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Try an English Sausage for Barbeques or Breakfast

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Ask people around the world what English cuisine is most famous for and many will suggest the traditional English fried breakfast. And of the many components that go to make up the English breakfast, the most iconic is the humble sausage.

In fact the English sausage is something of a super hero across all types of English cuisine. You can find sausages in a variety of foods, including famous toad-in-the-hole, the ubiquitous sausage roll, bangers and mash, and even battered and served with chips.

It is fair to say that England is a nation of sausage eaters, with more than 400 different types of sausage produced in the UK. We consume millions of these delicious meat products each day and over the centuries we’ve even bred varieties of pig specifically for their sausage-making qualities.

Sausages are not unique to England of course. Most European countries have their own sausage traditions. Some make sausages from cheaper cuts of meat, and bulk out the sausage by adding barley, rice, breadcrumbs, rusk or oatmeal, which provides a cost effective but tasty meal .

Other countries and cultures opt for more expensive cuts, and also have strict rules about processing, disapproving of using anything other than pure meat and spices. Over time this has resulted in a sense of national pride in many countries when it comes to their sausages. While Germans are proud of their sausage laws, which date back hundreds of years, and Italy is known as the birthplace of salami, the ‘British banger’ has its own style and tradition.

Sausages are one of the ultimate English comfort foods. For many of us, they were part of childhood and spark memories of happy family barbecues, camp fire food, rainy weekends and big breakfasts.     Their versatility and taste has made them a family favourite for generations.

Although the emerging trend of artisan charcuterie has seen the development of some excellent English sausage styles over the last few years, there is no real history or tradition of making dried salami-style sausages here. English sausages are generally either fresh or cooked puddings. The typical English sausage is produced by adding breadcrumbs or rusk to a sausage mixture, which means the English sausage has a softer texture than the German versions.

Traditionally English sausages were linked by hand into bunches, their length determined by the width of the butcher’s hand, and while size variations are now common across the sausage making industry, historically the typical English sausages were thick with 6-8 in a pound.

Although the typical sausage is made from pork and a blend of herbs and spices, the precise mixture can vary widely and there are many closely-guarded recipes that have been passed down through the generations, ensuring that there is a huge variety of sausage throughout the country. So, which is your favourite? Here’s a quick guide to the very best types of English sausage:

Cumberland

In some people’s eyes the most famous of all English sausages is the Cumberland sausage. This has been a local speciality in the traditional county of Cumberland in the north of England for more than 500 years. The Cumberland sausage is distinctive mainly because the meat is chopped instead of being minced, which gives it an extra meaty texture. In fact, this sausage is such a vital part of English cuisine, that it was given Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status back in 2011, to ensure that no cheap imitations are allowed to harm the reputation of this dish.

Lincolnshire

The other big name in the English sausage world is the Lincolnshire sausage. This is a widely available type of sausage, with a strong and distinctive sage flavour, which helps to separate it from the usually peppery flavour that is common to other regional English sausages. You will sometimes come across Lincolnshire sausages that have been made with thyme and parsley, but in the sausage making world, these are often not considered to be true Lincolnshires. These sausages are also known for their chunky texture, which is the result of a coarse grinding rather than mincing process.

Pork and Leek

Most popular in Wales, the combination of pork and leek has plenty of fans throughout England, where it is widely sold. This is a delightful sausage, which combines the sweetness of leeks and the savoury taste of pork for a unique and memorable flavour.

Manchester

The Manchester area may be best known for its blood sausage, which is not strictly speaking a sausage in the traditional sense, but the city also boasts another sausage tradition. The Manchester sausage is a distinctive and unusual creation, produced with nutmeg and mace. It has a long history, having been mentioned in a recipe book dated from the early 18th century, and it is assumed that the use of nutmeg was due to the nutmeg trade that flourished in Manchester at that time.

Saveloy

There is no mistaking the saveloy! This is a red, smooth-textured, well-seasoned, smoked sausage, that is roughly comparable to a large hot dog. It has become popular in the North of England in the last century and is found in many fish and chip shops, which sell them battered and deep-fried.

Oxford

Oxford sausages offer an unusual twist on the traditional sausage recipe, by introducing veal to the mix. The Oxford sausage also usually features a high degree of spice seasoning. There were references to this style of sausage as far back as the early 18th century, and it was widely popularised after being included in the famous 1861 cooking book Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. These days, the Oxford sausage is a mix of veal and pork, seasoned with herbs and lemon, though some recipes favour seasoning with pepper, mace and cloves.

Newmarket

The Newmarket area is well known for its horse racing links, but the town also has a strong reputation as one of England’s most significant sausage regions. The tradition of sausage making in Newmarket may have been related to the tradition of keeping pigs around the stables to dispose of the stable scraps, helping to keep the area clean. The sausage making industry in Newmarket became so successful that today three separate recipes have earned PGI status. There are some similarities between all three of the types, though two use rusk as a filler and one uses bread.

Beef Sausage

Sausages are usually made with pork, but this doesn’t always have to be case, in fact, there are many fans of the beef sausage in England. Usually deep pink in colour, this form of sausage has a strong meaty flavour, and is also very popular north of the border in Scotland.

Gloucester

The Gloucester or Gloucestershire sausage is notable mainly for the type of meat used to make it, which traditionally comes from the Gloucester Old Spot pig. The county of Gloucester is also famous for its apple orchards and cheese making, and pigs in the area were reputed to eat the by-products of these crops, which was said to boost the flavour of the pork. In fact, one legend has it that the black spots came from falling apples. Whatever the truth of the source of the Gloucester sausage’s flavour, this is one of the most distinctive and popular varieties in England.

Marylebone

London may be best known for its gin and jellied eels, but the capital has also produced a distinctive sausage product. The traditional Marylebone sausage, which is still made from original recipes by some London butchers, is flavoured with mace, sage and ginger, giving it an unusual taste.

Midlands

Speaking of unusual tastes, one of the strangest of English sausages, popular in the Midlands, is the tomato sausage. Made by adding tomato to the pork, which gives the meat a distinctive reddish orange hue and an unusually sweet taste, this sausage also has a smooth texture and is popular with children and with those who want a less savoury sausage.

Faggot

While we’re in the Midlands, we need to talk about the faggot. This meat dish is not what some would consider to be a sausage, but technically it is a form of sausage pudding made using all the offal of the pig, which is then flavoured with sage or other herbs. Shaped into a patty, it is usually served baked with onion gravy. This is an acquired taste, but having originated in the Black Country, you can find fans of this remarkable dish all over England.

Lorne

Finally, a reminder that traditional sausages can come in any shape. The Lorne sausage, which is sometimes also known as square sausage or slicing sausage, is a sausage meat made from either pork, beef or a combination of the two, shaped into a brick and sliced into squares. Lorne sausage, which has a relatively high fat content, is a delicious treat, best enjoyed at breakfast.

Explore the Classic English Taste of Farmhouse Cheddar

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There are many varieties of English cheese, some of them enjoyed outside these islands, but ask any cheese lover to name the most famous cheese types and they will say Stilton and Cheddar.

Stilton may be some people’s favourite, but when it comes to the favourite cheese of English people, there is no contest. Cheddar dominates the English cheese market. Millions of people around the world enjoy the taste of cheddar, and the majority of cheeses that you can find in English supermarkets are in the cheddar category, though some are more tasty than others.

The history of Cheddar goes all the way back to the 12th century and the village of Cheddar, in Somerset. The area is famous for its gorges and caves and at that time, these were used by local farmers as a place to keep their milk cool on hot days. The legend of the creation of Cheddar cheese is that a milkmaid forgot about a pail of milk that she had left in one of the caves. When she returned, she found that the milk had hardened. This was reputed to be the first ever Cheddar.

This accidental discovery led to the development of a style of cheese that became wildly popular. Records show that King Henry II bought an astonishing 10,240 pounds of Cheddar in 1170; and he publicly declared it to be the best cheese in England. His son, King John, continued this tradition of buying Cheddar for royal banquets, and later, in the 17th century, King Charles I was known to pre-order his Cheddar wheels. Two hundred years later, Cheddar was still in vogue in royal circles, as Queen Victoria received a half ton wheel of Cheddar as one of her wedding gifts!

The rise of the British empire had the effect of making Cheddar known throughout the world and this English product proved particularly popular in the US. This is this point, however, at which we begin to see the rise of the mass produced Cheddar widely available in supermarkets, thanks to the development of a succession of new technologies, including the invention of a curd scalding technique by Joseph Harding, who is often known as the ‘father of Cheddar’. The creation of the first cheese factory, in New York in 1851, turned the production of Cheddar into an industrialised concern.

While the mass-produced Cheddars have their place, true Cheddar is a world away from the yellow slabs that are found on supermarket shelves. It is made on farms using unpasteurised milk from the farm’s cows, and always involve hand methods, as well as local and native bacteria. True farmhouse Cheddars are also usually cloth-bound and not vacuum packed.

Producing cheddar in this age-old way leads to a cheese that’s unique to a particular farm and has a greater depth of flavour. Farmhouse cheddar is famously concentrated in Somerset, in fact, three of the makers we highlight: Montgomery’s, Westcombe and Keen’s, are no more than eight miles apart. And yet, they all turn out Cheddars that are distinct and unique.

The farmhouse Cheddar movement faded during the middle of the 20th century, but there was a resurgence in the 1990s, when farms and cheesemakers all over England started to develop their own versions of the classic Cheddar. It is no longer the case that ‘true’ farmhouse Cheddar can only be found in Somerset, as these days, the emphasis has moved from location to recipe.

