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The pub is one of Britain's oldest and more enduring traditions, and there are so many different ones to choose from that it's often tricky to root out some of the best from the average, and then the just-plain-awful. Luckily there are plenty of great pubs throughout Great Britain that'll give you a true taste of local culture and history as well as serve up the best in local fare and brewed ales and beers.
Britains 10 Best Pubs (Slideshow)
They've been called watering holes, taprooms, beer or ale rooms, drinking holes, and taverns, yet the humble pub has very old and important beginnings. Hearkening back to the days when pilgrims and travelers journeyed over long distances (think Canterbury Tales) they would rest at night at the town's local inn and eat and drink in the communal downstairs hall. These taverns eventually also became known as pub, from the words "public house" for drinking (as opposed to in a private house).
It wasn't just pilgrims either — rumor has it that knights leaving to follow Richard I on the crusades would stop by Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, a pub in Nottingham built into the side of a sandy cliff, to swap stories before they resumed their journey.
That storytelling tradition persevered with authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis scribbling down their most famous works while enjoying a pint at the Eagle and Child in Oxford. It's a tradition that still exists today… think of how many of your favorite local pubs have writers holed up in the corner penning the next great novel.
With such a solid history there are indeed many good pubs to choose from, but what makes a great one? Historical significance is a must, so a beautiful interior, quality ales and beers on tap (preferably local offerings and some boutique options), and great pub grub.
We've scoured what Britain's watering holes have to offer and narrowed it down to this list of some of the best… read on to find out which are Britain's Best Pubs.
10. The Royal Oak — Borough, London
Voted one of the U.K.'s top 10 pubs by the Daily Telegraph, the Royal Oak is a true Victorian-era gem built just a stone's throw away from Chaucer's Tabard Inn. To honor its legacy, the pub also recreates the local drinking traditions recorded in the Canterbury Tales, but in a more contemporary setting. Today it's an authentic city beer house with plenty of local ales on tap.
9. The Thatchers Arms — Mount Bures, Essex
An authentic rural country pub that boasts its own stunning views of the Stour Valley in Suffolk, Essex, The Thatcher's Arms serves award-winning local ales as well great food sourced locally too. It's the perfect place to get a taste of the old country while enjoying the best lager and food the English countryside has to offer.
Read on for more of Britains 10 Best Pubs.
British Pub Food – 34 Traditional (or Typical) UK Pub Grub Dishes
Sure, our pubs are great for a ‘quick bevvie,’ but loads of them are also up there with the UK’s best restaurants when it comes to top-notch food.
The very best British pubs serving food are nowadays awarded with Michelin stars, and if you stick around, we’ll give you some great suggestions as to where to eat some awesome British pub grub.
But first, you’ll find below an epic list of classic British dishes that can be typically found on your average British pub food menu.
Britain's 30 best summer pubs
The Perch at Binsey is just one of the Britain's best summer pubs Credit: David Rose
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H ere, Alastair Sawday selects 20 pubs for summer from Sawday's Special Places: Pubs & Inns of England and Wales guide, and Telegraph writers nominate their 10 favourites.
Summer triggers thoughts of tumbling brooks, birdsong, lazy heat-drenched days and the soft susurrus of bees and crickets. Can such a dream be found in a pub? I know so.
Sprawling in pub gardens is a summer ritual and, happily, many of our best have beautiful grounds. Some lead down to rivers, where you can sit with feet in water and beer in hand. A lingering summer pub memory is of sitting in a chair in the river, birds flitting and fish at my feet. It is still possible.
The following pubs lure you high onto the moors, into which you can stroll before your meal, and perhaps even between courses. Others take you deep into the countryside, to the edge of tumbling streams and rivers, to places where you can find a rare peace.
Nature played a big role in the selection: you may find the flowers on your table may have been pillaged, wild, from the hedgerows. The mint will be taken from a plant outside the door.
Modern publicans are inventive in finding ways of bringing nature to you, often from their own kitchen gardens, the hen-coop and their own field of grazing cattle. There are chilled summer soups, salads picked an hour ago from the pub's garden, summer berries and homemade ice-cream, food conjured from the imagination of a chef who has just walked the hills that form the views across the valley.
I can think of few more enjoyable ways of whiling away a summer evening than strolling along a river and being rewarded with a pint at the end of the trail, or along the beach before a short hike inland to a Pembrokeshire pub.
A thirst may come over you at any time. and you need to know where to slake it. Life is too short for summer thirsts to be quenched in the wrong pubs, so carry this collection in your head, or your glove pocket, and seize your moment.
