A WEEK IN THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE
A week in the English countryside sipping wine in the most distinguished luxury country houses is my kind of getaway. Father Time has placed a gentle hand on England’s grand old castles, ancient ruins and the many magnificent manors which stand as proudly as they did the day they were built. All are set in shrub-filled gardens surrounded by peaceful parklands dating back to as early as the 1600's.
And as I sit with a cup of tea and the creamiest of cream scones, I reflect on the fact that English food is not thought of as fondly as, let’s say, French and/or Italian cuisine. This seems crazy when you consider everything the English have brought to the table.
The first dish that springs to mind is roast beef served with pickled walnuts, electrifying fresh horseradish, outer-crispy and inner-spongy Yorkshire pudding and hot English Mustard. Delicious! Then there’s pork with applesauce and lamb or mutton with fresh mint sauce. I have fond recollections of scrumptious Sunday lunches with the family tucking into typical “English” fare.
Another firm favourite is fish and chips. Go to Brighton Pier/Beach where sidewalk eating is the norm and fish & chips the preferred dish. There you’ll find a selection to confuse any hungry fish lover. The simple pub food of bangers and mash, baked beans, bubble ‘n squeak (left over vegetables from dinner presented for breakfast in a stir up), Sheppard’s Pie and Cottage Pie are all must haves; so, too, is a full-house English breakfast. Nothing sets the tone for a day of celebrations better than a good fry up.
On returning home I’m aware that the average person gives little credit to English cuisine. I was taken by surprise by the standard of every eatery I visited. Perhaps that was because I didn’t expect fine-dinning food in a pub. I believe appreciating one’s surroundings is the basis for an evening of enjoyment.
In my opinion the quality of food around the world is improving rapidly. This is as exciting for the diner as for the chef. Our jobs are becoming more challenging and much more interesting with the quality and variety available to us.
Focus on quality, buy the best you can afford and allow the hearty English dishes to warm up your winter.
Take these recipes and try them.