Britain and Ireland may not have always been renowned for local cuisine, but the times are a changin’, and today the streets are lined with a unique blend of modern and traditional flavors, from pork pies to Michelin Star feasts.
The British Isles are a fertile garden bursting with fresh produce, surrounded by an ocean of seafood, and flavored with exotic traditions imported by a legendary trading nation. Food and drink are woven into the culture, from taking afternoon tea to socializing at the local pub. If you’re considering a culinary journey, start your delicious adventure here.
Any culinary adventure to the UK should begin in London and, as one of the world’s great trading cities, in its remarkable markets.
Borough Market has existed at the south end of London Bridge (which was the only way to get into the city for centuries) for more than 1,000 years. It’s a wonderful place for meandering and shopping for local and international foodstuffs, or to pull up a seat in one of the fine bars or restaurants for some exceptional people-watching.
Further south is Brixton Market, one of the best places to try cuisines from all over the world, from Portuguese tarts to African stews. The market sprawls through several streets and comprises a Victorian-era covered shopping area and countless cafes, food stalls and restaurants.
Meanwhile, for a posh, gourmet experience, nothing can compare to the grand department store food halls at Harrod’s, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason – the perfect place to pick up picnic basket packed with caviar and vintage fizz.
With its fertile fields, gentle rolling hills and (relatively) sunny weather, South West England comprises some of the warmest parts of the islands, and is home to fresh seafood, cream teas, cideries, wineries, bountiful fruit orchards, and more. Expect a bucolic region with many farmers’ markets and a proud farm-to-table tradition, as well as seaside towns whose shores are lined with colorful beach huts and lively seafood eateries.
Slightly north and west, much of Wales is rugged and rustic, with towering mountains, a jagged coastline and a remote countryside dotted with melancholy ruins and a surprisingly large number of Michelin-starred restaurants. In contrast to the at times foreboding landscape, its people are among the most welcoming in the British Isles – always happy to offer their Welsh cakes and other treats.
In medieval times, what is now known as the Midlands was roughly the kingdom of Mercia. Today, it is a swath that cuts across the middle of England. It’s where you will find industrial cities like Birmingham and Wolverton, once the economic engines of the Industrial Revolution, which are known for the hearty, satisfying and comforting foods of the working class: ales, pork pies, wild game, apples, pears, and hard cheeses, as well as the pungent, blue-veined stilton.
Further north, foodies will fall in love with Yorkshire. Not only is it home to the famous Yorkshire pudding, this region has a terrific artisan tradition with plenty of crafters making cheeses and ales, pickles, chutneys, breads, charcuterie, ciders and so much more.
It’s also a land of farmers, fishers and foragers harvesting delicious things from sea to moor to dale. And if that weren’t enough to draw you towards Leeds, this is also the epicenter of the country’s incredible Indian food tradition.
The whisky alone would draw us north of Hadrian’s Wall. Sweet, smoky, fruity, floral, savory – whatever your taste in tipples, there’s a distillery producing it somewhere. Whisky trails will guide you through beautiful regions like Speyside, with its rugged hills and charming villages, or the remote and wave-swept western islands. Pour yourself a wee dram and make yourself at home.
Scotland is also justly famous for its salmon, both wild and sweetly smoked, as well as tender trout pulled from its rushing rivers. Less well known is its incredible shellfish, including dive-caught scallops from Mull, lobster from Dunbar and oysters in Cairndow. Note to the hungry and thirsty: seafood and whisky pair beautifully.
Hop across the water to Ireland and discover a cuisine that is a showcase of the exceptional local ingredients: stews of grass-feed beef and lamb, steamed ocean-fresh shellfish, roasted root vegetables and some of the world’s greatest cheeses. Indeed, with its longtime dairy culture and year-round grazing, Ireland produces almost as many varieties of cheese as France.
It was here, too, that whisky was first made, and it’s still a good place to enjoy both Irish whiskeys and ales, especially the soft, food-friendly red ale. Head to a pub for lively fiddle music, a pint of the best and some ‘craic’ for a taste of the Irish experience.
Have afternoon tea with the Guinness family, forage for food and create your own three-course meal, sit by an open peat fire sipping 16th Century whiskey, or walk around the British Isles with a local for a truly unique and food-infused cultural experience. Whatever your budget and travel style, Adams & Butler have got you covered.
Q: Where do you think the food and culture capital of Britain and Ireland is, and why?
