A Green and Pleasant Land

Bed, Breakfast, and Happy Chickens

Before my trip to England, people warned me about the food.  The frequently repeated refrain was, “I had a wonderful time in England, but the food was AWFUL!”  They would then elaborate with stories of tough meat, mushy vegetables, and general blandness.

When I got home from England, everyone asked me, “How was the food?” A few without apparent expectations, but most with a raised eyebrow and a wry tone of voice.

I’ve heard the stereotypes, and I’ve also seen recent travel shows that describe a food renaissance in England in the last decade or so.

Salad with Goat Cheese, Beetroot, and Vinaigrette

My experience of British food was uniformly positive.  From start to finish, I was impressed by the emphasis on fresh local ingredients.  Different artisan cheeses and meats were featured in each location, and a lot of care was evident in  both the cooking and presentation.  The menus, even in the smallest village pub, used terms like local, farm assured, free range–and vegetarian options were well represented and clearly marked.

Artisan Cheese Board at The White Hart Inn, Winchcombe

After walking through pastures dotted with placid grazing sheep and cows all day, I had no qualms about the ethics of eating the local meat.

Grass Fed British Beef

And I was blown away by the layered and nuanced flavors.  Savory, rich, tangy, bright… all of the senses were engaged, and everything was perfectly balanced and plate-lickingly good.  I tried to taste the local specialty everywhere, and I was never disappointed.

Devilled Pigeon with Savory Mustard Sauce on Toast at the Royal Oak, Painswick

So I thought I’d share a few more of the many spectacular meals we had in that green and pleasant land, before I wrap up the posts on England and get back to the equally pleasant but more quotidian business of Seattle food.

Fish & Chips at the Mounts Inn, Stanton

Vegetable Curry with Rice and Papadum at the Royal George Hotel, Birdlip

Pork Tenderloin with Black Pudding and Apple Compote at the Royal Oak, Painswick

Goat Cheese & Vegetable Tart with Watercress

Pork & Stilton Sausage with Champs and Gravy at the White Hart Inn, Winchcombe

Jamie’s Italian in Oxford

Salad Nicoise in London

It’s good to be a sheep on pasture


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10 thoughts on “A Green and Pleasant Land

  1. Sarah

    Your food reflections mimic what we saw in our travels as well. Everything made fresh and many free-range or organic products even in the smallest towns. One of our taxi drivers asked us how we liked the food, and he was shocked when we answered positively. He said he much preferred our American hamburgers to his boiled potatoes and tough meat.

  2. Tami

    I think most people still have the notion that British food is bad, but you are proof that people have it SO wrong. Its sorta like assuming that all food is good in Paris. I went to overload when was in London a couple years ago trying to get to all the amazing places I wanted to. By the looks of it you indeed had a stellar food week. Good job! I too remember some of the amazing cheeses and even with a not so favourable exchange rate I remember the price of dairy products to be so cheap compared to home. Thanks for for sharing this exciting trip with us readers!

  3. Natalie

    I think that over the last few years we have become increasingly interested in where our food comes from an the ethics attached to it. We try to get local meat where ever possible and are lucky enough to have several farm shops nearby that rear their own meat. There is nothing like it. I dare say that many years ago English restaurant food may have been bland but not now. Your holiday posts have been great. I am coming to the USA in December, I hope that my account will be able to do your food justice as you have ours.

  4. Stella

    Hey Rowdy, yeah, I’ve heard that people in England are pretty food savvy and demand good, local food. I can’t imagine that wouldn’t translate into good meals??? Glad you had a good experience. I want to go too…!

  5. Monet

    So you certainly have me convinced! From that wonderful platter of fruit and cheese to the delicately fried fish to the ethnic curries…I’m drooling. It must have been amazing to eat meat that you knew came from the countryside you traversed across!


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