The beauty of farmhouse Cheddar is that it captures the uniqueness of each farm’s conditions and is reflective of the hard work that goes into each one. And there has never been a better time to support true independent English cheesemakers, who have been hit hard by the restrictions and difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. To help you get started in your exploration of English farmhouse Cheddar, here are some of the best Cheddar makers operating in 2021.

Dale End

This unpasteurised, organic Cheddar, which is aged for 18 months, has a tangy, full on-flavour. Produced by cheesemaker Alastair Pearson, Dale End only turn out a small amount of their cheddar, which is made from full-flavoured, quality unpasteurised milk collected from their community’s Dairy Shorthorn cows: a traditional breed of cattle known for the superb quality of their milk.

Dale End Cheddar is made by Botton Village, Camphill Village Trust. Camphill Communities are social enterprises for people with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs. Based in the Yorkshire Moors, the community has more than 130 residents, and is fully self-sustainable and biodynamic. 

Belton Farm

Belton Farm in Shropshire is overseen by the Beckett family, who have been producing high quality cheeses for three generations. Their cheese making operation uses milk drawn from herds owned by a local collection of dairy farmers, along with salt from Cheshire mines and a bespoke and closely guarded array of cheese cultures.

Belton Farm Cheddar is available in mature, medium and mild varieties. The mild offers a creamy and gentle taste, which increases in strength to the tangy and nutty flavour of the mature. This is a seriously tasty range of Cheddar that has rightly been recognised with awards, scooping Gold at both the International Cheese Awards and the British Cheese Awards in 2019.

Lincolnshire Poacher

Simon Jones made his first batch of cheese in 1992 on his family farm in Lincolnshire, based on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds about ten miles from the east coast. The lush pastures sit on chalky rock, which makes it possible to maintain a thriving dairy herd in an area where dairy farms are unusual and cheese making is virtually unknown.

Simon first set up a small dairy of his own with a 1000 litre vat, producing his first batch of cheese in February 1992, with the help of Welsh cheese maker Dougal Campbell.

That cheese proved very popular and in 1995, the operation expanded. Now most of the farm’s milk is used to make this distinctive cheese, which boasts a waxy texture and a fruity, sweet taste.

Quickes

The Quicke family have been living in Devon since a distant ancestor Richard Quicke married and settled in the area. Richard and his descendants farmed many of the fields and maintained the woodland, and in the 1970s, Sir John Quicke launched the family’s farmhouse cheese business.

The operation went from strength to strength and is now one of the larger farmhouse cheese makers in the UK, producing great traditional, old-style cheddar, still using all their own milk. Using traditional recipes, time-honoured techniques and heritage starters that have been passed down through the generations, Quicke’s continues to create outstanding clothbound cheddar. The full flavoured mature cheddar from Quicke’s is the heritage of 500 years of skill, dedication and nurturing.

Winterdale Shaw

Church Farm, Offham in Kent, is at the top of the Kent North Downs, overlooking the historic village of Wrotham, and is run by the Betts family, having been started in 1946.

Now run by Robin Betts, it has earned a reputation for excellence, including a Bronze Award in the World Cheese Awards in June 2006. The Winterdale cheese dairy is housed within a traditional oak framed barn located at the head of a picturesque valley, which is titled ‘Winterdale Shaw’ on old maps. The cheese cave is based deep underground so it stays cool naturally and needs no refrigeration, and the use of the family farm’s unpasteurised milk produces interesting and diverse-flavoured cheddar.

The milk is taken from around 100 Friesian Holstein cows, who benefit from a relaxed method of rearing. In the winter, the cows are housed in open, straw-bedded sheds that enable them to live naturally, and in the spring, they are turned out into the lush meadows of the North Downs of Kent. This unique landscape imparts some of the characteristics and complexities of the cheese that find their way through grass, cow and milk to the final product.

Westcombe

Richard Calver switched to making traditional cheese on his farm back in 2001, just in time to benefit from the new wave of artisanal UK food and drink manufacturing. The Westcombe Cheddar is a rich, deep, savoury-flavoured product, popular in cheese shops throughout the country. It is a handcrafted traditional clothbound Somerset cheddar that is made in much the same way as it has always been. Among the awards landed by the Westcombe Cheddar is the Artisan Somerset Cheddar designation from Slow Food.

This cheese has a deep flavour with a mellow lactic tang and long notes of hazelnut, caramel and citrus. The texture is structured and firm, with a smooth breakdown that helps the flavours linger on your palate for a truly memorable dining experience.

Savour the Flavour of English Perry in 2021

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England has often been in the shadow of our French neighbours when it comes to food and drink, and yet this nation has a proud history of producing luxurious and sophisticated products that can rival anything to come out of Bordeaux or Champagne.

A classic example is the English take on perry. Many centuries before the rise of the Champagne region, English people were enjoying this delicious pear-based drink.

Perry, like champagne, is a luxurious drink notable for its intensity and variety of flavours and the texture of its fine bubbles. It is produced from a number of historic varieties of inedible pears, which were once widespread in certain parts of England. In fact, at one time there were over a hundred indigenous varieties of perry pear trees in this country. Most of these were established in the Three Counties area of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire many centuries ago. In fact, the historical evidence suggests that perry making had been established in this area by the 1500s.  

The drink was not invented in England. In fact, it may go back to the very beginnings of civilisation in Europe and has been made in more or less the same way since Roman times at least. In fact, the Roman writer Pliny wrote of his fondness for Falernian perry with the same frequency as he expressed his admiration of that region’s wine. In the fourth century, another writer, Palladius, wrote of his preference for the fermented pear drink over fermented apple.

Perry was also popular in the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne before it caught on in England, where it has likely been made in some form for at least a millennium. At the height of its popularity, perry was both more popular and easier to obtain than wine, so much so that Napoleon is reputed to have referred to it as the ‘champagne of the English’.

The drink remained a persistent favourite with English people for hundreds of years, but it began to fall out of favour in the 20th century. Orchards dedicated to the perry pear were increasingly neglected and this trend continued until the 1960s, when a Somerset brewer created the drink that would become known as Babycham. Technically, Babycham was not perry. It was a mass produced sparkling drink that was made from Somerset dessert pears, rather than traditional perry pears, but it reminded producers of the popular potential that exists in the old perry tradition.

In the decades since the 1960s, what might be described as ‘proper’ perry has been making a return. A key moment in the return of the drink came in 1996, when perry production was protected in Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Worcestershire, through European Union Protected Geographical Indication status. Perry has now become a fashionable champagne alternative for hot summer days and warm evenings, and this revival has been great news for the rural areas involved in perry making. It has also seen the return of traditional perry pear varieties with evocative names including: Merrylegs, Late Treacle, Mumblehead, Lumberskull, Huffcap, Longford, and Stinking Bishop.

Given how difficult the perry making process is, this revival is remarkable, and a testament to the enduring popularity of the drink. The process is complicated largely by the difficulties of working with the perry pear. Unlike the more common forms of dessert pear, the perry pear tree produces a small, hard and sour fruit that offers a fleeting window of ripeness, while its juice spoils easily.

The trees themselves are also difficult to work with. In fact, you may also have to wait up to 20 years after planting a perry tree before you are able to enjoy any harvest. The flip side of this awkward character is that perry trees can be extraordinarily long lived. In fact, the famous ‘Mother Tree’ that grows at the site of Gregg’s Pit cidery in Herefordshire has been harvested for perry pears every year since before the battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Once a crop of perry pears has been obtained, the fermentation and production itself is also difficult. The juice of perry pears is an exceedingly capricious liquid to ferment. It is vulnerable to a host of potentially serious faults including the effects of acetic acidethyl acetate and mouse taint. Its particular protein structure means that it tends to create an unwanted sediment. Some perries will even turn milky overnight without warning, rendering the liquid opaque and unattractive.

Yet, despite these difficulties, there is no doubt that in the hands of a master perry marker, these characterful pears can produce a drink that is both golden and refreshing, with a complexity and flavour that in some cases can match the best champagne.  

One note of caution, however, for those who are looking for the genuine perry experience. Be wary of the wide range of commercial pear ciders that are sold in supermarkets. In most cases, these drinks are nothing more than apple ciders that have been mixed with pear juice or pear flavourings. True perry is made only from fermented perry pear juice, and while the complexities of its production mean it is unlikely to attract the attention of mass-market operators, there are fortunately a number of perry artisans keeping this English tradition alive. Here are some of the best to try this summer:

Gwatkin – Farmhouse Perry

The perry-makers at Gwatkin are famous for their ability to extract the maximum in flavour from the stubborn perry pear. They produce an impressively wide variety of perries ranging from single variety sparkling specials to full flavoured blends, and the Farmhouse Perry is undoubtedly one of their best products. It is produced from a mixture of old fashioned perry pear varieties that give us a drink with plenty of sweet fruit on the palate, though balanced with a fresh, sharp, acidic bite.

Hogan’s – Vintage Perry

Allen Hogan’s traditional and successful approach to perry, which he learned from a neighbour in Warwickshire, at a time when he was still making cider, has earned him widespread praise. Based at the top of the Malvern Hills, Hogan’s operation draws fruit from the pear-growing counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. The result of their efforts is a delicate, well-rounded and complex, perry that has a fabulous array of flavours, including a hint of farmhouse cheese, lemon sherbet and even parma violets.  

Oliver’s – Bottle Conditions Medium

Tom Oliver is well known as one of the best cider and perry producers in England, and his ability to produce liquid gold from the perry pear is remarkable. Oliver’s bottle conditioned medium is an unfiltered, unpasteurised, unpreserved perry, that has successfully preserved a host of intriguing flavours ranging from the slightest hint of elderflower to the rich taste of tropical fruits.