1. Lord Crewe Arms at Blanchland, Northumberland
O riginally the abbot's lodge and kitchens (and its garden the cloisters), the Lord Crewe Arms has become a Grade-II* listed inn.
The village, in a sheep-clad valley on the moor's edge, was built with stone from the abbey's ruins.
The vast garden is complete with picnic tables and water bowls for dogs, shade yourself under the umbrellas while you dine on a menu of seasonal delights.
With a head chef from Mark Hix's stable, the robust modern British menu includes steaks, chops and spit-roasted meats, fresh crab salad and ruby beets.
2. The Black Swan, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria
A lovely little inn in the middle of a pretty village, surrounded by wonderful walking country. It's all things to all men - a smart restaurant, a lively bar - and very dog-friendly.
A stream runs through the big garden, where you can eat in good weather free-range hens live in one corner. Inside, chic country interiors fit the mood perfectly. You get fresh flowers, tartan carpets, games and books galore.
Fell Road, Ravenstonedale, Kirkby Stephen, CA17 4NG blackswanhotel.com
3. Red Lion Inn, Saffron Walden, Cambridgeshire
T he rambling Red Lion is a popular stopover in an area short on good inns. Its secluded garden, with dovecote, arbour and patio, overlooks the church: a lovely spot for peaceful summer sipping.
Own label ale Red & Black and others from the local microbrewery Crafty Beers add to the appeal, as do eclectic menus that list a range of classic pub dishes and more inventive specials, all at good prices.
Pop in for a beef and horseradish sandwich, linger over venison with blackberry jus or wild mushroom fettuccine, and enjoy roast Norfolk chicken on Sunday.
32 High Street, Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1QY redlionhinxton.co.uk
4. The Ship, Saxmundham, Suffolk
O nce a great port, Dunwich is now a tiny (and famous) village, gradually sinking into the sea. Its well-loved smugglers’ inn, almost on the beach, overlooks the salt marsh and sea and pulls in wind-blown walkers and birdwatchers from the Minsmere Reserve.
T here’s also a more modern dining room where hearty food combines with traditional dishes: try Lowestoft crispy cod cheeks with Romesco sauce, smoked paprika and rocket, or tuck into their terrific Scotch eggs: with black pudding and homemade piccalilli hot smoked salmon and horseradish spiced mixed bean and Suffolk tomato chutney.
St James Street, Dunwich, Saxmundham, Suffolk, IP17 3DT shipatdunwich.co.uk
5. The Greyhound Inn, Woodbridge, Suffolk
S tewart and Louise are reinventing one of the oldest boozers in Suffolk, and all who discover it. Stewart – a Scot – knows his ales and his whiskies, and oversees a few Scottish gins too, while Louise cooks imaginative and seasonal food, including venison from her parents’ estate.
She cures her own salmon, then serves it with dill cream whisks up homemade basil gnocchi and beautiful hake fishcakes on creamed leeks offers curry nights on Thursdays and themed nights once a month.
The Street, Pettistree, Woodbridge IP13 0HP sawdays.co.uk
6. The Bridge Inn, Herefordshire
G etting here is half the fun, in the wilds of Herefordshire, and it could be tricky in the dark! In a pretty spot down by the river, beneath the Black Hill of Bruce Chatwin fame, the 16th-century Bridge started life as a house, achingly lovely on its river side with willows weeping down the footbridge.
W alkers descend, so do dogs, and families and shooting parties, and Glyn is the nicest host. It’s properly pubby yet there is an organic and fine wine menu. Eat in one of two dining areas with contemporary colours on the walls.
Michaelchurch Escley, Herefordshire, HR2 0JW thebridgeinnmichaelchurch.co.uk
7. TELEGRAPH PICK: The Old Neptune, Whitstable, Kent
I t’s not much of a garden, in a sense: just a few picnic tables on the beach. And the beach, grey and pebbly and barbed with splintered oyster shells, may not be your idea of a perfect beach, unless the distant prospect of Shoeburyness fills your heart with exaltation.
But on a warm day, or even a slightly not-warm-enough one, with some local shellfish in your digestive tract and a beer in your hand, with the Isle of Sheppey brooding in the faltering day and the refinery at Canvey Island set aflame by the waning sun, this could be Paradise.
Marine Terrace, Island Wall, Whitstable, CT5 1EJ thepubonthebeach.co.uk
8. TELEGRAPH PICK: The Kirstile Inn, Loweswater, Cumbria
T he dramatic beer garden of The Kirkstile Inn is towered over by Melbreak Fell - craggy, angular and 1678 feet high.
