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Brittany, Normandy, and southern England: What should I eat?

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Brittany, Normandy, and southern England: What should I eat?

Old 05-04-14, 04:10 PM
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SuperTrouper
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Brittany, Normandy, and southern England: What should I eat?

Hi everyone,

This August I'm biking along the south coast of England (Dover to Plymouth), then taking the ferry to Brittany and biking east along France's north coast until my schedule forces me to stop (I'm attending a friend's wedding in Aachen).

Being Canadian, it's not often I'm in Europe, so I want to take advantage of it by sampling the local fare. I'm looking forward to crepes, Camembert and Brillat-Savarin, and apple cider in France, but that's where my knowledge of regional gastronomy ends. I'm particularly ignorant about southern England.

My question to everyone is, what else should I be eating?

(Oh, and if you can't keep yourself from recommending places to see...that wouldn't be the end of the world )
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Old 05-04-14, 07:22 PM
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English food??? Not sure if that is something to look forward.

Seriously, another place you can go to get answers to your question is tripadvisor.com.
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Old 05-04-14, 07:39 PM
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The food in the UK is better than it used to be and better than its reputation. But seriously a Canadian asking about English food? Don't you guys share a queen or something like that? The riding in Brittany and Normandy is absolutely beautiful but it is hilly. I rode through that area with a few thousand miles on my legs one summer and thought the hills were fairly tough and I was in shape.
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Old 05-05-14, 02:35 AM
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There is a time and place for Culinary Anglophobia, and this is it.
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Old 05-05-14, 02:41 AM
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Scotland does a really delicious mac and cheese (mmmmmm!!!!) ... not sure if that is available further south. Scotland also has an absolutely wonderful food item called a Millionaire Bar ... worth visiting Scotland just for that. But you're probably out of luck for that further south.

But you should be able to get fish and chips. The UK does fish and chips really well. They also have a lot of Indian restaurants, many of which are very good too. Hot and spicy!

And your English experience won't be complete without beans on toast. You can get that anywhere ... for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, for snacks at pubs you pass on the way ...

Last edited by Machka; 05-05-14 at 02:46 AM.
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Old 05-05-14, 02:53 AM
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Patisseries, boulangeries and charcuteries are what you need to look for in France.

If you want cheap, then Carrefours, Intermarche, Champion and Casino are the ones to look for.

Carrefours is the largest. Just be aware that you have to do your own bagging at the checkout, and put your fruit and veg in bags and get the sticker printed out and stuck on before you get to the checkout.
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Old 05-05-14, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post

And your English experience won't be complete without beans on toast. You can get that anywhere ... for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, for snacks at pubs you pass on the way ...
Yeah beans for breakfast. I never could figure that one out. But they love them there. Guess it is no stranger than chicken embryos.
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Old 05-05-14, 06:40 AM
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The baked potatoes topped with baked beans and cheese were pretty good.
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Old 05-05-14, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
Patisseries, boulangeries and charcuteries are what you need to look for in France.

If you want cheap, then Carrefours, Intermarche, Champion and Casino are the ones to look for.

Carrefours is the largest. Just be aware that you have to do your own bagging at the checkout, and put your fruit and veg in bags and get the sticker printed out and stuck on before you get to the checkout.
Rowan is right on the money here, you can eat perfectly well and be stocked up for snacks and such very easily with these large grocery stores that you tend to find in most towns. Its like how large grocery stores have become the norm here, now they are very common in France and make it easier than 20 years ago or so when there were less of them and local stores would often be closed for lunchtime until 2 sort of thing.

good point on the heads up on the stickers for fruit and veg, I wouldnt have thought to have mentioned that.

have a great trip, its a wonderful part of France to bike in, my first ever trip to France was there so I have fond memories of it (plus have a good friend who lives there)

be sure to take advantage of local "bureau de tourism" to get campground info and such.
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Old 05-05-14, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
The baked potatoes topped with baked beans and cheese were pretty good.
we need a barfing emoticon.....
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Old 05-05-14, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by DBA View Post
we need a barfing emoticon.....

