The British Isles are not the first, second or third place you have in mind when thinking of great food. However, you are in for a surprise! My editor and I have a running dispute on staying away from hotel food and whilst (isnâ€™t that much cuter then our American â€œwhileâ€) in London I tend to agree with him that the food at even the best hotels can be predictable and limited in variety. Outside of London I think those rules are antiquated!
My first week here I stayed in the Lake District near the middle west coast and also in Scotland way up north near Loch Ness. With the cities far behind and only a few choices for dinner in the smaller villages the English traveler has always relied on the â€œBed, Breakfast, Dinnerâ€ package. And with limited choices the hotels tended to serve tasteless and boring foodsâ€¦ Oh, how that has changed! And as for Nessie, the Loch’s reputed monster, well, the only thing I can suggest is keep looking, but while you do, eat locally, for the food’s just great.
England is going through an organic and local farm product revolution and it has trickled down to all the restaurants. So, get the â€œBeans on Toastâ€ expectation out of your mind and get ready for organically bred Scottish Highland Beef, local Venison, grass fed Lamb and free range Poultry – all of which are incredibly flavorful and far better than any store-bought meats in America. At each of the hotels where I stayed, the hotel had a daily delivery of milk, cream and organic yogurt straight from the dairyâ€¦ nothing a day old here!
The English call the French â€œFroggiesâ€ for their appetite for frog legs and the French call the English â€œRoast Beefsâ€ because of their love of roasted beef (yes, there are some prejudicial meanings involved too but, it started with food!).
You must try a dish called Slow Cooked Scottish Shin of Beef Bourguignon. It is a slow cooked beef dish with carrots and spring onions on a bed of â€œmashâ€ or creamed potatoes. It is served with gravy made from the beef’s own juices. You must realize that the English love their gravies and you can find the children smothering their fish and chips, sausages and anything else you can imagine with it. TIP: It will be difficult to order dishes without gravy so you might just want to ask for less. Gravy can be from meat drippings or vegetarian so, just ask. Especially, will you appreciate their love of gravy, when you visit the fine village pubs, nowadays called “gastro-pubs”. The food can be fantastic and although simple, it will be incredibly fresh. However, it is impossible to have Yorkshire Pudding without the accompanying gravy.Â Â Another excellent dish I tried was Outdoor Reared Porterhouse Pork Steak (pictured above). A large steak with a stronger flavor than assembly line produced pork. Again, served with new vegetables on a mash bed with light gravy (I wish I could call them sauces but, in Britain that means something totally different).