A walk around the lovely nearby Buttermere lake is the perfect precursor to a pint of Loweswater Gold from Cumbrian Legendary Ales: the perfect multi-media, high-altitude experience.
L oweswater, CA13 0RU kirkstile.com
9. TELEGRAPH PICK: The Rat Inn, Anick, Northumberland
T he award-winning pub’s terraced garden is a particular delight. It’s sheltered, quiet and peaceful, high on a hillside looking down over the looping lazy Tyne, and quite the ideal spot to sip a Hexhamshire Brewery Whapweasel or one of several from around the doors.
Hexham, NE46 4LN theratinn.com
10. TELEGRAPH PICK: The Falcon Inn, Nr Cloughton, N Yorks
T he garden at the Falcon at Cloughton in North Yorkshire is a sublime setting to stock up or refuel before or after the Cleveland Way coastal walk.
A beef sandwich did it for me, washed down with a pint of Theakston’s Black Bull. Dazzling flowerbeds are close at hand rolling moorland nearby the sea just beyond. Heaven, just off the A171.
Whitby Road, Nr Cloughton, Scarborough, YO13 0DY the-falcon.co.uk
Chris Arnot’s latest book, Small Island by Little Train, is published by the AA.
11. The Trout at Tadpole Bridge, Faringdon, Oxfordshire
T his 17th-century Cotswold inn is on the banks of the Thames, so pick up a pint, drift into the garden and watch life float by.
The Trout is packed with history and character, a family-friendly rural gem where children are liked and dogs can doze in the flagstoned bars. For serious walkers and those who want to meander along the Thames path, the garden leads directly onto the riverbank.
Y ou’ll feast on fabulous modern food (chargrilled rainbow trout, liquorice glazed ox cheek, hazelnut nougat parfait), and can drink a selection of local ales.
Buckland Rd, Buckland Marsh, Faringdon, SN7 8RF trout-inn.co.uk
12. The Mayflower, Lymington, Hampshire
T he Mayflower is a nautical delight with tasty food and views of the delightful Lymington slipway. There’s no forgetting you’re in a renowned sailing resort, from the paraphernalia to the clientele – a mix of locals and boat owners and views over the nearby marina.
They come for the food and friendly welcome from the young staff. The menu is traditional (think scallops and pork belly), the wine list wide-ranging and the décor new and shiny. There’s a large garden to sit in, the whole of Hampshire and the New Forest to explore, and, of course, a spot of sailing, too.
King's Saltern Rd, Lymington, SO41 3QD themayflowerlymington.co.uk
13. The Little Angel, Henley-on-Thames, Berkshire
T his handsome sash-windowed pub stands alongside a rowing club made famous by the likes of Pinsett and Redgrave (hence the oars) and the oldest part dates from the 1600s. If you bring your dog you can eat in the bar, or in the big-but-intimate ‘barn’.
There’s a modern conservatory too, and a smart garden overlooking the cricket pitch that’s perfect for a glass of prosecco in summer sunshine. Friendly staff ferry the likes of fillet of lamb with fondant potato and baby vegetables to a contented Henley crowd. Stroll to the river and catch a boat down the Thames, or simply linger and watch the world float by.
R emenham Ln, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 2LS thelittleangel.co.uk
14. TELEGRAPH PICK: The Albion, London N1
F ountains of purple wisteria. Pretty pergolas. Potted plants. Pop into this elegant North London favourite for a pint or two, and you might think you’ve escaped to the countryside.
There’s excellent food, too, including a whole roast suckling pig, if you fancy pushing the boat out.
Thornhill Road, London, N1 1HW the-albion.co.uk
15. TELEGRAPH PICK: The Crown and Greyhound, London SE21
W hat use is a village without a village pub? That’s what the denizens of well-to-do Dulwich have been wondering for the past two years while their only pub has undergone the slowest refurbishment imaginable.
The Grade II listed ‘Dog and Hat’ finally reopens this week, and what a splendid makeover this grand old boozer has had, not least its glamorous (and huge) terraced rear garden, complete with outdoor bar and barbecue.
73 Dulwich Village, London, SE21 7BJ thecrownandgreyhound.co.uk
16. TELEGRAPH PICK: The Wellington Arms, Baughurst, Hampshire
W ith borders to rival those at Chelsea Flower Show (so remarked many of their customers this year), The Wellington Arms’ well-tended lawns are both pretty (blooming, English-country-garden style with roses and foxgloves), and practical.
Picnic benches and wooden tables are well spaced out and provide ample seating for a pre-lunch glass of English sparkling wine (Hampshire-made, naturally) or pint of Longdog Brewery’s Golden Poacher.
