Thursday, May 14, 2015

British Adventures, The Candy Critic's Travel Guide

Last week I posted the first entry in our three part series about a recent trip to Europe.  Part one was all about the French leg of our journey, full of pastries, crepes, and Disney stuff.  Today I'm going to write about the British leg of our journey.  Most of this journey took place in England, however we did spend one day in Wales, that provided us with an interesting sweet surprise.
This was by no means our first trip to the UK, in fact the UK tends to be a regular stop for us whenever we travel in Europe.  It might just be a stop over with a day or two in London, or it could be a grand adventure through the British countryside.  This particular trip was more about the grand road trip, and we managed to stop in a few places both in the north and in the south west.

The thing that always appeals to me when I travel to the UK is the fact that the treats are fairly recognizable.  Some British sweets and foods are very common in Canada, so when I travel to the UK it gives us a little taste of home.  Treats that aren't available in Canada are still fairly comfortable to our palettes.  I'm rarely shocked by any British foods, but instead I'm filled with a certain feeling of comfort.  The other great thing about the British palette is their love of sweets and pub food, two of my favorite things.
This trip started out at a friend of ours' wedding.  The great thing about this friend (and his family), is they have the traditional British love of sweets.  The dessert table at this wedding was filled with all kinds of amazing treats, many of them were even homemade.  I could go one for hours about how much I loved this food, but that's not really fair to you since many of treats aren't available to you unless you're friendly with a local British family.  I'll tell you this much, the meringues were fantastic.
The second part of our British experience was all about driving around exploring the countryside.  Food wise the two themes seemed to be cheese and Scones with clotted cream.  In some cases we were lucky enough to experience both at the same time.  One of our great stops was in the beautiful city of Cheddar.  There I learned that real cheddar is not about being orange, but instead it's about being aged in the caves of the Cheddar Gorge.  It's not only a beautiful place naturally, but there are plenty of places in the area to have a cheese sandwich (made with real cheddar) and some scones with clotted cream.
Our obsession with clotted cream comes from a past experience we had in Scotland where we sampled the best scones with clotted cream we've ever had in our entire lives.  It came from a fairly unlikely place, a cafeteria on the shores of Loch Ness.  Since then, every time we go out in the UK countryside, we always get a craving for scones with clotted cream.  This was no different, and I'm sure we managed to fill our cravings at least 6 or 7 times on this journey.
While Cheddar is a great all around place to enjoy some British food in a beautiful setting, on our second day we visited a large ice cream shop in a town with a really strange name, Mumbles, in Wales.  The place has a very simple name "Joe's", but it serves up what might be the best vanilla ice cream I've ever had in my entire life.  If you're not convinced by one Candy Critic's opinion, just check out the Tripadvisor page for this ice cream place.  You can ask just about anybody in the town what to visit, and before they suggest the seaside, or the castle, they'll ask if you've had ice cream at Joe's yet.

If you go, I recommend getting the plain vanilla, if you want you can ad some sprinkles or nuts, but don't go for the flavours.  It's not that the flavours are bad that I know of, it's just the vanilla is so good.  It's smooth, creamy, and has a beautiful texture.  This was one of the best food finds of this trip, and I can't recommend it any more.  After eating Cheddar in Cheddar, and with a belly filled with Joe's ice cream, we headed to London.  London is always a great place for anybody with a sweet tooth, however it's not really perfect.
I've noticed a trend in London of these places selling import candy, most of which is American, Canadian, and Australian.  While I love the fact that they're exposing candies from around the world to the folks in the UK, I do have a beef with their prices and policies.  The shop above in particular is a prime example of this problem.  When I went into this shop I found that the only person to even look my direction was the large security guard.  Most of the staff was either wondering or too busy to talk to anybody.  The prices were extremely high (I can kind of accept that because of shipping costs), but they had many policies about buying a minimal number of each candy.  When I travel I like to sample small amounts of each candy, but this place refused to sell me a candy that I was interested in and told me I had to buy a minimum of 4.  I don't mind big candy stores, and I accept the price increase because of the imports, but I don't accept stupid policies, and I hate it when I find local candies in these stores at jacked up prices (to get the tourists).  Worst of all, the woman I spoke to (who I assume was the manager or owner) was very rude to me, and wore a constant scowl.  There, rant over.
So I don't end this post on a bad note, I wanted to share with you guys something I noticed on one of the Tube trains in London.  It appears that the chair cover design, may have been inspired by one of the UKs more famous candies, Licorice Allsorts. You be the judge.


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