Oliver’s – Fine Perry Keeved

Another classic Oliver’s perry, this drink showcases the process known as keeving. This is a technique that is also sometimes used also in cider production, in which fermentation is halted before all the sugars in the fruit have been fully converted to alcohol. The result is a remarkable juice that still has some of its natural sweetness, and this edition is a perfect example of the craft; a golden coloured drink that provides an instant full orchard experience.

Napton Cidery –  Medium Sweet Perry

Produced by a small-scale, family-run cidery, this is a single tree perry that has been slowly fermented with the use of wild yeasts before being aged in oak. It is a still, rather than sparkling perry, so it feels a little heavier on the tongue, and offers a full-on blast of perry fruitiness.

Dunkertons – Organic Perry

Julian Dunkerton’s perry operation was founded in the county of Herefordshire by his parents in the 1980s and nowadays the Dunkertons organic perry orchard includes over a dozen varieties of perry pear. This organic perry has plenty of fizz, along with a lovely floral aroma and a touch of sweetness, though it still feels extremely fresh. Among the pears used to make this perry is a variety known as Merrylegs – a thoroughly appropriate name for such a delicious golden treat.

Bushel and Peck – Perry

Bushel and Peck is a small-scale producer based in Gloucestershire, which sources only locally obtained pears, for a distinctive product. Their perry is a lovely mixture of smooth fruit and precisely crafter acidic edge. The relative rarity of the fruits used to make this perry ensure that this drink is always in demand, so it is definitely one to pick up if you get the chance.

Enjoy a Sip of Something Stronger: The Best of English Vodka

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Vodka is primarily associated with the Slavic work. In fact, the name vodka derives from the Slavic ‘voda’ which means water. Initially, it had medicinal uses in eastern Europe, but by the end of the 15th century it had spread around the world.

One of the defining qualities of vodka, besides its clarity, is the high alcohol content. In fact, this usually ranges between 35% and 50%, a standard that was originally set by Tsar Nicholas III in 1894. The European Union’s own vodka standards decree a minimum of 37%.

England was perhaps slower than some nations to develop a taste for vodka. Early on the main driver of vodka popularity in the UK was the Smirnoff brand. In fact, the Smirnov family had been forced to flee from Russia in 1917 because of the revolution and they set up their vodka distillery in Turkey. In 1924, the family began to distribute the spirit under the French spelling of the name: Smirnoff and their product proved hugely popular, selling across Europe, including the UK, by 1940.

Vodka makes an appearance in the first James Bond book, Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming, published in 1953. By the 1960s it received a further boost when it began to be associated not with the eastern European steppes, but the cocktail lounges of Mayfair, where it was initially used as a companion to tomato juice in Bloody Mary.

The drink rose in status again in the second part of the 1990s when it cropped up in alcopops, then in the 2000s thanks to the rise of the cosmopolitan cocktail popularized by Sex and the City. But the real driver of England’s booming modern vodka scene is a long retired politician.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was still Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour government when, in 2002, he pushed through tax changes that offered a boost to independent breweries and distillers across a number of drinks sectors, and helped to encourage a new wave of English vodka making.

The result was an upsurge in new vodka companies in England. Prior to this boom, the traditional approach in this country was to regard it either purely as a mixer or as a status symbol, with the more expensive vodkas considered to be the best. But the new generation of vodka makers are aiming to change that, encouraging people to focus on taste.

This approach certainly seems to be working. While for many years vodka has topped sales of spirits in the US, it is also the best-selling liquor in Britain, with sales of around 100 million bottles every year and revenue that exceeds £1.7 billion. In 2009 vodka replaced Scottish whisky as the most popular spirit in the UK.

Some of the new breed of vodka making companies opt for unusual or novel technologies such as the Sipsmith vodka making operation in London, which employs a copper distillery. And while the smaller vodka distillers cannot compete with the big brands on price and quantity, they aim to provide a higher quality vodka, often in small batches.

Typical of this type of vodka is a willingness to experiment and to bring new and unexpected flavours to the mix. As well as employing fresh spring water, ingredients such as citrus fruits, herbs and spices are all utilized to great effect. The result is that home-produced English vodka is rivalling the best of the imported Russian and Polish brands, through perfected distilling techniques and English ingenuity. Here are some of the best to try in 2021@

Rogue Wave – BrewDog

A company that is primarily famous for their craft beer, BrewDog have expanded into spirits with a range of drinks, including this affordable but delicious vodka. Distilled over a period of seven days, Rogue Wave eschews the normal triple-filtering process, proving that once-filtered vodka can be just as good. It’s a smooth, crystal clear spirit that is easy to drink, with a sweet scent and a gentle citrus flavour, along with a pleasing kick that means it can be drunk on its own or as the ideal mixer.

Singularity Organic– Linden Leaf

Noted for its pristine and clear essence, this is an extremely refined and faultlessly pure vodka, produced by the Linden Leaf company in Cambridge. The texture of this vodka is rich and it also offers the merest hint of delicate vanilla essence in its clean taste.

Indica Tamarind Organic – Linden Leaf

Typical of the inventiveness of modern English vodka, this delightful drink is herbal and earthy in its aroma, which features hints of melon and dried flowers. An extremely appealing drink, it offers a lovely, sweet nuttiness that comes through clearly with the first sip, a flavour that is enhanced by a hint of tamarind.

Various – Three Olives

Three Olives was set up in 1998 and has since enjoyed a significant expansion, to the point where they are exporting their product to the United States. Three Olives is one of the most successful and popular of English vodkas, offering a clear unflavoured product as well as an intriguing variety of flavoured vodkas, including root beer, whipped cream and cherry. 

Pure Milk Vodka – Black Cow

This is a fascinating and unique vodka, made with milk, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the world. It is the brainchild of a dairy farmer in West Dorset, Jason Barber, who uses milk from his dairy herd.

The vodka itself doesn’t have a milk taste, but it offers an easy-drinking, rounded and creamy flavour, along with a smooth finish. There is an interesting and tasty range of Black Cow cocktails available and it is also worth knowing that the whey from the milk is also used to make a distinctive brand of cheeses.

Various – Victory London Distillery

Based in Walthamstow, Victory London produce some remarkably inventive and pleasurable spirit, including their main product, which is an elegant, refined drink with a perfumed floral nose. The aroma is crisp and inviting thanks to the presence of aromatic fennel and the taste reveals hints of caraway, pine and juniper, along with a dash of sweetness.

Chase Vodka – Chase Vodka

Another of England’s new breed of vodka distiller this is an award-winning vodka with a smooth and creamy taste. It is distilled exactly 119 times and is made using high quality gluten-free potatoes harvested from a Herefordshire family farm.

In fact, Chase remains the UK’s only single-estate distillery, which means that every part of the process is handled in house, from the growing of the potatoes to the fermentation and distillation using a copper still. This crisp vodka, best served direct from the fridge, has a buttery edge to it and has won numerous prizes, including the World’s Best Vodka Award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Espresso Vodka – Chase Vodka

Another special vodka from Chase, this is a limited edition coffee flavoured drink that has already proven to be the attraction at many dinner parties. It isn’t dark in colour, nor is it bitter or sweet. The coffee element comes through a hint of espresso, together with a range of rich flavours that include vanilla, muscovado sugar, honey, apricot and dark chocolate. It is made from the original Chase vodka, along with Ethiopian coffee, and after distillation, is cold-brewed and chill-filtered before it is blended with another burst of coffee, making it perfect for drinking neat after a meal.

1902 Vodka – The Edwards

This delicious take on vodka is a real dessert treat. It features delightful pear tart and creamy custard flavours, along with a mineral note and earthy depth. A sweet, clean and cooling spirit, packed with fruit, it is one of the most memorable new English vodkas.

Longshore Vodka – Adnams Copper House Distillery

Based in Southwold, in Suffolk, Adnams is one of the most famous names in English beers and spirits, and their range incorporates popular ales and gins along with their distinctive vodka products. This vodka offers a complexity of aroma, that suggests mushrooms, fresh dough and nuts, backed up by a taste that captures a host of sweet flavours, including pears, apples, and even candy floss.

East Coast Vodka – Adnams Copper House Distillery

Adnams also produce the popular East Coast Vodka. This is an exciting mix of flavours that offers both pleasure and comfort. It is possible to discern hints of chocolate, malt and nuts in the taste, as well as creamy caramel and ripe fruits. The finish is particularly notable and clean, offering lemon zest and even a hint of chili.

Four Feathers Botanical Vodka – Edwards Distillers

One of the most successful distillers in England, Edwards are based in Lincolnshire and produce a variety of popular vodka products. They have picked up numerous awards for the quality of their spirits, and this is one of their leading vodkas.

The Four Feathers Botanical delivers on the promise of its name with a complex botanical aroma that features coriander, angelica and anise. In taste, it displays distinctive flavours of dried citrus peel, which are well balanced against pleasing woodiness. As you would expect with this renowned distiller, this is a polished and high quality vodka.

Vanilla Vodka – Halewood Wines and Spirits

Halewood, based in Liverpool, have an impressive roster of artisanal spirits, craft beer and wine, including this unashamedly indulgent vodka. It has a distinctively sweet vanilla aroma, and the taste is remarkable, providing a luscious, pure sweetness. Broken Clock Lingering Vodka – The Hidgate

This remarkable vodka is inspired by the traditional English country garden and is produced in a traditional copper still in Cheshire, before being blended with slow ripened apples and botanicals. The result is a subtly aromatic spirit that offers a fragrance of bright green apple, pear and lemon drop. An intriguing and complex vodka, the taste features black pepper and well-balanced herbs and spices for a memorable sip.

