So, yeah, we were on holidays in the U.K.; stayed 6 days in London, then took the train to Bath, then Bristol, took the plane to Edinburgh, spent 2 days there, rented a car and drove around western Scotland, ending in Inverness where we took a flight back to London, then back to Hong Kong.
It was May's first time in the U.K., my second (but last time, I was 16 and I stayed half a day in London so that was pretty much irrelevant).
First realization: life is expensive in the U.K., very expensive. The cheapest of meals at a sub-par restaurant will be 12 pounds. On the high-end, prices tapper towards international standards however. And exorbitant prices go for everything from real-estate, grocery, to clothing. Different from Hong Kong where real-estate is insanely expensive but everything else is cheap (ok, maybe private international schools are expensive too).
We ate quite well everywhere we stopped but for pubs which I thought tended to offer average quality food, at best. Oh, and Irn Bru is a foul beverage while Haggis is not bad at all. Go figure...
Anyhow, here's the summary of our trip, food-wise. I'll add details about specific restaurants in subsequent posts.
|Borough market. Fish and chips at Fish!Kitchen. A bit on the greasy side.|
|Colors, flavors, scents... a magical place for foodies.|
|Train to Bath. Nice town full of character. Tried Sally Lunn's buns. Meh... Just a large piece of mostly tasteless bread. Maybe it gets awesome with toppings but as is, not worth a detour.|
|Some munchies at Best of British in Bath. Look at the brownie! Brits seem to love their baked goods because there were all sorts of brownies, cakes, cookies and more, pretty much in every single town or village we went to.|
|Bought some Tunnocks' tea cakes at the grocery store to try. We are not big fans. Didn't finish them.|
|Under the spell of more scones. My preciousssss...|
|Pulled pork sandwich at Oink in Edinburgh. Slight sweetness of the sauce. Juicy pork. Quite good.|
|More incredible cheeses for the tasting at I . J. MELLIS. May got a giggle at that one.|
|Rented a car and started or Scotland tour. First stop, Sitrling. While non-food related, I thought that the court-jester was worth mentioning. The joke is his. He had a few more that I can't remember now. Oh, yeah... What's brown and sticky?|
|Well hello beautiful!|
|Pies we had quite a few. None of them transcending however. I think there's potential for a more modern rendition of this classic. Chefs, are you reading?|
|We're on the road. Just past Loch Lomond, heading towards Oban. Stopping at the Real Food Cafe on the way there. Good fish and chips.|
|Lots-o-baked goods at Real Food Cafe.|
|Ok, we were told about it, we tried it, we hated it. Irn Bru. Foul liquid. But then again, neither May nor I drink any kind of pop so, maybe we were not the best target customers.|
|Seafood in Scotland was un-believable; incredibly fresh and so, so tasty. At Eu-Eusk in Oban, we had mussels that melted in one's mouth, I didn't know that was possible. Quite possibly the best seafood I ever had in my life.|
|Isn't this a king's breakfast? Well, those were our regular breakfast in Scotland. Cooked with love by the good people of the Thornloe Guest House in Oban.|
|Goat cheese salad; Seared scallops — at Room 9 in Oban. Nice little family owned restaurant. Dishes made with care with fresh ingredients. Very enjoyable.|
|Chicken breast; rib eye steak with cream sauce — at Room 9. Scottish beef beats Australian beef. But Canadian beef still holds the crown! Eh?|
|Not food related but I just had to add it. Oban from McCaig's tower, 22:30. Just magnificent.|
|Another glorious Scottish breakfast. Notice the very politically-correct black and white pudding; tasty in both renditions. In Fort Williams.|
|... oh, yeah, we met a few of those as well. Come here my pretties!|
|Haggis in their natural habitat. Actually, we had them in quite a few of our meals and it was always quite good. The bad reputation probably comes from the cooking method used before (boiling).|
|We had various rendition of the tablet (fudge) and I have to say I wasn't too impressed. A bit dry, texture was a bit grainy. American fudge is better. Did I just write something sacrilegious?|
I put only a few of the tons of restaurants and food places we tried during this great trip to the U.K. Food-wise, the highlight for me was Scotland as the quality of seafood available there just blew me away.
If you plan such a tour, I really recommend that you plan judiciously not to over-schedule as there are a lot of nice places to go. Focus on a few areas and towns and list the absolute "must go" places. In our case, we picked London, Bath and western Scotland, with a very detailed route for Scotland. We didn't feel rushed, yet our trip was very rich in food variety.
We have come back with happy bellies and our heads full of indelible memories...