B aughurst Road, Baughurst, RG26 5LP thewellingtonarms.com
17. TELEGRAPH PICK: The Perch, Binsey, Oxfordshire
T he walk out of Oxford along the canal and across Port Meadow, with the tower of St Barnabas glowering at you across the canal, and cattle eyeing you incuriously, used to be one of the UK’s great rus-in-urbe experiences.
An ugly housing development means it’s not what it was. But the meadow is still (mostly) there, crisscrossed by waterways, lined - if you peer past the flats - with dreaming spires.
Two thirds of the way along is Binsey, where you’ll find the Perch, a quintessential posh/rustic riverside pub (the Trout, further north, is also good, if rather grander). Its beer garden is really a mini-meadow, ragged and willow-fringed and running right down to the water’s edge.
Binsey Lane, Oxford, OX2 0NG the-perch.co.uk
18. The Hare & Hounds, Bath, Somerset
A gorgeous inn, with chic interiors, a huge decked terrace and sublime local fare served al fresco, with ten-mile views over the city all the way to Solsbury Hill. A conservatory, decked terrace, sprawling garden and a vast mullioned window in the bar all face the right way – you gaze on fields where vegetables for the restaurant are grown.
Y ou might find goat’s cheese and honey terrine, beer-battered haddock and hand-cut chips, dark chocolate mousse and clementine purée. At the bar, traditionally brewed Butcombe and Hare & Hounds Ale stand side by side, backed up by excellent wines.
Lansdown Road, Bath, BA1 5TJ hareandhoundsbath.com
19. The Lord Poulett Arms, Somerset
I n a ravishing village, a ravishing inn, French at heart and quietly groovy. Discover an informal French garden of box and bay trees, with a piste for boules, a creeper-shaded terrace, a hammock.
It’s the perfect setting for a warm summers day spent eating fabulous food such as the renowned summer barbecue and the full works breakfast. With a range of locally selected ales and an extensive wine list, be sure to stop by the lovely rural pub.
High St, Hinton Saint George, TA17 8SE lordpoulettarms.com
20. The Bell at Skenfrith, Monmouthshire
T he Bell stands by an ancient stone bridge in a little-known valley with beautiful hills rising behind and a Norman castle paddling in the river a hundred yards from the front door.
A sublime spot – and the inn is as good. In summer, life decants onto the terrace at the back priceless views of wood and hill interrupted only by the odd chef pottering past on his way to a rather impressive kitchen garden.
S tripped boards in the restaurant give an airy feel, so stop for delicious food served by young, attentive staff, perhaps chicken liver parfait, duck with chorizo and mixed bean cassoulet, and chocolate fondant with caramelised banana and white chocolate ice cream. Finish with a fine cognac – the list is long.
Skenfrith, Abergavenny, NP7 8UH skenfrith.co.uk
21. The Horse & Groom, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire
S it back in summer under the shade of damson trees and watch the chefs raid the kitchen garden for raspberries, strawberries, broad beans, herbs and more.
Food goes way beyond the pub norm, so tuck into the likes of pasta roulade of girolles with ricotta, mozzarella and spinach followed by vanilla panna cotta with elderflower and raspberry jelly.
A44, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 9AQ horseandgroom.info
22. The Pandora Inn, Falmouth, Cornwall
Y achtsmen moor at the end of the pontoon that reaches into the creek. The building is special: thatched, 13th-century and rebuilt following a devastating fire.
The pub is named in memory of the Pandora, a naval ship sent to Tahiti to capture the mutineers of Captain Bligh’s Bounty. The award-winning menu has something to please everyone, with fresh seafood dominating the specials board, and an indulgently long wine list.
The Devonport Inn, Kingsand, Cornwall
Chosen by contributor Sally Shalam
'I’ve had more good times in this salty beachfront local than I can remember: pasties with pints of Cornish Rattler after coastal path walks family Sunday lunches at long tables tucked into the blond-wood interior elbowing through the fancy dress-clad throng on New Year’s Eve before the fireworks. The food is as splendid as the views over the little bay – Looe scallops, River Exe oysters, Devon ruby steak and chips – but it still has the intangible soul of a proper local’s bar. Just a minute away is Westcroft Guesthouse, a boho-romantic bolthole in a tall, skinny Georgian townhouse, with the plumpest pillows, hand-picked bedside reading and a great art collection.'
Address: The Devonport Inn, The Cleave, Kingsand, Cornwall, PL10 1NF
Telephone: +44 1752 822869
United Kingdom's 10 Best Pubs
Who are we kidding? There are too many pubs and locally brewed ales in England to choose a top 10. And who wants to limit themselves? But if you don't have an entire vacation to devote to the search of the perfect pint, here at 10 English pubs that offer visitors a little bit of everything -- a perfect sample of towns, styles, fare and ale.
