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Dec 27, 2013 12:19 AM

Food-based sightseeing in England/Ireland?

Next summer, I'm going to be spending time in London (1 week), Oxford (2 weeks), Cornwall (2-4 weeks) and Limerick, Ireland (2 weeks). Aside from restaurants and fresh markets (which I'm researching separately), is there any food-related sightseeing in those areas? In other places, I've found food museums (pasta, sea salt), small-production tours (oystering, mushrooms, chocolates), etc. Not interested in a long cookery course, but a half- to full-day one would be fine. Any ideas?

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    1. re: mr_gimlet

      Ah, that would have been good info to include... no, I won't ;) And I'll be in the St. Ives area of Cornwall, to be specific.

      1. re: waldrons

        In that case, getting around may prove to be a bit tricky in Cornwall. It is a very rural county and our rural areas are not well endowed with public transport.

        That said, it's quite a foody county and Google turns up a number of places offering short cookery courses - including one at celeb chef Rick Stein's place at Padstow.

        You may find this link useful -

        1. re: Harters

          Because I'll be there for such a long time, having a car will be fairly expensive, and I'm not thrilled about driving myself on the "wrong" side (my husband did it on previous trips, but I'll be by myself on this one). I have an open mind, and figure I can rent one if needed (even once I'm there), but I was hoping to be able to use buses and trains to get around. I'm mostly there for genealogy research, so assume I'll be visiting county seats and other centers where records are held, rather than haring off into the depths of the countryside. However, further research may disabuse me of that assumption.

          1. re: waldrons

            Yes, you could usually expect the family history archives to be held in the main county town/city which is Truro. However, Google indicates that the local studies library is at Redruth. No wish to tell you how to suck eggs but I'd advise doing as much internet based research as you can in advance to cut down the "on the ground" stuff you have to do (e.g. extend any Ancestry subscription you may have to include UK records). What you don't need, if you can avoid it, is a lengthy bus journey to look up the records in a village parish church.

    2. The group that does the wonderful food tours of Rome, Eating Italy has begun offering a food tour of London's East End, I just discovered. I haven't done it but the Rome tours are excellent. is the website for them. I also found there are tours of breweries and chocolate companies and I think a distillery in London - this on a tourism website whose provenance eludes me, but I'll look and if I find it, will post.

      Also, in the back of the British cookery magazines like BBC Good Food and Olive, there are classified ads that include things like cookery schools. If you have access to those mags, you may find something there.

      3 Replies
      1. re: lemons

        And more: I just Googled "food tours London" and got a batch of references to various individual and small groups doing tours of London food. I didn't do investigating on more than a couple of them, but it's another place to start.

        1. re: lemons

          Thanks, Lemons, I'll check out Eating Italy and others. I'd been hoping more for off-beat museums or sites, rather than tours, but you got my attention with "chocolate tour"! And of course, Borough Market is on my list already. I'm looking forward to renting a flat for the week and being able to get wonderful cheeses and breads.

          1. re: waldrons

            The Eating Italy tour I had in Rome did well with dedicated foodies like CHers would be - you've gotta be a chow nut if you want to spend half a day traipsing through stores and markets. Not one of those tours where they tell stale jokes and offer made-up "facts" at all. Borough is, of course, fab. Have breakfast at Roast, which is on an upper level of the market, a sunny, luxurious room looking out on scenes from Charles Dickens (who, of course, knew the neighborhood) and which offers excellent breakfasts.

      2. You might try Sophie Grigson's cooking classes if she has anything on while you are in Oxford. I took a class with her a few weeks ago and enjoyed it.

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