UK – the foodie post

Afternoon tea at Covent Garden

Okay, I have so much to tell you about the UK, but let’s start with food, of course. So, after four weeks on the road travelling more than two-thousand miles, here are a few best-ofs and some other mentions.

Best ice-cream

Why are you looking at me like that? Just because we were travelling in winter doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t splurge on some icy sweetness.

Sarah announced that her pick for the best ice cream was the hazelnut at I-scream in Oxford, followed closely by pistachio at an unnamed spot in Covent Garden. She also said the strawberry at Bibury (self-proclaimed as the best you’ll taste) wasn’t bad either.

I indulged twice – in raspberry and beetroot, and in a rhubarb and crumble – both from Jolly Nice at Frampton Mansell.

The shop has grown since we were last there. Regular readers might recall that it was the inspiration for my novel Wish You Were Here (I told you about that here); but you might not know that it has a role to play in my current work in progress, Escape To Curlew Cottage. And the ice cream is pretty good.

Still on the subject of ice-cream, Sarah asked the shopkeeper at The Mill in Lower Slaughter if there was a chance there might be some of their (previously very good) ice cream in the freezer. Her response? That there was slightly more chance of finding Tom Hardy in your bedroom, naked…twice… then there was of getting ice cream from Lower Slaughter in the middle of winter. She did, however, tell us we could get some badly made mass-produced ice cream in Bourton on the Water. She was right – Sarah did get some and it was bad.

Best pub meal

We had some good pub meals on our travels but saved the best for last.

The Porch House at Stow on the Wold on our final evening was fabulous. No photos because the lighting was appalling, but great food in one of the oldest pubs in Britain. As an aside, there seem to be a number of pubs falling into the “one of the oldest pubs in Britain” category…but more on that another time.

The Bell at Sapperton for lunch on the way to Heathrow was as good as it was when we last visited four years previously.

Best pie

This honour was held briefly by the pub in Leadenhall Markets. It was a steak and ale pie with peas and gravy and was so good and so huge it got shared about. Pus it was square and square pies are always better. Apparently.

The prize did, however, go to the venison pie at the Three Crowns in Brinkworth, a town whose (other) claim to fame is that it’s the longest village in England.

Best mac cheese

This one topped with crispy onions at The Warwick – stop no. 4 on our Monopoly Board Twelve Pubs of Christmas Crawl (I’ll tell you more about that another time).

Best Breakfast

Easily the one at Severn and Wye Smokery on the edge of the Forest of Dean at Westbury-on-Severn. The kedgeree that I had inspired food envy in Grant and Sarah and we later found out that the kippers that Grant had are the same ones they serve at Fortnum & Mason – well, not the same ones exactly, but you know what I mean.

The gift shop was fabulous, and we picked up a few little extras to wrap up and pop under the Christmas tree. As for the food store, I could have bought the shop out!

Best scones

I’ll be honest, I had high hopes going in but the scone situation was a tad disappointing this trip.

The worst by far was at the Cornish chain masquerading as a bakery in Bourton on the Water. (Are you seeing a theme regarding Bourton on the Water?). They had way too much baking soda and made us all…ummmm gave us all wind. Too much information?

The best was at Ellenborough Park in Cheltenham as part of our posh afternoon tea. These were easily a nine out of ten. The mark was lost because they provided jam and cream for two serves of scones rather than three and then charged us £2 for another serve. When tea cost as much as it did, that was just plain miserly.

At this point I’d like to make a confession – I now know why, when (real) clotted cream is involved that it goes on before the jam. There were times when the cream was so thick that it spread like butter rather than dolloped like cream. Don’t throw things at me, I still prefer jam first.

Best pub hospitality

The Royal Oak in Malton in North Yorkshire. We’d landed at Heathrow at 5am, picked up our rental car and driven straight up to York with this being our first port of call in England. The landlord and his wife were so friendly – not in a forced or cliched way but naturally. Before we knew it, we were engaged in an energetic discussion about whether mashed potatoes belonged on a roast dinner. (We said no, he said yes – but on the basis that roast potato was also involved.)

The food was (mostly) Yorkshire classics – with Yorkshire portions – and the pints were excellent.

Speaking of Malton

Malton is known as the food capital of York. It’s also where one of my foodie heroes James Martin hails from.

It’s full of some great specialty produce shops, with one, Food 2 Remember, selling the best scotch egg I’ve ever tasted and the second-best pork pie – the best one was at Jolly Nice – being edged out only because I like some jelly in my pork pie.

Anyways, we liked the scotch egg so much we called back in on our way to the coast for another to drink with tea when we stopped.

Parsnip Soup

Last time we were in England parsnip soup was everywhere – and I was quite looking forward to it for lunches this trip too. Now, though, it seems that carrot is the preferred soup du jour – with coriander, with spices, or just plain old carrot.

The parsnip soup that I did get was this one at Lower Slaughter. It was served with charcoal bread and was very very good indeed.

