Food and Drink

Here are some observations I’ve made about food and drink in the UK (primarily the Newcastle area).

Cheese

In Italy, and I’m sure in France as well, there are hundreds of cheeses, possibly even thousands. Cheese shops abound, and even supermarkets offer many different kinds of cheese. In the UK also, you can get many kinds of cheeses (although perhaps not hundreds) — but in my experience it seems that 75% of them are some variety or other of cheddar. (I include Red Leicester in this category, and even Wensleydale is somewhat similar.)

Not that the US does much better, in a way, because we don’t really have our own cheeses, and even the very fine Vermont Sage Chaddar is an adaptation of another country’s cheese. (And don’t get me started on “American cheese”, which isn’t properly a cheese at all but a “pasteurized process cheese food”. Yuck.) But the DC area does have much more in the way of variety of international cheeses than Newcastle does. I guess that’s not too surprising, though, because DC has five times the population and much more in the way of international folks, being a national capital and all.

Cider

Good cider is much easier to find here than in the DC area, and some places even have it on draft. The best I’ve found is Aspall Suffolk Premier Cru, which can be had for about $3 for a 500ml bottle in Morrisons supermarket. Aspall Draft is pretty good too, and I found a restaurant in Edinburgh that had that on draft.

I like my cider dry, with no sugar added. And of course I’m talking about hard cider.

Availability

Product US (DC area) UK (Newcastle) Comment
Hard cider Can be found in stores, but not often in restaurants, and is expensive and usually fairly sweet. Many different types in stores, some very good. Dry ones sometimes but not always available in pubs.
Ricotta Several brands, all available in containers of 16oz. One or two brands, available only in 4oz containers.
Bulk nuts, beans, flours, etc. Wide availability of many products Sometimes found in large supermarkets. One stall in Grainger Market, but they don’t have much in the way of beans.
Duke’s Mayonnaise Harris Teeter and Food Lion Don’t even think about it. Let’s get down to the important stuff here, eh?

Just plain weird

  • Chip butty. Essentially, a french-fry sandwich. I like to have at least a little protein with my carbs, even if it’s as little as what’s in cheese or peanut butter.

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