One of the coolest things about my job is that I get to travel around the world to some of the most beautiful destinations and eat some of their most delicious foods. When I was invited on a United Kingdom food tour I was instantly in. When I told my friends, I got a different response. They were like “I didn’t think the U.K. is known for its food, why are you going there?” or “how many fish and chips can you really eat for 5 days?” And that’s when I realized: wow, Americans have such a misconception of British food (or what we think it is, anyway). To me, that made this U.K. tour all the more exciting. I love to prove people wrong and I love (more than anything) to discover foods that surprise people and then talk on and on about them. I’ll save the talking on and on, but I’ll cut to the chase. What I learned during my time there is that The U.K. is full of delicious and diverse foods. And we need to stop thinking of them as the best place for shepherd’s pie and fish and chips.
Now that I’ve made my case. Here’s some more info on my food tour. We started off in Edinburgh, Scotland then made our way to Malton, Yorkshire and finally, stopped in London.
Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is beautiful and rich with history. The city still has that magical, medieval look even though it was founded 9 centuries ago.
While we were in the city, we tried a variety of food and drink from 5-course tasting menu at a high-end restaurant to cool cocktails at a quirky hole-in-the-wall bar. We also took a day to venture outside of the city, about an hour away to Newmiln farms in Perth, Scotland and a whisky distillery, The Famous Grouse Experience. One thing I noticed throughout my time here (and in the whole U.K.) is how much they prioritize fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Farm-to-table is very important to British chefs.
We first stopped for a quick tasting at this quintessential Scottish shop in the center of Edinburgh. If you’re looking edible souvenirs, this is the place. They sell a large selection of Scottish favorites such as cheese, meat, gin, shortbread cookies oatcakes and more.
Bryant & Mack Private Detectives
I bet this place is like the best romantic, Tinder meetup in all of Scotland. Bryant & Mack is truly a hole-in-the-wall, hidden down an alley in central Edinburgh and styled as a private detective agency. Inside, you’ll find a cozy bar with a selection of delectable cocktails that are not only buzzworthy, but give you a great buzz.
The ingredients at Aizle are locally sourced and each menu they offer is seasonal. That leads me to my second point: they only offer one set five-course menu based off of the current seasonal harvest. It’s the perfect place for the indecisive foodie because it makes the decision for you! Our ingredients were so fresh, that the partridge we ate for our main course was actually killed that same day.
Guess what?! Scotland has incredible seafood! Yea, I didn’t know that either. I became a huge fan of Scottish salmon and lobster while I was over in the U.K. Oh, yes, and the langoustines. Those are delicious as well.
A little outside of Edinburgh
We had a private tour led by Tasting Scotland where we got to attend an Aberdeen Angus steak tasting as well as a whisky distillery. This was so fun! If you’re in Edinburgh for a few days and want to take a trip outside of the city, I highly recommend taking a trip like this.
Aberdeen Angus Steak Tasting at Newmiln Farms
This was super cool. You get to explore the farm and learn about breeding, feeding and handling of Scotland’s most famous breed of cattle. You also get to experience a steak and beer tasting.
Here, you get a tour of the distillery (which I found to be super educational and interesting) and then you get to taste some of their whiskies! What’s not to love?
Malton was the biggest surprise of the trip for me. I absolutely fell in love with this charming little town! There was so much character and so much tradition here, and the food was absolutely incredible. I wouldn’t have known to put it on my U.K. Tour list, but now I think it’s a must for a day or two (especially because it’s known as Yorkshire’s food capital).
While we were there, we went on a tour led by Tom Naylor Leyland, director of the Talbot Hotel and Malton Cookery School. He also may as well be mayor because he knows everyone in the town and is extremely well-liked. Plus, he was the most wonderful guide. He really made us feel like Malton was our home. If you have any opportunity to meet with him and explore Malton, you must! I also highly suggest coming here with your significant other. The small-town charm is seriously romantic.
The Malton Food Tour
Tom showed us around all of Malton’s best shops. Here’s a list of my favorites to hit on the food tour:
- Groovy Moo Gelato: tasted all the gelatos….they’re all unreal
- Brass Castle Brewery: this place was awesome. Go here for a tasting and see how they make the beer. The people are great to talk to and their beer is fantastic. If you go here, try the Bad Kitty beer!
- Rare Bird Distillery: um…ok they have a Gin School. Where you can make your own gin. And you can drink it. If that isn’t reason enough to go to Malton, I don’t know what is.
- Derek Fox Butcher & Game Dealer: they do not mess around here! This butcher shop was out of a movie. You go around back and there’s a fire and butchers de-feathering game.
- The Deli of Malton: go here and buy yourself some cheese. And a Scottish egg.
- Malton Cookery School: experienced a breakfast cooking class! Highly recommend doing this with your significant other.
The best part about Malton is that you can just walk around and stumble in to some really cool shops and restaurants. It’s a small town, so you aren’t overwhelmed and it's pretty hard to get lost. Also, I’ve heard from multiple sources that the Malton Food Lover’s Festival is a must!
A little bit outside of Malton in a smaller village, there is a wonderful Michelin star restaurant called The Star Inn. The chef places a great emphasis on regional and seasonal ingredients rooted in Northern Yorkshire. It’s definitely worth paying a visit.
We spent our final day and a half in London! Way too short of a time considering there’s so much to do there! But we had a great itinerary full of a diverse selection of cuisine.
The Ned is a hotel and members club based in London’s financial district. It was a beautiful space with lots of things to do. I wasn’t allowed to take any photos while I was there, but trust me when I say the rooftop was beautiful. If you’re into the whole “exclusive member” thing, then you should check out the Ned when you’re in London. One thing that isn’t just exclusive to members are the first-floor bars and restaurants. We went to one of their nine restaurants, Millie’s.
For those of you that have heard of Indian food being all the rage over in the U.K., this is a great place to check out. While we only had enough time to stop here for breakfast, Dishoom is known for their delicious Indian-inspired dishes. I had a bacon and egg naan roll and about 90 chai teas (which are unreal, by the way).
Did you really go to London if you didn’t go to afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason and Instagram it?! No. This is probably considered super touristy by London-locals, but I thought afternoon tea was such a cool experience. We got to have a tea tasting by a very knowledgeable tea sommelier and we also had the pleasure of trying lots of tea snacks from sandwiches to scones to cakes.
What an action packed 5 days! If there's one thing I took away from this U.K. Food Tour it's that British food is GREAT.