Kinsale in Ireland is officially known as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland and is home to the Gourmet Festival, but the West of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Dublin have eclipsed it. While Kinsale has a plethora of excellent restaurants, dining in a restaurant is now almost passé for our travellers – they want to explore the foodie scene thoroughly, and meet the suppliers. It’s no longer a question of farm to table, it’s now seed to mouth. They want to meet the farmers and the local fishermen, and learn how and why they grow the food they do, fish the fish and harvest the seafood.
Q: What are some trips or tours that are a must for foodies?
The best trips are foodie trails where you walk or cycle from tasting to tasting with a local – you not only taste, but discover and learn local facts and titbits (and gossip!) at the same time. We can do this in smaller cities such as Galway and Wexford, as well as the bigger ones such as London, Glasgow or Edinburgh. Our clients love our local walking, hiking, and cycling tours – the small-town walking guides can bring your vacation to life.
There are also lots of places around Dublin, including Glendalough and Powerscourt in Wicklow, (the garden of Ireland), and the seaside villages of medieval Dalkey and Killiney, Malahide and Howth, which are served by the DART – an over-ground subway with amazing seaside views. The seafood restaurants in these Dublin villages are amazing and a must for Dubliners on lazy Sunday afternoons or long, summery evenings.
Q: What’s your favourite cultural experience in the region?
In Ireland, it would have to be Lismore Castle. It’s a private property owned by the English Duke of Devonshire, and his own private butler, Denis takes special care of clients. It’s in an idyllic setting and the picturesque village nearby is the perfect backdrop for any photo, the food is sublime, and clients stay once and return again and again.
One of my best experiences this year was staying at Alladale Wilderness Reserve in Scotland. Located in the Scottish Highlands, the reserve incorporates 100-square kilometers of rugged mountains, forests, rivers, and lochs. The food is organic and the owner is committed to providing a sustainable ecosystem on the estate, and you can experience private tours of whiskey distilleries like Balblair and Dornoch, which offer the finest quality Vintage malt whiskey. Foodies can taste the finest foods made from the freshest ingredients in the Highlands including stoneground flours and meals at Golspie Mill, artisan cheeses and ice creams by Black Isle Dairy, and artisan confections by Highland Patissier.
Q: What’s a unique food or culture experience that most travellers miss out on?
Foraging for food is an eye-opener. What can be used to make delicious dishes is unbelievable, and children in particular love discovering that you can eat some weeds. One of our more unique experiences is a local producer who will forage with clients along the seashore and then produce a three-course meal incorporating seaweed and kelp in every dish, including chocolate and ice-cream.
One of the most affordable things to do in Ireland and England is enjoying decent pub food, especially when accompanied with traditional local music in Ireland. People often think of pub lunches but lots serve dinner too with fresh seafood platters, chowders and hearty Guinness beef and lamb stews soaked up with freshly baked brown soda bread smothered in melting Irish butter.
Q: What food and culture options do Adams & Butler offer that travellers can’t find anywhere else?
We particularly like working with small producers and local guides, we meet the families behind the brands, and we always pride ourselves on arranging experiences where the clients not only see, but do, feel and engage. One of our most popular private visits is an afternoon tea with the Guinness family in their castle, or a glass of Jameson whiskey poured by the 9th generation Jameson whiskey family in their ancestral home. These are exclusive to Adams & Butler.
Something else we suggest is a Secret Ireland day escape along the Shannon Lakelands by private yacht or classic car. Immersed in Irish culture, history, art, architecture and crafts, meet the locals, and experience a true escape at a private 16th Century Medieval castle nestled on its very own island with entertainment, food and drink tastings of the era. Think open peat fires with local artisan cheese and homemade chutney tastings paired with an organic apple syrup. Indulge in your very own private Shibeen (illegal Pub from times gone by) lit only by candlelight with a trio of premium Irish Whiskeys or award winning Irish craft gins. Choose from more than 70 elements to create your very own tapestry of experiences showcasing a true taste of Ireland like never before.