The Spaniard's Inn, Hampstead
In 1585 The Spaniard's Inn was built as the country house of the Spanish ambassador. Or perhaps it was owned by two Spanish brothers who dueled over a woman in a classic love triangle. When a pub is as old as the Spaniard, the line between fact and folklore is delightfully blurred. Perhaps this is why John Keats was inspired to write "Ode to a Nightingale" here. The terraced bar is the perfect spot to come for a pint and stay for a day. Come on the weekends for the family- and pet-friendly barbecues.
George & Dragon, Kent
The interior of the George & Dragon in Kent is the perfect place to escape winter's cold. The massive flagstones and blazing inglenook fire will have you crooning, "baby it's cold outside" as you're ordering another. As if you needed another reason to stay, the seasonal and delicious food is provided by the surrounding community -- almost all the restaurant's goods are sourced within a 30-mile radius.
The Hyde Tavern, Hampshire
Rumored to be one of the most haunted pubs in the city of Winchester, The Hyde Tavern is home to the spirit of a young woman who died from cold and hunger centuries ago. The pub isn't swanky or refurbished, but it serves real ale with a side of skepticism and intrigue.
The Salisbury opened as the Salisbury Hotel in 1899, built by the Scottish builder J.C. Hill. It was a massively grand building featuring a billiard room, restaurant and concert hall. However, it fell into disrepair before being rescued a few years ago and restored to its former glory. It's one of the few select North London pubs to be listed as a bus route destination, so step on a double-decker and visit a piece of history.
The Dove, London
The Dove is the little pub that could. A small, but charming and endearing bar, it's been frequented by Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway -- and there's a rumor that King Charles II and his mistress, the English actress Nell Gwynne, had a secret rendezvous here. The Dove is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest pub in England, but step through the doors leading to the terraced bar and enjoy a beautiful riverside view.
Coburg Bar, Mayfair
Class it up a bit with a cocktail at the Coburg Bar in The Connaught Hotel, one of England's ritziest hotels. The modern decorative touches from Paris-based designer India Mahdavi are outmatched only by the extensive wine list. Hit this bar when you want to look your best and feel a little pampered.
The Sun Inn, Essex
The Tudor ceilings, wood-paneled walls, planked floors and roaring fire of The Sun Inn will have you feeling like you've entered another century. The Sun can be busy during the tourist season, as travelers flock for the fresh taste of owner Piers Baker's Italian-influenced menu. For those seeking more than a pint or a meal, the inn has luxurious bedrooms without a hint of pretention. Mosey next door to Victoria Plums, a store tended by Piers' wife, selling locally grown fruit and vegetables.
Harrow Inn, Hampshire
Down a country lane that narrows to a footpath, the Harrow Inn is not easy to find, but it truly is a hidden gem. The inn has been run by the same family since 1929, and the familial care and pride is visible in every brick and tile. The menu mimics the delicious simplicity of the inn, offering fresh sandwiches, split-pea soup and homemade salad. Wander the wild orchard garden, or enjoy a pint at the rustic benches and tables. While other pubs on this list might preserve another time or be reminiscent of one, at The Harrow Inn, time simply stands still.
Old Poets' Corner, Ashover
Old Poets' Corner boasts live music, festivals, eight real ales and good, stout food. The Old Poets' Ale is brewed locally as are certain types of cider (beware the 8.4 percent alcohol by volume) and is sipped by --you guessed it -- old poets. There is a regular poets' night for bards and ballad reading. Go ahead, have some liquid courage and turn a phrase.
The Rising Sun, Southampton
The Rising Sun is a pub for the real ale enthusiasts, serving Green King IPA, Old Speckled Hen, Abbott, Ringwood Best, Hardy's and Hanson Old Trip. The pub's history dates back to the late 17th century, and much of the bar is covered in D-Day memorabilia. Its down-to-earth vibe and appreciation for real ale is enough to keep the regulars coming back time and again.
Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Mustard Soup
Two favorite vegetables come together in this steaming hot cauliflower, broccoli, and mustard soup, which is an ideal complement to a winter dinner with a remarkable flavor.
Steamed cauliflower and broccoli are combined with potato, garlic, and onion and simmered in vegetable broth until tender. The soup is then puréed and seasoned with your favorite whole-grain mustard and crème fraiche, which gives it that lovely creamy touch.
