South West England is a tasty corner of the Great British isles. If you’re looking to drop a few kilos, you better focus your interest elsewhere, X-rated kilojoules are the name of the game in these parts.
1. Pies, Glorious Pies!
One for all the Kiwi pie lovers.
Sink your teeth into a piping hot Cornish Pasty. Slightly D-shaped with a signature top crimp. They’re stuffed with beef, onion and potatoes, and the objective is to get half the juices dribbling down your chin within your first two bites.
Dating back to the 13th century, Cornish miners would carry their pasties to work, either eating them en route, or re-heating them later over a hot shovel and a candle.
It’s not hard to find a Cornish Pasty in Cornwall, but you should only eat the best. It must be golden, void of cracks and according to the Cornish Pasty Association (yes that is a thing) the meat content must be no less than 12.5%.
2. Say Cheese
Everyone loves a good cheddar. None more-so than the people of Somerset, where it was originally churned.
With origins that date back to 15th century, it’s been a popular cracker-complementing snack for centuries. In fact, when Charles I was on the throne, demand outweighed supply and there was an actual cheddar cheese shortage. Remember when we ran out of Marmite? This almost caused a similar level of national pandemonium.
Today, only the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company continues to make cheddar in the actual town of Cheddar. Of course, for the very best in cheddar tasting, it makes sense to visit the namesake village of the same cheese-tastic name (the village of Cheddar – in case you’re a bit slow on the uptake).
At the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, visitors are treated to various samples and can watch part of the cheese making process through a window. Some cheddar flavours take up to 18 months to mature, so don’t stick around for its arrival.
3. Dorset Seafood. Dorset taste good? Dorset does.
The majority of fishing boats in the region are day boats, therefore bringing their catch ashore every day, rather than storing it on ice for days at a time. The result? Some of the freshest, most delicious seafood in the country.
The annual Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival provides an ideal opportunity to try some of the 40 different types of seafood available off the Dorset coast. Held every summer on Weymouth’s historic harbour, the event brings together Champagne and seafood for a weekend of exquisite flavours. Along with guest speakers and demonstrations, the food stalls overflow with all manner of treats; West Country mackerel, hot smoked salmon, langoustines, oysters and Dorset shellfish.
4. Hello, is it high tea you’re looking for?
If you’ve ever watched the 1990 movie, The Witches, based on Roald Dahls’ book of the same name, you’ll recognise Newquay’s Headland Hotel. Perched on the cliff bluff and overlooking Fistral Beach, it dates back to Victorian times and has the grandiose (and slight spookiness) to match.
The Headland Hotel is also home to an afternoon tea service. And of course, you’re in the very heart of clotted-cream country. That’s Cornishclotted cream – the nation's best, unless you ask the Devonshire folk. Super thick, slightly golden and offering more fat per serving than a beef burger, it’s divine. The Headland’s afternoon tea also includes fancy cakes and finger sandwiches, complemented by loose leaf tea or Colombian coffee. (That’s sacrilege FYI. No English-blooded scone eater would be seen with a coffee at high tea) Order a long black at your own risk.
5. A Big Pint of that Zummerzet Zider
We couldn’t write an entire South West England article without referencing Somerset Cider.
Thatchers Cider has been crafted in Somerset for generations; the process never deviating from its original, and that was over 100 years ago. They don’t like to over-complicate things in Somerset, so you can rest assured your cider’s pure.
Mix your fruits and combine a trip to Thatchers Cider with a stroll along the 10-mile Strawberry line; an idyllic pathway that once carried its cargo of fresh strawberries from the local fields to the Mendips near Cheddar. As well as flat marshes and apple orchards, you’ll pass through Thatchers (stop for a swift pint of the good stuff) and continue forth to The Strawberry Special, a traditional English pub. You’ll find it a few miles south in the village of Draycott.