Sticky Toffee Pudding

What is one dessert that you can associate with England? What dessert is found at many restaurants and pubs in England year round? One could say the answer to both of these questions is Sticky Toffee Pudding.

This is the Sticky Toffee Pudding they serve at the Cock and Bull, a British pub on 45th Street in New York City. This dessert includes chunks of hard almond toffee brittle on the side and a light cream on top. Although I love all the ones I tried in this post and my friends loved all the ones they tried, this is my personal favorite.
History

Although this dessert is associated with England it actually had its roots in Canada. The story behind it is during World War II two Canadian Air Force officers passed a recipe for sticky toffee pudding to a hotelier in Lancashire. The recipe was tweaked and the rest is history. It caught on in England and became popular. Many restaurants and pubs carry it.

This is from the Hole in the Wall pub in York, England.

It is a very rich, delicious dessert. Many people list this as their favorite. A few of my friends said they wanted to tour England and try the sticky toffee pudding at various pubs and restaurants along the way. They would call their tour the Sticky Toffee Pudding Tour.

This is from The Shakespeare, a high end pub on 39th Street in Manhattan, NYC. It came with ice cream.
Ingredients

What is it made of? It usually consists of date sponge cake drizzled in toffee sauce. Some people enjoy it with cream, while others enjoy it with ice cream. Some restaurants and pubs give you the option of accompanying it with cream, ice cream or whipped cream. It is rich and delicious.

Sticky Toffee Pudding at the Lillie Langtry in London

There are other options if you plan to make this at home. There are recipes for gluten-free versions online through different culinary websites. There are also websites carrying vegan recipes for this dessert.

This is the Sticky Toffee Pudding at the White Horse in Oxford, England. This was a personal favorite of a friend who joined me on my trip to Great Britain.

This is so popular that British pubs in the United States often have it as a regular item on their menus. The Shakespeare and the Cock and the Bull in Manhattan include it on their menu. Look up a recipe online or stop in to a British pub or restaurant. You will be happy you did.

Eton Mess

What is a traditional British dessert that is popular during summer? Which dessert includes those luscious British strawberries? It is my favorite dessert Eton Mess.

Every establishment may vary it slightly. This is the Eton Mess made by Lillie Langtry on Lillie Road in London.

This dessert originated at Eton College. It was traditionally served at Eton’s annual cricket match against the students at Harrow School.

What are the ingredients? It has traditionally included strawberries, hard meringue, and double cream. Why is mess a part of its name? It is because all the ingredients bare mixed together in a big mess. The hard meringues will soften as they sit.

How can you make a healthier version? If you are making it at home you can replace half the cream with plain greek yogurt. To mix it up further you can even substitute other berries.

Eton Mess one evening on the patio at Pedn Olva in St. Ives, Cornwall.

This dessert is gluten-free and vegetarian. Hard meringues are usually made with egg whites and sugar. In the U.K. hard meringues are readily obtainable at different food stores such as Whole Foods and Sainsburys. When dining out always make sure the chef did not add in additional ingredients if you have food sensitivities.

Eton Mess at the White Horse in Oxford, England

I am partial to British strawberries. I think they are the best. Eton Mess is my favorite English summer time treat. If you fancy strawberries, you may want to order Eton Mess. It is delicious!

Sunday Roast

When most people think of traditional British food the first thing that comes to mind is Fish and Chips. Fish and Chips is the most loved food, but what comes in second? The next most loved food in England is the Sunday Roast.

What is a Sunday Roast? It is a traditional main meal served on Sunday in pubs and restaurants. It usually consists of a roast meat, roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and roasted vegetables. Usually you have a choice roasted meat that could include beef, chicken, or lamb.

This is Sunday Roast at Lillie Langtry on Lillie Road in London. I choose roasted chicken. It came with roasted potatoes, roasted caramelized carrots, green beans, and Yorkshire pudding.
History

The tradition of the Sunday Roast seems to have started in the 1800s. During that time many average families did not have a large fireplace in their residence. They also may not have had enough money to cook a large amount of food. As a result, what they could afford to buy was dropped off at the bakers on the way to church. Bakers had ovens that could handle the job. It is thought that this is when most started following the tradition of the Sunday Roast.

If you want to enjoy this meal, check to see ahead of time which pubs or restaurants are serving it. You may need to make reservations in advance. It is a very delicious tradition to enjoy.

Bagpipers

When you think of Scotland what comes to mind? One of your first thoughts may be bagpipers. On my recent trip into Scotland I saw a few playing on the streets of Edinburgh.

This bagpiper is in a modern band, the Spinning Blowfish. They were playing near Prince Street in Edinburgh and selling their CDs.
This man was demonstrating the bagpipes for some students from Asia at the University of Edinburgh.
This man was playing near the National Museum of Scotland.
This man was piping on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. We seemed to find at least one everyday on the Royal Mile closer to Edinburgh Castle.
Another one on the Royal Mile

It appears they play for tourists. Many spectators donate a pound as they play. The kilts may represent a pipe band they are in or their clan.

It is a treat to hear the sounds associated with Scotland. What’s more iconic to Scotland than pipers? Thanks to the pipers for performing on the street! It makes our trips more enjoyable.

Scottish Windows

One quote from Shakespeare is “The eyes are the windows of the soul.” What are windows a portal to? Edward Gorey once said “My favorite journey is looking out the window.” Sometimes my favorite journey is looking at windows. Here are some windows from towns within a short drive from Edinburgh, Scotland.

I think this one may be my favorite. I am partial to tea though.

