The foraging delights of Anglesey

Anglesey is like its own independent state of food. There’s an abundance of fish and shellfish and wonderful salt marsh lamb. You can get great cheese on the island and there’s an excellent smokery. The honey is wonderful and there are various people making their own ice cream and gelato.

My wife’s family have been coming to Anglesey since the 1960s and we’ve all learned where to go searching out the best food. At Easter time we get loads of wild garlic to make soup and at low tide we handpick mussels and cockles from the estuary between Valley and Rhoscolyn. There’s plenty of samphire too.

Catch it

Welsh mussels in a bowl.

Welsh mussels

In the summer, we catch crab, lobster and mackerel. I don’t know of a better lobster than one that comes from Anglesey. You just can’t beat it. We’ve got two pots, we have a licence and the whole thing is managed really well. The mackerel is superb too. And you get prawns the size of your thumb.

Delights of winter

Menai Strait bridge in winter towards Snowdonia.

Menai Strait towards Snowdonia

We don’t get to come here in autumn because it’s such a busy time with the restaurant, but I love it here in winter. The house looks over to Snowdonia and there’s so much drama going on with the mountains and the weather. There’s a great butchers on Anglesey – in Bodedern, E T Jones, Sons and Daughters. They slaughter their own sheep and they’ve got beautiful salt marsh lamb there. I’ve tried to get them to deliver to London. When I set up the bakery for Peyton and Byrne in London we used to sell Mêl Môn (Anglesey honey). And don’t even start me off on the salt. Anglesey Sea Salt (Halen Môn) is the best. I buy it in half-kilo tubs. Their smoked salt is wonderful too.

Natural island 

Oysters, a slice of lemon and bottle of tabasco sauce in ice.

Anglesey oysters

Sometimes you do wonder whether people have any idea how lucky they are in Anglesey. Shoppers drive to the supermarkets in Holyhead and on their way there, they pass great butchers, cheese makers and independent retailers, all selling really good locally sourced food.

Anglesey is very raw – and I love that. That rawness seems to be reflected in the way of life, the nature of the land and the produce that comes from the island. It’s just different from everywhere else – it’s got its own special flavour.

This article is featured in Wales View 2014, download a pdf version or request a free postal copy.