Try English Stilton in 2021

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The English cheese tradition is a proud one and many English cheese are enjoyed all over the world, but none is more distinctive than the blue-veined classic that is Stilton.

As with many aspects of English food culture, we can’t be sure where the first Stilton cheese was made. We do know that the first recipe was printed in a newsletter in 1723. We also know that the cheese became wildly popular in the 18th century. In fact, as the demand for stilton grew from all sectors of society, it became known as ‘The King of English Cheeses’.

The most notably features to explain this popularity were the cheese’s depth of flavour, complexity and its relatively limited production, which gave it an exclusive mystique.

We know that cream cheese had been made in the county of Leicestershire well before the 17th century, and it seems likely, given the strong cheese making tradition in that part of the world that Stilton emerged from this area.

One of the defining qualities that helped add to the early mystique of Stilton is the complexity of its recipe. The process is a complicated one. In fact, producing Stilton involves two separate curdling processes. To start with, the curds come from the cream from the evening round of milking, and these are then mixed with the full fat milk of the next morning’s milking. In total, it takes as much as 17 pounds of milk to make a single 15lb drum of Stilton cheese!

The success of their new form of cheese meant that the town of Stilton soon became famous for its cheese making. This popularity was also propelled by the Bell Inn, which was located in the town itself. The Inn was the ideal place for weary travellers to rest and put up their feet, as it was an important stop on the route to the north of England. This gave travellers the chance to taste the local beer and cheese, and news of the Stilton’s unique qualities soon spread. 

Demand grew, from the poor and the rich alike, throughout the 18th and 19th century, and by 1910 the Stilton cheese-makers had taken the step of organising so that they could both define and improve production methods, which would also enable them to safeguard the origins of the cheese.

Unfortunately, the cheese declined in popularity during the 1930s, when the combination of high unemployment and the prospect of war made it seem a luxury. Cheese making facilities were also given over to the production of Cheddar, which was easier to make and which formed part of the official Government food rationing program.

Producing of Stilton was not resumed until 1948. At that point the Stilton Cheesemakers Association took over the role of taking steps to ensure that each Stilton produced was to the same exemplary standard. That strict focus on quality means that these days Stilton is produced by a small number of specialists in Leicestershire and neighbouring Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Stilton remains the only name-protected cheese in England, although unfortunately there are no longer any farmhouse or small productions of Stilton. In fact, there are only six producers of the cheese in the world. Stilton has been awarded Protected Designation of Origin status through the European Union, which means there are strict rules and controls over its production, in order to ensure that the quality of the name is maintained.

Regulations associated with the cheese demand that both the milk and the manufacturing process has to follow guidelines set out by the Stilton Cheesemakers’ Association. In fact the need to guarantee a consistent quality led to the cheese being defined in English law with the following specifications:

‘A blue or white cheese made from full-cream cows’ milk with no applied pressure (in the making or forming), that could be pierced, but not inoculated, that forms its own crust or coat and that is made in a cylindrical form, the milk coming from English dairy herds in the district of Melton Mowbray and surrounding areas falling within the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.’

One thing that immediately stands out compared to other highly sought after cheeses is that Stilton is always produced using quantities of pasteurised milk, and raw milk, which is common in some famous English cheeses, is never used. The best quality Stilton is creamy, moist, rich and complex in flavour, while also offering a noticeable aroma when served at room temperature. 

It is typically aged from 6 to 18 months, and the distinctive blue-green veins throughout the cheese occur naturally as it ages. These are also encouraged by piercing the cheese with a long needle during the aging process. This enables air to circulate and to promote bacteria growth. Another factor in the distinctive blue veining of Stilton may be the soil. It has been suggested that the soil in the legal domain of Stilton contains iron which may help contribute to the blueing of the cheese. 

The right to produce true Stilton is strictly limited. In 2006, Joe Schneider, of Collingthwaite Farm in Nottinghamshire, started to make a blue cheese from a traditional recipe, using unpasteurised milk. His eschewing of pasteurised milk meant that he faced legal action if he continued to use the Stilton name. As a result, he came up with the name Stichelton, which was the old name for the town of Stilton. As it uses raw milk, it is possible that Stichelton is closer to the original version of Stilton.

Currently, however, there are only six producers of this remarkable cheese in England. To help you find out more about these famous cheesemakers in 2021, here is a quick guide:

Tuxford and Tebbutt

Tuxford and Tebbutt Creamery, which dates all the way back to 1780, is based in the famous village of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. The name apparently comes from from the two original owners, Mr Tuxford, who was a Stilton maker, and Mr Tebbutt who specialised in pork pies. Up until 1965, both the cheese and pork pies were made on the same site, but since 1966, Tuxford and Tebbutt has focused all of its attention on cheesemaking. Employing an impressive roster of 80 staff, Tuxford and Tebbutt uses the complete range of traditional cheese making skills to produce some of the most sought after examples of modern Stilton available.

Colston Bassett

The Colston Bassett Stilton enjoys widespread popularity and is considered one of the best examples of Stilton you can get, despite the fact that its producer is the smallest of the six authorised Stilton makers in England. Located in a small village in the Vale of Belvoir, near to the Leicestershire border, this small dairy is operated by a co-operative of farmers and is a local producer in every sense of the word. The pasteurised cows’ milk that is used to in the cheesemaking process is drawn from dairy farmers all of whom operate within a mile and a half radius of the dairy. This results in a distinctive  flavour that is unique to the East Midlands. Colston Bassett have been in business since 1913, and their fruity, rich and complex cheese has changed little over the last century.

Cropwell Bishop

Another Leicestershire cheesemaker that is based in the Vale of Belvoir, is Cropwell Bishop. In business for more than three generations, they have brought considerable income to their local village, as well as establishing it as the home of high quality Stilton. They source their milk from a selection of 16 different farmers based in the Peak District National Park. The milk is mixed with rennet, cultures and the blue mould spores that help to give Stilton its distinctive blue vein and then they are left to mature for five weeks. As well as their cheesemaking operation, they also have a cheesemakers shop on their site that offers a variety of delicious cheeses. Cropwell Bishop have established a reputation as one of the leading flag bearers for Leicestershire cheesemaking.

Long Clawson

Long Clawson, another Leicestershire cheesemaker, share their address with the world-renowned Melton Mowbray pork pie producers. Arguably the most distinguished and traditional of the Stilton makers, Long Clawson can be considered as part of British food royalty and their dairy still uses the same age old techniques that made their cheese so popular generations ago. Thomas Hoe set up the dairy’s head office in the empty Royal Oak pub in Long Clawson in 1911 with a co-operative of farmers all working together. But although they may be using some tried and tested techniques this is a forward-thinking cheesemaker that has won numerous awards, including UK Supreme Champion Cheese at the Global Cheese Awards.

Websters

Nestled in the picturesque hamlet of Saxelbye, Leicestershire is a row of 17th century cottages that’s home to Websters. The cheesemaker produce high quality Blue Stilton, and have a family team that has been together for over two decades. Their highly sought after cheeses are popular throughout the UK and are popular with retail and restaurant customers alike.

Hartington Creamery

The original Hartington creamery was first established by the Duke of Devonshire in the 1870’s before it was taken over by Thomas Nuttall, a prize-winning Stilton Cheese maker from Melton Mowbray in 1900. Nuttall began producing Blue Stilton at Hartington and over several decades, was able to establish it as arguably one of the most successful cheesemakers in the world.

The once thriving cheesemaking area of the Peak District went into decline as the 20th century drew on as it was more profitable for farmers to supply milk to the fast-growing urban townships. The old Hartington factory was forced to close in 2009, but a new era dawned in 2012 when the new Hartington Creamery was opened. And in 2014 the facility was accorded the honour of becoming the sixth cheesemaker authorised to produce Stilton. The cheese is made at their historic Pikehall Farm, using milk from the beautiful Derbyshire Dales, making them the only Derbyshire based Stilton producer operating, and adding a new range of delightful Stilton products to the market.

Tuck into a Tasty English Scone in 2021

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There are few baked foods that are more synonymous with England and the English, than the humble scone. In fact, scones form culinary links between all of the nations of the UK, and with the Republic of Ireland. There is even some evidence that they may first have been created in Scotland.

In fact, the first known reference to scones in print, which dates from around 1513, was made by a Scottish poet. That reference suggests that the scone was already long established as a significant food product, although it is impossible to be sure when it became widespread, but at the very least, this reference does at least show us that the history of the scone as a popular food dates back many centuries, making it one of the oldest and most traditional of English food forms.  

With little evidence to go in, it is hard to be precise about the origin of the scone. They may have derived from the well established ancient Welsh tradition of cooking small round yeast cakes or leavened breads on special bakestones. These were later cooked on griddles. Another theory, this time addressing the name of the scone, suggests that it may have come from the Stone or ‘Scone’ of Destiny. This is famously, the large stone upon which Scottish kings sat when they were crowned. In fact, the Abbey of Scone can still be found in modern Scotland, upriver from Perth, although the Stone of Destiny itself is housed in Edinburgh Castle, having been returned to Scotland in 1996.

The scone’s name may have other origins. These include the Gaelic word ‘sgonn’ which translates roughly as ‘a shapeless mass or large mouthful’ and the Dutch word ‘schoonbrot’, which refers to a fine white bread. Closely related to this Dutch word is the German ‘sconbrot’, which can be translated as ‘fine or beautiful bread.’