Mehmet Morat Ildan is quoted as saying “If you want people to understand you, invite them to your life and let them see the world from your window.” You get to see a little bit of this person’s world through the window in the wall surrounding their property in the picture below. You get a nice view of their back garden.

Window to a walled in garden
Different textures

Mehmet Murat Ildon once said “It is not possible for a house to own a spirit without windows with flowers.” The window below looks quite lovely with flowers perched on the sill.

These windows make me what to live in these houses and towns. How do they make you feel?

Greyfriars Bobby

Have you ever had a pet that was very loyal to you? How do you honor a dog that went above and beyond in loyalty to his human? In Edinburgh, Scotland they found a few ways to honor one such dog. Greyfriars Bobby is not a tale, but a true story.

John Gray went to Edinburgh with his wife and son looking for work. He accepted a job as a police constable. He was provided with a place to stay in the neighborhood he worked in.

Working Dog

Police during that time worked with dogs. It is said John Gray adopted a Skye terrier around 1856. He named the dog Bobby. Bobby followed John around on his rounds. John and Bobby would make a routine of stopping at a coffee house near the Greyfriar’s Church.

John Gray became ill and in early 1858 he died of consumption or tuberculosis. Bobby followed the funeral procession through the Burial Gate to Greyfriar’s Kirk (churchyard) where John was buried.

One entrance to the churchyard and it could be the Burial Gate.
Loyal

John Gray’s family was said to have taken the dog home, but he kept returning to his master’s grave to hold vigil. James Brown, a gardener at the church, gave Bobby food and water and allowed him to stay. Usually dogs were chased away from the churchyard. Fellow police constables on patrol through the churchyard recognized John Gray’s dog and feed him a little as well. Also it is said a man named James Anderson, who lived above what is now the Greyfriars Bobby bar, would go and fetch Bobby on stormy nights and bring him inside his place.

A sergeant at Edinburgh Castle heard about Bobby and took an interest in him. Sgt. Scott trained Bobby that the one o’clock gun meant dinner. It became an attraction for people to stand at the churchyard gate to see Bobby leave at the one o’clock gun and walk to the Eating House. After he was done eating he would walk back to the grave. This continued when the place changed hands and was named Traill’s Temperance Coffee House.

Danger came when it was decided all dogs in Edinburgh needed to be licensed. If they were not they could be put to sleep or destroyed. The optics of putting such a loyal dog to sleep would have been terrible, so the Lord Provost of Edinburgh William Chambers stepped in and paid for Bobby’s license and bought him a collar.

Famous Dog

Newspapers started to write stories about Greyfriars Bobby. People came to paint pictures of him. The Traill family who ran the Coffee House Bobby visited at one o’clock everyday had a photo taken with him.

Bobby died January 14, 1872. The Traill family buried Bobby in a triangular flower bed beneath a tree in the Greyfriars Churchyard in secret. They put up a headstone that someone later removed.

Honoring Bobby
People think it is good luck to rub Bobby’s nose, but they ask you not to do that as it affects the statute.

In 1873 a bronze statue was made of Bobby with a granite fountain was donated by Baroness Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts. There was a trough at the bottom of it for dogs to drink out of.

The Huntly House Museum in Edinburgh has two of Bobby’s items. They have the collar presented to Bobby by Lord Provost William Chambers. They also have the metal dish Bobby ate from at the Coffee Shop from 1862-1872. They also have the photo of Bobby with the Traill family and their coffee house.

In 1981 a new headstone funded by the Dog Aid Society of Scotland was erected for Bobby in the Greyfriars Churchyard. They believe it is in the same area he was buried.

Bobby’s master, John Gray’s headstone

Various books were made in his honor telling his story. A Disney movie was made about Bobby, although they say the facts are incorrect.

These are just a few of the books written about Bobby.
This book is more factual. The author sites sources for his information. I used this as one of my sources for this post.
The statue of Bobby is in front of this pub across this side street.

There is a pub now near the statue named Greyfriars Bobby.

Pub sign for Greyfriars Bobby

Greyfriars Bobby was an incredible dog with an incredible story. How loyal is your pet? How far would you go to honor your animal friend?

Culross

Culross, Scotland is one of those places that hits two birds with one stone. It is a filming location for Outlander and quite a pretty little town.

Filming Location

Culross appears as the fictional town of Crainsmuir in Outlander. It featured in both season 1 and season 4.

The Merkat Cross (Market Cross) was the center of Crainsmuir. It was the location in Outlander where Geillus was sentenced to burn for being a witch. It is also the location where Claire and Jamie rescue Tammas Baxter, the tanner boy. The Merkat Cross also features in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). In Captain America Culross stood in for a Norwegian town. In season 4 of Outlander, Bree is rescued from the cold by Laoghaire near the Mercat Cross and she discovers she is Jamie’s daughter.

The town has lovely cobblestone streets.

Laoghaire’s house for outside shots is also near the Mercat Cross.

Other movies filmed in Culross include 39 Steps, The Little Vampire, and Kidnapped.

The Town

Culross is a very well preserved 17th century town. It has buildings that are being maintained by the National Trust. There are many beautiful spots within the town. I was on a tour, so I had limited time to spend. If you are staying in Edinburgh and have access to a car it is about 25 miles away. It is around 33 miles from Glasgow.

They do have a few nice little shops and restaurants. We ate at the Biscuit Cafe. I had a nice soup and a friend traveling with me had flatbread pizza. Both meals were very tasty.

I recommend stopping here for more than just an hour or two. The cobblestone streets are not busy with cars. It is a charming location to walk around and take in the 17th and 18th century architecture.

You can walk up this path to get stunning views of the village from above.
Views from above the town