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There’s more to food in the beautiful northwestern county of Lancashire than the famed hotpot. Hike the West Pennine Moors or take a coastal stroll, and reward yourself with fine British seafood, gourmet treats, farmers’ market delights, or a simple doorstop sandwich with pot of strong tea (or even stronger local ale).
Don’t leave Lancashire without trying…
Glorious seafood from Morecambe Bay
Lancashire is flanked by 137 miles of stunning coastline, and Morecambe Bay, the large tidal estuary that makes up much of Northern Lancashire’s coast, is known for its abundance of glorious seafood. Most famously, this includes cockles and shrimps; highly regarded for their delicate, sweet taste, they are cooked in clarified, spiced butter to make the prized delicacy that is Morecambe Bay potted shrimps.
A shortcrust pie filled with potatoes and onions may sound somewhat austere, but it’s much more satisfying than you’d imagine. Historically, ‘butter pie’ would be eaten on a Friday, when meat wasn’t meant to be consumed by Lancashire’s Catholics. Nowadays you’ll find it all served at all times, all over the county, in traditional bakeries, farm shops, and even at football matches. It’s vegetarian and can be eaten on its own or as accompaniment to other Lancashire fare such as pickled red cabbage or locally grown beets.
The great debate about the origins of black pudding knows no bounds, but Lancashire is certainly famed for it, and it’s delicious. Haslingden and Bury are known particularly for their classic blood puddings, which are great fried and served as part of a full English, but increasingly used creatively on high-end restaurant menus. Black pudding can also be used in a variety of other dishes: as stuffing in special roasts, and it’s fried and served with a parsnip and potato rösti, a poached egg and hollandaise sauce.
Capra Products goat’s cheese
Top chefs across Lancashire are waxing lyrical about the quality of the beautiful, soft and creamy goat’s cheese made by Gill and Martin McManaman. They operate a small farm, with fewer than 150 goats, near Preston and it produces one of the best goat’s cheeses you’ll ever taste.
No list of must-try Lancashire foods would be complete without hotpot. Not all hotpots are created equal, however. A proper Lancashire hotpot should be made with the best end and middle of lamb neck. Of course, it should have a sliced potato lid, that’s finished off in the oven just before serving, so the edges crisp up, and glazed with melted butter. Chargrilled lamb cutlets are a luxurious addition. It’s got to be served with spiced braised cabbage and mint jelly.
Corned beef hash
A guilty pleasure like no other. Corned beef fanatics have been known to make their own, but the stuff in tins is, frankly, grand. A thoroughly tasty and sustaining meal for any time of the week. Top with a fried duck egg to make it extra filling.
Properly made, Chorley cakes are a real thing of beauty, and a delight to eat. The lesser known cousin of the ubiquitous Eccles cake, Chorley cakes are significantly less sweet. Spiced currants and sugar are enveloped in buttery, flaky pastry and baked, and a glaze of egg white and sugar gives them a satisfying crunch. Accept no factory-made imitations.
A proper example of the Yorkshire/Lancashire divide, the two counties have been fighting over the rights to this scrumptious, gingery cake for centuries. Proper parkin is made with oatmeal and is the ultimate cheering, wintry treat. Top tip: try it with homemade custard for a delicious pud.
Forest of Bowland game
Officially recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Forest of Bowland is a renowned location to shoot game. A historic royal hunting ground, it is to this day part of the Duchy of Lancaster, and owned by Her Majesty the Queen. Within the Forest of Bowland you’ll discover some of Lancashire’s finest dining pubs, including The Good Food Guide’s only pub entry, Freemason’s at Wiswell, and Parkersarms, featured in The Times Top 100 Gastropubs.
J. Atkinson’s Coffee and Tea Merchants, Lancaster
J Atkinson & Co. have been supplying tea and coffee to the good citizens of Lancaster and surrounding areas since a young Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837. Today, as one of Lancashire’s great survivor businesses, it is thriving under the stewardship of the Steel family.
They are obsessive about sourcing, roasting and serving their coffee. Apart from the old shop, they also have two cafés (The Music Room and The Hall) in Lancaster, where, coaxed inside by the delicious aroma of coffee beans freshly roasted onsite, one can enjoy their teas, and coffee made by expertly trained baristas.
For more information, visit the Lancashire tourism site.
Is there anything we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below…