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Every British expat living in the U.S. has a constant yearning for some culinary pleasure they left back home. For many, it’s British bacon while others long for a traditional Sunday roast with all the trimmings. Some even declare they would swim across the Atlantic just to get their hands on a decent portion of fish and chips. For me and my sweet tooth, it’s the desserts.
Let us begin proceedings with what is undoubtedly the most famous English dessert of all. A trifle is made from several layers of yumminess, including custard, whipped cream, sponge cake, jelly and a selection of fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. (The more daring also like to spike their trifle with alcoholic beverages, such as sherry or fortified wine.) But perhaps the greatest gift this dessert has given British culture is the classic Tommy Cooper trifle gag. “A fella goes to the doctor, and he’s got jelly in one ear and custard in the other, and the doctor says, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ Fella says, ‘You’ll have to speak up doctor, I’m a trifle deaf.’”
Get Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for trifle at BBC Good Food.
Eton College is a lot like Hogwarts, except instead of teaching witchcraft and wizardry, they teach poshness and pomposity. The Eton mess is a dessert traditionally served at Eton’s annual cricket match against the pupils of Harrow School and consists of strawberries, cream and pieces of meringue all mixed together in one big&mdashyou guessed it&mdashmess.
Get the recipe for strawberry rose Eton mess at BBC Good Food.
In 1939, a Czechoslovakian lawyer named Dr. Ernest Velden fled his homeland for fear of Nazi persecution and found refuge in Britain. The following year, Dr. Velden put his law degree to good use and set up an ice cream factory in Eastbourne, East Sussex. In 1958, old Ernie came up with the idea for arctic roll: a log of vanilla ice cream encased in a tube of sponge cake with a paper-thin layer of raspberry sauce in between. Sales soared throughout the 1970s, and, by 1983, arctic roll was such a celebrated part of British culture that the Queen rewarded the good doctor with an OBE. But like ice cream left out in the sun, the arctic roll’s days were numbered. Sales slumped during the 1990s and, in 1997, manufacturer Birds Eye announced it was ceasing production. But the story doesn’t end there. In 2008, the arctic roll would rise again like a phoenix from the freezer. The global recession prompted Birds Eye to bring back the dessert as part of their “Make Your Pound Go Further” campaign. And the British public welcomed it back with open arms (and mouths).
Get the recipe for clotted cream & raspberry ripple Arctic roll at BBC Good Food.
This sweet, stodgy pudding evokes much nostalgia amongst Brits of a certain age for it was once a staple of school lunches throughout the United Kingdom. Indeed, even its delightfully rhythmical name carries an air of childlike innocence, as if it were something out of a Roald Dahl book. Kids often refer to jam roly-poly as “dead man’s arm” due to its appearance resembling a bloodied human limb. Kids, eh? The dessert itself is a suet pudding spread with jam, which is then rolled and steamed before being served with hot custard. Unfortunately, I’ve found that the pairing of hot custard with dessert is practically nonexistent in the U.S. Pieces of pie, for example, are either served with ice cream, cream, or unaccompanied. It’s a crime against American puddings that they haven’t been introduced to hot custard. A crime, I tell you!
Recipe via BBC Good Food.
The crackling of the bonfire, the whizzing and popping of the fireworks, the excited “oohing” and “ahhing” of the crowd, and the moist treacle taste of parkin. Welcome to Britain on Guy Fawkes Night. Parkin originated in Yorkshire during the Industrial Revolution and is made from flour, oatmeal, black treacle, margarine, brandy and ginger. It tastes like soft gingerbread, and Northern grandmothers bake it in batches big enough to feed an army and then they force-feed it to you for the next seven months. “Go on, have another piece, pet,” they say.
Recipe via BBC Good Food.
Banoffee pie. (Photo: Fotolia)
In tracing the biography of the banoffee pie we return once again to East Sussex and a restaurant in the small village of Jevington (just a stone’s throw from where Dr. Velden had some years earlier invented his arctic roll). The year was 1972, and the restaurant was The Hungry Monk. Head chef Ian Dowding collaborated with owner Nigel McKenzie on a dessert that was based on an American dish called “Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie.” At first they experimented with different fruits such as apples and oranges before finally hitting the sweet spot with bananas. It was McKenzie who came up with the portmanteau “banoffee” (although McKenzie originally christened it “banoffi” it later became more commonly spelt “banoffee”). Because you can’t patent a recipe, neither Dowding nor McKenzie have received any royalties for their creation, although their efforts are commemorated with an historical blue plaque on the wall of the now defunct Hungry Monk restaurant.
Get the recipe for mini banoffee pies at BBC Good Food.
