Sometimes you find foodie treasures in the most unlikely places. Hugging the banks of the River Teifi in Pembrokeshire, the low-key village of St Dogmaels hosts a weekly market that is a true feast of top-quality local produce.
Quantity doesn’t necessarily equate with quality, and the produce market in St Dogmaels is a case in point. Tucked behind the evocative ruins of the medieval St Dogmaels Abbey, the small market hums with activity between 9am and 1pm every Tuesday: it’s one of the few village markets that happen weekly in Wales. Set up in 2009 to address the growing appetite for sustainable local produce, the market went on to win the BBC award for Best Food Market in 2016 – a high accolade indeed for a little speck of a village.
We didn’t know this when we first discovered the market, of course, and went without any expectations whatsoever. The rain prevented us from tying in our trip with a much hoped-for visit to the coast or a picnic by the estuary, but it certainly didn’t put a dampener on the experience of filling our bags with the kind of produce that most places can only dream of – all hailing from Pembrokeshire’s pastures, forests, rivers and sea.
Our first stop was Cardigan Bay Fish, where coracle fisherman Len and his wife Mandy tempted us to some crab hummus and stunningly fresh sewin (the rare local sea trout, only available during the summer months) for the price of a couple of cheap burgers. Pan-fried simply with just a squirt of lemon and served with buttery potatoes, it made for an unexpectedly gourmet dinner later that evening.
Besides shellfish galore, we were delighted to find other goodies in the shape of freshly baked bread from Y Felin (using stoneground flour from a working watermill), organic preserves and pickles, homemade cakes, honey, cider and mustards, Welsh sheep’s cheese and charcuterie, and local fruit and veg – not to mention smiles and cheerful banter from the local producers selling their wares to a hungry, wet, umbrella-toting crowd.
We’ll be back – hoping for sunshine and that promised picnic lunch next time.
At a glance
Opening hours: 9am-1pm Tuesdays