Historians believe that when originally made, scones involved oats, which were shaped roughly into a  large round, then scored into four or six wedge shapes before being griddle-baked over an open fire. As cooking technology developed, scones may later have been cooked on a stovetop.

The next stage in the development of the scone was the impact of oven baking. This had a transformative effect on many aspects of English cooking. Early oven-baked scones were formed into a round of dough, which was then sliced into wedges before the scones were baked individually.

The modern scone represents a considerable refinement of the original. These days, scones are effectively a type of quick bread. They are usually produced using wheat flour, sugar, baking powder or baking soda, butter, milk and eggs, and then baked in the oven, by tradition, in round shapes.

The recipe for modern scones usually produces a hard, dry texture, and it has been tradition in English baking for many centuries to add raisins or currants to the mixture. Plain scones, however, are also popular, and these rely on the addition of jam, preserves, lemon curd or honey for extra flavour, as well of course, the traditional clotted cream.

Over the years, the basic scone recipe has been developed and refined as bakers have experimented with a host of other ingredients, including cranberries, dates, nuts, orange rind, chocolate morsels and other flavours. These more exotic scones are often best enjoyed on their own, without cream or jam.

In England, the dominant scone choice remains the plain or currant scone, which is traditionally served with afternoon tea, along with clotted cream and jam. A sign of the significance of the scone is that there are even rival traditions associated with the way that the jam and the cream are added. In Devon, scones are split and cream is added first, followed by jam. But cross the border into Cornwall and the opposite tradition applies.

If you fancy something a little different, the vast range of choices out there means that you can find scones of every size and flavour. The ingenious modern bakers of England have pushed the template of the scone to its limits, producing such wonders as chocolate scones, buttermilk scones, treacle scones flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar, along with glazed scones and savoury scones. The sweet versions are still best enjoyed with a brunch or afternoon tea, while savoury scones can be much more versatile, while all scones have a delightful flexibility that means that they can be enjoyed whole, filled, or simply sliced down the middle.

There is nothing quite like an English scone, and millions of scone fans around the world agree. To give you an idea of the sheer variety of scone tastes, here are some of the most popular:

Ploughman’s Scones

These unusual scones originated in Warwickshire, in the heart of the country. They are based around the traditional English Ploughman’s Lunch, which consists mainly of cheese and pickles. This classic  savoury Ploughman’s scone can feature a wide variety of ingredients, but one of the most popular varieties is produced by adapting a traditional cheese scone recipe to feature cubes of apple, chopped pickled onion, and lots of additional Cheddar. The result is effectively a whole meal in one tasty scone!

Carrot and Coriander

The distinctive flavours of carrot and coriander are known to work extremely well together and have been used to great effect in a wide variety of soups and broths. But these two ingredients also work naturally well when combined in a savoury scone, which can either have an additional element of cheese, or can simply rely on the natural flavours of the two main ingredients. The result is a distinctive and attractive scone that offers a spicy and refreshing taste.

Chocolate Scones

There are many ways to incorporate the taste of chocolate into the traditional scone mix. One of the simplest but most effective is to add both cocoa and chocolate chips to the mixture, along with melted chocolate. The chips add an additional element of texture, and although these scones can be rather sweeter than a traditional scones, a skilled baker can ensure that the sweetness doesn’t become overpowering. To make the chocolate scone even more indulgent, melted chocolate can be drizzled over the top, turning the scone into a luxury dessert.

Chocolate Orange

The combination of chocolate and orange is not for everyone, but the concept of bringing the sweetness and bitterness of chocolate together with the zest of orange can produce a delicious sweet scone. The chocolate and orange scone is rich enough to be served as a dessert or an afternoon tea option without accompaniment. Along similar lines, it is also possible to find chocolate mint scones.

Stollen

The traditional marzipan Christmas bread, Stollen, is always a popular luxurious winter treat, and it works surprisingly well when it is combined with the classic scone recipe. Care has to be taken when baking a stollen scone to avoid excessive heaviness in the final product, due to the nature of both the stollen and the scone recipe. Yet when the combination is perfect, the Stollen scone represents a combination of the richness of Stollen with the lightness of the scone for a perfect winter dessert.

Horseradish

Another niche form of scone, this savoury version won’t appeal to everyone, for sure, but it is well worth checking out if you can find one. The horseradish scone is a perfect savoury hors d’ouvres. The hot, spicy and peppery flavours that we associated with horseradish are perfectly balanced by the mild softness of the scone texture, and the result is a sophisticated and memorable scone variation.

Lemon Scones

The lemon scone is one of the most popular modern scone variations, and is enjoyed all over the world. Lemon scones tend to be soft and light with a crumbly and slightly crunchy outside. It is possible to eat these scones plain or with the addition of a lemon drizzle topping, with perhaps a sprinkling of poppy seeds for an extra punch of sweet lemon flavour. For the ultimate in indulgent lemon scones, they can be split and spread with rich lemon curd.

Pesto and Chorizo

Some scone fans favour the savoury over the sweet, and there are few more sophisticated savoury scones, than this delightful take on Mediterranean cuisine. This scone brings together the distinctive flavours of Italian pesto and Spanish chorizo to form a perfect savoury treat that is ideal for eating at any time of day, either as a snack or part of a bigger meal or picnic.

Sun-Dried Tomato

The rich flavours of sun dried tomatoes work delightfully when they are combined with the traditional savoury mildness of the cheese scone. There are many varieties of these scones available, and by altering the cheese used, many different flavours can be created. This form of scone also sometimes benefits from a dash of chilli and a sprinkling of herbs, for a fragrant and tasty snack that can make the ideal picnic or party food.

Apricot, Blueberry and Ginger

At first glance, these three ingredients may not sound like they’d make an ideal combination, but the result when they are blended together, is a remarkable and memorable scone flavour. The fruity twang of blueberry and apricot are the perfect foils for the ginger flavour, and these rich and fruity scones represent a distinctive and memorable upgrade on the classic English tea snack.

Apple Scones

If you’re stuck for ways to use up old apples, the apple scone can present an ideal solution. Apple scones tend to me moister than traditional fruited or plain scones, thanks to the fresh apple, which combats dryness. The apple scone can be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it makes a particularly delicious treat when served with blackcurrant jam or compote.

The Essence of England: The Great British Biscuit

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If you were asked to compile a list of the most quintessentially English of foodstuffs, then high up on the list would be the humble biscuit, accompanied of course by a steaming cup of tea.

The biscuit was not created in England, in fact, the earliest foods that could realistically be called biscuits originated in the Neolithic era, and were baked on stones, although according to archaeologists who have studied the period, we can’t be sure how exactly those early biscuits looked.

For the word biscuit itself, we can thank the French, although the word originally has a Latin root, and refers to twice-cooked bread. The Romans themselves were keen on biscuits, although their take on the snack was more like the rough and ready food we would call a rusk, and was produced through re-baking bread, which was one of the ways used to make sure that it lasted longer.  

The definition of biscuit remained hazy until the Middle Ages, when the word was used to refer more specifically to something that we would recognise. At that time there was an unusual yet fascinating  array of proto-biscuits eaten in England, which included wafers, which were made with a sweet batter and cooked over a fire. The other important development was that by this time, biscuits had developed into what was considered a dessert food, often eaten at the end of meals, as a ‘digestive’.

There was still plenty of demand for the traditional long-lasting biscuits, though these were most common in the Navy as the centuries wore on, as they met the need for solid and enduring food that would last for the long journeys associated with exploration and colonialism.

In fact, the staple diet of sailors in the 18th century consisted almost entirely of salted meat and biscuits, although it is important to remember that this was no dainty chocolate digestive. These biscuits were hard, so hard, in fact that they were almost inedible. They were designed to last and the oldest surviving biscuit is a ship’s biscuit that dates from 1784.  

The English biscuit was transformed thanks to the widespread availability of sugar from the middle of the 17th century. The arrival of sugar as a culinary ingredient had a major affect across all types of foods, particularly cakes and biscuits, as people experimented with different tastes and textures. At the same time, the influence of Italian and French cooking and the collapse of the guild system led to more people baking their own biscuits. By the Victorian era, biscuits were a widespread phenomenon in English life, and as major food companies began to mass produce them, the biscuit came within reach of most English people throughout the 20th century.

The habit of serving biscuits as an alternative to cakes and other sweets with English tea caught on and to this day, a cup of tea and a biscuit or two is a traditional mid-afternoon or morning snack. Many of the biscuits that English people enjoy in 2021 have a long and distinctive history, and it is remarkable how enduring their popularity has been. If you are new to the English biscuit tradition, here are six of the best biscuits to try this year.

Bourbon

The Bourbon biscuit is made to a simple but enduringly popular formula: two thin rectangles of dark-chocolate flavoured biscuit are sandwiched around a chocolate buttercream filling. The Bourbon biscuit was first produced in England in 1910 by manufacturer Peek Freans, which was based in Bermondsey in London. Originally, the biscuit was known as Creola, but the Bourbon name, which was taken from the name of the French royal family was added in the 1930s, and the biscuit has become immensely popular with generations of English tea drinkers and biscuit eaters.

In fact, surveys in the UK have found that the Bourbon is one of the top tea-dunking biscuits for English people. One interesting note concerning the Bourbon is that the small holes in the biscuit are not just a distinctive design but fulfil a useful purpose. The holes ensure that steam can escape during the cooking process, which helps to ensure that the biscuit doesn’t break up. Bourbons are popular in many countries around the world and are one of the most recognisable of English biscuits.

