Explore Britain by 8 Tastes | Do you long for a truly local taste when exploring new food? From Cornish pasties to the Bakewell pudding, Britain’s towns and counties offer a rich and diverse heritage of distinctive cuisines. Join us on a culinary journey through the British Isles as we uncover the riveting roots of some of the best eats that define this notable nation.
1. Yorkshire Pudding
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God’s Own County is as famous for its rich and flavorsome ‘Yorkshires’ as its spectacular natural beauty. This historical locale in Northern England is the UK’s largest county and renowned for homegrown full-bodied cuisine, of which the Yorkshire Pudding is by far the most famous. A staple of steaming Sunday roast dinners, the tempting dish is a cup-shaped batter pudding puffed up to an appetising height – preferably at least four inches according to certain experts. These savoury delights can be filled with gravy to taste and are ideally served golden-brown with just the right balance of crunch and softness. In parts of Yorkshire the puddings are still served traditionally as a separate first course, and nowhere will you find this delectable accompaniment better made than in its proud and distinguished homestead.
2. Eton Mess
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Eton mess is a decadent dessert, served during a competitive annual cricket game held at Eton College, the illustrious private school of nineteen Prime Ministers and countless famous figures including many stars of London shows and plays. In this dish, piquant strawberries are served up with cream and meringue for an indulgent fruity pudding to gobble up during a luxurious afternoon in the sun. Originally served in the school tuck shop, Eton mess has also been made with sliced bananas and summer berries. Relax at a charming café in nearby Windsor and enjoy this confection in a picturesque town fit for Her Majesty herself.
3. Lancashire Hotpot
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Explore the homely aromas and rustic flavours of the North West with Lancashire’s famous casserole dish. Tender lamb or mutton is mixed with onion and topped with a generous helping of sliced potatoes before baking for hours on a low heat in a stoneware pot. Dating from Lancashire’s tough industrialisation years of coalmines and cotton mills, the mouthwatering hotpot was designed for feeding hardworking families with as little preparation as possible at the close of a long day, and this hearty warming meal retains its no-nonsense simplicity. For a vegetarian alternative try the county’s potato-packed ‘fatherless pie’.
4. Cumberland Sausage
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Cumberland is nestled on the border with Scotland, and though the ancient county has been succeeded by Cumbria, its heritage remains significant, most notably through the ongoing popularity of Cumberland sausages. Commonly rolled into a circular coil, these spicy sausages can reach up to 50cm in length and are made from chunky chopped pork for an irresistibly meaty texture. Each sausage is imbued with a selection of herbs and seasonings, often nutmeg, thyme or sage but always with a strong hint of pepper, and these singular flavours are thought to date from the 18th century when spices flowed freely into local Whitehaven port. With so many supreme varieties, from a breadcrumb coating to the addition of tasty black pudding or tomato, the Cumberland sausage is a special type of banger to relish on a stunning trip to the cool climes of Cumbria.
5. Chelsea Bun
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Boasting a tantalising spiral design flecked with currants, this sugary snack was invented in the 18th century at Chelsea’s Bun House where British monarchs frequently dined. Not your ordinary currant bun, Chelsea’s own is fashioned from enriched bread dough infused with cinnamon, lemon peel and sweet spices. A gleaming sugar or honey glaze perfectly complements the dried fruit for a flavour both candied and tangy. Take a stroll around celebrated Chelsea on a London hotel break to bask in the classy inspiration behind this classic confection.
6. Cornish Pasty
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Head to the compelling coastlines of South West England for a fresh taste of Cornwall’s ‘national dish’. Made from delicious beef, turnip, onion, diced potato and other choice fillings, this traditional D-shaped treat is crimped on one side and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper before baking, creating a prime pastry package with an irresistibly thick texture. Now awarded Protected Geographical Indication status (PGI), the famous golden Cornish pasty must be correctly prepared in charming Cornwall to achieve authentic pasty prestige.
7. Arbroath Smokies
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Get a genuine taste of the small Scottish fishing town of Arbroath with their idiosyncratic smoked haddock. Caught in the shadow of the coastal cliffs, the haddock must be prepared in the traditional manner within five miles of Arbroath to be a true local smokie. The dried haddock are tied in pairs by the tail and smoked in a ‘smokie pit’ over a hardwood fire until tinted a celebrated golden-copper. Legend has it that the enticing treat was serendipitously discovered when a resident tasted smouldering haddock cooked in a cottage fire, and today Arbroath Smokies are enjoyed like any smoked fish or as an exquisite pâté.
8. Bakewell Pudding
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Not to be confused with the Bakewell Tart’s iconic white icing decorated with a centred glacé cherry, the Bakewell Pudding is this Derbyshire town’s real local delicacy. Nestled in the rural retreat of the Derbyshire Dales alongside the River Wye, Bakewell is brimming with markets that attract tourists from around the world. Its premier pudding is a voluptuous jam pastry with a russet egg-and-almond filling, sold by three eateries in the original rich recipe, thought to date from 1820 when a cook misheard instructions for a simple jam tart and inadvertently invented the sweet speciality.
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