Bon Appetit, Pet!
The best way to explore a region is often through its gastronomic offerings, which are naturally linked to the region’s history and landscape. If you’ve never visited the North East, there’s plenty to tempt you while you’re here. Allow us to share with you a Northumbrian culinary bucket list, if you will, of the top foods to try when you’re here. Bon appetit, pet!
Northumbrian seafood is amongst the best in the world, renowned by acclaimed chefs globally, but best appreciated in Northumberland. It’s a mainstay of Northumberland cuisine and indeed our heritage. With almost 100 miles of coastline there’s an abundance of local treats for you to try when you visit.
You’ll find the gold standard in smoked kippers from L Robson’s in Craster or Swallowfish Deli in Seahouses where the kippers are still smoked in the original smokehouses which have operated on the same site since 1843. Here they use traditional oak sawdust that’s free from any nasties and doesn’t overpower the natural flavour of the herring. They’re a firm favourite on our breakfast menus and for good reason.
Then there’s the fresh crab, simply enjoyed in a sandwich while at the beach or in many pubs such as The Ship Inn at Low Newton after a walk from Craster. Or the Lindisfarne oysters where legend says the monks of the Lindisfarne Priory established the first oyster farm in the 1300s. And if none of these is to your liking then proper fish and chips as fresh as it comes may hit the spot. Head over to Amble, also home to the Northumberland Seafood Centre where you can sample sustainably sourced fish according to the seasons.
A classic but perhaps divisive addition to the list, this is a savoury paste traditionally made from boiled yellow split peas. Water, salt and spices are added and they’re mashed into a smooth, spreadable paste. Best served on a stotty with a slice of good ham.
A North East staple, the stotty cake. Not actually a cake as the name would suggest, but a heavy, stodgy flatbread with a signature chewy texture and the ability to bounce when dropped (to ‘stot’ means to bounce in Geordie; who knew?). First made with leftover scraps of dough it was a cheap bread to make in coal ovens around the region and traditionally served with ham and pease pudding. Today, you’ll find stotties in any self-respecting bakeries, cafes, and pubs, filled as a sandwich and often served alongside a hearty soup.
As food names go, this one’s a cracker that sounds more akin to an evil character plucked from the pages of a children’s story rather than a slow-cooked potato bake or casserole. But alas, that’s all part of the charm of this Northumbrian take on the French classic dauphinoise potatoes. What’s not to love about a melding of thinly sliced potatoes, fried onions, carrots and grated mature cheddar? This one- pot-wonder is usually served with leftover roast meat, bacon or corned beef. And cooked in a pan, of course!
Another delicacy with a somewhat misleading name, the singing hinny is a fruit scone or sweet griddlecake, similar to Welsh cakes minus the added sugar. A Northumbrian classic, the name comes from the noise they make when they’re on the griddle, letting out a high-pitched squeal. While a hinny is a regional term of endearment, ‘Y’areet hinny?’
You’ll find cheese from the Northumberland Cheese Company on many a menu when you’re in the area. All 17 of their artisan cheeses can be traced back to the milk of a single dairy herd on the Blagdon Estate (less than 15 miles from Eshott) and are made using traditional cheesemaking skills. Visit the cheese shop and tearoom or book ahead for a dairy tour.
Tea aficionados can take a trip to the Earl Grey Tea House at Howick Hall Gardens & Arboretum, seat of the second Earl Grey and British Prime Minister from 1830-1834. It was here that Earl Grey tea was first blended using fragrant bergamot to offset the taste of lime in the water at Howick Hall.
Mead Fit for Monks
Lindisfarne Mead, to many regarded as ‘the nectar of the gods’ can be sampled on a trip to St Aidan’s Winery, on the tidal island of Lindisfarne. A unique, fortified honey wine mixed with local spring water, fermented grape juice, herbs and spirits, it packs quite the punch. Lindisfarne Mead has its roots in the medieval period when monks lived in the priory and were said to have made mead.
Of course, no trip to Northumberland is complete without a meal in the Eshott Hall Restaurant. Awarded two AA rosettes for culinary excellence our hotel restaurant serves the finest locally sourced produce from the Northumbrian coast and countryside- and from our very own kitchen garden. Our restaurant is open daily for dinner between 6pm and 8.30pm. Call us on 01670 787454 or email to book a table. View our current sample menu online.