Home  >  Eating Out, Traveling  >  Jolly Ol’ England

Jolly Ol’ England

Kat and Kristin enjoying some desserts at Buckingham Palace.

Kat and Kristin enjoying some desserts at Buckingham Palace.

If scenic views and good eats are your idea of a good time, then I would highly suggest a trip to England. Both the city of London and countryside settings of Woodstock were vibrant, full of heritage and eye-opening. Don’t you dare be fooled by the rumors that are somehow adopted, as in you’ll never get a good meal in England. Lies, all lies.

My  job allowed me the amazing opportunity to travel over to England, and the time spent playing tourist was all about living every moment through one meal at a time (as far as my stomach and this blog was concerned). While this post may be a few months late in coming, the adventures to share with you will never expire, so please enjoy!

Iconic phone booth of London, England.

Iconic phone booth of London, England.

The main event our trip was focused on was the Fidelity Blenheim International Horse Trials, whose backdrop is Blenheim Palace. We traveled from Boston, MA to Heathrow, London to Woodstock  and came in on no sleep just as the event was beginning. From there it was a non-stop roller coaster of activity and culture for the next couple of days at Blenheim Palace and surrounding town of Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

Many of these pictures immediately below will focus on the sheer difference of not only attendance levels at events, but the variety of foods they have as well. It was amazing to see the quality and variety to be had. If only every event in the U.S. was like this, what a treat!

Cross country jumping taking place with Blenheim Palace in the backdrop.

Cross country jumping taking place with Blenheim Palace in the backdrop.

They have this at a horse show, far out!

They have cheese at a horse show, far out! Amazing quality thanks to Neal’s Yard Dairy.

English cheddars, yum!

English cheddars, yum!

This stuff was phenomenal, and if you trust me, then this MUST come stateside!

This stuff was phenomenal, and if you trust me, then this MUST come stateside! Yamas!

Double Cream Ice Cream!

Double Cream Ice Cream!

Delicious Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from Beechdean.

Delicious Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from Beechdean. And not nearly as heavy as one would imagine.

Whipped ice cream, super rich and delicious!

Whipped ice cream, super rich and delicious!

Yummy American-like Ice Cream in England!

Yummy American-like Ice Cream in England! Can you tell I have an addiction?

Salted Caramel Ice Cream from Jude's UK.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream from Jude’s UK.

LOOK at those meringues and his happy smiling face!

LOOK at those meringues and his happy smiling face! Thanks to the Little Round Cake Company.

Pastries of all shapes, sizes and tastes.

Pastries of all shapes, sizes and tastes.

Licorice from Italy and super yummy.

Saint Valentines Liquorice Company supplying licorice from Italy which was super yummy, and much too my surprise, filled too!

And then of course we watched some of the horses, sat in on the exhibitions and took part in the “job” aspect of why we were over there….and then we had to try more food.

Ladies demonstrating jumping/hunting sidesaddle. Downton Abbey pride!

Ladies demonstrating jumping/hunting sidesaddle. Downton Abbey pride!

Shucking oysters at Blenheim Palace Horse Trials.

Shucking oysters at Blenheim Palace Horse Trials.

Oysters and champagne at a horse show!

Oysters and champagne at a horse show! Still can’t believe it myself.

LOVED this sign, definitely got my interest piqued!

LOVED this sign, definitely got my interest piqued!

Roasted chicken with a lame but pretty green bean salad.

Roasted chicken with a lame but pretty green bean salad.

Best disposable utensils ever! Super strong and biodegradable!!!

Best disposable utensils ever! Super strong and biodegradable!!!

The event provided more than enough to do as well as to eat and experience, but we had to make our way to actual Blenheim Palace for various events, and tours of course. The highlight to one evening was getting to meet the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, who reside over Blenheim Palace and the estate. It truly was an honor. We saw much of the grounds and inside to the palace itself to boot. It took me back to another era (Downton Abbey-esque) and opened our eyes to the immense history this country has to offer.

Blenheim Palace.

Blenheim Palace.

Standing outside Blenheim Palace.

Standing outside Blenheim Palace.

Cool, crisp and refreshing pear cider from Brothers.

Cool, crisp and refreshing pear cider from Brothers.

Brothers line of hard ciders, aka Pear Cider with various flavorings. My favorite was the original.

