British Food Fortnight is well underway, and we are continuing to be part of this huge national celebration of real British food. Last week we saw the delicious treats that the north of England is renowned for and this week we’re headed down South. With acres of countryside, miles of sunny coastline, and plenty of history, food produce down south is plentiful and diverse.
We at Fed Up & Drunk are based in Bristol and know first-hand the ample range of produce we have on our doorstep. As well as being surrounded by rolling farmland, which offers up the likes of rapeseed, strawberries, fruits and veg galore, Bristol itself is a pretty inventive and experimental city, meaning that we are bursting at the seams with artisan bakers, micro-breweries, gin-makers and coffee roasters. We also know how easy it is to stumble across something you’ve never heard or thought of before. Below is a selection of some of the most well known and not-so-well known British produce from the south…
Mussels and megrim and oysters, oh my!
We are a nation in love with mussels; we love them with Champagne, we love them a beer, in our risottos or classic moules frites. Around this time of year the southern coastline is ripe with these tasty morsels. Mussels are actually the most environmentally sound shellfish to buy in the UK, as they are so plentiful. It’s therefore easy to your hands on them, and from there it’s up to you – cover them in chilli tomato or garlic and wine sauce, or serve simply with a hunk of crusty bread.
Pay a trip to 47 Mussel Row in Littlehampton near Brighton for some of the tastiest, freshest mussels in the South. It’s received high praise from publications like The Times and Time Out as well as rave reviews on TripAdvisor for it’s tasty fresh, local seafood.
This time of year is a plentiful one for Cornish fishermen, as shoals of megrim are hauled in. Megrim is a white fish akin to lemon sole, with a light sweet taste and is plentiful off Cornish shores. However, despite being one of Cornwall’s most economically important species, this little fishie is somewhat underrated here in Blighty, and currently 90 per cent of the fish is sent to Spain. This is being addressed by a few of Cornwall’s top restaurants, and fishmonger’s in this part of the country should be able to get you some even if they don’t have it on the counter – you just have to ask.
Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw is a great champion of sustainable British fish. His stunning seaside restaurant, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw relies heavily on fresh Cornish seafood. In his BBC Guide to British Fish he had this to say about the humble megrim.
“It’s more similar to lemon sole than Dover sole, and they’re good served whole to feed two people, although I think the best way is skinned and deep-fried. It’s also a really good introduction fish for children as there are very few bones once you’ve taken out the central bone.”
Oysters too are a British delicacy and the Crab House Café down in Wyke Regis in Dorset, is not only renowned for serving up lip-smackingly good British seafood, their oysters come from their own oyster farm – the Portland Oyster Farm. It’s located right in front of the Crab House Café, so oysters served to the table have come out of the water literally minutes before.
Great British garlic
How often do you think about where you’re garlic comes from? Chances are, probably not often. You just pick it up in the supermarket and add it to dishes to make them super tasty. We have a whole island dedicated to growing to garlic. The Isle of Wight has an enormous garlic farm, where they grow everything from elephant garlic to black garlic. The Boswell family has been growing premier British garlic for over 30 years and they also create a whole host of produce from this humble bulb and run a fabulous restaurant putting the produce to good use. There’s also an annual garlic festival in celebration of our pungent friend.
Who ate all the cheese?
We all know Cheddar cheese. That classic cheese, you pick up in a rush and add to hastily made dishes or comfortingly melted on your toast. But did you know how firmly embedded in our British history this ‘regular’ cheese is. The area all around the rural village of Cheddar has been at the centre of Britain’s dairy industry since the 15th century, and this village is still making the original Cheddar cheese today. Pop along to the Cheddar Cheese Gorge Company in the pretty South West and you can take a tour to see the cheese being made from scratch, aged to perfection in the caves (the old-fashioned way) and have a little taste – they not only have traditional Cheddar but also create mouthwatering flavours with natural ingredients, like all-time West Country favourite Cheddar with cider, garlic and chives. While you’re there, pop in to local pub The Gardener’s Arms and quench your thirst with a West Country cider.
This British cheese has played an important role throughout our history. Did you know…
- Henry II once purchased over 10,000lbs of Cheddar cheese, and when Charles I was on the throne, the demand far outweighed supply, so you could only get it in the royal court?
- Originally Cheddar cheese had to be made within 30 miles of Wells Cathedral to be legitimately called ‘Cheddar Cheese’?
- Scott of the Antarctic took 3,500lbs of the stuff with him on his trek?
- Queen Victoria was once presented with a wheel of Cheddar cheese so large, it had been made form the milk from 700 cows?
British Food Fortnight continues until early October. Check out our celebration of the delicious, heartwarming food from the North. Or, should you decide to stay down South, grab a set-lunch for two in Bath.