Written By Guest Writer Destinations / Places Feb 11, 2013 Gourmet Backpacking Part 1: Ireland, Scotland and England SHARE VIA: Facebook Twitter PinterestLeft: Myself — Courtney Schwegel on left, and my friend right before we left. Right: Delicious pizzette. Eating, Drinking, and Cooking My Way Around Europe – Part One of Five.Bread, cheese, and more bread—behold the typical diet of young backpackers, who scrimp on food to save money for all those iconic and often overpriced cultural experiences. While climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower or going on a personal, guided tour of the Vatican are highlights of many people’s European adventures, my adventures were a bit different. A Great Fresh Fruit StandFresh out of culinary and pastry school in Vancouver, where I had spent a year leaning about European cuisine, I was hungry to experience the real deal. I wanted to discover the art of French home-cooking in France’s countryside, explore the process of German beer-making in Bavaria, learn how to make Paella in the south of Spain, and experience cafe culture in Vienna. I yearned to browse open-air markets, interacting with the farmers and artisans and cook with the fruits of their labour. With nothing more than 30 pounds strapped to our backs, a good friend and I, both of us avid foodies, ventured off to Europe with open minds and open mouths. Our three month, nine country trip was packed full of amazing food experiences (about fifteen pounds worth, to be honest). As our waistlines expanded, so did our cultural understanding. We found that the easiest and often the least expensive way to get a true taste of culture was to put it in my mouth. After all, a lot can be understood about a region and its people by examining the attitudes and traditions surrounding its cuisine and the enjoying the cuisine itself. And so it began in Ireland, Scotland and England. While not necessarily famous for their phenomenal food, each offered up unexpected treats. In Ireland, it was the dairy products. In a land abundant in striking emerald pastures, grass-fed dairy is the norm, not a sought-after luxury. Everything from the cream to the yogurt had a bold, almost gamey, flavour, a golden hue and an exceptionally velvety mouth-feel. And the cheddar cheese— characterizing this cheese as sharp took on a literal meaning as it was peppered with the tiny, crunchy, intensely-flavoured crystals formed by calcium lactate during the aging process. After our first taste of it, our picnic lunches always included a big block of Old Irish Cheddar, which I quickly deemed to be the king of all cheddars. Scottish Breakfast at Annya’s CafeOur week-long love affair with Irish cows came to an end as we headed to Inverness, a little town in the Scottish Highlands, for a week of bagpipes, beer, and black pudding. We quickly discovered that a full Scottish breakfast is an effective cure after a full Scottish evening. A hefty plate of fried eggs, beans, sausage, black pudding, potato scones, and grilled tomato always hit the spot at Annya’s Cafe. After a nibble of the starchy potato scone and a bite of crispy, oily, unctuous blood sausage, I reminded myself to go to the Shine Cafe when I got back home to Victoria, the only restaurant that I know of here that serves up an authentic Scottish breakfast. After boosting our iron levels with enough black pudding, we took an overnight bus to London. Our time in London was spent exploring the city on foot, gawking at Big Ben, taking in an Evensong service at Westminster Abbey, and visiting the tower of London. After all the walking, we craved rich, heavy, stick-to-your-ribs fare. Luckily, we were in the right country for that. We’d heard buzz about a little Pie shop in Covent Garden called The Battersea Pie Station that served up individual meat pies for £5 a pop. I opted for the traditional steak and kidney pie and was pleasantly surprised—it had a wonderfully flaky, buttery, crisp crust and big hunks of rich kidney coated in a deep, meaty gravy. This pie alone was enough to convince me that not all British food is bullocks. Satiated with our sampling of Ireland, Scotland and England, we continued on to Spain and France, the two countries that held the most culinary promise for us. We were hungry for a little more culinary excitement in the form of paella and pissaladière. Little did we know that what was waiting for our taste buds would exceed our expectations.— Courtney Schwegel Look for Part Two of Courtney’s travels coming soon: Spain. breakfastenglandirelandpiePlacesScotlandscottish breakfast SHARE VIA: Facebook Twitter Pinterest Written By: Guest Writer We get many people writing guest articles for us, as well as past contributors. This is the Guest ... Read More You may also like Destinations / Travel March 3, 2020 Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort Continued from March | April EAT magazine’s Best of Asia in Mexico. by Shelora Sheldan The morning after the Taste of Asia event, after ... Read More Chefs / Destinations / Epicure at Large / Food People / Travel August 1, 2019 Letters From Lyon August 2019 Cher Eat, I have been wondering a lot lately about how Lyon gained such a recognisable status in gastronomy. Sure, yes there are plenty of ... Read More Chefs / Culture / Destinations / Elsewhere / Travel May 7, 2019 An Introduction to Letters from Lyon to EAT I have spent my career thus far with a few goals in mind: climb the brigade of each kitchen I set foot in, put in my time and become “chef”. ... Read More Destinations November 2, 2017 November Tofino News An old Tofino classic is going to be new again. The Maquinna Pub, part of the Maquinna Hotel building at Main and First Sts., is set to reopen soon ... Read More Destinations / First Look June 26, 2017 Newly relaunched Cure Lounge in Whistler is just in time for summer fun Nita Lake Lodge proudly relaunched its Cure lounge just in time for some fun in the sun during Canada’s 150th summer. Built in 2008, Nita Lake ... Read More Destinations March 16, 2017 Tofino – Ucluelet March Food Buzz Welcome to spring from the west coast. This time of year means the return of migrating whales past our shores, and the event that welcomes them – ... Read More Comments are closed.