Custard Cream

The custard cream is another hugely popular biscuit, both in England and across the UK. Like the bourbon, it is a sandwich-type biscuit, but this time the filling is a custard-flavoured mixture. Originally, the filling used in these biscuits was buttercream, and this is still used in some home-made versions, but butter has long been considered an unnecessarily expensive product to use in biscuit filling, so the custard cream filling is now generally made with a mixture that produces a vanilla taste, making it close to the taste of custard that has been made with custard powder.

The custard cream predates the bourbon by two years, having been first seen in England in 1908, when the elaborate design on the sandwich biscuit sections helped them to stand out among the competition. There have been various versions of the custard cream, employing a variety of fillings, with varying popularity, ranging from lemon to coconut, but the custard filling remains dominant in one of the most popular English biscuits of all time.

Rich Tea

Rich tea biscuits have some similarities to the digestive biscuits, but this English product is a distinctive type of biscuit. It is a sweet biscuit, made with flour, sugar, malt extract and vegetable oil, and has a surprisingly long history. In fact it can be plausibly dated back to the 17th century. It is believed that the Rich Tea was developed in the county of Yorkshire, and was originally known as the tea biscuit, considered a light snack for the upper classes to dine on between their meals.


The rich tea has become one of the most popular biscuits in UK and is particularly good as a tea-dunker. Many supermarkets and biscuit makers produce their own varieties of the Rich Tea and the biscuit has also developed a surprising following on the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta.

Ginger Nut

Another biscuit with a long history, ginger nuts were reportedly enjoyed in the UK from as early as the 1840s and they were the best selling biscuit produced by the firm Huntley & Palmers between 1933 and the end of the Second World War. These days, they are widely eaten in England, the UK and in many other parts of the English-speaking world, particularly in Australia and New Zealand.

The ginger nut’s hard texture makes it the ideal biscuit for dunking, which helps to explain its enduring popularity in England. And in fact, given how tough this biscuit can be on the teeth, a little light dunking is often advised to loosen it up. In some countries, ginger nuts are baked to an even harder texture and can sometimes be moulded into different shapes before being baked.

Chocolate Digestives

Digestive biscuits coated with chocolate have long been popular throughout the UK and can feature milk, dark or white chocolate. First produced in 1925 and known as the Chocolate Homewheat Digestive, other varieties that have been seen over the years include the basic biscuit with chocolate shavings throughout, chocolate chip, caramel chocolate, orange-flavoured chocolate, or mint chocolate. So dominant has the chocolate digestive been in English culture, that in 2009, it was named as the most popular biscuit in the UK to dunk into tea.

Jammie Dodger

Such is the long established English biscuit tradition that the Jammie Dodger is the newest English biscuit on this shortlist, despite being made for the first time in the 1960s. It was first produced by the Burton’s Biscuits company, who have produced a variety of well known biscuits over the years, but this is the without a doubt the most attractive of their classic products.

The Jammie Dodger is based on a simple idea of bringing together two shortcake biscuits with heart shaped holes that reveal a jam filling. The jam is often described as raspberry flavour although it is not technically raspberry jam, as it has to be sufficiently adhesive to keep the two biscuit halves together. The design is particularly distinctive and a throwback to an earlier time, referencing the Queen of Hearts from the Lewis Carroll stories. A particular favourite with children, the Jammie Dodger continues to hold its own in the extremely competitive English biscuit market.

The 21st Century Sandwich: A Selection of Savoury Treats

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Although the nation of England cannot legitimately claim all of the credit for the creation of the culinary masterpiece that is the sandwich, it is fair to say that England was the first nation to develop the art of the sandwich and this humble construction is now reckoned to be one of our most popular meals, enjoyed by everyone from school children to office workers.

In the UK, it has been shown that we eat an astonishing 11 billion sandwiches every single year. In fact, some estimates say that the average English adult will end up eating more than 18,000 sandwiches in the course of their lifetime. And it isn’t hard to see why the sandwich is so ubiquitous. It is the perfect form of modern convenience food. The sandwich is portable, convenient, and can be thrown together in moments at any time of day. And in our fast-moving modern world, with the pace of change growing ever stronger, the sandwich is unlikely to relinquish its hold on the nation’s culinary imagination any time soon.  

The sandwich, or variations of the sandwich, can be traced back many centuries, but the modern incarnation of the sandwich supposedly derives from an event that took place in 1762.

Culinary legend has it that the sandwich was created by John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. He was a particularly keen gambler who would regularly spend hours at a time at the card table. It is reputed that in the middle of one particularly long session, he asked the house chef to bring him something to eat that could be consumed without him having to leave his seat at the table. The chef satisfied his demands by bringing him some meat wrapped in two slices of bread, thus accidentally giving rise to the modern snack. Montagu was such a fan of the snack that he ate it all the time, and as it caught on in fashionable London circles, it soon became associated with his title.

Of course, John Montagu’s chef was not the first person in the world to come up with the idea of putting a variety of fillings between slices of bread. In fact, we it is likely that Montagu may have picked up the idea himself during his travels in the Mediterranean, where he is likely to have eaten both Turkish and Greek mezze platters. These are distinctive meals that involve the ‘sandwiching’ of meats, cheeses and dips between pieces of bread.

Whatever the ultimate origins of the sandwich were, the snack became wildly popular. Within a few months of Montagu’s famous culinary innovation, Edward Gibbon was mentioning the sandwich by name in one of his diary entries, revealing that he had seen some of the country’s leading men eating sandwiches in a restaurant. In 1851, the Victorian social commentator Henry Mayhew gave an estimate that 436,800 sandwiches were sold on the streets of London on a yearly basis.  

In the decades since the sandwich’s early popularity, the snack has grown from a luxury restaurant food to an everyday and regular snack and ultimately to a staple of the English diet. Sandwiches have proven to be the perfect meal for a range of different lifestyles, ideally suited to the modern world.

So popular is the sandwich in England that this humble snack is largely behind the success of the convenience food market, which is now estimated to be worth as much as £20 billion a year. Not only that, but English sandwich makers are much in demand around the world, as the convenience and flexibility of the food, along with the famous story of its creation, have caught the imagination of consumers and diners on every continent.

And as the sandwich takes on ever more importance within the English food industry, it is being developed into ever more elaborate configurations. So ubiquitous is the sandwich that it is even possible to trace the developing tastes of the English public in the way that the sandwich has changed over the years.

If you were to head back in time to the 1970s, you would find the humble cheese and ham sandwiches dominating the sandwich market, while the 1980s saw the introduction of the more exotic tuna sandwich. In the last few years, the proliferation of innovative new cafes and eateries has led to some remarkable sandwich experimentation, and our popular sandwiches reflect this diversity and cosmopolitan outlook. So here are some of England’s most popular modern sandwich combinations:

Hummus and Falafel

The growth of veganism in England as well as the increasing diversity over the last 30 years of the English food scene has led to a fascinating array of tastes and flavours being introduced into the national culture and this is reflected in the combination of two of the most popular vegan staples, falafel and hummus, which have come together to provide an intriguing twist on the English sandwich.

These two ingredients have always been ideally matched, but what has given them a big boost is the widespread availability of falafel mixes which means that they are now within the reach of the average English shopper. The result is a vegan friendly sandwich that offers a luxurious and rich taste that is popular with non-vegans and vegans alike.

The method of preparation can vary depending on preference, but the typical option for this form of sandwich is to spread hummus onto two slices of bread, and then add a thick layer of salad. Typically, the salad will include red onion, red pepper, cucumber or grated carrot. Falafel is then added to the mix before the second slice of bread, making a healthy and tasty sandwich.

Bacon Lettuce and Tomato

It is a simple recipe, but the combination of bacon, lettuce, and tomato is an enduringly classic sandwich filling. The key to a successful BLT is that if you use good quality ingredients for the B, the L and the T, you will have a fine finished product. For the very best BLT, the bacon needs to be freshly fried, hot, and crispy, while the lettuce must be any sort of lettuce other than iceberg, providing that it has a strong bite, while the bread must be toasted.

The origins of the BLT are not entirely clear. Some believe that it could be an indirect descendent of tea-time sandwiches dating from the Victorian era, while others will tell you that it is an American variation on the classic club sandwich, which was popularized in the dining cars of America’s bustling railways. Whatever the truth, there is no doubt that the BLT is a hugely popular English sandwich.

BBQ Pulled Pork

Look away if you are vegan or vegetarian, but the BBQ pulled pork sandwich is always a big hit at barbeques. The pulled pork sandwich is, of course, derived form an American barbecue dish. Pulled pork was developed in the southern states of the US and is essentially the result of slow cooking a shoulder of pork. This is usually done over wood, although sometimes it is prepared in a slow cooker. The meat is then shredded before being mixed with a sauce of choice.

While it is not traditionally an English sandwich, we have put our own traditional spin on the BBQ pulled pork sandwich. In the English version, the meat is seasoned with a mixture of condiments, but ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce are the most popular and provide a quintessentially English take on this most American of meats. The preparation time for this sandwich is significant, but the result is a truly delicious and luxurious feast for meat eaters.  

Bacon Sandwich

While old fashioned sandwich options, such as cheese and ham may be in decline, there is one form of sandwich that seemingly will never be out of fashion in England.

The humble bacon sandwich, served sometimes with or without brown sauce, and sometimes supplemented by other English breakfast foods, including sausages, eggs or tomatoes, remains a firm favourite with English diners. The beauty of the bacon sandwich is that it works both as a quick and convenient breakfast or as a satisfying lunch.