Choosing just 10 things to savor in Britain and Ireland is no easy task. Each region has its culinary specialties, its cheeses and sausages, its cakes and ales, ciders and pies. But there are some dishes and drinks you simply have to taste:
London is the epicenter of the world’s cocktail culture, and no visit is complete without enjoying at least one round of drinks. Which experience to choose, though? The legendary martini cart at Duke’s? The imaginative concoctions at Dandelyan? The trendy bars in Shoreditch? Or how about a pilgrimage to the birthplace of many of the great classics, The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel? Grab a seat in this elegant art deco room and raise a White Lady to the memory of legendary bartenders Ada Coleman and Harry Craddock, who literally wrote the book on drink culture.
The British have been in love with South Asian food for centuries – at least since 1600 when the East India Company received its trading charter, and long before 1809 when the first curry house opened in London. Today, there are some 9,000 Indian and Pakistani restaurants throughout the UK, and curry is considered a national dish. Yorkshire especially is so well-known for its love of curry it has been called “the spiciest county in the UK”, and is home to a celebrated Spice Trail, as well as the World Curry Festival in Bradford.
They call it Sunday dinner, but it’s generally served at lunch and is a weekly feast of some sort of roast meat (lamb, chicken, pork, beef or, if you’re lucky, all the above) along with roast veg, mashed potato, lashings of gravy, and Yorkshire pudding – the ultimate masterpiece of British cooking. Sunday dinner is served everywhere from remote Welsh farmhouses to Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants, but is best enjoyed at cozy gastro-pubs like the Bridge Inn near Edinburgh or The Punchbowl Inn in Cumbria.
As the writer, Somerset Maugham once said, “To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day”. The classic fry-up – eggs, back bacon, sausage, beans, mushrooms, black pudding, grilled tomato and bread, fried or toasted – is available throughout the Isles, everywhere from greasy spoon cafes to posh hotel dining rooms. But the English love their breakfasts so much there’s even an English Breakfast Society, a group of learned scholars dedicated to protecting its heritage. They’ve named Quo Vadis in London’s Soho neighborhood the very best place for your eggs and bacon.
In Wales, hospitality seems to demand that someone always urges you to try their baked goods. Whatever you do, say ‘yes’, especially to the two national treasures. Welsh cakes are a slightly sweet, lightly spiced flatbread traditionally stuffed with currants or raisins and baked on a griddle or bakestone. Bara brith, also known as ‘speckled bread’, is a loaf flavored with tea and spice and packed with dried fruits. Both are best enjoyed slathered with butter at tea time.
There is much to see and do in what was once the ancient kingdom of Wessex – including Stonehenge and the Jurassic Coast – but the very best reason to visit is the tradition of the cream tea. It’s served in cafes and tearooms everywhere, but especially in Devon and Cornwall: a pot of black tea (preferably Earl Grey) and scones topped with raspberry jam and thick, rich clotted cream. One of the most intriguing places to enjoy a cream tea is at Greenway, Agatha Christie’s former holiday home in Torquay, now a National Trust property.
Hearty, savory, satisfying. The Scotch egg is the ultimate English snack food: a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in bread crumbs and deep-fried. It’s also a bargain for the hungry and broke, which might explain why the university city of Oxford has become a sort of mecca for scotch egg aficionados. The Perch, the Pint Shop, The Royal Blenheim, The Red Lion and The King’s Arms are among the local pubs celebrated for having the best Scotch eggs in the land.
The official dish of Scotland is haggis. The unofficial dish? The deep-fried Mars bar: a candy bar dipped in batter then plunged into hot fat for a treat that is crispy on the outside and marvelously melty on the inside. It originated in an Aberdeen chip shop back in 1995, but now is served in chippies everywhere, as well as more upscale places such as The Royal Mile Tavern in Edinburgh. Of course, you can enjoy plenty of other deep-fried treats, too, ranging from fish to pakoras, and even pizza.
Think of Ireland and likely you think of potatoes, but it’s shellfish that’s the true culinary star on an island surround by cold, pure, briny waters. There are, of course, the cockles and mussels made famous in the song about sweet Molly Malone, who wheeled a barrow of shellfish through Dublin crying “alive, alive-oh,” but there are also clams in Connemara, prawns in Dublin Bay and gloriously sweet, plump oysters on the west coast, celebrated at the annual Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival.
Sweet or savory, the pie has been enjoyed here since the Romans made Britannia their home. Some of the favorites include steak and kidney, chicken and leek, fish pie, and the classic pork pie made with hot water crust. There is even the handheld Cornish meat pie called a ‘pasty’. Since 2007, an annual national Pie Week has been held in March, and a recent study found that while the nation’s favorite pie overall was steak and ale, the north prefer pie savory (steak and potato), and the south would rather it be sweet (banoffee).
