's Plaice sells Aberdyfi-caught crab and lobster, bass, sole, mackerel, plaice, cod, sardines and turbot, to name but a few. The mackerel pate is a must-have for breakfast, spread generously on warm brown bread on top of a thin layer of unsalted butter. In addition to the fish, Gill sells fresh local vegetables and fruit as well as free-range eggs, flowers and citrus fruit. It seems hard to believe that four years ago we used to take lemons on holiday with us.

Almost directly opposite Derek's Plaice on Copperhill Street, is Cigydd Aberyfi. All the meat is fully-traceable and sourced within ten miles of Aberdyfi. As well as lamb, pork and beef of excellent quality there is also a range of cold meats, pork pies, vegetables and fruit. Later this summer a UK-wide delivery service is being launched.

Further round the square Trevor Pharoah opened Bistro on the Square about a year ago, on the site of the old and much-lamented Grapevine. We haven't eaten there yet because it always seems to be fully booked and I'm never organised enough to book months in advance. If only they opened at lunchtime as well...

And last but not least for this posting: you can now buy a decent espresso in the village. Y Bwtri Blasus make a very nice coffee (Lavazza) to drink in or take away! Since taking over the delicatessen earlier this year the new owners have changed the layout to make the cafe area more attractive and offer tempting platters of locally caught shellfish for lunch. It would be lovely if they opened for coffee earlier than 9am though - when the children have woken up at 6am that coffee is desperately needed.