It has even played a part in a General Election campaign, when the Labour Party leader Ed Miliband’s apparent difficulties eating a bacon sandwich made tabloid headlines, though that probably says more about the English press than the Labour leader. Anyone who has ever tried to eat a bacon sandwich will surely have plenty of sympathy for Ed Miliband, but although they can certainly be a messy treat, there are few things that can hit the spot on a cold English morning like a good old bacon sandwich.

Brie and Grape

The humble cheese sandwich has certainly evolved a long way. For working men in the first half of the twentieth century, the humble cheese and pickle sandwich was a staple lunchtime snack, though other combinations, such as the ubiquitous cheese and tomato and the pungent cheese and onion also have their fans to this day.

Yet to the more sophisticated modern sandwich eater, a slab of cheddar on a couple of slices of white bread won’t cut the (sandwich) mustard. For a more interesting take on the cheese sandwich, English lunch diners have long combined slices of soft Brie with sharp, tangy grapes, for a perfect combination. To add more flavour and texture to the mixture, the brie and grape sandwich can also be supplemented with rocket, spinach, watercress and herbs.

Avocado Sandwiches

Avocado toast has become a phenomenally popular breakfast food over the last decade, but if you want an upgrade on this modern-day classic, the Avocado sandwich is an interesting option.

In fact, avocado is an incredibly versatile food source, and is packed with healthy fats so it can work well with a variety of fillings, including chicken, turkey or roast beef. But it is also tasty and luxurious enough to eat on its own, perhaps with a little rocket or a sprinkling of herbs, and toasted rye bread is another important component in the ultimate avocado sandwich.

Strawberries and Other Fruits: The Taste of English Summer

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Summer just wouldn’t be the same without the enjoyment of a bowl of strawberries drizzled with cold cream. In fact, the English appetite for strawberries is so strong that an incredible 140,000 portions are served up every year at Wimbledon.

The strawberry started to become popular in England in the 16th century. The final courses of big meals in that era would feature a host of sweet desserts, including marmalades and confits. These were opportunities for wealthy hosts to show off their wealth through the use of luxurious ingredients like sugar and spices, which were considered expensive at the time.

The strawberries at that time were the wild variety Alpine which are still grown in the UK today. The strawberry also had a role as a cordial, thanks to the smell of their leaves, although there was a time during the Tudor period when raw fruit, including strawberries, had been considered dangerous.

Sugar was considered an ideal partner for fruit as it was considered that the sweetness balanced out the cold and moist ‘humours’ of the body. These medieval beliefs held that certain foods were attached to different humours so a balanced diet was necessary for good health. One of the ways to counter the effects of fruit was therefore to cook it wine and spices in the form of a pottage

The ancestor of the modern strawberry arrived in England during the 16th century, imported from the US. These Virginia strawberries were sweeter than our own wild variety but were still small. But in the 18th century, it was cross bred with the larger Chilean strawberry and the modern strawberry was born.

By the early 19th century even larger and juicier fruits were being produced and England gained a reputation for its strawberries, and they became a staple of the Victorian kitchen garden. The  Victorians were avid horticulturists and continued to create new varieties of strawberry such as the Royal Sovereign in 1892 which was considered to be unrivaled in flavour and appearance.

At this time, strawberries were still served at the end of a meal, but were more likely to be enjoyed fresh or preserved in the form of a jam. We also see fresh strawberries and cream starting to appear on menus. French chef Auguste Escoffier, who worked at the Ritz, developed a number of variations of the strawberry and cream combination including Strawberries Romanov, which is strawberries marinated in curaçao served with Chantilly cream.

It was in this era too that the strawberry became associated with the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

Strawberries and cream were served at the very first tournament in 1877, as the thriving rail network meant that the fruit could be picked and transported to London on the same day to ensure the utmost freshness and this tradition continues to this day.

The season for British strawberries begins in June and lasts throughout the summer, but the strawberry is not the only tasty English summer fruit. Here are some of the main alternatives if you are looking for juicy and fresh English fruit this summer.

Gooseberries

The Cultivation of gooseberries was first recorded in England as far back as the 13th century, but they were not widely grown until the early 1500s, at a time when many fruits were being introduced and popularised through increased trade with the Continent. By 1831 the Horticultural Society’s London garden had established a collection of 360 different gooseberry cultivars.

During the Victorian era, there was a great rise in the prominence of the gooseberry, particularly in the north of the country. There was even a national publication for enthusiasts called ‘The Gooseberry Growers Register’, which in 1845 listed 171 separate gooseberry shows.

The booming gooseberry industry in the UK declined in the early 20th century due to the spread of American gooseberry mildew fungus, but resistance to the mildew was developed by crossing the European gooseberry with two smaller fruited American wild gooseberries Ribes hirtellum and Ribes divaricatum. The result has been a revival in fortunes for this delicious fruit. Their tartness makes them ideal as an accompaniment for a variety of dishes, including mackerel, but they are also handy for jam making as they have a high pectin content.

Elderflower

Elderflower is one of the quintessential tastes of an English summer but it is a fleeting taste as the elderflower season ends in early July. The Elder is native to the British Isles and the name itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘aeld’. From earliest times Elders were believed to be sacred to an ancient goddess of vegetation, and people believed they were inhabited by a tree dryad which represented the soul of the tree, or was seen as an aspect of the goddess herself.

Elders were often planted by houses and farms in the belief that if the dryad was treated well, and honoured, it would protect the home and its occupants against evil spirits. Although there was a widespread taboo against cutting Elder down, and against the burning any of its wood, almost every part of the tree was considered medicinally effective in treating ailments from toothache to the plague!

Today it is the flowers that are used, in contemporary herbal medicine. They have a long standing reputation as the best treatment for all kinds of inflammatory and congestive conditions of the respiratory system. Cordials, wines and syrups have been made from Elderflowers and berries for centuries and are still widely used especially in country areas in Europe.

Rhubarb

Some consider rhubarb a fruit as it is widely used in desserts. Originally, rhubarb’s role was medicinal rather than culinary throughout the majority of its period of use. Indeed, widespread culinary uses began only two centuries ago whereas medicinal uses go back 5000 years or more.

The word rhubarb is of Latin origin. The ancient Romans imported rhubarb roots from lands were beyond the Vogue river, sometimes known as the Rha River.

Yet rhubarb’s medicinal uses began at least 5000 years ago, in China, where died roots were used as a laxative. In the west, rhubarb roots were an ingredient in numerous Greek and Roman medicines, as the dried roots also had useful properties..

There is no record of culinary rhubarb prior to the 1800s. Widespread consumption of rhubarb stalks began in Britain in the early 19th century with its popular adoption as an ingredient in desserts and wine making. The accidental discovery of forced rhubarb accelerated the growing popularity of rhubarb to the point of a mania in Victorian Britain.

Since then rhubarb’s popularity peaked just before World War II. At its most popular commercial quantities of rhubarb were grown outdoors as well as in greenhouses and dark cellars. Although culinary use dropped dramatically during WWII, it rebounded in the decades after 1945 and forced rhubarb in particular is still popular, with Yorkshire leading the way.

The rhubarb season lasts until about the end of June and those colourful pink stalks are for many people, the essence of summer. The fruit is versatile enough to use in pies, flans, crumbles or as an additive to yoghurt or porridge. It also freezes well so can be kept throughout the summer.

Raspberries

Fresh raspberries are a real late summer treat and never fail to please, served with just a dusting of icing sugar and a lick of cream. A fresh raspberry sauce, made by pushing raspberries through a sieve and stirring in some sifted icing sugar, also makes a wonderful dessert addition.

Raspberries are believed to be native to Asia and have been eaten since prehistoric times. They were cultivated by the Romans, but only gained widespread popularity after they were hybridized and improved by growers in England and France during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The raspberry is actually a member of the rose family and is not true berry. There are also yellow, purple and orange versions of the raspberry, though these are rarely seen in the UK.

Due to their hollow core raspberries are fragile and so should be handled with care. They are also highly perishable and need to be eaten in a day or two after picking, although they do freeze well.

English raspberries generally come into season in May and are immediately recognizable: a plump, juicy, packed with flavour. They can fit well with a wide range of desserts and cakes, and you can add them to cereals and even a glass of gin and tonic!

Cherries

English cherries were once one of Britain’s most popular fruits but a combination of poor weather, high labour costs and old-fashioned picking methods led to a decline in the volumes of home grown cherries in the second half of the 20th century, along with the importation of cheaper cherries from Turkey, Spain and America. In the year 2000, the whole of the English cherry industry produced just 400 tonnes. But since then things have slowly started to improve.

More and more English growers are now seeing better yields by using dwarf root stock, grafted onto new tree varieties. These produce much smaller trees which can be grown in plastic tunnels, enabling the creation of a micro climate with temperatures similar to the Mediterranean.

These new smaller cherry trees can be picked by workers on foot rather than ladders, enabling English cherries to compete with foreign rivals for the first time in many decades.

The English cherry season begins in July and only lasts three months so you have to move quickly to catch them! Sweet cherries are perfect for a fresh snack, and can be stored in the fridge in a sealed bag for up to a week. Alternatively, the fruit can be added to savoury dishes like duck and pork or used as a tasty drink decoration.

Blackberries

The British blackberry season starts in June and the fruit is best picked as soon as it is ripe. Blackberries are widespread throughout England so you can pick them direct from the bush, and as with English raspberries, this fruit can really enhance a summer drink.

The season lasts until the beginning of autumn and blackberries are flexible enough to have multiple uses. In August they can be served simply with a little sugar and a lot of cream but later on, they are ideal for a range of deliciously comforting hot pies and puddings made by combining blackberries with the first apples of the season.

