Patagonia Feature


Gaiman's Teahouses

Gaiman's Welsh teahouses have been famous among travelers for decades. The first teahouse, Plas y Coed, opened in 1944, and figured in Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia.

Each of Gaiman's teahouses serves up its own unique family recipes for all manner of baked goodies, including torta galesa (a rich dried-fruit cake), seasonal fruit tarts, buns and sponges, torta de crema (a rich baked cream cake), as well as homemade bread, scones, and jam. The tea is always served in big china pots dressed for the occasion in deliciously kitsch hand-knitted tea cozies to ensure your brew stays warm.

Just as the recipes and tastes differ slightly from teahouse to teahouse, so do their interiors. But common to all the teahouses are tapestries and ornamental tea towels, often inscribed with Welsh words and with intricate Celtic designs around the borders. Hanging from the walls—and often for sale, too—are heart-shaped wooden spoons with intricately carved handles. Known as love spoons, they're a Welsh tradition that dates to the 16th century: a young man would carve a spoon from a single piece of wood and give it to the girl he wished to marry.

Most of Gaiman's teahouses are owned and run by descendants of the original Welsh settlers who are are happy to recount their family history if you ask about it. There's a strong sense of appreciation for how easy things are today compared to just a couple of generations ago. Ana, of Plas y Coed, whose great-grandmother was featured in Bruce Chatwin's book, told us, "Imagine making everything from scratch and running this place without refrigerators."

There's an Alice in Wonderland effect as you nibble various cakes and look out on the vast Atlantic Patagonian steppe (which would make anyone feel small).

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