Red Boat Ice Cream Parlour, Beaumaris
As you enter Beaumaris you’ll pass ice cream colored houses, inspiring a hankering for some ‘hufen iâ’ (ice cream)! As you meander down the high street you’ll find the answer to your cravings: Red Boat Ice Cream parlour, serving the finest local gelato on Ynys Môn. After mastering the art of Italian-style gelato at the University of Carpigiani, Tony Green established an ice cream hub in Llangefni. As well as some classic ice cream favourites, he creates an array of local flavours such as Rhubarb from Hooton’s Homegrown Farm Shop, ‘Halen Môn’ Anglesey Sea-salted Caramel, and Bara Brith. Or, for the ultimate ‘wish you were here’, take a selfie on the pier with a cone of Strawberry and Prosecco ice cream.
For lovers of all things retro head to Forte’s Llandudno; an Italian-Welsh treasure and time capsule in one unmissable ice cream parlour. Originally from Mortale in the Italian region of Lazio, Onario Forte opened his Llandudno restaurant cafe in 1926. It remains a huge attraction for a new generation under the careful guidance of grandson David. Among Forte’s cool award-winners are some die-hard classic flavours like vanilla, and rum and raisin. But for a cut above the rest, give the Gold-Star awarded Mascarpone and Caramelised Fig Ice Cream a test - described ‘exquisite’ by Great Taste judges.
One of Wales’ best beaches is Criccieth; it’s the perfect seaside location, with a striking view of the castle and the distant Rhinogydd mountains. But the best reason to visit, after a swim in the sea, is for a refreshing Cadwaladers ice cream! Hannah Cadwalader’s original family recipe included a ‘great deal of love and care’. Those values, to this day, are celebrated in branches all over Wales, from Porthmadog and Porthcawl to Betws y Coed, Tenby, Barry and Cardiff Bay. But the original shop – opened in 1927 – remains a popular Criccieth mainstay. Choose from a variety of flavours, including vegan-friendly sorbets and gluten-free ice cream cones. For a classic Cadwaladers experience, go for the vintage Vanilla. But be warned; you may never want to go home!
Hufenfa’r Castell, Harlech
One of Gwynedd’s best-kept secrets stands near the entrance to Harlech Castle. One way to find it is to climb one of the steepest streets in the world - or alternatively, park your car at the top of Pen Llech! Either way, what will definitely make your day is to find the shortest of queues at Capel Dŵr. That’s where you’ll find ice cream parlour Hufenfa'r Castell (Castle Creamery) – a teeny-tiny yet mighty pleasure palace! If former neighbour and castle resident Owain Glyndŵr were alive today, he’d go for a massive cone of local flavours. You see, not only do owners Melissa and Eddie use milk and cream from Llaethdy Llŷn, but they also invite locals to swap produce from their gardens for (you guessed it!) free ice cream. And contribute they do, in abundance each year, to award-winning creations by the passionate team. The gooseberry is to die for, as are the rhubarb, elderflower, and damson, all available during the summer season. The ‘llus’ is also a must-try as is the blackcurrant. But for a total taste sensation, plump for the mind-blowing ‘sea buckthorn’. These native orange berries, collected along the Wales Coast Path, are a must on Welsh foodies’ ‘bucket list’ of flavours.
Welsh milkshake huts
It’s not only ice cream that cools you down on a hot summer’s day; consider the growing number of milk and milkshake vending machines that are popping up all over Wales. On a recent trip to Ceredigion I came face to face with a freshly poured ‘ysgytlaeth ffrwchnedd’ (banana milkshake), at the Teulu Jenkins Family Milk stand at Athro Lounge. There may have* been a squeal of sheer delight on my part (*there definitely was) reminiscent of a meet-cute between a toddler and a McFlurry. What a revelation. And that was even before I tasted the heavenly concoction!