Brothers line of hard ciders, aka Pear Cider with various flavorings. My favorite was the original.

Best sparkling water ever!

Best sparkling water ever!

Lemonade made from Blenheim Palace Sparkling Water, yum!

Samulesons of Witney Lemonade made from Blenheim Palace Sparkling Water, yummy!

Speaking of Blenheim Palace Sparkling Water, the story is quite unique and worth sharing. Blenheim Palace Natural Mineral Water is part of a centuries-old tradition which began in the twelfth century when Henry II built a pleasure pool for his mistress, Rosamund Clifford, here at Blenheim Palace. The pool was fed by an ancient spring which, legend maintains, has never dried. Rosamund’s Well can be seen to this day and the water has been highly valued ever since. When demand for Blenheim Palace Natural Mineral Water outstripped supply in recent years, a further source was found in the Park and a bottling plant was established. It is from here that this prestigious and delicious drink now springs.

Blenheim Palace various offerings including macarons. The chocolate were the better of the two.

Blenheim Palace various offerings including macarons. The chocolate were the better of the two.

Chips found at Blenheim Palace and my absolute favorite kind ever. Wish I could get them here! Courtesy Jonathan Crisp.

Chips found at Blenheim Palace and my absolute favorite kind ever. Wish I could get them in the States! Courtesy Jonathan Crisp.

Bangers and mash at Blenheim Palace. English beef and ale bangers with caramelized onion mash.

Bangers and mash at Blenheim Palace. English beef and ale bangers with caramelized onion mash.

Happy to be digging into my bangers and mash!

Happy to be digging into my bangers and mash!

This is a picture of the kitchen walls at Blenheim Palace. The kitchens were removed from the main Palace to lessen the risk of fire and so the smells would not penetrate the quarters. These nails were used for the fruit trees to be able to be secured to, amongst other uses.

This is a picture of the kitchen walls at Blenheim Palace. The kitchens were removed from the main Palace to lessen the risk of fire and so the smells would not penetrate the quarters. These nails were used for the fruit trees to be able to be secured to, amongst other uses.

Blenheim Palace morning fog.

Blenheim Palace morning fog.

I absolutely cannot forego the amazing food to be had directly outside of the grounds of Blenheim Palace in the town of Woodstock, Oxfordshire. We ate at the high-end dining experience of The King’s Arms, had Indian food at Jaan Indian Cuisine (not pictured), and dessert at Star Inn. My favorite breakfast items came from the French market that appeared in town for the weekend we were there. It included so many wonderful treats, but more importantly was the freshly baked croissants and baked goods. Oh, how I could go for a fresh chocolate croissant and Illy espresso right now :-)

Inside the Kings Arm Restuarant.

Inside the King’s Arms Restuarant.

Duck leg confit with samphire grass and roasted potatoes courtesy of the Kings Arm Restaurant.

Duck leg confit with samphire grass and roasted potatoes courtesy of the King’s Arms Restaurant.

OMGoodness amazing warm brownie courtesy of the Starr Inn!

OMGoodness amazing warm brownie courtesy of the Star Inn!

And what's that they have there??? None other than a Cape Gooseberry at the Starr Inn!

And what’s that they have there??? None other than a Cape Gooseberry at the Star Inn!

Assortment of condiments and Olives at a local French market in Woodstock.

Assortment of condiments and Olives at a local French market in Woodstock.

Garlic prawns at a French market.

Garlic prawns at a French market.

Salames and Sausages from a French vendor whilst we were in Woodstock, look at what kinds there are available- kangaroo!

Salames and Sausages from a French vendor whilst we were in Woodstock, look at what kinds there are available- kangaroo!

My favorite vendor at the French market in Woodstock who had the absolute best French croissants, and chocolate ones at that!

My favorite vendor at the French market in Woodstock who had the absolute best French croissants, and chocolate ones at that!

"Lobster tail" stuffed with Nutella courtesy of the French market. My absolute new favorite find!

“Lobster tail” stuffed with Nutella courtesy of the French market. My absolute new favorite find!

Just after the awards were handed out on the last day of the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, we traveled back to London for the duration of our stay. We had dinner in our hotel, the newest Hilton at the Heathrow Airport. We had various meetings and were able to see a few neighborhoods and attractions, most notable, Buckingham Palace. We weren’t allowed to have our cameras inside the palace itself, but when we made it outside, we were fortunate enough to find a cafe, with a number of goodies that didn’t disappoint! The Phoenix Cafe was our lucky find with a truly awesome vibe AND food.

