Thursday, 13 September 2012

Northumbrian Delights

Before we set off for Northumberland, I had high hopes of combining our holiday with a kind of gastro-tour of the region, seeking out traditional foods.  While that was a tad ambitious for a family break, we did eat very well from a selection of farm shops, tea rooms and cosy pubs, and I even managed to sample a few traditional dishes along the way.

Pan Haggerty

I got to try this delicacy in the in the Copper Kettle in Bamburgh.  The tea room is in a lovely cottage built in the early 18th century as accommodation for the labourers in the castle.  So far, so historic.  Pan Haggerty is a traditional Northumbrian dish of potatoes, onion and cheese, normally layered and baked in the oven.  In this case, I had a Pan Haggerty pie, with the filling being more of a mash consistency.  How much you enjoy a cheesy mash pie served with potatoes on the side probably depends on how much you love your carbs.  Potatoes happen to be my favourite food, so I loved it.  If I was being critical I might say that the pastry on the bottom was a little tough, but on the plus side it would mean your filling wouldn't  fall out of your pie and onto the beach if you decided to eat al fresco.  Delicious and, although it was pretty hearty, I did manage a slice of cake afterwards.  Would have been rude not to.  

Crab Sandwiches

Being by the sea, crab sandwiches were a big thing in the area.  Craster is a little harbour, famous for it's traditional smokehouse.  We didn't actually make it into the smokehouse shop, as the toddler developed an irrational fear of the place and was sick in car park (clearly professional travel writers and restaurant reviewers are wise enough to leave the kids at home).  Before this debacle, we did make it into the Jolly Fisherman - the best place in town for a crab sandwich.  I've eaten dressed crab before in Scotland, but strangely never in a sandwich, so I'm going to qualify this as a regional dish.  I can't fault it - sweet crab and tangy sharp dressing enveloped in brown bread.  On the side, some truly delicious beef dripping chips on the side and a view of the sea.  

Fish & Chips

Ok, so fish & chips are ubiquitous rather than unique, but this has been a British staple for over 100 years.  As essential a part of a seaside holiday now as it was then.  I'm not snobby, and very fond of the combination of crispy batter with soft fish below.  And a few more chips too.....