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Which Welsh ice creams reign supreme – is your favourite on our interactive map?

26 Jun 2023 5 minute read
Joe’s Ice Cream. by almccarley is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Sarah Morgan Jones

Ice cream in Wales is as ubiquitous as pysgod a sglodion: we are a nation of ice cream lovers, and it’s safe to say that every area has its signature parlour, each one of them is considered the very best by locals.

Whilst many of us may have grown up responding to the jingle of the ice cream van for our non-milk fat fix, or arguing over the last slice of an arctic roll, good quality ice cream has always had …erm… a soft spot in our consciousness and been a mainstay of ‘treat street.’

Considered a luxury in part because of rich ingredients, an association with special occasions and being made in innovative ways, ice cream and its associated siblings, such as sorbet or sundae, has the cool factor to melt most hearts.

99 Flake and the Ice Cream Van by su-lin is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Frozen delights

Flavours have evolved from some homespun staples such as raspberry ripple, mint choc chip and the Neapolitan slice to include all sorts of gems like pistachios, honeycomb, coconut and even ash.

At the same time, the market has embraced its vegan and dairy-intolerant customers, as well as those who need their frozen delights to be classed as one of their five a day.

Production methods include those places where the milk travels not much more than the breadth of the farmyard from cowshed to cone, through to gimmicky science heavy laboratory parlours which use nitrogen as performance art in front of the customer.

Gelati

Many of south Wales’ household ice cream names are Italian – third, fourth and fifth generation families descended from the migrants of the 1920s and 30s, who came, saw the need for an honest-to-goodness ty coffi – replete with gelati like they had back home – and quickly became the social, political and sweet beating heart of their communities.

They came from all over Italy, in particular from the northern Appenine Mountain region of the country, many of them from the town of Bardi.

Their cafes feature in pages of Idris Davies and Gwyn Thomas, or lend a name to the group of artists and pen-smiths who gathered and shared inspiration in Swansea’s Kardomah.

Reflecting on the old continental cafes, John Geraint describes the list of names ‘like some fantastic operatic aria’ as he remembers Caravaggi’s ‘plain old vanilla nestling deliciously somewhere in any scoop of ice-cream’ and the ‘insanely exotic’ introduction of Christmas Pudding flavour ice-cream at Mr Creemy’s in Tonypandy.

They were the Sidolis, Bracchis and Antoniazzis, a fantastic catalogue of Rhondda Italian surnames – Melardi, Carpanini and Margaritelli, Conti and Bachetta, Gambarini and Sterlini, Basini, Strinati, Balestrazzi.

Conti’s in Lampeter is now in fourth generation hand, one of 17 opened in Wales in the 1930s by Artillio Conti who, at the age of 13, made the journey from Parma to Wales.

More information about the growth of the Italian cafe in Wales can be found here.

Image: St Fagans & the ACLI-Enaip Italian Memories in Wales project

Inspired

In Swansea, the much-loved Joe’s Ice Cream celebrated its centenary last year and remains sited in the St Helen’s Road location first established by Luigi Cascarini at the start of the 20th Century.

Maybe when Dylan Thomas recounted his Holiday Memory, the opening ice cream rhymes could have been inspired Joe’s…

“August Bank Holiday – a tune on an ice-cream cornet.
A slap of sea and a tickle of sand. A fanfare of sunshades opening.
A wince and whinny of bathers dancing into deceptive water.
A tuck of dresses. A rolling of trousers. A compromise of paddlers.
A sunburn of girls and a lark of boys.
A silent hullabaloo of balloons.”

Eating ice cream in Abergavenny (image: Tim Woodier)

Thriving

Alongside the Italians, and maybe because of them, there is also a thriving Welsh tradition of ice cream, established and emerging, with both dairy and non-dairy variations catered for.

From north to south, there are award winning examples of Welsh ice cream, both near the seaside and on inland farms.

It could be from the Ynys Môn based family firm, Môn ar Lwy, with its 150 flavours, Bursting Blueberry or vegan line of ice cream, or from the luxury gelato of Pointz Castle in Solva, or a classic vanilla from Joe’s, the wonder-whipped wonders of Glaslyn or a Fablas fantasia or a sheep’s milk stunner from Shepherds…

Artisan ice cream from Llanfaes Dairy in Brecon comes in 40 different flavours, and is widely lauded…one hufen-ia-ficionado (who resolutely catalogues her journeys in relation to the ice cream sampled en route, taking her research very seriously) confided, when asked which was her favourite: “I can tell you the number one right now – Llanfaes Dairy. It’s absolutely supreme due to the creamy base…”.

You get the point, I am sure. So many ice creams, so little time.

Photo by Ralphs_Fotos from Pixabay

Landmark

So, what’s your favourite? How far would you go for a good gelato or a super sorbet? What floats your ice cream boat?