So much to taste. So little time. Yorkshire might just be the foodiest region of the British Isles, dishing up everything from Michelin-starred cuisine, to fragrant curries, fine cheeses and what is arguably the world’s best asparagus. The best way to discover all the delicious things is to follow the local tasting trails – and be sure to bring your appetite.
We’d visit Yorkshire just for its famous savory pudding – the puff of eggy goodness that plays such an important role at Sunday dinner, especially as vehicle for gravy. But when it comes to food and drink, England’s northernmost county is so much more than that.
For one thing, it’s home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other part of the British Isles outside London. For another, it has a vibrant artisan tradition that stretches from seaside towns to bucolic dales to historic cities.
The region’s main centre is York – the historic walled city that was founded by the Romans in 71AD, and later became capital of the kingdom of Northumbria. It has long been a major hub for manufacture, wool trading, religion, and education, and features a number of famous historic attractions such as the York Minster – the vast cathedral that dates back to the Normans. But the best reason to visit is the food.
There is large community of artisans making pickles, chutneys, chocolates, breads, charcuterie and more, all of which you can sample on one of Yorkshire Food Finder’s gourmet walks. Or you can nosh on globally inspired street food at the historic Shambles Market, indulge in an afternoon tea tour or dine in one of the city’s fine restaurants.
York, of course, isn’t the only big city with a foodie culture – Bradford in West Yorkshire is known for its South Asian food culture, and is home to an annual Curry Festival. Yorkshire has been called ‘the spiciest county in the UK’, and the Spice Trail lead those hungry for heat to 40 curry restaurants across the region.
But most of what makes Yorkshire such a delicious destination lies outside the big cities.
Its coastal communities are home to incredible seafood, including sweet crab, succulent lobster and a longstanding smokehouse tradition. There’s even a Smoke Signals tour that samples the best smoked fish, and a Fish & Chip Trail which travels from Keighley to Filey, meandering along some of the world’s most scenic coastline.
Inland, Yorkshire is famous for its great game birds, lamb, rhubarb, asparagus and ginger-flavoured treats, ranging from ginger beer to the cake known as ‘parkin’. It has a proud charcuterie tradition – bacon, sausage and cured meats, mainly – that can be sampled along the From Dairy To Deli trail. It also has a famous cheesemaking industry, especially in the historic community of Wensleydale, which has a local ‘cheese experience’, and a foodie trail that winds through some 30 pubs, cafes, delis and markets.
Meanwhile, the small town of Malton has crowned itself ‘Yorkshire’s food capital’ and offers its own gourmet walking tour.
All that hearty fare is best washed down with a pint of ale – discover a new favorite on the Transpennine Real Ale Trail – or a glass of the cool climate wines grown on 10 regional wineries. There’s even a handful of distilleries making gin and, at The Spirit of Yorkshire, the region’s first single malt whisky. Most breweries, wineries, and distilleries offer tours of their premises’ and tastings of their tipples.
Then again, perhaps what you really crave is simply the best of everything, and for that there is the Yorkshire Michelin Star Experience, which comprises starred eateries that range from gourmet pubs to ultra-modern, fine-dining meccas.
Many of Yorkshires culinary trails are self-guided and available for you to discover at your leisure, by foot, car or bicycle. Others are guided tours, led by locals with a passion for the region, its history and its food. Whichever you set out on, one thing is for sure: You will dine well, and fully.
Tempting dishes from our featured destinations give you a taste of local culture. From succulent roasts to exotic spicy fare and some divine desserts, you’re sure to find plenty of delicious recipes to try at home.
Holland America Line is teaming up with America’s Test Kitchen to offer an enticing selection of live onboard cooking shows and hands-on workshops where guests will learn foolproof techniques and user-friendly recipes to make delectable dishes with confidence.
We prefer imported Prosciutto di Parma or domestically made prepackaged Volpi Traditional Prosciutto. If using slice-to-order prosciutto, ask for it to be sliced 1/16 inch thick. Look for a hard Gruyère that is aged for at least 10 months and use a rasp-style grater or the small holes of box grater to grate it. Tagliatelle is a long, flat, dry egg pasta that is about 1/4 inch wide. If you cannot find tagliatelle, substitute pappardelle.