Bread and butter pudding
Yet more stodgy pudding! Some food historians date this frugal dish as far back as the 11th century, while others place it much later at around the turn of the 17th century. What is certain, however, is that this dessert began life amongst the poor as a way to use up any leftover bread. It’s made by layering slices of stale, buttered bread in a baking tray and then adding a sprinkling of raisins. Next, a mixture of lightly whisked eggs and milk is poured over the bread. Then you pop it in the oven and Bob’s your uncle. It’s a versatile pudding that can be seasoned with whatever’s lying around the kitchen: nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, anything really. For best results serve with piping hot custard (if you can find any).
Get the recipe for a light version of this dish at BBC Good Food.
A popular treat on days at the seaside, the knickerbocker glory is an ice cream sundae made with fruit, cream and syrup. Nobody knows where it came from, who invented it or quite what makes it glorious it is the mysterious enigma of the Great British dessert menu. All we know for certain really is that it appeared in Britain sometime during the 1930s. Etymologically speaking, the most likely explanation is that the name comes from America. In his 1809 book, A History of New York, author Washington Irving wrote under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker. This assumed last name soon became a colloquial term for the Dutch population living in the area. Further evidence to suggest the knickerbocker’s U.S. roots can be found in Jerry Thomas’s 1862 book How to Mix Drinks, in which Thomas gives a recipe for a rum-based fruity cocktail called “The Knickerbocker.” The good news for expats is that they’ll have no problems finding an ice cream sundae in the U.S. it just won’t be called a knickerbocker.
Get the recipe for peach melba knickerbocker glory at BBC Good Food.
Sticky toffee pudding
Like the knickerbocker glory, the STP’s roots also lie on the left side of the pond. During the Second World War, two Canadian Air Force officers stationed in Britain were lodging at The Old Rectory Hotel in Claughton, Lancashire. One evening during dinner service, the men passed the original recipe for sticky toffee pudding on to their hotelier, Patricia Martin. The dish was later adopted and tweaked by Francis Coulson, who owned the Sharrow Bay Hotel in the Lake District. It was here during the 1970s that STP achieved national recognition and before long it was being sold in restaurants all over Britain.
Get a recipe for sticky toffee pudding at BBC Good Food.
Come on now, stop laughing, we’re all adults here. Granted, it sounds like an undesirable male genital disease, but the dish is made from suet mixed with other ingredients such as flour, molasses, corn syrup and nutmeg, which together create a pastry dough. Raisins are then added to make the dish “spotted” before being steamed or boiled. Where the word “dick” originates from in this context is unclear, but it is most likely a corruption, possibly of “dough” or the last syllable of “pudding.” As with most hot British desserts, spotted dick is best complemented with hot custard.
Get the recipe for spotted dick at BBC Good Food.
What are some of your favorite British desserts? Tell us in the comments below:
The Thirsty 30: raise a toast to Britain's best pubs
'For many, the pub is a home from home, a place of solitude or sociability' Credit: Joe Bird
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A dark, woody space with tables and chairs, though generally not enough of either for everyone to sit in comfort a counter serving beer and other drinks, along with some fairly basic food a few cute rustic features – some old pictures, a “real” fireplace. It’s easy to overlook – and to underestimate – the discreet charm of the British boozer.
A nd yet, for many of us, the pub is still a home from home: a place of solitude or sociability, sometimes both at once a chance to decompress after work, or even catch up with work (for some years the Telegraph books pages were commissioned, edited and on several occasions written from Davy’s, notionally a wine bar but strongly publike in ambience, in Canary Wharf) a building that’s also a kind of friend.
For more than a decade, the Telegraph has run a weekly column celebrating “Britain’s best pubs”. We’ve done country pubs, seaside pubs, eco-pubs, blowsy Victorian gin palaces, pubs that brew beer for dogs, pubs frequented by fictional detectives, pubs in churches, caves and on post-war council estates.
We have also done foodie pubs – but not too foodie. Partly, this is down to a certain purist tendency – we’re with George Orwell, whose fictitious Überpub, The Moon Under Water, served food that only a hardened veteran of the home front could stomach: “liver-sausage sandwiches”, “a cut off the joint, two vegetables and boiled jam roll”. It’s also because the column generally appears alongside the restaurant review, and the appetite thus surfeited might sicken and die.
W e have tried to cover Wales, Scotland and all four quarters of England. Some writers have a home turf (it’s a quiet source of pleasure to me to find in Arthur Taylor’s dispatches from Lancashire an echo of one of the greatest books about industrial Britain, Mass-Observation’s The Pub and the People) others fit their P2P commitments around peripatetic freelance lives, squeezing in a couple of bevvies and 500 words on the way to conduct an in-depth survey of llama breeders on Ilkley Moor, or interview the Bishop of Bath and Wells.
