Durham is home to some of the regions finest food and drink. Jan Williams, North of England Blue Badge Guide, has created her very own Durham food trail which takes in some of the best mouth watering fayre, history and culture on offer across the county.
The city has an international flavour with its world famous attractions, with The World Heritage Site and Durham University taking centre stage, around these the picturesque and historic streets of Durham are a melting pot of international restaurants. Throughout the city you can visit any number of cosy pubs serving traditional British food to dainty tea shops and cafes serving delicious homemade treats.
No visit to Durham would be complete without a visit to the World Heritage Site to visit the famous Durham Cathedral and Castle. After you’ve taken in the impressive architecture and rich history, and you’ll have worked up an appetite, why not treat yourself at the Cathedral’s Undercroft Restaurant and try the equally popular and tasty St Cuthbert’s slice, named after the Saint whose shrine is located within the Cathedral. The Undercroft also holds a Quality Assured award in the TasteDurham 2012 quality scheme.
Local food heroes from across the county work hard to produce great quality ingredients which find their way onto the menu of Oldfields Eating House, a popular city centre establishment that serves delicious dishes from around the British Isles, sourcing as much as possible directly form local farms and producers. Oldfields has received the Highest Quality Assured and Local Produce Champion award in the TasteDurham scheme.
For a sign of quality, look out for the TasteDurham mark, which has been proudly awarded to over 45 of Durham’s best food and drink businesses in 2012. From cafés and tea rooms to pubs and restaurants, the accreditation is given for recognition of consistently good service, comfort and cleanliness, quality of menu and in addition, championing of local produce. So wherever you see theTasteDurham mark across Durham you can be certain of a warm welcome and the finest fare.
Durham has its own brewerywhich produces exceptional award winning ales. It’s always fascinating to watch food or drink being made, so why not join one of the popular brewery tours at Durham Brewery and learn about the traditional techniques of fermentation and malting and the use of hops. From the coming together of the first raw ingredients to the emergence of the final, perfect product – what better way can there be to tantalise those taste buds. Delight in the names of local beers including ‘Nine Altars’, ‘Bishops Gold’ and ‘Durham County’, then sit back, relax and enjoy a drink or two.
In 1720 Mrs Clements took an ordinary culinary ingredient once used to disguise the flavour of rotten meat and turned it into a worldwide phenomenon. She invented a new method of extracting the fullest flavour possible from the humble mustard seed. And like any inventor or developer she kept her methods a closely guarded secret. In a narrow alleyway, just off Saddler Street her mustard mill business was kept busy as the orders rolled in from across the country.
For food shopping with a genuine local flavour, pay a visit to Durham Indoor Market. Named ‘Best in the UK’ in 2011, this vibrant market showcases local traders who know their produce and know their suppliers inside and out and are more than happy to share their passion for food with anyone who asks. The produce of Durham’s spectacular North Pennines upland area is on offer at the Teesdale Game & Poultry market stall where local venison, game and poultry are ready to be turned into mouth-watering meals. And the choice on offer at the I K Fish stall is a reminder of the beautiful Durham Heritage Coast and its rich bounty.
To get a real taste of the past step through the door of Beamish Museum and discover living history. Vintage trams and buses whisk you back in time to the year 1913 where you can view the home of a Durham coalminer, or sit in the pews of a Methodist Chapel or uncover the fascinating story of a Freemason’s Lodge.
The Museum’s Town area houses the Jubilee Sweetshop and sweet factory where old fashioned favourites are made on the premises (look out for free tastings!). “Bullet” is a local dialect word for boiled sweet and its distinctive round shape is said to have originated from the first sweet being made in musket ball moulds. A best seller is undoubtedly the tasty and chewy cinder toffee, a confectionary which claims to have its origins in the north of England. Thankfully, this honeycomb toffee its golden colour is a far cry from the piece of burnt coal which is said to have given it its name.
Across the street from the sweet shop and above the Co-op building is the Dainty Dinah Tearooms named after the original trademark of George Horner’s Toffee factory which was once a major employer in the nearby town of Chester le Street.
Also based in the Edwardian Pit Village is the new Davy’s Fried Fish and Chip Restaurant, which offers authentically fried fish and chips, cooked in real beef dripping, from a coal fired range and served in newspaper.
Both Dainty Dinah’s and Davy’s Fried Fish are members of the TasteDurham scheme and have won Quality Assured awards in 2012.
Durham provides lots of places to enjoy real peace and tranquillity with perfect landscapes to hike and bike in. Recharge the batteries with a stop at one of Durham’s lovely farm shop cafes. Haswell Homer Hill Farm Shop, awarded theHighest Quality Assured and Local Produce Champion in the Taste Durham 2012 scheme, offers a wide selection of home-made food in its café, and don’t forget to visit the attached farm shop. Where they sell a wide range of raw and cooked meats, homemade pies, vegetables, local cheeses, preserves and ice-cream.
Broom House Farm just six miles from Durham City has terrific views across open countryside to compliment the terrific local food on offer which has helped them achieve the TasteDurham Quality Assured and Local Produce Champion award. Taste the difference in artisan bread from nearby Lanchester or try some rare breed saddleback pork. Then sit back and relax whilst the children burn off excess energy on the Woodland Adventure Trail.
You can walk or cycle to the award winning Knitsley Farm Shop near Consett along the Lanchester Valley walkway and then relax over scrumptious homemade cakes or pastries in the café before making a choice from the adjacent farm shop to take home. Knitsley Farm Shop has achieved Highest Quality Assured and Local Produce Champion in the TasteDurham awards in 2012.
For an authentic taste of the Durham Dales choose the locally produced Cotherstone Cheese, a tasty delicacy made from unpasteurised cow’s milk and suitable for vegetarians. You can find it on the menu as a soufflé or part of the cheese board at the award winning and truly welcoming Rose and Crown Hotel in the picturesque village of Romaldkirk, who have achieved Highest Quality Assured and Local Produce Champion in the TasteDurham awards in 2012.
Designated as UK Landscape of the Year 2010, Durham’s Heritage Coast is just the place to take some healthy sea air, stroll along fine cliff top scenery, discover steep wooded valleys called denes which add distinctive character to the landscape and marvel at the rare flowers which thrive on the Magnesian Limestone geology.
And after a day of playing on the beach or plodgin’ in the sea what better way to end the perfect seaside day than the perfect ice cream. Drop in to Lickety Split Creamery in Seaham and take your pick from luscious Dream Boat Floats, Speciality Sundaes and gorgeous Smoothies.