Eating all the foods: England & Scotland edition
Bust out the stretchy pants because we're going on a food journey of the ages! My last journey took me through the UK, and with more than two weeks on my hands you can rest assured that I tasted, sipped and savoured just about any plate/drink I could get my hands on.
So, without further ado, here are a few things you should taste-test next time you're over that way:
Thoughts: I'm pretty particular about my burgers. A Ron Swanson-esque traditionalist, you could say. I didn't have high hopes for the burgers in the UK, but when I came across Proper Burger, I couldn't resist. I mean, it has 'proper' right in the name. C'mon. Overall, it was a decent burger. The meat was cooked as requested and the toppings were classic: lettuce, cheese, tomato and onions on a brioche roll. Add some tasty fries and crispy (not oily) onion rings and you've got a winner!
What: English Breakfast
Thoughts: You may be thinking you can get a full English anywhere in Oz; why would I bother? Well, we're talking the OG of full breakfasts here. They invented the thing, so it stands to reason they'd do it best. We headed straight to the pub to put this plate to the test. It's a gut buster for sure, but you can't leave the country without at least testing the black pudding. Some places do it better than others, but for the most part it's a pretty satisfying start if you like a hearty meal to get you going.
What: Fish n' Chips
Thoughts: The UK is all about the fish n' chips. It's everywhere. Nearly every restaurant we went to had some rendition of this classic. The only drawback is that they insist on battering the fish. You can't get it any other way, which can turn into a giant fillet-shaped grease sponge if it's not done well. Eat it quickly, while it's hot and crispy, or you'll regret it about halfway through.
Thoughts: I love a good pub and London is full of them. What better way to pass the time than sinking a few pints among the locals? The atmosphere was top notch, which may play a part in how much I enjoyed this ale. It went down smooth and was a perfect accompaniment to my plate of fish n' chips.
What: High Tea
Thoughts: Get those pinkies up at a high tea in the UK! It may not be for everyone but any tradition that involves stuffing my face with pastries and finger sandwiches is all right with me. We went a little bit fancy but there are high teas of all sorts available. We even saw an afternoon tea bus tour via old school red double decker bus! It's tea. It's cakes. It's delightful. And a great way to add a little 'sophisticatedliness' to your holiday.
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Thoughts: Scotland and haggis are synonymous. You can't have one without the other. It's the national dish and boy do the Scots love it. You can get it cooked any number of ways: fried, boiled, stuffed inside chicken, smothered in sauce, with neeps and tatties (parsnips and potatoes) ... If you're not sure what it is, you should probably taste first and ask questions later. If you do know what it is, just go for it! I can almost guarantee the taste isn't what you'll be expecting. Mine tasted of various spices.
What: Cullen Skink
Thoughts: Oh, have you not heard of cullen skink? Don't feel bad; I hadn't either until a random order on our last night in Glasgow. Much to my surprise, it's a pretty big deal in Scotland. It's best described as a thick, creamy soup with potatoes, smoked haddock and onions ... delicious! You can find it on pub menus and it's the perfect dish to warm you up on a rainy day.
What: Steak & Ale Pie
Thoughts: Can you ever really eat too many pies? The Brits love their pies and there are few better than a good ol' steak and ale. Again, a great pub is the place to go for this one, which we did and dug into a two-person version. Gravy, steak, mashed potatoes and more gravy. What's not to love?
Thoughts: If whisky weren't the national drink of Scotland, Irn Bru probably would be. It's a fizzy drink that glows with neon orange goodness and tastes a bit like bubblegum. It used to be called Iron Brew, which was changed because some stuffed shirt way back said the word 'brew' couldn't be used as the drink is not actually brewed. In any event, this bright orange beverage provides that wee sugar kick you need to get you through a solid day of sightseeing.
What: Full Scottish Breakfast
Thoughts: So, England does a pretty mean full breakfast, but Scotland's version is to die for! More meat, more carbs, more of everything! This brimming dish has all of your English favourites, but sets itself apart with the addition of Lorne sausage and a potato scone. Both of which are a delicious breakfast in their own right. You may need a nap after consuming this breakfast of champions, but it's worth it when you can sail through lunch without so much as a snack.
What: Fish Butty
Thoughts: The butty is a classic lunch item in the UK. Simply speaking it's a soft roll and you can get them with all kinds of fillings. The most common is the chip butty of course, but I opted for the fish. Crumbed fish fillets stuffed into a cloud-soft dill roll with a side of chips. It's quick. It's simple and it really hits the spot without being over the top.