Last week I took a couple of days off work to recuperate after a gruelling 6 weeks of study and an exam and headed to the Peak District. The aim of the trip wasn't food related but I had to eat and was drawn to Bakewell for one of their puddings. Whereas the rest of the country eats Bakewell Tarts (do we have Mr Kipling to blame?) those in Bakewell have Bakewell Puddings. The flavours are very similar - revolving around jam and almonds - but the pudding says goodbye to the spongey filling and says hello to an egg custard like filling sat in a crisp puff pastry basket and hiding a loan dollop of jam. It is an altogether far superior treat, crisp pastry gives way to the rich almondy custard with the dollop - rather than base coating layer of jam - adding a surprise element - which mouthful will offer me the tart fruity foil?
As the weather turned and all thoughts of climbing or walking were shunned we decided to head across to Lincoln for a bit of history and a glimpse at one of four remaining original Magna Carta. The one food that sprung to mind for the region was Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, which I'd been buying for a few years from Islington farmer's market. I'm pretty crap at describing cheeses but to me it's cheddar like, being an artisanal cheese though it's like a very good cheddar - hard and yellow with a strong flavour. Something I'm always happy to have it in the fridge. I'd read of a mythical 3 year aged Poacher called Knuckleduster but have never seen this rare beast for sale, when I turned a corner to find the lovely little Cheese Society I thought my luck may have changed. A quick chat with the lady in there informed me that not even they could get hold of it though with the farm owner keeping it all to himself - he doesn't make a lot - and letting it go on farmer's markets directly.
The final foodie stop on the trip was Leicestershire's Melton Mowbray, home of the only pork pie with EU protected status. I'm a big fan of the uncured pork pie and have gone so far as to cook them myself and they make it onto every Christmas breakfast table. The main place selling them in Melton Mowbray is Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe so I headed in. I'd been hoping for a quaint bakery, with the smell of warm pie wafting through the air but it's essentially an outlet for Dickinson & Morris pork pies which you can buy all over the place. Talking to one of the staff most the pies in their aren't even made in Melton Mowbray being churned out by a factory in Leicester - not the most traditional. They do make a limited number of hand raised pies in the shop though so I bought one along with a factory pie to compare it to.
The factory pie had a good crisp crust and contained lots of meat, the flavour was heavy on pepper - a definite positive - but the texture of the meat was too fine a grind by far. A nice pie but I've had better. The hand raised pie - pictured above - was much more like it. A similarly good crust gave way to a far coarser grind of pork, I wouldn't be suprised if some of it was chopped by hand as we're talking 1cm for some of the cubes. The grey in parts filling shows its uncured nature. The pepper seemed less obvious in this one although that could just be the man flu I'm currently suffering from. All in all it was a decent pork pie, although again not the best I've had.
So three counties and three regional delights, I aim to get a bit more of my homeland in this year and I'm sure I can find some more while I'm at it.