Not at all ... baked beans are so much better than putting sour cream on baked potatoes.
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Old 05-05-14, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Not at all ... baked beans are so much better than putting sour cream on baked potatoes.
was just messing with you.....it doesn't sound like my kind of thing, but then again, I'm not into baked taters.
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Old 05-06-14, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
English food??? Not sure if that is something to look forward.
Probably would do will to stick with the fish'n chips.
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Old 05-06-14, 03:13 PM
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Immigrants finally taught the British Island natives how to cook with spices ..
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Old 05-06-14, 03:16 PM
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I think you can find Snickers bars everywhere.
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Old 05-06-14, 03:48 PM
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You can deep fry anything
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Old 05-06-14, 04:33 PM
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Fish n chips above the fish market in Hastings.
Steak and ale pie in a pub.
Cream tea (scones, cream, jam+tea) . tea shops do much better cakes than coffee shops.
Indian curry, traditional sausages, sunday roast, cheese,
Plenty of pubs serve excellent food.
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Old 05-06-14, 05:36 PM
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I want to add this--after a days riding, any pub type meal will be great, what I mean is that after I ride all day, I'm not overly fussy as long as its not horrible horrible.....
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Old 05-07-14, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
Fish n chips above the fish market in Hastings.
Steak and ale pie in a pub.
Cream tea (scones, cream, jam+tea) . tea shops do much better cakes than coffee shops.
Indian curry, traditional sausages, sunday roast, cheese,
Plenty of pubs serve excellent food.
That's a cool pub-guide -- thanks! I'm certainly planning on being liberal in my visits to pubs, which serve my favourite type of dessert!
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Old 05-07-14, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
The baked potatoes topped with baked beans and cheese were pretty good.
I've never heard of that, but it sounds fantastic, especially after a long day of riding!
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Old 05-07-14, 02:19 PM
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We visited England on a walking tour last summer. The food that most impressed me there was the pastries, bakery shops. The English seem to really go all out for pastries, and most of the bakery shops would put to shame just about any shop in the US. The beers and ales at pubs were good but not great like I expected. A lot of the local beers are served too warm for my tastes. One more thing to try -- order a "Cream Tea with Scones" at just about any local tea shop. Get the scones with "clotted cream" and jam, which would be strawberry in most cases. Pretty incredible. Clotted cream is not as gross as it sounds, more like whipped butter. I don't drink a lot of hot tea normally, but it seemed to taste much better in England for some reason. They usually drink it with milk -- and add the milk to the cup first unless you want to cause a serious breach in etiquette!
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Old 05-07-14, 02:32 PM
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Well, I haven't been to Normandy, only Paris, but it is a feast there, and I'm sure you will find your own way easily.

You may find breakfast an adjustment in France, they don't seem to eat much of it beyond a coffee and croissant. Tourist hotels will have a full breakfast, but if you fancy something different, you will have to hit the bakery.

As someone mentioned, crepes are often inexpensive and good. Raclette is another favorite, and not terribly pricey. A Croque Monsieur is a must at least once. And even the cheap house wine is good. A glass of wine is usually cheaper than a coke. We even found wine in juice boxes for picnics, although drinking wine through a small plastic straw is a little weird at first.

Coffee is expensive, but very good, and while you are sitting in a nice outdoor cafe watching the world go by, it seems worth it.
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Old 05-07-14, 02:44 PM
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Personally I'd avoid huge chains and look for independent places. Some of them are amazing, and some are truly dreadful. The only way you'll find out is either with local recommendations, or by trying it and finding out for yourself.

English fish and chips is great. Probably not a good idea before a big ride but afterwards it should go down well. I did a long ride today and had a hankering for fish and chips, but our local chippy is pretty grim so ended up having a curry instead. Most pubs serve food, of varying quantities. Just like north America you'll find some places that cook it on site and others that take packets to microwave.

If you're going through to Plymouth you'll be going through Devon, so make sure you have at least one Devonshire cream tea. Decide whether to put the cream or the jam on the scone first, then prepare to defend your preference against people who say the other way is better. Also if you like apple cider try some Devonshire scrumpy cider. Be aware in England what Americans call cider is what we call apple juice, and what we call cider is alcoholic. Some scrumpy cider can pack quite a punch.

Don't worry about putting the milk into your teacup before or after the tea unless you really are somewhere very formal. Personally I put the tea bag in, then the hot water, then the milk, and leave the tea bag in the cup until I'm done drinking it. A lot of places will offer coffee after a meal, and at a lot of them it's truly awful coffee. I don't drink coffee after a meal, having experienced multiple occasions when I'd really enjoyed the meal only to have the experience trashed by a truly dismal cup of coffee to finish it off. If you want coffee, find an independent coffee shop which are usually leagues better than Starbucks.

Since you'll be hugging the south coast you may come across a fish and chip shop called Goodies not far from Southampton. It used to be really good, but my local sources tell me it's gone rapidly downhill so you get a mediocre portion of fish and pay over the odds for it. Which is a shame, when I lived in the area it was a go-to place.

If you drink alcohol you'll find a wide range of it. Lagers are typically served between cold and ice cold. Some say it's because if it warms up you might taste it. Ales are served warmer, some are lightly chilled and some are room temperature. Give them a go, they have a huge range of flavours and strengths and if you try a few you'll probably find one you like.
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Old 05-07-14, 03:17 PM
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breakfast .. Full breakfast - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 05-07-14, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by SuperTrouper View Post
I've never heard of that, but it sounds fantastic, especially after a long day of riding!
I haven't seen it in a pub or restaurant ... I had it at a friend's home. But I think there may be fast food lunch places that sell large baked potatoes topped with whatever you want.

Those places exist here in Australia ... and I now eat baked potatoes in a whole new way, with a lot more toppings than you'd get in North America. But I think you might be able to find them in the UK too.
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