Taste regional traditions like the iconic Cornish pasty, indulge at Michelin-starred restaurants, sample some of the freshest seafood in the world and finish off with a tipple or two of regional cider, ale or gin.
10 of South West England's gourmet treats
1. Sip Thatchers Somerset Cider, Somerset
Nestled at the foot of the Mendip Hills, family-run Thatchers Cider has been quietly perfecting the magic that turns apples into cider for more than a hundred years, with each generation passing on top-secret cider-making methods. In Sandford, visit the 140-year-old Railway Inn for a pint of Thatchers and visit the Thatchers Shop packed with ciders on the shelves, along with local cheeses and chutneys.
2. Taste a proper Cornish pasty, Cornwall
There's nothing quite like sinking your teeth into a locally-made Cornish pasty bursting with a humble yet tasty filling of meat, potato, swede plus a few other secret ingredients. The Cornish pasty was invented in Redruth, the former heart of the tin mining industry, as an all-in-one meal for the miners. The town is now part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape UNESCO World Heritage Site, which you can explore on a bike trail.
3. Tuck into freshly-caught seafood, Cornwall
You’re never more than 16 miles from the sea in Cornwall, so it’s no surprise that the county is home to a vast amount of exquisite seafood. On the north coast, two-star Michelin chef, Nathan Outlaw is famed for his seafood dishes, available at both The Mariners and his self-titled restaurant in Rock, along with the bijou Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Port Issac. Other Michelin-star chefs include Chris Eden, at the Driftwood near St Mawes and the renowned Rick Stein, who has several establishments in Padstow serving everything from top-quality fish and chips to gourmet fayre.
4. Visit one of the oldest gin distilleries in the world, Devon
Drink up the authentic English gin experience by taking a 40-minute tour of the Black Friars Distillery in Plymouth, the oldest working gin distillery in England. You’ll be guided around the working home of Plymouth Gin since 1793 - find out about the history of the distillery, which used to be a monastery, and get an introduction to how Plymouth Gin is made. History lovers can indulge in a cocktail in the Distillery's historic bar 'The Refectory', believed to be the room where the Pilgrim Fathers spent their last night before setting sail for the New World.
5. A Traditional Devonshire Cream Tea, and more…
Devon is rapidly establishing itself as an exciting food destination. From award winning fish and chip restaurants to Michelin starred fine dining, we have a wide choice of culinary experiences, all in stunning surroundings. Enjoy mouthwatering dishes at the range of waterfront cafes, tea rooms, bars and restaurants we have on offer. Here you’ll find a vibrant café culture to experience while you relax and watch the waves roll out across the sea. No-one should go home without trying one of the English Riviera’s famous cream teas with local Devonshire cream and home-made jam. Not to mention a trip to Cockington to smell the delightful aromas and taste the delicious chocolate being made by the chocolatiers. If you fancy a tipple, you can visit local breweries and sample their famous beers and ales or take a trip to a vineyard and enjoy one of England’s most outstanding wines and cheese.
6. Sup a pint of traditional ale, Wiltshire
Visit Wadworth Brewery, in the heart of Devizes, Wiltshire to discover the traditional techniques used in the brewing of beer still used to this day. Join a two-hour brewery tour and learn how beer and ale has been crafted in Devizes since 1875. See the traditional sign-writing artists at work in the studio and meet the Shire Horses who still deliver the beer locally around the town. When your tour has finished, head to the Sample Bar within the Visitor Centre to taste the final product and decide which of the beers is your favourite.
7. Change your opinion of English wine, Gloucestershire
The rolling hills and valleys of Gloucestershire provide a unique microclimate perfect for growing grapes. Nestled in the Forest of Dean, The Three Choirs Winery grows modern grape varieties side-by-side with world-renowned grapes, such as Pinot Noir and Bacchus. This, along with cultivation methods adopted from the world’s most modern winemakers, gives a strong international flavour to the vineyards. Open all year, with wine tasting and tours every day, take a wander through the vines or dine in the fine restaurant.
8. Sample the local tipples of Bath
Head to one of the oldest pubs in Bath, The Star Inn, for a refreshing pint of Abbey Ales’ Bellringer. This charming 16th Century pub has no gimmicks; it’s just a good old fashioned English inn. Abbey Ales can also be sampled at the Coeur De Lion, The Trinity and the Assembly Inn. Check out Bath Ales too, another local brewery, and sample their ales at three lovely pubs; Graze, The Hop Pole and the Salamander. Also bang on trend for this year is the Electric Bear Brewing Co, an artisan brewer specialising in craft ale lager and stout.
9. Discover a city of food in Bristol
Bristol is home to an array of award-winning restaurants including three Michelin-starred venues: The Pony & Trap sits in a 200-year old country inn; Casamia offers seasonal dining experiences, with both the tasting menus and the décor of the restaurant change throughout the year, and Wilks in Redland serves vibrant European dishes in and modern surroundings. Bristol’s streets are also bursting with eclectic cafes, restaurants and food stalls – offering everything from the conventional to the eccentric in locations that vary from the everyday to the remarkable.
10. Stop by the River Cottage, Devon
This award-winning restaurant and deli uses the finest seasonal and local produce with delicious freshly prepared food served throughout the day. River Cottage Canteen has a laidback, family friendly vibe, with a dedicated children’s menu for younger members of the group plus the option to eat half portions of anything on the menu for the more adventurous eaters. The stunning a la carte menu is offset with a fantastic selection of seasonal cocktails and locally sourced drinks. In the evening, the restaurant comes alive with events, dining experiences, live music and much more. The stunning a la carte menu is offset with a fantastic selection of seasonal cocktails and locally sourced drinks.