Gourmet Britain continued
Meat on the menu
Welsh lamb, Aberdeen-Angus beef, Highland cattle, Suffolk pork, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Cornish lamb pasties, Lakeland mutton, Lancashire black pudding, Herefordshire beef, Lincolnshire pork sausages, Lancashire hot pot, Yorkshire ham, Liverpudlian scouse
(lamb stew), Forfar bridies, Scottish haggis…the list is quite extensive and provides an insight to the nation’s meaty comestibles. In fact, heading out on a culinary tour might take you far and wide around the country, or you might simply seek the regional highlights from more locally based establishments. As this is the UK, anything is possible.
To assess what is best for the particular palate can be terribly hit and miss, ‘one man’s meat…’ and so on. However, you do not have to seek the latest Michelin starred offering to gain the broadest experience. In my view, however fantastic is the Michelin grading system, nouvelle cuisine portions are not a personal favourite. British pubs have a tendency to offer some of the best meat dishes, not least for the Sunday roast selections, which both earn them handsome profits but also provide family tummy-fillers like few other eating out opportunities.
Sniffing out the culinary delights
Done carefully and with a smidgen of planning, you need not travel much further than your own high street to create your own gastronomic and gourmand’s jaunt. Italian, Greek, Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Moroccan styles populate most urban centres in the UK. However, combining food with travel is an notable skill that might warrant the services of a specialist. The firms noted
below will sort out all of the details for you, to make an active holiday as restful, yet engaging as it can be.
Eight miles west of Ross-on-Wye and just a mile from the Welsh border is the cooking school at Caldicott Farm, with its cook-away food breaks. As a means to sample fresh Welsh lamb and local produce, a holiday here would be spectacular. Residential fees for a two-day course start at £350.
Brovey Lair in Norfolk provides a rural idyll in luxurious surroundings for a three days cooking course (www.holidayonthemenu.com). It is so relaxed that you can enjoy a walk in the Fens, or a sightseeing trip into Norwich, while taking in the classes during the day, at a cost per head of £845.
Known for his Gallic appeal (the accent, the floppy hair and an ‘attitude’), Jean Christophe Novelli has oodles of charm and a personality set to please (www.jeanchristophenovelli.com). His academy is located at Crouchmoor Farm, Tea Green, Hertfordshire
and, although not residential, there are innumerable small hotels and good quality B&Bs locally for accommodation purposes. Courses are priced from £195.
The Yorkshire Dales provides a delightful, castle home to Rosemary Shrager’s renowned and very homely cookery courses at Swinton Park, Masham (www.swintonpark.com) and the residential accommodation is quite splendid too. A one day ‘master
class’ with Rosemary will cost £230. Two day residential courses cost from £295 per person.
Finally, the grand-master of the kitchen is none other than Raymond Blanc and his well-known culinary school can take you from beginner to chef in as many steps as you might wish it to (www.manoir.com). Most of the courses are day events, with prices starting from £360, but some are two to five day residential and you could always stay at the luxurious Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
(rooms from £625 per night).
Avoiding the celebrity chefs
It can be difficult to avoid the Kerridges, Kitchins, Steins, Martins, Blancs, Blumenthals, Roux and Olivers of the catering world, whose little empires have grown like Topsy in recent years. Even the swearing one, Ramsay, has high-class restaurants popping up all over the UK (and abroad). However, not all of these names can profess to having made their mark without making some fundamental errors along the way. I am fortunate to have either dined at their restaurants, or had them prepare meals for me in various locations. There are plenty of other eateries, gastropubs, and fine dining establishments tucked away from the high street, above rows of shops, down back lanes and in the least accessible of places, all reliant on word-of-mouth and restricted advertising budgets that manage to establish reputations. It is worth checking out some of the hidden gems, such as the following:
www.thehandandflowers.co.uk www.harwoodarms.com www.thestaratharome.co.uk www.thejackinthegreen.uk.com www.theroyaloakpaleystreet.com www.thepipeandglass.co.uk www.thesportsmanseasalter.co.uk www.theolivebranchpub.com www.thewellingtonarms.com
All prices and details were correct when published in tlm - the travel & leisure magazine, please check before you travel.