Pear, watercress and stilton salad at our Hilton hotel at Terminal 5 Heathrow Airport.

Pear, watercress and stilton salad at our Hilton hotel at Terminal 5 Heathrow Airport.

Ham hock tartine at our Hilton Hotel at the Heathrow Airport. All I can say is that it was different and probably not something I would order again, but it was pretty.

Ham hock tartine at our Hilton Hotel at the Heathrow Airport. All I can say is that it was different and probably not something I would order again, but it was pretty.

Buckingham Palace grounds.

Buckingham Palace grounds.

Royal hot chocolate at Buckingham Palace.

Royal hot chocolate at Buckingham Palace.

A most delicious Strawberry Frangipane at Buckingham Palace.

A most delicious Strawberry Frangipane at Buckingham Palace.

Diamond Cake at Buckingham Palace, chocolate mousse, chocolate cake and graham type biscuits.

Diamond Cake at Buckingham Palace, chocolate mousse, chocolate cake and graham type biscuits.

Showing my tongue off with the Buckingham Palace crown, very immature, but too fun not to! Thank you England!

Showing my tongue off with the Buckingham Palace crown, very immature, but too fun not to! Thank you England!

A delicious local beef burger found at Phoenix in downtown London. The condiments of tomato jam and homemade thousand island-type dressing were phenomenal.

A delicious local beef burger found at Phoenix in downtown London. The condiments of tomato jam and homemade thousand island-type dressing were phenomenal.

The fantastic wallpaper at Phoenix. A very French setting indeed.

The fantastic wallpaper at Phoenix. A very French setting indeed.

One of the most amazing places I have ever been in, due to sheer size, availability and luxury, was Harrods. The store occupies a 5-acre site and has over one million square feet of selling space in over 330 departments making it the biggest department store in Europe. The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus UbiqueAll Things for All People, Everywhere. Several of its departments, including the seasonal Christmas department and the Food Hall, are world famous. Amazing, just amazing. Not only did I spend hours in just the food departments, but I found Laduree’s!  I actually bought most of my souvenirs here, and treats for myself too :-)

Foie Gras at Harrod's (this is a very high end luxury department store).

Foie Gras at Harrods (this is a very high end luxury department store).

The dry aged prime beef at Harrod's.

The dry aged prime beef at Harrods.

The absolutely stunning meat department at Harrod's, perfectly butchered.

The absolutely stunning meat department at Harrods, perfectly butchered.

Caviar at Harrod's

Caviar at Harrods

The fruit basket from Harrod's with very amazing fruits of perfect ripeness.

The fruit basket from Harrods with very amazing fruits of perfect ripeness.

The chocolates and gourmet groceries department at Harrod's.

The chocolates and gourmet groceries department at Harrods.

The selection of fruits at Harrod's and some I've never heard of before!

The selection of fruits at Harrods and some I’ve never heard of before!

I spied some Gooseberries in this department amongst many other wonderful delicacies at Harrod's.

I spied some Gooseberries in this department amongst many other wonderful delicacies at Harrods.

The tea room at Harrod's.

The tea room at Harrods.

Cupcakes at Harrods.

Cupcakes at Harrods.

Scenting station where you can identify various scents hidden in wines. It was harder than one may think!

Scenting station where you can identify various scents hidden in wines. It was harder than one may think!

Some of the amazing sugared confections to purchase for tea and coffee at Harrod's, including all the amazing trinkets around it.

Some of the amazing sugared confections to purchase for tea and coffee at Harrods, including all the amazing trinkets around it.

Absolutely delicious Raspberry Lemonade with hints of vanilla.

Absolutely delicious Raspberry Lemonade with hints of vanilla.

Dinner at Harrods.

Dinner at Harrods.

This doesn't look like much, as it's only 100g but it's local twenty day aged beef cooked.

This doesn’t look like much, as it’s only 100g but it’s local twenty day aged beef cooked.

Salad accompaniment to dinner.

Salad accompaniment to dinner.

Bearnaise for the steak. Super luxurious.

Bearnaise for the steak. Super luxurious.