O ur brief to writers is based on a homelier version of Michelin’s criterion for a second star: “vaut le détour”. Would Pub X be somewhere you’d bend your route or change your plans slightly to visit?
T he rubric at the top of the column means we’re not aiming to be critical of bad pubs – just raise a glass to good ones. There are plenty of ways a pub can be good. But the feeling induced by a good pub is instantly recognisable – expansive, ruminative, suddenly disinclined to be anywhere else. A tranquil, reflective quality also characterises much of the writing that’s appeared in P2P over the years: we don’t get many Hunter S Thompson-influenced expositions of a madcap Friday-night bender in downtown Scunthorpe, though maybe it’s time we did.
N evertheless, our contributors approach the gig from many different angles. My first articles about pubs were about the physical bricks and mortar, as I was doing a column about listed buildings at the time I’m not at all expert about beer, though I’m broadly in favour of it. But we have several writers who know their onions, notably Adrian Tierney-Jones, Tim Hampson and certified “beer sommelier” Sophie Atherton: we’ve tried, in our way, to stay across the “craft beer” revolution.
W e’ve also tried to give attention to the clouds that lour across the pub landscape, in the form of high duty levels and supermarket deals that make drinking at home increasingly attractive, and a property bubble that has caught the eyes of rapacious developers. P2P stalwart Adrian Tierney-Jones wrote in these pages a few weeks ago about the community takeover movement, and offered advice on how to save your local if the vultures are hovering.
P ubs thus saved often find themselves transformed into a new kind of community hub, offering pottery sessions, life classes and lectures alongside the traditional beers, wines and spirits. Though, inevitably, many more will fall by the wayside, whether retrofitted as a Tesco Metro or TNT’ed to make way for yet more Luxury Flats. Despite all the doom and gloom, we feel the future’s bright for the pub.
For one thing, the quality is constantly improving (even the wine’s getting better). For another, there have been rumours of the pub’s demise for as long as there have been pubs. In any case, what better respite could there be from hours spent poring over your digital device than going to a real place, interacting with real people – and sipping a pint or two of real ale?
W e’ve organised these into five categories – though inclusion in one doesn’t imply a one-trick pub: many will feature both stunning scenery and decent food, or a rich history and a lively atmosphere. Good beer is a given – but landlords who go the extra mile have a category of their own. Cheers!
Britain's best pubs for a Sunday lunch
The best pubs for a Sunday lunch need to have an impressive wine list Credit: Paul Bradbury/Caiaimage
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G ood food, lovely surroundings – and even a room for the night if you want to make a weekend of it. Alastair Sawday rounds up the best pubs for a Sunday lunch in Britain.
My heart sang as I selected pubs and inns for this feature. I am partisan, of course, but am nevertheless amazed by the gales of creativity blowing across the UK.
Pubs, we are told, are dying in their droves – and indeed they are. But others are born, and others resurrected, by brave people new to the rollercoaster world of pubs. The shackles of tradition have been cast off and new ideas on how a pub should look and operate are flooding in.
There is a price to be paid for all this new pub energy. Making up one’s mind has never been harder: where to go, how much to spend, what to eat. One is faced with “moneybags” of seafood in lobster sauce, guinea fowl with truffle, or choux gnocchi. Another head-scratcher might be beetroot and truffle goat’s cheese salad versus beef shin pie with oyster mayonnaise.
Just as difficult nowadays is the choice of countryside: an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or a Site of Special Scientific Interest? Do you want to walk the hills or the coast?
The only way around these painful choices is to do as much of it as you can. Ditch your plans for a long flight and the jostling crowds, gather a gang of your favourite people – and enjoy Britain’s best spots for a weekend feast.
Bonus Pub – The Mayflower, Rotherhithe
Chosen by: The Eating Europe team
What do you like most about this pub?
When you enter The Mayflower you’ll step back in time. It’s hard to find a pub that’s more character-packed than this gem which has barely changed since it was built in 1550. Look forward to oak beams, wooden pews, an open fire and a wooden deck at the back with one of London’s best view of the Thames. You can v isit The Mayflower on our London Old Docks – Historic Pubs, Food & Beer Tour.
What are you drinking?
A pint of Scurvy, the pubs very own real ale.
The post London’s 10 Best Pubs – Chosen by Those in the Know! appeared first on Eating London Tours. Eat your way through London’s East End where history, culture, and fabulous food all collide on our London Food Tours.