Saturday, May 16, 2009

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

So many times, whenever a friend is embarking on a first trip to Britain, the inevitable question arises...”what about the food??”. It seems to be an untruth universally acknowledged that all British food is somehow lacking - in taste, nutrition and style. Perhaps that thought held some validity in decades past, but I can certainly argue empirically against it now. Some of the most deliciously satisfying meals of my memory were enjoyed in the UK.

Walking into Loch Bay Seafood, an unassuming whitewashed building by the sea on the Isle of Skye one windy day, I sat down to the best fish soup I had ever tasted. The incredibly delicious breakfast at Holbeck Ghyll high in the Lake District, which was served with a side of achingly beautiful view from my sunlit table. Lunch at The Witchery in Edinburgh, where I do have to admit I paid much more attention to the wickedly creative decor than to the dining, but which remains a indelible and most charming luncheon memory.

One of the best meals of my whole life was created by the proprietress of Ladyburn, an idyllic Bed and Breakfast on a greenly picturesque estate outside Maybole, Scotland. In a candlelit dining room of graceful proportions, with playful strains of Mozart coming from the kitchen, I sat beside a flickering fire and enjoyed the most delicate cheese souffle ever conceived - cooked to perfection, freshly caught Scottish salmon, sweet seasonal vegetables straight from the house garden, and a blissfully decadent chocolate torte. True culinary bliss. Afterwards we sat by a roaring library fire, with Bertie, the family’s warmth seeking Jack Russell, and slowly sipped a warm brandy before making our way to bed, where a piping hot water bottle had been thoughtfully tucked between our crisp cotton sheets. No hobbit could have been more fat and happy.

The bracing tea we had after a windblown hike around Buttermere, the savory dinner brought to our room at The Torridon, the inviting little Italian cafe we found one misty night near Harrods, the opulent dinner at Inverlochy Castle, the luscious grilled salmon at a friendly restaurant beside Loch Linnhe, even the quintessential fish and chips we enjoyed near Covent Garden.... all mouth-watering memories to treasure, and not a fried Mars Bar or blood pudding to be found! If you’re planning a trip across the pond, feel free to look forward to the food, you’re sure to enjoy it.

However, will perhaps notice I did not mention Haggis!