I also had a great fish pie at Slaughters Inn.

Fat Rascals

Fat Rascals at Betty’s in York. When in York you have to. We also tried the pikelets – which were so yummy that we ordered another serve (below right).

Bakewell Pudding

At the original Bakewell Pudding Shop in, wait for it, Bakewell.

There’s a difference between Bakewell pudding and Bakewell tart – which I’ll get into another time – so we had to try one of each…and some treacle tart. Very yummy indeed.

The most expensive mango

In the food hall at Harrods. The assistant weighed it for me, and it came in at £20 – roughly $40. When I said that I could buy four cases back home for the same price she laughed and told me to wait while she weighed a cherry – a single cherry. £1.30. For one cherry. I get that it’s out of season, but just ludicrous. And no, I didn’t buy it – it would have been, I’m sure, watery and tasteless.

Borough Markets

This was my fave foodie place last trip and was just as enjoyable this time around. I could seriously spend hours wandering the aisles in here.

I bought a scotch egg to try (not as good as the one in Malton), and we shared some oysters.

Cheese

Neal’s Yard Dairy is a must-visit for anyone who likes their cheese. The sheer variety is amazing and these guys can talk cheese until the cows come home (no pun intended).

Sunday Roast

I can’t finish this post without mentioning the Sunday Roast.

I love the tradition of the pub Sunday roast and there are some great ones around – although, especially at this time of year, it absolutely pays to book ahead. While we had a very good one at The Old Bell in Malmesbury (pictured above) the one we all enjoyed the most was at The Angel in Burford. Those Yorkshire Puddings (below) were next level.

Sweetie Shops

And I’ve just been reminded that I have to mention the sweetie shops. Not really my thing on account of me not having a sweet tooth, but Sarah and Grant are completely incapable of walking past them without emerging with a little paper cone of sweeties in their hands.

Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

34 thoughts

  1. Hi, Jo – This is my first post read after ending my official blogging break. And what a perfect piece to start with!! Your food pics are divine. And the anecdote about Tom Hardy in your bedroom, naked…twice…well, that is truly priceless! I’ve missed you!

  2. A girl after my own heart. Food is such a joy and brings people together, and the more I age, the less angst I feel about having something “naughty and divine”. Jo, I enjoyed this post, and by the way, you have made me feel hungry 😉

    1. We did have fish & chips, but in most cases it wasn’t great. The exception was at The Magpie in Whitby up on the York coast…although I actually had crab there…Grant’s fish was good but risiculously massive portions.

  3. Such colorful names for the food and the places where they are prepared and served. The door with the wreath and birds (pheasant?) hanging on it looks like something straight out of Dickens. I am sure all of the baked goods would be delicious but not too sure about some of the main courses. Although, I will try about anything once.

    1. It was pheasants hanging from the door. We don’t consider ourselves to be adventurous, but I suppose that we probably are…

  4. Oh. My. God. So many lovely meals and great food. I love the pub options just because I love the look and feel of pubs and concept of pub food. Of course I also realise GF options for the usual favourites may not be available which would be seriously depressing.

    It looked like you had an amazing time. x

  5. I’ve just finished an hour at the gym and am hungry so reading your post has me wanting a good traditional High Tea! I agree that anytime is a good time for Ice Cream and although I like to eat healthy I’m do believe a little indulgence occasionally is good for the soul. #lifethisweek

    1. I do love a good tea – although am happy just with the scones and tea. I’m not huge on thesweet stuff, but do enjoy the sammies…

  6. So many good meals and food that make me hungry. I love the baked goods, desserts and ice cream. The Borough markets look wonderful. #lifethisweek

  7. Oh wow. So much food porn. Such fabulous photos. I think I’m in a food coma just from reading your post. 🙂 Beautiful.

  8. I’ve never considered the UK a foodie haven, but you’ve convinced me otherwise. I will need to put some things on the “food to try list”… a scotch egg for sure!

    1. There’s lots of great food & produce if you look. Like everywhere, though, there’s also some that is very ordinary.

  9. And now I am hungry! 🙂 When I think of foodie locations, the UK does not usually come to mind but this looks delicious! I am going to save this for when we visit. thanks for your reviews. Hubby is a foodie – he will love this!

  10. I’m going to the UK next month and while I’m on family business and won’t get to do much eating out, I know at least I’ll get a decent scone. You guys certainly know how to find top of the pops when it comes to food. Those roast dinners had me salivating and don’t get me started on the fat rascals! They’re my best!

    1. I was so disappointed with the scones, a few hits and a few misses. As for the fat rascals though…one of my new faves!

  11. So good to read and I too understand now why the cream first and then the jam (it still sounds weird). Good on you all for the research (LOL) for food on the trip. It was amazing following you all on IG too.

    Thanks so much for joining in the 2nd Life This Week in 2020 and next week the optional prompt is 3/51 Remember This 20.1.2020. I do hope to see you link up too. Denyse.

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