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The UK may usually more well-known for its fascinating history and heritage, the castles that inspired Cinderella’s castle, culture and museums. For a long time, British cuisine couldn’t really be politely compared to its refined cousins on the continent. But the nineties and noughties saw a gradual awakening of the nation’s taste buds courtesy of celebrity chefs, their primetime TV programmes and coffee table cookbooks. Many of these chefs have opened multiple restaurants up and down the country, further integrating their refined tastes into the nation’s cultural life.
Now, UK cities the length and breadth of the land vie with each other for foodie visitors. London, Manchester, Glasgow and other cosmopolitan centres are obvious ports of call for those looking for a great choice of international flavours, but there’s much more to discover. And so, here are a few other destinations for those looking to explore the country’s rich heritage still further:
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This sleepy village sits on the Thames but it’s a long way outside London’s city limits. Somehow, it’s still become a place of pilgrimage for foodies from across the country and beyond. The main reasons are no secret – this tiny community plays host to not one, but two of the UK’s five three-starred Michelin restaurants (all the others are found in the capital itself).
First came the Waterside Inn, which has been top-rated for classical French cooking since 1985. Established by Michel Roux (of the famed Roux brothers) and handed on to his son, Alain in 2002, the restaurant is situated in a picturesque riverside location and offers timeless dishes cooked impeccably.
Only a stroll away is the Fat Duck, where the rather more experimental menu of Heston Blumenthal offers a culinary experience unlike any other. The menu here is a journey through some of Blumenthal’s holiday memories from childhood; with the cuisine tailored to awaken similarly nostalgic memories in the diners themselves.
Often known as England’s second city, Birmingham is the urban centre of the Midlands, with 3.3 million tourists visiting between 2015 and 2017. The city is a thriving economic and cultural hub, having undergone extensive redevelopment in recent decades.
In terms of food, it’s especially famed for its Balti Triangle. This popular curry was actually invented in the region, which makes it the natural place to sample the original in all its glory. It’s also a perfect opportunity to see what else is bubbling in the city’s many Balti houses.
Shababs is one of the restaurants remaining from the curry’s inception and prides itself on continuing the tradition. As such, each Balti is served in the dish it was cooked in, and a high flame ensures the curries are healthier than most, having burnt off any excess oil. Breads to accompany the dishes are baked on the premises, guaranteeing a fresh taste.
For a more modern angle, visit Al Frash. Since 2001, Chef Azam has introduced fresh interpretations of classic dishes to great critical acclaim. The restaurant has won numerous awards and is highly regarded by balti experts from across the UK.
Ask where the UK’s culinary reawakening began, and the Cornish fishing port of Padstow must be counted as one of the more surprising answers. Padstow is an absolutely tiny town; with less than 3,000 permanent residents according to the latest census.
It’s here, though, that Rick Stein went back to basics in sourcing great local ingredients as the basis for his menu. The appropriately-named Seaside Restaurant has been a beacon in the region ever since, delivering a menu that’s always fresh from the sea to the plate – although not all the locals are entirely happy with its expansion and the number of visitors it has brought.
And, even better, the restaurant’s success has spread across the town, with Stein’s expertise branching into a seafood bar (no reservation required), a quality fish and chip shop and even a cookery school which is already training the region’s next generation of chefs.
It’s certainly one of the most remote locations on this list, and won’t be as easy to visit as the others, but it’s worth the effort for all the intrepid foodies out there.
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The Big Ben in London, Shakespeare, the legendary rock band, The Beatles, that made the zebra crossing at Abbey Road became so famous since they used the photo of them walking back across the road as the cover of their “Abbey Road” album, and probably also David Beckham, are those few things and profiles that people are usually reminded of the UK.
But now, we shall know that we have something more to do and looking forward to if we are visiting the UK. Foods are not only for indulgence or needs. From foods, we also can learn about the history of the country.
Have you visited one of these foodie destinations? Or do you think there are more that should be on the list? Feel free to share your thought on the comment box below!