Creamed spinach and macaroni and cheese to top off our dinner at Harrods.

Creamed spinach and macaroni and cheese to top off our dinner at Harrods.

The MOST famous place to get French/Parisian macarons on the planet and they have a store in London at Harrod's!

The MOST famous place to get French/Parisian macarons on the planet and they have a store in London at Harrods!

Such an elegant shop at Laduree.

Such an elegant shop at Laduree.

Excitement ensues after purchasing my first macarons from Laduree.

Excitement ensues after purchasing my first macarons from Laduree. Oh how I have dreamed of this moment.

We had a down day within London to check out a few more sites and museums, which was absolutely lovely. We happened upon some random neighborhoods and a different meal over at The Queen’s Arms. Be warned, if you don’t have access to your phone like you normally do, ask the waitstaff before you order. I had intentions of getting ‘fish and chips’ before we left London, but I didn’t want a full portion. I ordered what you see below.

The Queen's Arms in London, England.

The Queen’s Arms in London, England.

Pea Risotto at The Queen's Arms.

Pea Risotto at The Queen’s Arms.

Fried Whitebait at The Queen's Arms.

Fried Whitebait at The Queen’s Arms.

Unique selection of gelato in London.

Unique selection of gelato in London.

Kinder Bueno and Banoffee flavored gelato. When in London….

Kinder Bueno and Banoffee flavored gelato. When in London….

A neighborhood in London in which we stumbled upon with a cute square!

A neighborhood in London in which we stumbled upon with a cute square!

England's unique variety of chips. A longer blog post on my findings can be seen by clicking on the photo.

England’s unique variety of chips. A longer blog post on my findings can be seen by clicking on the photo.

Cheese Shop in London.

Cheese Shop in London.

Upon closer investigation, cheese macarons!

Upon closer investigation, cheese macarons!

Our last outing came all too soon. It was somewhere near our hotel at the airport and was located in a very old section with cobblestone streets, small buildings and a very quaint atmosphere. A variety of great food for our last night in London at the Ostrich Pub!

Strawberry Lime Cider found in a pub in London. Refreshing and pretty sweet.

Strawberry Lime Cider found in a pub in London. Refreshing and pretty sweet.

Our starters at the Ostrich Pub in London- Fried Brie with cranberry, fishcakes, sweet chips (fries), duck confit and olives

Our starters at the Ostrich Pub in London- Fried Brie with cranberry, fishcakes, sweet chips (fries), duck confit and olives

Slow roasted belly of Hampshire pork with Bubble and Squeak (cabbage and potatoes all mashed up and fried) with Confit of Onion and Jus. Courtesy of the Ostrich Pub in London.

Slow roasted belly of Hampshire pork with Bubble and Squeak (cabbage and potatoes all mashed up and fried) with Confit of Onion and Jus. Courtesy of the Ostrich Pub in London.

The one culturally different aspect that was striking about this trip was how meals were taken. By this I mean, that restaurants expected you to be enjoying your meal for long periods of time, enjoying the company you’re with and savoring the chefs creations. So, many times when you go out to eat in America, it’s all about high turnover rates. You’re in and out of there in no time, barely remembering what you had to eat and how it tasted. We got many a weird looks for ‘shoveling’ our food and being done with dinner in an hours’ time. Even our tipping structure and asking for the check, was a bit taboo. Our cabbie explained a lot of this from his own experiences to America. He explained to us that the meal experience itself was very different and is an occasion in much of Europe. Meals are meant to be savored. Even with the smaller portions, so long as conversation is abound, you actually realize how full you are and don’t overeat. In terms of asking for the check in a short time period, it went along with savoring the meals and expecting to be holding that table for a good portion of the evening. Tipping at a rate of 15-20% was a bit high, but so long as the service warranted it, it was much appreciated and unexpected. Definitely opened my eyes to stop taking so many pictures, and talk to those around me, finding time to enjoy my food. After all, isn’t that what it should be about?

The trip was wildly successful in all that I learned and experienced. I would just advise people to research, ask around and don’t be afraid to branch out and get lost a bit. You never know what you will find.

Written by Tarte Chic

Author Kat Nielsen (formerly Kat Wojtylak) is a creative type with an immense love for food. She maintains a day job handling marketing and brand support to various companies while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences.

Leave a Comment