Blackberries have been grown across Asia, Europe and the Americas for tens of thousands of years. Archaeological records show that European inhabitants ate them as long ago as 8,000 BC. They have long been popular in England and in World War One, children in England were given time off school to collect blackberries for the production of juice that was sent to soldiers to help maintain health.

Today there are more than 2,000 varieties found throughout the cooler regions of the world. Like the raspberry, it is an aggregate fruit and relative of the rose. It is a highly adaptable and fast-growing shrub, found in hedgerows, woodland, meadows and wasteland. It is a good pioneer species and its prickly stems help protect other plants’ young shoots from being eaten.

Blackcurrants

The blackcurrant is to an extent a hidden gem of the English countryside. Blackcurrants have been growing in the countryside since the 17th century, records suggest, at which time they were revered for their many medicinal qualities. Over the years the fruit grew steadily in popularity and in 1826 it was first listed with the Royal Horticultural Society.

Yet, it wasn’t until around the 1930’s during World War II that English people really got a taste for blackcurrants when Ribena, a drink made from blackcurrants, was given to children for free as a vitamin C supplement. That was the start of the nation’s love for the great taste of blackcurrants that remains to this day.

The blackcurrant season only last a few weeks, and it’s very much a forgotten fruit that can often not be found in the supermarket. Blackcurrants are perfect for jams, crumbles and summer puddings and can also be stewed and used to accompany porridge.

Home Cooked Fish: English Fish and Seafood Deliveries

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England is an island nation, and as such we have a strong tradition of seafood cuisine. For centuries, English fishermen have been harvesting the fruits of the ocean and our cuisine has come up with inventive new ways to make the most of our aquatic heritage.

As a result England has a long tradition of top seafood restaurants, and in recent years the work of a number of high profile chefs have further raised the profile of English seafood.

But despite our admirable seafood tradition, it is probably fair to say that the tastes of English consumers have not always been that adventurous. Salmon, cod and imported tuna have been the main products to dominate our fish consumption over the last few decades, but it is important to remember that there is a wealth of delectable sea food out there to be enjoyed.  

The English fish and seafood industry has faced a new challenge, as have many sectors of our economy, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. The scarcity of grocery deliveries during the first few months of the pandemic led to a flourishing of the use of food boxes, with meat, bread, vegetables, fruit, beer and wine being delivered direct to our homes. The good news for seafood lovers is that there is now a thriving seafood and fish delivery sector.

Some of these services have been set up by fishmongers, and indeed there was a pre-existing shore-to-door seafood sector, but now the concept has been expanded and a number of restaurants and restaurant suppliers are getting in on the direct sale model to offer high quality fish to consumers.

The beauty of these delivery services is that they enable you to enjoy restaurant quality, fresh fish while at the same time supporting the struggling fishing and hospitality industries. You will also have the chance to be creative in the kitchen with foods you may not usually pick up at the supermarket.

Of course, when you are considering a fish box supplier, quantity is a key factor. Fish and seafood is not to everyone’s taste, so it is important to weigh up how many in your household would be eating the produce. Type of seafood is another consideration. Do you feel uncomfortable with crustaceans or do you enjoy mussels, cockles and other bivalves? How important is the provision of local fish?

The good news is that fish delivery boxes in England offer a wide variety of types and customisable options, so that you can enjoy everything from stunning scallops and expertly smoked salmon to tasty mackerel. Here are eight of the best to get you started:

Fishbox

Fishbox sources fresh, sustainable fish direct from small independent boats around the coast to offer high quality seafood direct to your door in less than 48 hours. As they buy direct from the fisherman they are able to get a fair price for their catch, and they carefully select the boats they buy from, to ensure that they are using responsible fishing methods.

As well as popular products such as monkfish, salmon and king scallops, Fishbox also prides itself on buying species of fish you will rarely see in the supermarkets, broadening your horizons and helping you to eat seasonally.

The selection of seafood from Fishbox features over 70 fish and shellfish, including everything from turbot to lesser known varieties like Torbay sole and cod tongues, which are rarely seen here but enjoyed widely across the Mediterranean.

A Fishbox delivery is always exciting but you can also personalise your subscription according to likes, loves and dislikes. The box comes in three sizes and can be tailored to your preferred frequency, as well as being available as a one-off gift box.

Abel and Cole

Abel and Cole had been providing organic veg to households for 30 years before they moved into  bakery, meat, deli and other items, and this is their latest venture: a fantastic fish box of three sustainably sourced fish which are delivered on a weekly basis.

The box consists of one ready-to-eat fish and two varieties that can be cooked or frozen, with two portions of each. The fish varies from week to week: once week it could be beautiful handpicked Cornish crab, some celtic coley and lemon sole fillets; another week may offer delicious haddock, plaice and hand-smoked Severn and Wye mackerel.

You can check the menu every week, although this may change to reflect the day’s catch, which is always using environmentally aware methods. As a bonus, they sometimes throw in a gift, such as a pot of organic sundried tomato pesto which is very handy.

The Cornish Fishmonger BBQ Fish Box

This family-run fishmonger operation has been serving the people of St Mawes as well as top chefs for over 40 years and now you can enjoy the freshest catch of the Cornish coast.

The Cornish Fishmonger’s online delivery service has been helping local fishermen to carry on earning a living by selling their catch directly during these uncertain times when demand from restaurants has plummeted.

The crystal clear waters of Cornwall offer some of the best breeding habitats for a variety of fish and shellfish, including lobsters, mussels, cockles and plump prawns, all of which are delivered the very next day. You can shop safely knowing that all have been sourced sustainably and ethically with the Cornish fishing industry passionate about protecting fish stocks.

Included within the BBQ box are notes on how best to enjoy your seafood with storing and cooking tips, but everything is BBQ-ready with no filleting required.

Wright Brothers Seafood Box

As a restaurant group and wholesale seafood business, Wright Brothers has had a tough time during the lockdown, but the Wright Brothers At Home service has thrown them a lifeline.

Wright Brothers run five renowned London seafood restaurants and are known for the way that they source, prepare and serve the most delicious fish, and their new venture allows you to enjoy the same restaurant quality fresh seafood to your door, as one-off or through a regular subscription.

There are many tempting options on their site, including a seafood box for two which is an ideal box for couples who enjoy seafood. This box features some of Wright Brothers’ most popular items such as sweet white crab meat, juicy shell-on king prawns, long cut smoked salmon and lemon sole, along with delicious tuna steak. The contents are best eaten fresh, but all can be frozen.

Rick Stein’s Hake Menu for Two

Based in the idyllic location of Padstow, famous chef Rick Stein has extended his range to this At Home menu. It features some of his classic seafood dishes from his restaurants, providing all the Cornish seafood and all the other ingredients you need to recreate three courses in your own home.

You can choose from the hake, lobster, or Indonesian curry menu, and then follow the easy steps to make your own restaurant worthy dishes. No cooking knowledge is needed, you simply assemble and eat, but there are also helpful videos on their website.

The box includes a starter, such as smoked mackerel pate with sourdough and leaves from the Padstow kitchen garden, followed by Venetian hake alla carlina with rich, sweet summer tomatoes and capers, and ending with a sticky toffee pudding and Cornish clotted cream.

Henderson to Home

As a leading London restaurant supplier, Henderson has had a difficult time over the last few months, but their new nationwide delivery service has enabled them to continue operating while their regular restaurant clients were shut down.

They stock a wide variety of fish and shellfish, and the quality is unsurprisingly exceptional with all orders going from boat to door in fully recyclable packaging in less than 24 hours, helping to support ethical and sustainable fisherman around the British coast.

You can select seafood favourites, including the fabulous Boneless Box, which is available at an affordable price or the fish pie mix, which features white and brown crab meat and two large fish fillets, such as hake, pollock or cod making it perfect for couples or singles who enjoy cooking fish. They also offer a massive shellfish box of cooked or live lobster and crab and a kilo of mussels.

The brand’s close links to top chefs mean that you can be draw inspiration from the recipes on the site or try out their popular chefs collaborations, such as the dogs pollocks burger recipe box from Great British Menu winner James Cochran.

Morrisons Assorted Fish Box

Faced with extreme demands during the lockdown, some English supermarkets raised their game with a greater variety of food boxes, including Morrison.

Their initial food boxes were so successful that the company gradually introduced various themes such as vegetarian, family meat boxes and Diwali, and one of their most interesting was their seafood box. This combines incredible convenience and great value. It contains four different approachable varieties of fish that you can use to make healthy and tasty suppers, with a huge 18 portions of filleted fish to feed you and your family, all of which can be frozen. It includes six salmon fillets, four cod, four smoked haddock and four sea bass fillets, making it easy to eat fish regularly.

Knock Knock Randall and Aubin

Knock Knock is a new premium grocery box service, set up by London restaurant suppliers Smith and Brock. It was designed to give everyone at home the same access to the quality artisanal produce used by top London restaurants. It has since expanded to deliver restaurant produce all over London, with a variety of partnerships.

One of those partnerships is with Soho seafood restaurant Randall and Aubin, which has been serving up high quality fish dishes for 24 years and now gives you the chance to enjoy signature dishes such as fruits de mer or assiette de mer in the comfort of your own home.

Their produce is sourced directly from the British coastline, and means that the freshest crustaceans and fish go from sea to plate in record time. Included is stunning Weymouth crab, mussels from Poole, whole native lobster and sweet clams, cockles, whelks and more all served with Randall and  Aubin potato salad and trimmings, including the seaweed!