Our European neighbours of France and Italy have long been heralded as having the globe’s greatest gastronomy, but isn’t it time to turn our attention back to the fine foods from our own brilliant and bountiful land? From pasties in Cornwall to sticky toffee pudding in the Lakes, here is our culinary roadmap of the UK’s most iconic and nostalgic eats, and where to eat them. Let’s call it the great British food renaissance.

Left is a picture of homemade Cornish pasties, right is a bowl of sticky toffee pudding.

Where to eat Pasties in Cornwall

There's nothing quite like the smell of a freshly baked pasty, still warm from the oven, that leaves you pressing your nose up against the bakery window. With its golden-brown, buttery pastry and irresistibly savoury filling, its little wonder why the pasty has been one of Cornwall’s most beloved delicacies since its mining days. Whether transported at first bite back to your granny’s kitchen table — as you watch her chip the vegetables by hand and masterfully fold the pastry to form each perfectly crimped edge — or to the Cornish seaside from family summer holidays of past, the pasty is about as nostalgic as a British dish can be. For the best in the county, head to the family-run Gear Farm near the Helford; who handmake the pasties on site each morning, using fresh ingredients from the farm’s very own fields. 

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The Helford Estuary in Cornwall

Where to eat cheddar in Somerset

When young, we were led to believe that cheese comes from the moon thanks to Wallace and Gromit but, in fact, one of Britain’s most iconic cheeses — the holy cheddar — fortunately hails from somewhere much closer to home. Originating from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, with a history dating back to the 12th century, this fridge staple is loved for its rich, umami flavour and versatility: melted in toasties, stirred into sauces, and scattered over baked potatoes. But this humble ingredient is as key to elevating restaurant menus as it is sofa suppers. One Somerset joint really shaking things up is HOLM; whose signature dish by Nicholas Balfe uses the famed Westcombe Cheddar in a generous grating atop "fries" (or squares of fluffy potato in a crispy coating). Who said cheddar has to be boring?

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The Somerset countryside

Where to eat haggis in Scotland

It's the national dish of Scotland; haggis (a savoury pudding traditionally made from the liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep, mixed with suet, oatmeal, and spices, and then boiled inside the stomach) may not be everyone’s cup of tea on the surface, but it’s been a Scottish staple for centuries thanks to its earthy, peppery flavour and crumbly texture. A dish so loved by Scots that world-celebrated Scottish poet, Robert Burns, even decided to dedicate a whole poem to it. Unsurprisingly, iterations of the classic appear on menus throughout the country, including at Roberta Hall-McCarron’s The Little Chartroom in Edinburgh; who pays homage to the nostalgic eat in the form of a haggis dauphine, accompanying beef sirloin, barbecued chicory, and bone marrow sauce.

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Edinburgh in Scotland

Where to eat sticky toffee pudding in the Lake District

Who hasn’t luxuriated in a bowl of warm sticky toffee pudding and cream on a winter’s afternoon? One of Britain’s humblest (yet finest) puds, the sticky toffee pudding is a glorious combination of flour, eggs, butter, treacle, demerara sugar, and medjool dates. The village of Cartmel in the Lake District is said to be the home of the sacred sponge and has visitors frequenting its streets regularly to get a taste of the historical bonne bouche. Cartmel Village Shop handmakes the puddings using 100% natural ingredients and they’re said to be some of the finest money can buy. Plus, some unique twists on the classics can be enjoyed here too — from ginger, to chocolate, to figgy come Christmastime. 

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The Lake District National Park

Where to eat Welsh rarebit in Wales

It might date back to 18th century Wales, but this legendary dish comprising just toasted bread and thick cheese sauce (enriched with ale, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce) has found a place on most tables across the nation. And for good reason. From hangovers to heartbreak, there is little an oozy, "posh" cheese toastie can’t make right, if just for a minute or two. Particularly when perfectly scorched on top for that extra oomph of flavour. With countless cafes, pubs, and restaurants across Wales serving this nostalgic savoury treat, a firm favourite is The Black Bear Inn at the foot of the Black Mountains, whose Welsh rarebit is a staple snack on the menu — so good it even featured on Channel 4’s Remarkable Places to Eat.

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The Black Mountains in Wales

Where to eat greasy spoon guilty pleasures in London

Greasy spoon grub from London caffs is a part of British cuisine that can’t be ignored. From pie and mash to a full fry-up, these humble dishes make up part of Britain's culinary identity and should be celebrated. London’s Norman’s café has redefined the concept of stereotypical working class meals — one of a new-age of city establishments that are turning-out nostalgic classics, including the likes of chip butties and hundreds-and-thousands cake (like from your school canteen), with a refined twist. They’re so cool that even luxury fashion house Burberry wanted to collaborate with them for London Fashion Week.

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A street in London

Where to eat Sunday lunch in Yorkshire

One of Britain’s most nostalgic meals, the Sunday roast has become synonymous with Britishness. An end-of-the-week ritual with all the family gathered around the table — some heading first for the cauliflower cheese, others spearing as many roast potatoes as possible onto one fork before they’re all taken, and the rest drenching the whole plate in gravy. Said to have come to prominence during the reign of King Henry VII, it’s reported that the roast dinner quickly became a tradition in the Yorkshire area first (N.B. Yorkshire puds, or “dripping pudding", were once made from batter that was tipped into the fat underneath the roasting meat). For the best in Yorkshire, the Michelin-starred Sunday roast at the Star Inn at Harome is hard to beat. 

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The Yorkshire moors

Where to eat Stinking Bishop in the Cotswolds

Another of Britain’s iconic cheeses, Stinking Bishop has been handmade by producer Charles Martell on his farm in Gloucestershire since 1994. Surprisingly mellow in flavour and with a soft, creamy, and almost mousse-like texture, it’s always a hit on the cheeseboard, and even better when coupled with slices of pear for that unmatchable sweet-salty-tangy-rich hit. Over at Cowley Manor’s restaurant, chef Jaxon Boxer uses the region’s famed cheese in his much-adored Stinking Bishop gougères, best enjoyed with a glass of English fizz, alongside other county-produced ingredients such as Gloucestershire Old Spot croquettes.

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GP3233 - The Cotswolds

Where to eat scones in Devon or Cornwall

Allegedly originating from Scotland, everyone knows that the first thing pondered when baking or buying a scone is the age-old question "jam or cream first?" It's a divide between south-westerly neighbours (or rivals) Devon and Cornwall that spans decades. Devonians are die hard cream-firsters, whereas for Cornish folk; the only way is jam first, then cream. Either way, the scone is without question one of the most beloved British-born sweet treats — featuring on luxurious three-tier afternoon teas across the UK, including at Devon's much-adored Hotel Endsleigh and undoubtedly every bakery in the South West. Now, back to the all important question. For me? It has to be jam first, otherwise I may no longer have a seat left at my granny's kitchen table.

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The Devon seaside