As dusk settles on the town a thin trail of smoke spills into the still air from somewhere on the river’s edge. It’s a little like one of those Westerns where the sharp-eyed scout spots wispy grey traces rising in the distance. Anyone driven by their inner cowboy to investigate the source won’t be disappointed – the vapours emanate from a muscular construction of timber, canvas and steel cables with a great bowl of fire at its centre. It is indeed a tipi, an impressive one at that. Less predictably, it’s beside the River Teifi in Cardigan, West Wales and it’s home to some of the best pizza around.
I walk through Cardigan and I see 20 little places we could do something with — and that’s true all over Wales. It’s about working really hard and being inspired.”
Jackson Lynch fits the surroundings like a glove. The 27 year old has something of the backwoods man about him but then he spends an awful lot of time outside. If he’s not here, by the river, then he’ll likely be found a few miles inland amongst a landscape of fields and woodlands dotted with the geodomes, tents, cabins, croglofts and converted farm buildings that together form Fforest, the beautifully crafted celebration of outdoor living, also run by the Lynch family. You’re never far from a fire on the Lynch lands, woodsmoke is not just in the air, it’s the scent of choice and burning timber is the first pick for cooking too. Ask Jackson what makes great pizza and his answer is immediate – “fire” although it’s quickly followed up with “good dough”.
Neither of these things came easy at the fledgling Pizza Tipi – the first oven they built collapsed on its maiden outing and their initial attempts at making pizza dough resulted in something resembling cardboard. Persistence paid dividends though and it’s now a seven day a week operation during the summer season. “I was living in Glasgow and I came back and I really loved what was going on and just wanted to push it more. It’s pretty simple, we have a great space and we just use what we can locally”.
It may be that pizza from a wood fired oven served in a tipi on the banks of the River Teifi where Wales ends and the Irish Sea begins doesn’t sound like much of a plan but to Jackson it’s a case of, well, build it and they will come. “We didn’t really choose the place, it’s just where we’ve grown up. People come down here and they see the tipi and a fire underneath it and they think we’re hippies but I love it that we’re here in this unique special place. There’s loads of opportunities, I walk through Cardigan and I see 20 little places we could do something with – and that’s true all over Wales. It’s about working really hard and being inspired.”