Friday, October 25, 2013

England: Pubs and Food and Butcher Shops, A Randomly Rambling Post

This is the "pub tour." I told my husband I'd never been in so many bars in my entire life as I had during our stay in England. But a pub, as you probably know, is not a bar in the American sense. Pubs cater to families; the atmosphere is welcoming and friendly, and nowadays the old-time pub is shifting from a drinking establishment to more of a restaurant, with food gaining top billing.

These pics are in random order, with no real plan about how I presented them. I was just sorting through my photos and realized that I had quite a few of pubs and food, so here they are:

Below is the Red Lion in Grantchester. The exterior looks like Olde England, doesn't it? We didn't have an opportunity to eat here but did stop in one evening during their Beer Festival.

I was hoping for traditional music, but the night we visited the band was a reggae group. I like reggae but we weren't in the mood for it. It was chilly evening, too, and hanging out in a tent didn't look like fun to us. We did go inside briefly but didn't stay. The inside (no photos, unfortunately) was nice, very much like I expected with low ceilings, dark wood and warm golden light.

The Green Man is almost next door to the Red Lion. I loved the name; talk about harking back to olden times! Inside, however, it has been redecorated to a more upscale look, with the now-popular gray paint and clean modern lines. We ate lunch here; the food was good but the atmosphere was missing that coziness I associate with pubs, and there was no sign of the mysticism associated with the Green Man of folklore. Ah well.

Okay, this isn't a pub but I loved the pig outside! This was in Swaffham, and the name of the owner also struck me because my cousin Julie had told me just the day before that there were Papworths in our family tree. Meats and sausages displayed in the windows looked delicious. I wish we still had such shops in the US.

Again, not a pub but the next best thing: an English breakfast prepared by my cousin Les. I helped a little (only cooking the eggs). From the top, clockwise: toasted white bread that is much more full-bodied and flavorful than what passes for white bread in the US; good strong Yorkshire "Red" brand tea, black pudding (delicious!), broiled mushroom (to die for), fried egg, fresh tomato from the garden (the English and Irish like to cook the tomato but I prefer them fresh). In the center, sausages. I don't know what kind they were but they were delicious. While in the US "eating local" is a fairly new trend, in England people seem to eat that way as a matter of course. The eggs were free-range, the tomatoes grown by cousin John in Aunt Flo's garden, and Les knew the places where the sausage and black pudding were made.

This next photo was also in Swaffham, in the teashoppe where was stopped for a midmorning cuppa. Look at the cream on those scones! They were at least six inches high, I swear, heaped with raspberry jam and cream. My, my, my. I did not order one but they were certainly tempting.

 Now this was how I pictured a pub! This was the Rupert Brooke, Les' "local"--the place he went on weekends. Named for the poet who once lived in Grantchester and made it famous through his poem "The Old Vicarage, Grantchester", this was our last stop on our last evening in England, and it was a fine finish. It was reunion night for Les' class--they meet once a month here. When we walked in the place was alive with talk and laughter. We met Les' classmates and had a really good time talking with them all.

Warm and cozy atmosphere, comfortable seating, good company and good IPG ale--it was perfect. I, not being a beer drinker, stuck to my white wine. Before we left, the group sang "Country Roads" for us, the visiting West Virginians. We felt so welcome and at home! Sadly, the Rupert Brooke closed the next weekend, to be remodeled into an "upscale" restaurant. What could be more upscale than a place as welcoming as this?

I posted a bit about the Dog and Duck before. Owned by Les' friend Sam, this pub featured a fish and chips night that drew a large crowd. The food was excellent--it's odd how fried food can be so different. The fish and the potatoes were crispy and hot, but not at all greasy.

And look at this dessert! I ordered the chocolate-orange tart, which came with a side of vanilla ice cream. It was delicious, like a large chunk of chocolate with a hint of orange. Larry and I together could not eat all of it.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein. 


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

There are still a few old-style pubs around, Sue, but you have to search them out these days. Now get back on the diet if you want to do "Uncle Ted's walk" next time you're here!

Granny Sue said...

LOL, John! After all that good food in England, I was back to the diet as soon as I got home! So let's see how I do before I visit again. Although walking is really not difficult for me in any case, so that's a good thing. Larry has more trouble with it these days.

Rowan said...

English food is pretty decent really isn't it? I'm so glad we still have proper butchers and greengrocers shops here in the UK. You were brave to try black puddings - I like them and they were a real favourite of my dad's but they are an acquired taste I think.

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