Underneath twinkling Christmas lights, you can explore the traditional wooden chalets lining the streets of Cardiff and take in the vibrant atmosphere.
For me, the true spirit of Christmas is all about the 3 F’s, namely ‘Family, Friends and Food’ (ok, now I sound like an episode of ‘Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen!’). However, my favourite Yuletide memories are usually the ones that combine all three – my Aunt cooking a turkey upside down was a classic…don’t ask!
If like me, and you or your loved ones, have a fondness for festive foodie treats (try saying that after a few glasses of eggnog), then the Cardiff Christmas Market should be at the top of your ‘to do’ list in December. This year, 80 stalls with a rolling programme of over 200 businesses are set to take centre stage in the heart of the city. Located at the top of The Hayes, it is a unique attraction with an exciting and eclectic mix of exhibitors, offering an alternative shopping experience.
Underneath twinkling Christmas lights, you can explore the traditional wooden chalets lining the streets of Cardiff and take in the vibrant atmosphere. And while there is a strong slant towards arts and crafts, with hand-made wares including ceramics, jewellery and woodwork; alongside are a range of artisan food and drink producers, offering a spectacular selection of seasonal treats.
‘Savour the taste of Wales’ with Celtic Country Wines, where their Celteg range includes delights such as damson liqueur and sloe gin. Pick up a bottle of their traditional fruit wine, or why not opt for something a little more unusual this year. A bottle of sweet, sparkling mead certainly caught my eye, as did the wonderful choice of Caws Cenarth cheese and preserves…chilli and lemon marmalade anyone?
Talking of chilli, after all, there is always at least one individual in every family who is determined to be the next YouTube sensation! The Wiltshire Chilli Farm stall is the perfect place if you are after a stocking filler with a ‘kick’. Choose from the popular and ‘slightly’ less scary mango or chipotle chilli sauce, or go all out with ‘Regret’ – coming in at 12 million SHUs, you’ll need more than a pint of milk on standby!
However, ‘regret’ is certainly not a word I would use to describe any of the confectionary gifts on offer. From iCandy’s traditional home-made creamy fudge to Delicia’s Christmas cakes, there are plenty of opportunities to spoil your loved ones with sweet treats.
If you are after that special dessert for the big day, look no further than Georgie Porgie’s Christmas Puddings. With alternative flavours such as Orange and Cointreau, and Lemon and Pimms as well as Traditional, believe me these hand-made, ‘melt in your mouth’ delights, will leave you craving for more! And after all that food, what better way to relax than with an award winning digestif from Condessa Welsh Liqueurs – can I tempt you with a glass of zesty Limoncello?
If you are feeling a bit peckish, (after all shopping burns calories), there are treats to tempt your taste-buds around every corner. Fancy a sausage? (now, now Nigella!) – then head on over to the German BBQ where flame grilled gluten-free wurst are barbecued in front of you. You’ll also find a Cardiff Christmas Carvery, and various stalls enticing you with the glorious smell of garlic mushrooms to gourmet burgers.
More inclined towards the sweeter things in life? Then take a wander over to Viva Los Churros, and watch as dough is deep-fried, sprinkled with sugar and served with a rich chocolate sauce. Or how about an indulgent chocolate brownie from Koko Kitchen; with choices including strawberry and champagne, honeycomb crunch, and sea-salted caramel – my only suggestion would be to opt for one of each!
Although if like me and your sweet tooth is more savoury, then I highly recommend checking out The Melted Cheese Company, where a wheel of gooey goodness awaits you. Stand in awe, and salivate, before tucking into a raclette baguette with salami and crispy shallots or the more traditional dish, served with potatoes in a delicious garlic and chive butter.
Need to wash it all down? Why not take a seat and soak up the festive atmosphere in the central bar area, where a range of ciders, German beers, fragrant cinnamon-spiced mulled wine and cream topped Baileys hot chocolate are on offer.
A seasonal tipple can also be purchased from a selection of the stalls. Not only can you buy a variety of traditional hand crafted ciders and perry from Severn Cider, a cup of their hot, spicy and sweet cider is a must on a cold winter’s day (just to clarify, inclement weather is not a pre-requisite; if you bypass this little liquid gem you will be missing out!)
Also out to quench your thirst is the local Cardiff brewer, The Crafty Devil Brewing Co. With a loyal following, if you fancy getting your fix, they have ‘Mikey Rayer All Dayer’ and their Christmas special chocolate mint stout ‘Fairy Tale of Cardiff’ on draught. Just don’t forget to grab some for the beer lover in your life though…a perfect and unique foodie pressie.
These are a selection of the independent food and drink producers exhibiting at the market, so my advice is to head on down to The Hayes and explore all of the delicious delights on offer.
For those last minute gift ideas, the Cardiff Christmas Market continues to run until the 23rd December 2017.
- Monday to Saturday: 10am to 6pm, and Sunday: 10am to 5pm
- Thursday 14th, Friday 15th, Saturday 16th, Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd December: 10am to 7pm
- Saturday 23rd December: 10am to 5pm
For further information, visit the Cardiff Christmas Market website
Helen (‘The Octopus Diaries’) is a blogger on a mission to explore the Cardiff food scene and beyond. Championing independents; she is a fan of restaurants that are run with passion and an insatiable desire to offer people a different dining experience, value for money and great food. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.