Each month we’re showcasing our cruise partners to bring you the latest on the cruise line and their ships. With different cruising styles and a variety of ships to choose from, you’ll find these profiles helpful for selecting the cruise that’s right for you.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises® is the world’s most inclusive luxury experience with a four-ship fleet that visits more than 450 destinations around the world.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises® is recognized as one of the world’s premier luxury lines with features such as 6-star, all-suite, all-balcony ships and superior space and service ratios. However, even more compelling than the quality of our ships is the adventurous spirit of RSSC - the imaginative itineraries, unique shore excursions and land tours, and the other innovative services we offer discerning guests. Destination Services features personalized services and programs that enable you to travel at your own pace and explore those things which interest you the most. From unique, pre-bookable adventures ashore to exclusive pre- and post-cruise land programs, the world is quite literally in the palm of your hand when you travel with Regent Seven Seas Cruises®
Fresh from her complete and total refurbishment, The Seven Seas Voyager® boasts a refreshed elegant style in her restaurants and lounges, as well as luxurious new décor across her 350 suites – each with spacious balconies. Among her four exquisite dining options is the new modern French restaurant Chartreuse.
Within this serene haven of repose, you will feel completely at home, as every imaginable amenity is included and a team of staff members tens to your requests, delivering a flawless experience at every turn. Each ship features all-suite accommodations that boast elegant décor with custom-crafted furnishings and marble accents, as well as private balconies with teak decks. Day or night, you will enjoy the ever-changing vistas that stretch to the horizon’s edge in ultimate luxury.
Savor, it’s all included. From the warm welcome of your Maitre D’ to the impeccable service of your Waiter to the elegant décor and flawless presentation of each restaurant aboard your ship, you will be consistently amazed and that’s before you are swept away by our Chef’s creations and our Sommelier’s perfect wine pairings. Whether you delight in a casual al fresco lunch at the Pool Grill while overlooking the ocean blue or savor a bountiful Italian feast at Sette Mari at La Veranda, our highly trained culinary team has put their heart and soul into making you every bit better than the last. Your Chefs are pleased to create dishes that are made to order in Compass Rose, and at our flagship steakhouse, Prime 7, indulge in a USDA Prime dry-aged porterhouse steak in a sophisticated ambiance. Time-honored French cuisine is elevated to new levels at Chartreuse.
Shore excursions are the heart of every destination, a way for you to experience the history, culture and cuisine of more than 450 fascinating ports of call – and only Regent Seven Seas Cruises® offers them for FREE. Learn a traditional dance, Watch whales breach up close. Indulge in authentic, local cuisine prepared by an acclaimed chef.
To further enhance your destination immersion, select voyages include a FREE 2- or 3-night, pre-or post-cruise Land Program that delve deeper into the cultures and experiences of destinations such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Bali, Sydney, New Zealand, and Dubai and the Emirates.
During your relaxing days and nights onboard, create unforgettable memories as you experience every luxurious amenity, wonderful performance and enriching activity onboard.
During the day, compete in a lively game of trivia or unwind on our peaceful Pool Deck. Join your fellow luxury travelers every afternoon for elegant tea service and invigorate your mind and body with a fitness class hosted by a Canyon Ranch instructor.
In the evenings, the ship comes alive with dynamic production shows especially designed for our intimate theater, while live musical performances entertain across our plush lounges. Your bartender gladly refreshes your drink as you and your partner dance to your favorite song or take the stage during karaoke.
Experience pure delight in the company of like-minded luxury travelers.
On select voyages, children age 17 or younger sail from as little as $999 and may participate in our Club Mariner Youth Program, designed for age groups 5 - 8, 9 - 12 and 13 – 17 and supervised by a staff of experienced and enthusiastic youth counselors. Share unique experiences with the whole family, onboard and ashore, as this special offer is combinable with FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions.
As soon as you step on board, you know you have arrived somewhere special. Warm and friendly faces greet you and offer a refreshing glass of champagne. And while your Butler puts the finishing touches on your Penthouse Suite, you may enjoy your first taste of our exquisite gourmet cuisine at one of our elegant restaurants. This is all within the first minutes of your arrival.
Throughout your voyage, our kind of generous international officers and staff will anticipate and fulfill your every need. From your delightful Suite Steward who refills your mini-bar with your favorite beverages to the Maitre D’ who knows that you prefer to sit by the window, this level of service sets a new standard for luxury beyond what you’ve previously experienced.