After that, I noticed these Welsh wonders everywhere; keep a look out for other milk stands, like Gwarffynnon (Lampeter and Llwynycelyn), Llaethdy Llwyn y Banc (Llanrhaeadr, near Denbigh) and the Stand Laeth (Abergorlech, Carmarthenshire) to name but a few. Fair warning; you may have to introduce a daily milkshake quota. After all, it beats boring old water!
Caffi Patio, Llangrannog
Few places in Wales conjure more memories of childhood fun than Llangrannog on the southern coast of Ceredigion. We mark a day of celebration in remembrance of local author T Llew Jones, who wrote endless adventures about local heroes and villains. As far as I know, he didn’t write about ice cream, but if he did, the heroes’ names would be Julia and Mervyn! They’re the long-established owners of the beachside Caffi Patio – originally opened in 1972 by Julia’s father, when the most popular items on the menu were fish and chips and Walls Ice Cream. But at the turn of the millennium, Julia and Mervyn had a vision, to churn their own homemade fresh and local dairy ice cream. Among the flavours they create are Julia and Mervyn’s own favourites, like peach, wild cherry, and Key Lime Pie. Visit early, to avoid the queues and to place your towel near Carreg Bica - and to pay homage to this Welsh pair of chilly Willy Wonkas!
Conti’s, Llanbedr Pont Steffan
If there’s one ice cream flavour that’s really captured the zeitgeist, that’s the taste of salted caramel – that moreish marriage of flavours between sweet and salty. You’ll see it everywhere around Wales and the world, but the best is to be found at Conti’s. The Lampeter institution was opened by Italian immigrant, Arthur Conti, who brought his original family recipes from Bardi. And in his son Leno’s time, Lampeter locals were mad for ‘Coke Floats’, as his daughter, designer Jo, well remembers. The business’ recent rejuvenation is down to Jo’s son Tom’s vision, introducing award-winning flavours such as the stunning salted caramel and Penderyn Welsh whiskey.
You’ll find tubs of Conti’s ice cream in delis and cafes all over the nation, including local food destination Watson and Pratt’s and the Conti’s sister cafe at Llanerchaeron. But for a proper taste of Conti’s visit the classic Lampeter location. Order a salted caramel Affogato for another flavour pairing made in heaven!
Llanfaes Dairy, Brecon
Travelling the A470 can be a thrilling experience, with glorious vistas to draw your attention. However, at times, it can be a slog, so plan for a pit-stop near Brecon. In 1995, Paul and Eirlys Cole’s grocery shop was extended to sell their Llanfaes Dairy ice cream. But so successful was their venture that it’s been a full-on ice cream parlour since 2003! Over summer they produce a thousand litres of ice cream a day, and the queue often snakes around the corner. Among the array of 42 flavours are Pimms Sorbet and Cherry Cola – most refreshing during a summer heatwave! Or take your cue from the local school kids, who go mad for the Biscoff milkshake. Whatever you do, download the handy Llanfaes Dairy app – as essential on the A470 as a road map.
Is a party really a party if there’s no ice cream, I wonder? Such a question is entirely irrelevant in the case of two centenary celebrations! Let’s hear a hearty ‘pen-blwydd hapus’ (happy birthday) for Frank’s Ice Cream of the Aman valley; originally founded in 1922 by Francesco Dallavalle. As well as the parlour in Rhydaman, the business grew in all sorts of directions, including supermarket tie-ins, and developing a brand of diabetic ice cream. To mark the big birthday, the family have opened a gelateria in Capel Hendre.
Follow your visit to Carmarthenshire with a pilgrimage to St Helens, Swansea, where you’ll hear similar salutations as Joe’s Ice Cream also marks a century of sweet temptations! You’ll find Joe’s on sale all over the UK – including Harrod’s and Llanelli. Indeed, at the Roath Park branch in Cardiff, Turkish Delight and Bubble Gum are popular flavours. But for a proper celebration, head for the original location; established in 1922 by Luigi Cascarini, he named the business after his son, Giuseppe – or ‘Joe’ to everyone in Swansea.