After our visit in Devon, we headed back on the train to visit friends in the town of Lewes for a couple of days. Lewes is a gorgeous little town just an hour from London on the southeast coast.
One of our favorite moments was having afternoon tea and cake in the children’s shop Wickle. The shop sells beautiful clothes, high-quality toys and games and tucked in the very back of the store is a little cafe, perfect for children and grownups. The kids got the most decadent hot chocolates and we sampled ginger cake, brownies, millionaire’s shortbread and victoria sponge cake.
When we visited the U.K. last month, I discovered Marmite. Yep, the love-it-or-hate-it yeast extract is now my boo.
I had tried it about 10 years before and I fell strongly into the “hate” camp. But this time around? It blew my socks off with its unami goodness! Paired with buttered toast and a perfect dippy egg, it became my favorite breakfast.
I bought some to take home and have continued the love affair on this side of the Atlantic. If you’ve never tried it, pick up some at CostPlus World Market and let me know what you think!
Americans who are homesick for their favorite candies can get them delivered in the U.K. now, thanks to the Stateside Candy Company.
The selection is impressive, including Hershey’s and Twizzlers, Life Savers, Willy Wonka candies, salt water taffy, Mike and Ike’s, jumbo gummy bears and the list goes on and on! Grocery items like American cereals, pancake mixes, cookies, cake mixes and barbecue sauces are also offered. U.K. delivery charges start at £4.50.
One of the highlights of our recent trip to England was celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary at Ode in Shaldon, which has been named UK’s most sustainable restaurant by the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
The food was absolutely amazing, delicious, fresh and exciting from beginning to end. Service was friendly and helpful (owner Tim Bouget was lovely!). And all of this for a great price! Our wedding anniversary fell on a Wednesday and Ode features a reduced price menu on Wednesdays: three courses for 29 pounds! We added a couple of glasses of kir royale to start and a very pleasant French white wine to accompany our main courses.
I just spotted Olba’s Pastilles at my local Sprouts supermarket. Different packaging than the British version, but certainly the same herbal lozenges we all know and love when you’re feeling under the weather!
We spent a day in North Devon and had a pub lunch in the Duke of York Pub in the little village of Iddesleigh.
I was in pub heaven! The Duke of York is a 15th century pub that is the local for British author Michael Morpurgo, who got the seed of the idea to write the novel “War Horse” (which later became the blockbuster play and film) while in this very pub. More about this here!
It was homey and cozy and a little hobbit-like and included all of the things that I look for in a good pub:
After Paris, we hopped back on the Eurostar to London and then caught a train down to the southwest coast of Devon. We headed to a quaint, seaside town called Teignmouth, where my mother-in-law and lots of family friends live.
The train takes you right along the coast. Gorgeous views, despite the unseasonably cold spring weather. A few days after we arrived, we took a brisk walk along the seawall, which runs right alongside the train tracks.
I’m delighted to hear that gin is apparently the spirit of the moment. Consumption has increased by 7 percent across western Europe in the past year!
The last gin and tonic I had was on this month’s Virgin Atlantic flight of all places (side note: my return flight from the U.K. to the U.S. was MUCH better than my trip going over. We went Premium Economy, I didn’t eat the Gu and didn’t vomit once! Score!). Our flight attendant was charming, ebullient without being ingratiating and could make a mean drink! I spotted her bringing out a big bottle of Bombay Sapphire (yes, no minis!!) as she served a man in front of me and something about that cool, soothing blue shade of the bottle inspired me to order one. It was phenomenal!
There’s something extremely luxurious about someone fixing you a real drink, when you’re 30,000 feet up, using a real glass (not plastic), with a real lime and real ice cubes with a decorative swizzle stick that makes one feel positively pampered. It remains one of the top 10 best gin and tonics I’ve ever had!
How do you feel about gin? Yay or nay? And where’s the best gin and tonic that you’ve ever had?! Spill!
This is a guest post by Liz Marsom, who was born and raised in Great Britain and now lives and works in New Zealand. She is a cheese lover.
I’m sure there are many great varieties of cheese available in the U.S. Though, I found much of the readily available cheese in the regular supermarket to be over processed and tasteless plastic. A massive generalisation I know! But, who else has liquid cheese at room temperature … in a spray can? You’re not the only ones that I think have lost the true meaning of cheese. The kiwis have cheeses called Tasty and Mild. I’m still unsure of what Colby is … I’m guessing somewhere in-between.
British cheese itself is a bit of an underdog and isn’t famed like the French cheeses. Running from camembert and, my father’s favourite, the exceptionally smelly Chaumes to more delicate brie French cheese is pretty special. Even their processed soft cheese Le Vache Qui Ri or The Laughing Cow has a flavour that no one else seems to have managed.
But what a variety of classic great British cheeses there are!
The classic Cheddar hails from the South West. A solid lump of cheese that’s perfect in a sandwich with lashings of Branston Pickle or melted on toast with a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Available in different strengths of flavour that all depend on its maturity, the only one to really choose is vintage cheddar to get the magnificent classic tang.
Stilton hails from Leicestershire. A rich crumbly cheese full of the blue veins giving its strength of flavour it’s not the prettiest cheese but boy it’s one of my favourites. Served on a cheeseboard, grilled on a portobello mushroom or in Beef and Stilton Pie, it gets my vote!
Wallace and Gromit made Stinking Bishop cheese famous and stink it does. Although it turns out to have a more delicate flavour than the odour would suggest, I have to say I think it smells a little bit too much for me. Cornish Yarg from the deepest southwest is a beautiful cheese wrapped in nettle leaves as it cures.
Red Leicester, Wensleydale, Double Gloucester or a bath blue…. I could go on forever as cheese is my favourite food. But for now I’ll just plan my lunch. After all this talk of cheese I’ll have a Ploughmans. A classic British country pub menu choice based upon what you’d have for lunch as you worked the horses ploughing ready for the crops. The Ploughmans consists of a lump of cheddar and a wedge of stilton with pickled onions, chutney and some crusty bread. This is best served with a pint of real ale at room temperature, of course.