To celebrate the summer, we have trawled through some ‘best-of’ lists and started gathering the must-trys here on this map. Check out your local or landmark your next road trip with a visit.

If your favourite is missing, comment below and we will make sure it gets added.


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Alwyn Evans
Alwyn Evans
10 months ago

Has to be Subzero!!!

Alwyn Evans
Alwyn Evans
10 months ago

Has to be Subzero every time! https://subzeroicecream.com/

CJPh
CJPh
10 months ago

Joes… Everything else is just ice cream.

Jon_S
Jon_S
10 months ago

Upton Farm, naturally.

Tony K
Tony K
10 months ago

Sub zero British champions, taste of Wales winners and Royal Welsh Show winners. It says it all

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

One advantage the cafes had was that they did not sell alcohol so Sunday opening did not fall foul of the non-conformists and they became the place to go. Also Sidolis’ coffee cups were small, shallow, thick walled and a third full of froth so very profitable…

Karen Chalk
Karen Chalk
10 months ago

GGs, Penclawdd, all the way! Please add that! Lush…

Owain
Owain
10 months ago

Sidoli’s Rhyl is the best!

C Barron
C Barron
10 months ago

Thayers inBarry and Barry Island

Ieaun-iesu ap stuf
Ieaun-iesu ap stuf
10 months ago

Cresci’s in Skewen. I will fight anyone who tastes it and claims indifferent! 😀

Dawn Ingram-Jones
Dawn Ingram-Jones
10 months ago

Ricci’s in Bargoed makes the best I’ve tasted anywhere in the world.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

Powis and Ice Cream, what’s the problem ?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

I think I may have sussed it, this is Milk-Bar country, milkshakes and milky coffee but no ice cream, nothing fancy. What do you think?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

You and Del Hughes…

The Milk-Bars are worth a visit as local Welsh social history is concerned, Formica and stainless steal but the sound track is the evocative aspect. When I heard about Ryan Reynolds’ Wednesday afternoon thing it reminded me of how mind-numbingly boring they were over the winter. Weeks and months without seeing a stranger until the swallows returned…

Last edited 10 months ago by Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

oops Steel; the roar of the steam pipe and the rattle of the aluminium milkshake maker and steamed-up windows, the smell of wet school kids. Saturday matinees in the Art-Deco cinemas with Hopalong Cassidy…I’m sure you could wake up a few hen-oed if you told the kids story of the late fifties and early sixties…

Martii
Martii
10 months ago

Can’t see Forte’s with theirs parlour down Limeslade, Gower

Penny Ware
Penny Ware
10 months ago

Subzero – Malpas , Newport is fantastic

Bwgan
Bwgan
10 months ago

Got to be Môn ar Lwy for me. Unlike other companies they do Ice cream properly without incorporating lots of air into it to keep costs down.!

Dan
Dan
10 months ago

Fortes! (Off Bracelet Bay, Mumbles)

Gareth Parry
Gareth Parry
10 months ago

Antoniazzi’s ( Azzi’s ) High street Bangor
Best Gelato you will ever find in the North of Wales – https://m.facebook.com/Azzisgelato.co.uk/

Del
Del
10 months ago

Joe’s for me, though has to be fresh ice cream and not the frozen tubs you can pick up around Swansea which lack that certain je ne said quoi! Medium hazelnut fudge sundae = EPIC! Fab article, and fab to have a map too, so when I take my next road trip, I’ll know where to go for an ice cream fix..

Bryan
Bryan
10 months ago

ICE GREEEEEN FOR THE WIN! – The BEST vegan gelato.

Huw Rees
10 months ago

Memo Beach Cafe Aberavon Beach, fantastic home made ice cream

JJM
JJM
10 months ago

Aberdyfi Ice Cream – you’ll wish you tried it sooner!

Ceren Lloyd
Ceren Lloyd
10 months ago

Palace cafe Caernarfon ❤️❤️❤️

Petula Mathias
Petula Mathias
10 months ago

Joes

PAULA ROBINSON
PAULA ROBINSON
10 months ago

Parisella’s Ice Cream Parlour
Conwy Wasn’t a big fan of ice cream but oh the flavours!!!!

Tony Ashby-Steed
Tony Ashby-Steed
10 months ago

Really shocked not to see Angelato in Aberaeron on the map. Best ice cream I’ve ever had.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
10 months ago

So I’ve heard…

Merch y bont
Merch y bont
10 months ago

Mario’s – Cross Hands

Rhyddian
Rhyddian
10 months ago

Feccis in Tenby.. Went there when a.child 65 years ago. Take my grand children now. Superb then, superb now.. They left Italy in the 1930s. Disembarked at Swansea. and headed west.

Martii
Martii
10 months ago

Just remind myself about classical FECCI’s in Tenby! <3 …and LA FONTANA in Cardigan

Last edited 10 months ago by Martii

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