British Food Fortnight (17th September to 2nd October) celebrates British food and drink, and is the biggest annual celebration of its kind. It’s been going since 2002, and is the flagship event for those interested in promoting the benefits of eating from Britain’s larder. We at Fed Up & Drunk are big fans of home-grown produce – we’re lucky enough to liaise with the nation’s best chefs, and over the past few years it’s been impossible to ignore the industry’s reignited passion for local, British produce.
Thanks to our abundant fields and farms, we Brits have proudly carved out a place for ourselves in the foodie world. On top of our excellent produce, we’re also the proud creators of numerous fabulous signature dishes that play a big part in our national identity. We may not be able to lay claim to lasagne or beef Bourguignon, but we’ve got a pretty good national menu, and we’ll defend our roast dinners and fish and chips to the last breath.
To celebrate the start of British Food Fortnight, we’ve taken a closer look at the Mighty North and the dishes that are such a key part of its identity.
Beautiful Derbyshire is one of Britain’s treasures – it’s full of beautiful views, historic charm and some of the best food in Britain. Bakewell tarts and puddings are some of the county’s finest exports.
The best tarts can be found in The Bakewell Tart Shop & Coffee House, where you can also indulge in afternoon tea.
For puddings, The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop can’t be missed. Not only can you indulge in the delicious namesake treat, but you can also take part in a tour followed by pudding making – you won’t learn the top-secret ingredient, but you’ll definitely pick up some tips.
Both The Bakewell Tart Shop and The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop offer a delivery service, so you can send delicious Bakewell tarts and puddings as gifts all over the world – British is best, after all.
As a proud Yorkshire woman, I have been raised to believe that there is no food more glorious than the Yorkshire pudding. They’re wonderful with roast dinners, doused liberally in gravy, but are also wonderful as a sweet course. For centuries these fluffy puddings have been enjoyed with butter and jam in the afternoons; while growing up in Yorkshire, we always had a hot Yorkshire with sugar and butter at tea time on Sundays. Historically they’ve also been used to fill up hungry diners that can’t afford large quantities of meat – my dad was always fed a bowl of Yorkshires with gravy as a starter, as my grandparents couldn’t risk him sating his appetite on the joint of meat.
No self-respecting Yorkshireman would ever serve Aunt Bessie’s, but there are some establishments that have really mastered the art of the pudding. Head to The Woodman Inn near Huddersfield for superb modern British dining. Their Sunday lunch is wonderful, and the setting everything you’d hope for from a proper Yorkshire inn.
The Sawmill in York is another top-spot for Yorkshire puddings. The Grade II listed building in the centre of York boasts a splendid Sunday carvery that makes use of head chef Peter Toth’s skills and his relationship with the best suppliers in Yorkshire.
The Cumberland sausage originates from the historic county of Cumberland, which is now part of beautiful Cumbria. The sausage is best known for its coiled appearance, but can also be served in shorter or more curved lengths. More peppery than its herby Lincolnshire counterparts (which also deserve a special mention), the Cumberland sausage was granted Protected Geographical Indication status in 2011.
The Phoenix in Leeds has an excellent gastropub offering made from superb local produce. Their pork pies and sausages come from Lishman’s of Ilkley, an award-winning butcher that is recognised nationally as one of the best butcher’s shops in the country.
If you prefer to whip up your own culinary masterpieces, head to Greater Manchester’s Bury Market. Riley’s Butchers has a wonderful selection of sausages, so you’re sure to find some tasty Cumberlands.
Lancashire hotpot is a hearty stew comprising lamb or mutton with onion topped with sliced potatoes. It’s one of the tastiest and most comforting dishes on cold and rainy days, and became a northern staple because it doesn’t need a lot of supervision – during industrialisation, when workers had long, arduous hours, they would deposit a pot of stew in the baker’s oven and leave it to cook while they worked. When they returned home from the factories, they could tuck straight into their hotpot.
Nowadays we can thankfully enjoy hotpots without the strain and stresses of the past. Annies in Manchester is widely known as the North West’s top spot for hotpots, and we couldn’t agree more.
For similarly outstanding traditional dishes, the Chop House brand has earned a stellar reputation in Manchester. The three sites, Sam’s Chop House, Mr Thomas’ Chop House and The Albert Square Chop House mean that if you’re in Manchester, you’re never far away from top-notch hearty grub. Make sure you sample the corned beef hash cake to start, followed by the Lancashire butter pie – a potato and cheese pie served with buttered greens and herb butter sauce.